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What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, April 4, 2023

April 4, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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GOVERNOR DETERMINED TO FLUSH OUT PRANKSTERS CAUSING REAL PANIC AT SCHOOLS

STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul is denouncing the latest school “swatting” threats, after a rash of calls were made to emergency personnel about non-existent attacks. Swatting is the act of making a prank to emergency services in an attempt to dispatch massive numbers of armed police officers to a particular address, often without the knowledge of people living, working or studying there. Speaking on Tuesday, April 4, Hochul said, “More than 50 school districts across New York have received disturbing ‘swatting’ threats today.”

Seeking to reassure parents that their children are safe at school, and pointing out that swatting threats’ goal is to create panic, Hochul said she has directed the New York State Police to investigate these threats and work closely with all levels of law enforcement to identify the perpetrators, hold them accountable, and restore the sense of safety and security our children deserve.”

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COMPTROLLER LANDER TO DETAIL AMBITIOUS PLAN INVOLVING CLIMATE PROTECTION AND PENSIONS

CITYWIDE — New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, during a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, April 5, will offer details on an ambitious plan to reach net zero emissions in their investment portfolios by 2040. Joining Comptroller Lander will be trustees of New York City Retirement Systems, and climate thought leaders and advocates, in what is expected to be a discussion about one of the most comprehensive climate action plans by a public pension fund in the United States.

They will discuss The Net Zero Implementation Plan, a roadmap to achieve decarbonization in the real economy and tangible, measurable benchmarks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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EATER NY FEATURES 15 POPULAR NEW BROOKLYN CULINARY TREATS

AROUND THE BOROUGH — Fifteen of Brooklyn’s hottest and most innovative new restaurants are featured in this week’s edition of Eater New York. Carroll Gardens locals lamenting the closing of century-old G. Esposito & Sons pork store might become enamored with Bobbi’s Italian Beef, on Smith Street in Cobble Hill. There’s also Akara House, a Nigerian vegetarian burger spot on Nostrand Avenue near Bergen St. in northern Crown Heights.

While a number of the new eateries are in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, there are also some unusual spots, such as Lula Mae, a Cambodian restaurant on Myrtle Ave. and Sy Ko in Windsor Terrace, which defines itself as offering both Syrian and Korean dishes, but not as a “fusion” restaurant.

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INAUGURAL NYC CYBER ACADEMY GRADUATES 21 CITY EMPLOYEES

CITYWIDE — The first-ever New York City Cyber Academy graduated 21 city employees on Tuesday, April 4, at a ceremony with Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser and Chief Information Security Officer Kelly Moa. NYC Cyber Academy is a specialized training program designed to bolster the city’s cybersecurity workforce and enhance agency cyber capabilities to defend against threats to essential services and critical infrastructure.

The graduates, who represent several city agencies, from the Department of Social Services and of Health & Mental Hygiene to the Fire Department, the Comptroller’s Office and Dept. of Transportation, will serve as liaisons to the Office of Cyber Command, representing their respective agencies and serving as the primary contact with the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation’s Cyber Command, in accordance with Mayor Adams’ Executive Order 10, issued last February.

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AIRPORT EMPLOYEE ARRESTED FOR BRINGING LOADED HANDGUN WITH HOLLOW BULLETS THROUGH SECURITY

NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT — Police on Saturday, April 1, arrested a New Jersey man who worked at Newark Liberty Airport when TSA officers spotted a loaded 9mm handgunloaded with eight hollow-point bullets — in his backpack being scanned in the checkpoint X-ray machine. Police who were called to the checkpoint confiscated both the man’s weapon and his airport employee ID badge. The man is reported to no longer be working at the airport.

“Saturday was April Fool’s Day, but I can assure you that nobody was laughing when our officers detected a loaded gun,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Bringing a firearm to a checkpoint is no joke.”

 

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BROOKLYN STARTUP SECURES DEFENSE DEPT CONTRACT FOR GREEN FUEL

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn startup Air Company, a green technology firm that focuses on carbon capture and reuse, has been awarded a $65 million contract from the Department of Defense to develop a sustainable airplane fuel, reports Cheddar News. CEO Gregory Constantine told Cheddar that the contract was a big win for the company and for the environment, as aviation is responsible for an estimated four to five billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — a number that Constantine believes Air Company could help reduce, as its methods are carbon-negative, meaning that they remove more of the gas from the atmosphere than they emit.

The company also uses its tech to manufacture products like perfume and vodka — its process produces alcohol, which is used in a wide variety of applications.

