Tag Archives: New York

Vape Products Banned From All Pharmacies In New York’s Capital

(DCNF/The Daily Vaper)— Harm reduction advocates are criticizing lawmakers in New York state for conflating combustible tobacco with vaping in their latest effort to restrict access.

The Albany County Legislature voted 26-11 Monday to ban the sale of all tobacco and nicotine products from certain grocery stores and all pharmacies in Albany and surrounding communities. Albany County Legislator Paul Miller, author of the ban, claims the move is in the interest of public health, suggesting liquid nicotine and vapor products pose the same health harms as tobacco, reported WRGB Albany.

Stores have several months to evaluate their products to comply with the ban and will face fines ranging from $50 for a first offense to $500 for every subsequent violation. (RELATED: Experts Warn NY Vaping Ban Will Lead To Higher Smoking Rates, More Tobacco Deaths)

“We aren’t outlawing tobacco in the county, but we are saying that we want to reduce the number of people that get addicted to cigarettes and nicotine,”said Miller, according to WRGB Albany.

Ample research proves that vaping devices drastically reduce the harm caused by cigarettes, because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are released through combustion of tobacco. Public health experts agree that efforts to reduce tobacco use are admirable; however, they argue those efforts are bolstered, not undermined, by vaping devices.

Smokers who switch to a less harmful vapor product already find themselves heavily restricted in the state. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law on Oct. 23 amending New York state’s tobacco laws to include e-cigarettes, claiming it was to protect public health.

Charles Hughes, a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute, previously argued the amendment will have the opposite effect on public health because it restricts use of the products to areas where smoking is allowed. Smokers may be less likely to ever attempt quitting with a vape if the products are relegated to the status of combustible cigarettes, Hughes argued in an October editorial in Economics 21.

“Failing to recognize the differences between conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes could slow the rate at which people shift away from conventional cigarettes,” Hughes warned.

He pointed to a study released Oct. 2, 2017 by the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, which shows that, even in a worst case scenario, if vaping were to largely replace smoking, roughly 1.6 million smokers would avoid premature death and collectively add 20.8 million extra years to their lives.

In the best case scenario, roughly 6.6. million smokers would avoid premature death and collectively add 86.7 million extra years to their lives if vaping replaced smoking.

Harm reduction advocates say instead of alarmism over the alleged threats posed by vapor products, users should be taught about the relative risks of those products when compared to smoking.

Written by Steve Birr: Follow Steve on Twitter.


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Feds Investigate Company That Got $25 Million After Donating To Cuomo

(DCNF) Federal authorities are investigating a New York health care company that received a $25 million grant after executives donated big money to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The U.S. attorney’s office in New York’s southern district is looking into whether Crystal Run Healthcare LPP improperly obtained the massive grants following two days of frenzied executive donations totaling $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign in 2013, the Albany Times Union reported.

The investigation was revealed through federal grand jury subpoenas of current Crystal Run Health employees, two sources familiar with the investigation told the Times Union, indicating the U.S. attorney’s office is considering charges. (RELATED: Cuomo: I Am The Greatest Governor In The History Of Modern Politics)

Several doctors associated with Crystal Run sued the company late in 2017 for making the donations with pooled company resources in October 2013.

The bulk of the donations to Cuomo’s campaign came via 10 donations of $25,000 from doctors and executives at the company — seven of whom had never donated to a New York gubernatorial campaign before then. Various doctors and executives with Crystal Run had given a total of $400,000 to Cuomo between 2011 and 2013.

The state awarded Crystal Run a $25.4 grant in March 2016 to build two health care facilities that had already been started.

“The governor needs to explain why his Health Department gave $25 million in funds meant for non-profits to a group of donors for a project they were already building,” one source familiar with the investigation told the New York Post.

“Over a year ago, we received a subpoena requesting documents and we have since complied,” Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokeswoman for Crystal Run, said. “We have no reason to believe that we are the focus of a current federal investigation. We remain focused on providing our patients with the quality, affordable care they deserve.”

The questionable timing of the donations, first reported by the Times Union in February 2017, raised questions about why Crystal Run won the grant in the first place. The $25 million grant was part of a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded healthcare project, and Crystal Run received the largest single share of the award. It was also the only private company outside of New York City that received any money.

Written by Thomas Phippen. Follow Thomas Phippen on Twitter



This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

N.Y. State Assembly Passes Bill to Legalize Professional Mixed Martial Arts Events

The Democrat-led New York State Assembly voted 113-25 on Tuesday to lift the state’s ban on professional mixed martial arts promotions.

