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Source: atomische via flickr.com

Source: atomische via flickr.com

The New York Times published an editorial by economist Peter Navarro that admonishes the MTA for using Chinese steel products in a key portion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge restoration project.

Navarro, who is a professor of economics and public policy at the business school for the University of California, Irvine, argued that the MTA’s decision to use Chinese steel negatively impacts American jobs and creates safety issues, joining a chorus of critics including Senator Charles Schumer.

Here is an excerpt from Navarro’s piece:

The real problem with this deal is that it doesn’t take into account all of the additional costs that buying “Made in China” brings to the American table. In fact, this failure to consider all costs is the same problem we as consumers face every time we choose a Chinese-made product on price alone — a price that is invariably cheaper.

Consider the safety issue: a scary one, indeed, because China has a very well-deserved reputation for producing inferior and often dangerous products. Such products are as diverse as lead-filled toys, sulfurous drywall, pet food spiked with melamine and heparin tainted with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate.

In the specific case of bridges, six have collapsed across China since July 2011. The official Xinhua news agency has acknowledged that shoddy construction and inferior building materials were contributing factors. There is also a cautionary tale much closer to home.

When California bought Chinese steel to renovate and expand the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, for a project that began in 2002, problems like faulty welds by a Chinese steel fabricator delayed the project for months and led to huge cost overruns. Those delays eroded much of the savings California was banking on when it opted for the “cheap” Chinese steel.

You can read the rest of Navarro’s op-ed by clicking here.

Photo By Erica Sherman

Photo By Erica Sherman

The 58th Street Ferry launched into service today and transit advocates are praying that enough people use it. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that if the ferry fails to attract riders, it is unlikely to keep sailing past Labor Day.

Last week, we reported on the emergency ferry service called into action, spurred on by the ongoing repairs on the tunnel that links the R line from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The service costs $2, fifty-cents cheaper than a subway ride, but still not free (looking at you Staten Island). The Daily Eagle described where and when the ferry, operated by Seastreak, will be stopping:

The ferries will depart from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, stopping at the new 58th Street landing in Brooklyn, Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan and East 34th Street in Midtown.

In the morning, the ferry will stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal at 6:20 a.m., 7:25 a.m., 8:20 a.m., 8:55 a.m., and 10:05 a.m. For the afternoon rush hour, the ferry coming from Manhattan will arrive at the Brooklyn pier at 3:15 p.m., 4:55 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

While local politicians like Councilman Vincent Gentile have fought hard to introduce ferry service, there has been no guarantee that the ride would be a hit with commuters. With the ferry starting service today, the Daily Eagle described the efforts of transit advocates to get people informed:

“We got what we wanted. Now we have to make sure it works,” said Liam McCabe, co-chairman of the Brooklyn Army Terminal Ferry Committee, a grassroots group of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park residents that worked to convince the Bloomberg Administration to give the ferry the go-ahead.

McCabe and Committee Co-Chairman Justin Brannan said they will conduct an all-out effort to get the word out to the public that the ferry service is here. The committee will also try to convince local residents to give it a try. The campaign was mapped at a committee meeting held Wednesday night at the offices of Community Board 10 in Bay Ridge.

“We’re using social media. We have a Facebook page. But we’re also doing it old-school. We’ll be handing out fliers at subway stations,” McCabe told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Aug. 1.

“The easy part is over. Now we have to make sure people use the ferry,” Brannan told the Eagle…

The ferry is subsidized by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “Right now, it’s a pilot program through Labor Day. Our goal is to make it permanent,” McCabe said.

Source: The Offices Of Nicole Malliotakis

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (Source: The Offices Of Nicole Malliotakis)

State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis joined forces to propose legislation that would heavily regulate day spas in an effort to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that the lawmakers hope the legislation would keep the day spas within the rule of law or risk swift closure.

In July, we reported on a bust coordinated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the NYPD that saw the crackdown of 12 massage parlors and day spas and saw the arrest of 19 people across Southern Brooklyn. According to authorities, the operation represented only the “first phase” of the effort to fight illegal prostitution and human trafficking. Malliotakis saw the wide-ranging bust as a need to put tougher laws in place to fight prostitution.

The Eagle described the provisions laid out in the new laws proposed by Golden and Malliotakis:

  • Regulates the hours of operation of day spas. The spas would be prohibited from operating between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Allows local authorities to close a day spa when there is a pattern of excessive noise or disturbance to the surrounding community. A pattern is defined as four or more reported instances to police within a six-month period.
  • Requires that the day spa be shut down if the owner is convicted of a felony.
  • Offers a path to licensing for day spa owners that are unlicensed. Owners would be given up to one month after they are notified by authorities to apply for the proper license. Owners would have one year to obtain the license.

