Friday, December 30, 2016

Cuomo Pardons More Than 100 New Yorkers Convicted of Crimes at Ages 16 and 17

Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued the first conditional pardons to more than 100 New Yorkers who were convicted of a non-violent crime when they were minors, and who have since lived crime-free for 10 years or more. This marks the first round of executive youth pardons since the Governor announced this first-in-the-nation action in December 2015 and is the largest number of clemencies issued in any year since taking office in 2011.

"These New Yorkers have spent at least a decade proving their rehabilitation, but have been unable to fully reenter society due to the stigma of conviction and the barriers that come with it," said Governor Cuomo. "New York is a state of opportunity and today, we are granting these individuals and others a second chance to live up to their full potential, provide for their families and give back to their communities. With these actions, we have taken one more step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York for all."

By pardoning New Yorkers who committed crimes at a young age, the Governor is helping people who present little danger to the public while recognizing that those with an adult criminal record are often burdened with having a harder time to attain employment, get admitted to college, find housing, and become licensed in certain occupations. Pardons granted through this program are conditional, meaning that if a person defies the odds and is reconvicted, it will be withdrawn.
Any person eligible for this pardon is invited to apply through the Governor’s website, Each person will undergo a careful screening process and agency staff will make a recommendation to the Governor to grant a pardon if:

The person was 16 or 17 at the time they committed the crime for which they were convicted.

At least 10 years have passed since the person was either convicted of the crime, or released from a period of incarceration for that crime, if applicable.

The person has been conviction-free since that time.

The person was convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.

The person was not originally convicted of a sex offense.

The person is currently a New York State resident.

The person has paid taxes on any income.

The person is a productive member of his or her community, meaning that the individual is working, looking for work, in school or legitimately unable to work. 

Click here for the complete statement. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

A Look Inside the First Family's Residence

President Obama shares a look inside the First Family's home at the White House for the last 8 years.

Donald Trump's Presidency

Linda Feldman talked about her Christian Science Monitor story on President-elect Trump’s effect on the Republican and Democratic parties, his relationship with the new Congress, and his advisers and cabinet appointments.

Clip created by MyC-SPAN user CSPANCLASSROOM

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

The Legacy Of Medgar Evers

This video was uploaded to YouTube on January 20, 2009. 

As Barack Obama becomes the first African American U.S. president, CBS News' Harold Dow highlights the life of Medgar Evers, a black civil rights activist who was assassinated in the 1960s.

Source: CBS News

'Flashback Friday': The Atanta Child Murders

Trailblazers in Black History: Blanche K. Bruce

Blanche Kelso Bruce was a U.S. politician who represented Mississippi as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1875 to 1881; of mixed race, he was the first elected black senator to serve a full term. Hiram R. Revels, also of Mississippi, was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, but did not serve a full term.

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Here Were Some of the High Points of 2016

From Simone Biles impressing at the Olympics to Giant pandas making it off the endangered list, here's a wrap of some of the high points of 2016.

Celebrity Deaths in 2016: Some of the Many Famous Figures We Lost This Year

The world lost superstar musicians, stars of stage and screen, some of the greatest athletes of all time and larger-than-life political figures in 2016.

Here's a look at some of the many famous figures who passed away this year. 

Click here to read full obituaries. 

Breaking Barriers in 2016: A Year of Firsts Among African Americans

The first black U.S. president might be on the way out, but the year also saw several African American firsts in literature, entertainment, politics and sports.

For example, in 2016, the long-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. opened — a mecca housing artifacts and art chronicling the struggles and triumphs of blacks in the U.S.

NBCBLK presents a year of firsts.


Ava DuVernay
Ava Duvernay made history in 2012 as the first black woman to win the Best Director award at Sundance Film Festival and is making history again. This summer, it was announced that she will be the first African-American woman to lead a $100 million, live-action feature film "A Wrinkle in Time". 

Click here for the complete listing.

