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Last Build Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:31:33 -0400


Dave Chappelle Is Back — And He's Offensive and Insightful

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:31:33 -0400

Dave Chappelle last dominated headlines when he walked away from a multi-million dollar contract with Comedy Central back in 2005. He was at the top of his career when he left "Chappelle's Show" and has been out of the spotlight ever since. Most recently, he hosted Saturday Night Live the weekend after the presidential election.

Now he's returned with two stand-up comedy specials on Netflix: “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas: Live at Austin City Limits."

Rebecca Carroll, WNYC's culture critic, says expectations might have been too high and that many of Chappelle's jokes about rape or the LGBTQ community felt dated.

"It's almost as if he's been asleep for 10 years and woke up and was not in touch with the current cultural parlance," she said. However, Carroll said Chappelle still managed to be insightful and funny. 

Carroll spoke to WNYC's Jami Floyd.



Dave Chappelle Is Back — And He's Offensive and Insightful

Media Files:

White Racist Charged with Murder as Terrorism

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:20:32 -0400

A white racist accused of fatally stabbing a black man on a Manhattan street has been indicted on a charge of murder as an act of terrorism.

James Harris Jackson, 28, appeared briefly in court Monday and did not speak. Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had previously also charged him with murder as a hate crime. Jackson's attorney had no comment.

Jackson is accused of killing Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old stranger who was collecting bottles for recycling. Jackson said he had intended the attack as "a practice run" in a mission to deter interracial relationships.

An arraignment on the indictment has been set for April 13.

Ramarley Graham's Killer Quits NYPD Before He Can Be Fired

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:22:00 -0400

The NYPD officer who shot and killed unarmed Ramarley Graham five years ago is off the force, but the dead teen's mother said it's not justice.

Constance Malcolm said she got a call from her attorney Sunday night saying the NYPD judge presiding over the departmental trial of Officer Richard Haste had found him guilty of misconduct in the 2012 shooting and recommended termination. But then she learned that the decision was reached two days earlier — and Haste had already resigned instead of being fired.

At a press conference outside police headquarters Monday, she and police reform activists called for other officers involved in the shooting to be fired and said they’ll oppose Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid for re-election.

“This was a perfect case to show us that our young men and women matter when they've been killed unjustly by police, but instead you took the easy way out by letting this man resign,” Malcolm said.

A spokesman for the Mayor said union employees have a right to due process.

“In this case, that process allows the defendant time to respond to a departmental verdict before a formal penalty can be imposed,” First Deputy Press Secretary Austin Finan wrote in an email to WNYC. “While the New York City Police Department aggressively — and publicly — sought Richard Haste’s termination from the force, he resigned upon learning the findings of his disciplinary trial and the trial commissioner’s recommended penalty.”

“At the end of the day, the process ultimately worked: Mr. Haste is no longer a police officer,” Finan wrote.

Haste, who was on the force for nearly nine years, is not eligible for a pension.

Ramarley Graham's Killer Quits NYPD Before He Can Be Fired

Media Files:

Sure, the Globe is Warming. Let's Not Talk About It.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:38:48 -0400

Ever wonder what your neighbors think of climate change? Do they believe it's human-driven? Do they think it personally affects them?

Now you can get a better understanding of the opinions people in your area hold about global warming.

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication made an updated map of American opinions of climate change.

The maps are interactive. Residents can drill down on several variables, then get information about opinions in their county, congressional district, or municipal area.

For example, more Manhattanites (68 percent) believe global warming is caused by mostly human activity than do Brooklynites (57 percent.)

According to the updated maps, just about all Americans in the survey believe in global warming more than they talk about it.

Fewer than half of Manhattan residents reported talking about global warming at least occasionally, and only 35 percent of Brooklyn residents reported doing so.

In Ocean County, New Jersey, some parts of which experienced significant damage and flooding from Superstorm Sandy, just 48 percent of residents believe global warming was caused by mostly human activity, the lowest percentage of any county in the state.

Research published in Nature Climate Change in June 2015 suggested that higher sea levels and greenhouse gas emissions likely contributed to Sandy's ferocity.

