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Last updated: Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:21:59 GMT

 Cult psychology: Why a person might join Thu, 29 Mar 2018 20:01:48 +0000
The federal investigation into a Capital Region cult and its leader continues.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The federal investigation into a Capital Region cult and its leader continues.

NXIVM is a secret society led by Keith Raniere who was arrested in Mexico earlier this week.

The first question many people have when they hear about Raniere and what he allegedly did to dozens of women is, why didn’t these women see what was happening to them? It turns out, the answer to that question isn’t as simple as you may think.

Court documents charge Raniere with sex trafficking and other crimes. You’ll also find details on the inner workings of a local cult.

“The goal is to isolate you and sort of reduce your sense of agency and yourself as an individual.”

James Boswell is an assistant professor of psychology at UAlbany. He says Raniere and his so-called “self-help” organization NXIVM check off all the boxes for a traditional cult.

Boswell says it could be easy for any individual to get sucked in.

“They’re pitching that they can fulfill a need that you have that might make you special. It’s very natural for us to go along with that.”

Court documents alleged NXIVM promised to “actualize human potential.”

Boswell says often these groups look legitimate on the surface.

“Everything sounds very positive and credible and is meeting a need that is unfulfilled for them.”

They target people who are going through a difficult time in their lives.

“Maybe sort of a loss of who they are. Maybe they’re sort of struggling and looking for answers.”

A notion yet again reflected in these pages.

Boswell says by the time the negative aspects of a cult are revealed, people are in too deep.

“You might not exactly know what’s behind the curtain.”

Something former NXIVM member Sarah Edmundson affirmed to ABC in this 2017 interview.

“It was the most inhumane horrific way to treat anybody.”

As for people who become leaders like Raniere? Boswell says they are often charismatic, authoritarian, and sometimes narcissistic.

Here is how Raniere describes himself: “I’m an interesting person. I’m a controversial person. But most importantly I’m an unconventional person.”

Raniere had a court appearance in Texas earlier this week. NEWS10 ABC is working to find out when he will be brought back to New York to face his arraignment on those charges.

 Lineup Announced for 2018 Albany Tulip Festival Thu, 29 Mar 2018 20:41:24 +0000
Organizers have released details as they continue to plan the 70th Annual Albany Tulip Festival.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Organizers have released details as they continue to plan the 70th Annual Albany Tulip Festival.

The event is happening on Saturday, May 12 and Sunday May 13 in Washington Park.

The tradition is rooted in the city’s rich Dutch heritage. The event includes nearly one hundred artisans selling their handmade crafts, a fine arts show, food, the KidZone family fun destination, two stages of world-class live entertainment and more than 140,000 tulips in 150 different varieties.

Music performances will happen on Saturday and Sunday on two stages

Here’s the lineup:

Saturday, May 12

4:30 p.m. – White Denim
3:00 p.m. – Naked Giants
1:30 p.m. – Front Business


4:45 p.m. – The Age
3:30 p.m. – The LateShift
2:15 p.m. – Blind Crow
1:00 p.m. – Sorrow Estate

Sunday, May 12

4:30 p.m. – Dr. K’s Motown Revue
3:00 p.m. – Taina Asili
1:30 p.m. – The Sea The Sea

4:45 p.m. – North and South Dakotas
3:30 p.m. – Zan Strumfeld
2:15 p.m. – Jordan Taylor Hill
1:00 p.m. – Ryan Leddick Trio

Nominations for Tulip Queen are still being accepted until April 2nd. Visit this website for more information

 At Passover, local JCCs continue traditions with emphasis on safety Thu, 29 Mar 2018 20:46:20 +0000
A big chunk of federal funding is on the way to protect religious institutions from terror attacks. It comes after anti-Semitic threats rose…

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A big chunk of federal funding is on the way to protect religious institutions from terror attacks. It comes after anti-Semitic threats rose 57 percent in 2017.

It was early last year when a wave of bomb threats were called into Jewish Community Centers across the nation, in that time the Schenectady JCC has implemented new security measures and plans to do even more.