Cosby Wants Sexual Assault Trial Moved, Citing 'Monster' Headlines

Bill Cosby wants to move his sexual assault trial out of suburban Pennsylvania, arguing in court papers that "inflammatory" coverage of the case makes it impossible for him to find an impartial jury.

"Branded variously a monster, sociopath and sexual predator, everyone from the current District Attorney of Montgomery County to President Obama has publicly weighed in on the allegations against Mr. Cosby," his lawyers wrote in a Friday filing asking for a change of venue. 

Click here for summary.

Poloncarz Reports 21 Fatal Overdoes in Past 10 Days for Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says an investigation is underway into the possibility that a new synthetic opioid drug is hitting the streets and responsible for a recent spike in overdoses in the county. 

He says 21 people have died over the last 10 days from overdoses.

The Erie County Department of Health is conducting toxicology tests to see if that new synthetic opioid is causing the deaths. 

Click here for summary/video. 

Source: Time Warner Cable News (via The Empire Report) 

US Government Attacks Drudge Report?

By Cristina Silva

A tweet from conservative media icon Matt Drudge's verified Twitter account Thursday night appeared to accuse the government of interfering with his website,, just hours after the Barack Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia over election hacking.

"Is the US government attacking DRUDGE REPORT? Biggest DDoS since site's inception. VERY suspicious routing [and timing]," the tweet to Drudge's 457,000 followers read. There were no other tweets from the account at the time.

A large-scale distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, can cause major Internet disruptions. In the past, such attacks have shut down major websites such as Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Tumblr, and Reddit. The attack sends a server many illegitimate requests to make it hard for real requests to get through, effectively shutting down the site. 

Drudge Report was down briefly around 7 p.m. EST, but working hours later. The top headline read: "MOSCOW MOCKS OBAMA 'LAME DUCK'" Meanwhile, the conservative Washington Times wrote: "Matt Drudge suggests U.S. government cyberattack on Drudge Report website. DDoS attack comes same day Obama announced countermeasures against Russia for hacking of Democrats." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The International Business Times (via The Empire Report)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Global Press Freedom Has Taken An ‘Unbelievable’ Hit This Year

At least 53 journalists have been murdered in 2016 for doing their jobs. 

By Jesselyn Cook

Media freedom has undergone a “deep and disturbing” decline in several parts of the world and at the global level this year, according to a new release from Reporters Without Borders.

Thus far in 2016, 57 journalists have been killed in connection with their work, 187 remain imprisoned and 44 are currently being held hostage, according to the organization’s latest December tallies. These figures represent professional journalists only. When including media netizens and citizen reporters, the numbers of those slain, detained and held for ransom climb to at least 74, 348 and 52, respectively.

The freedom of information advocacy group, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières, ranks 180 countries’ levels of press freedom to produce an overall world evaluation. Between 2013 and the start of this year, the global score plummeted by 13.6 percent. Factors evaluated by the group ― all of which worsened during this period ― include media independence, transparency and censorship, among others. The final grade for 2016 has yet to be calculated and released, but the overall picture is grim. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

U.S. Unveils Plan to Punish Russians for Election Hack

The Obama administration has imposed sanctions against Russia's intelligence apparatus — including the expulsion of 35 diplomats — in retaliation for the alleged orchestration of hacking attacks designed to interfere in the presidential election.

The actions outlined Thursday afternoon also include:

Shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, "used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes."

Sanctions against the Russian intelligence services GRU and FSB, high-ranking officers of the GRU, and three companies that allegedly provided support to the GRU's cyber operations

"These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," President Obama said in a statement.

"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions." 

Click here for the full article.

Malcolm X: Police Brutality and Mainstream Media

Politico's 'Women Rule' Fourth Annual Summit


Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, and White House officials Lisa Monaco and Valerie Jarrett were among the speakers at Politico’s Women Rule Summit. 