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GOLDMAN PRESSES ADMINISTRATION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman of Brooklyn and Lou Correa of California on Monday led 71 of their colleagues in a letter to House Appropriations Committee leadership requesting $865 million for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to address the historic immigration backlog and better process asylum applications. The congressmembers say that USCIS is unable to handle the high volume of requests after cuts made by the Trump administration forced the agency, which is currently mostly funded by application fees, to let go of two-thirds of its employees during the pandemic; and that the increased funding would cover staffing costs and general expenses to reduce the backlogs, as well as supporting up to 125,000 refugee admissions in fiscal year 2024.

“Without support from Congress, fees will continue to go up — as we’ve seen in the news in the past weeks: paperwork for citizenship naturalization, green card, application to work in the US, and more… The cost for an adjustment of status application could increase by as much as 130%,” the congressmembers warned in their letter; the full text is available online on Goldman’s official House webpage.

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NY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES FIGHTS WV LAW BARRING TRANSGENDER STUDENTS FROM SPORTS

NATIONWIDE — A student who is challenging a West Virginia law that bans her and other transgender students from athletic teams has a new set of allies in New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 18 of her counterparts across the United States. Attorney General James has led the coalition which is arguing in an amicus brief filed in B.P.J. v. West Virginia Board of Education, argue that the sole purpose of the West Virginia law is to exclude and stigmatize transgender students like B.P.J., and therefore it clearly violates her right to equal protection under the law.

The attorneys general argue that the West Virginia statute, which bans B.P.J. from participating on her school’s all-girls cross country and track teams, violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as it denies transgender girls like B.P.J. access to the same athletic opportunities that other boys and girls have.

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ICONIC GARDEN’S YELLOW MAGNOLIA CAFÉ REOPENS WITH LOCALLY-SOURCED INGREDIENTS

WASHINGTON AVENUE — Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Yellow Magnolia Café has reopened in partnership with Union Square Events and Restaurant Associates. The results of this collaboration include new menus and refreshed spaces at the Garden’s three dining venues — Yellow Magnolia Café, Canteen, and the Coffee Bar — as well as a refresh of its private events business. Yellow Magnolia Café, which is the BBG’s full-service restaurant, offers a range of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients meal choices from vegetable-centric small plates, to larger, heartier main dishes, as well as plant-inspired desserts, a children’s menu, and an exciting wine, beer, and cocktail beverage program.

On its opening season menu, small plates include Mushroom Pie with Époisses, finished with an herb salad and truffle vinaigrette; BBG Mezze Platter, composed of cucumber salad, carrot muhammara, mezze olives, marinated olives, and pita; and Beet Tartare, served with labneh, dill, mint, soba, and rice crisps.

The interior of the Yellow Magnolia Café. Photo: Union Square Hospitality Group and Restaurant Associates.
A menu sampling from some of the above-mentioned plates, at the newly-refreshed Yellow Magnolia Café at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo: Union Square Hospitality Group and Restaurant Associates.

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STATE ISSUES THREE MARIJUANA LICENSES FOR BROOKLYN

CROWN HEIGHTS — The state’s Cannabis Control Board announced on Monday that it had awarded 99 licenses to open recreational marijuana dispensaries to people impacted by drug laws across the state, including three in Brooklyn, following a judge’s decision to partially lift a ban on new licenses last week. The City reports that successful applicants celebrated after the board met at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights to issue their licensing decisions, with one of the three Brooklyn licensees, Misha Morse-Buch, telling The City, “It almost feels not real, I still can’t almost comprehend that it’s happened the way that it’s happened. Literally went from the people trying to lock me in a little box to here’s a life possibly.”

While others were disappointed at the relatively few licenses granted in Brooklyn, state officials said that this was a result of a backlog in application reviews, and that more operators would be approved as the backlog was worked through.

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FIVE BORO BIKE TOUR NEARLY SOLD OUT

CITYWIDE — Bike New York announced on Monday that its annual Five Boro Bike Tour has nearly sold out, and that riders who want to register should hurry if they want to secure spots in this year’s race. The tour, held on May 7, will kick off in lower Manhattan and wind through the entire city before finishing in Staten Island, near the ferry terminal.

Riders can find more information and sign up on Bike New York’s website; registration costs $129, with part of the costs going to fund Bike New York’s free bike education programs.

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REYNOSO TO HOST RAMADAN IFTAR MEAL AT BOROUGH HALL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso will host a Ramadan Iftar this Wednesday, the meal that observant Muslims eat after breaking their daytime fasts during the month-long holiday. Participants should bring their own prayer mats to the event, which will include a reading of Adhan, or the call to prayer, and the sunset Maghrib prayers.

