Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Song for Defense Secretary James Mattis.....and Everyone That Bounced from the Trump Administration

House Passes Bill with Border Wall Spending

Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Making Lynching a Federal Crime

By Mihir Zaveri

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would, for the first time, explicitly make lynching a federal crime.

“For over a century, members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is: a bias-motivated act of terror,” Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “Today, we have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history.”

More than 4,700 people, the vast majority of them black, were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, according to the N.A.A.C.P. Perpetrators were rarely prosecuted. Congress has tried and failed some 200 times to pass similar anti-lynching legislation since 1882, according to the bill.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Times 

Defense Secretary Mattis Resigns, Citing Differences Over the Role of Alliances

(Bonus Report)

NAACP Launches Boycott of Facebook: Platform Is Unhealthy for African Americans & U.S. Democracy

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee

PBS NewsHour: Nielson testifies before House Judiciary Committee and is expected to address immigrant child's death in U.S. custody.

Senator Lindsey Graham Holds Press Conference

CBS News: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) will hold a press conference today on the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Holds News Briefing

GOP Moves to Protect Trump from Primary Challengers in 2020

U.S. Firm Imported Sportswear Made in Chinese Internment Camp, AP Investigation Finds

House to Vote on Temporary Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

Khashoggi vs Skripal: Was the Western Response a Double Standard?

Erdogan, Rouhani Speak in Ankara After US Announces Syria Pullout

Senators Slam Trump's Syria Decision

Sudan Protesters Torch Ruling Party HQ Over Rising Prices

Mexico: American Dream Over for Many Migrants

UK Outlines Post-Brexit Immigration Plan

Opposition Boycotts Togo Parliamentary Elections Ahead of Polling

DR Congo Elections: Sunday Voting May Get Delayed

Yemeni Mother Arrives in US to Visit Dying Son

Rod Rosenstein, Christopher Wray Announce China-Related National Security Action

The War Against Amazon Is Here

By Dave Colon

Almost immediately after Amazon announced on November 13 that it would build a new corporate campus in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, critics of the company—and of the multibillion dollar package that helped woo Jeff Bezos to the neighborhood—loudly began making themselves themselves heard.

The anti-Amazon contingent is a combination of longtime anti-gentrification activists, organizers fresh off a campaign season that remade state politics, and elected officials embracing the city’s emerging left, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And while the options to stop the up to $3 billion in incentives Amazon could wind up collecting are limited, the forces opposed to the deal have been working nonstop to convince the public that not only does New York not need to give incentives to Amazon, but that the city doesn’t need Amazon at all.

While Governor Andrew “Amazon” Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Amazon itself have relied on their power and the promise of 25,000 jobs, organizers have hit the streets, going door to door to rally opposition against the subsidies and connect Amazon’s looming presence to issues such as the affordable housing crisis, New York’s sanctuary city status, and the city’s crumbling infrastructure—whether it’s the subways or the chronically underfunded public housing system.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Splinter (via Empire Report New York) 

Spectrum Refund: When Can Customers Expect Their $75-$150?

By Rick Moriarty 

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Nearly 900,000 Spectrum internet customers in New York can expect refunds of up to $150 under the giant cable company’s consumer fraud settlement with the state’s Attorney General’s Office. But when?

Under the settlement, Charter Communications, which does business as Spectrum, is required to issue $62.5 million in refunds within 120 days. Those refunds consist of $75 to each of more than 700,000 active subscribers who leased modems or Wi-Fi routers unable to deliver the internet speeds promised by the company.

Anyone subscribing to a Time Warner Cable legacy speed plan of 100 Mbps or higher are also eligible for the $75 refund.