The Schenectady JCC takes care of nearly 400 children a day. But last year, their safety was at risk with terror threats called in at Jewish institutions across the country, including the Albany JCC that received this ominous call:

“It’s a C-4 bomb. There’s going to be a bloodbath.”

No one was harmed, but Mark Weintraub of Schenectady JCC says the threats highlighted their center’s vulnerability.

“We didn’t have any security at all and at that point we made a decision as a JCC, hook or crook, we’re going to install a security system,” Weintraub said.

Price Chopper and local foundations stepped in to outfit the building with a secure entry system, cameras, and more. Now, $60 million of federal funding has been approved to protect other religious institutions.

“The whole purpose of terror is to make us scared that we change our ways so what you see behind us is the seder is a reminder that you’re not going to break out spirit,” said Rabbi Matt Cutler

Rabbi Cutler is giving the children a lesson on Seder, the Jewish feast that marks the beginning of Passover. Despite that scary time a year ago, he says the JCC is a safe space.

Security funding this year is more than double what it was last year, something the JCC is heartened by. But, also a sign that hate exists and hardened security is necessary.

“We feel that our kids are safe and that’s most important,” Weintraub said.

NEWS10 ABC reached out to Senator Gillibrand’s office, a spokesperson said institutions will get a chance to apply for these grants and for the first time, institution outside of large metropolitan areas like New York City will have a chance to apply.

 Computer-based testing causing some controversy Thu, 29 Mar 2018 20:38:39 +0000
The New York State Education Department is exploring a new form of testing that could help your children in the classroom.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Education Department is exploring a new form of testing that could help your children in the classroom.

With state tests for grades 3-8 taking place next month, some parents are hoping the NY Education Department will incorporate something new, adaptive testing.

Kim Namkoong wants the best for her three children.

As their Bethlehem School District joins others across the state in preparing for annual exams next month. Kim is one of many parents who hopes the state eventually turns to computerized adaptive testing.

“The way I think of it is it’s customized for each student.”

With each correct answer, the questions become more challenging.

They would get easier if a student answers incorrectly.

“The students who struggle on paper and pencil tests will at least feel like they are getting questions that they can manage. The students who feel like those paper and pencil tests are too easy will get questions that they will find challenging.”

Last spring, State Ed gave school districts the option to replace paper with screens. Now, adaptive testing could be the next step.”

A department official released the following statement:

“Computer-adaptive testing is something that NYSED is carefully considering for the future of State assessments administered to the general student population, but we do not have a specific timeline for its implementation.”

Some critics worry this could skew the test scores others say this is the wave of the future.

“Most importantly I want my kids to be able to succeed happily. I think we’re a little behind the ball on getting our kids ready on the computer platforms and getting them adapted to using those as tools in their life because that is really what their life is going to be about.”

State Ed spent two years revamping their learning standards.

It will be implemented by spring 2021.

 Several killed following protests on Gaza Strip Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:18:59 +0000
Large crowds of flag-waving Palestinian protesters marched toward the Gaza border fence with Israel on Friday, some of them throwing stones …

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Large crowds of flag-waving Palestinian protesters marched toward the Gaza border fence with Israel on Friday, some of them throwing stones and drawing Israeli fire that officials said killed at least five people.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 500 Palestinians were hurt by live fire, rubber-coated steel pellets or tear gas fired by Israeli forces at several locations along the fence, but did not provide the breakdown.

Earlier Friday, in a separate incident, a Palestinian farmer was killed by an Israeli tank shell while he was working in his field before dawn, the ministry said.

The protests had begun as mass sit-ins organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, but quickly spun out of control.

Israel’s military said thousands of Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at forces stationed on the border, and that troops opened fire at the “main instigators.”

Palestinian witnesses said hundreds of Palestinians participated in clashes, while thousands more gathered in tent encampments set up in five sites several at a distance of several hundred meters from the border.

Such mass gatherings near the border signal a new tactic by Hamas — and one that might prove more challenging to Israel’s military than previous smaller protests.

Military officials have said they will respond harshly to any breaches of the border fence. At the same time, a rising number of casualties will likely stoke more border tensions, a scenario Israel hopes to avoid.

