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Last Build Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:06:45 -0500

 



Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:06:45 -0500

Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom


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200,000 Rally at Women's March in New York

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 17:25:50 -0500

Hundreds of thousands of energized but peaceful protesters hit New York streets on Saturday in a march for women's rights on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

The New York march, which started in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower by Central Park, was among more than 200 planned for the weekend around the world.

Participants, many wearing pink cat-ear hats, rallied on Central Park West and Columbus Circle before the march that concluded on Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Police organized elbow-to-elbow participants behind metal barriers that reached into offshoot streets along the park, guiding them in groups toward the march downtown. But the crowds were so thick that officers started turning people away at certain entry points, telling them to try farther north. Subway stations were packed.

Sharon Linnea was at the front of the march with her 20-year-old daughter.

"What brings me here today is the fact that I don't want my daughter to grow up in a country devoid of compassion," she said. "When I was growing up it was all about taking care of each other and now that's becoming illegal."

Meg Roebling, 48, came because of the recent wave of sexual assault allegations — including more than one hundred women who say they were abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

"The anger is really palpable — especially with the headlines today with that gymnastics coach. It's really just disgusting, disgusting all around," Roebling said.

Some said this was not the first time they've taken to the streets to protest social issues. Marlene Cintron, 66, says she was a part of the women's liberation movements in the 1960s and '70s, and said this new wave of activism is giving her hope.

"The sisterhood is not as strong as it used to be," she said. "And I think this is all us waking up again, saying OK, if we do it, and we do it right and we do it together, everybody wins."

Organizers said participated because basic rights for women, immigrants and others are under attack. Among the goals of this year's march were getting more Democrats to run for public office and bolstering voter registration.

Earlier Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the Women's March Breakfast hosted by the New York City Bar Association.

"We have seen tremendous aggression and discrimination against women over this past year," Cuomo said. "We have a federal government that's looking to roll back women's rights all across the board - roll back a woman's right to choose, roll back contraceptive care, roll back insurance coverage for reproductive rights."

Cuomo said the Republican president "fundamentally disrespects women."

With reports from the Associated Press.




This Week in Politics: NJ's New Gov Needs a Mussolini Moment

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says NJ Transit is in "crisis mode." He argues that, "It's time to not just clean the house - but to knock it down and rebuild it."

But he's no longer just a critic talking tough on the campaign trail. Delay-plagued NJ Transit is HIS problem now. And it was notable that he did not even mention transit during his inauguration speech.

WNYC Transportation Reporter, Stephen Nessen joins host David Furst to talk about the scale of the problems and what Murphy might do to fix them.

Stephen says with the new governor calling NJ Transit a "national disgrace," morale is low at the agency. But, he adds, many staffers are actually optimistic that with Murphy in office and a renewed focus on transit, things will begin to change for the better.

 

This Week in Politics: NJ's New Gov Needs a Mussolini Moment


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When Rosie Threw Rivets in Brooklyn

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:13:24 -0500

It was 1941 and Mimi Leipzig was walking home from her job as a ship-fitter at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, when a woman she didn't know stopped her in the street.

The woman wanted a word about Leipzig's slacks.

"My dear," the woman said, "If you don't have a skirt to wear, I have one at home to give you."

Leipzig was taken aback, but told the woman that she was in slacks because she spent her days working with heavy steel at the Navy Yard, and that wearing a skirt didn't lend itself to building battleships.

"I was so proud that I could say that to this bossy, arrogant woman," Leipzig recalled with a satisfied laugh.

The story is part of one several oral histories recorded by staff at The Brooklyn Historical Society and included in their new exhibit, Waterfront. The exhibit traces the history of Brooklyn's shore from its growth-by-landfill after the Revolutionary War to the ways it's affected by climate change. It also delves into topics that range from the tragic — the waterfront's role in the slave trade — to the sublime: its heyday as a purveyor of giant bivalves from the harbor.

But perhaps the most vivid and poignant voices in the exhibit belong to some of the hundreds of women who stepped up to complete hard jobs at the Navy Yard while many working men were fighting overseas. Eventually the war ended with a surrender signed by the Japanese on the deck of the USS Missouri — built with the help of women at the Brooklyn Navy Yard — and female staff were laid off en masse.

At least one, Ida Pollack, remembered what it felt like to weld the seams of a giant battleship .. and then not. "It was a nice sense of accomplishment," she said. "I wanted to stay."

 

When Rosie Threw Rivets in Brooklyn


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Federal Prosecutors Intend to Retry Sen. Bob Menendez

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:12:31 -0500

The government has told a federal judge in New Jersey it will seek a retrial of Sen. Bob Menendez, whose 11-week corruption trial ended in a hung jury in November.

The filing to the judge on Friday seeks a retrial of the Democrat "at the earliest possible date."

In a statement, the Department of Justice said "the decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review."

Menendez and his longtime friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, were charged with a bribery scheme in which Menendez traded political favors for gifts and campaign donations.

Menendez also was charged with making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms.

Defense lawyers argued that the gifts including luxury vacations were an expression of the pair's longtime friendship and weren't bribes.

Several jurors interviewed after the first trial said as many as 10 members of the panel were in favor of acquittal.

United States' Notice of Intent to Retry Case by Jermain Gibson on Scribd

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DACA Recipients in New York Scramble to Renew

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:00:00 -0500

As the U.S. government hurtles towards a possible shutdown, the fate of nearly 700,000 young undocumented people potentially hang in the balance. This, in addition to a recent court decision to block plans, temporarily, to end the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has led to a flurry of DACA recipients rushing to renew their legal permits.

On Thursday, dozens applied for two-year extensions at an “emergency” workshop hosted by CUNY’s Citizenship Now!, a free immigration clinic based at the university.

Diego Armando Hernandez Arellano, 29, is a “beverage director” and manager at a coffee shop who signed up for an appointment to renew his DACA paperwork. He’s watched the debate closely ever since President Donald Trump announced that he would phase out the program last year.

Arellano said the back-and-forth was frustrating, but he was used to uncertainty.

"Growing up without this legal paper that says you're allowed to be in the States, it's like you kinda gotta play everything by ear and adjust as you go," he said. "You can't really let something shut you down."

Renewing his DACA status was key to what he wants to do next: enroll in a graduate program in geographic information systems to learn how to make digital maps. 

"I wish we would live in a world where people can easily come through any given location or territory just as easily as capital or goods can go through," he said.

