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Occupy Albany pushes to enact a living wage

ALBANY (AP) -- A push to raise the minimum wage, despite a political stalemate, brought the Occupy Albany movement to the Capitol on Tuesday.

"A living wage is possible; this movement is unstoppable!" chanted 40 demonstrators from the Capitol's ornate Million Dollar Staircase. "It's shameful and outrageous!"

The group chanted as they walked past the Senate's offices and to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office to drop off letters pushing Cuomo to get his allies to take up a minimum-wage bill passed by the Assembly, which would raise the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $8.50.

Neither Cuomo nor Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, was in Albany.

Senate Republicans say the increase would kill jobs and threaten New York's fragile economic recovery. Cuomo says he supports the hike but that it's politically impossible.



Fulbright Scholar dies while filming in Syria

ALBANY (AP) -- A student filmmaker who was a well-known Syrian activist was killed while filming the ongoing violence in his homeland, Syracuse University said Tuesday.

Bassel Al Shahade died Monday in the embattled city of Homs, once a stronghold of opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, University Chancellor Nancy Cantor said.

Shahade, 28, of Damascus, was a Fulbright Scholar pursuing a master of fine arts in film degree at the university's College of Visual and Performing Arts, Cantor said.

Owen Shapiro, coordinator of the film program at Syracuse, said Fulbright officials told him that Shahade had been shot while filming.

He said Shahade was aware of the dangers he faced when he left school after the fall semester but was determined to tell the story of the uprising.

"He said: 'I have to be with my people. I can't be here with what's going on in Syria,' " Shapiro recalled.



Severe weather lashes several upstate areas

ALBANY -- Severe weather was reported Tuesday in New York State.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch from east of Utica to the Capital Region and north into the Adirondacks and Vermont. That watch was expanded to include Dutchess and Ulster counties in the Hudson Valley.

Severe thunderstorm watches were reported across much of upstate, with a few areas under the more severe thunderstorm warnings.

In the Finger Lakes, the Seneca County sheriff issued a no-travel order after thunderstorms dropped hail and brought down trees in the region around Rochester early in the afternoon.