Syracuse.com notes that the GOP-controlled New York State Senate had already passed its companion version of the bill in February.

Democratic N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign the bill into law, said on Tuesday according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, “I do support mixed martial arts because it’s also an economic generator.

[RELATED: Nevada State Athletic Commission Bans UFC’s Nick Diaz for Five Years Over Alleged Pot Use]

The Assembly vote represents the clearing of a final hurdle that had been blocking the legalization of live events in the state by popular sports promotions like Ultimate Fighting Championship for almost twenty years. The New York Senate had voted to legalize mixed martial arts for seven straight years, but the state’s lower house did not vote to legalize it until Tuesday. The ban had originally been signed into law by former Republican N.Y. Gov. George Pataki.

ESPN pointed out that another factor in the bill’s passage was the 2015 ouster of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an opponent of the legalization of MMA, after he was indicted on corruption charges. He was replaced by Speaker Carl E. Heastie, who had in the past sponsored an MMA legalization bill.

[RELATED: Former N.Y. Assembly Speaker Convicted in Federal Corruption Trial]

When these events take place, these are big events. The time has come,” said Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue). He added that the bill will not just deliver “professional mixed martial arts to New York, but just as importantly what it will do is it’ll allow for rules and regulations that will offer protections for the amateur fighters as well.

Bill opponent Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell (D-Manhattan), who is openly gay, sparked controversy by saying while arguing against the bill: “You have two nearly naked, hot men, rolling around on top of one another trying to dominate each other. And in case you didn’t know, that’s gay porn with a different ending.


Opponents in the legislature cited concerns about fighters’ health, and some raised allegations that the industry has deep ties to gambling organizations and encourages the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Mixed martial arts events will begin taking place in New York 120 days after the bill is signed by Gov. Cuomo. Once New York formally legalizes MMA, the sport will finally be legal in all 50 U.S. states.

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NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case

In an unprecedented move, a New York Magistrate Judge ruled Monday that the United States Department of Justice cannot force Apple Inc. to extract data from a locked iPhone, as ordered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a criminal drug case.

While the ruling is not binding in any other court, and the case deals with the iPhone 5 belonging to Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty to drug charges in October, the FBI is using the same defense that it is using to order Apple to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooting suspect.

[RELATED: Apple Policy Says They Won’t Unlock Devices for Government Requests]

The All Writs Act of 1789 states that “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law” and that an alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

In a ruling issued Monday, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge James Orenstein became the first federal judge to rule that the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will.”

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

“The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 — as to produce impermissibly absurd results,” Orenstein wrote.

[pull_quote_center]The Application before this court is by no means singular: the government has to date successfully invoked the AWA to secure Apple’s compelled assistance in bypassing the passcode security of Apple devices at least 70 times in the past; it has pending litigation in a dozen more cases in which Apple has not yet been forced to provide such assistance; and in its most recent use of the statute it goes so far as to contend that a court — without any legislative authority other than the AWA — can require Apple to create a brand new product that impairs the utility of the products it is in the business of selling.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone]

Claiming that it is “clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts,” Orenstein noted that former proceedings which were “shielded from public scrutiny,” have shown that the government has chosen to forego “taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking.” 

[pull_quote_center]It is thus clear that the government is relying on the AWA as a source of authority that is legislative in every meaningful way: something that can be cited as a basis for getting the relief it seeks in case after case without any need for adjudication of the particular circumstances of an individual case (as the arguments that the government relies on here to justify entering an AWA order against Apple would apply with equal force to any instance in which it cannot bypass the passcode security of an Apple device it has a warrant to search).[/pull_quote_center]

This case is just one of the 12 government orders Apple is contesting. The Intercept noted that while some cases such as the case of Jun Feng, would require Apple to “use its existing capabilities to extract data like contacts, photos and calls from locked iPhones running on operating systems iOS7 and older,” other cases such as the one in the San Bernardino shooting would require Apple to “design new software to let the government circumvent the device’s security protocols and unlock the phone.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Why McAfee Says FBI Really Wants To End Encryption, Not Hack Just One iPhone]

During a recent Reality Check segment, Ben Swann interviewed John McAfee, a cybersecurity expert and the creator of McAfee security software, who questioned whether the FBI was honest when it claimed it wanted an encryption key to hack a single iPhone.