Arellano said that DACA was the reason he was able to graduate from college, get a job, and visit his grandmother’s home in Mexico, the country his family left when he was just two years old.  

More than 40,000 New York residents receive DACA protections, and immigration advocates said they’re working quickly to renew applications ahead of a current March 5 deadline. Make the Road New York, a grassroots advocacy group, said all of the appointments for the three immigration clinics organized for this weekend have filled up completely. 

"The anxiety is very high,” Immigration Now! Director Allan Wernick said. “I think it's very confusing for people. People are very worried about what's going to happen to them.”

As the debate continued in Washington, Wernick said DACA recipients and their employers were scrambling to figure out how it affected them.

DACA Recipients in New York Scramble to Renew


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What You Need to Know if The Federal Government Shuts Down

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:32:15 -0500

With lawmakers at loggerheads over a new federal spending bill, the U.S. government is teetering on the verge of a shutdown. That means that if Congress does not agree on a way to fund the federal government, all but the most essential services will be shuttered as of 12:01 AM on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Even if there is a shutdown, the U.S. Postal Service will stay open, and mail will still be delivered. People receiving Social Security checks will still get paid, since those are mailed out automatically. Active-duty military will stay on the job, but training missions will be cut down; air travel should continue normally, as air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration officers and Customs and Border Protection officials will stay on the job.

One big change since the last government shutdown in 2013: you'll still be able to visit the Statue of Liberty. The Trump Administration says it is working to make sure that National Parks and Monuments stay open in the case of a shutdown. That means the African Burial Ground and Ellis Island will also remain open. However, the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt Design museum and the National Museum of the American Indian would be closed indefinitely after the weekend.

Federal courts will stay open for at least three weeks, as the system has a funding cushion. If a shutdown continued any longer, the courts would have to move to a contingency plan to continue working normally. While criminal litigation would go ahead, civil cases could be shortened or delayed.

Kids who get school breakfasts and lunches through federal programs will still get to eat, and food stamps distributed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will still go out. But the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) along with other, smaller food assistance programs, could be curtailed.

Federal lawmakers will still be paid — and they'll be at work, trying to craft a budget both sides agree on.

The last time the government was shut down was in October 2013 — it lasted 16 days. The longest shut down? Twenty-one days in 1994-1995.




The Cost of Fixing the Subways? $11.52 per Car, Panel Says

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 12:34:09 -0500

A new plan commissioned by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommends a series of actions to reduce congestion in Manhattan and create a dedicated revenue stream for the MTA. Under one scenario, drivers would pay $11.52 to drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan. Trucks would pay even more — $25.34 — while taxi cabs, Uber rides and for-hire vehicles would be charged between $2 and $5 per ride. The pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street. All in all, the plan would result in modest gains both for the MTA and Manhattan's traffic speeds. The revenues, estimated at between $955 million and $1.4 billion a year, would amount to a roughly 5 percent boost in funding for the MTA, which spends about $21 billion a year on operations and capital improvements. Midtown speeds are expected to increase about 9 percent, according to the report, which would be almost imperceptible (from the current 6.8 miles an hour to 7.4 miles an hour).   "It just seems that there was not a whole of creativity that was involved in putting together this report," said Robert Sinclair, Jr., a spokesman for AAA. "It's supposed to reduce congestion. It doesn't seem like it would do that." But members of the task force that wrote the report insist that some progress is better than none. "There are going to be some naysayers," said former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer, an MTA board member. "It's clear that the status quo is no longer acceptable." A similar plan in 2008 proposed by Mayor Bloomberg died when the legislature in Albany never even took a vote on it after some lawmakers portrayed it as a burden on the poor and middle class. But since then, subway service has seriously deteriorated, and the staunchest opponent in the state Assembly, then-Speaker Sheldon Silver, was indicted and removed from office.  In the past, Mayor De Blasio has spoken out against congestion pricing, but he met the latest report more warmly, calling it a "step in the right direction." He said he wants a guarantee that revenue from the surcharge will go toward public transportation. "We need to know a lot more," he said on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show Friday. "What we still don't see is money ... being put in a lock box that would only fund transit in New York City." London and Singapore already have similar congestion surcharges in place. But in London, which introduced congestion pricing over 15 years ago, traffic speeds have gotten worse after an initial improvement. In part, that's a reflection of the system's success there: the money raised for mass transit has been spend on dedicated bus and bike lanes, as well as more pedestrian walkways, which have interfered with driving. The British capital also has its  own problem with ride-sharing services like Uber, which has clogged streets with additional vehicles looking to pick up rides. Yasmin Sohrawardy, who drives from Queens into Manhattan twice a week for her job as a financial software developer, opposes any proposal to charge drivers. "The people in the outer boroughs, who don't have access to public transportation the way people do in Manhattan, can't possibly afford this," said Sohrawardy, 47. "It's going to be extraordinarily expensive. If you live in Manhattan, you can take subways, buses or taxis." The fees on taxis and for-hire vehicles could take effect within a year, followed by trucks and then cars in 2020, according to the report. The task force said that the MTA should front-load transit improvements, particularly in outer boroughs, first, before the fees are implemented. The congestion pricing task force was created by Cuomo last year after he declared a state of emergency in the subways. It's reasonable to charge motorists more to drive into Manhattan, according to Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, since travelers using the subway, buses, ferries and train[...]



For NYC Women's March 2.0, Focus Turns to the Ballot Box

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:13:19 -0500

Last January, women in bright pink "pussy hats" — half a million in Washington, 400,000 in New York City and many more in hundreds of marches elsewhere — became the face of the resistance to Trump and his agenda. And their movement inspired thousands of women to do something they'd never done before: become more active in their communities, even inspiring a run for political office.  The jolt of energy, and unity, also laid the cultural groundwork, many believe, for the "#MeToo" phenomenon to catch fire later in the year, calling powerful men to account for sexual misconduct.

Now, the loosely defined "resistance movement" — a network of groups around the nation, with men and women raising money and knocking on doors and supporting hundreds of progressive candidates — is setting its sights on the 2018 midterm elections, hoping to deal the White House and the all-GOP government in Washington a permanent setback.

For the national march, organizers are holding a "Power to the Polls" rally in the Nevada city on Sunday, rather than staging their event in Washington. The plan is to launch a voter registration tour and put out the message that the next step is all about votes.

In New York City, there's a similar push. Following the official march, VoteRunLead, the National Organization for Women and several other groups are holding an event called "Women Run 2018," aimed at helping women run for office.