Malliotakis reiterated her call for an increased crackdown and alluded to the horrors of human trafficking:

“The arrests that have already been made show just how badly New York’s laws need to be tightened in order to rid our communities of this criminal activity,” Malliotakis said…

Malliotakis said the allegedly illicit activity going on in many day spas also opens up the ugly specter of human sex trafficking. There are suspicions that many of the young women working in the raided day spas have been smuggled into the US and are being forced into prostitution, she said. The legislation she and Golden drafted would “help women who are forced to be in prostitution,” Malliotakis said.

A report in the Epoch Times further elaborated on Malliotakis’s and Golden’s efforts to fight human trafficking:

Malliotakis said many of the people arrested in the July bust, were not U.S. citizens, and many did not have legal status. She said human trafficking is a serious problem in New York, often affecting immigrant populations.

“They are often threatened with deportation. They are also frequently promised a better job, or a better life, and so they are sucked into this trade,” she said.

Golden said New York State does not deport women for prostitution, and non-profit organizations often help women charged with prostitution gain asylum in the U.S.

Golden plans to have the new legislation introduced in January when the new state legislature session begins.

“This is state legislation. We expect to get it passed,” Golden told the Daily Eagle.

Source: Lorenzo Pasqualis/Flickr

The 58th Street ferry returns to Sunset Park this morning for the first day of its one-month trial period, aiding commuters hurt by the R line adjustments detailed below. Some are saying it’ll need riders to prove it’s successful if people want its long-term return. Will you take it?

Well, if not, below are this week’s subway service advisories.

D LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound D trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to 36 St.

N LINE

Until October 2014: no trains running between Court St, Brooklyn, and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Customers should consider alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Trains operate as follows: Late Night N service (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) operates via the Manhattan Bridge. No service
at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound N trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to 36 St.

From 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound N trains skip 30 Av, Broadway, 36 Av, and 39 Av.

R LINE

Until October 2014: no trains running between Court St, Brooklyn, and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Customers should consider alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Trains operate as follows: Weekday R service (6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.) operates in two sections:

  1. In Brooklyn only between Bay Ridge-95 St and Court St.
  2. In Queens and Manhattan only between Forest Hills-71 Av and Whitehall St.

F LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M after 36 St, Queens to 47-50 Sts.

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Dov Hikind (Source: assembly.state.ny.us)

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the influential Orthodox power-broker, has endorsed Ken Thompson for Brooklyn District Attorney. The New York Times is reporting that Hikind’s endorsement comes as somewhat unexpected considering the close ties sitting District Attorney Charles Hynes has forged with the Orthodox community.

In Thompson’s effort to unseat Hynes, endorsements like Hikind’s are critical. Hikind’s constituents tend to vote in large blocs and the assemblyman, who also hosts a popular radio show, holds sway over the largely Orthodox community he represents in Borough Park.

Hynes, who has served as Brooklyn’s District Attorney since 1990, has come under a lot of heat lately over a planned reality show that stars him and his office as well as charges that he prosecutes sexual abuse cases in the Orthodox community less vigorously.  We recently tracked a case where the DA’s office prosecuted a whistle-blower, Sam Kellner, who helped police bring down a prominent Jewish cantor who had political ties to the Hynes’ campaign. The case against Kellner is said to have fallen apart due to shoddy evidence and shady witnesses.

Hikind was asked about how he expected Thompson to treat this controversial issue.

“There is no question that he will be fair and he will not play politics with that issue,” Hikind told the Times.

The Times went on to describe how Hikind took great effort to help Thompson, who is African-American, make inroads in the Orthodox community:

Calling Mr. Thompson “a mensch” and joking that he could deliver “at least four votes” — from himself and his family — Mr. Hikind promised to push Orthodox votes his way. “I’m ready to walk with you in all the Jewish communities,” he said, standing in front of a kosher pizzeria in Borough Park.

Indeed, there in the heart of Mr. Hikind’s district, his jovial imprimatur seemed to be all the recommendation voters needed. As he guided Mr. Thompson and reporters along the bustling block, stopping to chat with Hasidic women pushing baby strollers and ducking into one Jewish-owned business after another, Mr. Hikind all but declared him one of their own.

He introduced Mr. Thompson to constituent after constituent. He expounded on the success of Jewish religious singers in a music store. He bought him a slice of kosher pizza. (Mr. Thompson called it “some of the best I ever had.”)

