The cat killer strikes in Yonkers

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There is a new type of serial killer on the loose in Yonkers, New York. But this one is not after humans, they are after your cats. More than 30 dead cats were discovered decomposing inside plastic bags that were hanging from trees in an abandoned lot in Yonkers on Thursday.

The horrific display was discovered around 10am when workers arrived to clean up the lot. Ernie Lungaro, director of humane law enforcement at the SPCA of Westchester told the Associated Press that the animals had been there for a while. Some of the carcasses were severally decomposed.

“It’s hard to believe that someone didn’t notice something,” said SPCA’s executive director, Shannon Laukhuf. “The smell of decomposition is overwhelming.”

Local police are investigating the incident and trying to determine who killed the cats. Along with the cats, authorities found a baseball bat, two shovels, and a metal pipe near the scene.

According to the SPCA of Westchester  necropsies were performed on three feline victims and revealed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. It remains unclear as to whether the cats were feral or kidnapped pets.

“We’ve never really seen anything like this,” Laukhuf said.  “What’s so disturbing is the way the cats were hung in bags and arranged. This is obviously the work of someone very deranged.”

 Image courtesy of NYTimes.

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…no it’s a blood moon!

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Thousands gathered at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles between 2 and 4:30am Tuesday morning in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the rare “blood moon.” The moon took on a reddish hue and was visible in North and South America in different phases depending on location. Families in Los Angeles spread out blankets on the grass and came equipped with their binoculars and telescopes.

A blood moon is essentially a total lunar eclipse where a full moon turns into a coppery red as it passes into the Earth’s shadow. During this process the moon takes on a red hue because the moon’s bright glow dims and takes in the sunlight and sunsets of surrounding areas. The entire reddening process of the moon takes about an hour.

This astronomical event is so rare because the moon has to be full and have a large enough shadow for the total lunar eclipse to occur and be red. As more of the moon seeps through the shadows the red tint will fade and the normal silver color will appear.

Some North American cities were not as fortunate to see this sky delicacy due to showers the clouded the sky in locations such as Atlanta. Those with the greatest view of the moon were cities: Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles.

Nasa eclipse expert Fred Espenak reports there was a 300-year period when there were no blood moons. Now there are more opportunities to take advantage of this spectacle. North America can plan to see the blood moon four more times between now and September of next year. In addition to the spotting on Tuesday it will also appear in the skies on October 8 2014, April 4th 2015, and September 8 2015. If you miss those three remaining blood moons you’ll have to wait until 2032 to see it.

 

Image Courtesy of CNN.

 

Facebook’s New Initiative Looks to New Technologies to Provide Internet Connectivity

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While it may seem that everybody and their grandmother has Facebook today, it may surprise you to know that two thirds of the world’s population does not. Not from distaste for the website but due to the lack of Internet access for more than half the globe.

Creator of this social media network, Mark Zuckerberg, announced this week that he has put together a new team called the Connectivity Lab to research and test new technologies to get everyone connected to the world wide web. The Connectivity Lab will look towards using drones, satellites, and lasers to reach isolated areas.

This new team is in connection with the Connection movement put together by Facebook and other technology companies who launched Internet.org last year. This global partnership has made it their goal to make internet accessible to everyone. They see the lack of connectivity as one of the greatest challenges for our underprivileged generation because they do not have access to the tools and opportunities being connected to the internet allows.

Since the coalition, more than three million more people have been given access to the internet according to Zuckerberg. To reach more people Zuckerberg has brought on aerospace experts from Nasa and those who worked with building the Zephyr solar-powered drone.

The Connectivity Lab will look to use drones to bring internet to more suburban areas as they can remain in the air for months at a given time. For more rural areas where a drone can not reach out to large masses of people they are testing satellites to beam connections on the ground. Long distance connections are currently being tested using invisible infrared laser beams.

Whether or not the government and people of certain countries will accept the use of internet in the future remains unknown and of little concern to those at the Connectivity Lab. For now, their main goal is overcoming the technical challenges that make delivering internet to all areas of the globe difficult.

Image courtesy of marcopako.

Modern day friendships: Little to no effort required

If I read one more article describing the detrimental effects of social media on modern day friendships, I may just tweet about it.