Sure, the Globe is Warming. Let's Not Talk About It.

Media Files:

Ai Weiwei Will Install Over 100 Fences Around New York City This Fall

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:58:31 -0400

This fall, the renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will install more than 100 wire fences in various sites around New York City in conjunction with Public Art Fund's 40th anniversary. In its announcement of the project, titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, Public Art Fund said Ai was "inspired by the international migration crisis and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide." 

"I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for ten years, and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice," Ai said in a press release. "The fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping and evokes associations with words like 'border,' 'security,' and 'neighbor,' which are connected to the current global political environment. But what's important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same." 

Ai's fences will appear in both conventional sites, like Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and in unexpected locales, like rooftops and the spaces between buildings. At least one installation will go up at JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn. Public Art Fund says Good Neighbors is meant to emphasize locations that are significant in the story of New York City as a hub for immigration and cultural exchange.

"Given that the immigrant experience is at the core of what binds us as New Yorkers," said First Lady Chirlane McCray in a statement, "the exhibition compels us to question the rhetoric and policies that seek to divide us."

The installation goes up on October 12, 2017, and runs through February 11, 2018.

Republicans Regroup After Health Care Bill's Defeat

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:49:45 -0400

Republicans are continuing to regroup after the House health care bill was pulled from the floor late Friday when it failed to win enough support from members of Congress. Now, with the Affordable Care Act remaining the law of the land, Republicans are thinking about how to approach future legislative priorities, like reforming the tax code.

Republican John Faso represents New York's 19th congressional district in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley. He supported the plan proposed by House Republicans, in part, because of a provision that would have shifted Medicaid costs from New York's counties to the state government. He joined WNYC's Richard Hake to talk about the lessons learned from the fight on the floor and how the bill's defeat will affect his and his party's agenda going forward.

Republicans Regroup After Health Care Bill's Defeat

Media Files:

NYPD Officer Who Fatally Shot an Unarmed Black Teenager Quits Before Getting Fired

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 07:32:48 -0400

A white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager resigned Sunday from the New York Police Department to avoid being fired following a disciplinary trial in a case that sparked outrage over police use of deadly force against black men and boys.

Richard Haste was brought on departmental charges for demonstrating "poor judgment." He was accused of not taking obvious steps to defuse a fatal standoff that ended in the 2012 death of Ramarley Graham inside the teen's own bathroom, as his grandmother and little brother looked on in horror. Administrative Judge Rosemarie Maldonado found on Friday that Haste should be fired from the department.

Technically, Haste had time to go over the findings before they would be presented to Police Commissioner James O'Neill, who has the final say, but Haste resigned instead. The commissioner had not yet officially ruled, but "has fully concurred with the findings and recommendations of the trial commissioner," according to a statement from the department late Sunday.

Haste initially faced a criminal manslaughter charge in the death, but the case was dismissed because of a procedural error. A new grand jury declined to indict, and federal prosecutors also declined to bring charges.

"He was exonerated by both a state and federal grand jury," said Haste's lawyer, Stuart London. "The New York City Police Department Firearms Discharge Review Board found the shooting to be justified. All of officer Haste's actions were performed in good faith. He never should have been forced to resign based on tactics alone."

Graham's shooting death in 2012 came before a spate of highly publicized killings by police, such as the deaths of Michael Brown, Walter Scott and Eric Garner, that helped propel the topic into the spotlight. But Graham's family and friends have been a constant public presence over the past five years, demanding justice for the 18-year-old.

Graham's mother, Constance Malcolm, said Sunday that the city let Haste off the hook by allowing him to resign instead of being fired. She blasted the department for failing to schedule disciplinary proceedings for other officers involved.

"Every step of the way, the mayor and NYPD have dragged their heels and have refused to hold officers accountable for murdering my son," she said. "How is my youngest son supposed to trust and believe in cops when he saw they murdered his brother in front of him and there is zero accountability?"