Here's what you need to know about what's happening locally on Saturday:

  • At 11 a.m., marchers are lining up at 71st Street and Columbus Avenue. 
  • The rally begins at 11:30 a.m. and goes for an hour; it can be streamed live here
  • The march begins at 1 p.m. and goes until around 3:30 p.m.
  • "Women Run 2018" begins at 4 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m.
(image)

 




Congress Is Likely Racing Toward a Government Shutdown

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:19:35 -0500

A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported. Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that passed the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure but exposing themselves to charges they are responsible for a looming shutdown. Republicans controlling the narrowly-divided chamber took up the fight, arguing that Democrats were holding the entire government hostage over demands to protect "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. "Democratic senators' fixation on illegal immigration has already blocked us from making progress on long-term spending talks," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "That same fixation has them threatening to filibuster funding for the government." In the House, Republicans muscled the measure through on a mostly party-line 230-197 vote after making modest concessions to chamber conservatives and defense hawks. House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately summoned reporters to try to pin the blame on top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. A test vote on a filibuster of the measure by Senate Democrats appeared likely before the shutdown deadline of Friday at midnight. Schumer was rebuffed in an attempt to vote Thursday night. "We can't keep kicking the can down the road," said Schumer, insisting on more urgency in talks on immigration. "In another month, we'll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them." The measure would be the fourth stopgap spending bill since the current budget year started in October. A pile of unfinished Capitol Hill business has been on hold, first as Republicans ironed out last fall's tax bill and now as Democrats insist on progress on immigration. Talks on a budget deal to ease tight spending limits on both the Pentagon and domestic agencies are on hold, as is progress on a huge $80 billion-plus disaster aid bill. House GOP leaders sweetened the pending stopgap measure with legislation to extend for six years a popular health care program for children from low-income families and two-year delays in unpopular "Obamacare" taxes on medical devices and generous employer-provided health plans. A shutdown would be the first since 2013, when tea party Republicans - in a strategy not unlike the one Schumer is employing now - sought to use a must-pass funding bill to try to force then-President Barack into delaying implementation of his marquee health care law. Democrats want a deal to protect around 700,000 immigrants from deportation who arrived in the U.S. as children and have stayed here illegally. Trump has ended an Obama-era program providing those protections and given Congress until March to restore them, and he and Republicans want any immigration deal to include money for the president's promised wall along the Mexican border and other security measures. Congress must act by midnight Friday or the government will begin immediately locking its doors. Though the impact would initially be spotty - since most agencies would be closed until Monday - the story would be certain to dominate weekend news coverage, and each party would be gambling the public would blame the other. In the event of a shutdown, food inspections, federal law enforcement, airport security checks, and other vital services would continue, as would Social Security, other federal benefit programs and military operations. But federal workers wouldn't be paid. [...]



Unsettled: A Story from the Global Refugee Crisis

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 05:00:00 -0500

Andre Twendele played dead through the early morning, until the sun was over the forest canopy and the security forces were far enough away. It was November 2005. He was a law student at the University of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a massive country at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa best known to Americans for its brutal war crimes and its wealth of minerals harvested for iPhones. President Joseph Kabila was running the nation in autocratic fashion, overseeing a perpetual state of regional and civil war, just as he is today. Twendele, young and politically minded, had helped lead a student protest against him. Twendele belonged to the Union for Social Democracy and Progress, a party known for its nonviolence. For this rally, he was head of security. That put him at the front of the line when, according to Twendele, Kabila’s men arrived and began beating and arresting protesters. In jail, Twendele befriended one of the guards, and so when the students were marched into the forest and lined up to be executed, the guard made sure Twendele was last. The first seven were killed. Then it was his turn. The guard pretended to shoot him. He fell and played dead. When the guards left, “I tried to touch all of my friends there,” Twendele remembered. “My friends, they died in my presence,” he said. “It’s a long time ago but I have that image, I remember everything. I have that picture in my head.” Twendele was 23 years old. A dozen years later, we sat next to each other on a park bench near the apartment in Elizabeth, N.J., that he shares with two other refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was an early spring afternoon, and a few joggers passed by, but he looked straight ahead as he told his story. “So I start a new life,” he said. “And it was not easy.” Elizabeth is an industrial city just across from Staten Island that has long been a critical portal for immigrants escaping persecution and searching for opportunity. Germans and Irish came in the 19th century; European Jews and then Cubans followed in the 20th. Since 2015, Elizabeth has settled 646 refugees — about half from Syria, and 95 from Congo. The city accepts more refugees than anywhere else in New Jersey. Chris Bollwage, the seven-term mayor, traces his own history back 202 years to German immigrants. “The city of Elizabeth has been a melting pot, but it hasn’t been a melting pot for the last 25 years — it’s been a melting pot since the Constitution,” Bollwage said. Its residents are said to come from about 50 countries and speak 37 languages. Twendele’s journey — 11 years in a refugee camp, then one lucky application for a visa to the U.S. — roughly traces the experiences of the three million other refugees admitted into the country since 1975. But that path is now narrowing as President Trump enacts the most severe curtailment of America’s refugee program in a generation. Last September Trump set the annual cap for refugee admissions at 45,000, less than half of the amount that President Obama accepted and the lowest by any president since the Refugee Act of 1980. (Clarisa Diaz, WNYC) Twendele was fortunate to get to the U.S. before new refugee restrictions went into place. But he now lives with a greater burden: Lisette Lukoji, a woman he met and married in the refugee camp, is still stuck in southeastern Africa. As a teenager, Lisette Lukoji had a daughter, Lorette, with a boyfriend who went to war and never returned. She enrolled in school to become a seamstress, raising Lorette and living at her uncle’s house in Lubumbashi. That’s where they came for her. She was 19. Lukoji told me her story as we sat side by side on another bench — this one in the main room of her home at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, a[...]


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Puerto Rico Sees Some of Its Most Promising Students Leave

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

According to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, more than 32,000 college age Puerto Ricans could move to the mainland this year. Already, hundreds of students from the University of Puerto Rico have transferred to colleges and universities in states like Florida and New York.

These students have seized on in-state tuition offers from public systems as well as semester-long scholarships from private institutions like New York University and Cornell University, offers extended after Hurricane Maria devastated the island this past fall.

