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December 31, 2013

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Jan. 9, 2013: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his third State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.AP

A federal judge has upheld most of New York’s new gun control law, rejecting arguments that its bans on large-capacity magazines and the sale of some semi-automatic rifles violate Second Amendment rights.

Judge William Skretny in Buffalo says those provisions are constitutional because they’re related to achieving an “important governmental interest” in public safety. He says those two features make guns more lethal.

Skretny struck down the restriction on gun owners loading more than seven bullets in a legal 10-round magazine, saying that appears to be “an arbitrary number.”

The law was adopted last January following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association, sportsmen’s groups, firearms businesses and gun owners filed the suit.

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December 30, 2013

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Sept. 2011: This photo provided by Vanguard Defense Industries, shows a ShadowHawk drone with Montgomery County, Texas, SWAT team members.AP

You may have heard that Colorado residents will be able to legally buy pot next year.

But did you know that in Oregon, mothers will be able to take their placentas home after giving birth? And in Illinois, it will be illegal for police to use a surveillance drone in most cases without a warrant.

These are just a few of the thousands of new laws and regulations going into effect next year — mostly on Wednesday.

They cover everything from the minimum wage to tanning beds to drones, some a bit more unusual than others. But residents might want to brush up on the changes — state lawmakers approved nearly 40,000 bills and resolutions this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The placenta measure in Oregon was approved this past May.

Advocates said some families wanted to take them home for cultural or religious reasons — while in some circles, it is thought that consuming the placenta can have health benefits. Hospitals in the state previously barred mothers from taking them home, labeling them as hazardous medical waste.

Other issues were prominent in multiple state capitals. One concern this year among some legislatures — or at least among their constituents — was the perception of growing government surveillance. In Illinois, the response included passing a law barring law enforcement from using a surveillance drone unless they obtain a warrant — and only for specific purposes, like countering a terror attack.

And California, as is often the case, continued to enact some of the most unique and controversial laws in the country. Under one such law, starting next year transgender students in the Golden State must be allowed to use school bathrooms “consistent with their gender identity.”

California will also become the first state requiring websites to tell users how they track, and share, personal information.

Here are some more highlights (which were compiled by the NCSL) of what’s in store for 2014:

— Into shark fins? Sorry, but Delaware is formally outlawing their possession and sale next year.

— Oregon will now prohibit adults from smoking in a car if children are present.

— Good news for people worried about their mug shots. Illinois has made it illegal for websites to post mug shots and then ask for money to take them down. And in Oregon, such websites will have to remove mug shots for free if the person in question was acquitted or had the charges dropped.

— Also in Illinois and Oregon, minors will no longer be allowed to enter tanning salons.

— Several states hiked the minimum wage for 2014. They include Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The highest, though, will be in California, which upped the base wage to $9 an hour — this will take effect in July of next year.

— Partial legalization of marijuana was big news in 2013. Colorado will soon let anyone over 21 buy up to an ounce from a licensed outlet. Oregon and Illinois are also venturing into allowing medical marijuana.

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December 30, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft’s march into U.S. skies.

The agency said Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as states that will host research sites.

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.

“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

The FAA said when selecting the sites it considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, aviation experience and risk.

In the case of Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones. New York’s site at Griffiss International Airport will look into integrating drones into the congested northeast airspace.

The state of North Dakota already has committed $5 million to the venture and named a former state Air National Guard Commander as its test site director.

The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected. The FAA projects some 7,500 commercial drones could be aloft within five years of getting widespread access to American airspace.

An industry-commissioned study last spring predicted more than 70,000 jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.

“Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned systems into U.S. airspace,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. “We have successfully brought new technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft.”

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You can wish, pray, and pay but you won’t get criminals and criminal gangs to disarm.

 December 26, 2013  |  by Richard Valdemar

Imagine the law enforcement officers of the Wild West offering to buy the James Gang’s pistols to end their criminal reign, rather than putting a bounty on their heads. Now imagine the government of any country naively paying good money to its criminal gangs or terrorists to voluntarily turn in their weapons to disarm themselves. Silly, right?

So why are supposedly educated people such as politicians, pastors, and civic leaders telling us that gun buyback programs make sense? From New York to Los Angeles various “cash for guns” efforts have been hyped by police departments and civic organizations across the country. But are they really an effective gang violence prevention strategy?