In his testimony during the departmental trial, Haste, now 35, recounted how he got out of his police van during a drug probe in Graham's Bronx neighborhood and followed the teenager, suspected on police radio chatter of having a gun, into his apartment building.

After Haste and his partner broke down the door of Graham's home, the officer said he saw Graham sidestep into a bathroom, and he leaned inside to face him.

Haste testified that he yelled, "Show me your hands!" but Graham instead reached deeper into his pants and yelled obscenities.

"I thought I was about to be shot," Haste said. "I expected to be dead."

The family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $3.9 million.

Annual State Tests, With Annual Controversy, Begin This Week

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

The annual state English language arts tests begin Tuesday, and with them come the annual competing messages on the benefits of taking the tests or boycotting them.

Last year, like the year before, more than 20 percent of students statewide opted out of taking the tests. Critics of state testing say education in the public schools is too focused on testing and scores, at the expense of a focus on a whole-child curriculum. They say the tests are poorly-written and disconnected from the work that students actually do in school. 

The opt-out movement has been successful enough to inspire counter-campaigns by defenders of the tests, holding rallies to encourage families to opt in to testing. A central argument: the state needs to assess all students to identify, and close, the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers.

In an effort to ease the climate around testing, the state education department has rolled out small changes. The tests were a bit shorter last year, and will stay the same length this year; students will be able to work for as much time as they need to complete their work. The state has said that teachers are involved in reviewing current test questions developed by Pearson and in writing new questions under a new vendor, Questar. And, for a second year in row, state test scores will also not be used in teacher evaluations.

Nyjae Martin, a fourth-grader at P.S. 262 in Brooklyn, said the "test is just like any other test." But still — she was feeling a lot of emotions about it.

"Happy and scared and nervous," said Nyjae. She wanted to perform well, and felt the pressure to do so, hence the nervousness.

But happy?

"Because we can get the tests over with."

At least, students can get English tests over with this week. The math tests, in a rare twist of scheduling, take place more than a month later in early May.

Annual State Tests, With Annual Controversy, Begin This Week

Media Files:

State of Subsidies: How Billions of Dollars Fail to 'Transform' New York's Upstate Economy

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sunk a lot of taxpayer money — $25 billion by his own estimate — into recharging upstate New York’s moribund economy.

The governor has increased spending on subsidy programs to record levels, launched bold policy initiatives and criss-crossed upstate to announce projects he has frequently described as “game-changers.”

“Economic success is shared all across the state. It’s not just New York City that’s doing well, it’s the entire state,” the governor declared in his 2017 State of the State address in Syracuse.

That’s the rhetoric. The reality, as borne out by employment data, is decidedly different.

Employment upstate has grown by only 2.7 percent during Cuomo’s tenure – compared with 13.1 percent downstate and 11 percent nationally. Four of upstate’s 12 major metropolitan areas have actually lost jobs since Cuomo took office.

If it were a state, upstate’s job growth would rank fourth-worst in the nation, below, among others, Mississippi.

What’s more, 88 percent of the net jobs added upstate during the Cuomo years have been in low-wage sectors, led by restaurants and bars, employment data shows.

“The policies Cuomo says are focused on upstate, and he claims have improved upstate, were not the right policies and have not worked,” said E.J. McMahon, research director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative watchdog group.

Investigative Post, ProPublica and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism teamed up to assess the state’s economic development efforts since Cuomo took office in 2011. They built a database that tracked some 16,000 subsidy deals involving 11 of the state’s largest economic development programs and locally controlled industrial development agencies.

The investigation found the state’s substantial investment in the upstate economy has not yet generated many jobs, and that economic development programs suffer from a lack of transparency and objective analysis to determine their effectiveness.

The investigation also found the state does an inadequate job of vetting subsidy recipients to determine their history of compliance with federal and state regulators, and that some companies have used their influence to tap into a multitude of subsidy programs and place executives on decision-making bodies that help determine how tax breaks and other forms of assistance are awarded.

Click here to read more.