The iftar will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall; attendees are asked to RSVP online, as space is limited.

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CITY TO HOLD JOB FAIR FOR MUNICIPAL POSITIONS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Councilmember Crystal Hudson, alongside NYC Citywide Administrative Services and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, is hosting a NYC Government Hiring Hall in Downtown Brooklyn this Wednesday, offering attendees the chance to explore opportunities at agencies across the city and learn more about finding careers in public service. The city is recruiting applicants for a wide variety of positions; there will also be on-the-spot interviews for select government jobs, including maintenance worker positions, inspectors, eligibility specialists and more.

The fair will be held on Wednesday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ingersoll Community Center; jobseekers can pre-register online on Eventbrite.

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NATIONAL GRID BACKS DOWN ON GREENPOINT GAS PLAN

GREENPOINT — Gas utility National Grid has dropped its controversial plan to build two large gas vaporizers in Greenpoint, reports Gothamist, after the state Public Service Commission ruled last month that the vaporizers were unnecessary and that the state would therefore not reimburse National Grid for the estimated $38 million in costs should it decide to move ahead with the project. National Grid said in a statement that it disagreed with the state’s assessment of its gas needs and that it intended to resubmit its application for funding in the future, although it did not offer a timeline.

This marks a win for neighborhood advocates and environmentalists, who vehemently opposed the plan to expand gas infrastructure in Greenpoint, citing years of pollution, and who celebrated after news broke of the state’s decision last month.

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FRANCHISER COLLECTS $165K FOR CITY HARVEST

BROOKLYN — Tim Doherty, president and CEO of franchise group Doherty Enterprises, on Saturday donated $168,000 to food rescue organization City Harvest, the result of years of fundraising at the group’s Panera cafes throughout the city. City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens accepted the donation on behalf of the charity, as Doherty, alongside his family, presented the oversized check before joining in on repacking food for delivery to underprivileged communities.

Doherty at the event said that he was proud to support City Harvest, citing their efforts to feed the hungry throughout the city and calling the charity “near and dear to my heart.”

Panera franchisee Tim Doherty presents the check to City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens. Photo: Doherty Enterprises.

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MAMMOS AND MIMOSAS AT NEW CANCER CARE CENTER IN MIDWOOD

MIDWOOD — Memorial Medical Care PC, a practice of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) physicians and New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, will host a free breast screening event this coming Saturday, April 8, at their new comprehensive cancer care on Nostrand Avenue in Midwood and near Brooklyn College. Registration for this free event is required to make an appointment, as a limited number of mammograms will be available on the day of the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registrars will be on hand for those wanting to schedule their screening for a later date. (Registration: https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/[email protected]/bookings/s/5eS5Jf7HH02A5VZIwJvZyA2)

Responding to high demand, the Cancer Care Center has opened additional slots, and the screening initiative will be conducted once a month. Participants will be offered refreshments and tours, and will have the opportunity to learn about breast self-care, early detection, breast imaging, and more.

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NEIL DIAMOND OPENS UP ABOUT LIVING WITH PARKINSON’S

BROOKLYN — Legendary Brooklyn singer-songwriter Neil Diamond opened up about his life and Parkinson’s diagnosis in an interview with CBS’s Anthony Mason on Sunday, as well as discussing his thoughts on “A Beautiful Noise,” the Broadway musical based on his biography and music that opened in December. Diamond retired from touring in 2018 following his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, and told Mason that he’s only begun to accept that the disease has no cure in the last few weeks, although it hasn’t stopped him from visiting his LA music studio — “I still can sing!” the Erasmus High School grad said, adding, “I still have great days… I just have to take life as it comes to me.”

“Somehow a calm has moved in, in the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet, as quiet as this recording studio. And I like it. I find that I like myself better. I’m easier on people, I’m easier on myself. And the beat goes on, and it will go on long after I’m gone,” Diamond said.

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INFO SESSION ON GRANT PROGRAM AT BOROUGH HALL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso and Citizens Committee for New York City will be hosting an info session on the committee’s small business and community grant program at Borough Hall on Thursday, April 6 at 6 p.m. CitizensNYC plans to award grants of up to $3,000 for “community building projects carried out by resident-led groups,” as well as grants of up to $10,000 for “businesses that give back to the community they serve,” with special consideration given to those operated by people of color, women and immigrants.

