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Ghislaine Maxwell could be back in New York in days: report



Ghislaine Maxwell could be back in New York as soon as Sunday — but not to the same jail where doomed pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died, according to a report.

Instead, Maxwell — nabbed Thursday at a secluded New Hampshire estate after months on the run from child sex abuse charges — is expected to be held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center before a possible court appearance early next week, said The Daily Mail.

Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in August 2019 in the Manhattan Correctional Center.

US Attorney General William Barr “personally called” Manhattan prosecutors to warn that “No harm must come” to Maxwell, a source told the tabloid.

“After the debacle with Epstein nothing can happen to her,” said the source, who added a plea deal is possible if Maxwell “has proof which will lead to the conviction of bigger fish.”

The FBI nearly had Maxwell at least once in the past year, in an extended “high-stakes game of cat and mouse” which costs millions but didn’t kick into high gear the feds secured an indictment against her, sources told the Mail.

“This has taken millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours. At least five million bucks, maybe more. The FBI has been tracking her for a year. They had her, then they lost her,” according to the Mail’s source.

“She was in Colorado and Wyoming, then they lost her until she showed up in New Hampshire.

“They had to build a case and put it in front of a grand jury.

“These things take time. She slipped through the net once but as soon as the grand jury came back with an indictment 10 days ago, it was on,” the source added.

The socialite was so stunned when the dozens of officers stormed the mansion, dubbed “TuckedAway,” that she didn’t even seem to be aware of the handcuffs.

“Let’s just say, we didn’t knock politely on the door. It was smashed down,” an officer told the Mail.

“Maxwell was up and dressed, in the living room, wearing sweat pants and a top. Strangely she didn’t seem to have much reaction. It was like it wasn’t registering with her.

“She was turned around quickly and cuffed. She was in custody in a matter of seconds.”



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Tiz the Law wins the 152nd Belmont Stakes in New York



The entire race took place without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. The three-year-old colt was ridden by jockey Manny Franco and is owned by Sackatoga Stables under 82-year-old trainer Barclay Tagg.

Dr. Post and Max Player came in second and third, respectively.

Typically the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes was the first leg for the first time in history. The race was originally slated to take place on June 6.

Traditionally, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes preceded the Belmont Stakes, but those two races were postponed as well due to the pandemic.

The Kentucky Derby is expected to take place on September 5, while the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for October 3, with Tiz the Law and his connections now immediately targeting the second leg of the famed Triple Crown and dreaming of a clean sweep.

“I’ve got the horse for the race,” said Franco.

“I’m very happy with the opportunity the owner has given me, and the trainer, Barclay, I’m in good hands.

“They know what they’re doing and the horse is really good.”

Saturday’s race was shortened from a mile and a half to a mile and an eighth, as the Belmont Stakes is typically the final race and the longest of the three.



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New York City crime stats show spike in burglaries and murders so far this year


There have been 38 murders over the last 28 days, twice as much as the same period last year, according to NYPD stats as of up to June 14. So far this year, there have been 159 murders, which is 25% higher than last year, the stats show.

Shooting incidents in 2020 are also up, with 394 happening to date, a 24% increase from the 317 shooting incidents at this point last year.

“The uptick in violence, I haven’t seen anything this bad in a long time,” said a law enforcement official. “This is the worst I’ve seen it in six or seven years.”

The uptick in murders is tied to gang and drug activity, with drug dealers fighting over territory, another law enforcement official said.

This week’s crime stats were released as New York’s criminal justice system adjusts to three seismic changes: the coronavirus pandemic, the effects of the state’s bail reform law, and the mass protests opposed to police brutality and racism against black people spurred by the killing of George Floyd.
In addition, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced a “seismic shift” in its culture Monday by disbanding its plainclothes anti-crime team and reassigning those 600 officers to other roles.

“What we always struggle with, I believe, as police executives, is not keeping crime down. It’s keeping crime down and keeping the community with us, and I think those two things, at times, have been at odds,” Shea said.

NYPD finds no wrongdoing by Shake Shack employees after officers got sick from milkshakes
The coronavirus pandemic and its mass unemployment has hammered state and local tax revenue and is likely to lead to layoffs and spending cuts to New York City’s budget. Combined with protesters’ calls to “defund the police,” the NYPD could see significant decreases in its budget in the coming year.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he plans to move some funding from the NYPD to youth and social services.

A group of city council members has proposed to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s nearly $6 billion budget. The mayor’s press secretary says de Blasio “does not believe a $1 billion cut is the way to maintain safety.”

And on Tuesday, de Blasio announced a new policy requiring all body camera footage of incidents to be released in 30 days if a police firearm is discharged or if an officer’s Taser or use of force causes death or great bodily harm.

