What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, September 5, 2023
SEVERAL PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS IN BROOKLYN WILL RECEIVE ADA UPGRADES FROM CITY
CLINTON HILL AND CARROLL GARDENS — AN INTERSECTION AT COURT AND DEGRAW streets in Carroll Gardens, and several in Clinton Hill along Willoughby Avenue, are among those slated to receive improved pedestrian ramps from the NYC Department of Design and Construction and the DOT in the coming year. Community District 2, which covers Clinton Hill where most of the upgrades will be made, reports that the improved pedestrian ramps are designed to meet current ADA requirements for persons with disabilities — they will be non-standard, requiring custom designs due to unusual site conditions, and may involve the relocation of underground utilities, light poles, traffic signals, drainage structures and private utilities. The affected Community District 2 ramps are at all four corners of the Carlton, Washington and Waverly avenue intersections with Willoughby Ave. Work will also be done at the northwest corner of Court and DeGraw streets, within Community District 6.
Following the completion of the design stage this fall, construction is targeted to start in the Summer of 2024.
SCHOOL BUS SERVICE RUNNING, FOR NOW
CITYWIDE – PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENTS CAN BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF at the news that school buses will be running as the school year starts this week, reports Chalkbeat, despite ongoing contentious contract disputes between the bus drivers’ union and the city that some feared would see families left to figure out how to transport their kids by themselves. Amalgamated Transit Union chief of staff Carolyn Rinaldi wrote in an email that service would continue for now as the drivers continue to negotiate for fair pay and benefits, but warned that later strikes could still be on the table should the city be unwilling to compromise.
Department of Education officials have previously discussed alternative plans for helping kids get to school without buses, including potentially distributing free MetroCards and footing the bill for taxis and rideshare services.
SCOOTER RIDER DIES AFTER ROAD ‘DEFECT’ ACCIDENT
FLATBUSH – POLICE ON MONDAY ANNOUNCED THAT A KENSINGTON MAN severely wounded last month in an electric scooter accident passed away on Monday, August 21, after spending a week in New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, reports the Brooklyn Paper. Alberto Gonzalez, 67, had been riding the e-scooter down Beverly Road when he struck a “defect” in the pavement at its intersection with Westminster Road, throwing him from the scooter and causing trauma to his head; police did not specify what the pavement defect was.
The increasing popularity of electric scooters and other vehicles has lead to a sharp upswing in accidents, such as a four-way crash last month on the Manhattan Bridge in July that left the bridge’s bike lane bloodied and sent several riders to the hospital; Patch reports that there have been 18 e-vehicle related deaths as of July 4 this year.
MAYOR INVITES NEW YORKERS TO DIRECT-TEXT WITH HIM
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS LAUNCHED “TEXT WITH ERIC,” just before the Labor Day weekend, marking his latest initiative to facilitate two-way communication directly with New Yorkers. The interactive program will provide updates from the Adams administration. People who register via https://www.nyc.gov/content/hearfromeric/?utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery will receive SMS communications directly from the Adams administration with information about new initiatives and policies, local events, and more, and will be able to respond themselves to share their thoughts with the city. Community, an SMS engagement platform that President Joseph Biden, former President Barack Obama, and many other notable people and organizations also use, will facilitate the messaging.
Earlier this year, Mayor Adams launched “Hear from Eric,” an email-based direct communications program designed to reach New Yorkers where they are about local issues and priorities. However, criticism has emerged that some politicians’ direct texting with constituents is part of an agenda to eliminate newspaper reportage.
USDA ANNOUNCES RECALL OF NATIONAL-BRAND MEAT PRODUCTS
NATIONWIDE — CHICKEN STRIPS AND SAUSAGE FROM RECOGNIZED NATIONAL BRANDS are the latest to be recalled after foreign materials, including plastic, were found in the food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Saturday, September 2 that Missouri-based ConAgra Brands Inc., has recalled Banquet Brand Frozen Chicken Strips, and that Hillshire Brands Company is recalling approximately 15,876 pounds of blended meat and poultry smoked sausage products that were shipped to New York and nationwide, and that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically bone fragments.
The problem was discovered when the firm notified FSIS that it received consumer complaints regarding bone fragments in the product, with reports of oral injuries associated with consumption of these products. The Banquet chicken strip also received a complaint involving an oral injury.
USDA LISTS PACKAGING CODES FOR RECALLED MEATS
NATIONWIDE — THE USDA has identified the packaging code and lot numbers associated with the aforementioned recalled chicken strips and blended-meat smoked sausage products. The Banquet Chicken Strips Meal label indicated the establishment number “EST. P-9,” with best if used by “DEC 11 2024,” “JAN 01 2025,” or “JAN 07 2025” and bore lot numbers 5009317120, 5009319220, or 5009319820 located on the side of the carton. The smoked sausage 14-oz. cryovac package contains one 14-oz. rope of “Hillshire,” labeled as “Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage Made With Pork, Turkey, Beef” with Lot code EST. 756A and a use-by date of “Nov 11 23” as printed on the front of the package.
