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Oh, shoot, dad injures his son

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 30 November 2013 | 20.49

By Dana Sauchelli

November 30, 2013 | 6:53am

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A boy was injured in the Vladeck Houses Friday after his father's gun discharged, causing debris to fall on the boy, police said.

Falling debris injured a 4-year-old boy on the Lower East Side Friday when his dimwitted father accidentally fired a rifle at their apartment ceiling while cleaning the weapon, cops said.

Luis Gonzalez, 50, was preparing to go hunting when the gun went off in the Vladeck Houses at around 10:40 a.m., cops said.

The slug hit the kitchen ceiling, causing debris to fall on the boy and causing minor injuries, cops said.

Gonzalez had a permit for the gun but was charged with reckless endangerment and assault.


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Atlantic City poker pro escapes from two airport robberies

What are the odds?

A poker pro who was toting $100,000 after a big win in Atlantic City escaped with his cash from two harrowing robbery attempts while trying to catch a flight out of Kennedy Airport.

Eric Riley, 32, got a ride to the JetBlue terminal on Wednesday from a so-called friend named Junior — but greed got the best of his pal when they got to the airport, police sources said.

The driver tore away from Terminal 5 with his trunk still open just as Riley tried to grab his duffel bag of bills, the sources said.

Stunned by the betrayal, Riley hopped into the first yellow cab he could find, handed the driver four $100 bills and shouted, "Follow that car!"

The cabby caught up to the crook at a red light several blocks from the terminal, near the JFK Expressway. At that point, Riley jumped from the cab and snatched his bag back from the still-open trunk — and Junior sped away, police sources said.

Just then, a black Camry pulled up to the scene, with two men inside claiming to be undercover cops and offering the flustered Riley a ride, according to law-enforcement sources.

Thinking he had caught a break, Riley got in and told the alleged cops about the robbery attempt.

But the men turned out to be a pair of jokers — who put a gun to his chest and demanded he give them the cash, police sources said.

Instead of giving up, the dumbfounded gambler refused, clutched the bag to his chest and made a daring leap from the moving car. He rolled down the highway, getting road rash as his clothes were torn to ribbons.

Riley then hailed a second cab and told a nearby cop his wild tale. PAPD detectives are now investigating whether all three crooks were in cahoots.

Riley first checked into Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City two weeks ago with $80,000 — and raked in $20,000 more from playing cards.

While at the hotel, he met up with Junior, who learned he was holding a lot of cash, law-enforcement sources said. Riley never learned the last name of the man, who made off with a suitcase full of his clothes and a laptop, according to police sources.

Riley, who lives in Deerfield Beach, Fla., is a skilled poker pro who won $82,000 at a recent tournament with a $2,500 buy-in, according to poker Web site Bluff.com. He has earned roughly $261,000 during his career and is ranked the 516th-best player in the world, according to the site.

He also has a job selling linens to hotels, police sources said.


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ObamaCare Web site shuts down for repairs

The entire ObamaCare Web site was suddenly taken down for 11 hours — from Friday night into Saturday morning — just before its long-awaited ­relaunch.

Officials said the extended shutdown, which began 9 p.m. Friday, was required to get the site ready to accept double the number of applicants starting Saturday.

"We have more upgrades that require more time," said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the problem-plagued portal.

The site has been taken down before, but usually only for four hours between 1 and 5 a.m.

Even before the unexpected move, health-industry experts were skeptical that the fix that's supposed to produce a "new and improved" site Saturday would be the game-changer President Obama has promised.

One insurance broker in Arizona — who has signed up just two clients through the site since it opened Oct. 1 — warned that no amount of repair could win back applicants.

Broker Jerry Anderson said people in his state have had such awful experiences on Healthcare.gov that they're going to stick with the insurance they have as long as they can.

"They're going to wait a year for the dust to settle," he predicted.

Anderson also said that those who have no choice but to enroll in ObamaCare are nervous.

"We're running out of time to enroll people for January 1. It's hard on everybody. There's a lot of angst out there," he said.

Obama has pledged that the "vast majority" of Americans would be able to sign up for the new national health plan once the site is fixed.

The trade association representing the nation's health insurers responded with a "we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it" position.

"Healthcare.gov and the overall enrollment process continues to improve but there are significant issues that still need to be addressed. Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage [by Jan. 1]," cautioned Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Administration officials said an increase in the site's capacity should double the number of consumers who can simultaneously sign on, to 50,000 an hour.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday even published a "Holiday Shopping Tips guide for signing up without the hassles that have made the site a national laughingstock.

"There are 23 shopping days in December [until the deadline for coverage that starts Jan. 1]. No need to rush," Sebelius advised in an attempt to avoid a panicked rush of the uninsured on Saturday.


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Crack mayor and brother to host online show

TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother say they will host an online show so they can take their message straight to "Ford Nation," the term they use for the embattled mayor's conservative suburban supporters.

Doug Ford, a city councilor, told The Associated Press on Friday that the show is meant to "get their message out and not have that message be twisted by the media."

After the mayor admitted to smoking crack in a "drunken stupor" and refused to resign, Toronto's city council has stripped him of most of his powers. Rob Ford said he has "declared war" on the council after it acted in response to his drug use, public drunkenness and a series of outbursts that have made him an international media sensation, to the embarrassment of many Canadians.

The new online show follows last week's airing of a single episode of a TV talk show hosted by the Fords that premiered on Sun News Network before it was cancelled. Network executives said "Ford Nation" was the highest rated program ever on the two-year-old cable channel, but said it was too costly to make.

The Fords co-hosted the hour-long TV program. The mayor used much of the prerecorded program to defend himself and talk about his re-election bid next year.

Doug Ford said the new self-funded online series, also to be called "Ford Nation," will be uploaded to YouTube before Christmas.

"Numerous people have approached us around the world about doing a show and since technology has changed, you can get your message out easily to a larger audience on your own," Doug Ford said.

"The objective is to get a clear message out there," he said. "We'll say a sentence and the media will clip four or five words out of it and it won't be clear or balanced."

He said the mayor has given up drinking for good and is committed to leading a healthier lifestyle.

"If Rob comes back a new man, 70-80 pounds (30-36 kilograms) lighter, he's going to win the next election," he said.


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North Korea’s US veteran hostage in chilling ‘confession’ video

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea state media claimed Saturday that an elderly U.S. tourist detained for more than a month has apologized for alleged crimes during the Korean War and for "hostile acts" against the state during a recent trip.

North Korean authorities released video showing 85-year-old Merrill Newman, wearing glasses, a blue button-down shirt and tan trousers, reading his alleged apology, which was dated Nov. 9 and couldn't be independently confirmed.

Pyongyang has been accused of previously coercing statements from detainees. There was no way to reach Newman and determine the circumstances of the alleged confession. But it was riddled with stilted English and grammatical errors, such as "I want not punish me."

"I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people," Newman purportedly wrote in a four-page statement, adding: "Please forgive me."

The statement, carried in the North's official Korean Central News Agency, said the war veteran allegedly attempted to meet with any surviving soldiers he had trained during the Korean War to fight North Korea, and that he admitted to killing civilians and brought an e-book criticizing North Korea. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

It wasn't clear what would happen to Newman now. But the statement alleges that Newman says if he goes back to the U.S. he will tell the truth about the country — a possible indication that Newman could be released.

The apology can be seen as Pyongyang taking steps needed to release Newman, said Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in Seoul. North Korea likely issued the confession in the form of an apology to resolve Newman's case quickly without starting legal proceedings, Yoo said.

The written apology for the alleged crimes of US citizen Merrill NewmanPhoto: AFP/Getty

North Korea is extremely sensitive about any criticism and regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of seeking to overthrow its authoritarian system through various means — claims the U.S. and South Korea dismiss. The State Department has repeatedly warned Americans about traveling to the country, citing the risk of arbitrary detention.

Newman, an avid traveler and retired finance executive, was taken off a plane Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities while preparing to leave the country after a 10-day tour. His traveling companion seated next to him, neighbor and former Stanford University professor Bob Hamrdla, was allowed to depart.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a photo released November 22, 2013.Photo: AFP/Getty

Newman's son, Jeffrey Newman, said his father wanted to return to the country where he spent three years during the Korean War.

Efforts to reach Newman's family and friends in the U.S. were not immediately successful Saturday. The Associated Press left messages seeking comment.

