New York holds first driverless car test

ALBANY (AP) — New York state has hosted its first ever demonstration of a driverless vehicle on public roads.

During Tuesday’s test drive in Albany two engineers rode in the vehicle for about six miles. State officials say the engineers monitored the ride at all times to ensure safety.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo hailed the demonstration as a “major milestone” in the development of a technology that he says is the “next frontier” in transportation.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also took a test drive in the vehicle. She said driverless cars offer “tremendous potential” for improving traffic safety.

Magazine publisher Time Inc. cutting 300 jobs globally

NEW YORK (AP) — Magazine publisher Time Inc. says it’s cutting 300 jobs as it struggles to adjust to readers’ shift online.

The New York company behind its namesake publication, People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune says about half the jobs eliminated are in the U.S. About 60 percent are layoffs; the rest are staff buyouts. The cuts amount to about 4 percent of the company’s staff as of the end of December.

Time Inc.’s CEO Rich Battista said in a note to employees Tuesday that the company’s key growth areas include video and “native” advertising that looks like editorial content. He says there are “positive signs of stabilizing” in the print business.

Flood areas getting portable dams,
$1 million in state aid

GREECE (AP) — Water-filled portable dams are being deployed and $1 million in state funding will go toward emergency repairs to wastewater treatment systems in two flood-damaged Lake Ontario communities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

A temporary emergency barrier system using water-filled dams instead of sandbags is being deployed in Greece in Monroe County and Sodus Point in Wayne County, the Democrat said. The two communities also will get $500,000 each to repair and upgrade flood-impacted wastewater infrastructure.

The Democrat said he has also renewed a request to the Army Corps of Engineers for rock structures to safeguard flood-prone areas.

Last month, Cuomo announced $7 million in state aid to help Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River homeowners impacted by flooding caused by record rainfall.

Cuomo again blasted the U.S.-Canadian panel that controls the outflow of water from Lake Ontario, saying the agency bears much of the blame for flooding in New York’s lakeside communities.

“I think they pulled the trigger too late” on increasing outflow, Cuomo said in the Rochester suburb of Greece on Tuesday. “They got behind, and now we have a real problem.”

The International Joint Commission responded to Cuomo’s comments by saying no one could have predicted the severe flooding throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system caused by record rainfall.

The commission-directed board that controls outflow through a St. Lawrence River dam said Tuesday it would increase water releases starting Wednesday.

The governor returned to flood-damaged Lake Ontario shoreline communities in Monroe and Wayne counties Tuesday amid National Weather Service predictions for more damaging waves and an Army Corps of Engineers forecast of above-average water levels for all five Great Lakes all summer.

Cab catches fire and burns to a crisp during heat wave

NEW YORK (AP) — Witnesses say a New York City yellow cab burst into flames on a hot day, leaving the cab driver to call 911 and run away.

The New York Post reports the minivan caught fire early Monday afternoon in midtown Manhattan. Witness Osama Alatif says the driver rushed out of the vehicle once it caught fire.

The driver then called 911 and ran away — abandoning the vehicle before firefighters arrived.

Onlooker Hasan Chy says within 10 minutes half of the van was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames within 30 minutes. The vehicle was burnt beyond recognition — only a yellow bumper reminded onlookers that the burnt wreck was once a cab.

Lawmakers urged to restrict use of
solitary confinement

ALBANY (AP) — New York state would restrict the use of solitary confinement and ban it entirely for young, elderly, pregnant and mentally ill inmates under legislation before state lawmakers.

A coalition of prison reform advocates, mental health experts and religious groups gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday to urge passage of the bill before lawmakers adjourn their session next week.

The measure would limit solitary confinement to no more than 15 consecutive days unless an inmate is sent to a special rehabilitation unit, where he or she would receive special treatment to address their behavior.

By his recollection Victor Pate spent a total of 2 years in solitary while serving time for robbery and drug crimes decades ago, including a 90-day stint in isolation for keeping extra bed sheets. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said the crushing loneliness of spending 23 hours a day in a small cell is compounded by mistreatment from guards, who regularly deprive people in solitary of food, showers or exercise.

The changes have broad support in the Democrat-controlled Assembly but face big challenges in the Republican-led state Senate. The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association has opposed attempts to restrict what the organization says can be a useful method of decreasing prison violence.

Presidential assassination monument getting $650K makeover

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A downtown Buffalo landmark commemorating the assassination of President William McKinley is getting a major makeover.

Mayor Byron Brown announced Monday that the McKinley Monument in front of Buffalo City Hall in Niagara Square will undergo a nearly $650,000 rehabilitation. The work will include replacing missing and damaged marble on the 110-year-old monument.

The nation’s 25th president was fatally shot by an assassin while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on Sept. 6, 1901. The monument was dedicated on the sixth anniversary of the shooting.

The monument includes a 96-foot-tall marble obelisk with a fountain at its base.

Brown says the restoration work is expected to be completed in early September in time to mark the assassination’s 116th anniversary and the monument dedication’s 110th anniversary.