More information on the grant program can be found online at Citizens’ website; interested parties can RSVP for Thursday’s meeting online as well.

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2023 CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION OPENS

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT TO MIDWOOD — Budding high school artists in the 9th Congressional District can submit their original works in the 2023 Congressional Art Competition that Rep. Yvette D. Clarke is sponsoring. Each spring, the House of Representatives and the Congressional Institute sponsor a nationwide high school arts competition as an opportunity for high school students to showcase their talents. Application process and rules online.  Winning students will have their artwork displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol.

Last month, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) announced the launch of this year’s Congressional Art Competition within her district, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and part of Staten Island.

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DIOCESAN PROCESSION FROM GRAND ARMY PLAZA USHERS IN HOLY WEEK

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Bishop Robert J. Brennan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn led an annual tradition through the streets of Prospect Heights on Palm Sunday, April 2, starting with a proclamation of the Gospel at Grand Army Plaza. Worshipers, many of them singing and playing instruments, then headed to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, a few blocks away, where a Spanish-language Mass was offered to usher in Holy Week.

The Diocese will continue offering Holy Week observances, with April 3 being Reconciliation Monday, welcoming people back who may have been away from the Church, and offering opportunities at each parish for the Sacrament of Confession. Every church within the Diocese of Brooklyn will have a priest available for walk-in confessions from 2 p.m.- 4, p.m., and from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m.

Bishop Brennan and acolytes carrying crosses adorned with palm leaves begin the procession from Grand Army Plaza. Photo: DeSales Media/Diocese of Brooklyn.
Standing at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, Bishop Brennan reads the Gospel passage about Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Photo: DeSales Media/Diocese of Brooklyn.
Worshippers sing as they proceed along Vanderbilt Avenue toward the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on Pacific St. between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues in Prospect Heights. At this point, they are about a block away from the cathedral. Photo: DeSales Media/Diocese of Brooklyn.

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APPLICATIONS OPEN TO MENTORSHIP PROGRAM FOR MINORITY/WOMEN-OWNED CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

CITYWIDE — NYC Department of Design and Construction has opened the application process for the second cohort of the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) Mentoring Program. Firms and small businesses in the construction industry that are interested in participating may apply through May 15 for this program — the first of its type for a New York City mayoral agency. The Mentoring Program features two tiers, and each firm will spend four years in each tier where they will receive tailored business management guidance, growth planning support and project-specific technical assistance from a technical assistance consultant and an established construction management firm.

Firms begin the Program in Tier 1, which offers exclusive opportunities to bid on special construction projects valued up to $1.5 million.

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GOVERNOR INVESTS $2M INTO CUNY APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN, CROWN HEIGHTS AND MANHATTAN BEACH — Just as the Associated Press released a report stating that the nation’s community colleges are in trouble and receive insufficient governor funding, New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday, April 3, announced a $2 million expansion of CUNY apprenticeship offerings. The state investment adds 12 apprenticeship programs at the City University of New York for its associate degrees starting in the Fall 2023 semester (at all 10 CUNY colleges that offer Associate Degrees) in collaboration with the New York Jobs CEO Council, and representing a large expansion of CUNY’s offering of for-credit apprenticeships in in-demand industries. Students will be placed in companies like JPMorgan Chase, Citi, American Express, Deloitte, AIG, Mastercard and Wells Fargo, all part of the New York Jobs CEO Council.

Among the CUNY schools in Brooklyn, colleges offering associate degrees are Medgar Evers College, NYC College of Technology, and Kingsborough Community College.

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LIBRARY PRANKS READERS WITH ICE CREAM COLLECTION

BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn Public Library announced on April 1 that it would be launching a limited-edition ice cream collection available only at libraries, featuring the flavors “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mango,” “Rum Raisin in the Sun,” “Key Lime and Punishment” and “Middlemarshmallow.” Hungry readers will be disappointed, however, as the ice cream announcement was an April Fool’s prank, with those who submitted orders redirected to an info page letting them in on the joke — although this reporter urges BPL to consider the idea for real, as the flavors and literary references sound too good to pass up.

The library is also collecting signatures for its petition against the budget cuts proposed by Mayor Adams, warning that the cuts could force BPL to cut hours and services at its locations — sign online by selecting your favorite joke flavor on the library’s website.