Burglaries are up and robberies are down

The pandemic and New York’s extended lockdown have left storefronts largely closed and caused many residents to flee the city, and the NYPD data shows a responding increase in burglaries and car thefts.

Over the last month, burglaries have sharply increased, with 1,691 incidents as compared to 759 the year before. Looting incidents that took place during demonstrations earlier in the month are included in the burglaries figure. For the year, burglaries are up 47% compared to this point last year, from 4,480 to 6,595.

While you're stuck at home, one group has been busy: Car thieves
Car thefts, known as grand larceny auto, have also increased over 60%, with 3,078 incidents happening this year, up from 1,893 at this point last year. The car theft numbers are part of a national trend as fewer Americans travel and more cars sit idle in driveways and parking garages.

At the same time, comparing this past month to the same period last year, criminal complaints of rape are down 33%, complaints of robbery are down 23%, and complaints of grand larceny are down 44%, according to NYPD.

Burglary is unlawful entering a building with intent to commit a crime, grand larceny is unlawful theft of higher value items, and robbery is unlawful theft by force or threat of force.

Overall, the number of arrests has gone down; there has been a 32% decrease in arrests so far this year as compared to last year.

CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.



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New York passes police reform bill package that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign into law


This comes after two weeks of anti-police brutality protests nationwide as the country reels from the recent deaths of several black Americans at the hands of the police, including George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis last month after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

“There is a moment for change and we are going to make change, and we are going to pass legislation this week that I am going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50a, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago, and that will be in the state law,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

A coalition of police unions and associations has expressed opposition to many of the bills, calling them “anti-police.”

Most of the legislative actions aren’t new to legislators, never making it out of committee in recent years. But politicians say now is the time to get them passed.

“Make no mistake we know that what we did is not a cure. We know it’s a first step. It acknowledges that law(s) alone are important but they can’t fix racism in America,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said on the senate floor Wednesday as the legislative body voted on the final bill of the package.

“It begins to root out injustice and to bring justice to our justice system. It is a step and it is a path to equality. Sadly we all know that there will be more moments that will shake us all to our core but in this chamber we also understand that our response to those moments will make all the difference,” Stewart-Cousins said.

George Floyd protests have made police reform the consensus position

The state assembly and senate bodies, led by Democratic majority members, passed a bill mandating that a police officer who injures or kills somebody through the use of “a chokehold or similar restraint” can be charged with a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The bill is named for Eric Garner, an African American man who died as a result of a police chokehold during a 2014 arrest. The chokehold tactic was already prohibited by the NYPD at the time of the incident.

A version was first introduced by politicians after Garner’s death, but didn’t make headway.

Another bill will designate the attorney general as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement. This measure is technically codifying an executive order Cuomo mandated in 2014 in the wake of Garner’s death.

Civil rights activisit the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke in support of the legislation at a press conference with Garner’s mother last week.

“I thought about if we had passed these bills in New York and if there had been the prosecution of those that choked to death Eric Garner that maybe those police would not have thought they could have got away with it with Floyd because we saw the signal in New York. There was a signal from New York that you can get away with stopping someone from breathing if you had a blue uniform,” Sharpton said.

Another action will allow disciplinary records for individual police officers, firefighters or corrections officers to be released without their written consent. It is the reversal of a 1976 statute known as Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which was originally enacted to exempt police officers from being cross-examined during criminal prosecutions, according to the bill.

“All it’s doing is reversing an exemption on police records, so now a police officer is like a school teacher … it’s just parity and equality with every other public employee. It is just fairness and equity across the board,” said Cuomo.

New York Police Department officials have acknowledged the need for reform in this area.

“The NYPD has long advocated for reforming the law. Department executives have spoken publicly about the need for fairness and transparency in the law and have testified in Albany in support of an amendment to accomplish that,” police spokesperson Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement to CNN. 

Police unions, including the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, say the legislation reflects only one perspective and will result in unfair policies.

Regarding 50-a, the coalition said in a statement that it worries all complaints — including those not fully investigated or substantiated — will be released. It says a judge already has discretion on releasing such records and there are concerns officers would not have a chance to be heard.

Several other bills passed this week target police use-of-force and the demographics data behind those incidents.

Democrats offer sweeping police reform bill

One bill will mandate an officer to report any discharge of their weapon in which a person could have been hit, within six hours of the incident.

Another will require the courts to compile and publish racial and other demographic data of all low-level offenses, including misdemeanors and violations. It will require police departments to submit annual reports on arrest-related deaths.

A bill passed Tuesday will direct the Division of State Police to provide all state police officers with body-worn cameras that are to be used any time an officer conducts a patrol and prescribes mandated situations when the camera is to be turned on and recording.