One of them is Juan Feliciano, who enrolled at SUNY Purchase to study journalism and screenwriting. He said he felt an affinity with the creative vibe among the student body. Besides, his schooling at UPR had been interrupted for the last two years, first by a budget crisis and massive student strike and then by Hurricane Maria which effectively shuttered the school for the fall semester.

He told WNYC he was excited to start classes on Jan. 19 but also felt badly about leaving Puerto Rico. “I felt really guilty when I left,” he said.

Some administrators at UPR said they were concerned about losing hundreds of students like Feliciano. Particularly given the steep cut in support from the island’s government, the university is heavily dependent on enrollment in order to meet operating costs. And even before Maria, the numbers were trending downward: UPR saw its enrollment decline by about 7 percent from 2010 to 2016, according to the Education Council of Puerto Rico.

"My main concern is the cumulative effect of so many programs," says Don Walicek, an associate professor of English and linguistics in the College of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. He co-authored a letter published in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighting the damage tuition-assistance programs on the mainland could inflict on the University of Puerto Rico.

Prof. Hector Cordero-Guzman, a sociologist at City University's Baruch College, pointed out that the university has played an important role in fostering a middle class on the island and was sure to play a key role in Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery. He predicted many of the students taking advantage of current tuition programs will return to the island. 

"That's the nature of our migration. Puerto Ricans have been for decades migrants in search of employment and they go where the opportunities are," he said. 




For One Dreamer, Latest DACA Ruling Is a New Ray of Hope

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

When the Trump Administration announced last fall that it was phasing out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, 29-year-old Hugo learned he would be one of the first people to lose his protections. That’s because his two year permit was expiring on March 9 and DACA was scheduled to end on March 5. "It was shocking, it was upsetting, knowing that I missed it by like four days," he said. Hugo was scared because the government already knows where he lives and could deport him at any time. That's why he doesn’t want us using his last name. But mostly he said he was worried about his daughter. He explained that he has primary custody and supports her with his salary managing a pizzeria in Brooklyn. She’s also eight, the same age he was when his parents brought him to the U.S. illegally from Mexico. "I could have gone to Mexico and probably she could’ve gone with me but she’s not from Mexico," he said. "There are so many more opportunities for her here. And also I wouldn't want to expose her to something like how I was brought into this country, where I didn’t know what was going on." Last week, Hugo got a ray of hope. A federal judge in California ruled that the Trump administration acted improperly when it shut down DACA. That forced the government to allow anyone who already had DACA to reapply, and it released new guidelines over the weekend. On Thursday, Hugo went to Jackson Heights to meet with Yasmine Farhang, the lead immigration attorney for Make the Road New York. They spent about 10 minutes going over 15 pages of documents to ensure there weren't any significant changes in his life, and that he hadn't committed any crimes, since his last application in 2016. She seemed excited about helping him but she also gave him a warning. "Obviously while your application is pending we don’t know what, if any, changes there will be," she said. "Either changes in litigation around challenging the termination of DACA or any changes around legislation for the DREAM act in Congress." Immigration reforms, including relief for DACA recipients known as the DREAM Act, may not make it into the latest budget negotiations to avert a government shutdown.  About 800,000 people have DACA status but one new study found more than 3 million are actually eligible. There are multiple lawsuits over President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, including two brought by Make the Road New York and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The Attorney General's suit says there are more than 40,000 DACA recipients in New York and that rescinding their protections would hurt the state economically. One national study estimated that 87 percent of DACA recipients are employed. On Thursday, after filling out his documents, Hugo hurried out of Make the Road's office to get new passport photos right away. His application to renew his work authorization card and DACA protections would be sent overnight to the government. Farhang told him he wouldn't have to pay the $495 fee because it will be funded by United We Dream. Hugo was thrilled by that news. "This is definitely a relief for now," said he said. "But I do feel like there is still a fight out there" for long-term protections through legislation. He said he wants to become a U.S. citizen. Farhang said she's already scheduled dozens of appointments for DACA recipients to renew their applications now that the government has reopened the window to submit them. "As soon as possible, that’s our deadline," she said. "There’s no way for us to know definitively how long this window is going to be open for." [...]For One Dreamer, Latest DACA Ruling Is a New Ray of Hope


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Christie, Property Taxes and a Tale of Two Mendhams

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

Chris Christie was elected in 2009 on a wave of voter discontent. New Jersey had become unaffordable for many residents, and the primary culprit driving up the cost of living was property taxes. Candidate Christie said he’d change that by lowering taxes. One method he favored was consolidating  New Jersey’s  565 towns and 678 school districts.  Christie lives in Mendham Township, and he has said the next town over, Mendham Borough, is so close that he could kick a football from his backyard and reach it. “We have two separate police departments and fire services and all those things we really don't need,” he said. “I think we should consolidate more.” Property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the country. The average statewide is more than $8,000 dollars. In Mendham it’s over $18,000 thousand. And it keeps going up, making New Jersey harder and harder to afford. For decades, politicians and policy wonks have said the sheer number of municipalities is part of the problem.  “The redundancy is just scary,” said Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect, a nonprofit that helps small towns merge in order to save money and keep property taxes down. Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect, a nonprofit that helps small towns merge. (Amy Pearl / WNYC)   Christie talked a lot about consolidation but he never did get the two Mendhams to come together. Residents of Mendham Township voted to start talks about a merger, but the referendum was nonbinding. In eight years, only one pair of towns did merge: in Princeton Township and Princeton Borough in 2013. Genovese said Christie could have done more, by throwing more support behind the issue and offering financial incentives for efficiency like Governor Cuomo in New York. Instead Christie spent a lot of time chasing the spotlight on the national level. “He dropped the ball on a lot of things in New Jersey,” she said. A voter confronted Christie about this on Election Day last fall.   frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P8HiSXqMKdI?ecver=2" width="640" style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;">   The classic moment quickly went viral. But Christie countered that, as governor, he couldn’t force the Mendhams to merge. And not everyone sees mergers as the solution. Consolidations are complicated. Jobs have to be cut, debts shared. In some cases statute requires additional bureaucracy just to oversee the newly unified departments. Mendham Borough mayor Neil Henry said it isn’t worth it. “I really don’t think in the case of Mendham Borough and Mendham Township there’s a whole lot of money to be saved,” he said. (Henry said the Mendhams are sharing some services like fire and first aid.) Henry gives Christie credit for reigning in property taxes in other ways. He imposed a two percent property tax cap, required public employees to pay more toward their health benefits, and limited salary increases for police and firefighters. “I feel that Governor Christie has done an awesome job controlling property taxes,” he said. Still, while taxes increased at a slower rate under Christie, they still increased. Towns could get around the tax cap, and the limit on salaries for police and firefighters just expired. Many people who were struggling to make it in New Jersey when Christie took office are struggling even more now. New Governor Phil Murphy has promised more aid for schools to defray costs, and has said he’ll do a better job with mergers than Christie. “We think you have to offer incentives and leadership to get that done,” he said during a gubernatorial debate. “We’ll appoint a shared services tzar. We[...]