In addition, Charter is required to award an additional $75 refund to each of more than 150,000 subscribers who had an inadequate modem for 24 months or longer.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: (via Empire Report New York) 

14 Percent of the Nation's Homeless Population Are in New York City

By Kristin Toussaint

The number of people experiencing homelessness in New York City has been growing, according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report for 2018, released this week, found that on a single night in Jan. 2018, a total of 552,830 people experienced homelessness across the country. New York City accounted for 78,676 of those people, or just over 14 percent of the nation’s homeless.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Metro (via Empire Report New York) 

Leaving New York: Population Loss Steepest in U.S.

Click here for details. 

Source: WGRZ (via Empire Report New York)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Law Enforcement Accreditation in America: An In-Depth Analysis

Investigation Reveals the NYPD and Many Police
Departments Are Operating as Non-Accredited Entities

A 'From The G-Man' Exclusive

By Gary Glennell Toms 

In the From The G-Man report The Death of Andrew Kearse and the 'Special Relationship' Doctrine, the actions and practices of the Schenectady Police Department were examined after Kearse was taken into custody and died in route to the police station. Kearse's family and their attorney contend the department, namely Officer Mark Weekes, ignored Kearse's pleas for help during a medical distress event, which was captured on the vehicle's surveillance system. Ultimately, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Weekes.

A portion of the aforementioned report stated the following:

On October 21, News10 (ABC) reported...."Attorney General Barbara Underwood released a statement saying, “regardless of the grand jury’s decision, Mr. Kearse’s Death was a tragedy that never should have happened.” The report also noted that Underwood urged the New York State legislature to enact a statewide policy to treat breathing problems as a medical emergency and that the Schenectady Police Department should also take steps to become an accredited law enforcement agency.

From The G-Man asked a federal law enforcement agent to interpret AG Underwood's request that the Schenectady Police Department take steps to become an accredited law enforcement agency. Under the condition of anonymity, he stated, "If that request was made, it means the department isn't operating as a full-fledged police department. In other words, the officers lack the training necessary to be considered a duly-recognized police department. Basically, again, according to the attorney general's recommendation, the Schenectady Police Department is the equivalent of a volunteer police force."

The report also included a link to a New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services listing of all accredited law enforcement agencies, from Albany to Yorktown. After reviewing the list a second time, approximately two weeks after the exclusive on the special relationship doctrine was published, From The G-Man discovered the New York Police Department (NYPD) was not on the list. The site then contacted Hilary McGrath, the
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services's Law Enforcement Accreditation Program Manager. When asked if the New York Police Department is an accredited law enforcement agency, McGrath firmly stated, "No. They are not. It's done on a volunteer basis. We offer the training that allows them to become accredited, but they haven't applied." McGrath was also asked if she had any idea why the NYPD has not taken steps to become accredited. "I have no answer. That's something you'll have to ask the NYPD," she added.

Shortly after speaking with McGrath, the NYPD was contacted in effort to have an official or spokesperson explain why the largest and most renowned police department in the country had not obtained state or national accreditation. The call was forwarded to five different offices, but no one was able to answer the question when posed. An email was submitted to the offices of Police Commissioner James O'Neill and the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) soon after, but they did not respond to the query.

Additionally, From The G-Man located a 2006 article on the City of New York's website that indicated the New York Police Academy had obtained accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., also known as CALEA. A call was placed to the organization to find out if the academy still held its accreditation status, and a representative confirmed that its status was still active and that the NYPD was not listed in CALEA's database as an accredited law enforcement agency.

In order to obtain a better understanding of law enforcement accreditation, its significance, and why the NYPD and many other police departments, nationwide, choose to operate as non-accredited entities, From The G-Man submitted several questions to Paul MacMillan, CALEA's Northeast Regional Program Manager. MacMillan served as Chief of Police for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police Department, from December 2008 until his retirement in 2014, and holds a Master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Western New England College.

Paul MacMillan

FTG: For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with the term, what exactly is an accredited law enforcement agency?