In May Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held well-publicized “Anonymous Gun Buyback” events in four areas of the city: LAPD Northeast, Harbor Area, 77th Area, and Nan Nuys. Similar gun buybacks have also been held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca. The Los Angeles program offered anonymous individuals a $200 pre-paid Ralph’s supermarket or Visa card in exchange for any firearm. News accounts boasted that such gun buyback programs were responsible for taking nearly 10,000 firearms off the streets since 2009.

Dallas has a similar effort called the Stewpot Buy Back program. Before its January 2013 campaign, the program boasted that since its inception it had collected and destroyed more than 400 pistols, rifles, shotguns, and “semi-automatic assault weapons.”

The Detroit area’s buyback program claimed at least 200 guns were taken off its streets in May. Wayne County and the Goodman Acker law firm offered a $50 Meijer gift card for each unloaded weapon. Sheriff Benny Napoleon said, “What we know is that the guns we get will never be used against anyone in a crime (because they will be destroyed). That much we know.”

During the Wayne County buyback campaign, gun rights advocates set up alternative “guns for cash” locations outside the New St. Paul Tabernacle Church where the gun buyback program had been set up. They offered cash for the guns meant for turn in and destruction.

A spokesman for the gun advocates, Rick Ector, speaking about the buyback program said, “I refer to them as “LEFTs” (Law Enforcement Firearms Transfers). They are misleading to the general public because they send a message that they are actually going to do something that’s going to affect the crime rate.”

New York’s buyback effort is huge. A statement from the program’s organizers says, “The Cash for Guns Program is a program in which the New York City Police Department will pay $100 to any individual, excluding active law enforcement personnel and gun dealers, who present any handgun…sawed-off shotgun, or assault weapon in apparent operative condition to any precinct, transit district, or police service area (PSA). Weapons that do not qualify will be taken under the Cash for Guns Program, but will not qualify for the cash payment. An individual may surrender more than three weapons, but cash reimbursement will only be made for a maximum of three weapons.

Any individual turning in a qualifying weapon may do so at any precinct, transit district, or PSA 24-hours a day, seven days a week. No questions asked and no identification will be required, as the identity of all individuals will remain anonymous.”

In October the Cash for Guns campaign in Brooklyn netted 67 weapons at the Brooklyn Islamic Center. The Brooklyn program boasts 2,847 guns turned in since its beginnings in 2008. Of the 67 guns taken in this recent round, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said the collection included 28 semi-automatics, 37 revolvers, and two other weapons. Police said that among the turn-ins was a MAC-10 with a 30-round magazine and this seven of the handguns recovered were defaced. This campaign was sponsored by the District Attorney’s Office, NYPD, and the Sunset Park Business Improvement District. It offered a $200 bank card for operable handguns and assault rifles and a $20 Bank card for operable rifles and shotguns.

After the Newtown, Conn., shootings, Washington Post columnist Matt Miller proposed a massive $100 Billion national gun buyback program, using the Australian buyback program as a template. Miller proposed banning all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and a compulsory national gun buyback program. The proposed buyback would offer $500 per weapon.

What Miller didn’t mention is that the Australian national buyback program has had little effect on the crime rate. Last year the homicide rate in Australia fell only 0.4 percent while it dropped in the U.S. by 3.9 percent without disarming the public. In fact, Americans have been arming themselves at an astounding rate over the last few years. One poster I saw in a gun store showed President Obama with the caption “The Greatest Gun Salesman in America.”

The media-hyped gun phobia ignores the positive benefits of armed law abiding citizens and assumes a false philanthropic conscience for criminal gang members. Why would a gang member turn in his weapon to a gun buyback program? The only reasons I can think of belie any benefit from a gun buyback. Maybe it doesn’t work right, and he can’t go to the local gunsmith to fix it. Maybe it’s “hot” and recently used in a crime. Maybe he has 13 other guns just like it. Anyway he can ditch it anonymously and collect $100 to $500 to buy more and better ones at the local underground drug and gun dealers place.

I was once a Boy Scout and later a Boy Scout Leader. As they do in the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program, we taught good kids the safe use of firearms at our campouts. This stayed with even the troubled youth their entire life. Living in the crime-ridden city of Compton, I witnessed many times law-abiding citizens defending themselves from gangs and other criminals with legally possessed firearms. The police usually got there after it was all over.