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MAYOR PRAISES UNION AGREEMENT

CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams and Office of Labor Relations commissioner Renee Campion on Saturday hailed District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal worker’s union, for voting to ratify its five-year-plus contract with the city Friday night, with 97% of all members in favor. The deal will cover roughly a quarter of the city’s total unionized workforce, providing annual raises of 3% in the first four years and 3.25% in the fifth year, as well as a one-time bonus of $3,000 immediately to eligible members, a childcare fund, a flexible work pilot program and other quality-of-life perks.

“This agreement will put thousands of dollars into the pockets of the men and women of DC 37, who work tirelessly each and every day to keep our city running. And it is a victory for people like my late mother, Dorothy Adams, herself a former member of this union, who raised six children on her own thanks to the good pay and decent benefits she got from DC 37,” said Mayor Adams in a press statement.

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SALMONELLA OUTBREAK LINKED TO FLOUR, NOT EGGS: CDC

NATIONWIDE — The CDC is warning Americans that an ongoing outbreak of salmonella that has sickened at least 12 people across 11 states, including New York, has been linked to the consumption of raw flour, not eggs. The CDC says it’s currently working to identify which specific brands of flour might be responsible, but cautions against the consumption of any raw or undercooked baked goods or dough, as any raw flour that has not been baked or heat-treated has the potential to carry the germs that cause salmonella, as well as other illnesses.

The true number of salmonella cases is likely significantly higher, as many will recover without medical treatment; the CDC on their website encourages people to avoid consuming raw flour, make sure to sanitize baking equipment and surfaces, and to contact medical providers when experiencing severe symptoms like high fevers or severe diarrhea and vomiting.

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BIPARTISAN BILL WOULD HELP COMPENSATE NEWSPAPERS WHEN DIGITAL PLATFORMS USE THEIR CONTENT

NATIONWIDE — Local-niche newspapers in Brooklyn and throughout the U.S. could be compensated for the use of their articles in major digital platforms if a bipartisan bill to protect them finally becomes law, the magazine Editor & Publisher reported. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, on Friday reintroduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would allow local news outlets to negotiate for fair compensation from large digital platforms such as Meta and Google, for the use of their valuable content that use their content, and to help local journalism survive in an era when most Americans consume news through digital platforms, the senators said.

Newspapers do not currently have the authority to negotiate these deals on their own. Last December Meta threatened to pull all news content from Facebook if the JCPA passes.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS: COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN DECLINE

NATIONWIDE — The Associated Press has published a report on a declining trend in community college enrollment and academic or job readiness training at these schools. The article offers statistics on the number of students at community colleges — with significantly lower tuition — which has fallen 37% since 2010, or by nearly 2.6 million, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, although none of the schools or students quoted are from the New York City metropolitan area.

Among the problems that students have cited are scant communications between themselves and faculty. However, the story also pointed out community colleges are vital to the U.S. economy, as employers often look to community college graduates to fill positions during worker shortages.

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COPS CATCH ONE OF THREE IN MURDER/ROBBERY SPREE

CONNECTICUT — Police on Monday announced the arrest of one of three men sought in connection with two homicide investigations, as well as a citywide robbery spree, in New Britain, Connecticut, following the release of the three men’s photos to the media. The three men are allegedly part of a larger gang who in 2021 and 2022 drugged club-goers in Manhattan in order to rob them, resulting in the deaths of Julio Ramirez, 25, and John Umberger, 33, last spring from lethal overdoses, according to the New York Post.

The arrested man, Jacob Barroso of Harlem, has been charged with murder, robbery, grand larceny, identity theft and conspiracy; the others, Jayqwan Hamilton and Robert Demaio of DUMBO, are still on the run, and the public is urged to contact authorities with any information they can share.

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RECORD EXEC WHO SIGNED MADONNA PASSES AWAY AGE 80

LOS ANGELES — Brooklyn-born Seymour Stein, the record executive and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who founded Sire Records and discovered legendary artists like Madonna, the Ramones and the Talking Heads, among many others, passed away from cancer in Los Angeles on Sunday, reports the Associated Press. Stein was renowned for his deep knowledge of music, as well as his talent for finding future stars, and is credited by some with inventing the term “new wave,” a subgenre of punk music.

In his memoir, published in 2018, Stein discussed his signing of Madonna, whose demo tape he loved so much that he asked her to meet him in the hospital as he recovered from a heart infection: “I liked Madonna’s voice, I liked the feel, and I liked the name Madonna. I liked it all and played it again… She was all dolled up in cheap punky gear, the kind of club kid who looked absurdly out of place in a cardiac ward. She wasn’t even interested in hearing me explain how much I liked her demo. ‘The thing to do now,’ she said, ’is sign me to a record deal.’”


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