MacMillan: A CALEA Accredited law enforcement agency is one that has developed policies, procedures and practices that comply with the requisite number of standards within the CALEA® Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies Manual, which is a product promulgated by a 21-member board of commissioners. The standards cover a wide range of operational and administrative subjects and are considered by many to be “best practices” within the respective field. Accredited agencies are required to remain in compliance with these standards and they must demonstrate compliance during annual remote reviews and site-based reviews occurring every four years. They also are presented to Commission Review Committees as candidate agencies and the process must include public feedback, as well as interviews of other professionals impacted by the agency’s service delivery strategies.

FTG: What are the benefits of obtaining accreditation?

MacMillan: An accredited agency develops processes for internal review of policies and procedures, and they use data to help make the best possible management decisions. They are required to ensure the service delivery model takes into consideration community needs, resource management, ethics and business principles, accountability and stewardship, and responsibility to the organization’s oath to the public.

Accreditation includes a review from an external entity that has no interest in the organization, and therefore provides unbiased reviews of service strategies and internal control procedures. It requires the agency and its leadership to be transparent and willing to receive both positive and negative feedback, while also maintaining protocols that allow for the proper administration of justice and services.

Accredited agencies have strong community policing philosophies and generally develop a culture of accountability to employees, citizens, other public service organizations. They take into consideration the importance of partnerships and are open to change for the purpose of accomplishing key objectives.

The concept of accreditation supports progressiveness and at the same time institutionalizes important activities that promote accountability. This includes the collection and preservation of data, the use of data in rendering business decisions, and using contemporary strategies to resolve historic or reoccurring public safety problems.

An important concept in accreditation, is “what gets measured gets done”. Because CALEA assesses agencies on an ongoing basis, activities that may otherwise seem tertiary responsibilities are completed regularly. This ensures organizational integrity is maintained and accountability with public resources remains paramount, thereby promoting good stewardship.

FTG: When examining the impact of accreditation on law enforcement agencies, does the data indicate if there are more positives than negatives... or is it inconclusive?

MacMillan: Much of the research, which is limited, in the field of public safety regarding accreditation is clearly driven by the perspective of the researcher. In short, there are some that believe an agency can accomplish the same results without accreditation, while others use the model as a strong management component to ensure they meet their obligations to the community. General reviews of those participating in the process show that when data is collected through the accreditation process there are initial spikes in things like “citizen complaints”. However, these quickly adjust and become more consistent from year to year. From the perspective of CALEA, it is postulated this is indicative of agencies becoming more receptive to addressing key community concerns and establishing processes that are receptive to these ideas. Then, the culture of the organization changes and employees become more aware of their responsibilities, and leadership creates stronger accountability measures. These are positive attributes from accreditation and actually serve to document professional enhancements; however, they are sometimes used to show accreditation does not improve agencies. Again, this can be interpreted differently. However, it is difficult to argue against processes that require critical business practices to be applied perpetually with ongoing reviews of employee actions with regard to established policies that are linked to community priorities.

FTG: Accreditation of law enforcement agencies is done strictly on a volunteer basis. In stark contrast, the hospitals of America must be accredited. Why doesn't the same standard apply to police departments?

MacMillan: CALEA has been asked about this over the years by those serving in legislative capacities and it is the opinion of the organization that voluntary engagement in accreditation creates stronger integrity regarding standards compliance and the use of the standards for agency professional enhancements. To that end, if the process of law enforcement accreditation were to become a mandate, then the model shifts from a tool used by leaders and practitioners for improving the delivery of services and public accountability, to a regulatory strategy that simply serves to control activities of those working in the industry.

CALEA Accreditation requires and encourages the use of creativity in the development of public safety solutions, and it promotes progressiveness. It recognizes variance in needs of communities and does not attempt to tell agencies “how” to achieve desired outcomes; however, it does identify the areas of responsibility and the establishment of goals and objectives. This allows the model to be very portable with regard to geography, organizational function, and many other attributes that impact service delivery models.