Photo: AFP/Getty

North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009, including two journalists accused of trespassing and several Americans, some of whom are of Korean ancestry, accused of spreading Christianity. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary and tour operator, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a Western threat to its authoritarian government.

Whatever the reasons behind the detention, it could hurt impoverished North Korea's efforts to encourage a growing tourism trade seen as a rare source of much-needed foreign currency.

Tourism is picking up in North Korea, despite strong warnings from the State Department, most recently this week. Americans travel there each year, many as part of humanitarian efforts or to find long-lost relatives or to see a closed society few outsiders get to visit.

___


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Former cops still reeling 7 years after Sean Bell horror

Former NYPD Officer Michael Oliver is grayer than he used to be, though it's hard to tell if it's from age or the fallout of the Sean Bell shooting.

Of the 50 shots fired by police at the unarmed groom-to-be and his pals in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006, Oliver fired 31, and even stopped to reload.

Like most of the officers involved in the shooting, Oliver left the NYPD with his pension intact and will collect $40,000 a year starting in 2014. But for the cops who gunned down the 23-year-old Bell hours before what was to be his wedding, life has hardly moved on.

Sean Bell and his fiancee Nicole planned to marry the day of the shooting.Photo: AP

"Seven years have gone by," Oliver said from the lot of a New Jersey car dealership where he sells BMWs in a suit and tie. "I'm just doing my job."

Bell was killed and his two friends wounded in the early morning outside a Jamaica strip club that had hosted his bachelor party.

Cops conducting a prostitution sting at Club Kalua saw a man in Bell's party arguing with another man outside the place and believed they were retrieving a gun from their car.

Within seconds, a team of cops closed in on Bell's Nissan Altima and fired 50 rounds at it, killing him and wounding his two pals, both also unarmed.

"It was just a tragic event," former NYPD Lt. Gary Napoli, who was commanding the undercover team, told The Post. "It was just a combination of circumstances that led to the confrontation."

The former vice-squad boss, now working a per-diem security job, said he tries not to reflect on the shooting.

"You have to move on," said Napoli, who didn't fire his gun that morning. "One incident could change the lives of so many people? It's just a shame, and we all have to live with it."

Napoli was forced into retirement and given a $75,000-a-year pension with an annual lump-sum supplement of $12,000.

"I miss the Police Department," he said. "Obviously, you don't want to leave under those circumstances, however I didn't have a choice. Thankfully, I retired with a full pension. No wrongdoing. And that meant a great deal to my family."

Two other cops were drummed out of the NYPD for their parts in the shooting and are trying to pick up the pieces.

Detective Gescard Isnora was the only officer involved who was terminated outright with no pension or benefits.

He was the first to shoot that morning, firing 11 times and starting a chain reaction that set off the 50-shot fusillade.

Gescard Isnora was the only officer involved in the 2006 police shooting of Sean Bell to be booted from the force.Photo: Paul Martinka

Isnora revealed little about what he's doing these days, but sources said he works for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency as a civilian and has tentative plans to sue the NYPD over the pension he was denied.

"I'm just trying to get away from all this attention," he said. "I can't answer anything."

Detective Marc Cooper, who fired five shots, refused to comment. He's said to be raking in $55,000 a year and an annual $12,000 supplement.

Officer Michael Carey and Detective Paul Headley fired three rounds between them but were allowed to keep their jobs.

Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli , Kevin Fasick and Leonard Greene


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Pedestrian fatalities on the rise across city

Looking both ways isn't nearly enough when crossing Big Apple streets.

Pedestrians deaths are up this year across the five boroughs compared with 2012 — and have spiked by 15.5 percent since 2011, The Post has learned.

While the city boasts that overall traffic fatalities are at record lows, a Post analysis found at least 141 people were killed by cars through Monday, compared with 132 over the same period last year.

There were 122 killed through Nov. 25, 2011.

"The city needs to stop with the happy talk and get serious about protecting pedestrians," said Charles Komanoff, a pedestrian advocate for the group Right of Way.

This month has been particularly treacherous.

Cops are investigating the deaths of 21 pedestrians in November, preliminary data show. Eight pedestrians were killed in November of last year, and 11 in November 2011.

The 2013 toll includes Staten Island grandma Lizette Serano, 60, and her co-worker Marion Anderson, 47, who were fatally struck by a minivan Wednesday while crossing a street in Willowbrook.

"I feel like we're forgotten, pedestrians," said Serano's widower, Carlos, 61. "People just don't pay attention. It's really bad. It looked like a train hit her. She was all broken up. Broken bruises on her cheek."

Her daughter Bernadette, 43, said through tears: "She was an angel. She has five grandchildren who will have to grow up without her."

The city Department of Transportation noted in a recent report that overall traffic deaths — which include drivers, passengers and bikers — have dropped to the lowest levels ever in the city. Police on Tuesday also hailed the drops.

Overall traffic fatalities were at 226 through October, compared with 235 over the same time in 2012, the Post analysis found.

But Paul Steely White, head of Transportation Alternatives, said the rise in pedestrian deaths shows a need for stricter enforcement.

The NYPD cracked down last week, arresting 91 drivers on moving violations and issuing more than 5,500 tickets during rush hours at dangerous intersections.

"We are encouraged by recent steps taken by the NYPD, but make this sustained enforcement the rule, and not the exception," White said.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio campaigned on reducing pedestrian deaths and serious injuries to zero.

Activists even put up their own 20 mph speed-limit signs in Park Slope, Brooklyn, near where a child was killed in October.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Fans angling for rare whiskey … at $4,000 a bottle

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new whiskey created in Kentucky features a blend of age and scarcity that has spiked demand — and its price.

Michter's produced a scant 273 bottles of its Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey, made from a blend of barrels, some of which are aged up to 30 years — and all of which are spoken for, its top executive said.

"We've been turning down orders," said Michter's President Joseph J. Magliocco.

Fans are angling to snatch up stocks of the limited-edition whiskey for nearly $4,000 a bottle. Shots won't come cheap, either, fetching an expected $350 a pop.

Such offerings have become commonplace as US whiskey makers dabble in new flavors. But the latest introduction by Michter's breaks into a pricing stratosphere that could reverberate across the industry.

The Michter's product will reach shelves Monday in select stores, restaurants, or bars in such places as New York and Los Angeles.


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Astor Tea House sells for $2M

This tea house takes the cake.

The historic Astor Tea House in Rhinebeck, which was built so the Astors could have a place to sip their tea, was sold to Robert Duffy, the president of Marc Jacobs, for $2.31 million.

Vincent Astor erected the Tea House to be part of the Astor Courts estate, which was built in 1902 by his great grandfather, John Jacob Astor IV, as a playground for America's aristocracy.

Astor Courts continued to be a playground for America's aristocracy when Chelsea Clinton married banker Marc Mezvinsky there in 2010.


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Yellen’s classmate ‘shocked’ at her spectacular rise

She's about to become one of the most influential financial leaders in the world, but a classmate who sat in front of Janet Yellen at Brooklyn's Ft. Hamilton HS says he was "shocked" at her career path.

"I didn't think she had a passion for economics," recalled Ron Vincent, a former Wall Street guy who took the same economics class as the incoming Federal Reserve Bank chair and who now heads Hi Investors Capital.

"I was shocked. She was in the psychology club."

Now, he added in awe, "She's going to be the world's most powerful woman."

Yellen's yearbook entry at Ft. Hamilton HS in Brooklyn.

Not that Yellen, 67, was a slouch in high school. Vincent recalled her as inquisitive and brainy.

"Even when she walked the halls she was deep in thought. You knew she would be successful," he said.

She graduated in 1963 as class valedictorian.

Yellen's yearbook entry shows she was editor of the school paper, The Pilot, as well as a member of the Arista honor society, the Boosters basketball program, the Minutemen history club and that psychology club that still sticks in Vincent's mind.

Her school photo depicts a serious young woman with a demure bob hairdo and intense eyes.

As head of the Fed, Yellen will help guide US monetary policies, affecting the pocketbooks of Americans and consumers across the globe.

Yellen's four-year term begins Feb. 1. President Obama nominated her to the post in October.

In 2004, she became president of the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco and has been credited with recognizing the subprime-mortgage crisis earlier than other economists. She is currently the Fed's vice chair.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

5 questions for … Rich Gannon

Written By kom nampuldu on Jumat, 29 November 2013 | 18.18

CBS analyst and former Raider Rich Gannon paints an ugly picture of the Jets' quarterback situation with The Post's Justin Terranova as he prepares to call Sunday's game against the Dolphins.