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption,…

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption, Not Just Hack One iPhone

Posted by Ben Swann on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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Anti-E-Cigarette Campaigners Demand Ad Regulation, Shout Down Pro-Vaping Advocate

By Guy Bentley – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has launched a withering assault on the e-cigarette industry, claiming the sector is targeting children and teenagers with advertising. That assault calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in and investigate the practices of e-cigarette advertising.

“The same companies that peddled ‘Joe Camel’ and similar, kid-friendly images to an earlier generation are back with new ad strategies that appear to target e-cigarettes just as explicitly toward children and teens, with little or no regard for any potential health impacts,” he wrote.

Stringer focused much of his energy attacking sweet flavors, which critics claim appeal to children. Although e-cigarettes are illegal for anyone younger than 18, vaping use tripled among middle and high school students from 2013 to 2014.

Along with public advocate Letitia James, Stringer made the comments at an anti-e-cigarette marketing rally with parents and anti-vaping activists in attendance. The harsh and accusatory tone of the rally was consequently challenged by Jeff Stier of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“E-cigarettes are a free market solution to the problem of smoking because people are willfully switching from a very harmful product to dramatically less harmful products,” Stier told CBS New York on Sunday.

When Stier tried to offer his point of view to journalists after the rally he was for a time drowned out by the chants of anti-vaping activists.


A study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found there is no link between e-cigarette advertising and the rapidly growing number of young vapers. (RELATED: Study Contradicts CDC Director: E-Cigarette Ads Are Not Related To Teen Vaping)

The research team tracked whether noticing e-cigarette ads was associated with taking up vaping, and concluded “this association was not significant, including when adjusting for all control variables. Noticing e-cigarette advertisement was similarly not associated with starting current use of e-cigarettes between baseline and follow-up.”

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Former N.Y. Assembly Speaker Convicted in Federal Corruption Trial

71-year-old former Democratic New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted Monday on seven corruption charges connected to a political quid-pro-quo scheme in which he allegedly leveraged his position to sell political favors to a cancer researcher and real estate developers in exchange for $4 million.

The charges on which he was convicted include honest services fraud, money laundering, and extortion. Silver was removed from his position as speaker following his January arrest and now, pursuant to his conviction, automatically loses the Assembly seat that he had held since 1976. He is expected to face up to 20 years in prison at an upcoming sentencing hearing that has yet to be scheduled. Silver’s attorneys say that he will appeal the convictions.

[RELATED: Paul Adviser Found Not Guilty In Corruption Case]

NY1 News notes that Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has scheduled a special election on April 19 to fill Silver’s now-vacant Lower Manhattan Assembly seat.

Silver’s surprising conviction has been widely perceived as a shot across the bow against corrupt, business-as-usual, smoky-backroom political deal-making in Albany.

Throughout this trial, the government has pointed to things that have gone on in Albany which [are] standard practices in terms of how grants are reviewed, in terms of how member items are allocated, and suggested that they’re improper,” said Silver’s attorney Justin Shur according to The Wall Street Journal.

[RELATED: Retired Baltimore Cop Exposes Police Corruption on Joe Rogan’s Podcast]

Testimony and other evidence showed that Mr. Silver had arranged to have the State Health Department award two grants totaling $500,000 to Dr. Robert N. Taub, whose research focused on mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer related to asbestos exposure. In return, Dr. Taub sent mesothelioma patients with potentially lucrative legal claims to Weitz & Luxenberg, which then shared a portion of its fees with Mr. Silver,” The New York Times explained. “In the second scheme, prosecutors charged, Mr. Silver had the two developers, Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group, move certain tax business to a law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, that secretly shared its fees with Mr. Silver. In return, the speaker lent his support to critical rent legislation backed by Glenwood…”

New York Public Interest Research Group legislative director Blair Horner told NBC New York, “A political earthquake has hit Albany. This is a stinging rebuke to the ‘Albany business as usual’ defense and a clarion call to clean up state ethics.

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Enacts $15 Hourly Fast Food Minimum Wage

At a Thursday labor rally in Manhattan with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will soon submit a proposal for a $15 state-wide hourly minimum wage for all workers, and that New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino has issued a wage order mandating that fast food chains operating more than 30 locations nationwide pay New York workers a $15 per hour minimum wage.

According to NBC New York, fast food restaurants in New York City must comply with the rule within three years, and restaurants in other locations around the state are required to meet that minimum wage within six years.