Additionally, once programs like accreditation become regulatory in nature, they are more subject to intervention from those with specific agendas. CALEA has remained separated from this concern because it is not affiliated with any governmental or non-governmental agency. We do not directly receive grant funding and our primary charge is to review agencies against the established standards, and the standards are developed through independent research and the subject matter expertise of the board of commissioners.

FTG: Why do non-accredited police departments vastly outnumber their counterpart?

CALEA Accreditation is challenging for a number of reasons. Primarily, it requires agencies to inspect every component of its administrative and operational practices. This is time-consuming and forces those participating to take action to resolve shortcomings and those issues that do not complement the established standards. Leaders of agencies feel they often have too many responsibilities with too few resources to accomplish this type of review and engagement.

There is a cost associated with CALEA Accreditation engagement. These costs can be found on our website but generally range from $3500 to $5700 annually for those in the reaccreditation process. And, agencies participating in CALEA Accreditation must create resources within the agency to ensure compliance with standards and document these actions. Although this is an in-kind expense, it does require the dedication of resource. Some leaders believe these same objectives can be accomplished without the time and expense of the accreditation process. However, again, what gets measured gets done. Our experience tells us that every newly enrolled agency in the accreditation process discovers issues that need resolution and they become more comprehensive and effective in developing sound policies and practices that complement community service priorities.

It’s also important to point out that while the number of accredited agencies is low in comparison to the total number of agencies, those agencies that are CALEA Accredited make up more than 25% of all sworn law enforcement officers in the country.

FTG: Do you believe police departments, nationwide, should be accredited? If yes, what example would you cite as a major reason for them to do so?

MacMillan: We believe that agencies that are focused on becoming the very best public safety services providers should consider CALEA Accreditation as a tool for continuous organizational improvement. The process of accreditation is not about the award, but the ongoing pursuit of professional excellence with an acknowledgment of accountability to the community and its employees.

Agencies that are accredited are required to establish sound training and re-training on key issues like interactions with those suffering from mental illness, they are required to develop evidence integrity processes, they are directed to develop victim support services, they are required to apply control measures for the use of force and then evaluate their applications, they must develop and annually review recruitment and selection protocols, they must have internal grievance procedures, they must control all high-risk activities, and they are required to have readiness plans for critical and unusual occurrences. Although these are just a sampling of the impacts of accreditation, it is clear the model provides sound direction based on many years of experience in the field. For these reasons, agencies committed to effectively meeting their professional obligations should consider accreditation as a solution.

FTG: Would you say a small police department (100 officers or less) is more likely to embrace and successfully complete the accreditation process?

MacMillan: Historically, the largest and the smallest agencies did not engage in accreditation. However, over the past several years we have seen organizations like the California Highway Patrol experience success with our programming; and, we have seen small organizations with less than 25 full-time personnel have success with the model too. We continue to struggle with attracting those agencies with fewer than 10 full-time personnel, which is almost always directly related to having the resources to manage the process in conjunction with daily duties.

FTG: Do you think non-accredited police departments have the right to proclaim they're "the best in the country".....when other departments have received accreditation from CALEA, which is considered the gold standard?

MacMillan: CALEA believes that CALEA Accredited agencies have demonstrated a commitment to professional excellence against a body of standards that are recognized as best practices in the industry. This commitment is an attribute that must be considered when evaluating the overall culture and professionalism of any organization. Because we do not compare agencies against one another, we would never attempt to determine rankings of agencies. However, we do believe our programming has value and those that have been assessed against our standards can claim they have comprehensively reviewed their practices and have made management decisions that complement their mission, purpose and values.

FTG: Tragically, a significant number of Black men, women and teens have been killed by police over the last two decades. Few officers are ever convicted, but some have been charged for the inexplicable or unjustified use of deadly force against people that committed mere misdemeanors or no crime at all. This has been confirmed through multiple news reports. Do you believe accreditation would help prevent these types of incidents?