There are a plethora of arguments that claim that our media-based world is redefining the concept of friendship, but in actuality, humans are becoming too self-absorbed to be able to sustain true friendships. We blame the advancement of technology instead of looking toward the heart of the issue: the users of technology.

There is no doubt that the social media landscape has changed the way we communicate. As of March 2013, Facebook reported having 1.11 billion users, Twitter, 200 million users and Instagram, 100 million users. Don’t blame the trend; blame the trendsetters.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not to blame for the decreasing value of friendship. These social media websites are not forcing people to depersonalize their relationships. But human beings will always look for a scapegoat.

In the past, friendships were taken as seriously as romantic relationships. Aristotle explained it best when he wrote, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Today, people have exchanged this concept for self-promotion and the appearance of having friends. We no longer perform the simplest expressions of friendship by giving another person our time, trust and thought. Instead, we prefer likes, favorites and retweets.

We mistakenly believe that our mere physical presence serves as a sufficient dedication of our time to another individual. A friend deserves uninterrupted time and attention, not the leftover scraps of energy that remain at the end of the day.

To give a part of oneself to another individual through verbal expression – to open up one’s soul, to trust another person – is now terrifyingly difficult. The number of people who can actually be trusted is diminishing because of the number of people we blindly welcome into our lives via staged profiles. Our egos seem to deduce that if we don’t get X number of likes, we aren’t attractive, intelligent or fill in the blank.

When a friendship requires more effort than we desire to put forth, it is thrown aside because we subconsciously know that there are 1.11 billion other people out there who are in search of another effortless Facebook friendship.

It is easier to be distant friends with 100 people than it is to be meaningful friends with one. With a multitude of friends, relationships become about what you can receive instead of what you can give.

If our friendship is devoid of sacrifice, then consider us strangers. If the question, “What can I do for this individual?” isn’t popping up inside our heads, then we are unaware of how friendship works.

I grew up under the label “popular,” but it was really a less sophisticated epithet for “people pleaser.” It appeared as if I had a lot of friends, but in reality, all I had was lists of acquaintances. People thought that they knew me because of a shared class, sport or town – common interests that initiate a friendship but should never determine one.
I felt it necessary to divide my time amongst these “friends” because I was afraid of being alone – as if not having a person by my side at all times meant that I was incapable of being loved, or that having a Friday night to myself meant that I was a loser.

Today, my solitary moments are my highest-valued moments. I can count my close friends on my hands, and I’m not afraid to admit that staying in on a Friday night would be the highlight of my hectic week.

I can be that way while actively posting from my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. If I am having a problem with a friendship, I don’t attribute it to an online medium, but rather, I accept that the problem is rooted in personal differences.

It is time to stop observing the communication problem and start administering a solution. Social media is here to stay, and maybe the solution is as simple as relearning how to be a friend. How ironic is it that the more complex the world becomes, the simpler the concepts we forget?

Hook-ups and heartbreak: The problem with our generation’s concept of relationships

“Boys only want one thing,” my father used to say to me. I thought that thing was friendship, but my father would always reply, “boys don’t want to be your friend.”

It’s the classic case of father knows best. My dad repeated those precautionary lines so frequently throughout my high school years that it became a mission of mine to prove him wrong. But once I got to college and began interacting with the opposite gender in a more romantic way, I realized yet again, daddy was right.

Well, partially right. Guys definitely want to be your friend, but not without benefits, and they rarely want a relationship title included. The same goes for girls.

Relationships seem to be a taboo topic in college today, as if they are a plague to be avoided. They are recommended only for those lost in love. Though, even with the negative connotation that the relationship possesses, it has not been entirely abandoned by the university scene; instead, it has been modernized in the form of hook-up buddies.

“Hook-up buddy” is a condescending term used by men and women alike to condone a lack of commitment. What would have once been referred to as using somebody is now a sought-after role. Individuals use each other simply to satisfy their carnal needs, and the whole act is justified based on the sole fact that it is mutual.

Regardless of what is decided prior to this pseudo-relationship, one person is bound to get more attached than the other, and someone will get hurt. Do we really need to question why so many marriages today end up in divorce?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that for every 1,000 people in the United States in 2011, the marriage rate was only 6.8 percent while the divorce rate was close behind at 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that depression affects an astounding 9.5 percent of the current population. Could not divorce and depression be the side effects of a generation that took the once selfless concept of a relationship and turned it into a selfish delusion?