Legislators address incidents like the recent viral video of Amy Cooper calling 911, in a bill that prohibits false race-based 911 reports and makes them a crime.

New York is just one of several government bodies working on police reform.

Democrats at the federal level announced sweeping legislation Monday in the most expansive effort in recent years to crack down at a federal level on policing practices across the US. It is, however, expected to face strong resistance from Republicans, police unions and local officials who don’t want Washington intervening in their policy making.



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‘We have all these marches and protests, what’s next?’: Young leaders in New York put out demands for police and community reform


“We have all these marches and protests, what’s next?” Timothy Hunter, 21, one of the founding members of Strategy for Black Lives, told CNN.

Members of the group have helped organize major events in New York over the past two weeks, including last Thursday’s memorial march for George Floyd in Brooklyn. The group also participated in protests at the Barclays Center the previous weekend and marched from Foley Square to Bryant Park earlier last week.

Even as members of Strategy for Black Lives are partaking in demonstrations, the group remains focused on the future.

According to their mission statement, Strategy for Black Lives intends to “organize, educate, and engage communities to raise awareness of America’s history in the mistreatment of marginalized populations.” They came up with the NYC Organizing Communities for Accountability and Policy reform movement, which is centered around three core principles: organizing communities, accountability and policy reform. The group is committed to “a multi-pronged approach,” founding member Frantzy Luzincourt, 21, told CNN, that combines on the ground demonstrations, policy conversations and lobbying efforts.

The movement echoes the Safer NY Act, a series of bills related to police reform under consideration by the New York State Legislature.

“We have been tracking legislation and fully support the passage of the collection of bills known as the Safer NY Act,” Strategy for Black Lives wrote in a statement.

The group has created a list of specific actions regarding police reform they want to see taken by officials in their community, including New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, and New York state Deputy Secretary of Public Safety Jeremy Shockett, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The group is focused on legislation that is part of the Safer NY Act, including: repealing 50-a, a law that New York officials have used to refuse to disclose records for officers involved in misconduct; the Police Statistics & Transparency (STAT Act), which would mandate that police departments across the state document all instances of enforcement of low-level offenses including demographic and geographic data; as well as legislation to curtail “unnecessary arrests for non-criminal offenses.” The group also hopes to “bring an end to qualified immunity” for police officers. They believe that no one should be free from the rule of law.
The group is also reaching out to New York state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, the legislator who was pepper sprayed and handcuffed at a demonstration last weekend, to discuss ways to assist in his legislating efforts.

“Organizing and non-violent demonstration is only part of Phase 1,” the group writes. “Phase 2 is encouraging the young people to be civically engaged and be the change agents in their local community.”

A call to action

Strategy for Black Lives was born out of a discussion between Luzincort and Patrick Reyes, 22, while they were attending a barbeque on May 26. The pair talked about the video of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd died afterward in police custody. Recognizing the need for organization, both young men posted on their respective social media accounts that they wanted “to take a stand,” Luzincort told CNN.

“Once outside opens up we definitely need to take to the streets and make our voices heard against all these injustices. Black bodies seem to be dispensible… sickening. #icantbreathe,” Luzincort tweeted on May 26.

Reyes reposted the tweet on Instagram.

“HMU if you’re interested in organizing to amplify the voices of those being deliberately silenced,” he said. “COVID shouldn’t foster complacency.”

Within days, Luzincort and Reyes pulled together a network of young people of color and allies that included friends from all over the city, including Hunter and Imxn Abdul, 22. Within days, the group had convened about 30 members between the ages of 20 and 25. They began protesting, attending the demonstrations at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

When the group recognized that the protests were beginning to turn violent, they decided that strategy was critical. “Everybody’s angry and everybody’s upset, but we have to figure out how we are going to organize and strategize,” Hunter told CNN.

The Strategy for Black Lives coalition held their first strategy call a couple hours after the violence broke out at the Barclays Center on May 31. The group now has more than 1,300 followers on Instagram, and their Instagram page points users to a volunteer sign-up Google form.

“During our first call we recognized we need more than just protests, we need more than just action in terms of physical, we want policies, laws passed,” Luzincort told CNN.

Terrance Floyd, George Floyd's brother speaking and addressing the crowd at the same service.

On Thursday, Luzincort and Hunter helped organize the Thursday memorial service for Floyd and the march that followed across the Brooklyn Bridge with Terrence Floyd, George’s brother and Rev. Kevin McCall.

Dressed in uniform — black shirts with whistles and megaphones — Luzincort, Hunter and their team went early to help set up.

“We were at the forefront of something special,” Luzincort said. “It wasn’t just us organizing change, but it was us understanding the pain that George Floyd’s family has gone through.”

Reverend Kevin McCall addressing the crowd at George Floyd's Memorial Prayer Service at Cadman plaza on Thursday.

