Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cashless Tolling Begins on Rockaway Bridges

Cashless tolling will begin on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Bridges starting at 3 a.m. on Sunday, April 30th. Cashless tolling will reduce congestion and improve travel time at Rockaway’s major crossings ahead of the region’s summer travel season. Starting tomorrow, cash and metal tokens will no longer be accepted at either bridge and commuters with leftover bridge tokens are encouraged to transition to E-Z Pass and will be eligible to redeem their tokens for a refund. The Rockaway resident rebate program is unaffected by the switch to cashless tolling.

"Cashless tolling will reduce congestion, improve safety and streamline commutes on these vital arteries, providing much-needed relief to the Rockaway community and ensuring smooth travel during the summer season," Governor Cuomo said. "This is a critical milestone and a major component of our work to upgrade, improve and reimagine New York City’s crossings for the 21st century.”

Approximately 840,000 vehicles cross MTA bridges and tunnels each day. Cashless tolling, which is expected to be completed at each MTA crossing this year, is projected to save individual commuters up to 21 hours of drive time every year. Additionally, it reduces emissions affecting local communities and significantly decreases the amount of fuel burned by drivers, who will no longer have to stop and start waiting to pay tolls. This will conserve approximately one million gallons of fuel and save $2.3 million each year.

Open road tolling will be completed at all MTA bridges and tunnels by the end of this year. The schedule is as follows:
RFK Bridge – Summer 2017
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – Summer 2017
Throgs Neck Bridge – Fall 2017
Bronx-Whitestone Bridge – Fall 2017

The Rockaway Bridges join the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Hugh L. Carey and Queens Midtown Tunnels, where sensors and cameras suspended over the highway on structures known as "gantries" read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop and pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged, and vehicles without E-ZPass have their license plate recorded and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. E-ZPass tags should be mounted inside the vehicle’s front windshield.

Starting tomorrow, cash and metal tokens will no longer be accepted at either bridge and commuters with leftover bridge tokens are encouraged to transition to E-Z Pass and will be eligible to redeem their tokens for a refund. Leftover tokens may be easily redeemed by visiting one of the E-ZPass New York Customer Service Center walk-in centers and completing a token redemption request, or by calling 212-360-3000, selecting option 6 and requesting a token refund kit. Resident token users will be mailed information from MTA Bridges and Tunnels with instructions on how to transition from tokens to E-ZPass. Non-resident token users can go to to get more information on opening an E-ZPass account.  Electronic tokens or E-Token E-ZPass plans will also be available starting today.

Veronique Hakim, MTA Interim Executive Director, said, “There is no better way to welcome people to the Rockaways at the start of summer tourism season than to make it easier to get there with cashless toiling. Commuters will be able to breeze through gantries and get where they want to go instead of waiting in traffic at toll booths. Governor's Cuomo's directive to accelerate the schedule to get this work done benefits everyone and couldn't come at a more perfect time."

To make it easy for drivers to pay their tolls, MTA Bridges and Tunnels has introduced a number of programs.  Customers can sign up for E-ZPass and save 30-50 percent on MTA B&T tolls at even if they do not own a car.  Drivers who receive a Tolls by Mail bill can pay it online at the Tolls by Mail website; by mail; over the phone; or in-person, and payment options include check, credit card, checking account, or cash. Customers who call **826 from a mobile phone will receive a text with a link to the Tolls by Mail website and information on how to set up a Pay Toll Now account that can be used by rental car customers.

To ensure that all users of MTA Bridges and Tunnels toll facilities pay their fair share, a series of enforcement measures are in place to tackle toll payment evasion and chronic toll scofflaws. Customers who do not pay their tolls are subject to violation fees, registration suspensions, and other enforcement actions. Late fees accrue if an initial toll bill is unpaid, and if a second notice is also ignored, violation fees of up to $100 per toll violation may be imposed.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has enacted regulation that allows suspension of the vehicle registration of motorists who fail to pay three tolls, violation fees, and other charges resulting from violations on different days, within a period of five years, and ignore toll authorities' repeated notices.

For additional information on cashless tolling and E-ZPass, please visit or call 1-800-333-TOLL (8655).​

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Friday, April 28, 2017

President Trump's Weekly Address

President Trump Gives Remarks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum (Full Video)

This video was published on YouTube on April 28, 2017.

Vice President Pence Participates in a Swearing-In Ceremony for Alex Acosta as Secretary of Labor

This video was published on YouTube on April 28, 2017.