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Newark May Miss Federal Deadline for Police Reforms

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:36:33 -0500

Newark’s Police Department has missed several deadlines outlined in a federal plan designed to improve poor community and police relations.

The U. S. Department of Justice entered into a legal agreement with the City of Newark and the Newark Police Department in 2016 that put the city on a five year course for police reforms. The city agreed to the consent decree after a federal investigation found that officers were violating citizens' rights. Among other things, Newark Police Department officers were discovered stealing from citizens and using excessive force during arrests.

Peter Harvey, a former Attorney General for New Jersey who is serving as the Independent Monitor, is charged with tracking the city’s progress in meeting the federal mandates. He said it successfully created  a brand new policy on bias-free policing and on the use of force when interacting with citizens.

But he said the city is lagging behind deadlines for training its 1,100 officers, and the software system is not equipped to perform the tasks needed to audit police reports or monitor officers’ activities.

Harvey said the city neglected training as a way of saving money, but if it wants to meet deadlines, it will need to invest.

City officials did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Newark May Miss Federal Deadline for Police Reforms


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Can a Lawyer Go Against Their Client's Wishes? The Supreme Court Will Decide

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:43:06 -0500

The Supreme Court is deliberating a case that could fundamentally reshape the relationship between an an attorney and their client. 

The case, McCoy v. Louisiana, looks at a decision made by Louisiana criminal defense attorney Larry English in 2010. English was representing Robert McCoy, who was charged with killing his mother-in-law, her husband and her 17-year-old grandson. He insisted he was innocent, but English told the jury he was "crazy" — and guilty. English says he did it to save his client's life.

The jury sentenced McCoy to death.

On Wednesday, the Court heard arguments about whether English's overturning of his client's wishes violated McCoy's sixth amendment right to counsel.

English, who now lives in Harlem and is the head of airrail, an infrastructure consulting firm, was there.

"I don't think there's a wrong decision. I don't think there's a right decision," English told WNYC's Jami Floyd. He added that whatever the court decides will have important ramifications. "Lawyers have tremendous power. If the lawyer has a right to override a client's will, some lawyers will abuse that."

Though he stands by the choice he made, English confessed if he had a seat on the Supreme Court, he'd rule for a new chance for his client.

"If I had a vote on that court, I would vote to give Mr. McCoy a new trial. To me, it's not even an issue."

Can a Lawyer Go Against Their Client's Wishes? The Supreme Court Will Decide


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Eric Garner's Mother Says the NYPD Is Blocking Justice

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:57:11 -0500

New York City's police misconduct board is ready and waiting to press charges against the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold in 2014. But according to Garner's mother, the police department is refusing to cooperate.

In September, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated misconduct allegations against Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a banned chokehold on the 43-year-old Garner. Speaking on the steps of City Hall, Gwen Carr said board officials her that the NYPD is using bureaucratic maneuvers to block them from moving forward with the case. (WNYC earlier reported that the board had investigated seven complaints against Pantaleo before Garner's death, and substantiated two of them.)

"Pantaleo is going home to his family every night, he's getting a pay raise every year," Carr said at a news conference Thursday outside City Hall. "They are promoting him for killing my son."

Officer Pantaleo, who spent most of his career until confronting Garner making hundreds of low-level arrests, has been on desk duty since the incident, and the mayor's office and the NYPD both say they are waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to complete its own investigation before docketing the case. Now, Carr says, she's not buying it.

"We've heard from other cases where the DOJ didn't even get involved until after the officers were fired," she said. "Do that in our case. We're tired of waiting."

The Justice Department declined to comment. City Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Debi Rose joined Carr in demanding that Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill not wait for the federal investigation to conclude.

"If they didn't move under Obama, they're not moving under Trump," Williams said. "How long is this administration going to wait before they exercise the authority that they have?"

A de Blasio spokesman said it would be irresponsible for the city to move ahead with any charges, as it could hurt future prosecution.




Cynthia Nixon Headlines Fundraiser for Millennial Women in Politics

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:13:54 -0500

As Democrats eye a possible wave of midterm victories, women are poised to play a critical role. That was the message from activist and actor Cynthia Nixon who took the stage at a packed bar in Williamsburg to speak to young women eager to shake up the political process.

"I'm here quite simply because we need you. Because this city needs you. Because this state needs you. Because your country needs you," Nixon said.

Nixon was headlining a fundraiser for The Broad Room, a self-described “feminist training camp” which has hosted a series of free, women-run sessions for more than 350 people on how to organize, phone bank, fund raise and protest. The group was founded in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election by millennial women, many of whom are affiliated with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign and administration.

Their audience was primed for the message. Nieve Mooney, a 23-year-old social media associate from Brooklyn, said she wants women to play a pivotal role in the 2018 midterms. "I’m just such a believer in what people can do on the ground, grassroots, local. So I’m really excited to see what we can do here in New York and beyond that," Mooney said.

Among political watchers, buzz about Nixon as a potential candidate herself swirled around the event as supporters clinked glasses and sipped cocktails.

The Brooklyn Democrat has been a long-time supporter of de Blasio and is seen a possible primary challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Asked if she had plans to run against him, Nixon smiled and said "maybe."

If Nixon does choose to challenge Cuomo, she faces tall odds. According to the latest Siena College poll, the governor barrels into his re-election year with a 62 percent approval rating and more than $30 million dollars in his campaign coffers.

Cynthia Nixon Headlines Fundraiser for Millennial Women in Politics


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A Month Before Its Release, 'Black Panther' Looks Like Marvel's Next Winner

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:48:33 -0500

The highly anticipated Marvel movie Black Panther is hitting theaters next month. It's the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that features a black superhero, along with a black director, black writers, and a nearly all black cast.

Blade, another Marvel property based on a black vampire hunter, was adapted for the big screen 20 years ago -- but that was by another studio. With Black Panther, Marvel Studios is now adding T'Challa to its lineup of live-action superheroes.