So why would the government seek to disarm the good citizen when they have failed to disarm the criminals? The prison system is the best example I can think of in which a law enforcement arm strictly enforces the ban on all weapons and yet criminals manage to make weapons and kill each other every day in this environment. No good citizen could feel safe in this gun-free zone. In what fantasy world would criminal gangs voluntarily turn in their weapons?

What you usually see in any gun buyback program is elderly people turning in old junk guns from some closet or garage where they have sat gathering dust for many years. But sometimes the buyback haul includes stolen guns that might connect the person turning them in with murders or other gun violence that some overworked detective is trying to solve. And because the gun buyback is conducted anonymously with “no questions asked,” the chain of evidence and its links to these unsolved crimes are cut off. These cases are bound for the cold case file.

These gun buyback media events are designed to give the impression that police are doing something effective to combat criminal and criminal gangs. But they don’t affect crime and gun violence in any significant way, except maybe contributing to the gang deectives’ cold case file.

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New York City confiscating rifles and shotguns
1:55 PM 12/06/2013
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is sending out letters telling gun owners to turn over their rifles and shotguns — or else face the consequences.

New York City’s ban on rifles and shotguns that hold more than five rounds is now being enforced, according to a letter the NYPD is sending out to targeted city gun owners.

“It appears you are in possession of a rifle and/or Shotgun (listed below) that has an ammunition feeding device capable of holding more than five (5) rounds of ammunition. Rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than five (5) rounds of ammunition are unlawful to possess in New York City, as per NYC Administrative Code 10-306 (b).”

“You have the following options,” the letter explains.

“1. Immediately surrender your Rifle and/or Shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. The firearm may be sold or permanently removed from the City of New York thereafter.

2. Permanently remove your Rifle and/or Shotgun from New York City and provide the following…Disposition Report/Registration Certificate…Notarized statement of permanent removal…Utility bill or other proof of residency regarding the address where the firearm will be stored outside the City of New York.

3. You may call to discuss the matter if you believe your firearm is in compliance…”

Departing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a major gun-control activist, with his coalition recently sponsoring an ad that depicts an Adam Lanza-type character entering a school full of children.

New York state, meanwhile, passed the NY SAFE Act in 2013 in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. The law, which bans “high-capacity magazines” and puts in place other stringent controls, was signed by governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Andrew Cuomo.

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Published December 05, 2013NYCRIfles.jpg

The New York City Police Department is taking aim at owners of certain shotguns and rifles, telling them all long guns with a five-round or more capacity must be turned in, altered or taken out of town.

An estimated 500 recipients of the notices, which were mailed on Nov. 18, were given the options to surrender their gun, permanently move the gun out of city jurisdiction or employ a licensed gunsmith to modify the weapon to get into compliance with the law. Rifles and shotguns with a capacity of five or more rounds are affected.

An NYPD spokeswoman told FoxNews.com the initiative has been in practice since 2010.

But this year is the first time critics say the notices were so widely dispersed. The notice was first reported on the website TheTruthAboutGuns.com.

“These letters appear to be another example of the Nanny State. Hypothetically, it can start with a letter, and then that can lead to someone knocking on your door saying, ‘I want to see your gun.'”

– New York State Assemblyman James Tedisco

New York State has the strictest gun laws in the country. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has made it a priority of his to pull illegal handguns off the streets and directly links these guns to violent crimes. But critics say the real problem is illegal handguns in the hands of criminals, not long guns owned by law-abiding citizens.

“We think it’s an abuse of power by the NYPD,” said Tom King, the president of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. His organization has fought with the state on various gun bills and spent $400,000 on a lawsuit challenging the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE ACT, which was signed in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The SAFE Act was the first law in the nation prompted by the December 2012 killing of 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn. Its passage was seen as a victory for gun-control advocates because it expands a ban on military-style weapons, requires mental health professionals to report threats, limits magazines to seven bullets, taxes bullets and creates a registry.

Though these notices were not sent out as a direct result of the SAFE Act, New York State Assemblyman James Tedisco said the new law may embolden city police forces to send out similar letters.

Tedisco, who voted against the SAFE Act, said New York City had the five-round law in the books for about 20 years, but this is the first time he has heard complaints about the notices being sent out to gun owners.

“These letters appear to be another example of the Nanny State,” Tedisco said. “Hypothetically, it can start with a letter, and then that can lead to someone knocking on your door saying, ‘I want to see your gun.'”

When Cuomo signed the law, he searched for a moderate tone saying, “Common sense can win. You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense.”

