News from the Associated Press - August 5, 2014

Associated Press
August 5, 2014

NY looking at options for using $4.2B surplus

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's governor is studying the state's options for how to spend a $4.2 billion budget surplus.

The state says the windfall is the result of recent financial settlements with banks and insurance companies.

BNP Paribas, for example, agreed to pay a $2.2 billion penalty to the state after pleading guilty to charges that it violated economic sanctions by processing transactions for clients in blacklisted countries including Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration says Monday that it's reviewing options for the unanticipated revenue. Possibilities include paying down state debt, building up the state's financial reserves, or spending the money on one-time capital expenses.

The money would certainly help cover the cost of one big-ticket item: the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which has a price tag of $3.9 billion.


Paper: Drilling industry using more imported steel

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Recent state data suggests that Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers may be using far more imported steel pipe than previously thought, but the industry is questioning that figure.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Department of Environmental Protection records show that over the last two years 77 percent of the shale wells drilled in Pennsylvania were built with foreign steel, while 12 percent used American steel and 11 percent were mixed.

U.S. Steel Corp. says a glut of foreign tube steel has put about 260 people out of work at a plant near Pittsburgh and another in Belleville, Texas.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, says a brief survey found that more than 90 percent of the steel pipe its members use is American-made.


New York to vet firefighters for past sex offenses

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New volunteer firefighters in New York state will be screened for past sex offenses under a law signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Under the old law, fire department applicants have to be screened only for arson convictions.

The amendment, scheduled to take effect in four months, is meant to ensure registered sex offenders are kept out of fire companies whose members come in contact with children and other vulnerable people on medical and fire calls and at community and school events.

The law specifically applies to new applicants and transfers from other volunteer fire departments. It authorizes background checks by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which maintains New York's sex offender registry.

However, legislative sponsors and Cuomo say it's also a way for removing current firefighters with those convictions.


NY beefs up post-partum depression screening

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is implementing new screening guidelines to help health care professionals recognize post-partum depression.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation intended to help doctors and nurses recognize the signs of depression in new mothers and get patients the care they need. The bill singles out pediatricians as playing a vital role in identifying depression in new mothers.

The measure's sponsor, Sen. Liz Krueger, says many new parents don't know how common it is for women to face depression following childbirth.

Cuomo's office says Monday early screening is highly effective and can help women get help before the condition worsens. The state estimates that 10 to 15 percent of mothers develop depression following a pregnancy.


College gets grant to study New York battlefields

ELMIRA, N.Y. (AP) — Binghamton University has received more than $28,000 from the federal government as part of the state college's ongoing efforts to preserve two Revolutionary War battle sites along New York's Southern Tier.

The Star-Gazette of Elmira reports that the university's Public Archaeology Facility was recently awarded the grant from the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program to preserve the locations of the battles of Newtown and Chemung, which were fought in August 1779.

Continental soldiers battled British loyalists and Iroquois warriors in battles fought two weeks apart in what are now the towns of Ashland and Chemung, located on the Pennsylvania border. Ashland is home to the Newtown Battlefield State Park, just outside Elmira.

Since 2008, Binghamton University has received nearly $200,000 for historical research and archaeology projects at the two battlefields.


Oneida Lake beaches closed due to algae bloom

CICERO, N.Y. (AP) - Health officials have closed two beaches on Oneida Lake near Syracuse because of dense algae blooms.

The Onondaga County Health Department announced Monday that Oneida Shores Beach and Joseph F. William Memorial Park Beach, both in Cicero, are closed to swimming until further notice.

Certain types of blue-green algae can release toxins that may cause skin or eye irritation, or diarrhea and vomiting if ingested.

Health officials advise people and pets to stay out of any water where algae blooms are present.

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