The summit was originally broadcast on December 7. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Energy and Environmental Policy in Trump Administration

Journalists Elana Schor and Emily Holden talked about the records of the people President-elect Donald Trump selected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy and the Interior. They also discussed what will happen to Obama administration policies, such as the Clean Power Plan and drilling restrictions.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Border States and U.S. Immigration Policy

Journalist Julian Aguilar talked about how current and future immigration policy affects border states such as Texas. He also discussed the practicality of President-elect Trump’s campaign proposals.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Saving Our Youth: MRSC Youth Violence Prevention Programs

Youth violence is widespread in the United States. It is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. Violence can also affect the health of communities. It can increase health care costs, decrease property values, and disrupt social services.

Youth gangs are responsible for the majority of serious violence in the United States and commit a disproportionate share of offenses. In schools and neighborhoods where gangs are active, gangs create a climate of fear, and increase the amount of violence and criminal behavior. Preventing youth violence is a vital part of promoting the health and safety of youth and communities.

This page provides links to local, state and federal programs and publications that focus on solutions to problems of youth violence. Much of the research work on causes and solutions were done more than a decade ago. The principal focus of this page are current programs of the community, schools, and local governments. 

Click here for the full article.


Hollywood & Race: Blazing Saddles (1974)

Trailblazers in Black History: The Platters

The Platters are an American vocal group. They were one of the most successful vocal groups of the early rock and roll era. Their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre. 

The act went through several personnel changes, with the most successful incarnation comprising lead tenor Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi, Herb Reed, and Zola Taylor

The group had 40 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1955 and 1967, including four no. 1 hits. 

The Platters were one of the first African American groups to be accepted as a major chart group and were, for a period of time, the most successful vocal group in the world.

Additional information is available here.

Source: Wikipedia

Trump on Russia Sanctions: 'We Ought to Get on With Our Lives'

President-elect Donald Trump, asked about possible sanctions against Russia in the wake of alleged cyber-attacks during the presidential campaign, replied "I think we ought to get on with our lives."

"I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly, the whole you know age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on," Trump told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

"We have speed we have a lot of other things, but I'm not sure you have the security that you need," Trump said. He added that he has not spoken with senators who have called for sanctions. 

Click here for the full article.

Russia, Turkey Hail Syria Cease-Fire Deal, Peace Talks in Kazakhstan

Russia and the Syrian army said Thursday that a nation-wide cease-fire agreement has been reached with opposition rebels, forging a path towards peace talks.

Vladimir Putin said the truce, which excludes extremist groups such ISIS and al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra, is set to begin at midnight (5 p.m. ET) and will be guaranteed by Russia and Turkey.

He said peace talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition would be held in Kazakhstan, without specifying a date.

Syria's military said the cease-fire followed the "successes achieved by the armed forces," an apparent reference to the capture of rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo earlier this month. 

Click here for the full article.

New Video Shows Texas Police Officer Paralyzing A Man With One Shot

By Michael McLaughlin

Newly released video of a July police shooting that left a man paralyzed contradicts the Texas officers’ claims that he threatened them with a weapon, his lawyer said.

The dash-cam footage shows a Fort Worth officer shoot David Collie just seconds after the officer emerges from his car. At the same time, a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy is pointing a flashlight at Collie. 

The video was released Tuesday by Collie’s attorney Nate Washington. His 33-year-old client can no longer move his body below the waist.

Click here for the full article/video.

Source: The Huffington Post

For Families of Police Officers Who Died in 2016, 'Every Day is a Challenge'

Maplewood Troop Leader Petitions to Allow Transgender Cub Scout to Join Pack

Sikh NYPD Officers Can Wear Turbans, Beards Under New Rules


MIDTOWN — The NYPD has revised its rules to allow Sikh members of the department to wear their turbans and have beards up to one half inch long, Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced on Wednesday.

O'Neill made the announcement after a graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden, flanked by officers wearing navy blue turbans with NYPD badges affixed to them.

The policy change is part of an effort "to continue to make our department as diverse as possible," O'Neill said. "We're making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work for the greatest police department in the nation." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: (via The Empire Report)

NY Says Flu is Widespread in State, Orders Unvaccinated Health Workers to Wear Masks

By Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- State health officials have declared the flu to be widespread and prevalent in New York state.

