Tuesday, July 23, 2019

“9/11 fund bill up for Senate vote — Cuomo signs cat declawing ban — Renewed calls for investigation of Con Ed after another blackout - Politico” plus 1 more

“9/11 fund bill up for Senate vote — Cuomo signs cat declawing ban — Renewed calls for investigation of Con Ed after another blackout - Politico” plus 1 more


9/11 fund bill up for Senate vote — Cuomo signs cat declawing ban — Renewed calls for investigation of Con Ed after another blackout - Politico

Posted: 23 Jul 2019 04:23 AM PDT

As the clock ticks down on legislation to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, every day seems to come with another grim reminder of the toll the terrorist attacks continue to take on New York's first responders.

Today, a vote is finally due in the Senate on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to fully fund payments to sick first responders, and the families of those who have died. The compensation fund, running out of money, started cutting payments by at least half earlier this year.

New York City firefighters are headed to Washington to make a final push for the $10 billion legislation, where they'll be joined by comedian Jon Stewart, a longtime champion of the cause. But perhaps the most consequential voices will be those who aren't there: Christopher Cranston, the NYPD detective who died over the weekend from 9/11-related cancer, as his wife called the senators holding up the compensation program from his hospital bedside; Luis Alvarez, who died not long after making an emotional plea before a Congressional committee; and Richard Driscoll, who last week became the 200th member of the FDNY to die of a 9/11-related illness.

The number of deaths from illnesses caused by toxins at Ground Zero is expected to surpass the number killed in the terrorist attacks themselves.

The legislation, which passed the House by a wide margin, still a few hurdles to clear. As the Daily News reports, Republican Sens. Rand Paul — who last week blocked an attempt to pass the bill by a voice vote — and Mike Lee plan to push amendments that if approved, could cap payments to sick survivors or threaten passage altogether.

It's Tuesday. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know ... By email: EDurkin@politico.com and NNiedzwiadek@politico.com, or on Twitter: @erinmdurkin and @NickNiedz

WHERE'S ANDREW? In Albany, with no public schedule.

WHERE'S BILL? In Washington D.C., where he will appear on Andrea Mitchell Reports before making an economic policy campaign announcement at 1 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Big kahuna — What exactly is a kahuna? … You should know what the word means before you say it." — Gov. Andrew Cuomo questioning an interlocutor's use of the Hawaiian word for "wise man" during a Monday radio interview.

Today's tabloids: — New York Post: "BAD P.R." — Daily News: "WHAT THE BUCKET" — Newsday: "9/11 FUND BILL UP FOR CRITICAL SENATE VOTE" — El Diario: "Disgust for blackouts" — See them

Today's Broadsheets: — New York Times: — 1 col., above the fold: "DEAL WOULD LIFT FEDERAL BUDGET BY $320 BILLION" — 1 col., above the fold: "PROTESTS SWELL AS PUERTO RICANS SEETHE AT LEADER" — Wall Street Journal: — 4 col., above the fold: "Apple Nears Pact to Acquire Intel's Phone-Chip Business" — 2 col., below the fold: "Boeing's Woes Trickle Into Broader Economy" — See them

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO said Monday he was calling for a full investigation into Con Edison following a blackout in Brooklyn late Sunday night, stating there should be an "examination" as to whether the city needs a "new entity" to provide electricity going forward. More than 53,000 customers in New York City didn't have power Sunday night, the tail end of a weekend-long heat wave where temperatures were still above 90 degrees as of 9 p.m.

... After facing widespread criticism for being out of town campaigning for president during the previous weekend's blackout in Manhattan, de Blasio called a rare early-morning press conference to discuss his complaints over Con Ed's handling of the recent outages. De Blasio said he was "extremely disappointed" with Con Ed, echoing recent remarks by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and saying the city still didn't have adequate answers about what caused a power outage in midtown Manhattan last week. POLITICO's Danielle Muoio and Marie J. French

— Heavy rain caused severe flooding Monday night in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

— Some residents in Kew Gardens, Queens reported being without water as well as electricity.

— One Brooklyn jail caught fire during the weekend heat wave, while the other was "boiling hot" without AC.

"SEVEN PROTESTERS were arrested Monday morning for blocking off a portion of the FDR Drive in a continued effort to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire the NYPD officer who placed Eric Garner in a deadly choke hold five years ago, according to police. The southbound lanes of the FDR drive near East 116th Street were blocked by protesters carrying a banner that read 'Eric Garner had a right to life,' NY 1's Dean Meminger first reported." Patch's Brendan Krisel

The NYPD is lagging other cities in sharing video footage from body-worn cameras. There have been 147 cases where the NYPD told the Civilian Complaint Review Board that no body camera footage existed, but the CCRB discovered that was false.

"MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CY VANCE will face another 2021 challenger as Janos Marton, an attorney and former member of the now-defunct Moreland Commission, announced his candidacy Monday morning. 'I'm running because Manhattan needs a new vision for justice. Over the last 10 years, Cy Vance has been overly punitive to communities of color, and overly attentive to people in power,' Marton, 37, told The Post in a phone interview, declaring his candidacy two years ahead of the face-off." New York Post's Bernadette Hogan

— "Robert M. Morgenthau, a courtly Knickerbocker patrician who waged war on crime for more than four decades as the chief federal prosecutor for Southern New York State and as Manhattan's longest-serving district attorney, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 99."

"SOME MTA board members bugged out Monday over a computer glitch blamed for Friday night's subway meltdown as agency documents confirmed the fiasco was no isolated incident. Board member Larry Schwartz even raised the possibility of a cyber attack or other criminal activity. But as THE CITY first reported Sunday, the breakdown marked the latest in a string of software problems with the computerized Automatic Train Supervision system that routes trains along all but one of the numbered subway lines and the 42nd Street Shuttle. 'This was a software bug and because that bug… was also in our backup servers, that's why they went down as well,' New York City Transit President Andy Byford said at a committee meeting Monday. 'That bug automatically powered down our servers without notice.'" The City's Jose Martinez

— A switch malfunction messed up service yet again on Monday afternoon and into rush hour.