MacMillan: CALEA asserts that a critical portion of the process of accreditation focuses on “use of force” by police personnel in the performance of their duties. This ensures training is conducted ranging from immediate action to de-escalation. De-escalation policies should also include a discussion of proportionality, using distance and cover, tactical repositioning, "slowing down" situations that do not pose an immediate threat, and calling for supervisory and other resources.

Accreditation includes standards with the intent of establishing policies on the use of deadly force that provides officers with guidance in the use of force in life-and-death situations and to prevent loss of life to include that of the officer. Furthermore, there are standards that encourage the establishment of use of force or response to resistance reporting systems within the agency for effective review and analysis. The reporting systems should help identify trends, improve training and employee safety, and provide timely information for the agency addressing use of force issues with the public. Early and accurate reporting helps establish agency credibility.

As you can see from this short discussion, CALEA Accreditation applies great attention to this area that impacts the community and the officers. It strives to strike a balance between officer safety and accountability. And, it works to establish processes of review that promote ongoing development of strategies to reduce the likelihood of death or injury to citizens and police employees.

The work of the police officer is very challenging, and they must remain prepared to address extremely volatile issues in the name of public safety. CALEA takes this public responsibility seriously and applies the concept of training and accountability at every level of the organization to improve the opportunities for the very best outcomes.

Erdogan: New Military Operation in Syria to 'Start at Any Moment'

Trump Foundation Agrees to Dissolve Under Court Supervision

In Memoriam: Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky

Fort Drum Soldier, 19, Died in Noncombat Incident in Afghanistan 

By Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON – A 19-year-old soldier from Pennsylvania was killed in a noncombat incident on Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Army Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky died in the incident Thursday on the major U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said in a statement. Mikeasky was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum in New York.

Click here for the full article.

Governor Cuomo Directs Flags to Half-Staff

Governor Andrew Cuomo today directed that flags on State government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky. 

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky's family and loved ones," Governor Cuomo said. "We are saddened by his loss and join them and his fellow soldiers in honoring his service to our nation."

Governor Cuomo has directed that the flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to New York service members and those stationed in New York who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

Flags are currently at half-staff in honor of President George H. W. Bush and will be lowered again on Monday, Dec. 31 in honor of Major James M. Brophy of Dutchess County and other Marines killed in an air collision earlier this month. Flags will be lowered on Wednesday, January 2, following the New Year's Day holiday, in honor of Pfc. Mikeasky.

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo  

The following video has been posted in honor of  Pfc. Mikeasky and his service to the country. May he forever rest in peace.

California Knew the Carr Wildfire Could Happen. It Failed to Prevent It.

by Keith Schneider

On the afternoon of July 23, a tire on a recreational trailer blew apart on the pavement of State Route 299 about 15 miles northwest of Redding, California. The couple towing the Grey Wolf Select trailer couldn’t immediately pull it out of traffic. As they dragged it to a safe turnout, sparks arced from the tire’s steel rim. Three reached the nearby grass and shrubs; two along the highway’s south shoulder, the third on the north. Each of the sparks ignited what at first seemed like commonplace brush fires.

But if the sparking of the brush fires was an unpredictable accident, what happened next was not. Fire jumped from the roadside into the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, a 42,000-acre unit of the National Park Service. There, it gained size and velocity, and took off for the outskirts of Redding. The fire burned for 39 days and charred over 229,000 acres, and when the last embers died on Aug. 30, the fight to contain it had cost $162 million, an average of $4.15 million a day. Almost 1,100 homes were lost. Eight people died, four of them first responders.

Dozens of interviews and a review of local, state and federal records show that virtually every aspect of what came to be known as the Carr Fire — where it ignited; how and where it exploded in dimension and ferocity; the toll in private property — had been forecast and worried over for years. Every level of government understood the dangers and took few, if any, of the steps needed to prevent catastrophe.

Click here for the full article.

