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AROUND THE STATE

Two charged after tot is left on school bus

MENANDS (AP) -- State police said Wednesday a driver and monitor have been charged with child endangerment after a toddler was left alone on a school bus for almost three hours.

They said Eric Ramm, 31, of Cohoes, and Thomas Kottackal, 59, of Albany, dropped several students at a school in Rensselaer County and parked the Northland Transportation bus at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Albany suburb of Menands.

When they returned at 12:45 p.m., Kottackal, the monitor, saw the 3-year-old girl still strapped into a car seat.

The child was treated for mild dehydration.

Both men were ticketed for endangering the welfare of a child.

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Stealing family pet may become a felony

ALBANY (AP) -- Stealing the family dog or cat in New York State could soon send a pet thief to prison.

A bill that would make stealing any cat or dog a felony has strong sponsors in the Legislature. It aims to create the toughest law against pet theft in the nation.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, said the measure will elevate the crime to grand larceny from a misdemeanor and eliminate the difficult question of placing a value on a pet.

Conviction could draw four years in prison.

Michigan State University law professor David Favre said Wednesday that if it's passed, the law would likely be the toughest in the nation.

The specialist in animal protection laws said there is a recent trend to raising the legal status of pets.

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Diplomat's wife hit by stray bullet

NEW YORK (AP) -- Police said Wednesday the wife of a Sudanese diplomat was hit by a stray bullet as she walked with her two children in Queens.

The woman was in stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital after the incident Tuesday. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said two brawling groups of young men started shooting, and she was an innocent bystander.

Mawahib Elbahi, 31, was hit between her neck and shoulder. She is expected to recover.

Her husband is a diplomat at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Sudan in New York.