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SHARED STORIES OF THE ‘ME TOO’ MOVEMENT GIVE MOMENTUM TO CALLS FOR A CULTURAL SHIFT see page 6

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VOLUME 09, ISSUE 42 | DECEMBER 14 - 20, 2017


After Port Authority Terror Blast, Resilient Commuters Carry On BY LINCOLN ANDERSON An explosion of what police called a “low-tech” pipe bomb in a tunnel near the Port Authority early on the morning of Mon., Dec. 11, sent a shock through the city and a ripple of panic through one of the world’s busiest bus terminals. Downtowners were awakened shortly after the blast to the blare of sirens and the beat of helicopters overhead as first responders raced Uptown. Akayed Ullah, 27, was under arrest for allegedly detonating the bomb around 7:20 a.m. in an underground walkway near the Port Authority that connects the Eighth Ave. IND subway lines with the IRT lines at Times Square and the 42nd St. Shuttle. Three people had minor injuries, Fire Department Commissioner Dan Nigro said. Ullah, meanwhile, sustained serious injuries to his hands and abdomen when he detonated the device, Nigro said, and was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an “attempted terrorist attack.” Initially, police shut down major crosstown streets, including 14th St., so emergency vehicles could move about unimpeded. Although the attack sent a ripple of fear

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Straphangers, undaunted, were flowing through the subway at W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave., just a few hours after Dec. 11’s Midtown blast.

through the city, it didn’t totally derail the morning commute. Three hours after the bomb blast, straphangers were busy bustling in and out of the IND subway station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. “People are in the system,” an NYC Transit worker said as he emerged from the stairs at the southwest corner, on his way to buy a coffee from a nearby vendor’s cart. “People don’t stop,” he said. “It’s New York City, it’s just a blip on the screen,” he said of the incident. Frank Kulbaski, 51, a lawyer for PayPal

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at its office in the West Village, had watched reports on the blast on TV before heading in to work from Long Island City, Queens. “The chance of getting hurt is like the chance of winning the lottery — and I haven’t had any luck with the lottery,” he shrugged. Instead of taking the 7 train and then switching to the IRT at 42nd St., as usual, he instead hiked over to Court Square and took the E train all the way to 14th St. “It made my commute much longer,” he said, “but I got to work.” A woman smoking a cigarette on the

sidewalk before going down into the subway said the morning’s events were shaking up her plans since she had to go all over the city. “I’m modifying everything,” she said. “I’m a dog walker, so I’m modifying everything.” She noted she was a third-generation Villager — “There are still some of us around!” she quipped — but didn’t want to give her name. Two young tourists, Vincent Schablinski, 25, and Claire Jean, 23, had just bought a $5 arepa at an openair sidewalk cooking operation on the corner, and — after Jean had taken some souvenir shots of him chowing down on it — were ready to hop into the subway. Asked if they were frightened by what had happened, they said, no. “The city is so big,” Schablinski, from Germany, said while polishing off the arepa, “that [if] it happens to you or me — the risk is really low, actually nothing.” They were staying at the Dream Downtown hotel in the Meatpacking District and, clearly undaunted, were heading up to take a look at yet another major transit hub: Grand Central Terminal.

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Photo by Christian Miles

The area around Eighth Ave. and W. 42nd St., blocked off on the morning of Dec. 11.

Five Federal Charges for Port Authority Bombing Suspect BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The man accused of detonating a device near the Port Authority Bus Terminal during the early morning commute of Mon., Dec. 11 has been charged with five federal counts. Prosecutors charged Akayed Ullah, 27, with the use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, provision of material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and the use of a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence in a criminal complaint filed in federal court on Tues., Dec. 12. The criminal complaint sheds some light on what motivated Ullah, who, according to news reports, came from Bangladesh in 2011 and lived in Brooklyn as a legal permanent resident, to carry out an attack that created commuting chaos and caused three people to sustain minor injuries. Ullah was inspired by ISIS to carry out the attack, according to the complaint. “I did it for the Islamic State,” Ullah said, as cited in the complaint. On his way to carry out the attack, the complaint states that Ullah posted on his Facebook account, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” Ullah “chose to carry out the attack on a workday because he believed that there would be more people,” according to the complaint. NYC Community Media

Photo by Christian Miles

Just after 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 11, at W. 42nd St. and Eighth Ave., Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a press briefing. NYPD, FDNY, and MTA representatives also provided information.

AP photo by A.M. Ahad

On Dec. 12, a man in Dhaka, Bangladesh reads a national paper with front-paged news, and a photo, of 27-year-old Bangladeshi Akayed Ullah, suspect in the previous day’s NYC’s subway system bombing.

Transit video shows people walking, including Ullah, who was later identified by police officers in the underground tunnel that connects the A, C, and E trains to other lines from the Times Square station on Mon., Dec. 11 at about 7:18 a.m., according to the complaint. A few seconds later, there appears to be an explosion, and Ullah seems to fall to the ground, according to the complaint. Members of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) found Ullah, and he was taken into custody. PAPD officers Anthony Manfredini, Jack Collins, Sean Gallagher and Drew Preston, “entered a smoke and debris-filled subway passageway, struggled with the suspect, and denied him the ability to cause further chaos and destruction,” Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement posted to the association’s Twitter account. Law enforcement found components of an exploded pipe bomb on Ullah and in the surrounding area, a nine-volt battery inside his pants pocket, and wires connected to the battery and running underneath his jacket, according to the complaint. At a press briefing held just after 9:30 a.m. that Monday, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the device was strapped to Ullah’s body with Velcro and zip ties. BOMBING continued on p. 14 December 14, 2017

3


Photos by Colin Mixson via Community News Group

Cops swarmed a Kensington building on Ocean Parkway between Webster and Newkirk Aves. amid their investigation into Brooklyn resident Akayed Ullah, who police accused of igniting an explosive device in Manhattan on Dec. 11.

Alleged bomber Akayed Ullah once lived with his family in a Flatlands home on E. 48th St. between avenues N and M (green-trimmed roof in this photo), but moved out years ago, according to a statement his relatives released via their lawyer following the incident.