The sit-ins are seen as a new attempt by Hamas to break a crippling, decade-old Gaza border blockade by Israel and Egypt that has made it increasingly difficult for the Islamic militant group to govern.

Other tactics over the years, including Hamas’ cross-border wars with Israel and attempts to reconcile with political rival Mahmoud Abbas, the West Bank-based Palestinian president, have failed to end Gaza’s isolation.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum praised the turnout.

“The large crowds … reflect the Palestinian people’s determination to achieve the right of return and break the siege and no force can stop this right,” he said.

Friday’s actions are to be the first in a series of protests planned in Gaza in coming weeks. The protests are to culminate on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation, with a march through the border fence.

Palestinians commemorate the date as the anniversary of their mass displacement and uprooting during the 1948 Mideast war over Israel’s creation. The vast majority of Gaza residents are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from communities in what is now Israel.

Israel’s military said ahead of Friday’s protests that it doubled its standard troop level along the border, deploying snipers, special forces and paramilitary border police units, which specialize in riot control.

Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, which includes the border, said Friday that “we are identifying attempts to carry out terror attacks under the camouflage of riots.”

He urged Gaza residents to stay away from the border, and held Hamas responsible for any violence there.

Previous protests near the border fence in recent months have turned deadly, with Israeli soldiers firing live bullets at Palestinians burning tires, throwing stones or hurling firebombs.

On Friday, mosques across Gaza called on Palestinians to join the protests. Buses took protesters to the border area, including five tent encampments set up from north to south, several hundred meters from the border fence. By noon, thousands had arrived at the encampments.

Ghanem Abdelal, 50, distributed water bottles to family members sitting on a map near one of the tents east of Gaza City. He said he hopes the protest “will bring a breakthrough, an improvement, to our life in Gaza.”

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ supreme leader, visited the tents, along with Gaza leader Yehiyeh Sinwar.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said five people were killed by Israeli fire in subsequent clashes, including a 16-year-old boy and a 33-year-old man.

Several hours before the confrontations, a Palestinian farmer identified as 27-year-old Amr Samour was killed by an Israeli tank shell in southern Gaza, the Health Ministry said.

Israel said troops had directed tank fire at suspicious figures near the border fence in the area.

Yasser Samour, a relative and fellow farmer, said Amr Samour was harvesting parsley before dawn, in hopes of selling it fresh in the market later in the day.

“I was working on the next field,” Yasser Samour said. “We heard shelling landing on the field where Amr works. We ran there and found him hit directly with a shell. We were more than a kilometer away from the border.”

Another farmer was wounded in the leg by shrapnel, Samour said.

 California judge rules that coffee requires cancer warning Fri, 30 Mar 2018 12:49:29 +0000
Scientists haven’t rendered a verdict on whether coffee is good or bad for you but a California judge has. He says coffee sellers in the sta…

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists haven’t rendered a verdict on whether coffee is good or bad for you but a California judge has. He says coffee sellers in the state should have to post cancer warnings.

The culprit is a chemical produced in the bean roasting process that is a known carcinogen and has been at the heart of an eight-year legal struggle between a tiny nonprofit group and Big Coffee.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics wanted the coffee industry to remove acrylamide from its processing — like potato chip makers did when it sued them years ago — or disclose the danger in ominous warning signs or labels. The industry, led by Starbucks Corp., said the level of the chemical in coffee isn’t harmful and any risks are outweighed by benefits.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said Wednesday that the coffee makers hadn’t presented the proper grounds at trial to prevail.

“While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation,” Berle wrote in his proposed ruling. “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving … that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

The suit was brought against Starbucks and 90 companies under a controversial law passed by California voters in 1986 that has been credited with culling cancer-causing chemicals from myriad products and also criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns.

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65, requires warning labels for about 900 chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. It allows private citizens, advocacy groups and attorneys to sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties for failure to provide warnings.

“This lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop. 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health,” said William Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, who added that coffee had been shown to be a healthy beverage.

Scientific evidence on coffee has gone back and forth for a long time, but concerns have eased recently about possible dangers of coffee, with some studies finding health benefits.

