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Buried alive: Buffalo digs out

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poppet with a camera
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You'll be sick of snow stories tomorrow, so better read the Buffalo News rundown of the latest lake effect blast today.

Did you hear it snowed?
The Buffalo News is snowed under with coverage of yesterday's lake effect squall.  Here's the menu:

To start, the paper is updating about every 10 minutes here, bringing you details on their coverage, weather, and roads reopening.

Next there's a series of dispatches from inside the cabs of stranded cars and trucks, and shelters where motorists camped out.  Some of the drivers made lemonade:

By noon Thursday, after more than 16 hours parked in the same snowdrift, Dave Koplas of Pendleton said he'd devoted some of his time to penning his family's annual Christmas letter, which, when he gets home, will be typed up, copied and tucked into greeting cards. In the holiday spirit of sharing, Koplas cleared his throat and read aloud the opening sentence: "What better time to write a Christmas letter than when you've been stuck on the Thruway for 13 hours and there's no sign of things clearing up anytime soon."

But others took the lemon life lobbed at them and threw it right back at the Thruway Authority.  The paper has a detailed review of what went wrong, and how the disaster waylaid plans for many drivers.  Columnist Donn Esmonde also weighed in with criticism of the Thruway Authority's apparent lack of readiness to the storm.

There's also coverage of how the closures affected truckers (though no clear numbers on economic impact yet) and details on scam artists who tried to charge stranded motorists $25 a gallon for gas.

And finally, the good news (for skiers at least).  There's more snow on the horizon, but it's set for areas around the Southern Tier where ski resorts will benefit.

Chesapeake watershed plan
New York's homework is late.  The state owed the federal government a plan for reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed on Monday, but failed to submit on time, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

"We will be submitting a plan eventually, just not in the immediate future," New York Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lori Severino said. "There's really not a lot to say at this point. There's really no timeline or anything." Severino said "a massive amount" of new data was received right at the deadline, and it is delaying the process.

New York has been resistant to filing a plan because of the expense associated with curtailing pollutants like phosphorus and nitrogen.  A draft plan submitted by the state was panned by the EPA as having "deficiencies."

International students
The Democrat and Chronicle has a profile of the international appeal that Rochester's colleges have:

With 76,146 foreign nationals hosted by colleges, New York state had the second-highest number of international students last school year, behind California. Three New York colleges are among the 20 schools with the most international students: New York University (7,276), Columbia University (6,833) and State University of New York at Buffalo (4,911). RIT and UR were among the top 120 colleges.

According to the paper, Rochester's biggest international constituency is India, followed by China and then Malaysia.

Wish me luck
The Times Union reports that lotteries based on social security number are being used to determine who to lay off at some state owned facilities:

The point of using such random means is that the layoffs not be arbitrary or capricious, which would allow employees to level charges of favoritism. "The courts insists on a 'reasonable' selection process that doesn't discriminate or enhance the chances of anyone," said Harvey Randall, an employment lawyer who explained that the concept has been upheld in litigation. "It has to be random."

Meanwhile, the Democrat and Chronicle reports that 40,500 jobs could be on the chopping block if federal unemployment benefits aren't renewed.  The numbers come from a White House report aimed at convincing Congress to extend benefits, including for 200,000 New Yorkers who are set to lose their weekly checks at the end of the year.

Economic forecasting
The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia spoke in Rochester yesterday.  The Democrat and Chronicle reports that Charles Plosser said some "rebalancing" is inevitable in the economy:

Plosser told a news conference after the luncheon that he's concerned the extra money banks will have from the Fed's $600 billion purchase of bonds will find its way quickly into the mainstream U.S. economy, causing inflation. That could mean the Fed would have to reverse policy and begin to raise interest rates to stanch inflation. "History tells us that exiting from an accommodative monetary policy is always a bit tricky," Plosser told the luncheon crowd. "It is easier to cut rates than it is to raise them."

Dairy icon
The Post-Standard has an obit for C. Vincent Byrne, who's credited with expanding Byrne Dairy into a regional powerhouse.  Byrne died Wednesday at 86 years old.

Wind power money
NYSERDA has announced a $16.6 million subsidy for wind power projects, reports the Post-Standard:

Participants can get subsidies of up to $400,000, or up to half the cost of a wind installation, whichever is less. NYSERDA will subsidize wind systems of up to 600 kilowatts — 60 times bigger than a typical household system.

Battery breakthrough
The Times Union says that GE has a new zero emission battery for busses:

The system combines a lithium battery that quickly produces power for rapid acceleration with a sodium battery that can store large amounts of electricity to give the bus greater range.

Researchers are gunning for a 100 mile battery life with top speeds of 62 miles per hour.

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