Ring in the new year with winter hikes at New York parks

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York parks and environmental conservation staff are leading hikes on public lands to kick off the new year.
The family-friendly walks and hikes range from one to five miles of varying difficulty. Dozens of hikes are listed on the Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Parks websites.
The eighth annual “First Day Hikes” program is taking place across the country on Tuesday. In New York, hikes are being led at 51 state parks and historic sites and 19 DEC wildlife areas, trails and educational centers. They include a snowshoe waterfall hike, a canal towpath walk, a history tour and mountain trails.
Some of the hikes require pre-registration. Information on registration is posted on the websites along with details of the trips.

Michael Kors, now Capri Holdings, completes Versace deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Having added a pair of high-end brands to its stable, Michael Kors is changing its name to Capri.
The company announced the acquisition of the Italian fashion house Versace for more than $2 billion (1.83 billion euros) in September, less than two years after acquiring Jimmy Choo, the shoemaker that rocketed to fame on the high heels of “Sex and the City.”
Michael Kors Holdings, like its counterparts in France, has charged aggressively into the upper echelons of luxury fashion hoping to pump up sales. Kering snapped up Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Pomelato and LVMH bought Bulgari and Loro Piana.
Capri Holdings Ltd. is projecting $8 billion in annual sales, with most of that coming from Michael Kors. Starting Wednesday, its New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol will be CPRI.
Gianni Versace founded Versace in 1978. The family-run business was thrown into chaos with Versace’s murder 21 years ago. His sister, Donatella Versace, will continue with the company, holding the position of creative director.
Michael Kors, who founded the company under his name, also remains as creative director of that wing of the company.

2 million in Times Square for New Year’s? Experts say no way

By MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Seacrest and Anderson Cooper will be there. Snoop Dogg, too.
But 1 or 2 million people in New York’s Times Square for New Year’s Eve? As Snoop would say, you must be sippin’ on gin and juice.
Crowd-size experts scoff at those mammoth figures — floated annually by city officials and event organizers — saying it’s impossible to squeeze that many of even the skinniest revelers into such a relatively small space.
The real Times Square ball drop crowd likely has fewer than 100,000 people, crowd science professor G. Keith Still said.
“Generally, people are overestimating crowd sizes by 10- to 100-fold,” said Still, who teaches crowd science at Manchester Metropolitan University in England and trains police departments on techniques to calculate crowd sizes.
The crowd estimates come from the New York City Police Department, according to the Times Square Alliance, which runs the ball drop.
In recent years, the department estimated that 2 million people had packed into Times Square. Mayor Bill de Blasio used a big number again Friday, saying the city expected “up to 2 million people in Times Square itself,” a bow-tie-shaped zone running five blocks between Broadway and 7th Avenue.
New York University professor Charles Seife, a mathematician and journalist who explored statistical manipulation in his book “Proofiness,” said the city has an interest in promoting a bigger number because it “helps cement the image of New York City as the center of the universe at a certain date and time.”
He suggested fuzzy math and fuzzier geography were also at play.
“How do you count a participant in the Times Square ball drop?” Seife asked. “Is it everyone who can see the ball, or anyone squeezed into a bar in Manhattan?”
To actually fit 1 million revelers, the city would have to jam more than the equivalent of a sold-out Yankee Stadium on every block of 7th Avenue between Times Square and Central Park — which starts about 15 blocks to the north.
Still and his colleagues perform detailed analyses when calculating precise crowd totals. But even using simple techniques, like measuring Times Square on a map and running a few calculations, it’s clear the numbers don’t get anywhere near 1 million.
Times Square would hold about 51,000 people at a density of 3 people per square meter (square yard), Still said, or about 86,000 at 5 people per square meter. It might reach 120,000 if the crowd packed in at 7 people per square meter, but he said that density, involving people squished together front-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder, is unlikely.
Those numbers don’t count people watching from hotel and office building windows or from penned-off areas farther away. They also don’t account for space taken up by stages, security apparatus and egress routes, where people would otherwise be able to stand.
New York’s crowd estimate has evolved over time. As late as 1998, the police department was estimating that roughly 500,000 people attended. But for the millennium bash at the close of 1999, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani predicted as many as 2 million.
At big events, an accurate crowd estimate is critical to public safety. The wrong number can leave cities devoting too many or too few resources to an event, Still said. But New York — despite inflating the size of its crowd — manages the throngs well, funneling revelers into penned off areas, so there’s no opportunity for overcrowding, and screening each person for weapons.
Police are planning for 65 such pens this year, stretching well north of Times Square proper. To get 1 million people into those 65 pens, each would have to fit around 30,800 people.
Estimating crowd sizes has long been subject to inexact guesswork and political pressure.
Arguments about crowd size flared after President Donald Trump claimed he had the largest presidential inauguration audience in history. The National Park Service stopped estimating crowds for events on the National Mall in Washington D.C. after a dispute with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan over the attendance for his 1995 Million Man March.
Parades for victorious sports teams involve some of the most over-the-top estimates. Officials claimed 3.2 million people crammed the streets of Philadelphia for last year’s Eagles Super Bowl parade. The city’s mayor later conceded that the crowd was probably closer to 700,000.
And forget about a million people packing tiny Vatican City for Christmas, Easter or anything else.
“Unless they are 17 meters high, stacked on top of each other, shoulder to shoulder, you can’t get that many people in St. Peter’s Square,” Still said.
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Ex-firefighter who died in blaze credited with saving 5

