5Pointz Owner Libel for Destroying Graffiti Art

Nov 12, 17 5Pointz Owner Libel for Destroying Graffiti Art

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A jury found owner of the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens, guilty of destroying graffiti art when he tore down the building as part of his plans for developing the area. Three years ago, Jerry Wolkoff, a New York City real estate developer, had the 5Pointz group of buildings torn down after close to twenty years of allowing graffiti artists to decorate the buildings with colorful swirling murals. The unusual collaboration became a tourist site over the years, and helped to transform the area into a growing residential enclave. Although the site was a popular attraction, and many graffiti artists added their own works frequently, it was always understood that eventually the buildings would be torn down to make way for luxury apartments. After the demolition in 2014, 21 artists brought a law suit against Wolkoff, arguing that he had violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, a law enacted to protect public art of “recognized stature” which was created on someone else’s property. Eric Baum, lawyer for the artists, said that Wolkoff had violated the artists rights by failing to notify them 90 days in advance of the destruction. According to the complaint, Wolkoff had brought workers at night to cover the graffiti in a layer of white paint without giving notice. David Ebert, Wolkoff’s lawyer, said that the VARA law does not apply in this case, since the law was intended to protect art and not his client’s building. He added that the artists always knew that one day the buildings would be torn down. He also argued that the artists themselves had destroyed much more art than his client did, saying that over the years about 11,000 murals had been painted and destroyed at the 5Pointz complex. The trial lasted about three weeks. At the end the two lawyers agreed that the jury’s decision would be merely a recommendation to guide the judge, Frederic Block to make his decision. The jury decided in favor or the artists, but Judge Block...

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ISIS Sympathizer Gets Maximum Sentence in Brooklyn

Oct 30, 17 ISIS Sympathizer Gets Maximum Sentence in Brooklyn

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Despite pleas for sympathy and a show of regret, Uzbek national Abdurasul Juraboev was handed the maximum sentence of 15 years for plotting attacks of a terrorist nature. Juraboev pleaded guilty to following ISIS and planning overseas terrorist attacks as well as attacks on US soil in 2014. He also threatened then-President Barack Obama with death online and declared he wanted to fight for ISIS in Syria. If he couldn’t get to Syria, he said, he would do violence in New York, said federal prosecutors. Juraboev purchased a plane ticket to Turkey with the intention of traveling on to Syria, but he plans were thwarted when he was arrested along with others who were making similar plans. Lawyers for the defendant pressed the judge to sentence their client to about 5 years in prison. They argued that their client was alone in the United States, after being awarded a green card in the lottery. Without family or friends, it is no wonder Juraboev joined ISIS. Several months after he was arrested Juraboev pleaded guilty to giving material aid to a terrorist group. The 27-year-old man tearfully described his regret for supporting ISIS, saying that now he disdains extremism and now knows that ISIS “wasn’t the real Islam.” “I didn’t know my religion correctly,” Juraboev said, adding that ISIS fighters and propagandists were “doing many things wrong.” Acting Brooklyn US Attorney Bridget Rohde said that the sentence “holds Juraboev to account for his plans to join ISIS and engage in violent jihad overseas or carry out a terrorist attack in the United States if he was unable to travel to...

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Prospect Park Says No to Cars

Oct 24, 17 Prospect Park Says No to Cars

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After a successful trial period as a car-free zone from July to September, Prospect Park is about to embark on this ambitious move on a permanent basis. Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement on Monday: Prospect Park will no longer allow entrance to cars on the parks entire loop drive, beginning on January 2, 1918. The New York City Department of Transportation carefully monitored the traffic on the roads adjacent to the park during the trial period from July 17 until September 11 and decided that closing the park had no significant impact on traffic. “Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s backyard. I married Chirlane here. This is where my kids played little league,” said the mayor. “And I have always wanted it to be the safe, quiet refuge for Brooklyn’s families that it was intended to be. Restoring Prospect Park as a car-free oasis will improve the lives of the millions who use this park today and of generations to come.” Prospect Park is one of Brooklyn’s most visited sites, with between 8 and 10 million visitors each year. The park’s West Drive has already been car-free since 2015, while the eastern route stayed open only on weekdays. Pedestrian park-goers outnumber cars in the park by a margin of 3-1 during the morning hours, making their desire for a car-free park a convincing reason to ban cars. Joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and others that come to the park brought 1,100 signatures requesting that the summer’s car-free status be made permanent. The neighborhood will be notified about the upcoming change using social media as well as posting signs at the entrance to Prospect...