Source: ProPublica

Washington Journal: Jennifer Shutt Discusses Potential Government Shutdown

The CQ Roll Call reporter talked about government funding negotiations ahead of the December 21, 2018, government shutdown deadline.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

James Comey Calls on Republicans to Stand Up Against the President

C-SPAN: Former FBI Director James Comey expresses frustration after a second round of testimony before Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, which he says focused on Hillary Clinton's emails and the Steele Dossier.

This report was broadcast on December 17.

Click here for video.

Ralph Nader on Single Payer, Climate Devastation, Impeachment & Why Mulvaney Is a 'Massive Outlaw'

This report was published on YouTube on December 17.

Jazmine Headley, Mom in Viral Video, to File Lawsuit Against NYC

This report was published on YouTube on December 17.

Can South Africa's 'Cradle of Islam' Survive Gentrification?

Trump Travel Ban Keeps Yemeni Mother from Seeing Dying Son in US

British PM Sets Date for Brexit Deal Parliamentary Vote

This report was published on YouTube on December 17.

Saudi Denounces US Senate Vote as 'Blatant Interference'

This report was published on YouTube on December 17.

Undisclosed de Blasio Emails Show Cozy Relationship with Corrupt Donor

Click here for details. 

Source: The Empire Report New York

Mayor de Blasio Makes NYC Schools Announcement

This video was published on YouTube on December 17. 

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Break in Case of Emergency: The Case for a Strong Public Advocate

By Errol Louis

A half dozen members of the City Council have introduced a bill to abolish the office of public advocate. "The office, if it ever served a purpose, it has outlived it," the bill's lead sponsor, Kalman Yeger, told Politico recently.


The most important power of the position — having a citywide elected official who can, if need be, temporarily step in as mayor — is greatly underrated. As the first in the line of succession, the public advocate assumes the mayoralty if the mayor dies, resigns or becomes incapacitated.

That happens more frequently than most people realize.

Click here for the full article. 

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

NYC Subway Chief Warns of ‘Death Spiral’ Without $40 Billion Fix

This video was published on YouTube on November 28. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which manages New York’s transit system, is at a crossroads after decades of underfunding and neglect.

It either invests as much as $40 billion over the next decade in an overhaul, or it descends into a “death spiral,” says Andy Byford, who oversees the subways and buses.

That’s the pitch Byford, 53, is making to disgruntled riders and taxpayers at town-hall meetings, to the City Council during hours of testimony, and to business executives at breakfasts and other gatherings.

“You don’t get the billions you need by just going to Albany with a begging bowl,” Byford, recruited a year ago to run New York City Transit, told executives at a Crain’s Magazine breakfast this month.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Bloomberg (via Empire Report New York)

Charter/Spectrum Cable Agrees to Record $174M Settlement for Misleading Customers on Internet Speed: AG's Office

A New York Daily News Exclusive

By Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY — After being accused of defrauding its internet subscribers, Charter Communications Monday agreed to a whopping $174.2 million settlement with state Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the Daily News has learned.

In February 2017, the AG charged in a civil lawsuit that Charter Communication, and its predecessor Time Warner Cable, knowingly delivered since 2012 slower internet speed to customers than promised.

Click here for the full article. 

WNY Gets Albany Leverage as Peoples-Stokes Named Assembly Majority Leader

ALBANY – A veteran member of the Assembly from Buffalo ascended Monday to one of the top positions in the state Legislature, giving both her and the region increased leverage in Albany at a key moment for upstate.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, 66, was named as the next Assembly majority leader, the number two leadership post in the 150-member chamber and one from which she can wield influence over fiscal and policy initiatives.

“It’s daunting in some ways … and it’s exciting at the same time," Peoples-Stokes said in an interview shortly after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, selected her as majority leader.

Click here for the full article. 

