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Samuel Harrell, a 30-year-old black inmate at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon New York, died last April 21 after more than a dozen witnesses saw him being handcuffed and severely beaten by a group of about 20 corrections officers. Now, the office of the United States attorney in Manhattan is working with the Dutchess County district attorney’s office on the brutal circumstances surrounding his death.


According to a report by the New York Times, a total of 19 other prisoners witnessed the attack on Harrell unfold. Based on their accounts, Harrell had gotten into a confrontation with several corrections officers after “packed his bags and announced he was going home, though he still had several years left to serve on his drug sentence.” Eyewitness reports note that the confrontation quickly became violent, escalating to Harrell—who is known to have a history of erratic behavior commonly linked to bipolar disorder—being “repeatedly kicked and punched”.

The New York Times reports eyewitness accounts, saying that the victim had endured racial slurs as he was being assaulted by his attackers. Harrell was then thrown “thrown or dragged down a staircase”. According to one of the inmates, Harrell ended up on the landing, “bent in an impossible position”. Witnesses also point out that many of the officers that had attacked Harrell were members of a group known around the facility as the ‘Beat Up Squad’.

While corrections officer called for emergency assistance, Harrell’s medical records show that the ambulance crew were told that he had suffered from an overdose of a synthetic marijuana substance. Still, as the New York Times was able to uncover, an autopsy report from the Orange County medical examiner found that Harrell had died of cardiac arrhythmia and had suffered several cuts and bruises to his head and extremities. The autopsy had only traces of tobacco and antidepressant in Harrell’s system and ruled the manner of his death as homicide.

It was these accounts that led U.S. attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara to begin “coordinating and working” with the district attorney of Dutchess County in investigating Harrell’s death. Similarly, Dutchess County’s William V. Grady was originally quoted by the New York Times saying that “[the] very nature of this case calls for a full, fair and objective investigation into not only potential criminal law violations, but constitutional violations as well”.

The Huffington Posts reports that Harrell’s death has launched protests in upstate New York as part of the growing Black Lives Matter movement all over America. The movement calls attention to the overwhelming number of police brutality cases against African American individuals. It began after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It then gained significant traction after the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014.

Your spine is composed of individual bones, called vertebra, each stacked up on each other. Between these vertebrae are rubbery disks that serve as a cushion for each compartment. Each disk is composed of a soft, gelatinous center surrounded by a tough exterior called annulus. When the annulus ruptures or breaks, the gelatinous center may ‘slip’ and protrude and push nearby nerves, causing extreme pain. This condition is called slipped disk, or herniated disk.

Slipped disk can be a result of a host of different factors. Too much weight, for instance, can put much strain in your lower back, making you more prone to this condition. A family history of slipped disk and a workplace with poor ergonomics may also increase your risk. According to the website of a Tennessee personal injury lawyer, herniated disk can also be a result of traumatic incidents.

Pain is the primary symptom of a slipped disk. But apart from that, a person suffering from this condition may also experience numbness and tingling. Muscles being served by the nerves compressed by a slipped disk may also weaken due to lack of nerve energy.

To diagnose slipped disk, your doctor will perform physical examination to check for any slipped disk symptoms. Nerve tests may also be conducted to see if any of your nerves near the spinal column are being compressed, which may indicate slipped disk. Imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scan may also help detect slipped disk.

Therapy and medication relieves the symptoms of herniated disk to most people. But in cases when a herniated disk can cause permanent paralysis, or when its symptoms still persist even after treatment, surgery might be required.

Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor, has pushed for the increase of minimum wage for all workers in New York to $15 an hour. If successful, the state will have the highest minimum wage in all fifty states of America.

The current hourly minimum wage in the state is at $8.75, reported to increase to $9 by late 2015 or early 2016.

It has been stated that the White House is in favor of an increase to a $12 hourly minimum wage, though no comment has been made regarding the status of making it as high as $15. Cuomo has been quoted to have been in favor of an hourly minimum wage of $11.50 in New York City and $10.50, statewide.