Q: How concerned are you with Geno Smith's recent regression?

A: The turnovers are alarming and you just haven't seen the growth and the promise that you thought you'd see from him. Usually you don't see guys repeating the same mistakes at that position but with him it's poor decisions, trying to fit in throws where he shouldn't, footwork-related issues. You just don't see the understanding that he's got a pretty solid defense, you can run the football and you have to be smart. He has to understand what he has on offense.

Q: Does that lack of talent make it difficult to judge what kind of quarterback he will be?

A: He's got some good coaches around him, Marty Mornhinweg is a really sharp guy, I am sure he's talked to him: "This is what this guy does well, this is what this guy can't do." What he has to learn, don't let someone else's mistake become your mistake. You have to factor that into your computer and make sure you don't get fooled.

Q: Is it time to bench him?

A: I think they would if they had a better option. You can't continue down this road with a rookie who's putting your team in jeopardy of not making the playoffs, especially with a coach who may need to make the playoffs to be around the following year. No coach in their right mind would do that unless they didn't have a better option.

Q: Mark Sanchez said this week that he thinks he'll return to the Jets next year. What does his future hold?

A: I think he has to go to the back of the line and the Jets probably will release him. I don't think anyone is going to sign him as a starter. You develop a reputation, whether it's warranted or not. He has to repair that. You do that by going somewhere, starting over and working hard. Based on what happened in New York wasn't pretty, I don't know how you sell him as a starter to your fan base if you are Cleveland or whatever franchise.

Q: Which of the AFC teams has the best chance to break out from the bunch?

A: The Steelers have a quarterback that's won two Super Bowl, one of the best defensive coordinators (Dick Lebeau), the offensive line has settled down a little bit, Antonio Brown's really come along since he got benched against the Patriots.


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Emrick: Rangers, Devils will have to fight for last playoff spot

As the NHL readies for its first Thanksgiving weekend showdown — highlighted by the Rangers visiting the Bruins — Mike "Doc" Emrick said he expects Blueshirts fans to participate in their usual Easter-time tradition.

That would include the nail biting and hair pulling of the late season, which has been the norm for Rangers fans in recent years.

"I look at the Rangers, Devils and Flyers as the three that will be going hard for that last playoff spot," said Emrick, who will call the Friday matinee for NBC. "All three got off to slow starts, righted the ship, don't score many goals, don't give up many.

"They are a lot alike in that regard and will probably be going at each others' throats for the rest of the year in the Metropolitan Division. Unless something radically changes, we are going to see five teams from the Atlantic get in."

After Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Panthers, the Rangers (13-12-0, 26 points) went over .500 after a miserable 3-7 start, but their lack of scoring continues to be an issue. The team has 14 goals in its past eight games, and the recent return of star Rick Nash from a concussion has yet to break that trend.

The defensive emphasis ushered in by former coach John Tortorella will have to remain if the Rangers are going to make the playoffs.

"The Rangers had to adjust to a new style, and maybe they aren't blocking as many shots as you see with Vancouver," Emrick said. "But the other side of this is that kind of sticky defense. They are going to have to answer for all this before the season is over because there's going to be a lot of tight games. … The Rangers defensively are not that bad, but they are going to have to be so good with how little they score."

The Rangers will follow up the match in Boston and return home to take on Tortorella's Canucks on Saturday. Tortorella had Vancouver off to a good start, after taking over for now Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, but the team has faltered recently.

"I think Vancouver is playing great, but they just can't win any games," Emrick said. "I think they are playing hard for Tortorella, but they are in the extreme thoroughbred conference, and they don't have the horses to compete like that — I don't think."

Tortorella got the Rangers to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in New York, but with the exception of being the No. 1 seed two seasons ago, the team had to fight to the final week to claim a postseason spot. Last year's regression, accompanied with players complaining about their relationships with Tortorella, led to his ouster.

"I think he will get a good ovation because he was a firebrand on the bench and I think people admire that," said Emrick, who recalled Mike Keenan getting a standing ovation under similar circumstances when he returned to Chicago as coach of the Rangers during the 1993-94 season.

"He was emotional and I think people admire that, too. He was certainly there for the Rangers when they needed someone to emphasize that defense was part of the game."


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Queens man stabs wife: cops

A Thanksgiving Day family dispute left a Queens woman with multiple stab wounds after her husband attacked her with a kitchen knife, police said.

According to cops, Xavier Cabarcas, 31, was arguing with his wife in their South Richmond Hill basement apartment when the situation turned violent.

The couple, who live in their Lefferts Boulevard apartment with their 2-, 6- and 8-year-old children, fight often, according to Cabarcas' mother, Lucy Mendez.

The children did not witness the stabbing, according to cops.

Cabarcas faces assault and weapons charges.

His wife, whose name was not immediately released, was in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.

"It's very disturbing because Thanksgiving is like family time," said neighbor Khris Ramotar, 62, who lives next door to the couple.


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Canada involved in diplomatic spying by NSA: report

OTTAWA — Canada let the US National Security Agency conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The report is the latest potential embarrassment for the NSA as a result of Snowden's leaks. He has already revealed that the agency spied on close allies such as Germany and Brazil, prompting heated diplomatic spats with Washington.

The CBC report, first aired late on Wednesday, cited briefing notes it said showed the United States turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the NSA as President Obama and other world leaders met that June.

The operation was no secret to Canadian authorities. An NSA briefing note described the operation as "closely coordinated with the Canadian partner," the report said.

The Canadian equivalent of the NSA is the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC.

Last month, Brazil angrily demanded an explanation for media reports that said the CSEC's agents had targeted the South American nation's mines and energy industry.

The documents did not reveal the precise targets of the NSA operation, but described part of the US eavesdropping agency's mandate at the Toronto summit as "providing support to policymakers," the report said.


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Israel court fines woman over not circumcising son

JERUSALEM — An Israeli rabbinic court has fined a woman hundreds of dollars for refusing to circumcise her baby son, officials said Thursday, in a landmark case that has sparked a new uproar over the role of religion in the Jewish state.

The case shines a spotlight on a long-running debate over religious coercion in Israel, where generations of leaders have struggled to find a balance between the country's Jewish and democratic character.

The matter ended up in the rabbinic court as part of an ongoing divorce battle. In the context of the proceedings, the woman announced her refusal to circumcise the boy, saying she did not wish to harm him. The Israeli rabbinate's high court ruled last week the circumcision was for the child's welfare and that the woman must pay $150 each day she refuses to have the circumcision performed.

"The decision is not based only on religious law. It is for the welfare of a Jewish child in Israel not to be different from his peers in this matter," said Shimon Yaakovi, legal adviser to the rabbinical court.

He said it was the first time a religious court in Israel has punished a parent for refusing to circumcise a child. A year ago, a civil court also ruled in favor of circumcision in a parental dispute.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Silvio Berlusconi kicked out of Italian Parliament

Written By kom nampuldu on Kamis, 28 November 2013 | 20.50

ROME — The Italian Senate on Wednesday expelled former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament over a tax-fraud conviction, ending, for now, his two-decade legislative run but not his political career.

Berlusconi, 77, has warned that the unprecedented move would embarrass Italy internationally. He maintained his defiance as the Senate voted, declaring Wednesday a "day of mourning for democracy" before thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters outside his Rome palazzo.

Even though Berlusconi won't hold a seat in Parliament, he is expected to remain influential in Italian politics. He has relaunched his Forza Italia party and still commands millions of loyal supporters.

While his lawyers chart possible legal challenges and his allies move into Italy's opposition, Berlusconi's fans massed in front of his palazzo for a rally that analysts said was essentially the start of his next electoral campaign.

Berlusconi still faces a seven-year prison term and ban from public office for his conviction of paying an underage prostitute for sex and trying to cover it up. He plans to appeal.


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Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher finalize divorce

LOS ANGELES — Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are officially divorced.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon finalized the couple's split on Tuesday, roughly a year after Kutcher sought to end the couple's marriage.

Moore, 51, and Kutcher, 35, were married in September 2005, and the actress announced they had separated in November 2011.

The former couple has no children together.


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Former Bravest gets new trial in pot-grow bust

Former Bravest gets new trial in pot-grow bust | New York Post
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November 28, 2013 | 4:48am

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Patrick Murray leaves federal court in 2009.