In 2016, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization moved coffee off its “possible carcinogen” list.

Studies indicate coffee is unlikely to cause breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer, and it seems to lower the risks for liver and uterine cancers, the agency said. Evidence is inadequate to determine its effect on dozens of other cancer types.

Coffee companies have said it’s not feasible to remove acrylamide from their product without ruining the flavor.

But attorney Raphael Metzger, who brought the lawsuit and drinks a few cups of coffee a day, said the industry could remove the chemical without impairing taste.

“I firmly believe if the potato chip industry can do it, so can the coffee industry,” Metzger said. “A warning won’t be that effective because it’s an addictive product.”

Many coffee shops have already posted warnings that say acrylamide is cancer-causing chemical found in coffee. But signs that are supposed to be posted at the point of sale are often found in places not easily visible, such as below the counter where cream and sugar are available.

Customers at shops that post warnings are often unaware or unconcerned about them.

Afternoon coffee drinkers at a Los Angeles Starbucks said they might look into the warning or give coffee drinking a second thought after the ruling, but the cup of joe was likely to win out.

“I just don’t think it would stop me,” said Jen Bitterman, a digital marketing technologist. “I love the taste, I love the ritual, I love the high, the energy, and I think I’m addicted to it.”

Darlington Ibekwe, a lawyer in Los Angeles, said a cancer warning would be annoying but wouldn’t stop him from treating himself to three lattes a week.

“It’s like cigarettes. Like, damn, now I’ve got to see this?” he said. “Dude, I’m enjoying my coffee.”

The defendants have a couple weeks to challenge the ruling before it is final and could seek relief from an appellate court.

If the ruling stands, it could come with a stiff financial penalty and could rattle consumers beyond state lines.

The judge can set another phase of trial to consider potential civil penalties up to $2,500 per person exposed each day over eight years. That could be an astronomical sum in a state with close to 40 million residents, though such a massive fine is unlikely.

California’s outsized market could make it difficult to tailor packaging with warning labels specifically to stores in the state.

That means out-of-state coffee drinkers could also take their coffee with a cancer warning. Cream and sugar would still be optional.

 NEWS10 ABC SPORTS 3/29 Fri, 30 Mar 2018 03:41:22 +0000
 Basketball brings hope to a community in recovery Fri, 30 Mar 2018 02:26:33 +0000
A local community is still healing, after a tragic fire killed three people, including an eight year old boy.

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local community is still healing, after a tragic fire killed three people, including an eight year old boy.

Thursday night, classmates of one of the survivors held a unique fundraiser to help give back.

This event happens every single year and usually the money from it goes towards helping the Rensselaer senior class plan a trip to New York City, but this year the class saying they didn’t want to use the money for their trip and instead they want to help one of their own.

Early morning, Sunday March 11th, the haunting images on Mann Ave, as a house was engulfed in flames.

Three people died as a result. All close family members of 17-year-old Motasam Alshami.

“It was tragic what happened,” said one student.

On Thursday night, his classmates rallied around him.

“It’s hard for a community to go through something like this,” said Madison Berhaubt.

This is their annual “Battle of the Classes” basketball game. Usually the goal is to prove what class is best on the hardwood, and raise some money for a class trip to New York City.

But this time around is different.

“This community moves as a unit. So if he’s struggling, we’re all struggling together,” said Shala Harris.

Shala Harris is a close friend of Motasam.

“We just trying to take things day by day, step by step,” Harris said.

After the tragedy, he says all of his classmates have stepped up, wanting to help.

Teacher Debra Sklar noticed it too. She says the day after the fire; students approached her and wanted to make a change. Instead of raising money from this for their trip, instead give it all to Motasam’s family.

“Exact words: They need it more than us,” Sklar said.

“We can go to New York anytime; they deserve it way more than we do,” Berhaubt said.

Senior Madison Berhaubt says the decision was unanimous.

Motasam declined to talk with us at the event, instead wanting to enjoy the moment.

His sister is still recovering in a Syracuse hospital, and the loss of close family members is still fresh.