Brooklynites Describe Bombing Suspect as ‘Shy’ and ‘Quiet’ BY COLIN MIXSON Cops busted a Brooklyn man suspected of nearly blowing himself up in a botched subway bombing on Mon., Dec. 11 that injured three straphangers and shocked residents who never considered their neighbor could be an alleged terrorist. A Flatlands local described 27-year-

old Bangladeshi immigrant Akayed Ullah, who once resided in the neighborhood at E. 48th St. between avenues M and N, as a “shy and quiet” man whose inconspicuousness may have been a warning sign of his behavior to come. “It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for,” said Alan Butrico, who

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owns the house next door to the one Ullah lived in, as well as a hardware store at E. 48th St. and Avenue N. Authorities apprehended Ullah after a “low-tech” improvised-explosive device strapped to his body ignited at 7:20 a.m. inside an underground passage linking two busy Manhattan subway stations. The suspect lived with his parents and brother at the Flatlands home, according to Butrico, who said he never saw police at the house next to his — until Monday, when dozens of investigators swarmed the block, which they cordoned off for hours after the explosion. But Ullah’s family members claimed he moved out of the Flatlands house some time ago. “We would like to note that it has been widely misreported that Akayed Ullah resides at an address on East 48th Street, Brooklyn, NY, but this is incorrect, and he has not resided there for many years,” read a statement issued by the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations on behalf of the family. On Mon. night, speakng to the media, Albert Fox Cahn, legal director for CAIR-NY, read from that statement, noting the family is “heartbroken by the violence that was targeted at our city today and by the allegations being made against a member of our family.” But they were also “outraged by the behavior of the law enforcement officials who have held children as small as four years old out in the cold and who pulled a teenager out of high school classes to interrogate him without a lawyer, without his parents.” Butrico said that his tenant who

lives in the house next door to Ullah’s former residence recently complained of loud arguments coming from inside the home, including a shouting match that occurred the night before the alleged terrorist’s assault. There was nothing outwardly remarkable about the Bangladeshi man, according to Butrico, who said his only interaction with Ullah’s family was when they parked their car in front of his driveway. “They didn’t care,” he said. “They felt like they owned the block.” Investigators also stormed a Kensington building following Ullah’s bungled assault, alarming locals who said they never thought they could have neighbors tied to terror. “I’m really scared,” said David Scoffe, who lives a few blocks away from the crime scene 679 Ocean Pkwy. “You don’t know who your neighbors are.” Ullah caused more damage to himself in his bungled attack than he did to his intended targets, according to FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro, who said police found the alleged terrorist with burns and lacerations to his abdomen and hands. His victims, however, suffered minor injuries in the form of ringing ears and headaches, and all three checked themselves into hospitals, Nigro said. Both NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Governor Andrew Cuomo described the detonation as intentional, but a New York Times report citing unnamed sources stated the device malfunctioned, and that the explosion failed to produce the shrapnel necessary to effect greater carnage. NYC Community Media


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5


‘Me Too’ Movement’s Message: Believe,

Photos by Christian Miles

Many people held up handmade signs.

BY REBECCA FIORE Call them silence breakers, call them warriors, or call them survivors — but neither snow nor wind nor hail stopped them from rallying together on the afternoon of Sat., Dec. 9, outside Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle. United to end sexual harassment and assault for women and men of all ages and backgrounds, #MeToo Rally NYC was organized by Connie Vasquez and Annmarie Haubert, two women who faced their own experiences with sexual assault and were brought together by the ubiquitous hashtag. “I was 14 the first time. Then I was 17. Then I was 21. Even as recently as three months ago,� Haubert said. “I want to change the way that everybody looks at sexual assault. I want to stop the victim blaming.� The Me Too movement started with activist Tarana Burke and was re-popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, who used it as a hashtag in response to Hollywood producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. A crowd of roughly 150 people held handmade, snow-covered signs including: “#MeToo,� “Even dogs under-

stand the concept of ‘no,’ � and “SILENT NO MORE.� Refuse Fascism handed out signs that read “The Sexual Predator-inChief and whole Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!� Some speakers pointed toward the Trump hotel during their speeches. Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, a woman’s leadership coach, attorney, and host of Resistance Live, a political podcast, shared her story of child sexual abuse. She said from ages 12 to 16 she was “groomed and repeatedly molested by a family therapist who also happens to be a long standing friend of my parents.� When she was 19 she took him to court, to have his practicing license removed. She lost her case, because there were no witnesses, she said. “As I lay naked under my abuser, while my soul hung out in the trees outside of his office, I suddenly knew with a force that could not be denied that a day would come when I would rise to fight,� she said. “That day, deep within my little girl soul, a warrior was born. And to this day that spirit guides everything I do, in every way I choose. So make no mistake, I’m a warrior now.� “Thanks to this,� she said, as she ges-

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Don’t Blame, Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Betty Teng, licensed master social worker and a therapist specializing in trauma, explained why survivors don’t usually come out right away and how their “experiences are so overwhelming that the brain blocks these experiences to protect its own sanity.”

tured toward the high-rise overlooking Central Park, “We are all warriors now.” On Mon., Dec. 11, three of the numerous women who came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against then-candidate Donald Trump held a press conference to reassert those charges and — emboldened by the Me Too movement — call for congressional scrutiny of the president. While the White

House has deemed these allegations as “fake news,” some members of congress, including New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, called for Trump’s resignation. A mere three days after the rally, Trump tweeted about “lightweight” Gillibrand, calling her “someone who ME TOO continued on p. 12

Shaun Dougherty held up a picture of his 10-year-old self, the age at which he started being sexually abused. The Navy veteran joined the New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, and is working on getting the Child Victims Act passed, which would eliminate the statute of limitations of child sex crimes.

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Crowded Agenda in Garodnick’s Finish BY REBECCA FIORE In Jan. 2006, Daniel Garodnick assumed office as East Side District 4’s city councilmember and at the conclusion of a tenure spanning the 12-year maximum allowed under the city’s term limit scheme, he boasts most recently of having made affordable housing protections more transparent, providing needed tax relief to small businesses, and creating more public space and infrastructure improvements while promoting office building development in East Midtown. At the Nov. 30 Council meeting, Garodnick, along with Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, steered passage of a predatory equity measure that will create a watch list of buildings purchased at higher prices than their rentregulated income can support. “We have seen over the years a significant number of predatory acts by people in real estate who borrow extraordinary sums of money to buy a building, or buildings, where the rental income does not support that level of debt,” he said. “The obvious conclusion in those scenarios is that the owners have an intention of raising revenue by jacking up rents somehow, and frequently in an unethical or illegal manner.” He said the watch list, which will be featured on the city’s Housing Preservation and Development website, will be a tool for elected officials, city agencies, advocates, and tenants themselves.

Photo by William Alatriste/ New York City Council

East Side Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who leaves office on January 1 after 12 years representing District 4, at an event promoting small businesses on Second Avenue.