ONEONTA, N.Y. (AP) — A former firefighter has died after rescuing his fiancee and four young boys from the man’s burning apartment in upstate New York.
Family members say the boys, three of whom were 38-year-old ex-firefighter John Heller’s nephews, were spending the night at Heller’s apartment building in Oneonta when the fire broke out around 4:20 a.m. Saturday.
Relatives have posted online that Heller got his fiancee and all the boys out of his burning third-floor apartment but didn’t make it out himself. Oneonta Fire Department officials confirm his death but say no cause has been determined yet.
One of the boy suffered burns on his arm.
Fire officials say he was a part-time Oneonta firefighter from October 2003 to August 2009.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Kuraly scores in OT to give Bruins 3-2 win over Sabres

By MARK LUDWICZAK, Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Looking for a rare comeback victory, the Boston Bruins swarmed the Buffalo Sabres in the third period on Saturday night.
In overtime, an unlikely source did it all by himself.
Sean Kuraly scored 3:44 into the extra session to give the Bruins a 3-2 win. It was Boston’s first victory this season when trailing through two periods after going 0-11-1 previously.
“I just wanted to get it on net, really,” Kuraly said. “I got more on it than I really thought.”
Kuraly’s third goal of the season came on a terrific one-man effort. His initial shot from the top of the left circle led to a big rebound, and Kuraly followed up with speed to chip the loose puck into the net with one hand on his stick.
“I saw it was a forward I was coming down on,” Kuraly said. “I just wanted to get there first. … I was just going on like, whatever, intuition I guess.”
Jake DeBrusk and Noel Acciari scored in regulation for Boston, which improved to 21-14-4 ahead of Tuesday’s Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium. Tuukka Rask made 26 saves.
“To be able to come back, that’s another feather in our cap for being able to do it that way,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We needed it a lot. We wanted to enjoy these two days. Let’s face it, for a lot of guys it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go up to South Bend. … You want to go there and enjoy it.”
Johan Larsson and Marco Scandella scored for Buffalo. Carter Hutton stopped 38 shots.
“I thought we played a very strong 60 minutes,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “You can’t fault our effort. We attacked the game. It’s going to be like this for the rest of the season where it’s going to be tight.”
The Sabres had a prime opportunity to win with a power play in overtime but were unable to test Rask in the extra session.
“It goes to overtime and it can go either way,” Larsson said.
The Bruins poured it on in the third, outshooting Buffalo 18-5, and were rewarded with DeBrusk’s power-play goal with 2:29 remaining. With Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in the box for kneeing, DeBrusk capped a critical Bruins power play by tipping home Torey Krug’s long shot from the point to make it 2-all.
Scandella opened the scoring 4:40 into the game after a big effort by Sabres leading scorer Jeff Skinner. He raced around Zdeno Chara for a partial breakaway, which was stopped by Rask before Scandella buried the rebound.
A giveaway by Skinner, however, led to Boston tying it five minutes later. Acciari’s ensuing shot was off target but ricocheted off Ristolainen for Acciari’s first goal of the season.
Buffalo regained the lead on a short-handed goal 5:43 into the second. With Jack Eichel in the penalty box, Evan Rodrigues connected with Larsson on a 2-on-1 for Larsson’s fourth goal.
It was the eighth short-handed goal allowed by the Bruins this season, most in the NHL. It was also Buffalo’s first short-handed goal.
The teams split the final two periods of regulation, with Buffalo dominating the second and Boston dominating the third.
NOTES: Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret returned to the booth. The Hall of Fame broadcaster had a health scare a week earlier, leaving Buffalo’s game against Anaheim on a stretcher and being taken to the hospital. The 76-year-old Jeanneret has done play-by-play for the Sabres on radio or television since 1971. … Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons is week-to-week with an upper-body injury. The fourth-line center has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 35 games. … Sabres G Linus Ullmark was scratched due to illness. Buffalo recalled goaltender Scott Wedgewood from the AHL’s Rochester Americans to fill the backup role. … David Backes (suspension) and LW Brad Marchand (upper body) were scratched for the Bruins. Backes served the first of a three-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head.
UP NEXT
Bruins: Off to South Bend, Indiana, for the Winter Classic on Tuesday against Chicago.
Sabres: Home against the New York Islanders on Monday.
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Bills rout Dolphins 42-17 in Kyle Williams’ final game

