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Brooklyn College Celebrates the Opening of the Haitian Studies Institute

Sep 05, 16 Brooklyn College Celebrates the Opening of the Haitian Studies Institute

Posted by in All, News

Scholars, politicians and lay-leaders were in attendance at the opening of the Haitian Studies Institute, now an integral part of the academic offerings at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College. The institute is billed as “a leading institute in the nation, contributing to the body of knowledge about Haitians and the Haitian Diaspora, and advancing the intellectual field of Haitian Studies through research, analysis of public policy, and scholarly practice impacting people of Haitian origin in New York State and other parts of the Haitian Diaspora.” Brooklyn College President Dr. Michelle J. Anderson introduced Jean Eddy Saint Paul as the founding director of CUNY-HIS during the proceedings, which took place on Wednesday at the Flatbush Avenue campus of Brooklyn College. “I am pleased to welcome scholar Jean Eddy Saint Paul to our community,” intoned Anderson, adding, “Brooklyn is home to the largest number of foreign-born Haitians in New York City, and the largest concentration of Haitian-owned businesses and community-based organizations in New York State. Dr. Saint Paul’s experience and knowledge will help him make the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College a global intellectual center.” Saint Paul is from Haiti and has written many scholarly articles and chapters, as well as two books, The Militias in Haiti: Sociology of Chimè and Tontons Macoutes, about Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. The realization of the dream of the HIS was in no small part due to the political support of Rodneyse Bichotte, Assemblywoman of the 42nd District of the New York State Assembly. Visibly moved during the ceremony was Peter Helder Bernard, the Consul General of the Republic of Haiti in New York. The choice of Brooklyn College, his alma mater, affected him...

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Credit Suisse Exec Philip Vasan Moving to BlackRock

Aug 25, 16 Credit Suisse Exec Philip Vasan Moving to BlackRock

Posted by in All, Business

After 23 years at Credit Suisse Group AG, Philip Vasan, 57, will take over as head of investments and portfolio solutions for BlackRock’s US wealth advisory unit. The hire is part of BlackRock’s efforts to develop more individual clients in light of new US legislation which is designed to protect individual client interests in retirement planning. Mr. Vasan’s role will be to find tailor-made methods to combine actively managed mutual funds with index-tracking investments like iShares exchange-traded funds (ETFs.) This will ultimately allow BlackRock to offer more types of financial products that trade in stocks, bonds and other assets. “Clients want both active and index. Our strategy going forward is to offer advisers the range of solutions they need—and in the process create deeper and stronger relationships,” wrote Head of BlackRock’s U.S. Wealth Advisory, Salim Ramji, in an internal memo. The new US rules were set up by the Department of Labor to better manage how the financial industry provides retirement savings advice. Known as the “fiduciary rule,” it is likely that it will benefit the large passive-investing business BlackRock offers by encouraging clients to choose less expensive financial products like ETFs. Philip Vasan built and led Credit Suisse’s global prime-brokerage unit before he ran their US private-banking unit. According to the Wall Street Journal Mr. Vasan grew the unit which brought in about $2 billion in revenue. He also previously ran the global equity derivatives and convertibles unit at Credit Suisse and was the global head of foreign exchange there. Mr. Vasan earned a doctorate in economics at Harvard...

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Zika Awareness Stepped Up in New York

Aug 24, 16 Zika Awareness Stepped Up in New York

Posted by in All, Health

In its efforts to keep the Zika virus from gaining a hold in New York City, the NYC Department of Health launched an interactive website as part of its $21 million, three-year education and prevention program. The website shows concerned citizens where mosquito surveillance and control activities are taking place around town, plus it shows how many mosquitoes there are left, and recent mosquito control operations by each city neighborhood. “Every day, members of our mosquito control team are collecting surveillance traps, investigating complaints of standing water, and using our tools to reduce the mosquito population,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. Although there have been no known cases of Zika being transmitted in New York City, all cases are travel related, there have been 483 people in the city diagnosed with the illness, and 49 of those pregnant. Zika is most harmful to unborn babies when their mothers contract the illness from mosquitoes carrying the virus. Unborn babies can develop life-threatening birth defects from Zika, such as microcephaly, blindness, deafness, seizures and...

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Murdered Imam Mourned by Hundreds

Aug 17, 16 Murdered Imam Mourned by Hundreds

Posted by in All, News

The funeral of murder victims Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, was attended by hundreds of mourners after Saturday prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Ozone Park, Queens. The murders shocked the neighborhood’s Bangladeshi community, who gathered in a parking lot for the service, not far from where the cleric and his assistant were killed. The suspect in the murders is said to be a 36-year-old man of Hispanic descent from Brooklyn. His name was not yet released. “We believe because of the evidence we have acquired thus far that … this is the individual,” New York City Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. Speakers at the funeral begged the authorities to investigate whether this was a hate crime, and requested that the level of police protection be heightened in the neighborhood, in lieu of the killings. “We want justice,” Badrul Kahn, founder of the Al-Furqan mosque and its main adviser, shouted to the crowd during the opening speech of the funeral. “We want justice,” said the mourners in response, a majority dressed in Islamic...