Garodnick added the city still has much more progress to make in the affordable housing area. “As our population grows and the demand for housing grows, we need to move even faster to keep up with that challenge,” he said in an interview this week with NYC Community Media. Also on Nov. 30, another Garodnick bill that reforms the outdated commercial rent tax passed, bringing relief to Manhattan small businesses. The tax, created in 1963, charges a 3.9 percent levy on annual business rents over $250,000. His reform doubled the minimum threshold to $500,000 — and in some cases,

$550,000 — saving nearly 3,000 small businesses up to $13,000 annually. “We are essentially slowing the growth, modestly,” he said of the burden that tax imposes on the borough’s small businesses. “This tax should be done away with entirely. It is unfair, antiquated, and throws cold water on the local economy.” He said it took a bit of push to get Mayor Bill de Blasio on board with the plan, as the administration was concerned about its budgetary impact. “It was our job to persuade him that the unfairness of [this tax] and the benefit to small businesses far outweighed the minimal cost to the

city, and he was open to that,” Garodnick said. The city will lose an estimated $36.5 million out of roughly $900 million that the rent tax raises each year. He explained, though, that the tax couldn’t be eliminated in one fell swoop without major impact on the city budget. “I would like to see a bill that indexes the exemption in a way that phases out the tax over time,” he said, noting that there would have to be additional reforms beyond his bill because “if you do absolutely nothing, the tax on businesses will simply go up because more and more of them will go over the exemption amounts and the city will be inadvertently raising taxes on small business, and that’s not a good outcome.” Additionally, Garodnick, in partnership with Borough President Gale Brewer, helmed the effort to enact a major East Midtown Rezoning plan after a failed effort to do so under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The rezoning, completed this year, succeeded the second time around, he explained, because it brought greater certainty to community stakeholders regarding public infrastructure improvements. The One Vanderbilt development on E. 42nd St., based on a rezoning that preceded the East Midtown effort, he said, was the first step that facilitated the bigger agreement. “We negotiated an idea where a new GARODNICK continued on p. 11

World Music Enlivens Carnegie Family Program BY ALEXANDRA SIMON Haitian songstress Emeline Michel will perform a few of her classic hits at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16 in a special program geared to young children. The singer is performing at “My City, My Song,” a family-oriented show that is part of Carnegie’s Musical Explorers program — an in-class musical education segment in several city schools. It is one of the few opportunities youngsters get to learn about other cultures through music and performances by singers and musicians from around the world, said Michel. “Introducing children to cultures through the music is wonderful — because we introduce them to something very different from what they might hear on the radio or on television,” she said. Michel is set to perform her hit song “A.K.I.K.O,” which students in select city kindergarten to second grade class-

8

December 14, 2017

Photo by Gregg Richards

Haitian singer Emeline Michel will perform at an educational series for city children at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16.

es learn to begin exploring sound and melodies. She said the well-loved song is a must-play anywhere she performs because of how popular it is across cultural lines, and the song’s catchiness

makes it a perfect kid-friendly song. “Every time I travel or tour — whether it’s in Haiti or other countries — for some reason there’s something in that song’s composition that people love,” Michel said. “And I know that song would resonate with children because the melody is very catchy and it’s a fun song.” She will be performing with Georgian singer Ilusha Tsinadze, who will sing traditional folks songs from his European homeland as well as his own compositions, and American singer Imani Uzuri, who will offer up songs from the civil rights era plus protest anthems she has written. Each singer will perform a separate segment, accompanied by a variety of string, piano, accordion, and percussion musicians, and then the three will conclude with a mash-up, according to Michel. Every year Carnegie Hall, in collaboration with artists from all over the

world, launches its Musical Explorers program into schools to connect children with global music. In class, the youth learn about melodies, harmonies, and the lyrics of the artists in the program. It is a very important subject for school-aged children because it teaches them beneficial people-skills they need, Michel explained. “The program is necessary because it teaches children that you can come from a different culture, place, or background and still be accepting and more understanding of that,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t respect each other, and this program nails that through at such an early age and opens their eyes.” “My City, My Song” is performed on Sat., Dec. 16 at noon and 3 p.m. at Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave., between W. 56th and W. 57th Sts. For more information and tickets at $10, visit carnegiehall.org or call 212-247-7800. NYC Community Media


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9


TALKING POINT

It’s Time to Enroll in an Affordable Care Act Health Plan BY LIZ KRUEGER It would be an understatement to say that the 2018 Affordable Care Act open enrollment period began under a dark cloud of uncertainty. With the Trump administration regularly declaring that the ACA marketplace is imploding, gutting enrollment funding, and slashing cost-sharing subsidies, it is understandable that Americans have reservations about purchasing health insurance. Yet one month into open enrollment, numbers so far are higher than expected across the country. Americans are voting with their wallets and the message is clear — coverage under ACA is a good investment. I urge any New Yorker who is eligible to sign up before this open enrollment ends on January 31. High enrollment rates are no surprise when you remember what dealing with health insurance was like before the ACA. People with pre-existing conditions were excluded or priced-out of access; people with cancer and other severe health problems went bankrupt due to caps on benefits or gaps in coverage; there was no guarantee that insurance plans would cover essential care

(such as mental health and pregnancy); uninsured rates were shamefully high due to prohibitive premiums. The ACA has given us the luxury — what I would call a basic human right — of having increased peace of mind that our regular and unexpected healthcare needs will be taken care of without losing our homes or ending up on the street. For any New Yorkers who are currently deciding between purchasing an ACA plan, taking a chance on a shortterm private plan, or rolling the dice by being uninsured in 2018, there are several strong arguments for choosing an ACA plan. First, despite the current administration’s false claims, the ACA marketplace has demonstrated sustainability. In New York, we have a robust number of insurance plans to accommodate people at different income levels and with diverse healthcare needs. Although there have been increases, premiums remain lower than what New Yorkers paid prior to the ACA. Certainly the ACA marketplace needs to be strengthened and improved, and bipartisan legislation has

been drafted in the US Senate to do just that. Second, ACA policy holders benefit from several legal protections. ACA policies must cover 10 essential healthcare needs. Applicants may not be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Those who qualify receive costsharing subsidies to reduce the cost of premiums. Health insurance providers may not charge higher rates to policy holders based on their age or a preexisting condition. Short-term private health insurance plans may appear at first to be an attractive alternative to ACA policies due to their lower premiums, but you get what you pay for — limited benefits with high deductibles. For example, consider a 27-year-old male who is between jobs and opts for a short-term policy. One month later, he’s hit by a car while crossing the street and needs emergency care as well as physical therapy for a full recovery. His plan does not cover physical therapy, so he must choose between going without or paying out-of-pocket. Furthermore, he has to pay the ACA tax penalty, as his short-term policy

does not qualify as minimal essential coverage. You may also be tempted to go without health insurance, believing you can do without or that you simply cannot afford coverage. But that is a gamble. Perhaps you will remain healthy while uninsured. Perhaps you will break a leg or experience cardiac arrest and have to get emergency medical care. Uninsured people tend to rely on the emergency room for their primary and emergency medical needs, straining state and federal budgets and reducing available funding for other needed programs. Not only does this redirect funding from critical programs, but it also negatively impacts health outcomes. Uninsured people are less likely to seek the preventive care necessary to maintain good health and may need to wait to go to the emergency room until their medical condition has escalated. Finally, if you fear an ACA policy will be too expensive, I highly recommend making an appointment at a Navigator Site to receive health insurance counCARE ACT continued on p. 11

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St. Clement’s Episcopal Church

A Free Christmas Concert December 24th at 8pm at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church — “The Theater Church� — at 423 West 46th Street, New York, NY will be offered to New York City. The choir, comprised of Broadway notables, Julliard and Manhattan School of Music Students, some of the well-known singers of cabaret, and instrumentalists join under the baton of Mr. Mark Janas of Manhattan School and leadership of Mr. Darryl Curry, Minister of Music, to perform traditional and newly written music of the season.