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — As they bid farewell to their unquestioned leader, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, the Buffalo Bills also enjoyed a glimpse into an encouraging future.
Rookie first-round draft picks Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds played a significant role in ensuring Williams headed into retirement on a high note after a 13-year career in Buffalo. The young players led the Bills to a 42-17 rout over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Allen had a career-best three touchdown passes and scored two more rushing, while Edmunds had a one-handed interception and added a sack. They put the finishing touches on a 6-10 season in which the rebuilding Bills won four of their final seven games.
“We’re excited for where this organization’s going,” safety Micah Hyde said. “This franchise is headed in the right direction. It’s got younger guys, older guys, leadership, weapons and we’re only going to get more.”
With all that to look forward to, Hyde was asked whether he could convince Williams to stick around.
Hyde broke into a smile and said, “I’m going to talk to him real quick.”
Williams, with his three sons sipping Gatorade at his locker, had no second thoughts about choosing family over football. He also reflected on how the Bills are in good hands.
“I’m excited. And I think that’s one thing that made this the hardest decision,” Williams said, referring to the team and culture coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane are building. “We have so many young guys, first-year players, second- and third-year players that I can’t wait to watch. I can’t wait to be around as much as they’ll have me to see what this football team will do.”
The feeling was mutual.
The Bills dedicated the victory to the 35-year-old Williams, the team’s longest-active tenured player, who announced his decision to retire on Friday.
A teary-eyed Williams was the last player out of the tunnel before kickoff, and then was greeted by his wife, Jill, and five children.
He then enjoyed a chance to contribute on defense and offense by registering one tackle for a loss and catching a 9-yard pass — the first of his career — with under five minutes left.
Williams left the field with 1:19 left to a crowd chanting “Thank you, Kyle!” and then, afterward, circled the stands to greet and thank the fans who remained.
He was part of a Buffalo defense that had four sacks and forced four turnovers, including three by Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And the 42 points were Buffalo’s most since a 45-16 win over San Francisco on Oct. 16, 2016.
Miami (7-9) thoroughly unraveled except for the final minute of the second quarter, in which it scored twice in a span of 16 seconds to tie the game at 14.
The Dolphins now enter an offseason of uncertainty, with questions raised about the futures of coach Adam Gase and vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum as well as Tannehill.
Dolphins chairman and managing partner Stephen Ross declined to comment on his way out of the stadium.
Gase and most of the players had little else to say after they closed a wildly inconsistent season. After opening with three wins, Miami finished with three losses and lost their final seven road games.
“I’m not even thinking about that right now because we just got drummed on the road,” Gase said, when asked of his future.
Tannehill finished 18 of 31 for 147 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble. He did score by catching a 3-yard pass from Kenny Stills with 54 seconds left in the second quarter. Dolphins safety Reshad Jones scored two plays from scrimmage later on a 29-yard interception return.
Miami’s defense allowed 381 yards to finish the season with a franchise-worst 6,257 yards allowed. Its previous worst was 6,122, set in 2016.
Though the Bills never trailed, Allen’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster six minutes into the third quarter broke a 14-14 tie to put Buffalo ahead for good. Allen then secured the victory with a 30-yard TD run to increase Buffalo’s lead to 35-17 with 11:13 left in the game.
He finished 17 of 26 for 224 yards passing, including 18- and 26-yard touchdowns to Zay Jones, and an interception. And he added 95 yards rushing, including a 1-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
EJECTIONS
Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive end Robert Quinn and Bills offensive tackle Jordan Mills were ejected following a late hit on Allen during the third quarter.
Allen was already sliding when Alonso dived in front of him and kicked the quarterback in the helmet. A scuffle broke out amid a group of players, and Quinn came running in at full speed from about 20 yards out and dived atop the pile. Alonso was ejected for kicking Allen, while Quinn and Mills were ejected for personal foul penalties.
RUNNING QBS
Allen’s eight rushing touchdowns this season were the second-most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Cam Newton had 14 in 2011. Robert Griffin III, in 2012, and Vince Young, in 2006, each scored seven.
With 630 yards rushing in just 11 starts, Allen topped the single-season team record for yards rushing by a quarterback. Tyrod Taylor had 580 yards two years ago.
INJURIES
Dolphins: CB Torry McTyer did not return and was being evaluated for a concussion after being bowled over by Buffalo’s Logan Thomas. McTyer was looking up the field and didn’t see Thomas coming in from his right.
Bills: CB Tre’Davious White did not return after sustaining a head injury in the final minutes of the first half. White was knocked over by Kenyan Drake while lowering his head as he tried to make an open-field tackle.
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Kyle Williams bids farewell with tears, high-fives and a win