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Brooklyn Private School Won’t Budge for Damon Kids

Aug 10, 16 Brooklyn Private School Won’t Budge for Damon Kids

Posted by in All, Society

At St. Ann’s the rules are the rules, and can’t be broken even for the likes of Hollywood celebrities, even of the caliber of Matt Damon. Damon, star of the “Bourne” series and other prominent films such as “Good Will Hunting” and “Saving Private Ryan” is moving back to New York from Los Angeles, and would like to send his three daughters to a top-notch school. But Damon is out of luck, says the Brooklyn Heights elementary through high school, due to the claim that there is simply no more room. The school has the bragging rights to having taught such high profile people as Lena Dunham, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jemima Kirke and Zac Posen, and now has in attendance the children of Ethan Hawke and Maggie Gyllenhaal. “They had a conversation with the school, but St. Ann’s just won’t bend the rules,” said someone who knows. “They don’t care [who the parents of its students are]. A lot of schools will bend the rules very happily; they’ll bring celebrities’ kids in midway through the year or do whatever they want. St. Ann’s just isn’t doing it.” Tuition at the school is not for the faint-hearted, or super-rich. Depending on the grade, one year at St. Ann’s can set a family back between $36.080 and $42,555. The exclusive school has a bit of an alternative philosophy, as explained on their web site: “So that every child will flourish, we eschew grades, rankings and prizes in favor of ongoing dialogue and teacher...

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Deno’s Wonder Wheel Celebrates 95 Years of Continuous Use

Aug 02, 16 Deno’s Wonder Wheel Celebrates 95 Years of Continuous Use

Posted by in All, Entertainment

The Wonder Wheel is truly a wonder. It is in the heart of the world famous Coney Island Amusement Park, and has enjoyed a place on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984. In 1989, together with the neighboring Parachute Jump, it was given the status of an official New York city Landmark. The ride opened to the public on Memorial Day in 1920. It was created by a Romanian-born ride engineer called Charles Herman. Herman wanted to make a ride which had the combined characteristics of a Ferris wheel, scenic railway, and a Chute-the-Chutes, which he accomplished. Herman’s son Fred took the ride over when Herman passed away, but by 1980 he was ready to sell. Constantinos Dionysios “Deno” Vourderis became the third owner of the Wonder Wheel. Born in Aigion, Greece the same year the Wonder Wheel opened, he was the eighth child of 22 in his family. He came to the US in 1934, and started selling hot dogs from a pushcart in Manhattan. The story goes that Deno proposed to his not-yet wife in front of the Wonder Wheel in 1948. He promised her that one day he would not only own the Wonder Wheel, but he would also give her “a ring so big, everyone in the world would see how much he loved her – a ring that would never be lost.” Because of this story, and the subsequent countless marriage proposals and newlywed rides at the Wonder Wheel, the ride is known as “the most romantic ride in the world.” Deno took a job repairing the kiddie rides in Coney Island at the end of the 1970s. On June 7, 1983 Deno realized his dream and purchased the Wonder Wheel for $250,000. The ride did not come with a “user’s manual,” but instead with a handwritten note on the back of a carton of cigarettes wishing Deno, “Good Luck!” At that moment the ride became known as “Deno’s Wonder Wheel.” The Wheel is still run by...

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Car Wash Workers Negotiate Better Benefits and Wage Package

Jul 26, 16 Car Wash Workers Negotiate Better Benefits and Wage Package

Posted by in All, News

Forty-eight Brooklyn car wash workers successfully bargained for an 18-month contract which will bring their base pay up to a tad above minimum wage in exchange for the elimination of a tip credit system. Even more beneficial for the workers is paid sick days and paid vacation of one week per year, as many workers have families overseas. The vacation day plan will allow the workers to visit their families without having to worry about docked pay. Officials of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union say they are happy with the deal, and expect it could be used as a template for other unionized workers to negotiate similar deals. The deal stipulates that some workers will be able to earn $10 per hour, slightly more than the current minimum wage of $9 an hour. The sick day and vacation benefits will be available to all employees. The union viewed the deal as a big victory for them. “That’s a big deal,” said RWDSU spokeswoman Janna Pea. “A lot have families that do not live in the U.S. They will now be able to go back home to visit their families without having to worry about their jobs.” This contract is the tenth such accord for immigrant “carwasheros.” These New York workers voted to join the union in order to get better pay and benefits. This group of SLS workers is the largest to negotiate such a deal, according to union...

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Downtown Brooklyn Welcomes Ashland Into Its Heart

Jul 18, 16 Downtown Brooklyn Welcomes Ashland Into Its Heart

Posted by in All, Real Estate

The transformation of Brooklyn’s cultural center has taken a huge step forward with the opening of the Ashland residential tower. The tower is located at the meeting point of Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn, where the cultural institutions are located with the Brooklyn Academy of Music as the anchor. New York has spent over $100 million in public spaces and arts organizations found there. New developments are sprouting up as affordable housing, retail, and office space grow. Ashland is 53 stories with 304 full-rate apartments sprinkled with 282 affordable units. They range in size studios to three-bedroom apartments with monthly rents for market-rate apartments starting at $2,600 and three bedrooms going for as much as $7,500. The affordable units are distributed by lottery. They will start at $801 for a studio, and a three-bedroom unit will cost $3,649 for a three-person household making between $126,995 and $155,400 a year. There were 82,262 applicants for the affordable apartments. “The location is incredible, as you have beautiful Fort Greene as your front yard, Downtown Brooklyn to the west, and you have all the cultural offerings literally right outside your door,” said David L. Picket, the president of the Gotham Organization, the developer of the...

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