NY Assembly passes its moratorium on fracking
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York's Assembly has voted to suspend until 2015 any action on allowing gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, which environmentalists fear threatens the public's health.
The Assembly vote on Wednesday follows a bill introduced Wednesday in the Senate, which would put off the decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for up to two years.
Each house wants to provide time for the Cuomo administration to consider state, federal, university and private sector studies. Key among them is a health review in Pennsylvania known as the Geisinger study that will compare data about residents near gas drilling wells before and after the process was allowed.
Cuomo has said he'll await recommendations from his health and environmental conservation departments. He has not set a deadline for that process.
2 firefighters wounded in Webster shooting speak
WEBSTER, N.Y. (AP) The two Rochester-area firefighters who survived the Christmas Eve shooting that claimed the lives of two comrades say it's going to be a long road back to recovery.
Speaking publicly for the first time Wednesday, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino thanked the public for the support after both were shot the morning of Dec. 24 at the scene of a house fire in Webster, just east of Rochester. Two other firefighters, Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, were killed when William Spengler opened fire on them as they arrived on the scene.
Hofstetter and Scardino are both in physical therapy with hopes of returning to work.
Police say Spengler set fire to the lakeside house he shared with his sister. Authorities believe remains found in the rubble may have been hers.
Spengler committed suicide after police arrived.
Cops: Mass. man who threatened NY student caught
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Authorities say the lockdown at an upstate New York college campus came after a man threatened to kill a student trying to break off a relationship with him.
Saratoga Springs police say 49-year-old Lance Leonard was tracked by way of his cellphone and arrested in New Jersey after Skidmore locked down the campus Tuesday night when the woman's father reported the threat.
They say Leonard, who'd also said he'd kill himself, wasn't armed when he was found in Atlantic City.
Authorities describe Leonard as a transient whose last known address was in Cuttyhunk, an island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Prosecutors say Wednesday he's charged with felony first-degree coercion. It wasn't initially known if he has a lawyer.
Skidmore is a liberal arts college with an enrollment of about 2,500 students.
Officer who fired shot in NY high school suspended
HIGHLAND, N.Y. (AP) A police officer has been suspended without pay after he accidentally fired a shot from his pistol in an upstate New York high school.
Lt. James Janso of the town of Lloyd police department tells local media outlets Officer Sean McCutcheon will be suspended while the investigation of the mishap continues.
McCutcheon was assigned as a resource officer at Highland High School in the Hudson Valley town of Highland in January in response to the Newtown school massacre. Janso says that program has been suspended for now.
Authorities said there were no staff or students nearby when the weapon went off in a hallway just after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Nobody was hurt.
A phone number for McCutcheon wasn't available Wednesday.
Lloyd is in Ulster County, 65 miles south of Albany.
Widow questioned about servant at her NY mansion
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A woman accused of cheating an Indian household servant out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay and keeping her a virtual prisoner at an upstate New York mansion is set to be cross-examined as her federal trial winds down.
Annie George is due back on the stand Thursday after testifying Wednesday she didn't know Valsamma Mathai was in the United States illegally and didn't mistreat her during the 5 1/2 years she worked in her 20,000-square-foot home in Rexford, an Albany suburb.
Mathai testified earlier she slept in a closet and wasn't allowed to leave the property. She says she worked long days without vacation, days off or sick time.
The case surfaced when her son called the National Human Trafficking Resources Center in 2011.
George is charged with harboring an illegal immigrant for financial gain.
Shumlin expresses doubts on GMO bill
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Gov. Peter Shumlin is expressing doubt about whether Vermont should pass a bill requiring special labeling for food that is genetically modified or contains genetically modified ingredients.
Shumlin says Vermont lost a lawsuit several years ago over a requirement for labels on dairy products from cows treated with an artificial growth hormone.
He says that loss in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes Vermont likely not the best state to be the first to test a GMO labeling law.
A bill requiring labels on genetically modified food cleared the House Agriculture Committee last Friday, but even supporters say they expect that if it passes, it will be challenged in court by the biotech industry.
(All stories copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)