The primary target of the increase is workers within the fast food industry. A Democrat, this move has pitched Cuomo as a defender of laborers of the state. However, this movement has been combated by other claims, stating that many smaller businesses will suffer (should the increase pass into fruition) and will be forced to let go of many workers with deemed “less essential” jobs. Some disputes sound out to saying that the increase to $15 would be “too high” and is not, at the time being, economically possible or advisable.

There are, however, some other cities in the United States that have also passed for the increase of minimum wage to $15 an hour – specifically, the cities of Log Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

A month ago, two New York prisoners escaped from a maximum security prisons causing a 22-day long manhunt that made national headlines.  The prisoners, Richard Matt and David Sweat, reportedly used heavy power tools to cut through prison walls and pipes and eventually making their way to the outside by climbing through a manhole.  The two men were eventually found, with police shooting and killing Matt and leaving Sweat injured.  Clinton Correctional Facility is one of the largest and most highly guarded prisons in New York, leading to a number of questions on how the escape was possible.

The escape has launched a major investigation into prison workers who allegedly helped the inmates. Some prison officials have been charged with helping the prisoners smuggle in and hide the power tools that made the escape possible.  The overall security of the prison is being scrutinized as well.  Officials investigating the prison break are wondering how prison workers did not notice the preparations for the escape by the inmates, apparently having been weeks long.  The inmates also had holes in their cell walls for days prior to the escape, raising questions as prison workers are required to inspect the inmates’ cells on a daily basis.

The escape is one of the most organized and planned escapes in recent history has caused $300,000 in damages to the prison.  The investigation into how the inmates were able to break free from the prison is ongoing.

Houston has the advantage of size over other major cities in the US. It is no wonder that the Space City is rivaling the Big Apple in terms of the performing arts. The Theater District in Houston sprawls over 17 blocks downtown and has nearly 13,000 seats. There are four venues were the many performing arts organizations, including nine world-renowned ones, light up the stage. Here are two of them.

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

The Hobby Center is in the center of the Theater District, and has an entrance and large lobby festooned with commissioned artwork. From there you can gain access to two theaters with excellent acoustics, perfect for musical performances. The second level houses the Arista Restaurant and the parking lot, so it is very convenient to have dinner and a show. Among the performances held there are the classics such as Cats and West Side Story. However, the shows are always changing so it would be best to check out the website for the schedule and pricing.

Jones Hall

Jones Hall is another popular venue in the Theater District. Built in 1966, it is the base of the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts, and hosts approximately 250 performances in any given year, to which 400,000 people attend. Among the people who have held the stage at this splendid venue are John Denver, Sting, David Copperfield, Tony Bennett, and Faye Dunaway. Check out their website for the schedules.

You can also check out Wortham Theater Center and Alley Theatre while you are at it. These are the other two of the four major venues in Houston’s Theater District.

As confirmed by the New York Police Department, rescuers were recently able to retrieve two bodies from the rubble left by a massive East Village building explosion.

Authorities have yet to confirm the identities of both victims, although relatives have come forward to identify Nicholas Figueroa as one of the bodies retrieved from the explosion scene. Figueroa was among the two victims reported missing since the explosion last week. Also missing was Moises Lucon, who is believed to have been working in a restaurant inside the building at the time of the accident.

Both The Huffington Post and Reuters report that twenty-two individuals were injured in the explosion, which officials suspect was caused by a gas leak. In particular, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the blast could have been caused by someone illegally tapping into the building’s gas line. Aside from the affected building, two other near-by apartment buildings collapsed in the blast. Several other near-by establishments and homes were evacuated.

While rescue workers continue to search the area, authorities believe that it is unlikely anyone still buried in the rubble could have survived the explosion. Still, rescuers continue their effort to clear up the scene and search for other victims that have yet to be accounted for.

Our thoughts go out to all of those affected by this horrible tragedy.