MAYBE IT'S TIME TO CALL HIM Gov. Andrew Cuo-meow. The governor signed legislation on Monday to ban the practice of cat declawing, which critics assail as a heartless cosmetic choice that's equivalent to chopping off a human's finger at the top knuckle. "Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops," Cuomo said in a release. "By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures."

Declawing is already banned in most of Europe, a couple of Canadian provinces, and countries such as Brazil and Israel. Denver banned the practice in 2017, and several cities in California have similarly done so. But Cuomo's signature makes New York the first state to prohibit declawing. POLITICO's Bill Mahoney

"WESTERN NEW YORKERS WHO DRIVE on the 407, the cashless toll road that runs through Ontario near Toronto, get a bill later if they don't pay what they owe electronically. So what happens when Canadians drive through the cashless tolls at the Grand Island bridges without paying? Nothing. That's why some people on this side of the border – including those who fought to get rid of the tolls and reluctantly settled for the removal of the collection booths – are frustrated the State Thruway Authority can't force the many Canadians who drive through the bridges to pay." Buffalo News' Stephen Watson

"ABOUT $383,000 WAS BET IN THE FIRST SIX DAYS of operation at the new sportsbook at the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. The casino's biggest day was Sunday, when $106,000 was wagered on sporting events, according to the casino. The most popular sporting event to wager on in the first week was the British Open, which ran from Thursday through Sunday. … It's not clear how much revenue was brought in, as the figures don't reflect payouts, taxes and fees." Times Union's Dave Lombardo

"NEW YORK WILL RECEIVE $19 MILLION and more than 8.5 million residents will be eligible for relief as part of a settlement Monday with credit giant Equifax because of a massive data breach in 2017, state officials announced. The national settlement with Equifax requires the Atlanta-based company to pay at least $575 million across the 50 states, including $300 million for free credit-monitoring services, $175 million to states and $100 million in penalties to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. New York will get about $9 million through the multi-state settlement. The state Department of Financial Services separately investigated Equifax's security practices leading to an additional $10 million fine, bringing New York's total compensation to $19.2 million." Gannett's Joe Spector

#UpstateAmerica: Former Buffalo News writer David Condren penned his own obituary.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Monica Lewinsky ... Don Imus is 79 ... David Brock, author and founder of Media Matters for America and American Bridge 21st Century, is 57 … CNN PR manager Liza Pluto ... Alex Pareene ... Joey Rault … The Economist's Lane GreeneMariane Pearl

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Susie Xu, executive producer of CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," and Dave Noone, senior manager at Deloitte, welcomed Nicholas Li. He joins big brother Nolan. PicAnother pic

WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Julianne Donofrio and Joseph Fusco on Saturday got married at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens where they live. They are both filmmakers and Donofrio, a longtime ABC News producer out of the D.C. bureau, also works for Tammy Haddad Media and produces films and podcasts. They met at Syracuse when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore and reconnected through Facebook years later. PicAnother pic

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council is endorsing City Council Member Ritchie Torres for a congressional district based in the Bronx. Torres is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Jose Serrano, and will be up against Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. and Assemblyman Michael Blake. "Ritchie Torres is exactly the person we need representing us in Congress because he is one of us. At a time when Washington has launched a full-on assault on labor, affordable health care, and immigrants, Ritchie will be a dynamic voice for the plight of working women and men because he's lived it," said HTC president Peter Ward. The union has about 2,000 members in the Bronx district.

"AS HIS PICKUP TRUCK ROARED TOWARD the Todt Hill section of Staten Island, Anthony Comello had no intention of killing a mob boss. He wanted only to arrest him, his lawyer said in new court documents. The details of what happened next are well known. Mr. Comello, 24, arrived at the home of Francesco (Franky Boy) Cali, a leader in the Gambino crime family, and lured him outside. The men spoke briefly. Then prosecutors say Mr. Comello pulled a gun from his car and shot Mr. Cali, leaving him to die in the street.

"...Mr. Comello had become convinced that Mr. Cali was part of the so-called deep state, a cabal of criminals that conspiracy theorists claim controls the United States government. Mr. Comello also believed he was a chosen vigilante of President Trump. 'Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president's full support,' Mr. Gottlieb wrote." New York Times' Ali Watkins

"ON THE MORNING of May 9th, in Judge Monte Horton's courtroom, a video screen hung on the wall, showing an empty white room. An officer appeared on the screen, a man in an orange jumpsuit hesitating behind him. 'Hello? We're having some problems,' the officer said. The video screen that federal immigration detainees use to see the courtroom remotely was blinking and flashing. Every second the image faded to green, then black. The technical issues persisted throughout the day...Video teleconferencing (VTC) has been controversial due to numerous technical problems at the Varick Street immigration court in New York City, prompting pushback from lawyers, advocates, and even some judges. VTC may also make it harder for detainees to access language interpretation." Gothamist's Phoebe Taylor Vuolo, Aurora Ferrer and Victoria Cheng

"OVER THE LONG HAUL, THE ISSUE SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER came to discuss — the alarming decline of bee populations — will be vastly more important than any political story of our frenzied moment. Bees, as Schumer said during a visit to the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany, are the canary in the coal mine. When they're in trouble, we should be worried about the planet and our own future on it. They're telling us something, whether or not we care to listen. But the long-view rarely entertains the national political hive mind, which on Monday was abuzz over newly made claims from disgraced former senator Al Franken in a story published by the New Yorker.

