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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:25 am, Thu Dec 19, 2013.

Outcry over killing of owls at airports triggers policy shift

Snowy owls will no longer be shot at Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports in an effort to protect planes from bird strikes like the one that brought down Miracle on the Hudson Flight 1549 nearly five years ago.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the airports, announced on Monday that it will work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to relocate the birds instead of killing them. The move followed a Daily News report revealing that several snowy owls had been shot at JFK, causing dismay among animal activists and prompting offers to help move them instead from the city and state Audubon Society chapters and at least one private citizen.

The PA said five planes have been hit by snowy owls in the past two weeks. The birds generally live farther north but have been more common than usual here this year. They stand a little more than 2 feet tall, have a wingspan around 5 feet and can weigh over 6 pounds.

Flight 1549 safely landed in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009 after a collision with a flock of Canada geese knocked out its engines, highlighting the dangers birds pose to planes.

‘Shop and frisk’ leads to store ‘Bill of Rights’

Several major retailers including Macy’s and Barneys have agreed to post and abide by a “Customers’ Bill of Rights” designed to prevent racial profiling of shoppers.

Drafted by the Retail Council of New York State in consultation with the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights groups, the document says participating stores will not engage in discrimination of any kind or allow employees to perform unreasonable searches of customers.

The move follows an outcry over false accusations of stealing made against several black shoppers in Manhattan stores this fall, including one celebrity, actor Rob Brown of the TV show “Treme.” Brown is suing Macy’s for detaining him over a watch he had bought for his mother, in a class action joined by 14 other people who said they were wrongly targeted by store security due to their ethnicity.

Also this fall, a black teenage girl from Brooklyn was found to have a dead baby in her shopping bag after she was confronted by security at a Victoria’s Secret store in Manhattan over alleged shoplifting. She faces charges of petit larceny and possession of stolen property, while the cause of the baby’s death remains undetermined, the Daily News said Tuesday.

Cuomo eyes tax cuts as de Blasio seeks hike

The state would freeze property taxes and reduce the levies on businesses and the estates of the deceased under recommendations formally made this week by Gov. Cuomo’s Tax Relief Commission.

The panel, appointed by Cuomo to propose ways to reduce state-imposed taxes, advises using Albany’s $2 billion surplus to prevent property tax hikes for two years, cut and simplify corporate levies, and reduce and reform the estate tax, which the governor says has been hitting more and more of the middle class.

Cuomo said he would work with the Legislature to review the recommendations and “continue our efforts to reverse the state’s reputation as a tax capital and make New York a friendlier state for families and businesses.”

Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, however, wants the state to approve an income tax hike for city residents earning more than $500,000 a year, in order to pay for universal preschool and expanded afterschool programs here.

The state commission’s full report can be found by clicking on the “More news here” button at governor.ny.gov and opening the press release on it, which was issued Dec. 10.

Legal pot bill fired up

Recreational use of marijuana would be legal for adults in New York and the herb would be taxed under a bill introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan). The state Liquor Authority would regulate the drug. A Buffalo assemblywoman is expected to spark up a companion bill in the lower house.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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