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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Check out NJ.com's interactive, printable brackets for this year's tournament.


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    He was released from custody pending trial on several conditions

    Authorities arrested a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on charges he possessed and distributed child pornography, authorities said Thursday.

    Donovan Balthazor, 30, of North Carolina Trail in Pemberton Township, shared a photo of a young girl online, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

    A judge ordered him released with several monitoring conditions following a court appearance later Thursday.

    balthazor2.jpgDonovan Balthazor, police photo 

    Balthazor is originally from the Tampa, Florida area but is currently stationed at the Joint Base, authorities said. He was taken into custody there Wednesday by the base's Office of Special Investigations.

    In a 2014 photo caption, the U.S. Air Force described Balthazor as a senior airman who worked on a maintenance crew. 

    According to the prosecutor's office, the investigation into Balthazor began when the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children alerted them about his "online activities." 

    After investigating the photograph of the young girl, investigators searched his home Wednesday and recovered "numerous digital devices" that will be analyzed, the office said.

    He is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possessing an image depicting the sexual exploitation of a child, authorities said.

    A Burlington County Superior Court Judge ordered that Balthazor be released pending trial on the conditions he have no unsupervised contact with minors and only use the internet on government computers and for work purposes, the prosecutor's office said.

    A spokeswoman at the base confirmed Balthazor's rank Thursday afternoon but said information about his work status was not available because staff had gone home for the day.

    The office's High-Tech Crimes Unit investigated the case with assistance from the New Jersey State Police, Pemberton Township police, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. the release said.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    As Frontier Airlines continues to expand their destinations, the company will add four nonstop flights from Trenton.

    As Frontier Airlines continues to expand their destinations, the company will add four nonstop flights from Trenton.

    The low-fare carrier announced the nonstop flights from Trenton-Mercer Airport on Thursday, including to Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fl.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Nashville, Tenn.

    Flights will begin in April and May, though tickets are already on sale for as low as $39. 

    The additional flights brings the amount of destinations from Trenton-Mercer Airport to 39 cities.

     

    The announcement was one of many made across the country on Thursday, as the airline continues to expand its nationwide service.

    It announced in November it plans to triple in size in the next decade, add about 5,000 jobs companywide and buy 134 new Airbus airliners.

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, and Preet Bharara, the ousted U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who have put politics aside to launch the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy.

    You know you've entered strange times when two respected heavy-hitters with opposing political perspectives feel impelled to form a task force to monitor the actions of their president.

    The unlikely allies are Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, and Preet Bharara, the ousted U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who have put politics aside to launch the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy.

    Their common fear rests on a sobering reality: President Donald Trump is turning the norms of accepted political behavior upside down, in the process destroying Americans' faith in its leaders and its institutions.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law is launching the task force, whose goals are to strengthen ethics in politics; protect the independence of law-enforcement agencies and the courts; and ensure a robust independent press.

    "Though the two of us are from different political parties, we both believe that now's the time to ensure the president and all our public officials adhere to basic rules of the road," the co-chairs wrote in an opinion essay last week in USA Today.

    Immigration plan should not be dismissed casually | Editorial

    Now is indeed the time, when the man in the White House feels free to release classified documents to serve his personal agenda at the possible cost to national security. When he uses racist language to denigrate both his own citizens and the dignity of foreign nations. When he slanders the integrity of the FBI to hamper the investigation into Russian interference in our democratic process.

    Even many of Trump's fellow Republicans are belatedly coming to realize that these attacks on our foundational values are creating rifts that may swiftly be moving beyond repair.

    It's encouraging to hear a sane voice like Christie Whitman's sharing these existential concerns.

    In addition to serving as the Garden State's only female governor, Whitman became administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. She resigned after bitterly disagreeing with some of the administration's policies.

    Last year, she and another former New Jersey governor, Jim Florio, teamed with the League of Conservation Voters' Education Fund to raise awareness of issues affecting climate change, public transportation, drinking water, land preservation and urban industrialization.

    http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/04/former_nj_governors_decry_trump_push_to_gut_enviro.html

    The task force Whitman and Bharara are co-chairing faces an enormous challenge: to codify norms and ethical standards that have gone by the wayside under Trump rule and GOP complicity.

    They say they hope to have a blueprint ready by the summer. We hope that's not too late.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    The Hamilton Township Council has unanimously supported creating a municipal fire department to replace the nine autonomous fire districts that have long serviced the 40-square-mile township.

