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    Eight years into a U.S. program to control damage from feral pigs, the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife and the environment. They've been wiped out in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015. And there are fewer in parts of the other 30. But in spite of more than $100 million in federal money, officials estimate there are still 6 million to 9 million hogs gone wild nationwide and in three U.S. territories, doing at least $2.5 billion a year in U.S. damages. Estimates in 2014 were 5 million hogs and $1.5 billion in damages. Experts say the bigger figures are due to better estimates, not increases.

      Tesla has delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo more than three years after Elon Musk said the company would start making the trucks. The Austin, Texas, company made the deliveries at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed on Twitter, which Musk now owns. Musk drove one of three Tesla Semis in front of a crowd inside the factory. One was white, one was painted with a Pepsi logo, and another with Frito-Lay colors. Musk has said the truck has a range per charge of 500 miles (800 kilometers) when pulling an 82,000-pound (37,000 kilo) load.

        Known for her feminist themes and often brutally frank, highly personal and self-critical work, American cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb has died at the age of 74. A close collaborator of her cartoonist husband, Robert Crumb, she died of cancer Tuesday at their longtime home in France. That's according to the manager of the website that sells Crumb’s work. Kominsky-Crumb was known for work that was not only autobiographical but also bracingly sexual and explicit. She met Crumb in the early 1970s in San Francisco, where she was part of the all-female Wimmen’s Comix collective before breaking with the group and starting “Twisted Sisters” with Diane Noomin.

          A prosecutor says Donald Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with top Trump Organization executives who schemed for years to dodge taxes on company-paid perks. The argument challenges defense claims that the former president was unaware of the plot at the heart of the company’s tax fraud case. Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass lobbed the bombshell allegation during closing arguments Thursday. He promised to share more details when he resumes on Friday, buoyed by the judge’s decision to grant prosecutors permission to veer into territory that had been considered off limits because Trump is not on trial.

            An on-duty police sergeant has died after his unmarked vehicle was struck by a car heading in the opposite direction north of New York City. Yonkers police say the 24-year veteran of the department was driving in the Westchester County city at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday when the driver of a BMW sedan apparently lost control and crossed into oncoming traffic. The sedan struck the police vehicle and a county bus. The sergeant died at a hospital. Police were withholding the officer’s name pending family notifications. The driver of the sedan was hospitalized in critical condition, and several on the bus had less-severe injuries.

              A new report finds that Black and Hispanic people incarcerated in New York state prisons are more likely than white people to face further punishment once they wind up behind bars. The state inspector general report released Thursday found a Black person behind bars in New York from 2015 to 2020 was more than 22% more likely to get cited for misbehavior than a white person. The report looked at misbehavior reports that were ultimately dismissed. Meanwhile, a Hispanic person behind bars was over 12% more likely.

                A body found on a New York City sidewalk earlier this week has been identified as “Green Book” actor Frank Vallelonga Jr. The 60-year-old is the son of one-time Copacabana bouncer Frank Vallelonga Sr., known as Tony Lip, who was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen in the 2018 film. Frank Vallelonga Jr. played a relative of Mortensen’s character in the movie, which won the Oscar for best picture. His unidentified body was discovered early Monday morning in the Bronx. Police found no obvious signs of trauma and the cause of death has not been determined.

                Hate rats? Are you a “somewhat bloodthirsty” New Yorker with excellent communication skills and “a general aura of badassery”? Then you might have what it takes to be the city’s new rat czar. Mayor Eric Adams’ administration posted a job listing this week seeking someone to lead the city’s long-running battle against rats. The official job title is “director of rodent mitigation,” although it was promptly dubbed the rat czar. The salary range is $120,000 to $170,000. The posting is whimsical, but the job is daunting. New York City leaders have been trying to control the rodent population for generations, with mixed results.

                Police say seven children were injured when a school bus veered off the road in suburban New York, hit two parked cars and crashed into a house. The crash happened just before 9 a.m. Thursday in the village of New Hempstead in Rockland County. Police say a bus carrying 21 children veered off the road, scraped against a telephone pole, hit a tree and then hit two parked vehicles. The bus hit more trees before crashing into the house. Police say two children sustained injuries that were serious but not life-threatening. Five other children and the driver suffered minor injuries.

                If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: That advice is from the man who made it. Ernő Rubik invented the cube in 1974 and has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys. The latest brain-teaser is called the Phantom, which takes the 3x3 original cube and adds a memory test: Using thermochromic technology, the tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

                Since the recovery of sunken treasure began decades ago from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina, tens of millions of dollars worth of gold has been sold. But scientists, historians and collectors say that the real fortunes will begin to hit the auction block on Saturday in Reno. For the first time, hundreds of Gold Rush-era artifacts entombed in the S.S. Central America, known as the “Ship of Gold,” will go on public sale. A few of the items from the pre-Civil War steamship, which sank in a hurricane on its way from Panama to New York City, could fetch as much as $1 million.