“If you support him, I agree,” one shopkeeper said.

“Did you hear that?” Mr. Hikind crowed. “Now, that’s not orchestrated.” After they left the shop, Mr. Hikind leaned in: “We can do the same in Crown Heights, in Williamsburg, everywhere else,” he said, naming neighborhoods with large ultra-Orthodox communities.

Mr. Thompson said little, smiling and shaking hands as Mr. Hikind introduced him.

Despite the flurry of negative press facing Hynes, which includes the endorsement of former candidate Abe George, who dropped out of the race to lend Thompson his support, the District Attorney is still the favorite to win the race. Hynes has held the post for 23 years and enjoys the full backing of Brooklyn’s Democratic machine. The Times reported that constituents are ultimately more likely to follow the suggestions of local rabbis over Hikind. It’s possible that Hynes’s decades long relationship with the Orthodox power structure and the voters is stronger than any endorsement Hikind can provide.

Hikind, who has made waves the past few months for appearing in blackface at a Purim party, using his political connections to score jobs for his family and friends, allowing them access to state funded health benefits and for his ethically questionable close ties to Maimonides Medical Center, also skirted accusations of appearing borderline racist in his radio interview with Thompson:

Last month, when Mr. Thompson, who is black, appeared on Mr. Hikind’s weekly radio show, Mr. Hikind called him “articulate” — a word that African-Americans often see as offensive, more veiled expression of surprise than compliment. (Its use ignited a controversy in 2007, when Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a senator, said it of Barack Obama, who was running for president.)

“You’re an impressive guy,” Mr. Hikind said. “Starting from being articulate.” On Tuesday, he repeated the comment to a reporter, calling Mr. George, who is of Indian descent, and Mr. Thompson “very articulate and impressive.”

Asked for comment, Mr. Thompson’s campaign referred to his remark after last month’s broadcast, when he said he was not offended. “I’ve been called articulate many times in my life,” he told Yeshiva World News. “Over it.”

Still, Hikind was hopeful that his influence could help Thompson win over his constituents, alluding to the possibility of change.

“Well, the past is the past, this is the future,” Hikind told the Times.

travyon basketball

Photo courtesy of the Travyon Martin Basketball Tournament via the New York Daily News

A basketball tournament that hopes to fight racism and pay tribute to the life of Trayvon Martin is being held through the end of the summer in Bensonhurst. The New York Daily News is reporting that the “Trayvon Martin Basketball Tournament” also partly serves as a protest to the verdict that found George Zimmerman not guilty of killing Martin.

The tournament was put together by Maurice Ballard, an activist who chose to host the event in Bensonhurst in part because of the Yusef Hawkins killing in 1989 which saw a white mob kill a black teenager (although, as our commenters have noted in the past, it may not have been a “white mob” or as racially motivated as previously believed).

“Racism may never get cured,” Ballard told the Daily News. “But Bensonhurst is the place where we can start to make a difference.”

Some of the children participating in the tournament showed up in hoodies as a symbolic show of support for Martin. The Daily News described the layout of the tournament as well as the event’s other goal, which is racial integration:

The tournament brings together over 300 kids from the Marlboro and Coney Island Houses each week for the round-robin tournament at Scarangella Park.

Winning isn’t everything — or even the only thing — at this tourney. The goal, said Ballard, is to bring together a diverse, yet still self-segregated, community that’s 34% Asians, 13% Latino, 1% black, and the rest white.

“This is really about keeping Trayvon’s memory alive,” he said.

Here is the information on the tournament provided by the Daily News.

Trayvon Martin Basketball Tournament, Scarangella Park, Stillwell Ave., between Avenues U and V, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through Aug. 31, 4:30 to 7 p.m., for information, call (646) 770-5764 .

There’s a train in this photo. Promise. (Source: Darkroom Daze/Flickr)

D LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Friday to Sunday, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound D trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to 36 St.

N LINE

Beginning 11:30 p.m. Friday until October 2014, there are no N trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Additionally, from 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Friday to Sunday, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound N trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to 36 St.

R LINE

Beginning 11:30 p.m. Friday until October 2014, there are no R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sat and Sun, Bay Ridge-bound R trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to 36 St.

F LINE

From 9:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from 47-50 Sts to Queens Plaza.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Avorhom Mondrowitz, dubbed the “Bin Ladin of Pedophiles,” was attacked and beaten on the streets of Jerusalem. According to a report by the Jerusalem Post, the incident was filmed and posted on YouTube.