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

Federal Court Says New York Ban on Nunchucks Unconstitutional

By Deepti Hajela, Associated Press

— A federal court says New York's ban on nunchucks, the martial arts weapon made famous by Bruce Lee but prohibited in the state for decades, is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

Judge Pamela Chen issued her ruling Friday in federal court in Brooklyn. 

Click here for summary. 

Source: (via Empire Report New York)

New Sergeant William Dougherty Park Opens in Brooklyn

On December 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the grand opening of the Sergeant William Dougherty Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The public park was expanded and completely renovated as part of the construction of the nearby Kosciuszko Bridge - the first new bridge constructed in New York City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964. 

The $12 million park is named for Sergeant William T. Dougherty, a World War II hero who was born in Brooklyn and played in the park in his youth. 

"Public parks are integral to our communities, and this new and expanded open space will be a vibrant new attraction for local families and residents," Governor Cuomo said. "It's fitting that the new Sergeant William Dougherty Park is named for a war hero and local resident who enjoyed the park in his youth, and his legacy will live on through this public space for generations to come." 

Click here for the full announcement. 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Happening in Harlem: A Special Holiday Toy Drive

 Click on the flier to increase its size.

Source: ImageNation

Monday, December 17, 2018

Governor Cuomo Unveils '2019 Justice Agenda' (Full Video)

Governor Andrew Cuomo today unveiled his "2019 Justice Agenda," urging the legislature to act in the first 100 days of the next legislative session. The Governor's agenda represents a suite of ambitious proposals to ensure the promise of full, true justice for all, including economic justice, social justice, racial justice. 

Governor Cuomo announced the agenda in a speech hosted by the Roosevelt Institute. This year, in the face of the nation's biggest social crisis, and with the federal government seeking to undo generations of progress, Governor Cuomo broke with tradition, laying out his legislative agenda in December 2018 instead of waiting until the State of the State address to enable the Legislature to commence action on these top priorities immediately upon convening. 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

EANY Statement on Governor Cuomo's 2019 Priorities

The following statement was issued today by Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY). 

"Governor Cuomo's comments today on fighting climate change by moving to 100% renewable energy and a carbon-free economy, protecting water by regulating harmful chemicals, and supporting transportation with a congestion pricing plan evoke the environmental leadership New York has long been known for. We look forward to working with Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Governor Cuomo to protect this and future generations by ensuring these commitments become law."

Source: EANY 

The Quiet Crisis Killing Black Women

Dallas police say Delashon Jefferson, 20, was fatally shot by her boyfriend after years of abuse. Could her death have been prevented?

By Melissa Jeltsen

DALLAS ― Before she died, Delashon Jefferson tacked a certificate to her bedroom wall.

The piece of paper, edged in gold like a diploma, was proof that her boyfriend had completed an anger management program. For Delashon, 20, it was more than that. It was a promise that her boyfriend was getting better.

Lagarius Rainey, 24, wasn’t going to hurt her anymore.

The young Dallas couple were expecting their second child, a sister for their toddler son, whom they called Rayray. A white crib was set up in the corner of the bedroom, ready for the baby. Delashon never got a chance to meet her.

Earlier this fall, police say, Rainey shot Delashon inside her bedroom when she was eight months pregnant. She was killed in front of her son.

Doctors at Baylor University Medical Center performed an emergency cesarean section and rushed her baby to the neonatal intensive care unit. Rainey was arrested and charged with Delashon’s murder.

In death, Delashon became one of the three women killed by their boyfriends, husbands and lovers every day in the United States. Domestic violence does not discriminate, and victims span all races, ages, ethnicities and religions.

The suffering, though, is not equally distributed. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

NYPD Confidential: Why No Outrage?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

By Leonard Levitt

“Mr. Mayor, Why No Outrage Over a Mother’s Brutal Arrest?”

That was the Dec. 10 online headline from The New York Times editorial board, which criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial non-response to the charge that police “ripped a 1-year-old boy from his mother’s arms,” as the newspaper’s news story described the incident.