All Are Welcome

    

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Lessons and Carols at 11:00am Sidewalk Caroling outside of the church from 7:00pm till 7:45pm 12/24/17 Free Choral Concert at 8:00pm Christmas Eve Service 8:45pm

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December 14, 2017

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GARODNICK continued from p. 8

and significant office building would go up, but they had to deliver $220 million in public infrastructure improvements to Grand Central and they can’t occupy the building until those improvements are done,” he said of One Vanderbilt. “That is certainty.” The East Midtown rezoning will create 16 new public spaces fully paid for by private developers, and allows historically landmarked buildings in the area to sell 3.6 million square feet of unused development rights, with most of the proceeds going toward the preservation of those landmarks but 20 percent earmarked for public space and transportation infrastructure improvements. Overall, the rezoning is expected to deliver nearly $1 billion in public realm and transit improvements in the rezoning area from just below Grand Central north to E. 57th St. Acknowledging that much more needs to be done on transit improvements, Garodnick made clear he believes the city is paying at least its fair share to the MTA. Additional tools — most prominently congestion pricing that would raise the cost of entering Manhattan below 96th St. by car during peak hours and toll the East River bridges — must be considered, he said. “First, it would generate significant funds for mass transit but it also has the potential to reduce congestion on the streets,” he said, adding that the current flood of cars into Midtown and Downtown “is impeding our above-ground mass transit from getting anywhere. Buses can’t move if there’s too much traffic.” To ease the uncertainties facing bus commuters, Garodnick has made use of Council discretionary funds to fund 48 bus countdown clocks throughout his district. And, pointing to Asser Levy Place — green space from E. 23rd to E. 25th Sts., between the East River and First Ave. — a three block park from E. 38th to E. 41st on the East River, and Pershing Square, on the east and west sides of the Park Avenue viaduct leading to Grand Central, the councilmember said he has created roughly 150,000 square feet of new public open space during his tenure. As for his future political future, Garodnick unfortunately provided no news scoop. “I’m going to take a little break and then sort out that question,” he said. “I feel very honored to have had this opportunity, and I would like to think about ways to continue to serve the city and state.”

CARE ACT continued from p. 10

seling (call 888-614-5400 to make an appointment or visit nystateofhealth.ny.gov/aca). Or do some comparative shopping on your own. Either way, make sure to review the costs of all levels of coverage to evaluate which one will be the best match financially. In the 21st century, healthcare should be a human right, and I have long supported legislation to create a single-payer system to deliver that right to everyone. In the meantime, the Affordable Care Act lifted a burden of fear and made health insurance available to millions of Americans for the first time in their lives. If you are uninsured, give yourself and your family a gift this holiday season by signing up for coverage under the ACA.

MAX

State Senator Liz Krueger represents District 28 on Manhattan’s East Side. NYC Community Media

December 14, 2017

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Dozens and dozens of Post-It notes were temporarily placed on the walls of the Columbus Circle subway station after the rally. When the NYPD took them down, citing the organize signs. ME TOO continued from p. 7

would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump.” Many of the speakers, like McLaughlin, are survivors-turned-advocates, men and women, young and old, of all backgrounds and creeds. People from different organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Feminist Press, Black Women’s Blueprint, Inc., EndAbuse4Good, Protect NY Kids, and New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators (NYAHP) discussed the various aspects of the movement. Sonia Ossorio, president of NOWNY, said she wanted to have an emphasis on intersectionality at the rally and even brought her nine-year-old daughter along with her on stage. She said it was important for her to understand democracy and how she should use her voice to fight for it. She also said it was crucial for men to

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start becoming part of the conversation. “We talked a lot about engaging men on the subject. This is the time to engage them,” she told this publication. Robert Ayers, a retired university professor, came as an ally for his wife, a rape survivor. He said he felt this movement was part of a larger demonstration against the Trump administration. “This is part of a resistance. The resistance to those people who have introduced a regime into this country… where the very basis of civilization is under threat,” he said. “I am here to support women. I am here to support civilized relationships between human beings. The fact that we are standing outside one of Trump’s properties makes it all the more appropriate.” Ayers brought a sign he made (reading “HER TOO”), with arrows pointed in different directions. He said he wanted to strengthen the position of the people at the rally, to further legitimize the cause. Some of the signs had a more personal

touch to them. Both Karen Levine and Shaun Dougherty held pictures of themselves as children, the age when they were first molested. Levine’s sign had a picture of her at a young age on one side and on the back a picture of the family doctor who repeatedly sexually assaulted her. This is the first #MeToo rally she’s attended. “This has been going on far too long,” she said. “[The movement] inspired me in a lot of ways. It’s inspired me to believe that I have nothing to be ashamed of. You can know that in your head but it takes a long time to know that in your heart. That’s why I appreciate all these women and this movement that helped me do that.” Dougherty held up a picture of his 10-year-old self. He said he’s been waiting 37 years for a #MeToo rally, and that it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he finally came forward with his own experiences. “I’m a Navy veteran. I swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United

States,” he said. “President Trump had five deferments to Vietnam. My cousin did not have a deferent to Vietnam. I’m an American veteran, I’m a child sex abuse survivor, and I’m standing outside his hotel in the snow to fight for my justice while he gets flown around on Air Force One.” Dougherty is also a member of NYAHP who is working towards getting the Child Victims Act passed in the state. This bill would eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children. The veteran added, “The most useful thing that anyone can do for a victim of sex abuse is to believe and support them. That’s what they are looking for, belief and support and understanding.” Joyce M. Short, a sexual abuse survivor, advocates for a nationwide agreement on what consent means. “It’s freely given, knowledgeable, and informed agreement,” she said, which mirrors her hashtag #FGKIA. “There are other forms of agreement and people NYC Community Media


Photos by Christian Miles

rs didn’t have MTA permission, the women started placing the notes on themselves and their

Karen Levine, a survivor of child sexual abuse, held up a picture of herself when she was younger. She said the Me Too movement inspired her to come forward about her own trauma, and taught her not to feel guilty for it.

der non-conforming persons.” Days after the rally, Republican candidate Roy Moore, who not only has been accused of sexual misconduct by nine women, many of whom were minors at the time, but who also was endorsed by President Trump, lost the Dec. 12 special election to Democrat Doug Jones. While Jones will be the first Democrat representing Alabama in the senate in the past two decades, he only won by about 20,000 votes, and in large part from the state’s heavily black-populated areas. (In the days leading up to the election, Barack Obama and Charles Barkley were among those voicing their support for Jones.) Moore’s stunning loss, widely seen as a rebuke to the moral turpitude of his candidacy, validated a predictive statement made by Dickerson at Saturday’s rally: “So speak out, sister survivors. Then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.”