By MARK LUDWICZAK, Associated Press
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Kyle Williams thought he had experienced close to every emotion before wrapping up his 13th and final NFL season.
Turns out, there was room for one more before the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle entered retirement.
With his team standing at midfield during pregame introductions, Williams was introduced last and got a standing ovation. It was when Williams entered the field that he noticed his wife, Jill, and their five children standing beside his teammates.
Then came the tears.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Williams said. “I get past the goalposts and I see my family and I lost it. I’m fairly certain that that’s the first time I’ve openly boo-hooed inside the cage of a football helmet. And it will be the last, so first and last happened today. Just grateful, grateful for everything.”
That reception, along with an actual 9-yard reception on offense in the fourth quarter — another first — in a dominant season-ending 42-17 win over the Miami Dolphins resulted in the ideal send-off for the 35-year-old player considered the heart and soul of the Bills over the last decade.
“It is special for this team and this city to see how we played and how we wanted to play for him and send him out the way that we did,” said Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who had five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).
Williams announced his decision to retire on Friday. The former fifth-round pick blossomed to become a dominant presence in Buffalo, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl while becoming a fan favorite thanks to his tireless work ethic.
His final game featured a little of everything.
Williams had one tackle for a loss — stuffing running back Kalen Ballage for a 3-yard loss in the first quarter — as part of a dominant defensive effort that resulted in four sacks and two interceptions.
He was brought onto the field as part of a goal-line package and used as a decoy on Allen’s 1-yard plunge to open the scoring in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
Then, in the closing minutes of the fourth, Williams made his first career reception to raucous applause.
The Bills then took the unusual measure of taking a timeout after a fourth-down kneel with 1:19 remaining so Williams could get a final curtain call from the fans, who chanted “Thank you, Kyle!” in unison.
“You don’t have those opportunities a lot to be able to do that,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “I know it’s more of a basketball type of deal, but to be able to put the defense back out there one more time it was more important to me that we honor Kyle’s career than it was to score potentially another touchdown.
“I wanted to do it the right way.”
Williams capped the day by circling the field to greet and say goodbye to the fans, many of whom wore his No. 95 jersey.
“It was spontaneous,” Williams said. “I was giving some people some fives on the way in and thanking them and it just really got to me — well, I can’t do a 10-yard section and not hit the whole place. So I also made a lap with my kids and they had an opportunity to enjoy it.”
His three sons then followed him into the locker room, where they sat at Williams’ stall sipping Gatorade while waiting for their dad to shower and change.
Williams finishes his career with 48½ sacks in 183 games — the most by a Bills defensive tackle.
And he went out in style for someone who arrived in Buffalo not wanting to seek attention.
Williams was difficult to miss on Sunday.
“Yeah, the whole thing has been a little out of my comfort zone,” Williams said. “It was a great day. My family enjoyed it. My kids enjoyed it. We all get to enjoy it because we won.”
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Buffalo Bills re-sign QB Derek Anderson to 1-year contract