Frederick Joseph started the Black Panther Challenge as a fundraiser to send kids to see the movie in Harlem. He says representation like this opens up so many possibilities. 

"This was me trying to provide the opportunity for young people to see themselves in a story," he says.

Since the challenge began ten days ago, big names like JJ Abrams, Snoop Dogg and ESPN’s Jemele Hill have donated. Joseph has raised over $40,000 and inspired 70 similar campaigns in the U.S.

Clarkisha Kent, a writer at The Root and The Establishment, says that as a comic book icon, Black Panther was a hero -- a black hero -- that people had never seen before.

"He does represent different things across the diaspora for black people," she says. "He’s super smart -- he has Ph.Ds, he’s king of his country, a chieftain of his clan, spiritual adviser to the entire country… And he can also go toe to toe with the best of them."

Kent says there's a lot to the story that's revolutionary. The thriving African nation of Wakanda is a showcase of black and African excellence, and a rebuttal to toxic stereotypes and rhetoric about the continent. With the woman warriors of the Dora Milaje, Black Panther also subverts decades of colonialist, white male-centric comic book canon.

The ticket site Fandango reports that Black Panther had the biggest first-day ticket pre-sales of any Marvel movie ever. Black Panther opens on February 16.

A Month Before Its Release, 'Black Panther' Looks Like Marvel's Next Winner


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New York City Ballet at a Crossroads

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

After more than thirty years at the helm of New York City Ballet, Peter Martins, a choreographer and former star dancer, retired from the troupe in early January. His abrupt departure took place amidst an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of dancers during his tenure. Martins has denied the allegations, and the internal investigation continues. In his absence, the company has assigned four people, all former or current dancers, to lead the company during the transition — including the young choreographer and company-member, Justin Peck. The current season, which begins Jan. 23, takes place in the midst of this upheaval. The repertory is like a mirror of the company: several programs were created by its founding choreographer, George Balanchine, including masterworks like “Apollo,” “The Four Temperaments,” and “Divertimento No. 15.” frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/102650133?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="640"> Apollo Trailer from New York City Ballet on Vimeo. But reflecting the company’s commitment to new work, there will also be recent ballets by Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, and the very young choreographer Gianna Reisen whose “Composer’s Holiday” premiered when she was only 18 years old. There will also be a premiere on Feb. 1 by a member of the company, Peter Walker, entitled “Dance Odyssey.” And then finally, two weeks in the middle of the season will be devoted to Martins’ “Romeo + Juliet,” which has received mixed reviews since its creation in 2007.  So, the season will be an opportunity to reflect on Martins’ legacy both as a director and as a choreographer. Outside of the world of ballet, two intriguing companies will be visiting New York from abroad. Malpaso, an independently-run modern-dance ensemble from Cuba, will perform at the Joyce Theater from Jan. 17-21. Malpaso Dance Company in "Indomitable Waltz" by Aszure Barton. (Judy Ondrey/Joyce Theater) And Compagnie Hervé Koubi, based in France, but made up of dancers — all men — from Northern Africa, will perform Koubi’s mesmerizing 2013 work “What the Day Owes to the Night,” also at the Joyce from Jan. 30-Feb.4. Compagnie Hervé KOUBI performing "What The Day Owes To The Night." (Nathalie Sternalski/Joyce Theater)  [To hear the full interview, click on "Listen" above.] "New York City Ballet: Winter 2018" Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Broadway at West 60th St., New York  Jan. 23 through Mar. 4, 2018 "Malpaso Dance Company" Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., New York Jan. 17 through 21, 2018 "Compagnie Hervé KOUBI" Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., New York Jan. 30 through Feb. 4, 2018 [...]New York City Ballet at a Crossroads


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New Jersey's Biggest Growth Industry Under Christie? Tax Breaks.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:00:00 -0500

Gov. Phil Murphy arrived at his new job this week to an IOU from his predecessor: Chris Christie gave away $8.3 billion worth of future tax revenue to hundreds of businesses in New Jersey.  The centerpiece of Christie's economic policy was a generous tax incentive program that was intended to provide subsidies to companies if they moved their operations to New Jersey. But during his eight years as governor, Christie expanded that program to include businesses that were threatening to leave or wanted to move from one New Jersey town to another.  "A few years into his tenure, the governor decided to really blow the roof off of the state's corporate tax subsidy program," said Jon Whiten, vice-president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. "Any sort of spending cap was thrown out the window. They made programs more and more generous to corporations that were being asked to do less and less." Whiten says it didn't cost Christie much — because the bulk of the tax revenue wouldn't be affected until after he left office. Hundreds of companies participated in the program, which which will continue to cost the state money for decades. Lockheed Martin Corporation, Burlington Coat Factory, Honeywell International Inc., United Parcel Service, Panasonic and Prudential are just a few from a long list. In 2012, Christie batted away media concerns about the growing number of tax giveaways, and insisted that companies would deliver on their promises of new jobs because they’d lose their tax breaks if they didn’t. Christie told reporters that the tax breaks were important to people who lived in New Jersey. "Who's able to support their family, able to pay their mortgage, able to put food on the table. That’s the context in which it should be judged." It was at the same time that Christie launched the New Jersey Comeback. It was his signature issue in 2012 — a campaign to tout his success stabilizing the state’s economy after the 2009 recession. He ran TV ads, made appearances around the state and talked about the "New Jersey Comeback" in his state of the state address.    frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nNJojgVo_zU" width="560"> But the state had the second worst foreclosure numbers in the country and was lagging behind other northeast neighbors in job growth. So, inevitably, Christie was asked by reporters whether standing in front of a banner calling it the New Jersey comeback was a bit optimistic. "Remember what the sign said, Michael, 'The New Jersey comeback has begun.' It is not finished," he said.  For the most part, the business community is happy with Christie's record. Tom Bracken, president of the statewide Chamber of Commerce, says criticism of the tax incentives is unfair. "We would have been very un-competitive and we would have lost businesses to other states and wouldn’t have been able to attract business from other states," Bracken said. "We had no option." Bracken says Christie's economic policy included much more than just tax breaks. His lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, was an ambassador to small business people, helping them with red tape. Christie also vetoed more bills than any other governor, including those that were considered anti-business, such as a bill that would have raised the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is something Murphy has promised to do as governor. Murphy took office on Tuesday, promising to revive New Jersey’s economy with a focus on creating the kind of resources that attract 21st centu[...]