State of Subsidies: How Billions of Dollars Fail to 'Transform' New York's Upstate Economy

Media Files:

Review: Spectacle and Sorrow in Broadway's 'Miss Saigon'

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

This new production of "Miss Saigon," imported from London's West End, lands 26 years after the original debuted on Broadway, and boy, has it aged well.

The spectacle still impresses. There's the lush orchestration, which captures the heartbreak of the Vietnam War; a ferocious paean in dance and song to Ho Chi Min, with giant red flags and a looming statue; and, of course, the helicopter — which now comes with wind that seems to puff from the moving rotors.

But there's also the intimate drama of Kim, a Vietnamese woman who is abandoned by her American soldier-lover as Saigon falls (The story is based on Puccini's opera "Madam Butterfly."). He leaves her to fend for herself in a ruined city. While he tries to forget his years at war and build a new life, she faces her life in a shantytown and then a Bangkok brothel with courage, believing he will return. 

"Miss Saigon" takes place in the past, of course, but it's a particularly strong moment for the return of this musical from the team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (they also created "Les Miserables.) The show talks of America's deserted responsibilities, a discussion that seems particularly resonant now that the current Presidential Administration has turned away from its global obligations. 

But at one point, an ad-libbed joke trying too hard to tie the show to the current moment falls flat. In the song "American Dream," the character of the Engineer sings about bringing his special brand of sleaze to America. The Engineer is a fixer, a pimp, the man who compels the innocent Kim into prostitution. Accompanied by Vegas-style dancing girls and a boat of a car rolling onto the stage, he dreams about the money he'll make catering to the depraved tastes of men in the U.S. — and then he says, he'll "make America great again."

It's a cheap joke and not suited to the Engineer's character, especially since the excellent Jon Jon Briones adds a texture of vulnerability and humanity underneath the Engineer's grubby malevolence.

The standout in this show, though, is Eva Noblezada as Kim. She was discovered at age 17 at the 2013 National High School Musical Theater Awards (the "Jimmy's") in Manhattan — four years later, she's a seasoned pro who uses her clear, thrilling voice to convey every nuance of Kim's desperation and anguish with surprising restraint. She isn't matched by the more opaque performance of Alistair Brammer as her lover Chris, though perhaps his part is just underwritten. Yet without a strong idea about what Chris wants and why he has never tried to find Kim, the show's drama falters. Is he just a jerk who used an innocent? Or is he simply in so much pain from the war that he can't revisit even a beloved piece of it?

But one doesn't go to "Miss Saigon" for a tight narrative. It's an evening of big Broadway, with music that will move you and set pieces that will thrill. And then, of course, there's the helicopter — which is astonishing.

Miss Saigon

At the Broadway Theatre; limited run

Book & lyrics by Alain Boublil, concept, book & music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., additional lyrics by Michael Mahler; directed by Laurence Connor

Review: Spectacle and Sorrow in Broadway's 'Miss Saigon'

Media Files:

Review: An All-Star Revival of 'The Price' Is Just Right

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

"The Price" is not gut-punch Arthur Miller. That is, it doesn't leave you eviscerated.

Instead, it's a warmly-wise portrait of a family that is on the edge of getting torn apart forever.

Mark Ruffalo is Victor Franz, the shambling, everyman cop who is trying to sell his deceased parents furniture now that their New York brownstone is being torn down. It's a jumbled mess of stuff from the early part of the 20th century — a bed stand, a library table, cabinets and dressers and chairs. 

He and his wife Esther (Jessica Hecht) don't have much money — they're hoping used furniture dealer Gregory Solomon (Danny DeVito, with a wavering accent) will give them a good price. His wife is actually hoping the money will goose Victor's ambition, get him to retire from the force and go back to the science he loves.

There's one problem: the furniture also belongs to Victor's estranged brother Walter (Tony Shalhoub), now a slick surgeon in a camel-hair coat who prizes money above all else. They had a falling out when their father got sick during the Great Depression: Victor chose to stay and take care of him, Walter decided he would get his education (and get out) at any cost.

