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NY officials probe eavesdropping allegations against Senecas

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Prosecutors in western New York say they're investigating allegations that representatives of the Indian tribe that runs three casinos in the region eavesdropped on employees of the state Gaming Commission.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office in Buffalo confirms Tuesday that it's investigating allegations by commission workers who say they were eavesdropped by the Seneca Gaming Authority.

The Senecas operate casinos in downtown Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.

Spectrum News in Buffalo first reported Monday that a listening device was found last year commission officials in an office the agency leases from the Senecas at the tribe's Buffalo casino.

Seneca officials say the investigation involves a Seneca employee but provided no details.

The allegations come amid testy relations between the Cuomo administration and the Senecas over the tribe's halting of payments of millions of dollars in casino revenue to the state.


NY students' math, English scores up slightly in 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - Math and English scores for students who took New York state standardized tests last spring have risen slightly compared with 2016 scores.

The state Education Department says 39.8 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 were proficient in English language arts, compared with 37.9 percent in 2016.

The department says 40.2 percent of students statewide passed the math tests, compared with 39.1 percent the previous year.

The data released Tuesday showed that the percentage of students who "opted out" of taking the standardized tests declined slightly from 21 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said it's "encouraging to see test refusal starting to decline."

New York City students outperformed the statewide average in English, with 40.6 percent demonstrating proficiency.


Cuomo nominates ex-Syracuse mayor to run Thruway Authority

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll nominate former Syracuse mayor Matthew Driscoll to run the New York state Thruway Authority.

The Democratic governor announces Tuesday that Driscoll, the current commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, will be nominated to serve as executive director of the agency that operates the 570-mile Thruway system. Driscoll, DOT commissioner since 2015, was mayor of Syracuse from 2001-2009.

He'll replace Bill Finch, the acting executive director for the past two years.

The Thruway's board of directors will meet to name Driscoll acting executive director. His nomination has to be confirmed by the state Senate after the Legislature starts its 2018 session in early January.

Cuomo says Cathy Calhoun, DOT's chief of staff, will serve as the agency's acting commissioner.


Critics: Remove statue of doctor who experimented on slaves

NEW YORK (AP) - Critics want New York City to remove a statue in Central Park that honors a doctor who used slaves in developing a pioneering approach to treating physical problems women can develop after childbirth.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is among those calling for the removal of the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims.

Sims was a 19th century physician who used slave women to develop his surgical technique to repair fistulas and operated on these women without anesthesia.

The removal of Confederate statues sparked a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month. An anti-racist demonstrator was killed when a car drove into a crowd protesting the rally.

Following that violence, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said officials would review "symbols of hate" on city property.


Lawyer: NY man shot during traffic stop didn't have weapon

TROY, N.Y. (AP) - The attorney for a 22-year-old upstate New York man who was shot and wounded by police during a traffic stop says his client wasn't armed at the time of the confrontation.

Police in the city of Troy say Dahmeek McDonald was wanted on a parole violation when he was spotted by officers as he drove on a Troy street on Aug. 15. Authorities say after he was pulled over McDonald was shot twice by at least one of four officers at the scene.

Troy police and Rensselaer County prosecutors have declined to say if a weapon was found on McDonald or in his vehicle after the shooting.

The Times Union of Albany reports that his attorney, Mark Mishler, said that McDonald told him that he wasn't armed when he got pulled over.


Afghanistan vets reassured by Trump reversing calls for exit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Many veterans who have fought in America's longest war say it's reassuring that President Donald Trump reversed his past calls for a speedy exit from Afghanistan because they don't want the sacrifices they've made to be in vain.

Trump recommitted the U.S. to the 16-year-old war in a national address Monday.

He says the U.S. will shift away from a "time-based" approach and instead link its assistance to results and to cooperation from the beleaguered Afghan government, Pakistan and others.

Veterans praised shifting away from a timeline enemy fighters could just wait out, but some worried that the strategy was too vague.

While many were pleased that it appears Trump won't micromanage the military in Afghanistan, some questioned whether victory is possible, given war fatigue among Americans.


The Latest: Owner defends his NYC Confederate flag display

NEW YORK (AP) - A man whose Confederate flag display in his Manhattan apartment windows was met with hurled rocks, a broken window and legal action last week says the reaction reflects a misunderstanding of the flag's meaning.

William Green says in an email Tuesday that, in his words: "The problem here is media and schools abusing their power and leaving the population completely ignorant of what the Dixie flag symbolizes."

He says it represents Confederate fathers who loved their country, and it's about "heritage, not hate."

He's says the flags were there for more than a year. But they attracted new attention after an Aug. 12 white nationalist rally to preserve a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, spiraled into violence.

They were gone as of Monday.


The Latest: Teen dies at high school football practice

NEW YORK (AP) - Police and fire officials say a 14-year-old freshman has collapsed during football practice at his New York City high school and died.

Police say Dominick Bess went into cardiac arrest around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx on Tuesday. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

The all-boys Roman Catholic prep school says the cause of death isn't yet known.

A heat advisory had been issued for the city, but it didn't go into effect until noon. The mayor said in a tweet that practices should be postponed during heat advisories.

Simone Dyer says her cousin was a brainy and fun-loving boy who was set to start at Mount Saint Michael in September. She says he was good at things ranging from math to baking cinnamon buns.

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