President Obama, who has called for the transformation of U.S. gun laws after recent high-profile shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, said that “the politics are difficult.”

The Center for American Progress released a report in April linking states with ‘weak’ gun laws and a high level of gun violence.

The Second Amendment, says, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Gun advocates interpret that to mean individuals have the right to possess guns, while those opposed say the law is antiquated and its misinterpretation puts Americans in danger.

King said the author of these letters misfired when writing the guns could be modified.

“A gun collector who never fired a gun in his life, but has a few antiques might have to get them altered,” he said. “These are not the people law enforcement should be targeting.”

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Published December 04, 2013chinacitypic1.jpg

U.S. immigration officials are considering a proposal from Chinese investors to create a multibillion-dollar development in New York’s Catskills called “China City” — raising concerns among critics about the potential cost to U.S. taxpayers and, according to one analyst, the possibility it could be a “stalking horse” for the Beijing government.

A spokesman from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told FoxNews.com that the proposal for Thompson, N.Y., has not been approved but is under consideration.

The mysterious proposed development appears to be a step beyond the types of ethnic enclaves scattered throughout U.S. cities, like the Chinatown sections of New York City or San Francisco. The 600-acre “China City of America” is located far outside New York City in upstate New York’s wetlands and is a meticulously planned project, calling for family housing, a college and student residences, among other structures. In addition to needing federal approval, it would likely need a host of state and local permits before ground could be broken.

“It’s a perfect storm of problems.” – David North, Center for Immigration Studies

If approved, every province in China would have an office there and foreign investors funding the development would receive green cards for their $500,000 checks under the EB-5 program designed to lure foreign investment, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative organization staunchly opposed to the project.

A detailed report authored by David North, a fellow with the Washington-based group, claimed there is “a charge from within the Chinese community that China City is a stalking horse for the Chinese communist government in Beijing.” He claimed he was told one group raised objections with the USCIS.

“It’s a perfect storm of problems,” North told FoxNews.com, citing what he called dubious job creation claims by the promoters as well as national security concerns. North noted that the developers claim 20 percent of the funding would come from U.S. taxpayers, which he said was a “pipe dream.”

A review by FoxNews.com of the the China City Regional Center’s website could not confirm such a claim involving U.S. taxpayer money, though there is little English on the site, which is affiliated with a Florida law firm. No one at the law firm could be reached for comment.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Wednesday it does not disclose details of pending applications.

“The [China City] Regional Center is not approved. An application has been filed and it’s still pending. A decision has not been made on it yet,” Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for USCIS, told FoxNews.com.

“With all cases of a request for an immigrations service or benefit, we rely on the information provided and the law to reach a decision on whether it can or cannot be approved,” Bentley said.

Local officials did not respond to requests for comment. But a videotape of a public meeting held in Thompson in May, available on YouTube, addressed the proposal and underscored the controversy surrounding the development. Supporters of the project, in an economically depressed area of Sullivan County, say they believe it would offer both a financial and cultural boon to the region.

“Families who invest in EB-5 program are normally influential and wealthy families from China. A lot of them are successful business owners or enterprisers. Most of those investors are highly educated and skilled in different fields,” wrote one poster.

“I believe this is a big projects that can creates thousands of job opportunities,” wrote another. “Such a precious opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture and beauty.”

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Published November 23, 2013 

Connecticut is the most recent state to reject President Obama’s plan to “fix” his signature health-care law after millions of Americas received policy cancellation notices — a trend that suggests the president’s proposed solution will have little impact on the issue.

At least eight others states — California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have rejected the president’s Nov. 14 proposal that insurance companies offer plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare requirements for at least a year. Connecticut decided Friday.

Though ObamaCare is federal law, governors and insurance commissioners must allow providers to make the exceptions because insurance is regulated differently in each state.

Obama in touting his sweeping health-care reform law before singing it in 2010 told Americans they could keep their existing insurance plans if they liked them.

However, many of those plans do not meet the law’s new standards, which has resulted in million of cancellation notices being mailed out over the past few months and the president announcing his proposed solution.

“We are not going to gut this law,” Obama said during a speech in Cleveland. “We will fix what needs to be fixed, but we’re going to make the Affordable Care Act work.”

This is not the first so-called fix the president has proposed, starting with him putting a one-year delay on the ObamaCare mandate that small businesses provide insurance to employees, to allow owners to sort through the complex paperwork.