It's an unexpectedly funny story, thanks to DeVito and Ruffalo's crack comic timing. When it's just the two of them trying to negotiate in the first act, DeVito as Gregory Solomon makes a master comic bit out of eating an egg at just the right (or wrong) time. Ruffalo's Victor follows the 90-year-old dealer around in bewilderment, trying to catch his slippery logic before the money swims out of his hands. 

But when Victor enters, it's clear the play is about something other than the cash value of a harp. Its about the cost of the choices we make — and it asks, what's too much to pay?

Miller wrote beautifully, and "The Price" is no exception. There are profound lines here. Solomon, talking about how modern people don't want large, heavy furniture says, "The price of used furniture is nothing but a viewpoint, and if you wouldn't understand the viewpoint, it is impossible to understand the price."

That idea underscores the whole play. Victor and Walter are at odds not because one of them is a bad guy, but because they each paid the price that best aligned with their values. It's a plea for understanding, for empathy, that Miller wrote during the Vietnam War. It still resonates now, in the midst of our own political troubles. 

It is easy, the play says, to leave in a huff, to give up. It's harder to try to understand a different point of view.

"The Price"

Roundabout Theatre Company at American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.; through May 7

Written by Arthur Miller; directed by Terry Kinney

Review: An All-Star Revival of 'The Price' Is Just Right

Media Files:

State Senator On Tough Slog Ahead for De Blasio's Mansion Tax

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:19:02 -0400

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to give up on his quest for a mansion tax despite wavering support among advocates. The mayor is quick to talk up the bill's sponsor in the state Senate, where its chances of passage are slimmest.

As a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Caucus, State Sen. Diane Savino is a strategic choice to carry the mayor's mansion tax legislation. The IDC is in a governing coalition with the Republican majority — whose leader has called the tax a "non-starter."

But Savino said she needs to do more than just persuade her GOP colleagues. “I don’t have the support yet of the Democrats yet either,” said Savino

Savino said some of her colleagues think the $2 million dollar threshold for the tax is too low. Under the current proposal, people who purchase homes for more than $2 million dollars would be subject to a 2.5 percent tax, which the city pledges to use to subsidize 25,000 units of senior housing.

“We would be taxing parts of the city they represent,” said Savino, “so I gotta little work to do here.”

On the upside, Savino said the fight can continue beyond next week’s budget deadline.

“The state isn’t paying for this. What we would be doing is, we’d be giving the city the authority to [tax people]. So while it would be great to get a policy like this done in the state budget because it’s always easier to corral people, you know, you force them to vote on the bigger picture and you get the little things in there, it’s not necessary,” she said.

Savino offered her assessment a day after AARP, one of the largest senior advocacy groups, told WNYC they are remaining neutral in the mansion tax fight, despite the mayor repeatedly invoking the group’s name when he advocated for the tax.

In a statement released Friday morning, the group praised de Blasio for his work on affordable housing issues but added, “AARP has taken no position on how that plan should be funded.”

Speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show Friday, the mayor acknowledged what he called a “misunderstanding.”

“I certainly will take responsibility for my team if we misunderstood that particular nuance in their position,” said De Blasio.

“I understand as a matter of policy, they don’t weigh in on specific funding mechanisms, but their members have been extraordinarily supportive. And I think it’s going to make a big difference in the fight in Albany.”

State Senator On Tough Slog Ahead for De Blasio's Mansion Tax

Media Files:

Judge Temporarily Bars City from Opening Homeless Shelter

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:16:00 -0400

A Brooklyn judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring the city from opening a new homeless shelter in Crown Heights.

Crown Heights residents argued that their neighborhood already has too many shelters and that the city failed to follow proper procedure in approving a site for this one, on Bergen Street. The judge’s decision maintains the status quo until next week, when another judge will determine whether the case has merit.

“My job now will be to get this next judge to consider that they to do it properly,” said Jacqueline McMickens, who represents the residents. “They did this in stealth.”

The new shelter, which is supposed to house 104 men who are 62 or older, is part of Mayor de Blasio's plan to open 90 new shelters across the city over the next five years.

