links for 2011-03-28

  • A poisonous cobra has vanished from an enclosure outside public view at the Bronx Zoo, and its Reptile House remained closed Sunday as a precaution while zoo workers searched for the missing reptile.
  • The agreement does not include a plan to cap medical malpractice awards at $250,000, but does increase the number of prison beds cut statewide, from 3,500 to 3,700, and grants Cuomo greater authority over the closure process.
  • Reactions are already rolling in regarding the $132.5 budget agreement that Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders say they reached: at least one leading civic/business group likes it while school funders don’t.
  • “We worked through very, very difficult issues,” the governor said. “We not only got it done, but we got a great piece of work done. I believe that.”
  • The agreement, five days before the March 31 budget deadline, offered the prospect of Albany’s first on-time budget in five years. If enacted by lawmakers, the deal would cut the state’s overall year-to-year spending for the first time in more than a decade.
  • One of the more polarizing issues in the state’s budget talks was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to put a cap on medical malpractice payments.
  • The Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse in Salina raised $27,000 today to go toward Japanese earthquake relief.
  • New York City's airspace is known for its chronic flight delays, and planners have been looking for new runway space to ease congestion.
  • Two Mondays ago, the 50-year-old Smith, who possesses a doctorate in geology, was quoted making supportive remarks about the hydrofracking process and benefits of the various drilling projects that are envisioned above the Marcellus Shale beds beneath parts of the Southern Tier and Catskills. The Education Department will not allow Smith to talk to reporters now. Besides muzzling him, the department, which oversees his New York State Museum geology unit, won't permit him to take calls.
  • Earlier this month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the eastern mountain lion, or cougar, is extinct. Scientists say the last wild cougars probably vanished from the Northeast in the 1930s. But some people are convinced that mountain lions still haunt the Adirondack woods.