Ex-legislator pleads guilty
A former state senator pleaded guilty on Wednesday to funneling over US$87,000 in taxpayer money through a nonprofit agency that she was running to cover shopping for herself and her relatives. At her appearance in US District Court in Brooklyn, the former senator, Shirley Huntley, a Democrat who had represented Queens, recounted her crimes. Huntley, 74, had claimed the agency she founded, Parents Information Network Inc, was focused on giving parents more of a voice in their local schools. Instead, prosecutors said, she siphoned the money she received as “member items,” or grants for legislators to support social causes, from the state Education Department. Huntley wrote more than US$21,000 in checks to herself from the agency’s account, made more than US$34,000 in ATM withdrawals and wrote almost US$25,000 in checks to others who later returned the money to her in cash, according to court records. Huntley will pay the state the full amount she stole and faces up to two years in prison.
Buenos Aires swipes back
Argentina has swung back after Israel protested an accord reached with Iran over a 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, accusing the Jewish state of meddling in its affairs. Israel summoned Argentina’s ambassador on Tuesday to complain about the decision to create an independent commission to investigate the attack — which killed 85 people — saying Iran had been clearly implicated in it. On Wednesday Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman summoned Israeli Ambassador Dorit Shavit to express “surprise and discomfort” at Israel’s action, insisting that the decision had nothing to do with Israel, according to an official statement.
Man sues Boy Scouts
A man has sued a California Boy Scouts council, alleging he was sexually abused by his scout leader more than 30 years ago. Coast guard veteran Mark Dietrich, 49, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday claiming the scoutmaster of his troop frequently molested him between 1978 and 1981. The suit also claims Boy Scouts officials at the local and regional level knew the scoutmaster, Gary Hatfield, had inappropriate contact with other boys, and the abuse occurred “despite knowledge of Hatfield’s dangerous propensities and unfitness.” Hatfield denied abusing Dietrich.
Naples suspends buses
Buses ground to a halt in the city of Naples on Wednesday after the local public transport company said it could not afford fuel following a cut in its budget. The company said the service was reduced across the city and suspended entirely in three areas. It said the number of buses in the city had been cut from 600 three years ago to around 350 now due to reductions in budgets for salaries, maintenance, insurance and fuel totalling around 40 percent. Enraged Neapolitans vented their frustration on the company’s Facebook page with one user quipping: “We’ve really reached the end of the line.”
Big turn-off to save energy
Shops and office buildings will have to turn off their lights at night to save energy and reduce light pollution, the environment ministry said on Wednesday. From July 1, all non-residential buildings will have to switch off interior lights one hour after the last worker leaves the premises. All exterior and shop window lighting will have to be turned off by 1am.