The Department of Health said Wednesday that cases of the flu have been confirmed in 39 counties and in all five boroughs of New York City. Some 658 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported so far this flu season.

An average of 9,800 hospitalizations were reported in the last three flu seasons. 

Click here for summary.

Source: (via The Empire Report)

Timothy Cardinal Dolan Slated to Read Scripture, Lead Prayer at Donald Trump's Inauguration

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who took Donald Trump to task over his harsh anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, has agreed to speak at the President-elect’s inauguration next month.

Dolan, who — as leader of the New York Archdiocese — is the nation’s most prominent Catholic leader, was tapped to read from scripture and lead a prayer at the Jan. 20 ceremony.

“I am honored to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration, and look forward to asking Almighty God to inspire and guide our new President and to continue to bless our great Nation,” Dolan said in a statement. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Daily News (via The Empire Report)

Public Awareness Campaign Launched to Highlight Minimum Wage Increase

A new public awareness campaign has been launched in effort to remind New Yorkers that the first increase to the minimum wage will go into effect on December 31, 2016. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage.

The ads will run in both English and Spanish and be featured on television stations across the state. Minimum wage workers who do not receive their raise by December 31, 2016 should call 1-888-4-NYSDOL to report their employers.

The campaign marks the first benchmark of the phase-in schedule for the minimum wage increase, which will ultimately reach $15 an hour and impact more than 2 million workers in all industries across the state.

"No one who works full-time should be condemned to a life of poverty and that's why New York took action to raise the wage and provide the opportunity of a decent life to millions of hard working New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "As we reach this milestone for a more fair and a more just New York, we are reminding workers they are owed a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and this administration will work to ensure they receive the wage increase to which they are entitled." 

The two 30-second public service announcements remind New Yorkers that all minimum wage workers across the state will receive a raise on December 31, and educate them about the steps they should take if they do not receive their raises. The New York State Department of Labor has established a hotline (1-888-4-NYSDOL) where minimum wage workers can call to report any employers who do not comply with the phase-in schedule. 

More information is available at

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Hoosick Falls Kids Call for Constitutional Right to Clean Water

“At home we drink bottled water, we basically do all the stuff with bottled water” says 10-year-old Hoosick Falls resident, Ashlynn Sagendorf, more than a year after residents first learned they had been drinking water contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Environmental Advocates of New York and EffectiveNY released two online ads today featuring children affected by the water contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls that make the case for a state Constitutional amendment which would grant New Yorkers the long overdue right to healthy drinking water, clean air, and a safe climate.

In a 30-second testimonial named “Mikayla,” 14-year-old Hoosick Falls resident Mikayla Baker says, “I think one of the highest priorities of New York State should be to have a healthy environment. It’s ridiculous that we should even have to ask for the right of clean water and clean air.”

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “If the role of government is not to ensure the basics—that kids have water to drink and air to breathe that doesn’t make them sick—then the priorities are backwards. Kids like Mikayla and Ashlynn were drinking contaminated water most of their lives, and no one told their families. Since then, government has often covered for the polluters. It has become clear that for New York to be a true leader, we are going to need a Constitutional amendment to ensure the state proactively protects our air, water, and climate, and responds with full force when a crisis occurs.”

“Nobody makes a more eloquent case for the obvious need for New Yorkers to have a constitutional right to clean drinking water, fresh air, and a healthful environment than these two bright children, who are suffering the consequences of our state not currently have these essential rights enshrined in our Constitution,” said Bill Samuels, the founder of the good government group EffectiveNY.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing his 2017 priorities which are expected to be released in the first few weeks of 2017; a Constitutional right to clean water and air should be part of his agenda. If not, the responsibility lies with state legislators to take the lead on introduction. A Constitutional amendment must pass two successive Legislatures, as well as voter approval.

Both spots direct viewers to text ‘OurWater’ to 52886 or go to to sign a petition in support of the effort to amend the Constitution to include a new Environmental Bill of Rights. 
Source: Environmental Advocates of New York