    In an encouraging sign of bipartisanship, the newly reconstituted Hamilton Township Council has doubled down on efforts to consolidate the town's fire districts.

    The council has unanimously supported creating a municipal fire department to replace the nine autonomous fire districts that have long serviced the 40-square-mile township.

    While this vote did not officially set up a unified fire service, it did commit the council to a course of action: to establish a fire department under the control of the municipality rather than consolidating all the fire districts into one district run by an independent commission with no oversight from town hall.

    This is noteworthy because it shows the new council, which swung from Republican to Democratic control, is willing to work across party lines to ensure the township sets up the most efficient and economical fire service possible.

    Hamilton again chooses to create a municipal fire department

    In December, the lame-duck council voted in favor of a municipal fire department, but left the final decision up to the current council.

    The idea of overhauling Hamilton's disjointed fire districts has been bandied about for many decades, but it wasn't until late 2015, when Fire District 9 passed a resolution supporting consolidation, that the ball began rolling (ever so slowly at first) to unite fire services.

    The benefits of a consolidated fire department were obvious. Rather than have nine separate districts that acted as their own fiefdoms with their own taxing authority and duplication of administrative offices and costs, it would be more efficient and more cost-effective to consolidate.

    Through a long and tedious petition processes, backed by the township's two firefighters' unions, the consolidation effort finally landed in the council's lap. It was now up to the council members to decide how that consolidation would look and work.

    Much to the chagrin of many, the township council seemed to be dragging its feet, with one study after another.

    That frustration came to a head in last fall's election, when three fire union-backed Democratic candidates won seats on the five-member township council, giving them a majority.

    Curiously, among the first actions taken by the new council was to form yet another committee, this time to formulate things like a budget and command structure and draft an ordinance in the next 90 to 120 days.

    Without a doubt, the township's two firefighters' union locals - one which represent officers and the other the rank-and-file members - stand to play a key role in how the new fire department takes shape.

    And that is how it should be. Firefighters should be fairly compensated and supplied with adequate equipment.

    But the taxpayers' interests also need to be represented. Money to buy new fire trucks or increase salaries and benefits comes out of the pockets of township residents.

    This new council has to walk a fine line between these often-competing interests.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    Vote for the best junior in N.J. girls basketball this season.


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    The brackets are now officially out for the state playoffs and here are 15 takeaways from the seeding meeting.


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    Four women who worked for a Catholic church in Lawrence accuse the pastor of creating a hostile work environment

    Four women employees of a Catholic church in Lawrence have filed a lawsuit accusing the parish's pastor of gender harassment and creating a hostile work environment by repeatedly demeaning them.

    In the suit, the four accuse Rev. Gerard Lynch of The Church of St. Ann, of bias against them and saying vulgar, demeaning and inappropriate things, which caused them "fear, consternation and loss of faith."

    They also accuse the Diocese of Trenton of inadequately responding to their complaints or failing to act after they reported Lynch's alleged behavior and comments.

    Among the allegations, the suit says, are that Lynch was disrespectful about women in general, once saying about another woman: "I hope she doesn't smell; I hope she douched."

    The Diocese of Trenton did not immediately responded to request for comment on the suit, filed Feb. 2.

    "The prosecution of discrimination is always important," the women's lawyer, David H. Kaplan, said Friday. "These women are God fearing, and being treated in manner that they allege is particularly disturbing."

    Lynch was installed as pastor in early 2015, a Trenton Diocese publication says.

    What we know about pastor, founder of Christian festival accused of sexual assault

    The women make the following allegations in the suit:

    - Maryann Tsougas, who was hired in 2005 as a secretary, said Lynch repeatedly harassed her, referring to her as "Miss Saigon" and made inappropriate comments about her hair and weight.

    Tsougas' hair has thinned and uses a hair piece, which Lynch referred to as a "dead rat."

    Lynch regularly spread a false rumor that she was having an affair with a monsignor, and once threatened her - after she made an error - to cut off her health benefits by making her a part-time employee, knowing she needs them because her husband has thyroid cancer.

    - Jean Dimarco began working at St. Ann's in 2009 as youth choir director, and alleges in the suit Lynch left her a voicemail that insinuated she was promiscuous, saying, "Hey Jean, I hear you are unavailable. That's not the word on the street. So, you know this, and you know what you have to do. So give a ring back."