Excerpt from New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino's fast food minimum wage order describing its phased implementation.
Excerpt from New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino’s fast food minimum wage order describing its phased implementation.

During his speech at Thursday’s rally, which can be seen in its entirety in the above-embedded video, Governor Cuomo said, “A study was released just this week that showed there is not a single neighborhood in New York City that is affordable to someone earning the minimum wage. So several months ago, we empaneled a wage board to study the minimum wage of fast food workers… they recommended a wage of $15 an hour. That recommendation went to New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino, and I am pleased to announce today that the state of New York’s labor department has accepted the wage board recommendation in full, and 150,000 fast-food workers will see their wages rise to $15 an hour!

Albany-based Associated Press reporter David Klepper wrote, “New York’s increase was recommended by an unelected Wage Board created by Cuomo — a tactic that allowed the governor to circumvent the Legislature, where the Republican-led Senate has blocked big increases in recent years.

By executive fiat, with the stroke of a pen, our financial model goes to pot,” said Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Ben & Jerry’s franchise owner Pat Pipino. Franchise owners in the state say that the way the order was written unfairly disadvantages them as other non-franchised small businesses will not have to comply with the rule.

[RELATED: Pizza Shop Announces Impending Closure Due to Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Hike]

Governor Cuomo tapped into an archaic, 63-year-old law in order to mandate a fast food minimum wage hike without first seeking a vote by the New York State Legislature. In a May op-ed for The New York Times in which he announced his intention to change the fast food minimum wage by executive order, Cuomo described the authority in that law that he would go on to claim, “State law empowers the labor commissioner to investigate whether wages paid in a specific industry or job classification are sufficient to provide for the life and health of those workers — and, if not, to impanel a Wage Board to recommend what adequate wages should be.

Last Thursday, N.Y. State Senate Republicans held a hearing questioning the process behind the fast food minimum wage hike. At the hearing, State Senator Jim Seward (R-Cooperstown) said that he is worried about “the image that will project across the country because there’s always a concern that if we make our state less attractive that will impact the opportunities that workers have here if there’s no investment.

Fast food restaurant owners in the state are reportedly considering mounting a legal challenge against the minimum wage hike.

Ross Ulbricht Set to Appeal Life Sentence in Silk Road Conviction

NEW YORK CITY – Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the Silk Road online marketplace, will appeal his two life sentences, according to court documents filed on Thursday. Ulbricht was sentenced on five different counts in late May – one for 20 years, one for five years, one for 15 years and two for life, with no possibility of parole.

Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel spoke with TruthInMedia about the decision to appeal. ​

“The sentence is unreasonable, unjust and unfair, and based on improper considerations that have no basis in fact or law. Of course we will appeal the verdict and the sentence.”

In February, the Silk Road trial concluded as the jury reached a verdict of guilty on seven charges related to distributing narcotics, fraudulent documents, money laundering, and continuing a criminal enterprise. The jury took just three hours to convict Ulbricht on all charges.

At least 97 friends and family members of Ulbricht wrote to the judge asking for the most lenient sentence possible. Ulbricht himself wrote the judge asking her to give him 20 years so he might still have his old age.

Throughout the trial and sentencing, Ulbricht’s attorney objected to the judge’s decisions regarding witnesses, evidence, and other facts they say were kept from the jury. One point of contention comes from the discovery that two former federal agents are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars during their investigation of the Silk Road. The two defendants are Carl Force, a former special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service special agent. Force and Bridges were assigned to a task force based in Baltimore investigating Silk Road. Force was the lead investigator working undercover, and Bridges was a computer forensics expert working on the case.

According to a press release from the Justice Department, Force “served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.’” Force was authorized to communicate with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) online to gather information, but he allegedly went on to create several unauthorized, fictitious online identities.

“The Government’s efforts to keep the Carl Force scandal out of the public eye at trial is in itself scandalous,” said Joshua Horowitz, a defense attorney for Ulbricht. “The recently filed Complaint which names Carl Force as a defendant demonstrates that the Government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside.””

Whether any of the latest revelations will have any effect remains to be seen.



Lawsuit Alleges Jail Guards Allowed To Rape Women In NYC Prison

By Casey Harper

A new lawsuit alleges rampant sexual abuse at an all women’s jail facility in New York.

A Rikers Island corrections officer and the city of New York face a federal lawsuit from two female inmates alleging that the guard was allowed to repeatedly rape them and that the city didn’t do enough to stop it, CNN reports.