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Bay Ridge R-Train Station Open Again for Business

Oct 16, 17 Bay Ridge R-Train Station Open Again for Business

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After a six-month closure for major improvements, the 102-year-old station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is serving commuters again. The station, which offers R train service, now has new digital information signage, countdown clocks, charging ports for phones and other devices, better, brighter lighting, and beautiful new artwork. MTA head Joe Lhota did the honors of cutting the ribbon to officially open the station. “The work that we’ve done here was to bring it into the 21st Century,” Lhota said. This station is just one of many on several subway lines which will be renovated under the $836 million subway rescue plan. Quality of service is also high up on the agenda of improvements. “We’re not letting one minute go to waste during nonpeak hours,” Lhota added, saying that when new train cars arrive and new signal equipment is installed, the MTA will be able to run more trains. Some commuters were disappointed that the MTA did not add an elevator as part of the station’s upgrade. Having an elevator would be a great benefit to elderly, people in wheelchairs, and others who find using stairs a burden. “If you’re completely redoing a station, keep in mind the people who need to use it, not just the cosmetic improvements,” one commuter commented. Lhota said that putting in an elevator at the Bay Ridge station was not possible. “We couldn’t do it for this site because of the logistics,” Lhota said. “If we were able to do it, we would do it.” Four other R stations will be getting elevators in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act- at 59th St, 77th St, 86th St and Bay Ridge-95th...

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Judge Says He Can’t Promise El Chapo’s Lawyers Will Get Paid

Aug 15, 17 Judge Says He Can’t Promise El Chapo’s Lawyers Will Get Paid

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US District Judge Brian Cogan did not make accused drug lord “El Chapo’s” lawyers feel reassured about their eventual compensation at Monday’s Brooklyn hearing. When the hearing commenced Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was seen waving to his wife and twin daughters, who were viewing the proceedings from the second row of the public seating in the courtroom. The judge then informed Guzman and his lawyers that the government could not promise that the drug lord’s assets would not be seized, thus depriving the lawyers of their compensation. El Chapo, who has twice staged dramatic prison breaks in Mexico, is being tried in Brooklyn for heading up a multi-billion-dollar international drug trafficking ring which carried out multiple murders and kidnappings. He was extradited from Mexico in January, and has been held in solitary confinement in a prison in lower Manhattan. His lawyers are worried that if the government seizes Guzman’s money, there will be nothing left to pay them. Among Guzman lawyers is Jeff Lichtman, who was able to successfully defend the son of mafia scion John Gotti. The government has said it wants to collect $14 billion in drug money from El Chapo. Guzman’s lawyers argued that they want to alleviate the taxpayer’s burden of having to pay the public defenders the court would appoint, but only if they know in advance they will be compensated. After the hearing and Judge Cogan’s ruling, Lichtman said he still wanted to find a way to defend his client, who pleaded not guilty to charges of running a drug trafficking cartel that laundered billions of dollars and committed murder and kidnapping. The hearing lasted 15 minutes during which El Chapo turned to look at his family several times, with clear emotion in his face. He is scheduled to spend some time with his family for the first time in seven months this...

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Penn Station Repairs Means More Delays and Less Trains for Commuters

Jul 10, 17 Penn Station Repairs Means More Delays and Less Trains for Commuters

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Amtrak’s infrastructure at Penn Station has been in need of repairs for quite a while now, but those repairs were not supposed to be done in such a rush. Originally the obligatory work was going to be spread out over a few years, only on evenings and over weekends. Unfortunately, two recent derailments have forced Amtrak’s hand to get the work done quickly. The new repair schedule will affect a few hundred thousand commuters on the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit in addition to Amtrak travelers who commute between Boston and Washington, DC. Because of the need to close down the tracks to do the repairs, there will be fewer trains during peak times. More cars will be added to each train on the LIRR, to try and make up for the fewer trains. Passengers are also being asked to change to subways in Brooklyn and Queens. New Jersey Transit will be moving some of their rush hour trains to Hobokon, where passengers can switch to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey trains, or to take the ferry. It is hoped that all the repairs will be completed by the end of August. At that time commuters can expect improved reliability because of brand new equipment. However, there could still be some problems stemming from electrical wire failures and signal and track problems in northern New Jersey east of Newark. These additional problems will not be addressed until the completion of the Gateway project. Gateway will build an additional rail tunnel under the Hudson River, repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and make large improvements on the New Jersey side and in Penn Station. Expected completion date:...

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