    She then found out Lynch played the message for another male and they laughed about it.

    Dimarco said Lynch verbally berated her in front of parishioners and other employees at a Christmas concert, and told her he was "embarrassed" by her hair color.

    She said Lynch made derogatory statements about other female employees' hair color and weight, and yelled and cursed at them.

    - Maureen Jones, who was hired as receptionist in 2016, alleges Lynch once referred to pussy willows and announced he was "saying the word," referring to "pussy," the suit says. Jones took it as sexual harassment.

    She also alleges in 2017, during a discussion about a date for a church function, Lynch turned red and angry, and said he would "strangle" her if she was wrong about the schedule. She was so upset after the interaction she had to leave the building.

    When she reported the inappropriate behavior to the Trenton diocese, Lynch admitted threatening her but the diocese did not take any disciplinary action against Lynch, the suits says.

    After a meeting with the diocese she co-workers she was afraid to work with Lynch and was concerned he would retaliate against her.

    Jones says in the suit she asked the diocese to move Lynch from the parish, but they they refused and offered to transfer her to another location which would increase her daily commute and travel expenses.

    - Christine Meagher, who began working at the church as a receptionist in 2015, said Lynch regularly called her names and yelled at her, and told her if the church had volunteers, she's be out of a job.

    Meagher and Jones no longer work at St. Ann's, and were terminated due to their complaints, the suit says.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 


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    The men offered messages of encouragement and high fives Watch video

    Getting into school Friday at Foundation Academies in Trenton was a little different.

    For the second year, 100 men greeted pupils at the charter school's two campuses on the 100th school day with messages of encouragement and high fives. They comprised fathers, businessmen, city leaders, activists and others.

    Edward Bullock, whose son Eric Bullock is leader of student culture at the West State Street campus, said the event, called 100 Men Welcome, is inspiring for everyone.

    "We love it. They love it. And it's the best thing that we can do to give back to our community and to give to these kids who are so richly deserving of our time, and our gifts and or talents," said Bullock, a retired corporate executive and president of the Trenton Literacy Movement.

    "That's why we are here this morning," he said

    Foundation Academies opened in 2007 and now has about 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12 at its two campuses. The other campus is on Grand Street.

    Michael Mancuso may be reached at mmancuso@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @michaelmancuso Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Trachell Syphax was indicted last year in the alleged beating of a handcuffed inmate 2 years ago

    The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office has dismissed the indictment against a county corrections officer indicted in the alleged beating a handcuffed inmate at the county jail.

    Trachell Syphax was accused of witnessing an assault on Rafael Jardines and not intervening as her then-fiancee and now husband Isaac Wood III attacked the man.

    Syphax and Wood were each indicted last year on two counts of second-degree official misconduct and one count of third-degree tampering with public records. The grand jury voted not to indict Wood on an aggravated assault charge for which he was originally charged.

    In a statement Friday, the prosecutor's office said that the internal, administrative case against Syphax was settled yesterday.

    While the terms of the settlement are confidential, the prosecutor's office was informed of the results, and issued this statement:

    "Given the severity of the discipline imposed, which is in addition to the unpaid suspension (Syphax) served from May 16, 2016 until February 8, 2018, the (prosecutor's office) found that no useful purpose would be served by further prosecution of the criminal case."

    The case against Wood remains intact, and his next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 20. 

    Although the criminal charges against Syphax have been dismissed, she must still contend with the civil suit that Jardines has filed against her and Wood for the alleged beating.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 

     

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    Although two happened recently, statistics show fewer people are injured by unintentional shootings in New Jersey


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    The town has a permit for its agent to use lethal means to control the deer population

    By Ben Weissenbach | For The Times of Trenton

    Amid persisting issues associated with deer overpopulation, Princeton is preparing a more extensive deer management plan for this winter. 

    The state issued the town a permit to use lethal means to manage the deer population from Feb. to on or before March 31. The hunt typically takes place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and police secure the areas.

    Aside from the agricultural damage deer cause, they also pose public safety risks by carrying tick-borne diseases and causing auto collisions, officials say. In the 12 months from November 2016 through October 2017, Princeton recorded 93 deer-related auto accidents.

    "The numbers are higher than they should be," Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser said.