Photo: William Farrington

A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a former FDNY firefighter convicted of growing marijuana in a Queens house.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered the retrial of Patrick Murray. The court said Murray was not permitted to properly rebut cellphone data that prosecutors provided to jurors at the last minute. His lawyer did not immediately comment.

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Yale professor dies in jail cell after arrest

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University professor accused of fighting police officers who tried to handcuff him after a domestic-dispute complaint was taken to a jail and died the next day, authorities said Wednesday.

Samuel See was found unresponsive in his cell at the Union Avenue detention facility on Sunday and later was pronounced dead, New Haven police said. The medical examiner's office said the cause of his death was pending further study. Police and court officials are investigating the death.

See, 34, was an assistant professor of English and American studies who was on leave from Yale, the university said.

Yale said it was deeply saddened to learn of See's death and encouraged those who need support to reach out to it for counseling.

"Our condolences go out to his family, faculty colleagues, and students, and his friends at Yale and elsewhere," Yale said in a statement.

See was charged on Saturday with violating a protective order, threatening and interfering with police officers, police said. He was treated for a cut above his eye at a hospital, they said.

Police could not say what caused the injury.

Police said they received a complaint of a domestic dispute shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. They said officers spoke with Saunder Ganglani, who identified See as his husband and said he went to the home they shared to retrieve his belongings. Ganglani was charged with violating a protective order.

A telephone message was left with Ganglani on Wednesday.

Police said officers told See there was a second protective order protecting Ganglani from him.

See became enraged, yelling that it was his house and that he shouldn't be arrested, police said. See fought with the officers when they tried handcuffing him, police said.

As See was led to a police car, he yelled to one of the arresting officers, "I will kill you … I will destroy you," police said.

See was delivered to the detention center at about 9:10 p.m. Saturday by police and was alert and communicating with marshals throughout his detainment until marshals found him unresponsive in his cell at about 6 a.m. Sunday, Judicial Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Stearley-Hebert said. Marshals immediately provided CPR and other lifesaving efforts, until relieved by New Haven Fire and Rescue, she said.

The Judicial Branch is conducting a review to make sure policies and procedures were followed, Stearley-Hebert said.


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Macy’s balloons will fly!

Snoopy, Spider-Man and the rest of the iconic balloons have gotten the all-clear to fly between Manhattan skyscrapers at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

There were fears the balloons could be grounded if sustained winds exceeded 23 mph and gusts exceeded 34 mph.

But the New York Police Department decided Thursday morning that the winds were calm enough for the 16 giant character balloons to lift off.

Balloons have only been grounded once in the parade's 87-year history, when bad weather kept them from flying in 1971.

The city enacted strict rules after fierce winds in 1997 caused a Cat in the Hat balloon to topple a light pole and seriously injure a spectator.


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Silvio Berlusconi kicked out of Italian Parliament

ROME — The Italian Senate on Wednesday expelled former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament over a tax-fraud conviction, ending, for now, his two-decade legislative run but not his political career.

Berlusconi, 77, has warned that the unprecedented move would embarrass Italy internationally. He maintained his defiance as the Senate voted, declaring Wednesday a "day of mourning for democracy" before thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters outside his Rome palazzo.

Even though Berlusconi won't hold a seat in Parliament, he is expected to remain influential in Italian politics. He has relaunched his Forza Italia party and still commands millions of loyal supporters.

While his lawyers chart possible legal challenges and his allies move into Italy's opposition, Berlusconi's fans massed in front of his palazzo for a rally that analysts said was essentially the start of his next electoral campaign.

Berlusconi still faces a seven-year prison term and ban from public office for his conviction of paying an underage prostitute for sex and trying to cover it up. He plans to appeal.


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Comet ISON headed our way

A comet that left the outer edge of the solar system more than 5.5 million years ago will pass close by the sun on Thursday, becoming visible in Earth's skies in the next week or two — if it survives.

"There are three possibilities when this comet rounds the sun," Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in an interview posted on NASA's website.

"It could be tough enough to survive the passage of the sun and be a fairly bright, naked-eye object," he said.

The second possibility is that the sun's gravity could rip the comet apart, creating several big chunks.

"As long as there are pieces there, we'll see something," Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

The third option: If the comet is very weak, it could break up into a cloud of dust and be a complete bust for viewing.

"This comet is giving us quite a ride. It's going to be hard to predict exactly what's going on," Lisse said. "As a betting man, I think it's not going to survive solar passage," he added.

Comet ISON, as the object is known, was due to pass just 730,000 miles from the surface of the sun at 1:37 p.m. EST/1837 GMT on Thursday.

At that distance, the comet will reach temperatures approaching 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to vaporize not just ices in the comet's body, but dust and rock as well.

"While it may seem incredible that anything can survive this inferno, the rate at which ISON will likely lose mass is relatively small compared to the actual size of the comet's nucleus," Lowell Observatory astronomer Matthew Knight said in a NASA interview.

Scientists estimate that ISON needs to be about 219 yards to survive its close encounter with the sun. The most recent measurements indicate the comet is more than twice that size, and perhaps as big as .75 miles.

It helps that ISON will not be staying in the solar furnace for long. When it zips around the sun, it will be moving at about 217 miles per second (349 km per second.)

The comet was discovered last year by two amateur astronomers using Russia's International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON.

It was extraordinarily bright at the time, considering its great distance beyond Jupiter's orbit, raising the prospect of a truly cosmic spectacle as it approached the sun.

Heat from the sun causes ices in a comet's body to vaporize, creating bright distinctive tails and fuzzy looking, glowing bodies. The closer comets come to the sun, the brighter they shine, depending on how much ice they contain.

Comets are believed to be frozen remains left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

The family of comets that ISON is from resides in the Oort Cloud, which is located about 10,000 times farther away from the sun than Earth, halfway to the next star.

Occasionally, an Oort Cloud comet is gravitationally nudged out of the cloud by a passing star and into a flight path that millions of years later brings it into the inner solar system. Computer models show ISON is a first-time visitor.

"You need comets in order to build the planets and this comet has been in deep freeze in the Oort Cloud for the last 4.5 billion years," Lisse said.

"Comet ISON is a relic. It's a dinosaur bone of solar system formation," he said.

Oort Cloud comets have passed by Earth before, and sun-grazing comets are common. Comet ISON, however, is unique.

"We have never seen a comet like this, a comet that is both dynamically new from the Oort Cloud and in a sun-grazing orbit," said astrophysicist Karl Battams, with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.

"It has been behaving strangely," Battams said, noting recent flares and changes in brightness that could be signs the comet is fragmenting.


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Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher finalize divorce

LOS ANGELES — Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are officially divorced.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon finalized the couple's split on Tuesday, roughly a year after Kutcher sought to end the couple's marriage.

Moore, 51, and Kutcher, 35, were married in September 2005, and the actress announced they had separated in November 2011.

The former couple has no children together.


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Former Bravest gets new trial in pot-grow bust

Former Bravest gets new trial in pot-grow bust | New York Post
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November 28, 2013 | 4:48am

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Patrick Murray leaves federal court in 2009.

Photo: William Farrington

A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a former FDNY firefighter convicted of growing marijuana in a Queens house.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered the retrial of Patrick Murray. The court said Murray was not permitted to properly rebut cellphone data that prosecutors provided to jurors at the last minute. His lawyer did not immediately comment.

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Yale professor dies in jail cell after arrest

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University professor accused of fighting police officers who tried to handcuff him after a domestic-dispute complaint was taken to a jail and died the next day, authorities said Wednesday.

Samuel See was found unresponsive in his cell at the Union Avenue detention facility on Sunday and later was pronounced dead, New Haven police said. The medical examiner's office said the cause of his death was pending further study. Police and court officials are investigating the death.

See, 34, was an assistant professor of English and American studies who was on leave from Yale, the university said.

Yale said it was deeply saddened to learn of See's death and encouraged those who need support to reach out to it for counseling.

"Our condolences go out to his family, faculty colleagues, and students, and his friends at Yale and elsewhere," Yale said in a statement.

See was charged on Saturday with violating a protective order, threatening and interfering with police officers, police said. He was treated for a cut above his eye at a hospital, they said.

Police could not say what caused the injury.

Police said they received a complaint of a domestic dispute shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. They said officers spoke with Saunder Ganglani, who identified See as his husband and said he went to the home they shared to retrieve his belongings. Ganglani was charged with violating a protective order.