"In the article, Franken pins his downfall squarely of Schumer's lapel, saying the New York Democrat should have insisted on a fair and thorough investigation when sexual-misconduct allegations against Franken surfaced late in 2017. Instead, in response to the growing political pressure of the moment, Schumer met with Franken and ordered that he resign that day. Otherwise, Schumer would instruct the entire Democratic caucus to demand Franken's resignation." Times Union's Chris Churchill

— Mayor Bill de Blasio has "temporarily" withdrawn his nominee to lead the Taxi and Limousine Commission after a disastrous confirmation hearing.

— "Ten horses died in the recent span of nine days at racetracks across New York, raising concern among animal-rights activists at a time when the sport has come under intense scrutiny following a series of deaths at a California racetrack earlier this year.

Anthony Weiner was spotted moving boxes at his wife Huma Abedin's apartment, but reports varied on whether he was moving in or moving out.

— Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" is appealing his sentence of life in prison plus thirty years.

— Woodstock 50 has been denied for the fourth time in two weeks.

— City health inspectors were mired in confusion on how to enforce a ban on food and drink products containing CBD.

— A Queens 2-year-old survived a fall from a second floor window.

— Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo were among the names in Jeffrey Epstein's black book.

— A dog from a city shelter died of possible heat exhaustion while being transported to an upstate rescue facility Saturday.

— A damaged air conditioner cord was identified as the cause of a Queens fire that killed a 7-year-old girl and her mother.

— Videos showed NYPD officers getting drenched with buckets of water by young men in Harlem and Brooklyn.

— Renovations at Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House in Buffalo were completed, finishing a process jumpstarted by Daniel Patrick Moynihan 27 years ago.

— Moody's approves of the Westchester sales tax hike that was recently OK'd by legislators.

— A New York City couple alleged they were racially profiled at a hard cider tasting facility in upstate New York while the man was trying to propose.

— WHAT WALL STREET IS READING: Under Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Commerce department is chaotic and adrift.

A PIPE LEAKING "putrid liquid" into a laundry room and a tower of garbage reaching the 14th floor of a public housing building were among the worst conditions outlined in the latest report to detail problems at the New York City Housing Authority. An independent investigation of the agency's 326 developments, released Monday as part of NYCHA's new federal oversight arrangement, demonstrated the depth of dysfunction at the housing authority and recommended steps for improvement.

"When questioned, he advised that this problem had existed for approximately two months unabated," he added. The rationale was that a superintendent at the Upper Manhattan development had deemed it necessary to build scaffolding before repairing the pipe and was awaiting an order of lumber. The monitor's staff alerted senior managers at the housing authority as soon as the leak was discovered and it was repaired within three hours, he wrote. All it took was a plumber with a ladder. POLITICO's Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta

"AN EMPTY LOT BELOW the Brooklyn side of the Kosciuszko Bridge is on track to become a new, innovative open space. Envisioned as a "destination park," similar to Domino Park and The High Line, the seven-acre space under the bridge will have areas for recreation, programming, ecological landscapes, as well as a connection to the neighborhood's Newtown Creek. … Some aspects of the design will be finished by the end of this year, but a slate of public programming — which will include film screenings and concerts—isn't expected to launch until next spring." Curbed NY's Valeria Ricciulli

Twins 8, Yankees 6: Mitch Garver homered twice, CC Sabathia was chased early, and the Twins quelled a late rally that put the tying runs on base in the ninth.

The day ahead: Yankees-Twins continues in Minnesota. The Mets welcome the Padres to town.

Titanic auction, Legos, mighty Mississippi: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 08:28 PM PDT

CLOSE

Alabama

Birmingham: The state's busiest airport is partnering with a company that can identify passengers through eye scans and fingerprints. Al.com reports that Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport recently added kiosks offering the technology for a fee. CLEAR offers a $15 per month membership, paid annually, with various discounts for family members. After the biometric identification, passengers  move to the front of physical security screening without having to remove their shoes.. The company says its technology is available at more than 60 airports, stadiums and other locations.

Corrections & clarifications: In a previous version of this story, it erroneously stated what CLEAR members do in the security line. CLEAR is not involved with physical security. The article also incorrectly stated the number and types of locations where CLEAR is available. The program is available at more than 60 airports, stadiums and other locations.

Alaska

Kodiak: Alaska has become the only state without an arts council following a loss of funding through state budget cuts. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports that the closure of the Alaska State Council on the Arts last week means a $2.8 million loss of arts funding in the state. Although only $700,000 is state funding, another $2.1 million consists of federal funds through matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and private foundation support. Officials say those funds will no longer be available without the state council as a connecting vehicle. Officials say Alaska residents' federal taxes will still help pay for the arts in other states through the NEA, but those funds will not contribute to the arts in their own communities.

Arizona

Tucson: A program that prioritizes drug treatment over jail time is credited with keeping people out of jail and saving taxpayers some money. The Arizona Daily Star reports more than 500 people struggling with opioid addiction were sent to a grant-funded Pima County "deflection" program in the past year. Based on jail booking costs, taxpayers saved $178,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The effort began a year ago as a six-month pilot program in two divisions of the Tucson Police Department. Officers could recommend a suspect caught with 2 grams of opioids or less for treatment instead of arrest. Authorities say the program proved successful with nearly 120 people getting "deflected." The county has since received $1.4 million in federal funds to expand the program.

Arkansas

Fayetteville: Northwest Arkansas cities are figuring out how to handle the arrival of electric scooters, and the process will be evolving, officials say. A state law set to take effect Wednesday authorizes electric scooters vendors to set up shop in any Arkansas city. The scooters are battery-powered, have two wheels and a T-shaped handlebar and a floorboard. Riders pay to unlock them through a mobile app. The law says riders must be at least 16, and scooters have a maximum speed of 15 mph. The law allows municipalities to establish reasonable regulations for the safe operation and presence of the scooters on public property, but not ban them from the public right of way. Fayetteville's City Council first took up a draft of an ordinance to regulate the devices July 2. Scooter companies will have to apply for a permit, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

California

Santa Rosa: The Sonoma County Fair has eliminated the pig scramble from Farmers Day because of rising public concern and protests over animal welfare. In the long-running event at the fair, youngsters chased and tried to capture piglets weighing 40 to 60 pounds. Officials say this year's event Aug. 4 will instead include elementary school children carrying watermelons slicked with vegetable oil around an obstacle course in a timed race. The board president says the decision reflects a "heightened awareness" toward calls for humane treatment of farm animals at the fair 55 miles north of San Francisco.

Colorado

Loveland: State wildlife officials are telling people near the Rocky Mountain foothills to keep an eye on their children and pets after a series of mountain lion sightings. Donna Kendrick says she and a neighbor saw a mountain lion recently in their backyards in west Loveland. Kendrick told the Loveland Reporter-Herald on Friday the big cat saw her and "vanished like a ninja." Kendrick called the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department, where spokesman Jason Clay says wildlife managers are aware of the sighting. Clay says Loveland-area residents reported mountain lions twice previously this year. People have reported mountain lions six times this year in nearby Masonville.

Connecticut

Hartford: State Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais is urging homeowners to review their insurance policies before the upcoming tropical storm season. Peak hurricane season in Connecticut begins in mid-August and runs through late October. Mais says policyholders should discuss with an agent or insurance company if they have appropriate and adequate coverage. Although homeowners, condo and renters insurance cover many types of storm damage, he notes that damage from flooding is excluded. Separate policies can be purchased from the federal National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. He says now is the time to buy those policies, considering there's a 30-day waiting period before the policy takes effect.

Delaware

Wilmington: From 2006 through 2012, nearly 300 million painkillers were shipped into Delaware according to a Drug Enforcement Administration database published this week by The Washington Post. If those 276,177,276 pills were distributed equally, that would be 286 for every Delawarean. The data set, known as ARCOS, tracks the journey of every prescription painkiller in the United States, starting with the manufacturer that produced it all the way to the pharmacy that purchased it. In 2006, 29 million prescription painkillers landed in Delaware communities. In 2011, the year with the highest volume, that number was nearly 48 million — a 68% increase. In 2012, the most recent year of data available, the number was 41 million. More than half of the pills — nearly 150 million — arrived in New Castle County. Sussex County had the highest per capita rate in the state at 361 pills per person. Kent County saw the greatest increase in pills delivered between 2006 and 2012, going from 4.5 million to 7.1 million respectively — a 57% increase.

District of Columbia

Washington: Developer Adrian Washington, CEO and founder of Neighborhood Development Company, has apologized for padlocking Little Jewels Daycare and Nooks Barbershop citing environmental concerns last week, WUSA-TV reports. To make amends, Washington has offered the barbershop and daycare spots in a new building paying the same rent. "We did the right thing (where) there was a clear health emergency, but we did it in the wrong way. We didn't communicate well, we came in suddenly and people rightly felt disrespected," Washington says. He adds it served as a valuable learning lesson even for a developer who has been in the business for more than two decades.

Florida

St. Augustine: An alligator that eluded capture for days in a Chicago lagoon is settling in its new home. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park said in a Facebook post Friday that it welcomed the reptile known as Chance the Snapper with a banner, pizza and the band Chicago's greatest hits. The park that now houses Chance recommended the Florida trapper Chicago officials flew in to capture the gator. The 4-foot, 18-pound American alligator became an instant sensation from the day he was spotted in the Humboldt Park lagoon and photos popped up online. Investigators don't know why the animal was in the lagoon, but experts say it wouldn't have survived the winter. Park director John Brueggen says Chance will stay alone for 90 days to make sure he is illness-free, and then join other gators.

Georgia

Atlanta: Georgia Power intends to rely more on solar power than in past years to deliver energy to homes and businesses. It will also close a coal-fired power plant in the northwest part of the state. WABE-FM reports that it's part of the company's long-range energy plan, which was recently approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission. Under the plan, Georgia Power will close its coal-fired power plant near Rome. Also part of the plan: the company says it will add more wood burning to its energy mix. Georgia Power has proposed an increase in rates by about 7 %. Hearings on that matter are scheduled to begin later this year.

Hawaii

Wailuki: The governing authority for Maui's water utility plans to study the feasibility of buying and maintaining an irrigation system that diverts stream water from east Maui and delivers it other parts of the island. The county Board of Water Supply voted Thursday to establish a subcommittee to study the issue, The Maui News reported. Alexander & Baldwin developed the East Maui Irrigation system a century ago to supply water to its sugar cane fields in central Maui. The company last year sold the cane fields to Mahi Pono, which is growing a variety of crops on the land. The system, which is today owned by A&B and Mahi Pono, has also supplied 35,000 residents in Upcountry with water. These water users have been in limbo after a bill that would have authorized the state to extend A&B's water permits failed at the state Legislature in May. A&B's diversion permit expires in December. The bill's failure raises questions about the permit's renewal and the delivery of water to end users after that date.

Idaho

Boise: In February, Idaho Fish and Game drastically cut the number of moose tags because of population declines across the state. In 2019-2020, there will be only 634 moose tags available each year, a 22% decrease from 2017-2018, which also saw an 8% reduction compared to 2015-2016. The Panhandle region of Idaho saw a 45% reduction in moose tags, the largest in the state, and the elimination of antlerless tags. Wildlife biologists do not have clear answers for the drop in moose population, but the likely suspect is a combination of habitat loss, ticks and predators. Idaho Fish and Game does not know exact moose population numbers but estimates there are 10,000 to 12,000 in the state. To estimate populations, Idaho Fish and Game relies on harvest information.

Illinois

Springfield: Thousands of people have visited the governor's mansion since it reopened last year after renovations that cost $15 million. The State Journal-Register reports that the governor's office says more than 29,000 people have toured the mansion. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner spearheaded the renovations because maintenance had been neglected. Recent former governors rarely used the mansion before the renovations. But Rauner lived there and now Gov. J.B. Pritzker has moved in. The mansion offers exhibits highlighting the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago and life during the Civil War. An "Art of Illinois" project also showcases 80 pieces of fine and decorative art. The mansion has hosted free weekly concerts this summer. The mansion is open daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for guided tours.

Indiana

Burns Harbor: The Navy is planning to commission its new USS Indianapolis combat vessel at a northwestern Indiana port this fall. The ceremony marking the ship's entry into the Navy's active fleet is set for Oct. 26 at Burns Harbor along Lake Michigan. It is the fourth military vessel carrying the Indianapolis name. The second USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine in July 1945 while returning from a Pacific island where it delivered key components for the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Only 317 of its nearly 1,200 crewmen survived the sinking and days in shark-infested waters. The ship was built at a Marinette, Wisconsin, shipyard and will be based near Jacksonville, Florida. It is a Freedom-class littoral ship designed to be highly maneuverable for missions such as mine-clearing and anti-submarine warfare.

Iowa

Coralville: Iowa State University is dropping claims of wrongdoing against a former employee and paying her $225,000 to resolve a legal dispute over its popular outdoor sculptures made from Legos. As part of the settlement, Iowa State has also taken several steps to restore the reputation of Teresa McLaughlin. Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen has written her a glowing letter of recommendation calling her an honest, innovative employee. The school also will dedicate a bench for McLaughlin in Reiman Gardens, the campus landmark that McLaughlin spent most of her career building as its director. Those steps will resolve a contentious three-year legal dispute that derailed Nature Connects, the traveling Lego art program conceived by McLaughlin. McLaughlin had accused the university of failing to pay her commissions. The university accused her of working to market competing exhibits.

Kansas

Garden City: A local zoo says two of four red panda cubs born last week have died. Officials with the Lee Richardson Zoo say one of the male cubs died of injuries "of an unknown origin" shortly after he was born. Another female cub died while being cared for by her mother. The cubs were among quadruplets born last Wednesday to Ember, a 9-year-old red panda. The zoo says only 1% of red panda litters are quadruplets. Ember and the cubs are expected to be on public display in late September or early October. Until then, footage of mom and cubs will be available on the zoo's social media accounts.

Kentucky

Newport: The city's plans to install a SkyWheel at the Newport on the Levee can move forward, the city announced Monday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the permit for construction of SkyWheel, the observation wheel planned for the riverfront, according to the city. Construction on the 230-foot tall SkyWheel will start as soon as possible. It will feature 30 climate-controlled gondolas and will be built at Newport on the Levee, right next to the Newport Aquarium, by Koch Development of St. Louis.

Louisiana

New Orleans: The Mississippi River is finally low enough again to let the Army Corps of Engineers begin closing a huge spillway after a record-breaking run diverting water into Lake Ponchartrain. The corps says Monday in a news release that about 10 of the 168 open bays in the Bonnet Carré spillway would be closed by day's end. Spokesman Matt Roe says full closing is expected to take about a week, with daily checks to make sure the river remains low enough to avoid stressing the city's levees. The spillway was created to limit the river's rush past New Orleans, keeping it below 1.25 million cubic feet per second – an amount that would fill the Empire State Building in 30 seconds. The spillway was opened May 10 for the second time this year.

Maine

Stonington: A group of Maine lobstermen that has the backing of the state's Congressional delegation is pushing back at a plan to protect endangered whales with new fishing regulations. A federal team has called for the removal of half the vertical trap lines from the Gulf of Maine to reduce risk to North Atlantic right whales. Lobstermen from the Maine coast gathered with three members of the delegation and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in Stonington on Sunday to make the case the new rules would put an unfair burden on a key state industry. Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who attended the rally, says right whales need help, but the government's "one-size-fits-all risk reduction" approach might not be the best way. The whales number about 400 and have experienced high mortality recently.

Maryland

Baltimore: Several hundred people gathered outside Johns Hopkins Hospital to protest the hospital's practice of suing patients over unpaid medical bills. The Baltimore Sun reports the Saturday demonstration also promoted the efforts of Hopkins nurses to join the National Nurses United union. The Sun reported in May that Hopkins has filed thousands of lawsuits since 2009 against patients with outstanding bills. It reported a large portion of those lawsuits targeted residents of low-income areas. Hopkins emailed a statement to employees Saturday saying it supports its nurses right to unionize, but the union released false information about Hopkins' debt collection practices. Spokeswoman Kim Hoppe says the court is only called on when patients stop responding and all points of contact are exhausted. She says patients can apply for medical or financial hardship.

Massachusetts

Boston: Lawmakers are weighing a ban on the practice of declawing cats. Supporters of the measure say declawing is cruel and painful. They say cats rely on their paws and claws to groom themselves and to help protect and defend their bodies. The practice involves amputating a cat's toes to the first knuckle. A bill that would prohibit declawing is scheduled for a public hearing at the Statehouse on Monday before the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. Lawmakers in New York last month voted to approve a bill banning the declawing of cats. The bill was sent to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Declawing a cat is already illegal in much of Europe and in several Canadian provinces, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.