Granted, this is the same editorial board that in 2015 called for firing NYPD Officer James Frascatore, who is white, after he tackled biracial tennis star James Blake as he stood outside a midtown hotel, mistaking him for a suspect wanted in a credit card fraud ring. That editorial compared Frascatore to Daniel Pantaleo, who may or may not have used a chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner, a death that fanned the anti-police narrative that police regularly mistreat and even kill innocent African Americans. [Jazmine Headley, the mother of the 1 year old, “ripped” from her arms, is black.]

Yet when it comes to de Blasio’s initial lack of outrage over Headley’s arrest, the Times’ editorial board got it right, at least in part. “Mr. de Blasio’s handling of the incident shows how far he has strayed from his righteous roots as a candidate promising to hold the police accountable and change the way they interact with minority residents like Ms. Headley,” the Times stated. 

Click here for the full article. 


U.S. Banks Quietly Pull Back from Riskiest Loans Amid Recession Fears

Click here for details. 

Source: Reuters

Google to Spend $1 Billion on New Campus in New York

Click here for details. 

Source: Reuters

Dementia Patients Fuel Assisted Living’s Growth. Safety May Be Lagging.

By Jordan Rau

They found Bonnie Walker in a pond behind her assisted living facility in South Carolina. There were puncture wounds on her ear, her temple, her jaw and her cheeks.

Her pacemaker was inside one of the alligators that lived in the pond.

Like four in 10 residents in assisted living facilities, Ms. Walker, 90, suffered from dementia. Shortly after midnight one day in July 2016, she slipped out of her facility, Brookdale Charleston, as she had done a few days before. This time, no one noticed her missing for seven hours.

“No one should have to pass away that way,” her granddaughter Stephanie Weaver said.

Assisted living facilities were originally designed for people who were largely independent but required help bathing, eating or other daily tasks. Unlike nursing homes, the facilities generally do not provide skilled medical care or therapy, and stays are not paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

Dementia care is the fastest-growing segment of assisted living. But as these residences market themselves to people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, facilities across the country are straining to deliver on their promises of security and attentive care, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of inspection records in the three most populous states.

In California, 45 percent of assisted living facilities have violated one or more state dementia regulations during the last five years. Three of the 12 most common California citations in 2017 were related to dementia care.

In Florida, one in every 11 assisted living facilities has been cited since 2013 for not meeting state rules designed to prevent residents from wandering away.

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Source: The New York Times 

Where Women Turn When Doctors Don’t Believe Breast Implants Are Making Them Ill

They think their implants are destroying their health and are frustrated that many doctors don’t agree.

By Emily Shugerman

Denise Milisitz has been diagnosed with pneumonia seven times in the last two years. In between bouts, she suffers from a persistent, chest-rattling cough that leaves her winded and exhausted. She’s been hospitalized five times, for at least three days, to get IV antibiotics that make her veins harder to find each time. At the age of 41, her doctor has suggested she be tested for cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that usually presents itself before age 2.  

Milisitz never thought her ailments could be caused by the two saline bags implanted in her chest—until last month.

That’s when she joined Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole, a Facebook group for women who believe their various health problems are caused by their breast implants. The group is one of dozens that women have flocked to in recent years, complaining of symptoms from depression to autoimmune illness. They refer to their complaints, which range from minor nuisances to debilitating diseases, as “Breast Implant Illness.”

Whether breast implants can actually cause illness is far from certain. The subject has been studied frequently, though perhaps not thoroughly, and advocates on both sides point to flaws in the research supporting either conclusion. Regardless, thousands of women in these groups say they started feeling sick when their implants were put in, and only stopped once they were gone.

The Facebook groups act as a virtual support network for these women, many of whom feel ignored and mistreated by the medical community. The women validate each others’ complaints, share suggestions, and reassure themselves that there is life after implants. Many women post updates from their explants, an increasingly popular surgery to remove the devices for good. 

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Source: The Daily Beast