A city spokesman says they are confident the court will recognize a need for this shelter and that they will be able to open it next week.

Judge Temporarily Bars City from Opening Homeless Shelter

Media Files:

Artist's Depiction of Emmett Till's Open Casket Sparks Controversy at Whitney Biennial

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:00:00 -0400

The recently-opened Whitney Biennial features dozens of works that tackle tough themes including race and identity.

But one painting this year is drawing a lot of attention.

"Open Casket" is Dana Schutz's depiction of an iconic photograph that is a centerpiece of the Civil Rights movement. The photo shows the open casket of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was horribly mutilated and killed after being accused of flirting with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, recently recanted her accusations, as revealed in the book The Blood of Emmett Till, by Timothy Tyson.

The painting by Schutz, a white artist who works in Brooklyn, has sparked protests at the Whitney, including an open letter calling for its destruction. It's also sparked questions about artists' and curators' rights and responsibilities in handling racially-charged subject matter.

Artist's Depiction of Emmett Till's Open Casket Sparks Controversy at Whitney Biennial

Media Files:

The Life and Death of Lee Morgan

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:00:00 -0400

The documentary “I Called Him Morgan” is a moody investigation into the life and death of the trumpet player Lee Morgan. In 1972, Morgan was shot and killed in a New York bar by his common law wife Helen. Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collins spent several years trying to understand her crime of passion.

— Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen


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For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

The Life and Death of Lee Morgan

Media Files:

Trump, GOP Leaders Pull Health Care Bill in Humiliating Loss

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:10:16 -0400

In a humiliating setback, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders pulled their "Obamacare" repeal bill off the House floor Friday after it became clear the measure would fail badly.

It was a stunning defeat for the new president after he had demanded House Republicans vote on the legislation Friday, threatening to leave "Obamacare" in place and move on to other issues if the vote failed. The bill was withdrawn minutes before the vote was to occur.

The president's gamble failed. Instead Trump, who campaigned as a master deal-maker and claimed that he alone could fix the nation's health care system, saw his ultimatum rejected by Republican lawmakers who made clear they answer to their own voters, not to the president.

Republicans have spent seven years campaigning against former President Barack Obama's health care law, and cast dozens of votes to repeal it in full or in part. But when they finally got the chance to pass a repeal bill that actually had a chance to get signed, they couldn't pull it off.

What happens next is unclear, but the path ahead on other priorities, such as overhauling the tax code, can only grow more daunting.

And Trump is certain to be weakened politically, a big early congressional defeat adding to the continuing inquiries into his presidential campaign's Russia connections and his unfounded wiretapping allegations against Obama.

The development came on the afternoon of a day when the bill, which had been delayed a day earlier, was supposed to come to a vote, come what may. But instead of picking up support as Friday wore on, the bill went the other direction, with some key lawmakers coming out in opposition.

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, chairman of a major committee, Appropriations, said the bill would raise costs unacceptably on his constituents. Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, a key moderate Republican, and GOP Rep. David Joyce of Ohio also announced "no" votes.

The defections raised the possibility that the bill would not only lose on the floor, but lose big.

In the face of that evidence, and despite insistences from White House officials and Ryan that Friday was the day to vote, leadership pulled back from the brink.

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute's unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also have removed the often-generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama's, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed. The bill would have ended Obama's Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare. The bill would have blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

Democrats were uniformly opposed. "This bill is pure greed, and real people will suffer and die from it," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.