The class action suit filed Tuesday by two women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, claims that 8 corrections officers total were involved in sexually abusing inmates at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center.

The women claim the rampant sexual abuse was known by many but not stopped. Jane Doe 2 says she reported the rapes to a mental health professional but nothing was done. The suit also claims that one woman was impregnated by her rapist.

The officer allegedly took the women to areas out of the view of security cameras and timed it so supervisors would not be around.

When one inmate reported that she was raped, the officer allegedly let other inmates out of their cells to go torment the woman. He also allegedly threatened the family of one woman outside the jail.

The suit cited a 2012 Department of Justice survey which says 5.9 percent of inmates at the Rose M. Singer Center claim they were sexually abused by staff.

“Sexual violence is at record proportions in DOC, and rape and other sexual abuse of women are endemic at the Rose M. Singer Center,” Seymour W. James, the attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society, told CNN.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants to reduce the jail’s population by clearing the backlog of state court cases. As of March, 400 people had been in the jail for over two years without being convicted of a crime.

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Officer Attacks, Arrests Man For Recording Him “Inappropriately Touching” Female Friend

Washington D.C.-     In New York, a video has emerged showing police officers attacking a man and arresting him simply because he attempted to record an officer who was touching his friend inappropriately.

The video was captured on three different surveillance cameras outside a convenience store.  Jason Disisto is standing with his friends when a female friend is approached by a police officer.  The officer Johnathan Munoz grabs hold of the woman’s wrist and starts to touch her inside her sweater.  Disisto takes a friends cell phone and tells the officers that he going to record what is happening because he doesn’t like what he is seeing.

That is when the officers attack Disisto, wrestling the phone away from him and taking him into custody.  Officer Munoz claims that Disisto had lunged at the officers and attempted to punch them with a closed fist.  The release of these three separate surveillance videos proves that Disisto did not attempt to strike the officers and all charges against him have been dropped.
Before driving away, the officer throws the cell phone out of the vehicle, breaking it on the pavement.
Tuesday, a civil rights law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of Disisto against Officer Munoz.

“This is NOT What Democracy Looks Like”- Sights and Sounds from Baltimore

With our heavy coverage of Baltimore and the riots, protests, activists and policing, TruthinMedia.com along with the crews at RT America have been covering the unrest in Baltimore since the very beginning.

RT America photojournalists have complied these sights and sounds from protests in Baltimore and New York City which gives a clear look at to what protestors are demanding.

NYC to Boston, Thousands Protest Across the Country in Solidarity with Baltimore

Washington D.C.- Thousands of protesters took to the streets of New York City, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington D.C. and of course in Baltimore, Wednesday evening. Those coming out rallied in solidarity with the people of Baltimore and the family of Freddie Gray.

Ben Swann talks with Marina Portnaya live from the scene and gives updates on the arrests made by the NYPD as protestors stood in the streets in an act of civil disobedience.

One officer was injured during the demonstrations in New York City when a bottle struck him on the chin, the police said. In all, just over 100 people were arrested.

Some protesters stopped traffic on Houston Street in Lower Manhattan while others blocked the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Another group marched uptown to Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen, where, later in the night, a police van filled with marchers who had been arrested sat idling in traffic.

On Thursday, some of the protest organizers criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton for what they called a heavy-handed response.

In Boston, hundreds marched through the streets chanting, “Being black is not a crime, same story every time,” and “every night and every day. Join the fight for Freddie Gray!” Students linked arms, and families peered curiously out of low income housing along Shawmut Avenue.

Is It Too E-Z For The State To Spy On NY Drivers?

By Kerry Picket

Those convenient toll-paying tags on your windshield may be coughing up more information than drivers realize. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the state’s E-ZPass tollbooth transponders also transmit location information about drivers to areas all over New York City, despite the absence of toll plazas.

The NYCLU confirmed the pass tags were transmitting the information by installing a device in a car that would make a sound anytime it detected a signal that used the same frequency as the E-ZPass. According to the NYCLU, the sound went off all over Midtown and lower Manhattan.

“Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car,” the group stated.

Collecting driver information through E-ZPass scanners has been done before, Staten Island Live reports, and the NYC Department of Transportation confirms it anonymously collects data from drivers, as one can see from the real time information on the DOT website.