But, for one night he gets to be a kid and laugh with friends again.

“Like not thinking about it and having fun enjoying friend time, that’s really good for him,” a student said.

“Being here like this and having this event it just makes us feel like a family again,” Harris said.

Even though the school year is almost over there could still be future benefits plan that will help the family.

 Colonie residents react after two pit bulls attack three other dogs Fri, 30 Mar 2018 02:11:38 +0000
Two Capital Region families are recovering after their dogs were brutally attacked by their neighbors' dogs.

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Two Capital Region families are recovering after their dogs were brutally attacked by their neighbors’ dogs.

Three dogs nearly died when two pit bulls attacked them out of the blue.

One has a ripped ear and another 18 holes in its head.

Now the victims’ owners are speaking out in hopes that others keep a better eye on their pets.

Ayreen Buhrmaster and her dog Marley have been through a lot this week.

“I’m like what is going on. You know I looked through the window. I saw Marley on the floor with two big dogs on him,” Buhrmaster said.

It was Tuesday morning; her husband, kids and the dog were waiting for the school bus outside their home; when all of a sudden two pit bulls jumped on Marley.

“The big dog is right on his head, biting his neck, his ears,” Buhrmaster said.

She ran to help and after a long struggle they got her free.

But, the pit bulls weren’t done and found two other victims at the neighbor’s home.

“The pit bulls were huge,” said Austin Rumph, whose dogs were attacked.

Rumph had just let Bailey and Taz out into their fenced-in backyard and turned away for a moment when the pit bulls broke in and attacked.

But, with the use of a swifter and an extra hand from his neighbors they got them apart.

“If the neighbors didn’t come and get off the big dog, she would have definitely been dead,” Rumph said.

NEWS10 ABC asked the pit bull owners if they had anything to say about what happened.

“We’re devastated. We’re horrified. We’re very concerned about the other dogs,” said one owner.

They said they don’t know how their dogs got out, but also said one thing is clear.

“We are responsible dog owners,” said another owner.

Colonie Police said they pled guilty to dangerous dog charges in court Thursday.

But, Buhrmaster and Rumph’s mom are still afraid and warn others to be on the lookout.

“Are they going to do it again? Are they going to come and attack again? Are they going to go after kids next time?,” said Dawn Tremblay, whose dogs were attacked as well.

“We’re supposed to be safe in your own neighborhood, in your own house, you know and now it feels like you can’t be too careful,” Buhrmaster said.

Colonie Police said the judge ordered the pit bulls’ owners to keep their dogs confined, muzzled while in public and to have them evaluated by a trainer. The owners also have to pay the vet bills for the victims.

 Cremo and Nichols to transfer, UAlbany backcourt left vacant Fri, 30 Mar 2018 01:46:50 +0000
The junior backcourt duo of Joe Cremo and David Nichols plan to transfer in the pursuit of playing at a higher level. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bombshell dropped Thursday, that will change the face of the UAlbany men’s basketball team.

The junior backcourt duo of Joe Cremo and David Nichols plan to transfer in the pursuit of playing at a higher level.

Cremo’s always been a local favorite as a graduate of Scotia-Glenville High School.

He led the team in scoring with nearly 18 points per game this season, and will leave UAlbany as the program’s eighth all-time leading scorer.

He says he expects to get his release from UAlbany on Monday.

Cremo needs two online courses this summer to graduate early, and then he can look for another team.

“For me I just wanted to compete at the highest level and take a chance.  It might be a little bit of a gamble, but at the end of the day, I’m 21 now and I’m just trying to take a chance on myself because I really feel like I can compete with anyone.  So just got to sometimes go with your gut and to me it just came down to what makes me happy and just I want to enjoy playing the game I love and take a chance at a program that’s going to want to take a chance on me,” Cremo said.

As for Nichols, according to his father, he also plans to graduate from UAlbany, which means he will not have to sit out a year as a grad transfer.

Nichols averaged nearly 15 points per game as a junior, 18 as a sophomore.

With Nichols and Cremo leaving, in addition to Grieg Stire and Travis Charles graduating, the team loses its top four scorers.