2015-08-12 / Political Page

DA Brown, Feds Eye Drones Danger

Citing the recent reports of drones invading the air space at John F. Kennedy Airport and coming dangerously close to incoming aircraft, Queens DA Richard Brown announced his office is coordinating with federal agencies in a joint effort to deal with the serious threat to passengers and aircraft.

“I urge hobbyists and other members of the public to use common sense when choosing to employ these unmanned vehicles” the prosecutor urged. “Obtain the necessary permissions, and only use these vehicles in areas deemed safe, as the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and places involving large groups of people needlessly puts lives in danger.”

But then changing his tone, Brown declared: “While I strongly prefer voluntary compliance, let the message be unequivocally clear to those who choose to violate the law and endanger the public – my office will utilize all legal tools available to ensure the safety of those in the air and on the ground.”

Brown declared: “While I strongly prefer voluntary compliance, let the message be unequivocally clear to those who choose to violate the law and endanger the public – my office will utilize all legal tools available to ensure the safety of those in the air and on the ground.” Brown declared: “While I strongly prefer voluntary compliance, let the message be unequivocally clear to those who choose to violate the law and endanger the public – my office will utilize all legal tools available to ensure the safety of those in the air and on the ground.” Brown stated: “The recent reports of sightings and close calls by pilots at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and nationwide involving drones (unmanned model aircraft) raises serious concerns. As the chief law enforcement officer of Queens County, my main priority is the public’s safety. For that reason, my office is coordinating our enforcement efforts with our federal partners, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JFK Office) and the Port Authority Police Department, whose duties include enforcing state and city laws at our airports.”

Then getting to the most important part of his message, Brown stated: “Under FAA rules, if you endanger manned aircraft or people on the ground with an unmanned aircraft, you could be liable for a fine ranging from $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000. Moreover, under New York State Penal Law you may be prosecuted for Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, a felony which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison.”

Brown adds, “Further, drones may interfere with other important private and government services and jeopardize other important missions. Many people operating unmanned aircraft are novices with little or no aviation experience. The FAA is promoting voluntary compliance and working to educate unmanned aircraft systems operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws. The agency has partnered with industry and the modeling community in a public outreach campaign called “Know Before You Fly” ( www.knowbeforeyoufly.org).

SCHUMER OPPOSES IRAN TREATY, OBAMA AIDE BLASTS SCHUMER: United States Senator Charles Schumer issued his longawaited decision on the proposed Iran Treaty, last week and to no one’s surprise the strong friend of Israel said he opposes the Iran treaty. Almost immediately, President Obama’s official spokesman slammed Schumer at a White House press conference.

Schumer’s opposition to the treaty is a tough blow for President Obama, a sponsor and strong advocate of the treaty. Besides Schumer, every Senator and Congressman is presently making a decision for or against the proposed treaty, and their ultimate decision at the end of August, will guide President Obama in signing or rejecting it.

As for Schumer, no matter whether the Iran treaty is signed or defeated, he has an opportunity to become the next Democratic leader of the Senate in the near future, so he needs as many Democrats to support him for that powerful position. But now, it appears, he probably may not have the president’s support nor the support of Senators that are voting for the Iran treaty to pass, so he’s in a tough position.

Getting back to the President’s spokesman, Josh Earnest and last week’s press conference, as one newspaper put it, “Earnest all but encouraged Senate Democrats to consider Schumer’s opposition to the pact when they vote next year to elect a new Democratic leader.” Also, we’ve got to also keep in mind that some Senators could possibly be as strongly in favor of the Iran treaty as Schumer is against it – and that could be a factor in how the pro-Iran Treaty Senators may vote in the Senate leadership election.

But we feel pretty certain that, from what we think of Schumer, and our opinion of him, in his mind he had to vote “no” on Iran, and he’ll take his chances on the leadership position.

CROWLEY HAILS VOTING RIGHTS ACT 50TH ANNIVERSARY: On the 50th Anniversary of the historic Voting Rights Act, Congressman Joseph Crowley, the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus released the following statement:

“It was on a bridge in Selma, Alabama, where a group of dedicated citizens marched peacefully for the right to vote. They were met with hate and beaten with clubs, but they persevered. This courageous act of citizenship was the catalyst for one of the most consequential civil rights achievements in American history. On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act.