President Trump Gives Remarks and Signs an Executive Order on Whistleblower Protection

This video was published on YouTube on April 27, 2017.

'Flashback Friday': The L.A. Riots - President Bush’s Reaction

Published on YouTube on October 19, 2015.

On Friday, May 1, 1992, President George H.W. Bush gave a live address to the nation in response to the violence in L.A. that followed the acquittal of the four police officers who beat Rodney King and it is presented here in its entirety. He expresses outrage at the violence and terror of the previous two days and vows to restore order.

Trailblazers in Black History: Peter Westbrook

Published on YouTube on September 28, 2016. 

When Peter Westbrook became the first black man to win an Olympic medal in fencing in the 80s, he vowed to put his win and stature to good use. After later establishing the Peter Westbrook Foundation, he's done just that. Through his initiative he trains black inner city youth to honor the sport and use it as a means of expression beyond its physical requirements. His trainees include accomplished black fencers such as Nzingha Prescod, Keeth and Erin Smart, and Ibtihaj Muhammad who recently won bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Source: cunytv75

Congressional Black Caucus to Highlight Trump Admin’s Racial Problems With #StayWoke Campaign

As President Trump approaches his 100th day in office, the Congressional Black Caucus is asking the country to "stay woke."

In a list provided exclusively to NBC News, the caucus has detailed 100 racially problematic actions and remarks by the Trump administration.

Using "#StayWoke," the internet-popular phrase that is an urge to remain well-informed and politically and socially conscious, the caucus is specifically trying to get the message out to the younger generation.

"We don't want people to get distracted by all of the action and noise and want them to stay focused on the facts," said CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana. "And the facts are this administration is dangerous to America and here are the reasons why and this is just 100 days. Think, we have hundreds and hundreds of days left."

In fact, there are 1,363 days left. 

Click here for the full article. 

Trump Must Make Good on His Promises to HBCUs

An NBC News OpEd

We are mere hours from the end of the first 100 days of Donald Trump's administration, which has proven to be an administration marred by xenophobia, assaults on the female reproductive system, and the confirmation of an attorney general with a history of voter discrimination and voter suppression.

And, perhaps one of the most jarring sentiments is the blatant attempt to discredit or erase the importance, history and impact of historically black institutions of higher learning in this country.

Following Trump's Secretary of Education pick Betsy DeVos calling HBCUs "pioneers" of "school choice," negating the history of institutional racisms, Jim Crow laws, bigotry and hatred that barred black students from attending Predominately White Institutions (PWIs), we are left wondering: will this administration continue to erase and demean blackness?

Click here for the full article. 

President Trump's First 100 Days By the Numbers

Jeff Sessions on Michael Flynn, Trump’s New interview, WikiLeaks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells TODAY he would “expect not to be involved” in the potential prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Regarding President Trump’s remark in a new interview that being president is harder than he anticipated, he says that Trump is “prepared,” but as a former businessman, may find the minutiae of Washington a “frustration.” 

Click here for video. 

Source: TODAY

Trump to NRA: ‘8-Year Assault’ on 2nd Amendment ‘Has Come to a Crashing End’

During an address to the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum, President Trump assured gun owners that they “have a true friend and champion in the White House."

House and Senate Pass Short-Term Funding Bill, Avoid Government Shutdown

Tillerson Urges UN to Act Before North Korea Does

Violence Erupts as Nationalists Storm Macedonian Parliament

By Alexander Smith

Dozens of nationalists stormed the parliament building in the capital Skopje and attacked opposition lawmakers.

The protesters were mainly supporters of Macedonia's dominant conservative party, according to Reuters and other journalists on the ground. Some of them wore balaclavas and sported the country's national flag, a yellow sun on a red field.

The scenes inside the young country's legislature resembled nothing short of a riot. Large crowds also gathered outside the building.

At least 100 people were injured including 22 police officers, according to The Associated Press. Among those wounded were Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev, who was filmed with blood streaming down his face and onto his shirt, as well as the head of a small ethnic-Albanian opposition party. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Zinedine Zidane Calls on Voters to Avoid Le Pen

Source: euronews (in English)

UK PM May Meets Japan's Abe to Discuss Brexit Fallout

Source: euronews (in English)

Insiders: The Fight Against Radicalisation in France

Source: euronews (in English)

Italy Helps Dismantle Berlin-Based Terror Cell Linked to Market Attacker

Source: euronews (in English)

Security Tight at 30th ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

Source: euronews (in English)

Germany Approves Partial Burqa Ban

Source: euronews (in English)

Tribeca Film Festival Announces Winners of Juried Competition

The winners of the 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival's juried competition have been revealed.