When de Blasio showed up at the demonstration at Cadman Plaza Park, Hunter said the crowd started to boo. Terrance Floyd and McCall redirected focus, telling the crowd, “We’re not here for the mayor, we’re here for George Floyd.”

“Being able to be so close to someone who wants this to be peaceful and nonviolent and make sure that people are being heard was moving,” Hunter told CNN.

Also on Thursday, Reyes attended a press conference at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn with city officials, during which the Safer NY Act was discussed. Reyes told CNN that the entire plaza and park was packed with supporters.

According to Reyes, this gathering was different than past press conferences because it convened all types of people, not just the typical policy makers and activists. The gathering included community members who hadn’t previously been involved in these types of conversations. In the middle of a New York assembly member’s speech , a group of first responders, dressed in their scrubs, flooded the room with signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” and “I can’t breathe.”

“They are dealing with the current pandemic, but they also understand there’s another pandemic we’re dealing with as well. To see them in Brooklyn, coming out to support the movement uplifted me,” Reyes said.

A unified front

Strategy for Black Lives and its members aren’t the only young activists in NYC focused on ways to move beyond protests in creation of strategic policy plans and lobbying efforts. On Sunday, members of Black Lives Matter Greater New York led “The Blueprint,” a march in Times Square organized around the sentiment that “power without strategy is an empty threat.”

Reyes attended The Blueprint demonstration with five other Strategy for Black Lives coalition members.

“The energy was electrifying,” he told CNN, adding that it’s important to show support for other organizations doing similar work. “We’re in the sphere of collaborating,” he said.

Black Lives Matter Greater New York is also committed to working with different organizations focused on similar issues. According to Nupol Kiazolu, a member of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, the only way the Black Lives Matter movement will progress is through working together, and “moving together as a people,” she told CNN. “The ultimate goal is liberation and there’s not one way toward that.”

Kiazolu told CNN that she supports the work of Strategy for Black Lives and is glad to have Strategy for Black Lives’ backing as well.

Abdul emphasized the unity of this week’s actions. She is moved by the way that young black and brown leaders are able to lead change.

“Black and brown youth tend to doubt ourselves, that we can’t lead and we can’t make change,” Abdul told CNN. “But when our community sees people like us leading that, it makes a difference.”

Abdul has been active on social media throughout the protests, often livestreaming the demonstrations on Instagram Live. She noted that in recent days, she has received an overwhelming number of messages, with peers asking, “How can I make a difference and be on the streets with you to fight?”

“People are messaging me, ‘Are you going to an event? I need to go with you. I want to be there. I want to make change,'” she said.





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A nurse on the Covid-19 frontline reconnects with the New York City firefighter who rescued her from a burning building 37 years ago


But this wasn’t just any newspaper article. It was an article documenting Taylor’s rescue from a burning New York City apartment by a firefighter in 1983. She was only four years old at the time.

The picture on the front-page article shows a young Taylor with the man who saved her, Eugene Pugliese.

“I always knew I came close to losing my life that day,” Taylor told CNN. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I had a second chance at life, thanks to him.”

Today, Taylor, 40, is an emergency room nurse who lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and two kids. Ever since the incident, she wondered what became of the firefighter who saved her, coming up empty when she searched for him online. Ready to spend two months helping in the fight against Covid-19 at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn, Taylor saw this as an opportunity to finally find him.

During one of her shifts, Taylor told a firefighter her story. He called the current captain of FDNY Ladder 20 in Manhattan, who knew exactly who Taylor was looking for.

Taylor gave Pugliese a call right after her shift and was very happy to hear his voice on the other end.

“I wondered about him on 9/11 and hoped I would get the chance to thank him, and I finally did,” said Taylor.

Eugene Pugliese

Now 75 years old, Pugliese was “on cloud nine” when he got the call from Taylor on Friday.

“The two of us just sat there crying on the phone,” the Spring Lake, New Jersey resident told CNN, adding that he’s had the same article framed on his wall for 25 years now. “She turned out to be a remarkable woman with a magnificent life.”

A cold winter’s day, 37 years ago

While Taylor only remembers bits and pieces of what happened on that December day in 1983, Pugliese, who retired 24 years ago, remembers it vividly.

Pugliese was in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan checking water pipes when he was approached by a man who said there was a fire down the block. Pugliese followed the man to a building of loft apartments where he noticed smoke coming out of a sixth floor unit.

Upon entering the smokey apartment, Pugliese noticed and rescued a woman who then said her child was inside the apartment.

“She kept screaming, ‘My baby!’ so I went back in and found a young girl who was unconscious,” said Pugliese, who then gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until she became conscious.