The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is concerned that some products may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
CROWN HEIGHTS BODEGA SERVES AS THEATER FOR NEW PLAY
CROWN HEIGHTS – A CROWN HEIGHTS BODEGA IS SERVING AS THE UNLIKELY STAGE for an innovative new play, “Joan of Arc in a Supermarket,” staged by area locals, reports Time Out, in which cast members use the ES Wholesome Foods market as a backdrop to explore the female coming-of-age experience for audience members seated in the store’s center aisle. “Joan of Arc” is set in a California supermarket, and tells the story of five young women struggling with an inappropriate supervisor; playwright Chloe Xtina told Time Out that ES’s operators, in contrast, have been the perfect partners for their production, with the owners and staff offering assistance and advice with the after-hours performances – along with star guest appearances by bodega cat Benito.
The play’s sold-out extended run ends on Sept. 3; its producers hope to stage the show in other locations down the line – including, eventually, in a supermarket in California.
LONGTIME GARAGE CLOSURE REVEALS FORGOTTEN VINTAGE CARS
CROWN HEIGHTS — CAR ENTHUSIASTS GOT A LOOK AT SOME RARE WHEELS last week during the cleanout of the 92-year-old Auto Baby Sitters garage, reports The Drive, which is shutting down and is set to be demolished to make way for an apartment building. The Drive’s reporters found dusty vintage vehicles, owners unknown, had been moved onto the street outside the building awaiting transport, including a 1959 Cadillac sedan, complete with retro tailfins, a sporty Pontiac Fiero from the 80s, and a classic checker cab with peeling blue paint.
NY YIMBY reported in April of last year that the Sterling Street lot’s developers plan for the new building to be seven stories tall and to host 79 units of likely rental housing; demolition permits were filed this February, reports Patch, although final approval for the new construction had not yet been granted.
NYU TANDON RESEARCHERS DEVELOP NEW AI TECHNIQUE IN FACIAL IMAGING
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — RESEARCHERS AT THE NYU TANDON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING have developed a new artificial intelligence technique that changes a person’s apparent age in images but maintains that individual’s unique identifying features. The IEEE International Joint Conference on Biometrics published a paper by Sudipta Banerjee, a research assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department and her colleagues, that describes how they trained a type of generative AI model – a latent diffusion model – to “know” how to perform identity-retaining age transformation, using small set of images of an individual, along with a separate set of images with captions indicating the age category of the person represented. The researchers tested their method against other existing age-modification methods, and found their method outperformed other methods.
The Tandon team’s work marks a significant step forward from standard AI models that can make people look younger or older but fail to retain their individual biometric identifiers.
RING OF THIEVES WANTED IN SUMMER RASH OF HOME INVASIONS, CAR THEFTS
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — BAY RIDGE AND MANHATTAN BEACH residents have been especially hit in a spree of 13 home burglaries and car thefts that a group of thieves committed this summer. Starting in June, the thieves have operated in three- and four-person cohorts, striking overnight. They struck a home on Ridge Blvd. & 77th St. (68th Precinct) on July 24, and During their most recent heist, a month ago on August 2, three thieves broke into a Manhattan Beach home near Oriental Blvd. and Coleridge St., taking clothing, jewelry and two of the aforementioned vehicles.
The Daily News reported that police did recover three of the stolen vehicles, although burglars are still at large and the NYPD has released photos of the suspects. The public is asked to come forward with any information, via Crime Stoppers at (800) 577 TIPS.
GRAND ST. L SUBWAY STATION REOPENS, MTA’S LATEST FULL-ACCESSIBILITY UPGRADE
WILLIAMSBURG — THE GRAND ST L STATION IN WILLIAMSBURG is the latest in the fully-accessible (ADA) subway stops to open; and last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul celebrated the accelerated pace of the entire project, reports the MTA and Brooklyn Community Board 1. The Grand St. station project, the fourth of its kind across the transit system this year, followed the completion and opening of three fully accessible stations, one of which was the 8th Avenue N station (near 62nd St.) in Sunset Park. The MTA maximized the pandemic period’s decrease in ridership by prioritizing accessibility improvements, and completed 15 accessibility projects.
As of now, the MTA has 142 accessible stations and 30 stations in construction for accessibility upgrades, eight of which are expected to be complete by the end of 2023. The Brooklyn stations are the Lorimer St L, Metropolitan Av G (two side platforms, transfers to L train); and the 7 Av F & G station in Park Slope (two island platforms, transfers between these lines).