Erika Dickerson, assistant executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint Inc., said that sexual assault and harassment are just symptoms of a bigger issue: patriarchy.

will try to fool you into thinking you’ve consented when you’ve only agreed, maybe you assented, maybe you acquiesced. Those are other forms of agreement… but when you are drugged, even if you nod your head and say ‘Yes,’ are you consenting? No!” Erika Dickerson, assistant executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint Inc., a civil and human rights organization, explained that not only is the Me Too movement different for women of color, but also people dealing with poverty and varying immigration statuses. She reminded the crowd that a public “Me Too” isn’t an option for everyone. “No significant change can be made if we simply talk about the symptoms,” she said. “Sexual assault and sexual harassment are only symptoms and manifestations of the patriarchy… We can talk about rape all we want, but until we address the multiple generational trauma of patriarchy we will fall short of a goal of stopping men’s violence against each other, against women, and against genNYC Community Media

December 14, 2017

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BOMBING continued from p. 3

Ullah had burns and wounds to his body and was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Three people near the explosion sustained minor injuries — ringing in the ears and headaches — with two taking themselves to Mt. Sinai West and one to Mt. Sinai Queens, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. An FDNY spokesperson on Wed., Dec. 13 confirmed four people were injured in the attack — three with minor injuries and the suspect — but he said it was possible other people could have gone to the hospital on their own. At Monday’s press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an “attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.� O’Neill said Ullah “intentionally detonated that device� and had made statements concerning ISIS, but declined to elaborate further at that point. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the news was “obviously very frightening and disturbing. When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, which is in many ways one of our worst nightmares, the reality turns out better than the initial expectation and fear.� “Let’s be clear,� de Blasio noted, “as New Yorkers, our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack on the subway, it’s incredibly unsettling.� Commuters fled after the device went off and smoke filled the passage, according to video of the event and news reports. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said at the press briefing the authority immediately shut down the A, C, and E lines. Several train lines bypassed the Times Square and 42nd St.-Port Authority stations until later that day. After Ullah was taken to Bellevue, he waived his Miranda rights both ver-

Photos by Christian Miles

With the evacuated Port Authority Bus Terminal now a crime scene, heavily armed police officers maintained the perimeter.

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In addition to the suspect, three people sustained minor injuries from the explosion. Two took themselves to Mt. Sinai West, one to Mt. Sinai Queens.

bally and in writing, according to the complaint. He told investigators that he had built the pipe bomb in his apartment in Brooklyn, and began gathering materials needed to make it about two to three weeks before the attack, according to the complaint. While constructing the pipe bomb he filled it with metal screws, “which he believed would cause maximum damage,� according to the complaint. The complaint said Ullah carried out the attack in part because of US policies around the world and in the

Middle East. Around 2014, he was radicalized and started viewing “proISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands,� and began researching how to build an improvised explosive device on the Internet about a year ago, according to the complaint. Law enforcement’s search of Ullah’s BOMBING continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media


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Comics of ‘The Mosquito’ Fly in the Face of Convention Nancy Giles and friends fill Dixon Place lounge with laughter BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Finally, there is a mosquito you will not want to squash, but rather attend. “The Mosquito,” a variety show hosted by Nancy Giles at Dixon Place, is the antidote to Monday doldrums with its offering of laugh-out-loud-worthy comedic songs and stories. Where else can one find takes on Nazis, erasers and stink bugs, a meditation on buying moisturizer at Sephora, and a “come to Jesus moment,” as Giles put it, about the flood of sexual harassment allegations? The show this reporter went to was the same day that the story broke regarding Charlie Rose. Giles, an actress, commentator, and longtime contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning, gathered the other performers for the evening — Michael Huston, Cynthia Kaplan and Susan Burns — to discuss the accusations against Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, and Rose.

“I was obviously reading the article [about Rose]… another guy walking around in a robe,” Kaplan said, who then said her husband should never wear a hotel robe. Giles chimed in that the “Grand Poobah is a predator,” referring to our current president. “We’re living in troubled times,” Giles said, adding, “Bill Clinton, you are not off the hook.” Then, at the end, she quipped, “Clearly I was grasping at a monologue.” The show takes place monthly, Monday nights, in the lounge at Dixon Place — an intimate space whose smattering of tables and chairs were filled that Nov. 20 night, with a few people also seated at the bar. Giles started off by introducing the show’s “house band” and the “nicest musician I’ve ever met,” Carmen Borgia. Borgia played the ukulele, and Giles snapped along to his song about his baby writing him a letter, “a letter not an

email, not a tweet, [an expletive] letter.” Some in the audience clapped along and hit their knees to the rhythm. First up was Huston, who is also half of the sketch comedy duo Babes in the Woods. “This just happened. This was fun,” she began. Who knew there could be such trials and tribulations to get a specific moisturizer? Step by step, Huston takes the audience along with her as she attempts, twice, to buy something at Sephora that will not wash her out, with a saleswoman who, she says, “drags me over like a seeing eye dog” to the mirror. Finally, she achieves success at a CVS that has the product she has been searching for. “What a hellish couple of weeks,” she deadpans, ending the story. Before the next performer, Giles talked about being on the TV show “China Beach” in the late 1980s. The show, set during the Vietnam War, had the makeup artists spritz the actors before

filming. While the white actors looked good, she said, giving them a bit of color, Giles and another black actor looked like runaway slaves. Giles said some would say that bit is racist or bigoted. “But I lived it,” she noted, “so screw you.” There is an ongoing debate about whether there are topics that are taboo for comics — subjects that aren’t, or can’t, be funny. Kaplan, an essayist, musician, and comedian, belies that idea. Getting onstage, Kaplan introduced herself and her band, The Cynthia Kaplan Ordeal. (She was the only one onstage.) Her first song was “You’re the Nazi,” telling the audience, “…and, Jesus, I hope you like it.” Kaplan noted that if she hit a wrong chord, she was being ironic. The song listed good things that Nazis, such as Heinrich Himmler, did. THE MOSQUITO continued on p. 18

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

L to R: Cynthia Kaplan, Michael Huston, Nancy Giles and Susan Burns had an impromptu discussion about sexual harassment allegations. “House band” musician Carmen Borgia stands to the side.

