News Briefs: What to know locally, nationally and globally

The Spectrum


Two former UB officials plead guilty to felony charges

Former UB vice president Dennis Black pleaded guilty to two felony counts on Thursday morning in the Erie County Court. Black admitted to stealing over $300,000 in state funds for personal use, as well as using state money for charitable donations he improperly claimed on his taxes. Black will pay $320,000 to UB and $22,000 in back-taxes to New York State.

Andrea Constantino, former Campus Living director, pleaded guilty to grand larceny for stealing more than $14,000 in state funds for personal use. She will pay the amount back in restitution. District Attorney John Flynn said he will ask for prison time for Black. Flynn said he has not decided if he will ask for jail for Costantino.

SA starts relief drive for hurricane victims

UB’s student association announced on saturday that it would be holding a relief drive for Hurricane Irma victims this week. The drive calls for anything from toiletries to food items and clothing, which will be going towards helping those who have been affected or will be affected. It will be held in the SU lobby from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 15. 

Environmentalist Bill McKibben to headline Buffalo Humanities Festival

Environmentalist and advocate for the fight against climate change, Bill McKibben will be the keynote speaker at the Buffalo Humanities Festival. This year’s festival will be held Sept. 28-30 at various locations around Western New York.

UB’s Humanities Institute organizes the annual festival, this year in conjunction with Canisius College, SUNY Buffalo State, Niagara University and Humanities New York. McKibben will give his talk, “The Desperate Climate Fight: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Moment,” at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.


Buffalo police continue to dismantle parties in University Heights

Police broke up two large parties in the Heights Saturday morning with underage drinking and excessively loud music, one on Winspear Avenue and the other on Englewood Avenue. According to The Buffalo News, one student at the party on Winspear was found heavily intoxicated in a bedroom and was taken to Erie County Medical Center. Criminal nuisance charges were filed against four occupants of the two houses at which the parties took place.

Buffalo leaders hopeful for shot at becoming Amazon’s next hub

Amazon announced Thursday it was seeking proposals for the company’s next metropolitan hub. Local economic developers say Buffalo is a long shot, compared to cities like Toronto and New York; but Buffalo’s leaders are highlighting features that Buffalo alone can offer, according to The Buffalo News.

Congressman Brian Higgins noted Buffalo’s proximity to Canada and the U.S., cheap electrical power from Niagara Falls and the city’s swarth of relatively cheap land-buying options. Officials further cited the area’s highly educated population and many academic institutions, like UB.

Local man killed crossing Maple Road in Amherst

A Williamsville native was hit by a vehicle and killed while walking across Maple Road late Friday night, according to The Buffalo News Jeffrey Lyons was 68 years old. No charges have been filed against the man who hit Lyons. Amherst police are still investigating the incident and have asked anyone with further information to call the Amherst Police department at 689-1311.


Hurricane Irma moves toward Florida, officials tell 6 million people to evacuate

After a devastating sweep through the Caribbean which left 25 dead, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida Sunday. Governor Rick Scott has urged Floridians to evacuate immediately, according to The Guardian.

“You need to leave – not tonight, not in an hour, right now,” Scott said in a press conference. “This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.”

 The storm is forecasted to hit the Keys first, then hit again near Fort Myers and again near Tampa Bay, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. 

Dallas allowed to remove Robert E. Lee statue

Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas renewed permission for the city of Dallas to take down a statue of Robert E. Lee in a park named after the Confederate general. According to the New York Times, a lawsuit was lifted the day after the judge halted removal on Wednesday due to a temporary restraining order requested by a Dallas resident and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has set up a task force, which is reviewing other monuments and locations in Dallas named after Confederate leaders and voted to recommend renaming Lee Park on Thursday.


U.S. students in Florence accuse police of rape

Two women studying abroad in Italy accused Italian police officials of rape last Thursday. The women, ages 19 and 21, according to The New York Times, said two members of the Italian Carabinieri paramilitary force raped them in the entrance of their apartment early morning Thursday.

The two accused men deny the allegations and have not been charged. Italy’s Defense Minister said there “appears to be some basis” to the charges and will continue investigating. Florence is Italy’s hub for study abroad programs and popular among American students.

Australian PM comes out in support of same-sex marriage vote

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a surprise appearance in front of 20,000 gathered in Sydney to campaign for same-sex marriage when he announced his support for the measure, according to BBC. It was unclear if Turnbull would support same-sex marriage.

Australians will send out a non-binding vote on Sept. 12 to gauge national support for the measure. If most Australians support same-sex marriage, it could lead to a vote in Parliament.

Mexico earthquake kills dozens

Mexico experienced its strongest earthquake in over a century late Thursday, leaving at least 61 dead since it first hit off the southern coast, according to CNN. The 8.1 magnitude quake was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City.

A red alert issued by the U.S. Geological PAGER Survey predicted high casualties and widespread damage, and the earthquake and its aftershocks have collapsed buildings and damaged infrastructure. Some 1.84 million homes lost electricity, and some are without water service. Mexico’s army, marines and federal police have been mobilized to respond.