“I didn’t see her ever again after that, but I always wondered about her,” said Pugliese, who received the Walter Scott Medal for Valor for his rescue of Taylor.

A reunion and a lot in common

Pugliese and Taylor found out they had a lot in common when they reconnected.

Taylor enlisted in the United States Army on her 17th birthday, eventually serving in the National Guard as a helicopter pilot before she left to start a family and study to become a nurse. Before Pugliese became a firefighter, he served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps where he fought in the Vietnam War.

“On top of that, we’re both die-hard Yankees fans!” said Taylor

Taylor and Pugliese have spoken twice since reconnecting on Friday and hope to meet once it’s safe to do so, preferably at a Yankees game.

“I hope to meet her soon, maybe later this summer,” said Pugliese. “I’d love to meet her two children and go to a Yankees game together.”



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New York reported the fewest number of daily coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began


Health officials on Monday reported 73 residents died in a single day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Tuesday.

“In this absurd new reality, that is good news,” Cuomo said. “Any other time and place, when we lose 73 New Yorkers, it’s tragic. It’s tragic now, but relative to where we’ve been, we’re on the other side of the curve.”

Just as Covid-19 cases keep rising in 17 states, holiday revelers cram together without masks

The number of daily new cases, 200, and new hospitalizations have decreased as well, Cuomo said.

Several parts of the state have reopened in the past week, with the exception of New York City, where “the numbers have been worse.”

The Mid-Hudson region reopened on Tuesday and Long Island will follow on Wednesday.

“We want the economy to come roaring back … that is not going to happen just by wishing it be so. We have to be part of that, we have to take affirmative action to be part of that and today is page one of that chapter” Cuomo said.

Each region will have a control group responsible for watching the number of cases, Cuomo said, but state residents can help by wearing face coverings, continue following social distancing measures and by washing their hands.

“Wearing the mask has got to be something you do every day. When you get up, when you walk out of the house, you put the mask on,” he said.



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New York Times publishes edition with names of 1,000 coronavirus victims



The total losses from the Covid-19 pandemic are, indeed, incalculable. The losses are greater than any illustration or description. But The Times is trying, in a unique way, by dedicating Sunday’s front page and three inside pages to the names of about one thousand victims.

The result: A front page devoid of any photographs, news articles, ads, or anything else. The entire page is filled with the dead, under a banner headline that says “U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS.”

Many experts say the Covid-19 death toll is even worse, because some victims died at home or weren’t counted for other reasons. But as the number of confirmed deaths approaches 100,000, editors and reporters at The Times talked about ways to take stock of what has happened in the past few months.

“We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number,” Simone Landon, an assistant editor of the Times’ Graphics desk, said in a behind the scenes feature.

Landon said the project is also a response to “a little bit of a fatigue.”

As the national emergency has stretched from days to weeks to months, a certain level of numbness has set in. The numbers are hard to fathom.

So The Times gathered names and stories of Covid-19 victims from newspapers across America. “The 1,000 people here reflect just 1% of the toll,” the paper’s description of the list says. “None were mere numbers.”

The columns and columns of names are about life as well as death:

Angeline Michalopulos, 92, “was never afraid to sing or dance.”

Lila Fenwick, 87, was “the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law.”

Romi Cohn, 91, “saved 56 Jewish families from the Gestapo.”

April Dunn, 33, was an “advocate for disability rights.”

Patricia H. Thatcher, 79, “sang in her church choir for 42 years.”

Fred Gray, 75, “liked his bacon and hash browns crispy.”

Harley E. Acker, 79, “discovered his true calling when he started driving a school bus.”

Frank Gabrin, 60, was an “emergency room doctor who died in his husband’s arms.”

Skylar Herbert, 5, was “Michigan’s youngest victim of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Philip Kahn, 100, “World War II veteran whose twin died in the Spanish Flu epidemic a century ago.”

William D. Greeke, 55, “thought it was important to know a person’s life story.”

An incalculable loss.

Dan Barry, a veteran writer for The Times, has an essay inside the paper about “The Human Toll” of the pandemic to date.

“Imagine,” he writes, “a city of 100,000 residents that was here for New Year’s Day but has now been wiped from the American map.”



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Yankee Stadium will play host to a drive-in festival this summer in New York City


“It’s a food festival meets cultural event meets classic drive-in,” co-owner Marco Shalma told CNN. “We wanted to create a space where people can eat, watch films or comedians, play bingo and even have date nights in a way that is safe.”

The events will range from karaoke nights, to movie screenings of all genres and even themed nights, like Latin or LGBTQ night. Shalma said the group will focus on showcasing New York talent and food and they hope to hire around 40 people to help with security and food service.

There will be a lifted stage with large screens in Yankee Stadium’s largest lot, where talent and emcees will perform. Sound will be streamed from a PA system to attendee’s cars.