    Over the last several winters, Princeton has relied upon a group of volunteer bow hunters and a team of hired hunters from White Buffalo Inc., a conservation nonprofit, to kill deer. Last year, the hunters' efforts were largely thwarted by the mild winter. (Princeton is using White Buffalo again this year.)

    "When you have less favorable weather conditions, such as we had last year, and relatively productive crops that are available to the deer, your bait leverage drops off significantly," said John Zampini, a volunteer bow hunter with the organization.

    Last winter, higher than normal temperatures enabled deer to feed on underbrush rather than at bait sites, where bow hunters and sharpshooters lay in ambush.

    Yet Princeton's deer problem cannot be wholly attributed to the warm weather. The proliferation of deer in recent decades is caused not by a lack, but rather an excess, of human intervention.

    $$tn10xxdeer_406055_01.JPGDeer in Ewing in this 2013 file photo. 

    "The existence of a 'deer-overpopulation' problem is a function of a predator-underpopulation problem," said ecologist Dr. Robert Pringle, head of Princeton University's Pringle Lab, which researches how humans affect ecosystems. "The only reason we have to think about how to control deer populations is that we have been too successful in eliminating large carnivores."

    Central New Jersey holds particularly dense deer populations relative to the rest of the state because of its natural ecology and abundance of private wooded land. Princeton in particular - with its sprawling properties and large tracts of preserved land, including Princeton University lands - is a deer haven.

    The challenge now will be finding a solution to Princeton's deer problem that is both effective and ethically sound. To return to 2016 population levels, Princeton's "harvest goal" for this coming winter must be at least 48 deer higher than last year's goal and must target females and fawns.

    But some community members oppose such measures. In 2002, Princeton residents attracted national media attention for aggressively protesting White Buffalo's deer harvesting practices.

    "Dropping nets over deer at feeding stations, and then trying to stun them with a captive bolt gun, which requires the gun to be held to the forehead of a struggling, kicking animal, is bound to be inhumane," said Princeton University ethics Professor Peter Singer, who publicly denounced Princeton's deer management tactics in the early 2000s.

    Nets and captive bolt guns were not used in Princeton last winter, but White Buffalo has deployed them in the area as recently as 2015, and there are no restrictions in place to prevent their future use.

    Residents have protested and interfered with other lethal deer culling methods. In 2015, White Buffalo reported protestors luring deer away from baiting sites to prevent them from being killed.

    4I4A6546.JPGA deer killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Route 29 in Ewing in the fall of 2017. (File photo) 

    Yet non-lethal management techniques have their drawbacks, officials say.

    Surgical sterilization, which White Buffalo has used in other communities with great success, costs several times as much per deer as sharpshooting, and it requires greater access to private land than is currently available.

    "We would basically need permission from every landowner that is potentially affected by the program in order to retrieve a darted deer that became recumbent on their property," Vickie DeNicola, a vice president of White Buffalo, said.

    Pringle has another idea.

    "Personally, the solution that I would most love to see would be the repatriation and conservation of wild predators such as wolves and cougars that can regulate deer populations naturally," he said.

    Pringle explained that in recent years, cougar populations have increased in the Bay Area of California, regulating deer populations while coexisting peacefully with humans. But to most, this seems an unlikely solution to Princeton's problem.

    "You cannot introduce predatory animals, big enough to take down deer, in New Jersey," said one Princeton bow hunter, citing the danger posed to children and pets. "That would not go over. No way, no how." 

    Zampini and his team of bow hunters have already harvested more than 20 deer since September.

    The areas in the lethal deer removal permit, issued by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife Community-Based Deer Management program, include Mercer County's Herrontown Woods Arboretum, Woodfield Reservation and Smoyer Park/Van Dyke Woods.

    A full list is available on Princeton's website.

    Follow NJ.com on Twitter @njdotcom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    In his 10 games in charge, Carvahal has changed the fortunes of the Swans. It could get better for Swansea over the next four game weeks.

    KING CARLOS CARVAHAL LEADS SWANSEA CHARGE UP TABLE

    Like Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace before that, Swansea City struggled for much of the season.

    But a run of form at the right time has seen the Swans rocket up the Premier League table.

    Four game weeks ago, Swansea City was still sitting at the foot of the table, in 20th. The great escape began with the appointment of Carlos Carvahal as manager on December 28. That came on the heels of a 5-0 defeat to Liverpool on Boxing Day.

    The Swans had just 13 points in the league at that point, but in the seven games since, Swansea has gained 14 points. Included in that run, which includes three wins and three draws, are a 1-0 win over Liverpool and a 3-1 victory over Arsenal.

    The Swans got an 81st minute winner from Ki Sung-Yueng Saturday, in a 1-0 win over Burnley. Carvahal rolled the dice in the second half, throwing three attackers onto the pitch with his substitutions. The move worked, just like many he has tried in his short time at the helm.

    "We put all the meat on the fire to try to win," Carvahal said. "We put in Andre Ayew, Tammy Abraham, we had three attackers in the middle. We put all the meat in the barbecue, all the meat inside the grill, because we wish a lot to win the game. I am very happy because that created a big impact."

    In his 11 games in charge, Carvahal has changed the fortunes of the Swans. It could get better for Swansea over the next four game weeks, with matches against Brighton & Hove Albion (A, 2/24), West Ham United (H, 3/3), Huddersfield Town (A, 3/10), and Southampton (H, 3/17) before the next international break.

    The Swans are also into the F.A. Cup final 16, and will travel to face EFL Championship side Sheffield Wednesday Saturday (7:30 a.m. EST FS1 and Fubo.tv). 

    PREMIER LEAGUE RESULTS

    Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal

    Everton 3-1 Crystal Palace

    Stoke 1-1 Brighton

    Swansea 1-0 Burnley 

    Wwst Ham 2-0 Watford

    Man.City 5-1 Leicester

    Huddersfield 4-1 Bournemouth

    Newcastle 1-0 Man. United

    Southampton vs. Liverpool 

    Monday

    Chelsea vs. West Brom, 3 p.m. EST (NBCSports and Fubo.tv)

    Premier League table shows craziness of 2017-18 season

    ARSENAL CRUMBLES AT WEMBLEY, TWO WEEKS BEFORE CARABAO FINAL

    There have not been many bigger North London derbies recently than the one played Saturday.

    Tottenham got the better of Arsenal 1-0, powered by Harry Kane's seocnd half goal, and a few gilt-edge chances missed in the final 10 minutes by Gunners' substitute Alexandre Lacazette.

    Arsenal now sits seven points behind Tottenham, in sixth place. It looks likely that the best chance for the Gunners to return to the UEFA Champions League next season is to win the UEFA Europa League, which returns Thursday with the round of 32. The Gunners travel to Sweden to take on Ostersund (1 p.m. FS2 and Fubo.tv).

    SERGIO AGUERO SCORES FOUR IN SECOND HALF TO SINK FOXES

    Who needs Riyad Mahrez?

    After Saturday, it is apparent that Leicester City do, much more than Manchester City.

    Sergio Aguero scored four goals in the second half, to lead the Cityzens to a 5-1 thrashing of the Foxes. Mahrez, who had been holding out after a failed deadline day transfer to City, came on in the 61st minute. But he could not make a difference, as the champions-elect comtinued their assault on the league.

    UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURNS WITH A BANG THIS WEEK

    Three Premier League teams make their return to UEFA Champions League play this week, but the tie of the round involves two heavyweights.

    In the Fubo.tv Game of the Week, two-time defending champion Real Madrid hosts Paris Saint-Germain Wednesday (2:45 p.m. EST FS1 and Fubo.tv). Although Zinedine Zidane's team has struggled for much of the season (Real Madrid is third in the La Liga table, 16 points adrift of Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo has found some form of late, with a hat-trick in a 5-2 win Saturday over Real Sociedad. PSG is a slight favorite to adavnce to the quarterfinals, with the second leg at home on Tuesday, March 6.

    Manchester City travels to face Basel (2:45 p.m. FS2 and Fubo.tv), while Juventus hosts Tottenham (2:45 p.m. FS1 and Fubo.tv), both on Tuesday.

    Wednesday, Liverpool will travel to Portugal to face Porto (2:45 p.m. FS2 and Fubo.tv).

    The other four ties will start next week.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    Homeless pets throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    This information on dog safety was compiled by members of the Dog Bite Prevention Coalition -- the U.S. Postal Service, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane Society, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance.

    If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Parents should also remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

    People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they're feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.

    Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.

    ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There's no one breed or type of dog that's more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.

    Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs' ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.

    Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That's why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack -- their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can't escape from things that scare them.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    NJ Advance Media sat down with Ed Forchion inside the Mercer County Correction Center recently


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    Trenton is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture to get the estimated 30,000 crows that have taken up residence to leave. Watch video

    Trenton have been overrun by crows. An estimated 30,000 of them have taken up residence this winter in New Jersey's capital city.

    Now, the city is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture to get the crows to leave. Starting Tuesday, the crows will be scared off using pyrotechnics, lasers, spotlights, amplified recordings of crow distress calls and crow effigies, the agency said.

    "It's about time," said 15-year Trenton resident Scott Miller, whose hatred of the crows 5 a.m. calls and piles of droppings prompted him to launch Anticrow, a Facebook page, last year. "You can't sleep at all when they wake up in the morning, they're singing to each other. Then you go outside and it's like what in the world in the world am I stepping on?"

    Wildlife Services personnel from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services will be in Trenton from 4-9 p.m. for up to four consecutive nights from Tuesday to Feb. 23.

    Follow-up efforts may continue periodically through the end of February into March, the USDA stated in a news release. They will be in marked USDA vehicles that have a flashing amber beacon and dressed in reflective vests.

    According to USDA District Supervisor and Wildlife Biologist Kimberly Clapper, the crows look for areas where there is less light and few people, such as parking lots.

    "Usually in the colder months, crows and other birds will form these large communal roosts," Clapper said. "There's also safety in numbers. So when they're grouped together, it helps preserve warmth."

    Miller says the crows have become a big problem in the last two years, moving closer from the outskirts of the city to downtown. 

    Last year, he said he tried to get rid of the ones outside his studio by putting a speaker in his window and playing sounds of eagle calls, but the plan failed. "They basically laughed at me," Miller said.

    Clapper said droppings can damage paint, and the crows also cause damage by pecking at objects. The droppings are also a health concern.  

    Trenton police confirmed the crows have caused property damage, and the city has incurred additional expenses to cleanup the droppings. No information was available as of Monday as to how much the city and state have spent cleaning up after the crows and repairing damage.

    Clapper said the methods the USDA will be using have worked to clear crows from urban areas in other states.

    Originally, the effort was going to have started last week, but the start date was moved in order to notify everyone impacted by the program, and to get permission from property owners.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    The police department named a new captain, 2 lieutenants and 5 sergeants

    Eight veteran Trenton Police Department officers were promoted to captain, lieutenant and sergeant Monday during an afternoon ceremony at City Hall.

    James Slack became a captain and Carmelo Rodriguez and Richard Fink became lieutenants.

    The new sergeants are Alexander Cartagena, Robert Arnwine, Miguel Acosta, Gaetano Ponticiello and Nathaniel Johnson.

    Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson and Police Director Ernest Parrey Jr. led the ceremony.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration ranks the Garden State 22nd among the 50 states in its percentage of bridges in need of attention. Watch video

    The federal government says hundreds of New Jersey's bridges are structurally deficient. It's likely you made your shaky way across one of them today.

    The worst bridges include one on Route 4 over the Hackensack River in Bergen County (156,060 daily crossings) and one on Interstate 80 over the Passaic River (155,035 daily crossing). But hundreds more spans remain in varying stages of disrepair.

    Data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration ranks the Garden State 22nd among the 50 states in its percentage of bridges in need of attention.

    Of our 6,737 bridges, 8.8 percent of them - that's 596 bridges - fell into that woeful category.

    The future looks grim.

    Although President Donald Trump tossed around some grand figures in his State of the Union Address earlier last month -- $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments -- his plan calls for using federal dollars matched by spending by states as well as localities and private sources.

    What Trump infrastructure plan could mean for Gateway Tunnel

    "I don't know how he thinks he's going to crate $1.5 trillion in investments when you already have states that are cash-strapped," said a skeptical U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    The president further tied states' hands when he sharply curtailed the federal deduction for state and local taxes in the GOP tax law. The burden of the new policy promises to fall heavily on New Jersey, whose taxpayers send more money to Washington than they receive back in services.

    Furthermore, any option to turn highways and bridges into money-makers by charging tolls probably would die a natural death. Our motorists already pay dearly to use the New Jersey Turnpike, otherwise known as Interstate 95, which is cost-free in Florida and other states.

    Meanwhile, the average New Jersey bridge is more than half a century old, and built for an earlier generation of travelers.

    Although officials are quick to reassure us that none of these spans is in immediate danger of collapsing, many are coming near to outliving their shelf-life.

    But wait, there's a glimmer of hope: Repairs are already finished on two of the bridges ranked first and second on the Feds' most-deficient list.

    Thankfully, the Mill River Bridge and the Third River Bridge over the Garden State Parkway now no longer qualify for that dubious distinction.

    Financing for the projects came courtesy of the New Jersey Turnpike's $7 billion capital plan, which saw an infusion of funds through a 2011 toll increase and through the 23-cent increase in the state's gasoline tax, which added to the coffers of the state's Transportation Trust Fund.

    Improving the condition of the bridges of New Jersey should be a priority for the Murphy administration, especially since we can expect little or no help from the man in the White House.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    Professor Lawrence Rosen has scrapped an anthropology class called 'Cultural Freedoms -- Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography'

    A Princeton University professor has canceled a course on cultural freedoms after his use of a racial slur last week during a class discussion led students to walk out and prompted a campus debate about classroom speech.

    A Princeton University spokesman confirmed on Tuesday the cancellation by Professor Lawrence Rosen of the "Cultural Freedoms -- Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography." The cancellation was first reported by Princeton's University Press Club.

    rosen.jpgProf. Lawrence Rosen 

    Four students walked out of Rosen's anthropology class on Feb. 6 after he used the N-word multiple times during a lecture on free speech, according to DailyPrincetonian.com, the university's student publication.

    The professor asked "Which is more provocative: A white man walks up to a black man and punches him in the nose, or a white man walks up to a black man and calls him a (n-word)?" according to the report.

    Rosen used the word three times, refused a demand from several students to apologize and argued with at least one student, according to DailyPrincetonian.com.

    Two students then filed a complaint against the professor.

    On Monday, university administrators met with several students from the class. Later Monday, Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber addressed the issue in a previously scheduled town hall meeting on campus. 

    He said free speech and inclusivity are not exclusive but rather, "mutually supportive" of one another, the Daily Princetonian reported. 

    The head of the anthropology department, who is black, wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian, defending Rosen's use of the word.

    "Rosen has used the same example year after year," wrote Caryoln Rouse.
    "This is the first year he got the response he did from the students. This is diagnostic of the level of overt anti-black racism in the country today. Anti-American and anti-Semitic examples did not upset the students, but an example of racism did. This did not happen when (Barack) Obama was president, when the example seemed less real and seemed to have less power.

    "I feel bad for the students who left the class not trusting the process. Rosen was fighting battles for women, Native Americans, and African-Americans before these students were born. He grew up a Jew in anti-Semitic America, and recognizes how law has afforded him rights he would not otherwise have."

    Princeton U. renames buildings to honor black Nobel laureates

    The University also defended Rosen in a statement.

    "The values of free speech and inclusivity are central to Princeton University's mission and critical to the education we provide to our students, including in Anthropology 212.  The conversations and disagreements that took place in the seminar led by Prof. Rosen (last week) are part of the vigorous engagement and robust debate that are central to what we do."

    Rosen, who retired from the university last year but still teaches as a professor emeritus, didn't respond to a message from NJ Advance Media on Tuesday seeking comment. Rosen is both an anthropologist and lawyer, according to his bio on Princeton University's website.

    The summary for Rosen's class was described on Princeton's course listing as:

    "Freedom of expression is always limited, both by the harm that may be said to occur if unbridled and by the constraints of the dominant culture. Using such topics as hate speech on campus, the cultural defense plea, the Mapplethorpe exhibit, the Supreme Court opinions on pornography, and the Salman Rushdie affair, we will ask how civility relates to free speech, how codes may channel expression without oppression, and how cultural difference can relate to shared values and orientations."

    DailyPrincetonian.com first reported Rosen's use of the word

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    A look at all four state tournament brackets.

    The NJSIAA tournament brackets are set, with play to begin on Monday, Feb. 19. Take a look at all four brackets below.

    NOTE: Brackets are not official until Wednesday at noon. Dates listed for all rounds are "Play by" dates- actual dates, times, and locations will be added as soon as they're known. 

    Public A

    Public B

    Public C

    Non-Public

    Matt Stypulkoski may be reached at mstypulkoski@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_Stypulkoski. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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