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December 14, 2017

NYC Community Media


Photos by R. Patrick Alberty

L to R: Radiotheatre’s Frank Zilinyi, Caitlin Boyle, R. Patrick Alberty, Alejandro Cardozo, Annemarie Hagenaars and Sarah Walker.

No Kitschy Shtick for Hitchcock Radio Plays Festival founder says they’ll stick to solid storytelling BY TRAV S.D. Sometimes, the drive into the future involves a glance into the rearview mirror. For the past 14 years, Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre, has been presenting theatrical productions that mix state-of-the-art audio technology and one of the oldest art forms in the world: aural storytelling. Complex electronic sound design, which interweaves original musical scores and sound effects, supports live actors who read scripts that are designed to be listened to not as a nostalgic nod to the old time radio of the 1940s, but merely as an effective means of engaging an audience in imaginative narratives. Usually, Bianchi’s bailiwick is horror and science fiction. He’s presented adaptations of works by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells, and has staged, five times, a version of the 1933 RKO classic “King Kong.” On Dec. 19 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, he unveils his latest: several adaptations of famous suspense films directed by NYC Community Media

The Alfred Hitchcock Festival’s namesake looms large behind Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre.

Alfred Hitchcock. Bianchi is a longtime Off-Off Broadway veteran, having done his first shows in New York as early as 1971. He’s won the Beckett Prize (twice) and even gotten to work with the man himself, Samuel Beckett, at the Sorbonne. In the ’80s, with his troupe the Threepenny Theatre Company, he produced an award-winning musical about grave robbers Burke and Hare, and put on an epic spook show called “Shock Theatre” that attracted the attention of Broadway producers. But over time, conditions altered. “I used to produce large-scale shows with elaborate sets back in the ’80s,” said Bianchi, “but the economy got outrageous, and rents went up. Producers started doing shows that consisted of two people sitting around having conversations at a kitchen table or on a park bench. But I didn’t want to do that. I grew up with movies and have a background as a screenwriter. I see and think in cinematic terms: a raging river,

an intergalactic war. A radio format allows me to do that.” From the late 1920s through the late 1940s (roughly the two decades that preceded the advent of television), radio, including radio drama, was the reigning mode of home entertainment. Scripted radio shows were broadcast live from network studios, with actors reading their lines directly from scripts into microphones. In more recent decades, contemporary theatre groups have sometimes done campy recreations of the classic “Golden Age” radio productions, but according to Bianchi, his company has another approach. “We’re not into the old-time radio shtick,” said Bianchi. “I’m uninterested in creating a museum piece of the 1940s with period outfits and hairdos. In those kinds of presentations the star is usually the foley [sound effects] artist, and it usually creates a comedic effect. With the kind of suspenseful, horrific content HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued on p. 18 December 14, 2017

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alone breaks ranks and orders fish,” according to the new book. Burns was able to swerve from the steak-fish tragedy to Charles Manson to how, the night after Trump’s election, a neighbor called the police on her. Frustration with the election flowed into frustration over not being able to watch “Jeopardy!” that turned into yelling. The police came to her door, but, no, Burns was not arrested. Burns, Kaplan and Huston have all known Giles for decades, they told this reporter after the show. All, includ-

ing Borgia, had high praise for Dixon Place and its founder Ellie Covan — Kaplan calling her “a great champion of Downtown theater,” with Huston saying she feels she can “try anything” artistically at the theater, which is “really innovative and cool.” Giles said, “I met Ellie for the first time, golly Moses, I think it was 31 years ago, so like 1986. She had a little apartment on First Ave. and First Street. And she did like this salon-type thing and invited people to perform.” But the venue didn’t have the right

type of permit or licensing so, “If it looked like the cops were coming or there was going to be any trouble, the show that was going on would stop, and everyone would start singing, ‘Happy Birthday To You,’ to pretend it was a party, which I loved,” Giles recalled. Dixon Place moved to a spot on the Bowery before making its home at 161A Chrystie St. toward the end of 2008. “Just having Nancy involved with Dixon Place is really important to me,” Covan said by phone. “She can read the phone book if she wants to.” Giles said having the monthly variety show in the lounge “mirrors more how Ellie’s apartment was.” It is important, she said, for the show to feature female performers in their 40s, 50s, and older. “What we have to say is incredibly valuable,” Giles explained. “We’ve all lived. At this point in my friends’ lives, we’ve all suffered losses, illness, all kinds of wrinkles. Our lives just make us, I think, even better artists and funnier and we bring even more to the table. I want us to have a chance to just like get our voices heard.” So where does the name of the show come from? “The joke of why I call this show ‘The Mosquito’ is a little resentment at ‘The Moth.’ I think I hosted some Moth event… and told a story, and they were like, ‘Oh, we would love to have you back,’ and then nothing ever happened,” Giles said. “Well, [expletive] this, I’ll do my own show and I can name a show after an insect as well,” she said. “And ‘The Mosquito’ was born.” The next installment is Mon., Dec. 18, 7:30pm in the front lounge space at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). The show is free, but donations are welcome. Visit dixonplace.org. Nancy Giles on Twitter: @nancygilesnyc. On Facebook: facebook.com/nancygilesofficial.

the dark around a campfire,” noted Bianchi. “A narrator tells the tale as players act it out. This way we engage directly with the audience and they seem to like that. We entice their imaginations to work to supply the visuals. With traditional plays, TV or movies, [the audience] just sit back and see whatever the director gives them as he sees it... a beautiful girl, a monster, whatever. But with audio theater, if I say a beautiful girl walks into the room, I don’t need to elaborate. I get 180 versions of that in the minds of the audience.” Bianchi normally adapts the scripts themselves from works of classic fiction,

but on this occasion he found readymade scripts from radio days that were in the public domain. Back in the day, it was common practice to present radio adaptations of first run films, both to promote the movies and as entertainment in their own right. The Hitchcock stories Radiotheatre will be presenting are “Strangers on a Train,” “Suspicion,” “The Birds,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rebecca,” “The Lodger,” and “The 39 Steps.” Each performance will feature a different bill, as the scripts can be up to an hour long. “Hitchcock is one of my favorites, and radio is the only way you can tell his stories in a theatre,” said Bianchi. “I’m

hoping it’ll appeal to younger audiences as well as older ones. If you know movies, you pretty much know Hitchcock. He’s still a personality.” Radiotheatre’s Alfred Hitchcock Festival plays Dec. 19-30, at St. John’s Lutheran Church (81 Christopher St., btw. Bleecker & W. Fourth Sts.). All shows at 8pm. Tickets are $24 general admission, $12 for students/seniors. For reservations, call 212-868-4444 or visit radiotheatrenyc.com (where you can also access the titles scheduled for each of the festival’s nine performances). Box office opens 30 minutes before showtime. Wheelchair accessible. Runtime: 80 minutes.