The group initially planned to kick off events every weekend after July 4, but after experiencing an overwhelming interest, they are looking into branching out into the rest of the week. The events will run until August, Shalma said.

“We had more than 9,000 people register to attend already and so many amazing people jumping in to offer partnerships,” he said.

Lilly Singh is here to try and lighten our moods

To abide by social distancing guidelines, cars will be asked to park 10 feet away from each other and only 200 cars will be allowed to register for each event. Car-side food service will be explored so that attendees won’t have to get out of their cars to pick up food.

The price of the ticket has not been decided yet but MASC is working with their local partners to make sure it’s affordable. The tickets will be all-inclusive and per vehicle, according to Shalma.

In an effort to honor first responders, some tickets will be reserved and given to nurses, doctors, EMS, police officers, among others for free. There will also be a raffle to give a few tickets away for free.

“We’re trying to create a sense of normalcy during these times,” Shalma said. “This will be a celebration of New York resilience and we’re very excited.”



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Unemployment benefits: Claims from Asian Americans have spiked 6,900% in New York. Here’s why


Jing Fong’s dining room is massive; a destination for banquets and weddings, it can hold up to 794 people — and on weekends, there has historically been a long wait to get in for dim sum. But on that day, Lam counted just 36 guests.

Business had started to slow as early as January and was down 80%. All of the parties in March were canceled, too, he said.

“That day, I decided, you know what? Let’s just close for the rest of the weekdays,” Lam told CNN Business, adding that he was thinking about staying open on the typically busier weekends.

As long as the restaurant could cover workers’ wages each day, Lam felt it was still worth it to stay open. But “it became more and more obvious that we couldn’t even cover the payroll for that day,” Lam said.

Soon after, Lam made the final decision to furlough 170 staff members across two locations and encourage them to apply for unemployment benefits. He declined to say whether he has filed for benefits, too.

Across New York, businesses like Lam’s have shut down during the coronavirus pandemic and Asian American workers have filed for unemployment benefits at extraordinary rates. In the state, about 147,000 self-identified Asian workers have filed initial unemployment claims in the last four weeks alone, up from just 2,100 during the same period last year.

That’s a 6,900% increase — by far the largest percentage increase experienced by any one racial or ethnic group.

In contrast, claims were up 1,840% for white workers, 1,260% for black workers, and 2,100% for Hispanic and Latino workers in New York.

New York stands out from other states in that in early April, it started releasing detailed demographic breakdowns of unemployment claimants every week. Not surprisingly, claims are skyrocketing for every group in the state, reflecting the sharp economic downturn that nationwide has left 30 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims since mid-March.
But even so, the increase for Asian Americans is an oddity: It’s so large, it’s disproportionate to the size of their labor force. Asian workers make up about 9% of New York state’s population and work force, but now account for 12.5% of initial claims over the last four weeks. A year ago, they made up just 3.7% of claims during the same time period.
For the other groups, claims are either roughly in line — or well below — the size of their populations. White workers, for example, make up 65% of New York’s labor force, but only 51% of recent claims.

What’s the cause? Academics and members of the community point to several potential factors ranging from xenophobia to Asian Americans working in industries hard hit by the pandemic, including food and services. Many Asian workers also say they began social distancing earlier in the crisis than others — a factor that led some to close down businesses even before official lockdowns.

Lam, for instance, believes the main reason his restaurant began to lose business starting in January is because of “Chinese people practicing social distancing early.” One regular customer told him that their parents hadn’t left the house in a month since January except to get coffee and the newspaper.

“Jing Fong was first established around 1978,” said Lam, who took over daily operations of the business after his father, uncle and grandfather. “And we’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Jing Fong's massive dining room, shown here a year ago, is usually bustling with customers, but after business slowed, it closed in mid March. (Jing Fong Restaurant)

Low unemployment rates never told the full story

For much of the last ten years, Asian workers have had the lowest unemployment rate and highest median household income of any racial or ethnic group in the US. Part of the reason is due to their higher education levels. All of those figures contribute to the common perception that Asian Americans are more economically successful than average and to the pernicious model minority myth about Asian Americans being polite, working hard and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
But studies have shown low unemployment rates and high household earnings obscure persistent disadvantages for Asian Americans, including workplace discrimination and increasing income inequality within the group.
Averages also hide the fact that Asian Americans — one of the fastest growing populations in the US — are a diverse population. Those who self-identify as Chinese, Indian or Filipino ancestry make up the three largest Asian groups in the US, but no one ethnicity makes up a majority. The same is true of Asian Americans in New York State, where smaller populations of Burmese, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are also growing quickly.
Economically, Asian Americans are the most divided racial or ethnic group in the US, a Pew Research study found, with high-income Asian Americans in the 90th percentile earning 10.7 times as much as Asian Americans in the 10th percentile.

