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Woodstock

VERNON, N.Y. (AP)  An upstate New York town has rejected the appeal of its denial of a permit to hold the Woodstock 50 music festival.

The Town of Vernon's planning board made its unanimous decision Tuesday night, exactly a month before the festival's start.

The town denied a permit application last week for a festival Aug. 16-18 at the Vernon Downs racetrack and casino.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. said he was pleased with the decision, citing "inadequate planning and a dangerously truncated timeframe."

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York is the latest state to raise its smoking age from 18 to 21 in an effort to discourage teens from getting hooked. 

The change was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will take effect in 120 days.

It applies to traditional cigarettes as well as electronic cigarettes and vaporizers. Cuomo says raising the age will help discourage an ``entire generation'' from taking up a potentially deadly habit. 

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) A 3-year-old boy has died after falling into an underground grease collection tank behind a Tim Horton's restaurant. 

Rochester Police Investigator Frank Camp says the boy fell through a plastic cover into the grease trap behind the Tim Hortons on University Avenue around 11 a.m. Monday. Witnesses pulled the unidentified child out and administered CPR. 

Camp says the child was pronounced dead at Strong Memorial Hospital. He called the incident an ``unspeakable tragedy.'' 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York state has expanded laws against racial bias to include hairstyles and hair texture.

The bill aims to ensure no employee can be fired or passed over for a job because of racially biased criticism of their hair.

The change to the state's human rights law, approved by lawmakers this year, was signed into law Friday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Supporters say minorities often face discrimination that's couched in criticism of their hair texture or style.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  A judge in New York has refused to block a state law repealing a religious exemption to vaccine mandates.

Lawyers representing 55 families in New York filed a lawsuit this week hoping to restore the exemption, which lawmakers eliminated this year in the face of the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades.

Plaintiffs who argued they have a right to a religious exemption had asked a judge to temporarily block the repeal while their lawsuit proceeds.

(AP & WXXI News) New York regulators have approved a settlement with Charter Communications resolving a dispute over rural broadband. 

The state's Public Service Commission endorsed the deal Thursday. 

Under the terms, Charter must follow through on promises to provide broadband to 145,000 upstate customers an investment estimated to exceed $600 million, and pay the state $12 million for other broadband projects. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  A group of parents is suing New York state in an effort to reinstate a religious exemption to vaccine mandates. 

The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., argue that state lawmakers violated the religious rights of parents when they repealed the exemption last month in the face of the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades. 

Kennedy joined several parents at a courthouse in Albany Wednesday, when the lawsuit was filed. Fifty five families have signed on as plaintiffs. 

New York State Police

SAVANNAH, N.Y. (AP)  State police say an Amtrak train with 249 people on board has struck a car abandoned on tracks in Wayne County over the weekend, but no one was injured.

Troopers say a westbound train hit the empty vehicle around 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the Town of Savannah. Four people who had been in the car were able to get to safety before the collision.

The train originated in New York City and was heading to Rochester after stopping in Syracuse.

Amtrak officials and state police investigators remained on the scene Sunday evening.

www.kqed.org

LOS ANGELES (AP) A strong earthquake rattled a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing some damage in a town near the epicenter amid a swarm of ongoing aftershocks.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California. It is the strongest quake to hit the region in 20 years.

www.thruway.ny.gov

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York state is halting highway and bridge construction projects to make it easier for motorists to get to their destinations during the extended Fourth of July holiday. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says most construction-related lane closures will be suspended Thursday morning through Monday morning.

Some essential or emergency work may continue, though the officials say they want to keep disruptions to a minimum to ease traffic flow. 

The holiday is often one of the busiest times of the year on New York's highways. 

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