A telephone message was left with Ganglani on Wednesday.

Police said officers told See there was a second protective order protecting Ganglani from him.

See became enraged, yelling that it was his house and that he shouldn't be arrested, police said. See fought with the officers when they tried handcuffing him, police said.

As See was led to a police car, he yelled to one of the arresting officers, "I will kill you … I will destroy you," police said.

See was delivered to the detention center at about 9:10 p.m. Saturday by police and was alert and communicating with marshals throughout his detainment until marshals found him unresponsive in his cell at about 6 a.m. Sunday, Judicial Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Stearley-Hebert said. Marshals immediately provided CPR and other lifesaving efforts, until relieved by New Haven Fire and Rescue, she said.

The Judicial Branch is conducting a review to make sure policies and procedures were followed, Stearley-Hebert said.


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Sisters flee Arizona horror house

Written By kom nampuldu on Rabu, 27 November 2013 | 20.49

Two Arizona parents were arrested Tuesday after allegedly imprisoning their three daughters inside their "filthy" Tucson home for up to two years.

The children, ages 12, 13 and 17, were held by their mother and stepfather in the home where they hadn't been allowed to bathe for months, according to Tucson police.

"All three juveniles were extremely dirty and malnourished," said Tucson Police Capt. Michael Gillooly.

Cops discovered the desperate girls after the younger two escaped to a neighbor's home after their stepfather kicked down their bedroom door and allegedly tried to attack them with a knife.

Police later found the 17-year-old girl locked in a bedroom at the home.

The younger girls told police they had been fed only once daily and had not seen the 17-year-old in two years.

The mother and stepfather were both charged with abuse and kidnapping. The stepfather was also charged with sexual abuse.


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Masterpiece looted by Nazis installed at LA museum

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has welcomed the donation of a Baroque-era painting that was stolen in Italy by Nazis during World War II, but it could be losing a royal seal that may have been taken from a shrine in Seoul as the Korean War wound down.

The painting looted by the Nazis in 1944 was installed Monday at the museum's galleries for European art after it was returned to its owner last week and promptly donated.

The life-size figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria— painted in Italy around 1615 by Bernardo Strozzi — is a promised gift to the museum by Philippa Calnan, the original owner's sole direct descendant, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Calnan is a retired public affairs director at the museum and the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Meanwhile, the fate of a Korean seal from the Joseon Dynasty remained unclear.

In a September statement, the museum said there was "credible evidence" that its Royal Seal with Knob in the Form of a Turtle was "removed unlawfully from the National Shrine in Korea."

"While LACMA has not received a formal request from the Korean national government, we have reached out to them to discuss the results of our research and a mutually satisfactory resolution, including the return of the Royal Seal to Korea," the statement said.

An official at the state-run cultural heritage administration told The Associated Press that South Korea in May asked the United States to investigate how the seal ended up at the Los Angeles museum known for showcasing art from ancient times to the modern era.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules, said U.S. homeland security officials have confiscated the seal, as they investigate.

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said she could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Miranda Carroll, a spokeswoman for the museum, said Tuesday that officials there would not discuss details.

The 16th century royal seal has been in the museum collection since 2000.

The Korean government has held for years that signets from the Joseon Dynasty that went missing after the war were stolen by American soldiers.

This month, ICE agents seized nine other Korean seals in Escondido in San Diego County. Authorities told the Times the seals were turned over by the family of a deceased Marine lieutenant who had served in the Korean War. Five of the seals were determined to be part of the missing group from Korea's Joseon Dynasty.

However, officials don't believe that case is related to the museum seal.

The museum gain the painting by Strozzi, known for its iridescent color and theatrical side-lighting, after it turned up on the art market five years ago. On Friday, an Italian court ordered it returned to Calnan.

The Times said it is highly unusual for a major painting plundered from a private party during wartime to be given to a museum upon restitution, rather than sold to settle claims from multiple heirs.

The painting, valued at up to $3 million, was one of nearly a dozen works stolen from the collection of Charles A. Loeser, an American expatriate and heir to a Brooklyn department store fortune.

The Strozzi disappeared in April 1944, after the Nazi prefect set up headquarters in the Loeser family's villa. It resurfaced around 2008 in Vienna, where it was sold by an unidentified Austrian collector.

Sotheby's was approached about accepting the painting for auction, but research into its ownership revealed its history as a stolen piece. The auction house notified Italian police and contacted Calnan, who is Loeser's granddaughter.

The painting had by then been jointly bought by two Old Master art dealers. Calnan was blocked by the Italian courts from obtaining an export license for what was deemed a national treasure. She appealed the ruling and won.

The painting was shipped from Milan last week.

A popular saint since the Middle Ages, Catherine of Alexandria was revered for her chastity, scholarly acumen and unshakable faith. After converting hundreds to Christianity, she was condemned to death by 4th century Roman Emperor Maxentius.


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Dems following Obama over the cliff

In business terms, it's throwing good money after bad. In political terms, it's Democrats following Barack Obama over the cliff.

Reports say key congressional leaders, furious over the interim nuke pact with Iran, are threatening to buck Obama and add more sanctions. Those threats, I believe, will never come to anything.

Democrats are afraid to say no to Obama. They've never done it and are not likely to start now.

So if you like ObamaCare, you'll love the Iranian nuke deal.

The same people who gave you the health-care disaster on a party-line vote also will make it easier for Iran to get a nuke. Some will kick and scream, but they'll fall in line like good party soldiers. They did it before and they'll do it again.

Joe Biden called ObamaCare a "big f–king deal" at the signing ceremony. Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it." She also said, "It's going to be very, very exciting."

Well, there is no arguing with those predictions. ObamaCare is a very big deal, and it's fair to say Americans are very, very excited as they discover what's in it.

Unfortunately, the big deal is a bad one and the excitement comes from an epidemic of disgust and fear sweeping the nation.

So it will be with Iran. The promise of greater security and peace in our time will be proven false. You don't have to be a historian to know that weakness begets aggression. Always.

The question remains a simple one. Is Iran ready to give up its ­30-year quest for nukes? If the ­answer isn't yes, it's no.

One fact tells the whole story: The deal anticipates permanently recognizing Iran's right to enrich uranium. That makes it weaker than Security Council resolutions that even China and Russia supported.

Yet now comes the sell, with the president, just as he did with ObamaCare, in full pitchman mode. Before the ink was dry, he was in California before adoring crowds assembled to nod and smile and clap on cue as he trotted out a straw man to demonize critics.

"Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing for our country," he told the nodding heads.

There he goes again. If you don't agree with him, you're playing politics. Only he knows "the right thing for our country."

His latest offer is one America can and should refuse. Trusting Iran to deliver on its promises is nearly as risky as trusting Obama to deliver on his.

The nation has been down this path before. When a failing president digs in and refuses to listen, it is the duty of the leaders of his party to confront him and speak the truth. Republican elders did that to Richard Nixon during ­Watergate, leading to his resignation, and Dems did it to Bill Clinton to get him to stop lying about Monica Lewinsky.

In 2006, as Iraq was convulsed by a Shia-Sunni civil war, Virginia Sen. John Warner and other Republicans urged President Bush to start bringing the troops home.

Bush didn't agree, but the pressure helped persuade him to change course. Immediately after the Democratic sweep in the midterm elections, Bush replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary and forged the "surge" plan that dramatically reduced the violence in Iraq.

No two situations are alike, of course, but the principle is the same. Partisanship cannot demand blind loyalty. Every elected official has a first duty to the country, and leaders of a wayward president's party bear a special responsibility to set him straight.

That burden now falls on the Democrats who know the Iran deal is a bad one. My hope is that they will rise to the occasion. My fear is that the same people who gave us ObamaCare will give us a nuclear-armed Iran.

It's time for some tough Gov

Gov. Cuomo is on a roll. Two new polls show him starting his re-election year with huge leads over potential opponents. It's time he put that political capital to work for New York.

Cuomo's standing among voters should free him from the shackles of caution. Most important, his commitment to clean up Albany corruption deserves a turbo boost in light of public confidence in his leadership.

Both the Quinnipiac and Wall Street Journal/NBC polls show him holding a commanding 2-1 lead against possible opponents.

That gives him the freedom to campaign on his efforts to force legislators to disclose outside income. He promised to do that, but there also were signs he was ready to compromise.