Awards were distributed in the following feature film competition categories: U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Documentary, New Narrative Director, The Albert Maysles New Documentary Director, and the Nora Ephron Prize, honoring a woman writer or director. Awards were also given in the short film categories: Narrative, Documentary, Student Visionary and Animation.

Screenings of the award–winning films will take place throughout the final day of the festival: Sunday, April 30, at various venues. Specific times and ticketing information are available at

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 4 NY

Thousands of New Organ Donors Enrolled Through NY State of Health Marketplace

In just one week, 6,326 New Yorkers have consented to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry via NY State of Health, New York's official health plan marketplace, as of April 27. Governor Cuomo announced this new registration option last week on Donate Life's Blue & Green Day, aimed at increasing organ donor registration across the country.

"People across New York have answered the call and made the selfless decision to become organ donors," Governor Cuomo said. "As National Donate Life Month comes to a close, I thank those who have signed up to potentially save lives and encourage those who have not yet done so to register today."

Governor Cuomo signed legislation last year requiring NY State of Health to add the organ donation component to its health insurance application. Individuals 16 years of age or older who are completing an application, renewing a plan, or making a life status change are now asked if they would like to be added to the NYS Donate Life Registry.

According to the federal Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, nearly 10,000 New Yorker are included on a list of more than 118,000 people nationwide currently waiting for an organ transplant. On average, 22 people die each day in the United States from causes that could have been treated with a donated organ. In addition, tissue donated by one person can positively impact the lives of more than 50 other people. 

In addition to registering through NY State of Health, New Yorkers can now enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry through the following:

At the NYS Department of Health website–

When applying for or renewing their drivers’ license and at the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles website – 

At the NYS Board of Elections website - 

When applying for a New York City Identification Card –

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "We’ve made it easier than ever for New Yorkers to show their care and generosity by offering the gift of life. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership millions of New Yorkers who purchase insurance through NY State of Health can now say “yes” to one of the most important decision of their lives, or someone else’s."

DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, "Governor Cuomo’s commitment to raising awareness about organ donation has led to thousands of new potential donors enrolling through the NY State of Health Marketplace. We salute New Yorkers who have chosen to give the gift of life and are proud to partner with the Governor and the Health Department to increase organ donations across New York."

Aisha Tator, Executive Director of the New York Alliance for Donation said, "Numerous surveys have been conducted showing that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the concept of organ and tissue donation. We know from past efforts that in regards to organ and tissue donation, the more opportunities New Yorkers have to join the registry, the more who actually take action and register. The key is making the opportunities to register as an organ and tissue donor plentiful and simple. I commend the Governor, New York State Legislature, and New York State Department of Health for taking yet another bold step and making a difference in the lives of the nearly 10,000 New Yorkers currently awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant."

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Funeral Service for Firefighter William N. Tolley (Full Coverage)

Source: New York City Fire Department (FDNY)

Update on Mumia Abu Jamal's Health and Case

Mumia Abu Jamal and his brother, Keith Cook
Click on the photos to increase their size.)  

The following was submitted by Noelle Hanrahan, Director of Prison Radio.

Where is Mumia?  Concern was heightened last night when word came from the prison that Mumia had asked someone to call out and tell people he was being moved. Given the animosity of the administration and guards, and the recent deaths in custody, Mumia was worried and his family was worried regarding this abrupt transfer.  It turns out that Mumia was moved to the infirmary and not told why. Today, the prison said it was in preparation for an outside medical appointment this morning, and in fact Mumia went to the hospital at 6 a.m. and was returned to the prison at 11:45 a.m.

He was immediately brought to the visiting room to visit with Keith Cook, Mumia’s brother, and Dr. Suzanne Ross. They came out of the prison at 4 p.m.  For now, two weeks into his Hep C treatment, Mumia is on the road to recovering his health.  Keith told us that Mumia  wants to make sure you know that he “Thanks you and he loves everyone, and he knows how powerful the movement is, that stands behind him. And that the prison knows that people have his back, and that is very important”.

Dateline: Philadelphia, Monday, 4-24-2017 

For Mumia Abu-Jamal to get out of prison his criminal conviction needs to be challenged and overturned. The newest chapter in this struggle took place in the Common Pleas Courts of Philadelphia before Judge Leon Tucker.