                An Oklahoma man is preparing to try to gather over 173,000 signatures and millions of dollars in fundraising to put abortion access up for public vote in a state with one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws. It's part of a growing trend of citizen-led initiatives across the nation. Voters in six states this year rejected measures to restrict abortion access and supported efforts to protect it. Carolyn Ehrlich is a senior political strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union. She says such initiatives can serve as a “roadmap in states where the legislature is a roadblock.”

                A  judge has decried New York City's problems with electric and gas-powered bikes as he sentenced the electric scooter rider who crashed into “Gone Girl” actor Lisa Banes to one to three years in prison for his manslaughter conviction. Brian Boyd was led away in handcuffs Wednesday after sentencing in Manhattan state court by Judge Gregory Carro. The judge said the city “has a problem” with the motorized bikes and he wants to send a message that drivers of unregistered and unlicensed bikes can face jail time when they do harm. Boyd said he was sorry before the sentence was imposed.

                Construction has begun on an underground electrical transmission line that will bring Canadian hydropower to New York City as part of an effort to make the Big Apple less reliant on fossil fuels. State officials announced the start of construction Wednesday on the Champlain Hudson Power Express. Once complete, the line will stretch 339 miles (546 kilometers) through New York state to deliver power produced by the company Hydro-Québec. Authorities project the line will deliver enough clean energy to power more than one million homes while also cutting carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons.


                Need gift ideas to help with the ladies in your life? This list will surely help you make the grade.

                The New York-based Center for Jewish History is launching a project offering DNA testing kits for free to Holocaust survivors and their children. It's an effort to help possibly find family connections torn apart in World War II. Genealogists say the advent of DNA technology has opened up a new world of possibilities in addition to the paper trails and archives that exist. The center had allocated an initial $15,000 for the DNA kits in this initial pilot effort, which would cover about 500 of them. It says efforts could be  ramped up further if there is enough interest.

                Nineteen people including 17 New York City and New York state public employees have been charged in a federal complaint with submitting fraudulent applications for funds intended to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors say the accused listed themselves as owners of businesses that in some cases did not exist in their applications for funds through the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program. The defendants were charged Wednesday with wire fraud, and nine were also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. One defendant was charged with aggravated identity theft. Information on their attorneys wasn’t immediately available.

                Closing arguments slated for Thursday in The Trump Organization’s tax fraud case could clock in at seven hours, or more. Those lengthy projections speak to the complexity of the case involving former President Donald Trump's company. Prosecutors are seeking to punish the Trump Organization for longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg’s 15-year scheme to avoid taxes on company-paid perks including a Manhattan apartment and luxury cars. The speeches, also called summations, are the last chance prosecutors and defense lawyers have to recap key witnesses and evidence for the jury before it starts deliberating next week.

                An Ohio judge has ordered two men to spend 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., following their fraud convictions for targeting Black voters with phony robocalls before the 2020 election. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman pleaded guilty last month to a telecommunications fraud in the calls to predominantly Black neighborhoods in several states. reports that the judge said they had done “a despicable thing.” Wohl told the court he wanted “to express my absolute regret and shame over all of this.” Burkman said he echoed that sentiment.

                The masked man of Broadway is going out strong. “The Phantom of the Opera” — Broadway’s longest-running show — has postponed its final performance by eight weeks, pushing its closing curtain from February to April after at spike in ticket demand. Last week, the show raked in an eye-popping $2,2 million with a full house. The musical, a fixture on Broadway since 1988, weathering recessions, war and cultural shifts, will now play its final performance on Broadway on April 16. When it closes, it will have played 13,981 performances. Producers said there would be no more postponements. The closing of “Phantom” would mean the longest running show crown would go to “Chicago.”

                “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has won best feature at the 32nd Gotham Awards. The honor is boosting Oscar hopes for the anarchic indie hit of the year. Most outstanding lead actor went to “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler. Best supporting actor went to “Everything Everywhere” costar Ke Huy Quan. Special honorees included Adam Sandler and Michelle Williams. Monday night’s Gotham Awards offered the first major prizes of Hollywood’s awards season. The party in downtown New York is an annual celebration of independent film, and kicks off the long marathon of ceremonies, cocktail parties and campaigning ahead of the Academy Awards in March.

                The white gunman who massacred 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket has pleaded guilty to murder and hate-motivated terrorism charges. Payton Gendron’s plea means he’ll spend his life in prison without parole. The 19-year-old modified a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle into an assault weapon before targeting the Tops Friendly Market in May. He said in writings posted online that his goal was to terrify Black people and preserve white power. His own lawyer said Monday’s plea “represents a condemnation of the racist ideology that fueled his horrific actions.” Gendron previously pleaded not guilty to separate federal hate crime charges that could carry the death penalty.

                Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre is asking to be removed from a civil lawsuit by the state of Mississippi that seeks to recover millions of dollars in misspent welfare money that was intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S. An attorney for Favre filed papers Monday saying the Mississippi Department of Human Services “groundlessly and irresponsibly seeks to blame Favre for its own grossly improper and unlawful handling of welfare funds and its own failure to properly monitor and audit” how organizations used the money. It was not immediately clear how soon a judge might consider the request.

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