“DOT takes our responsibility to protect privacy seriously and these readers are only used to gather traffic information so that we can improve mobility in the city. The data does not have identifying information for an individual,” DOT spokeswoman Bonny Tsang told Staten Island Live.

In the meantime, the NYCLU has filed New York Freedom of Information Law requests to see why so many E-Z pass readers are in areas not associated with a toll booth.

New York Judge Lets Wife Serve Divorce Papers To Husband Via Facebook

A landmark ruling by a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge is allowing a woman to legally serve her husband with divorce papers via a private message on Facebook, due to the fact that he is “hard to find” and has no physical address.

The NY Daily News first reported that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper is allowing a 26-year-old nurse from Brooklyn, Ellanora Baidoo, to serve her elusive husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, with divorce papers, using a private Facebook message from her lawyer.

Cooper wrote that Baidoo is “granted permission serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook,” because of his lack of a registered physical address.

This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged,” wrote Cooper.

Andrew Spinnell, Baidoo’s lawyer, will be the one sending the messages to Blood-Dzraku. He told the NY Daily News that Baidoo and Blood-Dzraku, who are both from Ghana, were married in a civil ceremony in 2009.

Spinnell said that although Blood-Dzraku would not keep his promise to have a traditional Ghanian wedding ceremony, and the two never lived together, or consummated their marriage, Blood-Dzraku still does not want a divorce.

Cooper’s ruling states Blood-Dzraku mainly communicated with Baidoo by telephone and Facebook, and that she learned over a phone call that he “has no fixed address and no place of employment.”

Cooper went on to state that Blood-Dzraku has “refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers,” and he has not been located, due to the fact that the “post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him.”

Spinnell told the NY Daily News that they have tried multiple ways to locate Blood-Dzraku, including hiring a private detective, and that the first Facebook message notifying him of his divorce was sent last week, but Blood-Dzraku has not responded.

Hillary Clinton Deletes All Emails, Wipes Server Clean

On Friday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, revealed that rumored 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton deleted all of the emails that were on the personal server she used to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

Gowdy released a statement saying that after the Committee granted Clinton a two-week extension, her attorney, David Kendall, informed them that Clinton “unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server.”

After seeking and receiving a two week extension from the Committee, Secretary Clinton failed to provide a single new document to the subpoena issued by the Committee and refused to provide her private server to the Inspector General for the State Department or any other independent arbiter for analysis,” Gowdy said.

While Gowdy said that it is not clear exactly when Clinton deleted the emails, he believes it was after the State Department first requested that she make her emails public in October 2014.

While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department,” Gowdy said. “Not only was the Secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest.”

Gowdy concluded his statement by saying that given Clinton’s “unprecedented email arrangement,” the Committee intends to question her about her decision to delete all of her emails nearly two years after leaving office.

We will work with the leadership of the House of Representatives as the Committee considers next steps,” Gowdy said. “But it is clear Congress will need to speak with the former Secretary about her email arrangement and the decision to permanently delete those emails.”

On March 2, The New York Times released a report which revealed that during her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton did not have a government email address and insisted on conducting business through a private email account on a private server, which has been traced back to her home in Chappaqua, New York.

On March 4, the Benghazi Committee issued subpoenas for all emails related to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, from both Clinton and her staff members’ personal accounts.

On March 8, Gowdy revealed that although Clinton provided 50,000 pages of emails, there were “huge gaps” in her records and documentation from her trip to Libya following the terrorist attacks was not included.

On March 12, Clinton addressed her use of private email to conduct government business at a press conference. She claimed that it was done “for convenience,” so that she could carry only one device. However, on Feb. 24, Clinton had said that she was “like two steps short of a hoarder,” because she carried “an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a Blackberry.”

A poll conducted by CBS News found that in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, while 65 percent of Americans say that their opinion of her has not changed, 29 percent say their opinion of her has grown worse, which includes 49 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Independents.

The poll also found that 47 percent of Americans do not see Clinton as trustworthy, and more than 6 in 10 Americans do not think Clinton’s use of a private email and server for government business was appropriate.

Video Watchdog Group Keeps 17-year-old From Charges of Assaulting Police

Washington D.C.- A 17-year-old form Brooklyn, New York is no longer facing charges of assaulting a police officer thanks to a group of “Cop Watchers” at a Puerto Rican Day Parade. Video of the incident caught on camera from multiple angles proved it was not the teen who assaulted officers, rather it was the teen who was assaulted.