And White House this week extended the enrollment deadline after the disastrous rollout Oct. 1 of the healthcare.gov website.

Officials said Friday they would extend the Dec. 15 deadline to Dec. 23 for insurance coverage that kicks in Jan 1. Those who fail to enroll by March 15 face a tax penalty.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, last week rejected the offer, saying his state exchange is working well and the state-run website has not had the technical glitches like the federal site.

One of the biggest concerns among state officials is that allowing residents to wait a year will make the overall ObamaCare situation worse because the young, healthy people needed to enroll and cover the cost of the elderly and other more costly customers will indeed wait.

Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and other governors reportedly said no to the Obama offer over concerns it would destabilize their states insurance markets and result in higher premiums for too many residents.

On Thursday, California’s health insurance exchange voted unanimously against the proposal

The Covered California Board of Directors decided instead to stick with its approach of phasing out the non-compliant policies by year’s end, saying Obama’s request that insurers let Americans keep those plans through 2014 will not help consumers in the end.

“The board cited that extending the deadline offers no benefit to the consumer and may create confusion about accessing affordable health care coverage through Covered California,” it said in a press release.

However, at least a dozen states have agreed to the proposal or were already allowing insurers to let customers renew existing plans.

Among them are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Texas. Roughly another 20 states have yet to decide.

The other major factor is whether insurance companies will comply.

North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield and Florida Blue have agreed but Blue Cross Blue Shield Alabama did not.

The Alabama group said Wednesday that temporarily reinstating out-of-compliance policies would “destabilize” the state’s insurance market and that “the ultimate impact would be higher healthcare costs for all of our customers, now and in the near future.”

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November 21, 2013

Trooper Ross Riley. Photo: Facebook

A New York State trooper died following a fall at Letchworth State Park Wednesday afternoon.

Trooper Ross Riley, 44, fell about 30 feet from a ledge into Wolf Creek during a training exercise, according to state police. “The other two troopers who were with him descended immediately, they performed advanced aid and life-saving measures, he was put into the stretcher and hoisted up to the top of the cliff,”  New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told WHAM TV.

Riley was a member of a special operations unit that performs mountain rescues in addition to other missions.

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3d printed gun test fire.jpg

May 5, 2013: A 3D printed gun created by Defense Distributed is successfully test fired by creator Cody Wilson. Wilson plans to put the blueprints for the gun online shortly.DEFENSE DISTRIBUTED

Federal law enforcement authorities are raising concerns new, futuristic 3-D printed guns made entirely out of plastic could pose a myriad of security threats across the U.S., as a law banning undetectable firearms is set to expire.

3-D industrial printers that can create plastic models and prototypes can make workable guns that can’t be picked up by metal detectors, and officials say they could pose a threat to countless government institutions, schools and other buildings.

A longtime ban on undetectable firearms is scheduled to expire Dec. 9 and two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer of New York and Bill Nelson of Florida, have called for a ban on plastic guns. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., also has introduced legislation on the issue.

“The expiration of this law, combined with advances in 3-D printing, make what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality,” said Schumer. “We are actively exploring all options to pass legislation that will eliminate the problem.” Read more . . .

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Senior Pakistan Taliban commander captured in Afghanistan

The State Department has confirmed that U.S. troops have captured a senior Pakistani Taliban commander in Afghanistan.

Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Friday that U.S. forces nabbed Taliban terrorist leader Latif Mehsud in a recent military operation. Harf said Mehsud served as a senior deputy and trusted confidant of Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

The Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in New York’s Times Square in 2010 and has vowed to attack the U.S. again, according to Harf. She went on to say the group has also attacked U.S. diplomats and “countless” civilians in Pakistan.

Read more . . .

Cop killer will continue to rot as parole denied for man who murdered NYPD officer in 1978

A convicted cop killer nearly released from prison in 2009 without input from the murdered NYPD officer’s family has been denied parole — again.

The New York State Parole Board released its decision Wednesday, ensuring that 57-year-old Pablo Costello would stay in the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Dutchess County until at least Aug. 2015 for the murder of Officer David Guttenberg in 1978. Read more . . .

Gun company finds bullseye in PA after NY restricts sales.

HARRISBURG — When it comes to job creation, one state’s loss is another state’s gain. Kahr Firearms Group, a gun manufacturer, is moving its corporate headquarters from downstate New York to a 620-acre plot in Pike County, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.
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