Christina Swarns

On April 24, 2017 in room 805 Christina Swarns of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter of Widner appeared before the court to argue that a new Supreme Court ruling required the reinstatement of Mumia’s appellate rights. On the other side Ronald Eisenberg, Deputy DA argued for the Commonwealth.

This potential reopening of Mumia’s appeals began when the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the former Philadelphia DA and PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille’s practice of sitting in judgement on his own cases; the cases where he was a prosecutor and DA.  In Williams v. the Commonwealth the Supreme Court ordered a new trial because Castille was obligated in the interest of justice and fairness to recuse himself from these appeals.

 After Mumia's Philadelphia Court Hearing, April 24 

Swarns put on the record that the DA’s office had lied to the court regarding the “lack of involvement” of Castille in similar cases, and was rebuked by the U.S. Supreme court because of it. Notably, the judge asked the DA Eisenberg, that if the time bar and the retroactivity claim were met, would Mumia Abu-Jamal be entitled to relief.  Eisenberg agree, saying yes, Mumia’s appellate rights would be reinstated. There is no doubt that the district attorney’s office will appeal to PA Superior Court and the PA Supreme Court if discovery on this issue is granted.

Photo credit: Joe Piette

President Trump Meets with President Macri of Argentina

White House Press Briefing

The Black Church and Civil Rights

This video was published on YouTube on August 10, 2015.

Source: Ryan Reeves

Dr. Boyce Watkins: Black Keys to Greatness (Don't Fear Failure)

This video was published YouTube on April 24, 2017. 

The Dr Boyce Watkins Channel is an all-black news and commentary channel that features a number of African American thinkers, commentators and speakers. The views of each video are not necessarily representative of those of Dr Boyce Watkins himself. 

Source: Boyce Watkins

Saving Our Youth: Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T)

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is an evidence-based and effective gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The Program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.

The G.R.E.A.T. Program is built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula.  It provides a continuum of components for children and their families.  These components include a 13-lesson middle school curriculum, a 6-lesson elementary school curriculum, a summer component, and a families component.

Click here for additional information. 


Trailblazers in Black History: WERD Radio

WERD Atlanta was the first radio station owned and operated by African-Americans.

WDIA in Memphis was on the air in 1948 doing Black—or Negro as it was then called—programming, but the owners were not African American). Jesse B. Blayton Sr., an accountant, bank president, and Atlanta University professor, purchased WERD in 1949 for $50,000. He changed the station format to "Black appeal" and hired his son Jesse Jr. as station manager."Jockey" Jack Gibson was hired and by 1951 he was the most popular DJ in Atlanta.

Additional information is available here

In this video, which was published on YouTube on October 20, 2015, Executive Director, David Williams, gives us some history of the historic WERD radio station in Atlanta, GA. The first Black-owned Radio Station, established in 1949, It was also a hair salon owned by Madam C.J. Walker. 

Source: Wikipedia and Dani Rodgers

Democratic Latino, Black, Asian American Legislators Vow to Fight ‘Together’ Against Trump

Latino, African American and Asian American Democratic members of Congress said on Wednesday they plan to "fight together" against Trump administration policies that impact their communities.

The chairs of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) — collectively known as the Tri-Caucus — met Wednesday on Capitol Hill with the five Democratic senators of color as part of a strategy to bring Democratic minority legislators together as a bloc. They said this was an effective way to push back against any Trump administration policies or GOP proposals they consider detrimental to the Asian American, Black, and Hispanic communities.

Trump Administration Warns Congress About North Korea Threat

Overnight, the North Korean regime threatened to wipe out the U.S. and South Korea if either shows the slightest provocation. And information is emerging about what was said during a rare White House briefing on North Korea for the entire Senate. NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker reports for TODAY.

Click here for video.

Trump Now Says US Won’t Pull Out of NAFTA After All

President Trump now says he will not immediately pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, even though earlier in the day, his advisers said he was considering it. Meanwhile, many question how the White House will pay for may be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history. NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander reports for TODAY.

Click here for video.

Weaponized Drones: Connecticut Bill Would Allow Police to Use Lethal Force From Above

Imagine this scenario: A terror suspect is holding hostages in a public space. A police-operated drone with a camera swoops in to assess the situation and determines he is armed and dangerous.

The man is coaxed to surrender by a SWAT team, but his posturing suggests he is about to shoot. As a final resort, the drone — toting a firearm — hits the suspect. He is neutralized.