Michigan

Arcadia: An exclusive golf course no longer encourages players to hit balls into Lake Michigan after a diver found hundreds in the water. A description on the Arcadia Bluffs website of the 12th hole overlooking the lake had said, "Go ahead and do it, everyone does," in reference to hitting a ball into the water before striking a tee shot. The Detroit Free Press says Arcadia Bluffs removed that reference last week after inquiries from the newspaper. Golf course president William Shriver says he doesn't want to encourage the practice. Experts say golf balls are made of plastic and rubber and aren't good for the Great Lakes. A beverage cart employee says she was fired for discouraging players from hitting balls into the lake. Arcadia Bluffs declined to comment.

Minnesota

St. Cloud: About 400 butterflies filled the sky on Sunday afternoon to celebrate lost loved ones at the eighth annual butterfly release event organized by Quiet Oaks Hospice. More than a thousand people were in attendance to listen to music, send off a butterfly, sip on root beer floats and enjoy a summer breeze by the river. In previous years, the event organizer would read off the names of those who were being celebrated during the butterfly release. But this year, attendees were invited to speak the name of the person they were celebrating and take a moment of silence to reflect.

Mississippi

Columbus: A group petitioning to legalize medical marijuana in the state says it needs about 28,700 more signatures to put the initiative on the November 2020 ballot. Jamie Grantham is communications director for Medical Marijuana 2020. She says organizers have gathered more than 86,000 signatures. That's about two-thirds of what's needed. The Commercial Dispatch reports Grantham spoke to a civic club Tuesday in Columbus. She says the state Department of Health would regulate every facet of the program, including overseeing treatment centers where products would be sold. She says only Mississippi licensed physicians could prescribe marijuana products to people with "debilitating medical conditions." State Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher says he opposes easing marijuana laws because of concerns the drug could be abused. He was a longtime narcotics agent.

Missouri

Kansas City: Lobbyist spending in Missouri has dropped by 94% since voters approved a $5 cap on lawmaker gifts last year. A KCUR analysis of state data concludes that lobbyists spent less than $17,000 on lawmakers in this year's legislative session compared with last year's spending of about $300,000. Peverill Squire, a University of Missouri political science professor, says financial gifts don't buy votes, but they can buy lawmakers' effort and time. Squire says most of the spending is on larger events that all lawmakers can attend, which adheres to the cap rule. Kelly Gillespie, a lobbyist who heads Missouri Biotech Association, says the new rules limit educational possibilities. Gillespie's group funded a program last year to teach lawmakers about drug discovery and health care affordability. That is no longer an option.

Montana

Missoula: Glacier National Park officials are teed off over a report that tourists were hitting golf balls off Going-to-the-Sun Road during a traffic delay. NBC Montana posted a video Thursday taken by a tourist during a road construction delay that shows two men teeing off with golf clubs on the side of the steep mountain road. On Friday, Glacier spokeswoman Lauren Alley told the Missoulian the incident is under investigation. She says throwing or hurling things over Going-to-the-Sun Road has the potential to hurt or kill people or wildlife. She says anyone who spots such activity should try to record the person's license plate number or remember their face if it can be done safely. Alley says law enforcement calls at Glacier are up 40% over last year.

Nebraska

Omaha: Two king penguin chicks that hatched in March are now on display at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The first chick hatched March 14 and now weighs 26 pounds. The second hatched March 16 and weighs 32 pounds. Their genders are not yet known. The chicks will remain in a segregated "chick pen" in the Antarctic penguin habitat until they molt their nonwaterproof down feathers. It also allows the chicks to get acclimated to the habitat and the other penguins. The chicks were raised by adult males – not typical for this species. Generally, an adult female shares that responsibility. The Zoo's Aquarium Birds staff only intervened during select feeding times to get the chicks used to accepting food by hand. The zoo has 24 king penguins: 13 males, nine females and the chicks.

Nevada

Fernley: The second-largest commercial land sale in state history is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to a northern Nevada industrial park covering nearly 7 square miles about 30 miles east of Reno. A California-based real estate firm, Mark IV Capital, outlined details of the $45 million purchase along Interstate 80. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada estimates more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created as a result of the potential development at what will be called the Victory Logistics District. Mark IV Capital cited location and infrastructure as reasons for its decision to acquire the property. In addition to easy railway access, it sits at a crossroad near I-80 and U.S. Highways 50 and 395.

New Hampshire

Loudon: The state Department of Transportation will be implementing a traffic control plan for fans attending Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Race in Loudon. The race starts at 3 p.m., with maximum traffic congestion occurring in the late afternoon and early evening. There will be ramp closures and other changes affecting Route 106, Interstate 93 and Interstate 393. In some areas, extra temporary lanes will be created.

New Jersey

Newark: Passengers traveling between New Jersey and New York have experienced rail delays of five hours or more about 17 times per year in recent years. That's the conclusion of a review conducted on behalf of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak. The study's findings were released Monday by the overseers of a multibillion-dollar project to build a second Hudson River rail tunnel and a new rail bridge over New Jersey's Hackensack River. The study covered 2014 through 2018 and says the delays cost commuters almost 2,000 hours in extra transit time. They were mostly caused by mechanical problems and an aging infrastructure. The $13.7 billion tunnel project has been stalled by disputes between New York and New Jersey and the federal government over how the cost will be divided up.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: In what's expected to be a long, contentious process, a few dozen people gathered recently for the first public meeting hosted by Public Service Co. of New Mexico on the planned shutdown of its coal-fired power plant. The utility says it wants feedback on four proposed options for replacing the power that will be lost when the San Juan Generating Station closes in 2022. The proposals are outlined in a filing made earlier this month with the Public Regulation Commission. Regulators will review the options in public hearings over the next nine to 15 months. The Albuquerque Journal reports PNM also will hold meetings in August with organizations that want to test potential changes in the different scenarios using modeling tools to determine costs and feasibility.

