News from the Associated Press - July 10, 2014

Associated Press
July 10, 2014

Weather service: Tornado hit homes where 4 died

SMITHFIELD, N.Y. (AP) - The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado destroyed the homes in upstate New York where four people were killed.

Barbara Watson, the meteorologist leading the agency's survey team says that the violent winds Tuesday were at least 100 mph and reached undetermined higher speeds to cause the damage they're seeing in the town of Smithfield, between Syracuse and Utica.

She says Wednesday that one two-story home is gone, the structure blown away and leaving only the foundation.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley says the home was blown hundreds of feet before it landed on an unoccupied house.

He identified the victims as a 35-year-old woman and her 4-month-old daughter, a 70-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man.

Severe thunderstorms packing strong winds swept through a number of Eastern states on Tuesday, killing five people.


Liberal NY gov candidate gets 40K names for ballot

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A liberal law professor seeking to challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says she has collected 40,000 signatures from voters who want her name on the Democratic Primary ballot.

Zephyr Teachout's campaign plans to mail the petitions Thursday from a New York City post office.

State law requires a candidate wishing to appear on the ballot to get 15,000 signatures from voters.

Teachout has criticized Cuomo for not doing enough to address income inequality, improve education or pass liberal priorities such as public campaign financing.

Teachout, a professor at Fordham University's law school, launched her long-shot bid to unseat Cuomo after the governor beat her to win the nomination of the left-leaning Working Families Party.


Pennsylvania clerk loses bid against gay marriage

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. Supreme Court justice has rejected a Pennsylvania county clerk's bid to stop gay marriages in the state while she tries to get standing in a legal case to stop them permanently.

Without comment, Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Schuylkill County Orphans' Court Clerk Theresa Santai-Gaffney. The clerk can appeal to another justice, however.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania on May 20 when U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down a state ban against the practice. Gov. Tom Corbett's administration decided not to appeal the decision.

The county clerk, however, then tried to intervene. The federal judge and a federal appellate court rebuffed her attempts, prompting her appeal to the Supreme Court.


NY public authorities' spending rises $1.5B

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A new report shows New York's 46 state public authorities spent $30.3 billion in operating expenses last year, up $1.5 billion over 2012.

The state Authorities Budget Office says the spending has risen 17.6 percent since 2009 while staffing has declined by more than 2,800 over those five years.

That's double direct state government's 8.6 percent spending increase.

Authorities were created by the Legislature to carry out specific tasks, like overseeing highways, power stations, New York City's transit system and other public works.

They are usually run by board members, may appointed by the governor or mayor, and are supposed to operate independently of the government executives.

The report shows state authorities ended 2013 with $151.9 billion in outstanding debt, up 6.4 percent since 2009.