The Internet has been all agog about the declared intention of an 18-year-old New Yorker to marry her biological father, to whom she had lost her virginity two years previously. New York is notoriously liberal on many issues, and has even legalized the marriage between a half-uncle and niece, whose shared sanguinity is estimated at 1/8. But a marriage between a father and daughter is stretching a point a bit much.

Incest is frowned upon not only because of social taboos but because offspring of closely-related individuals tend to have health or other genetically-associated problems.

Laws on incest in the U.S. vary from state to state. In New York, cousins are allowed to marry, for example. However, a marriage between a father and daughter is not legal anywhere in the US, and in many states sexual relations between persons of first-degree sanguinity (father-daughter, mother-son, between siblings) is a criminal offense with sanctions ranging from one year to lifetime imprisonment. In New York, sexual relations between a father and daughter is a Class E felony, which is punishable for up to 4 years in prison.

But the barely-adult woman pointed out that an incestuous relationship between two adults is legal in New Jersey (it is), which is why they moved there. They still can’t get married legally, but she stated in the interview with New York Magazine that “I don’t believe you need a piece of paper to prove that you want to be with the person you love.” They intend to have children. The couple maintains their anonymity for obvious reasons.

Prince William and Princess Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, attended the 600th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign charity event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the anniversary of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, which they had both attended and where they had originally met. They were the guests of honor at the December 9, 2014 event and helped raise £2.2 million for their alma mater, not a huge stretch considering it was a £1,600-£6,400-a-plate dinner.

It was a celebrity-studded event, including comedian Seth Meyers, child-star-turned-fashionista Mary-Kate Olsen and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The couple lauded the university as a place for “first-class” education.

Aside from the gala, the royal couple also paid a visit to the 9/11 memorial and Prince William was taken on a tour of the Empire State Building by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. They also stopped by the Creativity is GREAT reception and met other celebrities including Sir Patrick Stewart, creative director Jenna Lyons, “The Good Wife” actress Archie Panjabi, Harvey Weinstein, and Georgina Chapman.

They managed to cram in a Mets basketball game where they schmoozed with singer-actress Beyonce Knowles and rapper husband Jay-Z.

Altogether, the royal couple stayed three days in The Big Apple.

A breath of hope is sweeping across New York City as Condé Nast, the mass media publishing division of Advance Publications, announces that it has contracted a significant area of the 104-story skyscraper that was built in the space formerly occupied by the World Trade Center. Aptly named One World Trade Center, the building is the tallest one in the Western Hemisphere, and houses the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

Condé Nast moved in about 175 of its employees on November 1, the first wave of the more than 2,300 employees that will eventually occupy 1,100 million square feet of real estate. The announcement symbolized the recovery of the city from the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center was targeted for terrorist attacks, resulting in the deaths of about 2,800 people, most of whom were in the building at the time of the attack, or who succumbed in the aftermath including firefighters and law enforcement officers.

It is hoped that the initiative shown by the publishing company will inspire others to do the same and revitalize the area. Because of the associations with the site, many had believed that the community would never recover. Hopefully, Condé Nast will be only the first of many to step on the road to healing.

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New York's Central ParkMany strange and unexplained things happen in New York City, and this is no exception. A 3-foot-tall black bear cub was found under a bush in Central Park by two women walking their dog. Black bears are native to the state and their population is growing, but none are known to live in the middle of New York City.

It was highly unlikely that the bear cub on its own had wandered into the city from the wild, and there were no reports of a missing black bear cub from any of the city’s zoos. Bears are not allowed to be kept as pets in the city, so if it was privately-owned it was brought in illegally.

Police and investigators are at a loss to explain the presence of the animal, and as of now, the cause of death is undetermined. When it was discovered, its head was resting on a bicycle.

Some suspect that the cub was a victim of animal cruelty and dumped in the park to avoid prosecution. The bicycle is being dusted for prints in an attempt to find the owner and perhaps an answer to the mystery of the black bear cub in Central Park. The remains were sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany for a necropsy.