New York

Alexandria Bay: The St. Lawrence River has been named the best bass fishery in the nation. It's a first for the river, which borders Canada to the north and was ranked in the top 10 twice in the past four years by Bassmaster Magazine. The average weight of the entire 149-team field during a June tournament was 20.3 pounds, topped by the winning team from Sam Houston State University, which averaged 24.4 pounds a day. The Big Bass Award for that event was a 6-pound, 7-ouncer. Bassmaster Magazine editor James Hall says in some years there was internal debate over No. 1, but not this year. New York's Lake Erie out of Buffalo was 10th.

North Carolina

Asheville:Housing prices in Buncombe County have never been higher, outpacing even that of prices in Asheville city limits for the first time in nearly six years, data compiled by area real estate agencies show. The county's median sale price for the year's second quarter was $319,500, up more than 10% from the same time in 2018 and its highest figure on record, according to Mosiac Community Lifestyle Realty. The rise is being driven by more homes selling for more than $300,000 and fewer selling below $300,000 compared to the same time in 2018, Mosaic said. Buncombe had 732 home sales during the quarter, a roughly 8% boost from the previous year's totals. The same time period yielded 453 home sales in Asheville, also a record number for a quarter, says Mosiac.

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state Game and Fish Department says its workers have just completed one of the largest fish stocking efforts in the history of the agency. Crews have stocked 140 lakes across the state with more than 11 million walleye fingerlings from the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery. Fisheries production leader Jerry Wiegel says the Garrison Dam hatchery had to step up this year because of fish production that couldn't be used at the Valley City National Fish Hatchery. Its source of water is Lake Ashtabula, where zebra mussels were recently discovered. Walleye already produced at Valley City here used only to stock Lake Ashtabula. Some were also sent to other states for use in lakes where zebra mussels exist.

Ohio

Rossford: Amazon says it will open two new distribution centers in Ohio. The company announced Monday that the two sites in Akron and near Toledo will bring a combined 2,500 full-time jobs. The new facility in Akron will be built on the site of a former shopping mall. The one in Rossford near Toledo is going up at the intersection of Interstate 75 and the Ohio Turnpike. Each of the two distribution centers will cover more than 700,000 square feet. Both centers will employ workers to pack and ship small items. Amazon has five other distribution centers in the state. They employ a total of roughly 8,500 workers.

Oklahoma

Chickasha: One of the last remaining Democrats from a rural district in the state Legislature says he won't seek re-election in 2020. Rep. David Perryman announced Monday that he won't seek a fifth-consecutive term for House District 56. The southwest Oklahoma district includes the towns of Anadarko, Chickasha, Fort Cobb, Minco and Pocasset. A minority floor leader, Perryman says it's a "frustrating time" to be a Democrat from rural Oklahoma and that he's disappointed with the lack of bipartisanship in the Legislature. Republicans have a 77-24 advantage over Democrats in the House. Perryman says that when he completes his term in November 2020, he plans to resume his full-time law practice in Chickasha.

Oregon

Salem: The state's iconic Douglas firs are declining as the state's summers have grown hotter and drier. Drought also is killing grand fir and might be contributing to declines in Western red cedar and bigleaf maple. Oregon has experienced drought each summer since 2012, peaking in 2015. Although rainfall and snowpack have been close to average the past two years, temperatures in many areas still were above normal. Climate change is expected to increase drought in Oregon. Oregon Department of Forestry scientists conduct statewide aerial and ground tree surveys across 30 million acres each year, recording the number of dead and dying trees from all causes, including drought, storms, disease and insect damage. In 2018, about 680,000 acres contained damaged or dead trees attributed to all causes. That's fewer than at the peak of the drought but still higher than historic levels.

Pennsylvania

Wilkinsburg: Pogopalooza, known as the World Championships of Pogo, bounced into the city last weekend. Extreme pogo stick athletes from around the world came to town to show off their huge tricks and flips to compete for world titles in such categories as High Jump and Best Trick. The events on Saturday and Sunday weren't just for the grown-ups. Pogo users under the age of 15 entered a "bounce off" competition and those who bounced the longest got a free pogo stick. Visitors tried their hand at pogo-sticking in a free jump area that had pogo sticks of all sizes. In addition to the main competitions, the pogo athletes attempted to break three Guinness World Records over the weekend.

Rhode Island

Newport: A Titanic survivor's walking stick with an electric light she used to signal for help from a lifeboat has sold for $62,500 at an auction of maritime items. Guernsey's auction house held the auction in Newport on Friday and Saturday. Guernsey's President Arlan Ettinger says the top bid on Ella White's cane was $50,000, plus the surcharge added by the auction house. The preauction estimate had been $300,000 to $500,000. The walking stick was consigned to Guernsey's by the Williams family in Milford, Connecticut. Ettinger says some family members contested the sale. The issue was resolved before the auction, but the dispute might have made potential bidders nervous. Ettinger says the winning bidder said he was there on behalf of a friend in the United Kingdom.

South Carolina

Orangeburg: A family owned plant in Orangeburg County that makes machines for textile mills is closing after nearly 50 years. Mayer Industries Inc. CEO George Fischer says the company is consolidating its work making braiding machines at plants in Germany. Fischer told The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg that its 59 employees were told of the closing two years ago and the company has been working to help anyone find a new job. Fischer says Mayer Industries did a similar consolidation of its knitting machine business nearly 20 years ago. Mayer Industries built the Orangeburg plant in 1970 and created a course at the nearby technical college to teach workers metric measurements they would need to make machines for the European market.

South Dakota

Rapid City: A National Guard unit has been welcomed home after a nearly year-long deployment to the Middle East. A ceremony was held Sunday afternoon for the 26 members of the 935th Aviation Support Battalion at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Rapid City. KOTA-TV says community members showed their appreciation with prayer and applause. Gov. Krisit Noem told the guard members their dedication did not go unnoticed because of their exemplary work. The Rapid City-based unit provided aviation maintenance and repair support for the Army.