The incident took place at Brooklyn’s Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 8, 2014. 17 year-old Enrique del Rosario was part of a group recording the actions of police, when his lawyer says, police grabbed Rosario, slamming him against the gate of a closed store and began beating him with batons.

After viewing video from multiple angles, recorded by members of the neighborhood watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park, a grand jury decided not to prosecute Rosario for assaulting police.

In the video above, Ben Swann interviews Dennis Flores with El Grito de Sunset Park about his group and what they are doing to make police more responsive to their community.

15 Towns in New York’s Southern Tier Reportedly Considering Secession

Economic desolation has consumed New York’s Southern Tier region, which traces the New York-Pennsylvania border, and some locals are blaming the New York state government for their woes. According to WBNG-TV, the Upstate New York Towns Association, which represents the interests of towns in the area, is researching whether it would be possible or prudent for fifteen towns located in the counties of Broome, Sullivan, Delaware, and Tioga to secede from New York and join Pennsylvania. The Upstate New York Towns Association has declined to name which towns have expressed interest in secession.

A statement released by the organization read, “On December 17, 2014, when it was announced that high volume hydraulic fracturing would be banned in New York State and there would be no casino license in the ‘true’ Southern Tier, a supervisor, whose town is a member of the Association, told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal that we should all secede… That supervisor discussed the idea of seceding to Pennsylvania with the Association. The Association began comparing taxes in New York with taxes in Pennsylvania and comparing the cost of doing business in New York with the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania. The Association also is studying whether or not decisions made in Albany are disproportionately benefiting Downstate.”

At issue are high taxes and bans on fracking and casinos, which some residents feel are crushing the local economy. Conklin, NY town supervisor Jim Finch (R) told WBNG-TV, “The Southern Tier is desolate. We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground… We’re comparing the taxes in Pennsylvania compared to those in New York. There’s a great, great difference. Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes.”

Bradford County, PA Commissioner Doug McLinko (R) said that he feels the pain of New Yorkers who want to jump ship and join up with Pennsylvania. Said McLinko in the above-embedded video coverage by Newswatch 16, “They look across the border and see our farms prospering, staying intact. They’re not being subdivided. They see our county cut taxes, eliminated debt.”

New York Senate Deputy Majority Coalition Leader Tom Libous (R) recently made news when he issued a pocketbook survey to his constituents asking them if they would support allowing some of the affected towns to secede from New York. Though the fifteen towns looking at secession have not yet identified themselves, Libous’ pocketbook survey specifically named Conklin and Kirkwood as two of the possible towns. The Upstate New York Towns Association says that the plan for fifteen towns to secede from New York and join Pennsylvania would have to be approved by the Pennsylvania and New York state legislatures, as well as the federal government. Conklin town supervisor Jim Finch called the possibility that the plan might work “far fetched” in comments to The Huffington Post. The Upstate New York Towns Association said it is conducting a study and will decide whether to go forward with secession after considering the merits and potential complications involved with the transition.

Though attempts at secession from New York have been tried many times before, most have failed, and the last successful effort took place in the 1790s when Vermont seceded from the state.

Civil rights probe launched into death of Rikers Island inmate

The death of an inmate at the New York prison Rikers Island has caused a watchdog agency within the state to seek for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the death.

Bradley Ballard, 39, was being housed at Rikers Island when he was found dead in his cell on Sept. 11, 2013. At the time of his death, Ballard was found naked in his cell, covered in fecal matter, and had an infection brought on by a piece of cloth tied to his genitals.

According to the Huffington Post, Ballard was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic as well as a diabetic, but he had been denied his insulin medication for six days which was one reason Ballard had died. Reports also say for those six days, Ballard was also denied food and water.

A report by the New York State Commission of Corrections, which has not been made public yet, reportedly says gross incompetence on the behalf of medical and prison staff brought about the circumstances leading to Ballard’s death.

According to Reuters, the prison warden, guards, and other staff visited Ballard’s cell 57 times over the six day period but did nothing to assist Ballard. The smell of infection though caused one guard to take notice of Ballard’s cell long enough for the guard to spray deodorizer outside the cell, but the guard never went in the cell.

Correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, told the New York Times, “We continue to investigate and have adjusted our practices to ensure that a similar tragedy does not happen again.” Ponte would not say whether any officers were being disciplined for the death however.

The medical examiner ruled Ballard’s death a homicide since his death could have been prevented if he were given his medication. The official cause of death is said to be diabetic ketoacidosis which results when a person’s body does not have enough insulin and the body begins to breakdown fat instead.

