governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Cuomo asks state education officials for honest answers to school problems

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has written a letter to state education officials, saying he wants answers on why 99 percent of teachers scored highly on the most recent evaluations, while other data shows two-thirds of school children performing below acceptable levels in math and English.
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Hanukkah Lights

Join us this Sunday for a wide variety of brand new Hanukkah stories written by acclaimed authors like Debra Ginsberg, Anne Burt, Andrew Borowitz, Simone Zelitch and Theodore Bikel.

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Coal vs. natural gas during the polar vortex

23 hours ago
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

President Barack Obama wants the U.S. to get serious about climate change. He’s proposed to limit carbon emissions from power plants. The coal industry and conservative politicians say new carbon rules will kill King Coal, and they warn that without it, severe weather events, like last year’s polar vortex, could leave people in the cold and dark.

baasiilb15 / Flickr

High traffic on the New York State of Health website is to be expected, according to the head of the state exchange. Saturday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that starts the first of the year.

So far, during this open enrollment period which started Nov. 15, more than 194,000 New Yorkers who didn't have health insurance have signed up.

Donna Frescatore, the executive director of the New York Health Benefit Exchange, says more than 40,000 of those were added since last week.

Wallyg / via Flickr

A new poll finds New Yorkers don’t want legislators to gain a pay raise if they agree to ethics reforms by the end of the year.

The Siena College poll finds that 63 percent of New Yorkers oppose a pay raise for state lawmakers, who earn a base salary of nearly $80,000 a year for what is technically a part-time job. 

Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg says voters also say, even though they would like to see reform measures as well as other issue resolved, they still don’t think legislators should be allowed to trade agreements on these items for more pay.

Mixed Reaction As New York Bans Fracking

Dec 19, 2014

This week, New York became the second state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Vermont’s ban, which was the first, was largely symbolic, as the state doesn’t have any real natural gas resources. New York, though, sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and the debate over whether to open it to fracking has been deeply emotional and contentious.

Less than three years after Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion, the photo-sharing service is now worth $35 billion, according to analysts at Citigroup.

Instagram's user base has skyrocketed since the acquisition, in part because of its integration with Facebook but also because the purchase roughly coincided with the release of an Instagram app for Android smartphones.

Earlier this month, Instagram announced that it surpassed 300 million users.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

President Obama spoke to reporters in a year-end news conference at the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

One of the topics that came up was Sony Pictures Entertainment's decision to cancel distribution of the film The Interview following North Korea's cyber attack against the company's servers.

Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET

President Obama called Sony's decision to pull its film The Interview, following threats to movie theaters, a "mistake."

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," the president said in his year-end news conference.

He added that he was "sympathetic" to Sony's concerns, but, "I wish they would have spoken to me first."

Three advocacy organizations — across ideological lines — are telling congressional investigators to back off in a probe of EPA ties to a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana are leading the investigation. They contend that NRDC lobbyists have exerted too much influence over EPA on the issues of carbon reduction and the proposed Pebble Mine at Bristol Bay, Alaska.

President Obama will close out 2014 with his traditional end-of-year press conference.

The press conference is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET., and it's bound to be eventful because Obama has a lot to talk about.

Among the news events that will likely come up:

-- The normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Winners of New York state’s casino competition celebrated Thursday. A statewide gaming board this week recommended gaming licenses for three developers across upstate New York, including the proposal from the Rochester-based Wilmorite Corporation to build the Lago Casino and Resort in rural Seneca County.  

While weather kept Gov. Andrew Cuomo from taking part in the Finger Lakes portion of a statewide casino victory lap, unions were out in full force in Seneca County. The potential for jobs for 55 out-of-work electricians has union rep Michael Davis happy.

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