“Once a bipartisan cause, the voting Rights Act has now become victim of partisan politics. Today, 50 years later, whispers from a dark past have grown louder across the country to deny people their right to vote. We cannot sit idly by when the fundamental tenets of our democracy are at stake.

“Today, let us recommit ourselves to ensuring that every voter, no matter where they live or the color of their skin, is able to participate in our democracy to the fullest extent. I call on my colleagues in Congress to join us and restore the critical safeguards of the voting Rights Act that have protected Americans’ right to vote for decades. We owe it to those who came before us to ensure their sacrifice is not just a footnote in history.”

WOMEN’S ISSUE SHAKES UP TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who was a moderator at the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate last Thursday in Cleveland, was just doing her job, asking questions and moving things along.

But Ms. Kelly’s question to Trump at the debate about how he addresses women in demeaning terms, such as “fat pigs… slobs” and other choice adjectives, drew a quick response at the debate from Trump as he interrupted Kelly with a friendly smile, saying, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”

Trump added, “That wasn’t politically correct, which is a big problem in this country.” As usual, Trump dodged a real answer to Kelly’s question. After the debate, Trump was frequently asked the same question put to him by Kelly, and he found himself expanding on his answer.

For instance, during an interview at CNN, according to a Daily News story, at one point, “Trump seemed to make a menstruation reference… about Kelly’s aggressive questioning at the debate. He said, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever.”

But the following day, “presenting himself as the innocent victim of a misconstrued remark, he tweeted, “NOSE – just got on w/thought.”

One person close to Trump who was aware of Trump’s interview on CNN and other tweets about Megyn Kelly was Roger Stone, Trump’s political campaign adviser. In fact, after seeing his mentions about Kelly, Stone tweeted Trump that he “Disagree [sic] with diversion to food fight with @ megynkelly away core issue messages.”

All that Stone got for his objection to Trump for getting in a “food-fight,” i.e. a meaningless squabble, with Kelly, was that Trump up and fired Stone from his campaign job according to Trump.

But Stone, a veteran and highly regarded political consultant, tweeted back to Trump: “sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me, I fired Trump. Disagree with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly.”

Stone explained that the sideshow that was created by Trump insulting Kelly via Twitter and in a damaging interview steered attention away from core issue messages.

Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post that by firing Stone he was looking to rid his campaign of “publicity seekers – we want top of the line pros.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s meaningless criticisms of Kelly cost Trump a valuable invitation to RedState gathering in Atlanta Saturday night. All other Republican presidential candidates were in attendance. They all criticized his rant against Kelly, the Fox News anchor, and demanded he apologize for his disgusting remarks.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, at the conference, blasted Trump and demanded he apologize to Kelly – and women in general.

“Come on, give me a break,” Bush began. “I mean, do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters? What Donald Trump said is wrong. That is not how we win elections – and worse yet, that is not how you bring people together to solve problems.”

But on Sunday morning, Trump, making the rounds of talk shows was standing by all the comments he had made about Megyn Kelly. As to his references to “blood,” he said disdainfully, “Do you think I’d make a stupid statement like that?”

Trump also took the opportunity to state, “I cherish women” and embellishing it profusely, as if he was just remembering there’s a women’s issue in the presidential campaign.

But his opponents weren’t buying it. Carly Fiorina said Trump’s remarks about Kelly were “completely inappropriate and offensive. Period.”

TSA TRAINING OVERHAUL HEADED TO NY AIRPORTS, SAYS SCHUMER: Earlier this year, following the outrageous results of Red Team testing that revealed TSA agents failed to uncover 67 out of 70 threats at airports across the country, and allowed some airline employees to become smugglers, United States Senator Charles Schumer demanded a top-to-bottom review of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee training procedures and their effectiveness.

But now, following a meeting with newly sworn-in TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, Schumer announced on August 6 that the agency, which is the backbone of our homeland defense effort, has heeded the lawmaker’s call and will move forward with a complete overhaul of employee training procedures at New York airports. September is the targeted starting date.

