- The CDC says the Zombie Apocalypse is not upon us…yet.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, leader of the Archdiocese of New York, is reported to have authorized payments of up to $20,000 to priests accused of sexual assault while he served as Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. An archdiocese spokesman explained that the payments were an incentive for accused priests to leave the Church quickly, so they could then be removed from both position and payroll, without formal and extensive Vatican proceedings or accrual of fees from successive lawsuits. The Church asserts that the payments were purposeful—expediting the removal of the priests and preventing further lawsuits—and obligatory—upon ordainment, a priest is guaranteed provision by the Church. Dolan, who succeeded an archbishop accused of sexual assault in Milwaukee, worked not only to remove accused priests, but also to assuage the victims. He held forums with survivors, offered consolation, and created a $4 million fund for their counseling and compensation. The selling of Church property provided for the fund.
Source: New York Times
Jay Townsend, a campaign spokesman for Rep. Nan Hayworth, (R-NY), resigned on June 4 after urging, “Let’s hurl some acid at those female Democratic senators.” Townsend posted the suggestion on the Facebook page of the 19th Congressional District—Hayworth’s current representation. Hayworth hopes to be elected to the new 18th Congressional District, which includes Orange, Putnam, and parts of Dutchess and Westchester Counties. The May 26 remark targeted senators Townsend believed claim to support, but fail to enact, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay bill, which allows women to take legal action for equal pay in the workforce.
Sources: New York Times, Poughkeepsie Journal
A review by the Environmental Protection Agency of the Superfund cleanup of the upper Hudson River strongly suggested additional dredging of the area. General Electric deposited 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) into the river from 1946 to 1977; dredging began in 2009. The review notes, however, that high amounts of PCBs exist outside the current dredging zone, resulting in 50 percent lower PCB reduction than expected. While the EPA does not have the jurisdiction to enforce additional dredging, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clearwater, Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson have agreed that dredging should be expanded now.
Sources: EPA, Wall Street Journal
Two motorcyclists were arrested after refusing to stop for police at speeds of 170 and 193 mph on the Thruway. The slower of the two sped from Ravena to New Paltz, fleeing police en route. Despite 20 days in jail and a revoked license, the motorcyclist taunted officers, promising to speed again. The second motorcyclist, insisting he was traveling to a hospital, covered nearly 60 miles from Albany to Rosendale before his arrest. In cars that reach 140 mph at most, police were forced to decide in both cases that a chase would be less effective than hoping to successfully track the motorcyclists.
Sources: Associated Press, Jalopnik, Times Union
In April, the Food and Drug Administration suggested suppliers limit antibiotic use for livestock, out of fear that human ingestion of meat and poultry fed antibiotics may make humans more resistant to antibiotics, and proliferate drug-resistant bacteria. Not only was this a health-conscious decision, but businesses have also found it to be fiscally beneficial. After switching to antibiotic-free pork in its carnitas burrito nearly 10 years ago, Chipolte has seen a 50 percent increase in sales of the menu option. Hyatt Hotels reports a 30 percent increase in sales for antibiotic-free beef options in their restaurants. While only an estimated 2 percent of markets sell antibiotic-free meat currently, the profit growth for antibiotic-free markets gives businesses a new incentive. Antibiotic-free meat and poultry can be purchased at most Wal-Mart locations.
The early bird gets a seat on the bus. Between January and March, usage increased on 93 percent of heavy rail (subways and trains), light rail (streetcars and trolleys), and bus transportation. The mild winter, high gas prices, slightly boosted employment, and mass-transit incentives from employers have been contributing factors for the move. Due to the influx of patrons, public transportation systems must now address insufficient capacity and staffing. Rush-hour leaves systems bogged and experienced riders are quick to warn that delays are common and seats are scarce. While the change is “nationwide,” according to the American Public Transportation Association, cities are facing the most difficulties, including San Diego, Boston, and Charlotte.
Source: USA Today
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported a 0.3 percent increase for global military spending in 2011—the lowest since 1998. The United States, United Kingdom, India, Germany, France, Brazil, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland notably lowered their military spending. The decrease is theorized to be the result of the current economic crisis. China, Africa, and Russia expanded their military spending by 6.7 percent, 8.6 percent, and 9.3 percent, respectively. There was also a rise in military spending in the Middle East, “although the lack of data for key players such as Iran and the United Arab Emirates makes the regional total highly uncertain.”
Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
There’s a war for water underfoot. According to a report by the University of Texas at Austin, groundwater amounts have decreased 150 feet in the past 60 years in California and the High Plains—a stretch of land from Texas to Wyoming and South Dakota. The fruits, vegetables, and grains grown in these areas constitute $56 billion of the nation’s food production. While groundwater is key for agriculture in arid areas, rising urbanization and drought patterns have led to increased use of irrigation, leaving aquifers dry. The study proposes use of sprinkler or drip systems, which apply water directly to roots, or groundwater banking, effective for both flood and drought. However, researchers assert that these techniques cannot be implemented in the High Plains region, where irrigation is the only effective option. Farmers utilizing irrigation “will be unable to do so within a few decades,” according to researchers. The researchers did not suggest an alternative for the High Plains area.
Source: Science Daily
Eighteen-year-old Aaron Deveau of Massachusetts has been sentenced to a year in jail for a 2011 car crash, during which Deveau was reportedly driving and texting. The crash resulted in the death of another driver. In 2010, Massachusetts passed a law making texting while driving illegal; Deveau is the first to be convicted under this law. Though Deveau sent and received nearly 200 texts that day, he insisted he was not texting during the crash. His license has been suspended for 15 years.