NEW YORK MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF BOLSTERED GUN SAFETY LAWS
STATEWIDE — GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL on Friday, September 1 marked the one-year anniversary of gun safety legislation that strengthened New York’s pistol permitting process as part of the fight against gun violence. The laws that took effect on September 1, 2022 included requirements for comprehensive background checks and firearm safety and live-fire training for individuals seeking to obtain concealed carry permits. The new laws prohibited concealed carry permit holders from bringing their firearms into sensitive locations, such as schools, government buildings and hospitals, and required renewal or recertification of permits every three years. The State also launched its gun safety website, https://gunsafety.ny.gov/, to provide the public, gun owners, and gun dealers with comprehensive information about the new requirements under state law.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 had struck down New York’s century-old public carry licensing law by a 6-3 majority in the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. New York then enacted its new law in response to the Bruen ruling.
BIRTH CONTROL ‘GRUB’ FOR RATS FAILS; THEY WENT FOR THE GARBAGE INSTEAD
BRYANT PARK AND CITYWIDE — RATS AREN’T TAKING THE BAIT. The city’s latest contraceptive bait scheme, targeting Bryant Park adjacent to the New York Public Library, has failed, reports Gothamist. The plan, which was part of the city’s war on rats, involved the Bryant Park Corporation’s purchase of two dozen “ContraPest” bait stations that contained a liquid contraceptive from Arizona-based SenesTech. The price tag: $3,000 for a product that reportedly worked in California and at the Miami and Los Angeles zoos. However, the contraceptive-lined baits were no match for the tempting garbage generated in a park with several food kiosks. Think “‘Charlotte Web’s’ Templeton at the county fair.”
Bryant Park Corporation spokesman Joe Carella told Gothamist that the plan, which lasted about six weeks, proved unsuccessful, as had a prior sterilization initiative. Kathleen Corrardi, Mayor Eric Adams’ rat czar, had said last month that rats would have had to consume a huge amount of the bait to become infertile.
HEALTH DEPT. CONDUCTS MORE PESTICIDE SPRAYING IN SW BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOODS
SOUTHWEST BROOKLYN — THE NYC HEALTH DEPARTMENT on Tuesday, Sept. 5, (rain date of Wednesday, Sept. 6, if needed) will conduct overnight mosquito pesticide spraying in parts of Southwest Brooklyn to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus. The boundaries of the area to be sprayed are roughly Coney Island Creek, Gravesend Bay to the South and southwest; 83rd Street, Fort Hamilton Parkway to the west; 60th Street to the north; and, McDonald Avenue, Shell Road to the east. The neighborhoods include Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Fort Hamilton, Mapleton, and New Utrecht.
The Health Department will use very low concentrations of Anvil® 10+10, Duet® or MERUS® 3, and advises Brooklynites with sensitivities to stay indoors. Air conditioners can be left on; those needing to can select the recirculate function. Any fruits and vegetables from home gardens should be washed thoroughly.
NY CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION WARNS AGAINST NYPD’S POTENTIAL ABUSE OF DRONES AT PUBLIC GATHERINGS
CITYWIDE — CIVIL LIBERTIES LEADERS ARE CRITICIZING THE NYC POLICE Department’s decision to employ drones over large gatherings in the city this weekend, particularly during one of Brooklyn’s largest traditions within the Caribbean community, the West Indian Day Parade and related events that take place each Labor Day along on Eastern Parkway. “Deploying surveillance drones over New Yorkers gathering with their friends and families to celebrate J’ouvert is racialized discrimination and it doesn’t make us safer,” said Daniel Schwarz, Senior Privacy & Technology Strategist at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Schwarz charged that “The NYPD is playing fast and loose with our First and Fourth Amendment protections and continues to undermine the POST Act requirements to transparently disclose their surveillance technology policies — and follow them.”
“As the NYPD keeps deploying these dystopian technologies, we must push for stricter guardrails — especially given the department’s lengthy history of surveilling and policing Black and Brown communities,” Schwarz warned.
BURNING MAN FESTIVAL SWAMPED BY STORMS
NEVADA – REVELERS AT THE HIPPIE-MEETS-SILICON-VALLEY ARTS FESTIVAL Burning Man were trapped at the event’s desert campsite due to torrential rainstorms this weekend that turned the usually hard and dusty ground into impassable mud, reports the BBC, with campers warned to take shelter and conserve supplies. Burning Man is held in a remote, off-grid section of the Nevada deserts, and has no permanent facilities or infrastructure like paved roads or plumbing; vehicles were bogged down in mud, communal toilets were rendered inoperable and tents were swamped, prompting some luckier campers to open up RVs as shelters, while others decided to make the most of the unfortunate circumstances and partied on through the rain, and still more made the long trek back to the closest road, five miles away.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office also announced on Sunday that it was investigating a death at the festival related to the rainstorms, but did not provide further information.
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