THE MOSQUITO continued from p. 16

Himmler, for instance, planted daisies. “There are some fine Nazis,” she sang. “Back the [expletive] off Nazis, okay?” And the chorus: “If you hate every Nazi, you’re the Nazi.” In her YouTube video of the song, before the music begins, there is President Donald Trump’s quote after violent clashes between white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past summer: “But you also had people who were very fine on both sides.” After the admonition to “stop persecuting Nazis” and finishing the ditty, Kaplan said she was “very proud” of it. Her next tune, “When God Was a Student at Notre Dame,” had the chorus “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? God” and encouraged the audience to sing along, which they did. Before Burns took the stage, Giles asked the audience if they wanted a story about death or her period. Unsurprisingly, death won. Giles then performed a short piece where she envisions what her funeral would be like. “I would want tears — lots of them,” she stated, along with sobs and fake cries. The scene: a packed house at a megachurch, where The Roots would be playing, Dave Chappelle would be the MC, the paparazzi would jostle for position, and ex-boyfriends are a “mess” with “loud honks” of noses blowing. Burns, a member of the Actors Studio, began her set by talking about the allegations against Rose, and how she “used to worship Woody Allen.” She then read an excerpt from a book review in The New York Times about Ivana Trump’s book, “Raising Trump,” in an accent, pausing to say, “I don’t know if this is the right accent.” Apparently, Trump’s father, Fred, pushed Ivana to have a steak but, “Ivana

HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued from p. 17

we try to do, that would ruin the effect we want.” Instead of employing a foley person and live musicians, Bianchi and his collaborator, Wes Shippee, build complex tapestries of orchestrated music, peppered with recorded and synthesized sound effects, generated, mixed and amplified through the latest electronic equipment. Yet, despite all of this futuristic technology, his work also hearkens back to the most ancient human traditions. “At Radiotheatre, we’re going back to the first theater… storytelling in

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Photo via facebook.com/nancygilesofficial

Nancy Giles, host of “The Mosquito” at Dixon Place.

NYC Community Media


Happy Holidays From The Moral High Ground BY MAX BURBANK At this festive time of year, I find myself wondering just how certain major power players square their moral values with the widely accepted standards embodied in the Christmas classics. Does Mitch McConnell figure Mr. Potter’s big mistake in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was not running for Senate and using raw legislative power to crush George Bailey under his boot like a Socialist roach? Does Paul Ryan role-play King Moonracer from the Rankin/Bass version of “Rudolph,” establishing an Ayn Randian objectivist paradise on the Island of Misfit Toys, furtively pleasuring himself while imagining stripping Charlie in-the-Box and Spotted Elephant of Obamacare? When the specter of Richard Nixon is standing right behind Trump, doing his best Marley’s Ghost imitation by rattling the chains he forged in life and moaning about how all mankind should have been his business, Trump is all, like, “Where the hell is my Diet Coke? I hadda push the button twice!” “No, NO!” Nixon wails. “I’m Marley. You’re Scrooge! Metaphorically! Don’t you get it?” “Not me,” says Trump. “Scrooge might have been rich, but he didn’t live rich. I got my own courses to play golf on every weekend. I get two, maybe three scoops of ice cream on the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen in a restaurant with my name in big letters on the door! I don’t need a change of heart.” It has got be downright hard to be a Republican at Christmas. It must require a mental à la carte menu featuring choice helpings of cognitive dissonance, mental compartmentalization, deep-seated selfishness, evil, and side dish of good old American “I don’t give a crap.” That well-known bastion of liberal pearl-clutchers, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, recently suggested there was only one way Trump and the Republican Party could reclaim that shiniest of all Christmas stars, the moral high ground: “Disown” their sexual harassers, as the Democrats are in the process of doing. I have a sack full of epithets for the Wall Street Journal, but “charmingly naive” is a new one. NYC Community Media

How do you “disown” a few congressmembers, but not the Harasserin-Chief? And are they suggesting

that a refusal to admit an institutional penchant for sexual abuse is the only morality problem they have? That’s adorable! Do they have some evidence I’m unaware of that “the moral high ground” is still even an operable concept for the Republican Party? The party currently “too busy” to even hold a hearing about renewing CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), the bipartisan safety net that provides health insurance to over nine million low-income children and pregnant women? The

party whose leader took a moment out a ceremony honoring World War II Navajo code talkers to remind them he enjoys calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas?” Meanwhile, Trump’s personal lawyer, desiccated-pig’s-head-on-a-stick-god-

Illustration by Max Burbank

from-“Lord of the Flies”-impersonator John Dowd recently stated the president, in his role as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, literally cannot obstruct justice. If this line of reasoning seems somewhat familiar, it might be because it’s one of the aforementioned Richard Nixon’s greatest hits. Remember him? Our proud nation’s 37th president? A very moral gentleman who was forced to resign his office before being impeached for,

among other things, obstruction of justice? This arguable interpretation of the president’s constitutional powers might seem somewhat shaky (owing to the fact it’s in every way wrong), but no lesser a legal light than Alan Dershowitz has endorsed it. You might remember him as the stalwart defender of the rule of law who successfully defended Claus Von Bülow (who almost certainly murdered his wife), and being a part of the legal “dream team” that successfully defended O.J. Simpson (who also almost certainly murdered his… you know what, screw it, they TOTALLY murdered their wives; I can say that, this is an opinion column, and also everyone knows it.) So kudos, I guess, to the Republican Party for locking down the WIFE MURDERER vote in the finer neighborhoods of Moral High Ground Hills! It’s not that the idea of the president being incapable of obstructing justice places Trump entirely above the law, it’s that the argument makes the entire question irrelevant. Let’s extrapolate, and indulge Trump’s favorite fantasy, where he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. No one would argue that he wasn’t guilty of murder, right? So he’s not above the law. But, according to his lawyers, he would have the constitutional authority to prevent any law enforcement agency from investigating the crime, arresting him, or bringing him to trial! There’s an essential trick to making this argument work, requiring one of two things: Either you are a tremendously bad lawyer (any of Trump’s lawyers) or you are a human-shaped, leather sack of amoral weasel bile stuffed into a lawyer suit (Dershowitz). You have to ask: What is the moral high ground worth if it’s at the top of a mound of scorched earth? I wish we could all just remember this is the season of hope, and that an omnipotent, loving being watches over us at all times. So you better watch out. ’Cause he’s got two lists. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. It’s no accident that in the last election, one of the candidates said they were bringing back coal in a big way. December 14, 2017