Schumer (D–New York) also announced that the TSA will conduct a full review of employee screening procedures to determine the most effective reforms, including a review of TSA operations in New York later this year.

In January, he said, a large gun-running ring exposed a dangerous loophole that allowed errant airline employees to smuggle guns, drugs and explosives onto planes because oftentimes, airport employees are exempt from going through metal detectors.

Schumer said he urged the TSA to require each airport to develop a comprehensive screening process for all employees. The lawmaker said that this announcement means that the TSA is committed to detecting and closing all loopholes in our nation’s security system.

“This announcement means,” Schumer said, “that the TSA will work to detect and close major loopholes in our nation’s security system by overhauling and reviewing employee training and screening procedures,”

He continued, “The fact that mock passengers were able to sneak dangerous items — be it guns or fake explosives through airport security lines is not just a problem, it is an unacceptable vulnerability, and I am pleased that the TSA is moving to address this.

“The newly sworn-in TSA Administrator has assured me that an overhaul of employee training procedures is taking place and the issues raised in the Red Team tests will be addressed by the end of September. I will continue to work hard to make sure the TSA leaves no stone unturned when it comes to airport security.”

Schumer said each day, the TSA screens about 1.8 million airline passengers and about 1.2 million checked bags and the effectiveness of individual pieces of equipment is critical to that process. A Red Team test from earlier this year determined that 67 out of 70 threats failed to be detected across the country. Following this report, Schumer said that a review of TSA employee procedures is needed.

In January, a groundbreaking investigation conducted by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson exposed major weaknesses in the airport screening system; specifically, the investigation found that an airport employee, who worked as a ramp agent, brought bags of weapons through the employee entrances and into the secure areas of the airport. At New York area airports, employees are physically screened in some cases, but not in every instance. The rules vary by employee and terminal. Ironically, the TSA does require that flight crews and pilots be screened.

SCHUMERS (CHUCK & AMY) SEEK TIGHTER GUN LAWS: United States Senator Charles Schumer and comedienne Amy Schumer, the Senator’s cousin, announced a joint effort to tighten controls on guns to keep them out of killers’ hands.

The latest tragedy, leaving two young women dead and at least nine injured, occurred in a movie house in Louisiana, and the Schumers say the alleged shooter “should have been declared mentally unfit to buy a gun.”

Senator Schumer stated: “I am teaming up with actress Amy Schumer to address the far too common and far too tragic issue of gun violence in this country, and today, we are demanding that Congress take this issue very seriously.”

“If there is anything that the mass shootings in Lafayette, Chattanooga, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook and so many other places have taught us, it’s that we should do everything in our power to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of hateful evil-doers and the mentally ill – however, the United States is not doing enough and too many lives are at stake. “

Amy Schumer declared: “I was heartbroken when I heard about Columbine, and Sandy Hook, and Aurora, and so many other names and places that are now seared into the American memory. I was heartbroken, again, when I heard about Lafayette. And I still am. We need a background check system without holes and fatal flaws. We need one with accurate information that protects us like a firewall should. The critics scoff and say, ‘there is no way to stop crazy people from doing crazy things.’ They’re wrong. What Chuck is describing are sensible measures and restrictions. No one wants to live in a country where a felon, the mentally ill, or other dangerous people can get their hands on a gun with such ease. The time is now for the American people to rally for these changes.”

She added, “These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence – I can promise you this: they will not be my last.”

When she learned that a tragic shooting had occurred where her present movie, Trainwreck, was being shown in Louisiana, it redoubled her concern.

Outlining their proposals:

Senator Schumer unveiled new legislation that creates monetary rewards for states that submit all necessary records into the background check system and creates penalties for states that do not submit all records. They explained that in the case of the Charleston mass shooting in a church, suspect Dylan Roof should not have passed a background check, but was able to because of holes in the background check system. The cousins went on to say that, unfortunately, no one is punishing states that fail to submit all of their records. Senator Schumer’s proposal, at the beginning of this paragraph, now addresses failure to submit all records.