All of those underlying factors are at play now in New York’s data, as unemployment claims spike disproportionately for the Asian community.

Low-wage workers hit first

One theory from experts to explain the high unemployment claims is that many Asian Americans work in industries that were hardest hit by lockdowns — places like restaurants, small shops and nail salons.

While overall, Asian Americans are more likely to work in education and health services than retail and restaurants, those who were hardest hit by layoffs and furloughs early in the pandemic probably were in low-wage service sectors.

Wellington Z. Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, a nonprofit that focuses on revitalizing the neighborhood, said that Asian communities’ reliance on industries like food services and personal care meant they bore the brunt of shelter-in-place orders. “You can’t cut nails from six feet away, right?” said Chen. “A lot of people are not going to hang on. [They’re] not going to make it.”

Nationwide, Asian workers make up about 6% of the US labor force, but 57% of 449,000 “miscellaneous personal appearance workers,” a category that mainly includes nail salons.

On the opposite end of the income-spectrum, however, they also represent 35% of software developers, 20% of physicians and surgeons, and 23% of pharmacists. Those white collar jobs are generally more resilient to layoffs —but economists expect those sectors could be hit later in the pandemic as well.

But occupations alone likely don’t explain the disproportionate rise in Asian unemployment claims as other groups work in hard-hit industries too. That’s why experts also point to other potential explanations.

Racism and xenophobia as a factor

Business owners and workers told CNN Business that recently, racism and xenophobia against Chinese and Chinese-looking people have been a factor in driving business closures and unemployment claims.

In some of New York City’s predominantly Asian neighborhoods, business owners told CNN Business that foot traffic took a downturn months before lockdowns were in place. Not only that, but Asian employees and business owners said they were also apprehensive about commuting to work, as people would give them strange looks and news about anti-Asian hate crimes was spreading across their social media networks.

Lin Weng, 25, who lives in Sunset Park, a neighborhood known as Brooklyn’s Chinatown, applied for unemployment benefits after she was furloughed from her coffee shop on March 22. But while customers were still coming into the shop, she said, she experienced an incident in which she was associated with the coronavirus potentially due to her race.

“This lady walked in… and the first thing she asked me was ‘do you guys have the coronavirus?'” said Weng, who added that the woman proceeded to order an iced coffee but then changed her mind and left. “And I’m just [thinking] like, ‘are you asking me or telling me?'”

Lin Weng poses in her home in April. She applied for unemployment benefits after being furloughed from her job at a coffee shop. (Lin Weng)
Reports of attacks against Asians and those appearing to be East Asian have intensified after the coronavirus outbreak began in China in January. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force told CNN Business that of the 14 coronavirus-related hate crimes it investigated since the start of the outbreak, all of the victims were of Asian descent.
Jennifer Lee, a sociology professor at Columbia University, said that President Donald Trump’s reference to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” exacerbated fears among Asian Americans, by playing into xenophobia. “While he no longer refers to coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus,'” the damage has already been done,” she wrote in an email.

In addition to racism and xenophobia, Asian businesses in neighborhoods like Chinatown and Flushing have faced caution from their own communities as well. Some Asian customers have drastically cut back their interactions with Asian-run businesses, as owners noticed huge drops in traffic.

Early social distancing hurt Chinese businesses

Some essential businesses, including Asian-run supermarkets in Flushing and laundromats in Brooklyn, have closed despite being allowed to operate under shelter-in-place rules.

The Korean American Dry Cleaners Association of New York estimates that 70% of its 1,500 members will soon or already have temporarily closed their operations, according to Ahyoung Kim, small business project manager at the nonprofit Asian American Federation. Reasons varied from workers being unwilling to come in, to some contracting the virus, or because business had dropped off.

Some Chinese American workers who have applied for unemployment told CNN Business they agreed with their bosses’ decision to close, even if it meant that they lost income.

Zixian Tang, 25, who lives in Flushing, Queens, worked at a popular karaoke place that closed on March 15.

Even if his boss had not chosen to close the place, Tang said in comments translated by CNN Business from Mandarin Chinese, “I’m not willing to go to work because I’m afraid” despite having rent to pay. “The death toll is too high,” he said.

Jennifer Feng, 38, a nail technician at an ordinarily bustling mall salon in Flushing told CNN Business in comments translated from Mandarin that the salon decided to cancel its many upcoming appointments and close on March 16, several days ahead of New York’s stay-at-home order. While she can apply for unemployment, she said she is waiting for her stimulus check to hit first to see if she needs the extra benefits.