His Moreland Act panel is locked in a showdown with leaders of both parties who claim the disclosure demands intrude on their independence. That's pathetic, but lawmakers are desperate to shield the links between their outside incomes and their official actions. Gotta keep taxpayers in the dark, ya know.

The public is disgusted with corruption, and the governor should harness that anger to force the legislators to go straight or go home.

His strength also gives Cuomo a chance to deliver on his promise to lower New York's tax burden. Despite earlier reforms, such as the property-tax cap, the state still ranks at or near the bottom in every survey of businesses and families.

Indeed, the culture of corruption is closely tied to the state's out-of-whack spending and taxing. If he can summon the right stuff, Cuomo has a once-in-a-generation chance to slay the dragons of the Vampire State.

Bloomberg: Gridlock & good night

What a difference a state makes. The New Jersey Legislature is still furious at last September's unexplained traffic congestion on the approach to the George Washington Bridge. Just this week, officials held a hearing and scoffed at the explanations of Port Authority officials.

In Gotham, anybody who creates congestion gets a medal from City Hall. To spend an afternoon crawling through the maze of Manhattan is to understand what it's like to be a second-class citizen punished because government zealots think everybody should ride a bike.

Despite his other accomplishments, Mayor Bloomberg has made getting around the city infinitely worse. That's his legacy, too.

Kelly's heroes deserve better

In the last year, the number of murders of New Yorkers ages 13 to 21 has been cut in half, the Police Department says. Top cop Ray Kelly credits Operation Crew Cut, a program that targeted turf wars between loose gangs of young people. This year, 43 people in that age group have been murdered, down from 87 last year.

Overall, shootings and homicides are down 21 percent from 2012's record lows. All of which proves again that Kelly deserves a medal, not the smears he is getting from the next mayor.


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Judge nixes O.J. Simpson’s retrial bid

O.J. Simpson's bid for a new trial was spiked Tuesday by a Las Vegas judge.

The former Heisman Trophy winner's request was shot down when the Clark County judge rejected Simpson's claim that his original lawyer fumbled his defense in 2008.

"All grounds in the petition lack merit and, consequently, are denied," District Judge Linda Marie Bell said.

The legendary NFL running back, who was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping, claims his former lawyer botched the trial in Las Vegas more than five years ago.

Simpson has maintained the incident that led to his arrest was his attempt to retrieve memorabilia and personal items from two sports-collectibles dealers.

He could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. If he loses, the 66-year-old Juice could then go into federal court to argue that his constitutional right to effective counsel was violated.

His Las Vegas conviction came 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of murder in Los Angeles in the 1994 stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, and almost seven years after a jury in Miami acquitted him of all charges in a Florida road-rage case.


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Holiday travelers’ race against the storm

By dawn Wednesday, the line snaked through LaGuardia Airport security checkpoints, filled with anxious passengers hoping to make it out of town ahead of the worst of a winter nor'easter that's already wreaking havoc on the busiest travel day of the year.

LaGuardia was reporting only minor delays both inbound and outbound by 7 am, but the Federal Aviation Administration warned that the airport is subject to a ground delay program that could snarl flights for at least two hours as rain continues and winds pick up during the day.

"I hope I will get out on a flight today," fretted disabled Linette Ottey, who uses a walker and arrived at the American Airlines terminal at 6:15 am for her 8:50 am flight to Chicago, where she's slated to spend Thanksgiving with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

"I got a call that said the flight was going to now leave at 11, but then I got another call that said we're leaving at 10:15 am," said the retired Bronx nurse.

"I'm just hoping for the best. I'm 85 years old and I go through so much to even decide to travel with my disabilities," Ottey said.

Kennedy and Newark airports also were reporting only minor delays, but they, too, are expected to see an increase and ground delays, the FAA said. Flight delays here would also cause a ripple effect at airports elsewhere, forcing delays for departures and arrivals alike.

At LaGuardia's American terminal, just two flights were showing up as cancelled by 8 am.

Brian Mukerjee, 50, was patiently waiting with his wife and two young kids for a flight to Kansas City.

"I'm surprised when the flights are on time," he cracked.

More than two inches of rain fell on the New York area between late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Flooding and road closings snarled traffic in Westchester and on Staten Island, and most surrounding highways were reporting fender benders and car spinouts on the slick roads.

While the rain is expected to die down by late Wednesday, winds will pick up throughout the day, and temperatures – near 60 early in the day — will plummet to below freezing, according to the National Weather Service.

The NWS warned that the storm would pack dangerous wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

"The timing of the storm couldn't be worse," said NWS spokesman Chris Vaccaro. "We are seeing numerous threats as the storm is beginning to develop and intensify."


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Bank breakup halts Cuba’s US activities

HAVANA — Cuba's diplomatic mission to the United States says it has been forced to halt nearly all consular services because it has lost its ability to do banking in the country.

M&T Bank told Cuba in July that it had decided to stop providing banking services to foreign missions and said Havana would have to close its accounts, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington said in a statement.

Despite efforts with the U.S. State Department and multiple banks, Cuba has been unable to line up either an American bank or a foreign one with branches in the country to take its business, the statement said.

It blamed "restrictions … derived from the U.S. policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba" — a reference to the U.S. embargo, which has been in place since the Kennedy administration and bars most financial transactions with the Communist-run island.

Representatives of M&T Bank did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment, and a spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said the State Department did not have any comment at the moment.

Washington and Havana broke diplomatic relations decades ago at the height of Cold War tensions. Since 1977 they have maintained "interests sections" rather than embassies in each other's capitals, with both facilities formally under the legal protection of Switzerland.

Cuba also operates a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Cuba said that until further notice, consular services such as passport and visa processing will be cut at both of its outposts in the U.S. except in "humanitarian" and other unspecified cases.

Havana argued that under international conventions, the U.S. State Department is legally bound to provide the conditions for diplomatic missions to function.

"The Cuban Interests Section particularly regrets the effects this may have on Cuban and U.S. citizens," the statement said, warning of a "negative impact on family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and other kind of exchange."


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As usual, Jets quarterback situation is a mess

The Jets organization might hold the record for most seasons with a complete mess at quarterback. Add 2013 to the list.

For the third consecutive year and more years than we can even count in the last three decades, the quarterback situation is in complete disarray. Geno Smith can't stop throwing to the other team. No one knows if Matt Simms can actually play. Mark Sanchez is recovering from surgery and David Garrard is three years removed from his last regular-season action.

Remember when Tim Tebow was the biggest problem?

If there is a way to screw up a quarterback decision, the Jets will find it. They have proven that since Joe Namath left in 1976. Richard Todd, Matt Robinson, Browning Nagle, Glenn Foley, they've had some doozies.

Now, general manager John Idzik is showing he has the same poor judgment when it comes to quarterbacks many of his predecessors shared. This is not about Smith, who may someday be a good quarterback. This is about entering the season with Simms as the only viable backup.

Idzik made a mistake signing Garrard not just once, but twice. If the Jets had signed someone such as Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jason Campbell in March, he would be starting for the Jets now. You might not think either is any good, but Fitzpatrick or Campbell would be a better option than a struggling Smith as the Jets try to find a way into the playoffs.

Instead, coach Rex Ryan is left with less options than a vegetarian at the butcher's shop. He can stick with Smith, who has proven very little this season or he can go with Simms, who has proven even less.

You can almost hear Ryan asking, "Are those my only options?"

There is Garrard, but no one around the Jets seems even lukewarm to that idea. Garrard retired in May because his knees would not stop swelling. Guess who popped up on the injury report over the last two weeks with knee problems? Plus, Garrard has not actually played since 2010 when he was with the Jaguars. At this point, he has more rust than a '57 Chevy and probably runs as well as one, too.

It's hard to figure out why the Jets welcomed Garrard back last month when he called, saying he was feeling good. People will say he can serve as a mentor to Smith, but that is overrated. Hire him as the assistant quarterbacks coach if you want him to guide Smith. Don't waste a roster spot.

Mike Tannenbaum ultimately lost his job because he made bad calls on Sanchez (a contract extension) and Tebow (trading for him). Idzik is still in his honeymoon period, so he won't be fired over anything that happens this season on the field. But he needs to solve the Jets quarterback issue in the offseason or it won't matter what else he does.

One thing Idzik had going for him when he got the GM job was what the Seahawks accomplished last year with Russell Wilson. It looks like a brilliant draft choice that is a credit to Seattle's front office, of which Idzik was a part. Now, he must hope he can find someone like Wilson for the Jets. Maybe he still believes it's Smith, but it has not looked like it lately.