It doesn’t help that people are labeled as “wife material” or “husband material” –a slap in the face dressed up like a compliment. People use this to put the good girls and guys on a sort of layaway, as if they will be around in a few years when the opposite party is ready to settle down.

To each his own method of living, right? Who am I to judge the actions of another? But this style of relationships exceeds an optional lifestyle choice; it has become the standard operating procedure of dating. People with positive intentions, who are willing to give their hearts and trust to another individual, are the ones getting hurt. I see it everywhere – in my friends’ lives and in my own.

The dating pool is polluted, and it is impossible to wade through without getting covered in debris. One person may think that he or she is entering a relationship when the other participant sees it as much less. This happens all too often, because intentions are never vocalized.

Activities that prelude becoming involved in a true relationship, such as conversation, flirting and simply spending time alone together, are the same as those that prelude becoming involved as hook-up buddies. How is one to distinguish between a budding romance and a mere physical attraction?

Is the point of this article to insinuate that you need to find a serious relationship in college? Absolutely not. If it happens, let it. If it doesn’t happen, let it go. And if you have gusto in leading another individual on, you can at least inform them of your intent beforehand. It’s beyond common courtesy; it’s called being a decent person.

Nassau County Politics: A Promising New Face in Local Politics

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From the classroom to the courtroom to a candidate for Nassau County’s 19th District Legislator; Steve Rhoads got his first taste of politics when he was thirteen years old. Hoping to gain five extra credit points on his social studies grade and impress his homeroom teacher he decided to volunteer for her husband, state assemblyman Fred Perolla.

After volunteering in seventh grade, Rhoads found a future in local politics. He worked under Perolla for four more sessions in the state assembly in Albany before returning to Long Island to become a local committee person. Today he is running for Nassau County Legislator of the 19th district which runs from Freeport to Seaford, using many of the same techniques he learned from Perolla’s campaign.

“I made the decision to run, to be perfectly honest, because I am tired of seeing all the gridlock,” said Rhoads.

“I am tired of seeing all the Democrats refuse to work with Republicans, Republicans refuse to work with Democrats. People who are part of the middle, who are the ones that are paying the taxes, really need their government to work for them.”

Dave Denenberg has had control over the 19th district of Nassau County for the past 14 years and has easily become a household name. Rhoads, the underdog in the election, has had the difficult task of not only introducing his policies but enforcing his credibility as a politician.

“He doesn’t have the experience,” said Claudia Borecky, the Public Relations Manager for Dave Denenberg.

“You need to work with government, and in government, to understand people’s needs, the community’s needs, your constituent’s needs.”

Rhoads may not have 14 years as a legislator to tote on his resume, but he is not unfamiliar with holding leadership roles in the community. Rhoads was the former Deputy Bureau Chief of the Nassau County Attorney’s Bureau of Tort and Civil Rights Litigation. He currently practices law for Grey and Grey L. L. P. and is responsible for the firm’s Long Island personal injury matters.

Rhoads was also captain of the Wantagh Volunteer Fire Department  for five years, where he has served since 1992.

20 year old James Holman, a fellow Volunteer Firefighter for Nassau County and four year employee for Grey and Grey L.L.P. describes working with Rhoads as an enjoyable and learning experience.

“I believe that Steve’s friendship with myself and the other clerks in the office has opened his eyes to the problems us young people will face in the future,” said Holman.

“Housing in Nassau County is extremely expensive and the prospect of buying a house in the future for young people looks quite dim.”

Lowering property taxes is just one of the policies Rhoads would like to implement if he receives Election this Tuesday night. His primary goal is to ease the burden on taxpayers by controlling county spending, reducing the size of government, and using industrial development agencies to bring business into Nassau County so that the economy can be expanded and jobs created.

“I think what gives me an advantage over Denenberg is I am trying to apply common sense solutions to a very real problem for homeowners,” said Rhoads.

“Which is that between taxes, in every level of government, between increased expenses, it is getting very hard for them to be able to stay here in Nassau County. What’s the point of having one of the nicest counties in the world to live in if nobody can afford to stay here.”