Tennessee

Memphis: The Shelby County Sheriff's Office says six corrections officer have resigned after an internal investigation into accusations of inappropriate conduct. The Commercial Appeal reports that the identities of the deputies were not provided. A social media post from the sheriff's office says the investigations focused on inappropriate relationships with inmates at the Shelby County Jail. The deputies were suspended with pay in mid-June while an investigation was conducted. One of the deputies resigned in June after being charged with a personal conduct violation and consorting with persons of bad or criminal reputation, which are administrative charges. Sheriff's Office Captain Anthony Buckner says in a video release that the investigation was halted because the deputies left the department and the office's General Investigation Bureau did not find sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.

Texas

Deer Park: The cleanup of millions of gallons of waste and polluted water is far from over four months after a large fire burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site. The Houston Chronicle reports that Intercontinental Terminals Company, the facility's owner, must abide by a 31-page management plan that underscores how waste is sampled and identified, stored and discarded. The March 17 fire at the company's Deer Park site, located southeast of Houston, triggered air quality warnings. More than 21 million gallons of potentially hazardous waste and contaminated water have since been collected from the tank farm and Houston Ship Channel. The Harris County District Attorney's Office filed water pollution charges in April against Intercontinental Terminals Company, alleging the fire caused chemicals to flow into a nearby waterway.

Utah

Alpine: Police in northern Utah were surprised to learn the suspect in a reported burglary was a wild turkey. Dave Ventrano with Lone Peak police says they received a call on Saturday from a resident who heard a window break in the house next door. The family that lives there was out of town. Officers searched the house and found a dead turkey lying in a pile of broken glass underneath a window on the first floor of the home. Ventrano said the turkey died after flying through the window. He said there are a lot of wild turkeys in Alpine. Police gave the turkey carcass to a resident who owns a local barbecue restaurant.

Vermont

Stowe: The once-endangered common loon is making a comeback in Vermont, but not without the help of humans across the state who build islands for the birds. Eric Hanson, a loon biologist with the state Center for Ecostudies has been leading the group's efforts to manage loon populations in the state. On July 15, Hanson, volunteers from the conservation group Friends of Waterbury Reservoir and Park Ranger Chad Ummel met at the northern part of Waterbury Reservoir to grab some canoes and kayaks and paddled out to build a nesting raft for the two loons that call the artificial lake home. The raft the crew put together on the reservoir was made from a base of cedar logs. Hanson sawed notches on the logs so they fit together like Lincoln Logs.

Virginia

Richmond: The state Department of Health has issued a warning to residents that there has been an increase in respiratory illnesses across the state. The health department received increased reports of respiratory, or breathing, illnesses across the Commonwealth greater than observed in previous summers. Most of the reports have occurred among older adults and those with chronic medical conditions in assisted living and long-term care facilities, the VDH said. The reports involve different regions of the state and different diseases, including pertussis (whooping cough), influenza, haemophilus influenzae infection, Legionnaire's disease and pneumonia caused by rhinovirus or human metapneumovirus.

Washington

Bremerton: The Kitsap Pride in the Park 2019 event emphasized unity: among law enforcement, churches, elected officials and community members. The Bremerton Police Department, City Council members and Mayor Greg Wheeler were among the hundreds of community members in attendance at Evergreen Park on Saturday. The Police Department took to the main stage following Wheeler's address to announce its "Safe Place" program. The program, operated by Officer and LGBTQ liaison Mitchell Chapman, will allow the department to offer a safe haven at the station for victims of hate crimes while police resolve the issue. Chapman says he will be working closely with local businesses and social services to train them on the protocols to serve as safe spaces.

West Virginia

Vivian: Crews have begun clearing the scene of a train derailment, where up to 20 cars went off the rails, some of which had carried hazardous materials at one point. No one was injured. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Kimball Fire Chief Jimmy Gianato says the hazardous material train cars were empty during the Saturday crash, but will still be continually monitored becauese of possibility of a leak. After the Norfolk Southern train cars derailed near Vivian, some toppled onto their side. Others fell into the neighboring creek. The newspaper reports one was labeled "Carbon Dioxide Refrigerated Liquid." Crews with Norfolk Southern, Emergency Railroad Services and Cranemasters worked to clear the scene Sunday.

Wisconsin

Appleton: In the midst of a sweltering heatwave that scorched more than half of the U.S., there was some good news for Appleton residents: It apparently has been worse. A Seattle news station reported Friday that Appleton is home to the hottest "feels like" day in U.S. history, when the temperature hit a high point of 101 degrees with a dew point of 90 degrees on July 13, 1995. That combination produced a heat index — or made it feel like — 148 degrees that day, KOMO News reported. Friday wasn't quite that hot — Appleton saw a high temperature of 90 degrees and dew points ranged from the low-to-mid 70s, says Scott Berschback, a meteorologist out of the National Weather Service office in Green Bay. Berschback couldn't confirm Friday's peak heat index, nor could he confirm the purported record.

Wyoming

Rock Springs: Two residents are trying to end the use of a gas chamber for euthanasia at an animal shelter. The Humane Society of the U.S. says Wyoming is one of just four states where shelters still use gas chambers rather than lethal injection to euthanize animals; the others are Missouri, Ohio and Utah. Animal welfare advocates say gas chambers are cruel because death often doesn't happen quickly. The Rock Springs Rocket-Miner reports Madhu Anderson and Eve Waggoner have been protesting the use of gas at the Rock Springs animal shelter. Anderson says lethal injection is more humane and not difficult to implement. Rock Springs Police Chief Dwane Pacheco says the shelter only euthanizes feral cats and aggressive dogs and has one of Wyoming's few free spay-and-neuter programs.

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