City officials have released a statement saying since Ballard’s death, jail staff and medical workers have undergone more training on how to communicate better with inmates.

Veteran’s Guns Seized Due to Insomnia Diagnosis Under New York’s SAFE Act

On December 17, retired detective and US Navy veteran Donald Montgomery filed suit in federal court after his guns were seized by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department under New York’s new SAFE Act, a strict gun control measure that anti-gun New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in 2013 following the widely-publicized and infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place in nearby Connecticut. Donald Montgomery’s suit names New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Eastern Long Island Hospital, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and other state officials as defendants. The above-embedded Fox & Friends video contains an interview on the issue with Montgomery and his attorney Paloma Capanna.

The mental health provisions in the SAFE Act were sold to the public as common sense rules aimed at preventing individuals with mental health conditions that pose a threat to others from obtaining a firearm. However, The Daily Caller notes that, in Montgomery’s case, his guns were seized by state officials after he sought treatment for insomnia following a cross-country move in which he changed time zones. In May of last year, the veteran was struggling to get a decent night’s sleep and voluntarily checked into the emergency room on two different occasions at Eastern Long Island Hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for insomnia.

According to American Thinker, healthcare workers at the hospital diagnosed Montgomery as “mildly depressed” and his medical evaluation paperwork states, “Patient has no thoughts of hurting himself. Patient has no thoughts of hurting others. Patient is not having suicidal thoughts. Patient is not having homicidal thoughts… there is no evidence of any psychotic processes, mania, or OCD symptoms. Insight, judgment, and impulse control are good.” Despite these facts, Montgomery’s case was forwarded to New York’s Mental Hygiene Legal Service and State Police, mislabeled as an involuntary psychiatric hold, despite the fact that the former detective and Navy vet voluntarily sought treatment for his difficulty with sleeping.

State Police then told the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department that Montgomery “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution” and repeatedly pressured the department to seize his guns. On May 30, Suffolk County Sheriff’s deputies visited Montgomery at his home and seized a Derringer .38, a Colt .38, a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380, and a Glock 26 9mm. His pistol license was seized that day and officially terminated in September. The Daily Caller points out the fact that two of his weapons were given to him by his employer during his 30-years of service as a police officer, including one which was a reward for being top of his class as a police cadet. Montgomery had previously received a medal for bravery in the line of duty during his career in law enforcement.

American Thinker writer Michael Filozof notes that Andrew Cuomo once said that “extreme conservatives… have no place in New York.” Filozof characterized Montgomery’s plight as “an effort [by Cuomo] to confiscate firearms from people who ‘have no place’ in his police state.”

In his lawsuit, Montgomery is seeking relief for what he describes as violations of his Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by state officials. He hopes that the judge assigned to the case will strike down the mental hygiene component of the law and is seeking an injunction that would force the state to notify anyone whose medical records have been seized. His suit claims Eastern Long Island Hospital wronged him by sharing his private medical records with state officials without his permission or knowledge. Montgomery says that his efforts to investigate and correct the errors on his own mental health file through Freedom of Information filings were denied and that he was not given the opportunity to contest the termination of his handgun license.

Officers turning their backs on mayor called inappropriate by police commissioner

When Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, spoke at the funeral of fallen NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, many other NYPD officers in the crowd turned their backs towards the mayor in open protest. Now, New York Police Commisioner William Bratton is calling this act inappropriate at the funeral for the fallen officer.

“I certainly don’t support that action,” said Bratton according to the AP. “That funeral was held to honour Officer Ramos. And to bring politics, to bring issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate.”

The mayor has been criticized recently for his remarks concerning the relationship between officers, specifically those working with the NYPD, and members in the African American community.

Various leaders of police unions in New York City were responsible for some of the negative remarks towards the mayor. The symbolic gesture of the officers turning their backs on the mayor at the funeral of Officer Ramos though, has not been claimed by any police union members. Patrick Lynch, the head of one union, dodged reporter’s questions about the action after the funeral.

“The issues go far beyond race relations in this city,” Bratton said to Chuck Todd on ‘Meet the Press.’  Bratton continued by saying, “I think it’s probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer… However, we will be making efforts to sit down and talk with the union leaders in particular to deal with their issues.”

Bratton also said de Blasio has been “totally supportive” of the NYPD by contributing many millions of dollars to the department’s budget for officer safety enhancements.