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TALKING POINT

High Line Hates Artists, But Court Rules for Us BY ROBERT LEDERMAN The High Line prides itself on being one of New York City’s most important art venues. It even has a paid full-time art curator. Unfortunately, the High Line hates artists. When The High Line opened in 2009, one of the first things its operators did was to have two street artists illegally arrested. I was the first artist to display his work on the High Line, the first arrested (two times in two weeks) and the first to sue and win. The Friends of The High Line proudly documented the false arrests they had demanded on Page 412 of their coffee-table book, “The High Line” (Phaedon Books). To keep artists out of the elevated park, the Friends of The High Line pressured Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to enact severe anti-street artist rules for all New York City parks. The new restrictions imposed on artists in 2010 eviscerated the free-speech rights we had spent 20 years winning. Those precedent-setting federal court rulings granted street artists full access to public streets and to all New York City parks to create, display and sell First Amendment-protected art. These rulings were subject only to reasonable limits on the size and placement of displays — limits that street artists and city officials had long accepted. To justify the Parks Department enacting drastic new restrictions against street artists, the Friends of the High Line co-founder testified at a public hearing that the elevated park was too small and narrow to accommodate art displays, and that such displays would commercialize the park, make it dangerous for pedestrians and damage the aesthetic Friends of the High Line wanted to achieve. An entire public park was envisioned as reserved for the corporate-sponsored art approved by Friends of the High Line. Fast-forward to the present. The High Line now hosts many overpriced food stands, a restaurant, sprawling corporate promotions, fashion shows, product promotions, corporate-sponsored art displays and a new art gallery. The officially curated High Line art focuses on artists who are sponsored or collected by the wealthy patrons of the High Line or promoted by the elitist galleries that surround the park. Despite it being a publicly funded park, special events require substantial financial “donations” to Friends of the High Line, sometimes millions of dollars for a one-night event. From The Friends of the

High Line Web site: “Corporate and foundation events on the High Line may include sponsored public events or programs and, on a limited basis, private corporate events on the High Line. Events on the High Line require a significant contribution to support the park’s maintenance and operations and are subject to the approval of the City of New York and the Department of Parks & Recreation.” How are these millions of dollars in “donations” spent? Much of it pays the salaries of the High Line’s top executives, some of whom earn more for a parttime job than the mayor or the US president. These executives must negotiate as many corporate events as possible in order to collect their inflated salaries, which totaled $1.3 million in executive compensation in fiscal year 2015. Despite the park being 1.45 miles long, street artists are limited to five small 8-foot-by-3-foot artist spots crammed next to each other inside a dank unlit tunnel. Although the park does not open until 9 a.m., to get one of the five spots, an artist must line up as early as 3 a.m. Each spot is marked by a plastic medallion. The five spots are usually held by the same art vendors. Fights frequently break out when any new artist tries to find a location. Limiting artists to five spots hidden in a dark tunnel is apparently not demeaning enough; so, on many days, the Friends of the High Line eliminates anywhere from two to all five medallion spots to make way for a corporate promotion or private party. The seasonal food-cart concessions (which pay huge fees to the Friends of the High Line), take up about 30 times the space these five little artists spots do, and are not removed for events. While systematically undermining artists’ rights, the Friends of The High Line uses high-profile art installations to attract corporate funding and obtain charitable donations from unsuspecting art lovers, amounting to $18 million to $20 million per year. The art installations are thinly veiled camouflage for a massive real estate scam disguised as a public park. From conception, the High Line was intended to boost the property values of real estate investors, which it has more than succeeded in doing. The everexpanding glut of giant new residential towers and exclusive stores that surround the park today, are in many cases owned by board members or major contributors to The High Line. The humiliations that the Friends of the High Line

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

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December 14, 2017

EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Rebecca Fiore Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Colin Mixson Puma Perl Rania Richardson Tabia C. Robinson Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane

has inflicted on New York City’s street-artist community since 2010 should have come to an end on Sept. 20, 2017. On that date, New York State Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings overturned the park rules that limited artists to those five medallion spots. Instead, Friends of The High Line and the Parks Department found a judge willing to suspend the Billings ruling with a stay order based on the justification that the PEP (Parks Enforcement Patrol) officers and artists would be “confused” by a change in enforcement policy. At the behest of Friends of the High Line, the Parks Department is now attempting to overturn Judge Billings’ ruling. Friends of the High Line must be held accountable for its ongoing mistreatment of New York City artists and for its concerted efforts to destroy our constitutionally protected free-speech rights throughout New York City. We New York City street artists have three demands. First, we demand that, in a public letter, the Friends of The High Line will apologize to all New York City street artists for how they have been treated and, in the interests of artists’ First Amendment rights, demand that the Parks Department drop its appeal of Judge Billings’ ruling. This letter must be prominently published by Friends of the High Line in The New York Times, The Villager, and in the Friend of the High Line’s newsletter. Second, the medallions restricting locations for artists on the High Line — and also in Central Park, Union Square Park and Battery Park — are to be permanently removed. Finally, we demand that the PEP officers will return to enforcing the park rules in relation to street artists (aka expressive-matter vendors) that were in effect before 2010, as per Judge Billings’ ruling. Numerous top-level Parks Department and PEP officials have testified under oath that these rules were more than sufficient to protect the public and all New York City parks. Before 2010, the park rules for artists were virtually identical to the New York City street vending rules for artists. Until this controversy is fully resolved, we will strive to bring it to the attention of every person who visits the High Line, donates to or otherwise supports it. The message will spread far and wide that Friends of The High Line hates artists. Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

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December 14, 2017

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Photo by Christian Miles

Port Authority Bus Terminal was evacuated, and several lines bypassed Times Square until later that day, filling the streets with commuters and curious onlookers. BOMBING continued from p. 14

apartment in Brooklyn found metal pipes, pieces of wire, screws, and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights, as well as a passport in the suspect’s name with several handwritten notations that included “O America, die in your rage,” according to the complaint. Albert Fox Cahn, legal director for New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, read a statement on behalf of Ullah’s family Monday evening, saying, “We are heartbroken by the violence that was targeted at our city today and by the allegations being made against a member of our family.” But they were also “outraged by the behavior of the law enforcement officials who had held children as small as four years old out in the cold and who pulled a teenager out of high school classes to interrogate him without a lawyer, without his parents.” Cahn and the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations did not respond to a call and email from this publication, requesting comment. Monday’s underground incident comes on the heels of Oct. 31’s vehicular terrorist attack on a Lower Manhattan bike path that left eight killed and 11 injured, and also echoes the Chelsea bombing of Sept. 17, 2016 (for which a federal jury on Oct. 16 of this year found Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of a bombing and attempted bombing on, respectively, W. 23rd and W. 27th Sts.). “This is most resilient place on Earth, we’ve proven it time and time again,” de Blasio said. “We’ve proved it just over a month ago. We proved it on 9/11. We are going to prove it again today. The terrorists will not win, we are going keep being New Yorkers.” NYC Community Media

December 14, 2017

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December 14, 2017

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

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chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

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Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

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December 14, 2017

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