Second, Schumer and Schumer are publicly urging Congress to fully fund The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that provides treatment to those in-need. Right now, the Senate’s budget proposal cuts $159 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Schumers said that now is not the time to be cutting funding from these critically needed programs.

Thirdly, Schumer and Schumer are urging the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) to write a comprehensive report comparing all states’ standards for involuntary commitment. Moreover, they said that the DOJ should put forth recommendation on best practices that would serve potential benchmarks for new policies.

MALONEY, JAMES PUSH AGENDA TO CURB GUN VIOLENCE: In Advance of National Night Out Against Crime, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, joined with Public Advocate Letitia James and Trudy Mason, Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, and local gun violence prevention supporters Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to advocate for local and federal action to curb gun violence following a particularly violent weekend that left three people dead and 16 wounded.

Maloney added, “NYPD statistics show that there have been 669 shooting incidents that have killed or wounded 794 people since the beginning of this year.

“The bloodbath has got to stop,” said Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan). “I have compiled a list of major shootings in the United States involving three or more victims this year, and it is clear that this is a problem that has affected every part of the country. Nearly 170 people have died in over 40 separate incidents.

We cannot keep imposing minor penalties for gun trafficking. We must stop shortchanging the background check system. Most of all, we need common-sense regulations that will protect Americans from gun violence – including smart gun technology to keep children and thieves from using a borrowed or stolen gun, better research about ways to curb gun violence, closing the gun show loophole and banning large ammunition magazines.”

Maloney said that during the National Night Out Against Crime, she would be “calling for federal legislation to get guns out of the hands of criminals and off our streets.”

PA James said, “Our nation is continuing to bleed from shooting after shooting, and we must do everything we can to take on the scourge of gun violence. We must get guns off our streets, and off our department store shelves. New York City took historic action last week when our largest pension fund started the process to divest public dollars from gun retailers and ammunition [manufacturers]. But our federal government must act and pass gun safety legislation so that all Americans are protected from weapons that are causing deadly violence.”

TEXAS SENATOR OFFERS BILL ON BACKGROUND GUN SALE CHECKS: United States Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the upper house, has introduced one of the first proposals in years on gun-buying background checks, according to a story in last Thursday’s Daily News by Dan Friedman.

The story said Cornyn’s bill rewards states for giving more information about “residents with serious mental illnesses” to the federal background check system for gun purchases.

The bill also increases grants by up to 5 percent if dealers send at least 90 percent of their records of serious mental problems. But there’s a drawback in the bill: veterans who are mentally ill can designate someone to handle their Social Security or veterans’ benefits and still be able to buy a gun.

In an Associated Press story on Cornyn’s bill, the Senator said his bill was aimed at helping those with mental health issues to “hopefully preempt them from committing an act of violence.” Cornyn’s bill does not require background checks for gun purchases online or at gun shows. It is backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

SEEKS SHORE BOULEVARD CHANGE: Assemblywomen Aravella Simotas reports she has sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting that it close Shore Boulevard between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard to traffic.

Simotas (D–Astoria) explained that the portion of Shore Boulevard in question, located between Astoria Park and the East River, has been the site of numerous accidents involving pedestrians and motorists. Aside from traffic conditions, the lawmaker said residents have long complained of drag racing, loitering in idling vehicles, and persistent noise complaints along this relatively secluded stretch of Shore Boulevard.

“One of the great things about Astoria Park is the access it provides to the waterfront,” Simotas said. “With cars racing up and down Shore Boulevard, families are forced to cross a hazardous barrier in order to fully enjoy this green space.”

Noting the benefits that other city parks have enjoyed after prohibiting vehicular traffic, and following yet another traffic accident on the streets surrounding Astoria Park, Simotas called upon DOT Commissioner Trottenberg to close Shore Boulevard to all non-emergency vehicles. The lawmaker said she didn’t see any downside to her proposal.

“Overnight parking is already prohibited here and there are no residences or businesses abutting the street in question,” said Simotas. “By closing this superfluous half-mile section to vehicles we can make Astoria Park safer and better with hardly any effect on congestion in the area.”

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