The way some lawmakers in Connecticut see it, weaponized drones represent a future for policing — and could be a necessary option in moments when lives are at stake. That's why a bill making its way through the state legislature would be the first in the nation to explicitly allow police to add lethal weapons to drones. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

Cummings Releases Documents Showing Flynn Inaction on Russia Payment

Palestine Shuts Up Shop to Support Hunger-Striking Prisoners

Source: euronews (in English)

Britain Welcomes Brexit Negotiators Ahead of Key EU Summit

Source: euronews (in English)

Venezuela to Quit Organisation of American States as Protests Continue

Source: euronews (in English)

Sanctions and Diplomacy at Centre of US Strategy on North Korea

Source: euronews (in English)

Press Freedom Near 'Tipping Point' in Leading Democracies - RSF

Source: euronews (in English)

French Police Protest Over "Lack of Recognition"

Source: euronews (in English)

Spanish and Romanian Taxi Firms Rally Against Uber and Cabify

Source: euronews (in English)

NYS Senate Resolution Honoring New York State Trooper Timothy P. Pratt

Source: NYSenate

Senator Hamilton: 'Homes Not Shelters'

Source: NYSenate

Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks at the National Action Network 'Keepers of the Dream' Reception

Source: NYGovCuomo

FPWA CEO Responds to Mayor de Blasio’s FY18 Executive Budget

New York, NY - FPWA commends New York City Mayor de Blasio for once again presenting an Executive Budget for the coming fiscal year that has the real potential of improving opportunity for individuals, children and families.  Funding to increase wages for City-contracted low-wage workers, Pre-K seats, supports for youth through afterschool programs and summer youth employment, and funding for legal services for the City’s immigrant and undocumented residents all demonstrate a continued commitment to moving New York City forward.

If we are to truly be a city of equity and opportunity for all, however, the City must also invest in older adults, and in the human services sector that cares for them and for all New Yorkers in need. Despite mounting waitlists for services for the city's fastest growing population, the Department for the Aging's budget continues to stagnate with no plan to address rapidly increasing needs. We urge the administration and the City Council to prioritize funding for supportive services for the aging in the adopted budget with an investment of $60.6 million in FY18 to baseline core services, meet current needs, and begin to plan and build out a strong safety net for older New Yorkers.

Decades' old underfunding of the human services sector, upon which the City relies for mandated and other services like child care and UPK, homeless services, youth services, and senior services, remains a serious and time-sensitive issue. The Executive Budget does include a 2% cost of living adjustment over three consecutive years for non-profit, City-contracted staff, but the City must also invest in the infrastructure of the sector and pay the full cost of delivering services before these and organizations are forced to turn back contracts and even close their doors.  FPWA appreciates the City's efforts to address this critical need, and the opportunity to partner with the City in doing so.

We join with other advocates in calling upon Mayor de Blasio to provide reduced fares for public transportation for low income New Yorkers for whom a subway or bus ride at full fare sometimes means missing a meal.  We urge Mayor de Blasio to include funding for half-priced MetroCards in the City’s budget, beginning FY18.

Preserving New York City’s status as a leader and model of progressiveness requires that the final budget include these critical supports.  We look forward to continue working with the administration to strengthen our vital safety net and move us closer to being a City of equal opportunity for all. – Jennifer Jones Austin, FPWA CEO and Executive Director   

Source: FPWA

Can’t Pay Your Tax Debt in Full? Take Advantage of Convenient Payment Options

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today reminded taxpayers unable to pay their tax debt in full to consider requesting an Installment Payment Agreement (IPA).

“We want to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to pay what they owe,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “We’ll work with taxpayers to find a convenient payment solution, one beneficial to them and New York State.” 

The Tax Department understands that circumstances can arise that prevent individuals and businesses from paying in full or on time. That’s why it offers opportunities to make a simple one-time payment online or arrange a payment plan.

Taxpayers who can’t pay their tax debt in full can request an IPA. Since the beginning of 2017, more than 19,000 taxpayers have taken advantage of this option, paying back a total of more than $94.2 million in tax debt.

Individuals also have a new option—Quick Pay—that allows them to pay a bill or tax debt directly from their bank accounts. The app can be accessed from home computers as well as a smartphone or mobile device.

In addition, taxpayers can use Tax Department Online Services accounts to make payments from their bank account or via credit card, check balances, respond to notices, update their information and more. Visit to set up an account or log in to an existing account. 

Source: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance