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To believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman, much more to openly express this belief, is nothing less than spreading a message of hate, at least according to Councilman Daniel Dromm of the New York City Council. Councilman Dromm, however, is not the only one with this view. All other Council members, led by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, share the same stance. The main reason why the Mayor has called on all New Yorkers to boycott Chick-fil-A, which serves plump juicy chicken breasts tucked between hot buttered buns, simply because this company’s president does not approves of same-sex marriage.

Chick-fil-A, now about to open its third branch (this time in Queens, the district that Councilman Dromm represents), is owned by a devout Christian family. It was in 2012 when its president, Dan Cathy, told a reporter about his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Since then, militant LGBT leftwing lawmakers and activists have never tired airing their objection which, in turn, got the Mayor’s attention. In addition to saying that what Chick-fil-A’s owners said was wrong, the Mayor also told online news service provider DNAInfo.com that he will not eat at Chick-fil-A and would not urge any other New Yorker to do so.

Besides the cash donations that Chick-fil-A has made to a number of NYC charities, it also employs hundreds of New Yorkers, which translates to a substantial amount of taxes the the city’s chests. Obviously, though, these do not count to the good Mayor and Councilman Dromm, who personally organized the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival after founding the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee.

Meanwhile, amid all the publicity, many New Yorkers, rather than heeding the Mayor’s call to boycott Chick-fil-A, are heading to the fast food restaurant to enjoy more chicken and waffle fries, and deliciously refreshing lemonade which, according to one keen observer, seem to make people more pleasant and easy going.

Baby Sitter
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and, for a lot of people, that means for countless celebrations occurring all over the city—and someone’s making a profit from all of it.

Babysitting services are popular services offered by young people towards adults who would entrust them with the care of their children for a night due to one reason or another, usually to spend some time as a couple. Many couples still follow this practice for New Year’s celebrations and so employ babysitters for their children – however, the holiday comes with an increased price.

While amateur babysitters often make around $10 to $22 per hour, the rates from reliable babysitting services can range from $40 to $50 an hour.

Noa Mintz, teenage founder of Nannies by Noa, has said that the higher fees are reasonable, given that the sitters would spend the holiday with someone else’s children. Mintz goes on to say that: “It’s not the same as being with friends and family.”

While some mothers in the New York City area, such as Joanna Stanberry from the Upper West Side, have called the higher rate as “totally excessive”, there are others – such as Caroline Blackman Coakley from Manhattan – who say that the competence of and the trustworthiness that can be bestowed upon a sitter to care for her children was “priceless”.

State workers in New York would see a raise in their paycheck as Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to announce an hourly minimum rate of $15, according to a report by the NY Times. This move makes the minimum wage of public employees in New York far higher than in any other states, and it also places the state in the frontline of a movement against stagnant pays.

According to Mr. Cuomo, it’s high time that a wage increase should be implemented because insufficient minimum wage keeps dragging many families across the nation down. He plans to implement the increase gradually, which could benefit approximately 10,000 workers. State workers outside New York City would see a $15 per hour rate by the end of 2021. On the other hand, due to a higher cost of living, employees living in NYC would have their wages climb to $15 faster, by the end of 2018.

Many admired the governor’s move, including Paul Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project. According to Sonn, Mr. Cuomo’s move was a testament to the “power of the movement towards $15 wages.” However, some fiscal groups warned about the move’s possible implications to the state’s growth and economy.

Among the many job categories that will benefit from the increase include custodial staff, lifeguards, and office assistants.

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.

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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.

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.

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.