One thing is for sure — Idzik cannot count on Ryan (if he remains coach) to find a quarterback. Ryan has shown he knows as much about coaching a quarterback as teaching French literature. He stuck with Sanchez until it was too late, ruined Tebow's NFL career and now seems lost as to what to do to solve the team's current issues at the position.

Idzik inherited plenty of messes when he took this job in January. One of those was at quarterback where Sanchez had to stay because of his salary. But somehow, some way, Idzik made a bad situation even worse.

Rex too loyal for own good

Rex Ryan is a very loyal person. It's one of his best qualities as a human being and one of his worst as a head coach.

The latest example of this is Ed Reed. There is no denying what Reed has accomplished in his career. He is bound for Canton, Ohio, when he is done playing. The problem is it looks like he's already done playing.

The Jets signed Reed two weeks ago and he has played nearly every snap since. Ryan can say there was no sentimentality involved, but clearly this is a player Ryan has a strong bond with and he pounced at the chance to sign him.

It appears Ryan and general manager John Idzik acted hastily, though. Ryan will never concede the point, but Reed got beat for the 66-yard Jacoby Jones touchdown on Sunday against the Ravens. He was playing too shallow and then played the ball terribly. In the process, he got between the receiver and cornerback Dee Milliner, preventing Milliner from having any chance at the ball.

But Ryan stuck up for Reed after the game, saying he'd be third on the list of culprits responsible for that touchdown. OK, Rex. Whatever you say.

The worst part of Reed playing so much is what it has done to second-year safety Antonio Allen, who showed some positive signs this year (ask Tom Brady). He has been relegated to three snaps against Buffalo and 12 against Baltimore. Any progress Allen was making has been halted by Ryan's loyalty to Reed.

Reed did prevent a touchdown Sunday with a big hit on Jones, but that's been the only play he has made so far.

The 35-year-old is in his final days in the NFL. It feels like Reed in a Jets uniform will go down with Willie Mays as a Met, Patrick Ewing as a SuperSonic or Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal. It's kind of sad to watch.


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House pauses ethics probe against Staten Island Rep. Grimm

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee is again deferring an investigation into Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, for possible campaign- finance violations — leaving the matter in the hands of the Justice Department, which is conducting a criminal probe.

The committee said the Republican congressman remains under investigation by the Justice Department for possibly violating campaign-finance laws by soliciting and accepting prohibited contributions from foreign donors, actions that may have caused false information to be included in campaign-finance reports.

One focus of the investigation is whether Grimm improperly offered to help Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen, obtain a green card.

Biton has close ties to Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, an Israeli rabbi whose wealthy, zealous followers donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Grimm's 2010 campaign.


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Art thieves sentenced

BUCHAREST, Romania — The ringleader of a gang that stole paintings from a Dutch museum in one of the world's biggest art heists was sentenced Tuesday to six years and eight months in prison.

Radu Dogaru and fellow gang member Eugen Darie, both Romanians, received the same sentence for stealing the masterpieces, including two Monets and a Picasso, in October 2012. The paintings have yet to be found.

The trial will continue on Dec 3. for four other defendants, including Dogaru's mother, who is also accused of destroying the art. She has exercised her right not to comment.

Dogaru and Darie pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the artworks, insured for $24.4 million, from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum.

Authorities said the decision can be appealed in 10 days.


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Zimmerman was ‘fully loaded’

SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman had five guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition with him when deputies arrested him earlier this month on domestic-violence charges, according to court documents released Tuesday.

A search warrant made public by the Seminole County court clerk shows that Zimmerman had a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns when he was arrested Nov. 18 at the Apopka, Fla., house of his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe.

Scheibe, told deputies that Zimmerman pointed a shotgun at her during an argument and that he used it to smash her coffee table.

Zimmerman, 30, is free on $9,000 bail on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. He has pleaded not guilty.

The search warrant says Zimmerman told deputies that Scheibe and he had agreed to separate, but as he gathered his belongings, Scheibe became upset and threw a handgun and the shotgun on the floor.

Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in July in the racially charged shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, during a confrontation in the community where Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer.


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Woodson set to ‘punch’ panic out of Smith

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 26 November 2013 | 20.49

PORTLAND, Ore. — Mike Woodson can say anything about his pet, J.R. Smith, and nobody takes it too seriously. But the Knicks coach certainly is beside himself regarding Smith, who has not been playing at the level befitting the 2012-13 Sixth Man Award winner.

Woodson certainly didn't enjoy some of Smith's recent psychobabble after recent Knicks losses to Indiana and Washington.

After the Indiana game, Smith said he felt like "panicking'' because of the poor start. Woodson knocked him Sunday and went even further Monday after the morning shootaround at Portland's Moda Center.

When asked if he was irritated by Smith's panic remark, Woodson said: "To be sitting here after 12 games talking about I'm in a panic stage, I might need to punch him out and get it out of his thought process."

The Knicks coach then smirked, but it wasn't meant entirely as a big joke.

"If we panic,'' said point guard Raymond Felton, "we might as just well shut down the season.''

After the Pacers heartbreaker Wednesday, Smith said: "Like you say, it's too early to panic, but me, personally, I'm panicking. I don't like this.''

In Washington, Smith said he felt every possession is starting to feel packed with "pressure'' and the team isn't having fun and "overanalyzing.''

There wasn't much to analyze with Smith's largely lifeless performancc Monday night — six points on 2-for-6 shooting.

* * *

Felton missed his fourth straight game with a pinched nerve in his hip/hamstring strain but hasn't ruled out Wednesday against the Clippers.

"That's what I'm hoping,'' Woodson said before the Knicks' 102-91 loss to the Trail Blazers Monday night.

The Knicks got a break as Blazers reserve Mo Williams was suspended for Monday's game because of a skirmish in Golden State.

* * *

Amar'e Stoudemire has been cleared to play all games except both ends of back-to-backs with a minutes restriction in the 20-to-25 minute range.

The Post reported in late June the medical staff was contemplating that exact scenario.

Stoudemire started the season playing every other game with a 10-minute max. He is coming off a solid 21-minute outing in Washington during which he was 5-for-5, showing explosiveness around the rim.

Stoudemire played 25 minutes, scoring 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.

Stoudemire said he's happy his "hard work is paying off'' and he has been able to show his "gift.''

"I still want to continue to be the hardest worker on the team,'' said Stoudemire, who has had three surgeries since October.

* * *

Minnesota forward Derrick Williams, former second-round pick, reportedly is being shipped to Sacramento. The Knicks had Williams on their radar.


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City sues jailer union

By Josh Saul

November 26, 2013 | 6:38am

The city hit the correction-officers union with a lawsuit Monday, asking the court to levy a $1 million fine if its leaders order another work stoppage like the one that stopped hundreds of Rikers inmates from reaching court last week.

The union staged the stoppage to protest the prosecution of two correction officers for allegedly beating an inmate.

The suit, filed by the city's Law Department, claims the stoppage was a violation of the Taylor Law.


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Ryan O’Neal dissed in fight for Warhol’s Farrah Fawcett painting

Ryan O'Neal got "nothing" from Farrah Fawcett and shouldn't be allowed to keep an Andy Warhol painting of the blond beauty, a lawyer said Monday.

Ryan O'Neal with Farrah Fawcett in 1989.Photo: AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine

The University of Texas wants to recover a $12 million Warhol painting of Fawcett, O'Neal's long-time girlfriend, that the actress bequeathed to UT, her alma mater.

"He [O'Neal] can't claim he inherited it because Farrah doesn't mention him in the living trust," UT lawyer David Beck told a Los Angeles jury. "She left him nothing — nothing."

But the 72-year-old O'Neal claims Warhol gave the portrait to him.

"This the most important fact — what happened in 1980 — because that's the agreement between Andy Warhol and Ryan O'Neal," the actor's lawyer, Martin Singer, said.


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Katie Couric to anchor Yahoo’s video news coverage

SAN FRANCISCO — Katie Couric is joining Yahoo to anchor an expansion of the Internet company's video news coverage in a move that she hopes will help persuade other broadcast TV veterans to make the transition into online programming.

Monday's announcement confirms recent published reports that Couric is hoping to attract more viewers on the Internet after spending the past 22 years working as a talk-show host and news anchor at NBC, CBS and ABC.

"I am particularly excited about hopefully attracting other people to this platform and venture," Couric said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We are in a major, transformative time in terms of media in this country."