The 19th district of Nassau County covers the towns of North Bellmore, Bellmore, Merrick, and parts of Freeport. Joan Brady, 55, has been a resident of the area of Freeport that runs under the 19th district for over 10 years. Her biggest problem with her district is the high taxes.

“God Almighty, the taxes are just so high! The school taxes, the real estate taxes, it just doesn’t stop. When will it be easier for the middle class?” said Brady.

“14 years is just too long of a time, for Denenberg. I think it’s time to get some new blood in the political scene.”

Whether or not Rhoads wins the 19th District Nassau County Legislative Race or not, he will continue to serve Nassau County like he has for over the past twenty years.

“I have a career I am perfectly happy with, I didn’t intend to run this year, “said Rhoads. “But I am because I’m frustrated with what I see and I’m trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” concluded Rhoads.

Global Frackdown Comes To Long Island

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200 events, 20 countries, one mission: to ban fracking. October 19th marked the second annual Global Frackdown, a day dedicated to rallying against the production of LNG, liquified natural gas. Over 100 Long Island citizens gathered on Long Beach boardwalk to take part in the global event.

The objective of the Frackdown was to educate local citizens about the effects of fracking and the projected construction of the Port Ambrose Offshore LNG Terminal.  Protesters pushed for signatures petitioning Governor Cuomo to terminate the proposal of a natural gas terminal that would be located 19 miles off shore.

Nassau County Legislator, Dave Denenberg commenced the rally with a speech on climate. As an environmental lawyer Denenberg believes there is firm evidence that global warming is in direct correlation with fracking.

“Fracking is a menace to our local environment and all of us, while the benefit is huge profit for only a select few,” said Dedenberg. “Fracking is not our answer.”

Dedenberg is currently in his seventh term representing the 19th district of Nassau County. He, and other local government members, have been working together to put a halt to this type of energy production and transition to “greener” technologies such as wind and solar power.

“I think Dave Denenberg got it exactly right,” said Adrienne Esposito the Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment who also spoke at the rally. “He said we can no longer rely on foreign fossil fuels, and we have to rely more on renewable energies. And that is in fact what Long Islanders are asking for.”

Denenberg was not the only New York politician to speak at the Frackdown. Harvey Weisenberg, New York State Assemblyman for the past 25 years, expressed why he votes in opposition to fracking.

“We are not going to take a chance to diminish the health and safety of our people by having people making dollars on a practice that might be detrimental,” said Weisenberg.

Weisenberg said it would take a significant amount of evidence to make him change his mind on fracking when he it comes to his action on the Legislative floor.

The Global Frackdown event was hosted by Food & Water Watch, a non-governmental organization and consumer rights group based in Washington D.C. Volunteers and representatives from this watchdog group had a strong presence at the event and voiced their concerns for what they believe fracking does to the environment.

“Fracking is exactly what is causing the climate change,” said Bill Coddington a two year volunteer for Food & Water Watch. “That’s what causes storms that we experience.”

Other volunteers from Food & Water Watch recently went to Dimock, Pennsylvania, the core state for fracking, to gain research on the effects. A bus of forty anti-fracking activists spent nine hours in the town observing the condition of the environment.

“We toured farms that were no longer farms, people had no homes, or clean water.” said Neil Leiberman a Health and Physical Education Teacher in Brooklyn New York for the past 18 years. “We all observed a dead cow laying on it’s side. This was the result of fracking.”

No scientific reports have been made from this excursion, but many activists used their observations as talking points for anti-fracking conversations at the rally.

Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer for Food and Water Watch, who organized the protests believed the Global Frackdown was a success.

“It was a powerful expression of Long Islander’s opposition to fracking and to the proposed LNG facility,” said Weltman. “It sent a loud and clear message to Governor Cuomo to stand up to the oil and gas industry and protect New York’s health, communities, and environment.”

Whether or not action will be taken to ban fracking in New York as a result of the Global Frackdown protests  is unknown. Governor Cuomo is set to make his decision in regards to the construction of the Port Ambrose Offshore LNG Terminal before the 2014 election. Until then, anti-fracking activists will continue to voice their opposition in the upcoming months.