Mondrowitz escaped from Borough Park in the mid 80s after being suspected of child molestation. A New York Post article from June of 2012 explained why Mondrowitz left the country:

Called the “Bin Laden of pedophiles” by one victim, the bogus rabbi and self-proclaimed psychologist fled the United States in 1984 just before cops broke into his Borough Park, Brooklyn, home with a search warrant. They found a cache of kiddie porn and lists of hundreds of names of local boys, most referred to Mondrowitz by Jewish families and child-service agencies for counseling and his yeshiva-style program….

But years later the NYPD finally caught up with Mondrowitz after getting anonymous complaints. He was indicted in 1985 on charges of sexual abuse and sodomy against four Italian-American boys, ages 11 to 16, who lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Detectives also found many Orthodox Jewish boys who sobbed as they told of horrific sexual assaults by a man they trusted, but their families wouldn’t let them press charges. Community pressure to keep shameful allegations secret continues to shield child molesters today, advocates and law-enforcement authorities say.

“He got away with it,” said a spokesman for Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes.

On the run in Israel, the video above captures a confrontation between a person believed to be Mondrowitz, the cameraman and an unidentified assailant. The person recording the video, who has protected their anonymity by digitally altering their voice, is heard calling the suspected fugitive “rapist,” “molester,” and “monster.” The cameraman then declares that alleged fugitive “raped 100 children in New York.”

At that point, another man begins attacking the accused with his hat. A chase between the assailant and the man begins and it later shown that the man has fallen to the ground, presumably having been pushed or punched.

The cameraman, who was only identified as “Issac,” defended inciting violence against the man in question.

“It’s really upsetting to see this man living freely and openly in this community of Nahlaot, a tight-knit neighborhood – with children everywhere,” Isaac told the Jerusalem Post. “And apparently he goes to a synagogue, where people need to know who he is and what he’s done.”

Issac also expressed hope that the video would bring awareness to the community.

“His neighbors deserve to know the truth about this evil man – this pedophile – living in their midst,” Isaac said.

Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Joseph Palmeri and Councilman David Greenfield (Photo via Conor Greene)

Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Joseph Palmieri and Councilman David Greenfield (Photo via Conor Greene)

Councilman David Greenfield and the Brooklyn Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a plan to repair and resurface dozens of city streets in Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst. According to a press release, Greenfield and the DOT have targeted a number of streets that have received the most complaints from community residents.

Greenfield hailed the work already underway.

“We deserve to have safe, smooth streets that are not riddled with potholes and causing damage to our vehicles every time we drive around the neighborhood. That’s why I meet with the DOT each year to determine which streets should be prioritized for resurfacing and repairs on behalf of local drivers. I am thrilled that so many important local streets have been targeted for repairs in the coming weeks, and I will continue to work closely with the DOT to minimize any disruptions as work progresses,” said Greenfield.

Here is the list of streets and repairs laid out in Greenfield’s release:

Work began along 40th Street between 12th Avenue and Dahill Road in Boro Park several weeks ago, with milling of the surface and repaving now complete. In addition, milling and resurfacing is taking place along New Utrecht Avenue from 43rd Street to 61st Street, which has been the source of frustration for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in recent months due to the number of potholes and the crumbling pavement. Work is also planned for 38th Street between 10th Avenue and Dahill Road, 48th Street from 8th Avenue to New Utrecht Avenue and Ditmas Avenue from 40th Street to Ocean Parkway. Finally, one of the worst stretches in Boro Park – 17th Avenue from 50th Street to 54th Street – has also been included in the DOT’s resurfacing plan for this summer. This came at the urging of Councilman Greenfield, who wrote directly to Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Joseph Palmieri earlier this year to request that the pothole-riddled stretch of 17th Avenue be repaved as soon as possible.

In the southern portion of the district, 65th Street from Bay Parkway to Avenue P and Avenue P from Bay Parkway to 65th Street are both scheduled to be milled and repaved during nighttime hours next week. Work is also slated for daytime hours along 21st Avenue from 53rd Street to 59th Street, 57th Street from 20th Avenue to the dead end east of 21st Avenue, 66th Street from New Utrecht Avenue to Bay Parkway, 77th Street from New Utrecht Avenue to Bay Parkway and 78th Street from 13th Avenue to 23rd Avenue.

Residents are urged to be on the lookout for “No Parking” signs posted by DOT crews along blocks that are scheduled for work in the coming weeks. Cars that are parked along those streets will be relocated to surrounding blocks if necessary and residents who need assistance locating their vehicle should ask a supervisor on scene, contact Councilman Greenfield’s office or call the local police precinct.