This Morning's Amtrak Derailment Will Cause Evening Delays

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:00:00 -0400

An Amtrak Acela Express train originating in Boston, headed for Washington, D.C., derailed Friday morning at Penn Station, clipping an NJ Transit train at about 9 a.m. Amtrak said in a statement that all 248 passengers were evacuated safely from the train. NJ Transit reports there were 1,000 customers on its train, and that there were several minor injuries. NJ Transit, Amtrak and federal officials are investigating the incident.  Expect heavy delays in and out of Penn Station Friday. There is limited outbound service from Penn Station starting at 4 p.m. There will be hourly service into New York City from Trenton and Long Branch, with stops at Newark and Seacaucus. Cross honoring will remain in effect with NJ Transit, bus, private buses, NY Waterway, and the PATH at Newark, Hoboken and 33rd Street. Hoboken service will also be affected, due to additional trains at the terminal Passengers on Amtrak's Keystone Service can transfer to the Northeast Regional in Newark for trains headed to New York City. Empire Service passengers are being transferred to MetroNorth for service in and out of Grand Central. Long Island Rail Road, which wasn't involved with the derailment, is expecting cancellations and delays for the evening commute, with a 50 percent reduction in track space due to the derailment. It's advising customers to leave the city before 4 p.m. or wait until after 8 p.m. to avoid delays. One witness to the crash described it as a sudden jolt. "The initial impact happened next to my head and proceeded to rake down my car and the car behind mine, popping all the windows, knocking doors off their hinges and shearing metal," passenger Jordan Geary, who was on the NJ Transit train that was hit, said.  Geary said it didn't appear anyone was injured, but his ears were ringing from the impact more than hour after the collision. He said there were an official announcements and that once workers in yellow jackets showed up passengers just found their way off the train and left the station. NJ Transit has temporarily suspended service in and out of Penn Station, PATH train honoring fares. — WNYC 🎙 (@WNYC) March 24, 2017 "If it had been 18 degrees today we would not have reinstated alternate side because it wouldn't have been effective," said Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. "Our goal is to make sure that when we're asking the public to do something that we're able to either clean their streets effectively or clear their snow effectively." Greenwich Village resident Gary Kupper parked his Toyota Matrix on a Soho side street before last week's storm. And on Monday morning, it was still there, covered in snow. "It's surrounding my car," he said, "and I didn't have a shovel this morning." So, rather than move his car for the 9-10:30 a.m. alternate side parking, he whittled the 90 minutes away in his car sipping coffee and listening to talk radio. His was one of three cars on this block that waited it out, rather than moving. As 10:30 drew near, Kupper pointed to the piles of snow around his car. "There's no way that there's any street cleaning today, so I guess they figured they're going to plow, but they didn't even come by." (Amy Pearl/WNYC) Kupper thought perhaps the city was going on a ticket writing spree, but Commissioner Garcia dispelled that myth. "This is about making sure we get the city back to full normal," she said. "We're not driven by trying to increase revenue." She said Sanitation workers were out in force Monday, digging out parking spaces, bus stops, and street corners. One reason it might be taking so long to clear the[...]

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Supreme Court Won't Hear Menendez Corruption Appeal

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:47:00 -0400

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez’s appeal of federal corruption charges.

The decision, released with no comment Monday, means a lower court ruling will stand and Menendez is likely to face trial this fall.

Federal prosecutors have charged Menendez, a Democrat, with accepting more than $1 million in bribes and free flights from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a Menendez friend and donor.

The prosecutors accused Menendez of speaking with Medicare officials about a $9 million billing dispute with Melgen. Prosecutors also say Menendez asked the Department of Homeland Security about a cargo contract, and Melgen owned a business that scans cargo containers.

The 2015 indictment included 14 counts.

Attorneys for Menendez argued that he is exempt from the charges as a Senator under the U.S. Constitution’s “Speech or Debate" clause, which is intended to prevent the executive branch for arresting a member of Congress for political reasons. A federal appeals court ruled that Menendez's activities weren't clearly part of his duties as a member of Congress.

Menendez's attorney says the senator will be cleared at trial, which is likely to begin in September.

"As the Senator has been saying for more than four years since the government began chasing these wild allegations," Abbe Lowell said in a statement, "he has always acted in accordance with the law. Sen. Menendez remains confident that he will be vindicated when all the facts are heard at trial.

"It's disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to set a clear, bright line of the separation of powers," Lowell said, "to ensure that Congress remains an independent and co-equal branch of government, free of interference and retribution from the Executive as the Framers intended." 




Supreme Court Won't Hear Menendez Corruption Appeal

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