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Cuomo Seeks to Defund High-Profile Juvenile Justice Program

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:52:57 -0500

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration wants to pull funding for a juvenile justice program started in 2013 with great fanfare.  In the newly released 2019 budget proposal, state officials would zero out the $41 million that Albany has committed annually to “Close to Home.” The program places juveniles convicted of crimes in facilities in the city, instead of sending them outside the region.  Close to Home serves about 250 youths a year, but is poised to serve many more, following “Raise the Age” legislation that will transfer 16- and 17-year-olds out of the adult criminal justice system into the juvenile one. Starting later this year, these teens will no longer be detained on Riker’s Island or be sent to adult prisons.  Close to Home has had a bumpy start. There were hundreds of escapes the year it began. One 17-year-old got out of a Staten Island center and allegedly stabbed a Queens man to death. Then, in 2015, teens incarcerated at a Brooklyn facility escaped and sexually assaulted a woman in Chinatown. A 2016 audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office found that the Administration for Children’s Services, which manages the program, failed to adequately monitor facilities and the private non-profit organizations contracted to run them.  Nonetheless, outside experts say the program has started to show results. Residents “stay connected with their families and they are more likely to remain in local schools,” wrote Prof. Jeffrey Butts, from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center, in a 44-page report on Close to Home in 2015.  The city says the program is much improved and deserves state support.  “It would be unconscionable to cut funding to this program just as we are preparing to finally move 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system,” an ACS spokesman said. “Cutting funding to this program would harm young people, families, and communities, and we urge the state to reconsider."  Stephanie Gendell, from the Citizens Committee for Children, says the state typically pays for around half the costs of incarcerating youths.  “In other counties, it’s a shared responsibility between the county and the state,” she said. “New York City children should have the support of the state in the same way children of other counties do.”                                                                    A spokesman for the Cuomo administration said the state remains committed to Close to Home and expects it to continue with city funding. “It’s a bad budget year,” he said, with the state facing a budget deficit of more than $4 billion. Overall, Cuomo proposes increasing state spending on New York City by $233 million from fiscal 2018 to 2019 – about 1 percent of the proposed $16.5 billion allocation.  Cuomo and lawmakers will negotiate the budget in the coming months. By law, it must be passed by March 31. Cuomo Seeks to Defund High-Profile Juvenile Justice Program [...]


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Pre-K Dual Language Programs Will Double Next Year

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:49:42 -0500

New York City public schools will offer twice as many pre-kindergarten dual language programs starting this fall. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called the expansion a “personal mission.”

“It is important to understand that immigrants and people who speak a second language are an asset,” she said at P.S. 20, a school in the Lower East Side that will add a pre-k Spanish dual language program to its current pre-k Mandarin offering.

Fariña nodded her head to the beat as pre-k students sang a song and greeted one another in Mandarin. Afterward, she told reporters, “This is not just about a language, it’s also about a culture.”

Fariña said dual language programs are generally created in response to community demand. That’s why Bengali and Russian will be introduced next year; Mandarin, Spanish and Italian are already offered. Older students can enroll in programs for several other languages, including Urdu or Arabic.

For some parents, the dual language program is an opportunity for children to learn a language that isn’t spoken at home. For others, it’s about staying connected to family heritage.

“I have two older children and even though I’ve spoken to them in Spanish since birth, they’ve never really picked up the language,” said Cousette Rivera, whose kids are now 19, 14 and 5. “When I spoke to them in Spanish, they said, ‘Mommy, can you please say that in English? No one speaks Spanish in school.’ That was hurtful to me.”

Rivera enrolled her daughter Jera-Emma Rivera-Rodriguez, a kindergartner, in the Spanish dual language program at P.S. 20. Even just one year in, Rivera said Jera-Emma already speaks better Spanish better than her siblings. “I’ve seen her using more Spanish at home because of it,” Rivera said.

 

Pre-K Dual Language Programs Will Double Next Year


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Waterfront Commission Sues New Jersey Over Christie's Attempt to Dissolve It

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:40:00 -0500

The new governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, is starting his tenure with a lawsuit. A bi-state commission formed to combat corruption at the ports of New York and New Jersey is fighting an attempt by legislators to disband it.

On his last full day in office Monday, Governor Chris Christie signed an order withdrawing the state from The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The suit names Murphy, who was sworn in Tuesday. It says it's against federal law for one state to withdraw from a bi-state contract unilaterally.

The commission was established in the 1950's to oversee hiring and working conditions at the ports, and to battle the influence of organized crime.

It is funded by assessments on waterfront employers on the wages they pay to employees.

But critics say the commission is outdated and is slowing down business at one of the busiest ports in the nation. Legislators want New Jersey state troopers to oversee the seaport instead.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, a democrat who co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill to dissolve the commission, said it's keeping New Jersey beholden to New York. 

"We want a divorce," she told WNYC last December.

Quijano said legislators have reached out to governor Andrew Cuomo countless times in ordert to reach a deal that sets New Jersey free, but have never heard back.

"They're holding what I consider our most important economic engine hostage, and they haven't even had the courtesy of returning our phone calls and answering our letters," she said.

Cuomo's office did not return a request for comment.

 

 

Waterfront Commission Sues New Jersey Over Christie's Attempt to Dissolve It


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Shower Bus Could Help the Homeless in Brooklyn — in a Year

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:33:00 -0500

A non-profit in Brooklyn wants to create a shower bus. But even with a model, a design and funding in place it could take a year for the bus to be ready to hit the streets.

“The bureaucracy of our agencies have not fully understood the necessity on the street level,” said Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, who put up $308,000 for the project based on a detailed proposal from a non-profit, Turning Point Brooklyn.

The bus would hit spots where the homeless, runaway youth and migrant workers congregate. Turning Point says it served about 35 clients a day when it had an indoor shower, but they lost their lease at that location. 

Adams said he would ask the city to speed up the approval process. The city had no immediate comment.