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have re-signed veteran quarterback Derek Anderson to a one-year contract in a move reflecting the role he played in mentoring rookie Josh Allen through the final two-plus months of the season.
The signing on Monday comes a day after Buffalo closed a 6-10 season with a 42-17 win over Miami, in which Allen had a career-best three touchdowns passing and scored two more rushing.
Anderson completed his 14th season and was signed by Buffalo in mid-October after Allen was sidelined by a sprained right throwing elbow. He went 0-2 as a starter and was sidelined by a concussion in a 25-6 loss to New England.
Anderson was still credited for playing a valuable role in helping groom Allen. The first-round draft pick closed the season 3-3 and finished 5-6.
Buffalo returns all three quarterbacks after signing backup Matt Barkley to a two-year contract extension 10 days ago.
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Cause still unknown in Ironwood fire

IRONWOOD (AP) — Investigators in the Upper Peninsula are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that killed three people in downtown Ironwood nearly a year ago.
Ironwood Fire Marshal Brandon Snyder says last February’s fire “remains an active case.” He tells The Daily Globe that investigators have narrowed it to a room in a second-floor apartment. Water and the collapse of the building made it hard to immediately pinpoint the cause of the deadly fire.
Three men died of smoke inhalation and three other people were rescued from the fire, which destroyed two buildings.
Snyder says some of the best investigators in the country have assisted local authorities.

U.S. agency says cauliflower coral may need federal protection

Fisheries Service’s 90-day review just about complete

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — A species of coral that environmentalists say is at risk from climate change could need U.S. protections across its entire range — not just in Hawaii, federal officials have found.

The National Marine Fisheries Service in September issued a finding on a March petition seeking Endangered Species Act protections for cauliflower coral, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The agency says it would conduct a review on whether the coral requires protections throughout the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific, where it’s found on most shallow reefs. It also is found in Hawaii.

Cauliflower coral has been devastated by habitat changes, disease, predators and other factors tied to climate change, including ocean acidification, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned for the coral to be protected as a threatened or endangered species.

In just Hawaii, there was a 36.1 percent drop in coverage of the coral from 1999 to 2012, the group said.

“Cauliflower corals are in crisis, so this is great news,” Maxx Phillips, the group’s Hawaii director, said of the federal finding. “We need to take care of our coral reefs to maintain a healthy biodiversity in our oceans.”

He said U.S. action is needed to protect the species as well as “our coral ecosystems that are dying out from ocean warming and climate change.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service released its decision Thursday.

“We find that the petition and other readily available information in our files indicates that P. meandrina may warrant listing as a threatened species or an endangered species throughout its range,” the agency said. “Thus, we will initiate a global status review of P. meandrina to determine whether listing it throughout its range is warranted.”

A proposal for a threatened or endangered listing could come early next year because the agency is required to provide a decision within 12 months of the petition being filed.