Couric's hiring is the latest coup for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as she brings in well-known journalists in an effort to create compelling content that will attract more people to the company's online services. In the past month, Yahoo has also lured away technology columnist David Pogue and political reporter Matt Bai from The New York Times.

Financial terms of Couric's contract with Yahoo weren't disclosed. She also declined to say how many more reporters will be added to her team at Yahoo.

Couric, 56, will continue to host her daytime talk show, "Katie," on ABC even after she becomes Yahoo's "global anchor" beginning early next year. She described her now role at Yahoo as a "work in progress."

"I will be involved in developing a lot of concepts, but not necessarily doing everything," Couric said. "I will be doing interviews, but not on a daily basis. Probably monthly at this point."

The Yahoo job appealed to Couric because it will give her an outlet to delve into breaking developments around the world that she regularly covered as the anchor of CBS' evening news from 2006 through 2011.

Mayer, since leaving Google Inc. to become Yahoo's CEO 16 months ago, has been trying to make Yahoo's services more alluring so people will visit them on a regular basis and dwell for longer periods. In doing so, she is hoping Yahoo will be able to sell more digital ads and boost the Sunnyvale, Calif., company's revenue, which has been lagging the overall growth of Internet marketing for years.

"News is a definitive daily habit for our users, and Katie will work with our talented editorial team to pioneer a new chapter of digital journalism," Mayer said.

Yahoo already operates the most popular online news section in the U.S. with 81.5 million visitors in October, according to the most recent data from the research firm comScore Inc. The audience's size is roughly the same as when Mayer became Yahoo's CEO. CNN ranks second in online news in the U.S., with 70 million visitors.

Couric first became a household name as a co-host of the "Today" show on NBC from 1991 until she left to join CBS in 2006.

It remains unclear whether Couric's current talk show on ABC will be renewed after its run ends in May. Her show is drawing an average 2.17 million viewers so far this season, slightly below an average of 2.26 million viewers attracted during its inaugural season in 2012, according to the ratings firm Nielsen.

The Walt Disney Co., which produces the show, and the owned and operated stations that air the program haven't decided whether to bring back the show for a third season, said Bill Carroll, an expert on the syndication market for Katz Media. Couric also said she is trying to figure out whether she still wants to do the talk show.


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Daily Blotter

Queens

A man was found shot to death in Jamaica Sunday night, cops said.

The 47-year-old victim was discovered outside of a house on 107th Avenue near 153rd Street with a gunshot wound to the neck and head, cops said.

He was declared dead at the scene.


A 15-year-old girl vanished in Richmond Hill, relatives said.

Alexie Darren was last spotted on 101st Avenue near 124th Street in Richmond Hill on Nov. 19.

She was wearing dark denim jeans, a gray hoodie and a black leather jacket. She is 5-foot-3 and 130 pounds.

One distinguishing feature is the dramatic blond ends of her otherwise long brown hair.

"We are very worried about her," her cousin Madal Singh said.

The teen disappeared with a friend and both were last seen getting into a car with New York plates FHP5090.


Manhattan

Two men knocked off a Greenwich Village liquor store, authorities said.

The suspects walked into Thompson Wine and Spirits on Thompson Street between Bleecker and West Third streets at around 10 p.m. Saturday before one of the men pulled out a gun and demanded cash.

The thieves made off with more than $4,000 and cases filled with an assortment of liquor, cops said.


Staten Island

Cops busted a thug who slashed a woman during a robbery in St. George, according to a Criminal Court complaint.

Giovanni Brown snuck up on the woman as she was walking down Sherman Avenue Nov. 18 at around 7 p.m. and tried to snatch two bags she was carrying, the complaint states.

"Don't make me hurt you," Brown said before pushing the woman to the ground and taking her purse and a bag containing other personal items.

The woman suffered a minor stab wound during the attack, the complaint states.

About an hour later, Brown used the victim's stolen debit card to order pizzas, enabling police to track him down.

He was arrested early the next day.


The owner of a plumbing company was arrested for stealing thousands of dollars in Port Authority funds that were supposed to be used for his workers' benefit, authorities said.

Paul Rasole, 43, who ran Paramount Plumbing and operated out of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, pocketed more than $58,000 provided by the Port Authority and intended to be used for his employees' fringe benefits between July 2011 until March 2012, according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint states that on approximately 20 occasions, Rasole falsified weekly payroll reports, saying he had made payments to the Joint Plumbing Industry Board for benefits. Instead, he kept the money, the complaint says.

Rasole was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records.


Two people were busted in Oakwood Heights for having a loaded gun and prescription drugs in their truck, authorities said.

Cops approached Breanna Behan, 21, who was inside a black GMC truck on the corner of Amber Street and Amboy Road on Nov. 21 at around 5:15 p.m. and discovered a loaded 6.35 Armi-Galesi-Brescia-Brevetto semiautomatic pistol with a white marbled handle, extra bullets in the rear passenger seat and a prescription bottle containing 11 Lorazepam pills, according to a criminal complaint.

Sean Behan, 55, approached the car a half hour later and told police that everything in the car was his and that he was the owner of the vehicle, the complaint states.


Brooklyn

A burglar who managed to escape after being caught in the act by a Park Slope tenant has been busted, authorities said.

Angel Curras, 55, entered a home at 413 Dean St. around 6:10 p.m., July 19, stole a bracelet and fled, a Criminal Court complaint charges.

On Aug. 1, he entered an apartment at 176 Prospect Ave. around 5 p.m. and snatched a bag and a bottle of liquor, but ran into a tenant, court records state.

He broke free after a struggle, but left his DNA on the handles of a tote bag, according to the documents.

Investigators also recovered his DNA from a window at the first scene, according to court records, and he was busted earlier this month.


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Spend a day with Derek Jeter (for a price)

An online-only auction is offering a lucky bidder a chance to spend a day with Yankees great Derek Jeter.

All proceeds, minus Christie's out-of-pocket sale expenses, will benefit Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.

The charity supports programs that promote leadership and healthy lifestyles for youth. Besides New York, it benefits kids in his native Michigan and in his current hometown, Tampa, Fla.

The sale runs through Dec. 17.

Since 1996, the foundation has awarded over $18 million in grants.

The opening bid is $90,000. It includes lunch for four with Jeter. The winner also gets four seats in Jeter's luxury suite during a Yankee game; and an autographed, game-used glove.

Jeter says the auction will help expand the foundation's outreach and help young people "reach their full potential."


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Florida man arrested in $18M Ponzi scheme

TRENTON, NJ — Federal authorities say a Florida man has been arrested on charges that he allegedly operated an $18 million Ponzi scheme involving victims from New Jersey.

New Jersey's US attorney says Louis J. Spina was arrested Monday and charged with wire fraud.

Authorities say the 56-year-old Miami resident, formerly of Colts Neck, NJ, collected $18 million from 28 investors over a three-year period.

Prosecutors say Spina promised to invest the funds through his business, LJS Trading LLC, and guaranteed monthly rates of return as high as 14 percent.

They also say that Spina lost about $8 million of the investments in unsuccessful trading, and used the remaining $10 million to pay monthly interest payments and for personal expenses.

If convicted, Spina would face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.


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Dinkins questions de Blasio’s tax plan

Former Mayor David Dinkins is publicly questioning whether Bill de Blasio will be able to get Albany to pass a tax hike on the rich to fund universal pre-K — a signature initiative of the mayor-elect's campaign.

The ex-mayor raised the issue Monday after de Blasio, who was a low-level aide in his administration, gave a half-hour speech at Columbia University on early-childhood education.

"So many people dislike the notion of taxing the rich for the poor," Dinkins said after the New York City Summit on Children. "I don't, but many do."

Dinkins recommended he consider restoring the city's commuter tax instead.

"I would urge you to have your experts take a good, hard look at that, weigh where the votes are in the Legislature, and see whether or not this might be more easily done," he told de Blasio in front of a crowd of top educators.

But de Blasio stuck by his plan to hike income tax on the city's wealthy.

"I'm always an open person, but I think a leader leads. I'm convinced this is the best way to get this done," he said afterward.

De Blasio also announced he was forming a team to weigh the logistics of expanding pre-K. The team would recommend curriculums, create a plan to train teachers and find new space.

He admitted he was closer to picking an NYPD commissioner than he was a schools chancellor.

"The conversations are just being arranged now," he said.


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