Shower Bus Could Help the Homeless in Brooklyn — in a Year


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Immigration Activist Ravi Ragbir Will Fight Deportation Closer to Home

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:18:32 -0500

Immigration activist Ravi Ragbir won't have to spend the foreseeable future in a detention center in Florida, as he challenges the government's decision to detain and deport him. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agreed to move him to a detention center in the New York metropolitan area. Ragbir heads the New Sanctuary Coalition, a network of faith-based and community groups that work with immigrants and accompanies them to court appearances. He was detained last week during a check-in with immigration agents and sent to Florida the same day. The government plans to deport him to his native Trinidad because of a conviction for wire fraud almost 20 years ago.  But his lawyers are challenging his detention. ICE granted him several stays of deportation after he served time in prison and in an immigration detention center. His latest stay wasn't due to expire until Jan. 19. Late last week, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan ordered Ragbir to be kept in the New York area until his full court hearing challenging the detention at the end of January. The government originally fought that order during a court hearing on Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Waterman said of ICE, "I don't know for certain the reason why they did what they did" in detaining Ragbir before his stay expired. But he stated that ICE can revoke a stay at any time. Judge Forrest asked the government to consider bringing Ragbir back to New York because an appeal was likely no matter how she ruled. On Wednesday, Ragbir's attorneys announced that ICE agreed to move him to a local detention center. "The last five days have been a nightmare for me," said Ragbir's wife, Amy Gottlieb, in a statement about her husband. "When we learned he was taken to an immigration prison over a thousand miles away, I was both heartbroken and outraged. They never should have taken him away from his community in the first place, and I will not rest until he is free." Ragbir's attorney, Alina Das of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, told Judge Forrest on Tuesday, "It looks like they detained him at the check-in partially as a result of the outspoken work he has done." Another leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition, Jean Montrevil, was deported this week to his native Haiti. Thomas Decker, director of the New York Field Office of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, noted that Ragbir is a convicted felon who was found to be deportable.  As of Wednesday night, he said, "He is still in ICE custody in Miami and will be transported back to New York pending resolution of his court proceedings." ICE would not release any details or say which of the three New York area detention centers Ragbir would go to, citing privacy concerns. Ragbir is also seeking to vacate his original conviction for wire fraud. A federal judge in New Jersey last week ordered the government to keep him in the U.S. until a hearing can be held on January 25. Decker, at ICE, said the agency learned of this ruling while it was transporting him from New York to Miami for his deportation to Trinidad and Tobago. This story has been updated to include a comment from ICE. [...]Immigration Activist Ravi Ragbir Will Fight Deportation Closer to Home


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False Emergency Alerts: Could It Happen Here?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:54:48 -0500

Like radio and television before them, smartphones have become the technology of choice for governments to warn the public of dangerous situations. But after an emergency worker in Hawaii falsely warned the entire state that it was under attack by a ballistic missile, it's clear there a few kinks to work out.

New York City and state officials say they employ numerous safeguards that were not in use in Hawaii, when, during a routine test, the worker accidentally chose the wrong option from a drop-down menu on a computer screen. According to Ben Krakauer, an assistant commissioner at the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the city tests its system weekly on a separate computer program from the one that broadcasts the alerts.

But those are only internal tests. Rand Corporation security researcher Dan Gonzales, who studied the system when it first launched, says that without full-blown tests, officials might miss any issues in getting the alerts to the public.

"If a message were delayed by 20 minutes, the public would have much less time to react and seek shelter," Gonzales said.

On the other hand, New York City has had enough real-life alerts to make officials comfortable with how its system works, most recently, after the Chelsea Bombing in 2016. The city Office of Emergency Management sent out several alerts at that time, including one the NYPD requested to track down the suspect's name. Krakauer said the entire process from start to buzz took about 10 minutes.

"The on-duty public warning specialist took that information, distilled it into a 90 character-or-less message, sent it to NYPD for approval, received that approval, and then sent that message out to the public," Krakauer said.

False Emergency Alerts: Could It Happen Here?


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Area School Closures and Delays

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 07:14:40 -0500

Area schools are reporting delays and closures Wednesday due to upcoming weather.

The National Weather Service is reporting that 2 to 4 inches of snow are expected in the region.

A full listing of delayed and closed schools can be found here.




Got Rhymes? Give Us Your Best for New Governor Phil Murphy

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:54:42 -0500

Phil Murphy has been sworn in as New Jersey's new governor. We want to hear what advice you have for him as he starts his term. But here's the thing: We want you to do it in rhyme. Send us two rhyming lines of any length, with your best advice for Governor Murphy. You can tweet @WNYC or leave us a voicemail: 855-869-9692. And if we get enough good ones, we'll string them all together. Want to know what this looks/sounds like? WNYC's morning team took a few tweets from listeners about Murphy and turned them into rhymes: David wants tax incentives for film and TVto get people jobs and get Jersey on the small screen.Ashish says parking meters should be shirkedfor EZ pass, though I'm not totally clear how that works. Look at the Port Authority.Look at school funding equity.Jim says please pass medical weed!And Erin — man, she's got jokesShe says don't let your staff be cavalier with traffic cones. Shumita Basu Frankensteined listeners' responses together and read them aloud during the Brian Lehrer Show. Click here for the worst, New-Jersey-themed slam poetry you've ever heard: frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src="https://www.wnyc.org/widgets/ondemand_player/#file=https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20180117_murphy_montage.mp3&share=0" width="80%"> @WNYC NJ is excited from The North to Cape May, please don’t close state beaches on Independence Day! #adviceforphilmurphy — meg (@Yeaitsmeburkie) January 17, 2018 Hundreds of activists were already gathered outside the Federal Building to support Ragbir, having participated in a silent march that morning. That's when things got rowdy. Chanting "Ravi, Ravi," and "This is a sanctuary city," demonstrators followed his ambulance and some tried to block it while it was heading south on Broadway. Police pulled the protesters away and one was even hit by the ambulance. By the time the vehicle was passing City Hall, several people sat in the road and were arrested.  They included City Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez. One demonstrator, Jaime Bauer, insisted she wasn't blocking the ambulance but was on the side. City Councilman Corey Johnson came outside to monitor the situation. "There was no violence, I didn't see violence on behalf of the protesters," he stated. Sarah Sklaw, 26, a member of the New Sanctuary Coalition, said the protest was necessary to support immigrants. "We'll put our bodies as citizens on the line," she said. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement defended Ragbir's detention. "Over the last 12 years, Mr. Ragbir’s immigration case has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation’s judicial system, including both immigration courts and federal appeals courts," spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said in a statement. "In each review, the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Ragbir does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S. In an exercise of discretion, the agency had previously allowed him to remain free from custody with periodic check-ins, while his case was under court review. "He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the U.S. District Court. He will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad." The Trump administration has been arresting m[...]


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