Jennifer Feng, 38, a nail technician at a mall salon in Flushing, takes a photo at home on April 30, 2020. (Jennifer Feng)

Feng said she believes Flushing stores closed early because the Chinese American community acted faster in taking precautions, from social distancing early to wearing face masks, compared to those in other groups.

Economists from Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Massachusetts Boston said they can’t know for sure whether xenophobia or caution were reasons for the high amount of unemployment claims from Asian Americans. It’s too early, and data on that is unavailable so far.

A different story for South Asian communities

While workers of East Asian backgrounds say they grappled with shop closures, social distancing and xenophobia early on in the pandemic, South Asian neighborhoods in Queens were still pretty crowded at the end of March.

“I went to Patel Brothers the first week of the shutdown,” said Annetta Seecharran, executive director of the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that serves the South Asian community, referring to a destination Indian grocery store in Jackson Heights, Queens. “It was life as usual, like nobody had actually heard of any pandemic.”

Mohammed Uddin, 42, told CNN Business that although the virus’ first case in New York was announced on March 2, only when the death toll began to rise in mid-March did he begin to realize it was a dangerous situation.

Compared to stores in Flushing, the ones in Jackson Heights — a diverse neighborhood known for Indian, Bangladeshi and Latino American residents as well as other groups — stayed open longer, Uddin observed.

But despite different reaction times — and, anecdotally, fewer coronavirus-related hate crimes against them, South Asians are also reporting a sudden uptick in unemployment claims, according to Seecharran.

Uddin said he left his job as an Access-a-Ride driver on March 17 because it involves chauffeuring elderly and ill patients from their homes to hospitals and he felt it was too risky. His friends, drivers who introduced him to the job, quit too, he said.

Mohammed Uddin was a used car salesman, then a driver for Access-a-Ride, but is now unemployed. (Mohammed Uddin)

“I was very scared of getting anything,” he said. He developed a cough and fever that worried him. He lives with his wife, a 2-year-old, a 7-year-old and his mom, 67, and dad, 75, both of whom have diabetes.

“If I got any other job, which is not close to people, of course I’ll go to work,” he said.

Small numbers in 2019 meant a large spike for 2020

Another factor behind the large jump: Asian Americans filed very few claims last year, so that’s partly why their percentage gains were higher than any other group, said Christian Moser, assistant professor of economics at Columbia Business School. “The larger number… will come from the fact that we’ve started out with such a low level to begin with for Asian Americans,” he said.

The small base numbers in 2019 can be potentially explained in part by pride, said Ahyoung Kim, the small business project manager. And now, it’s possible Asian American people are rethinking that stance given the combination of racism and economic fallout they’ve experienced during the pandemic.

“I can’t speak for all Asian cultures, but at least in the Korean community, there has been a bit of shaming, in a cultural sense that you can’t really demand stuff from the government,” she said. “There’s a huge shift in the community. Those that are asking are now realizing, ‘I can take this money and we should take this money because there really is no choice.'”

Undocumented immigrants missing from the numbers

Even as unemployment claims have surged, the number almost surely undercounts the total of Asian Americans who are unemployed during the pandemic, as undocumented immigrants are ineligible to apply. About 238,000 undocumented Asian immigrants live in New York state, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. There’s no data on how many of them have lost jobs recently. Sora Lee, 23, who lives in Bayside, Queens, told CNN Business that her whole family is ineligible.

Both her parents are undocumented, while she and her sister worked jobs that were paid in cash. All four of them lost jobs recently, although her dad is unemployed due to an injury unrelated to coronavirus.

Sora Lee was paid in cash and isn't eligible for unemployment benefits. Neither are her parents, who are undocumented immigrants. (Sora Lee)

Her mom, who requested to remain anonymous because of her immigration status, is a nail technician who lost her job after her salon closed. “I would like to be working because of the money, but at the same time, it’s very dangerous because of the virus, so it was a good idea to close down,” she said in comments translated from Korean by her daughter.

Thanks to a babysitting gig, Lee does have some income right now, but she’s the only one in the family who does and her mother said she’s worried she won’t be able to pay her bills. Rent, electricity, cable, internet, car insurance and life insurance payments due soon total up to $2,600 and the family is leaning on credit cards and about $1,000 left in savings. She said she wished that undocumented immigrants could be eligible for some sort of relief.

The long road ahead

The financial impact on Asian Americans may change how these neighborhoods look once the pandemic ends. During the 2008 recession, Asian Americans had the highest long-term unemployment of any group, according to a 2012 study from Marlene Kim, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“I’m going to predict that this is going to happen again,” Kim told CNN Business. “I think it was part discrimination but also part other people dropped out of the labor market, they didn’t even look for jobs. But Asians kept looking for jobs and being counted [as unemployed.]”

Economists predict that nationwide, unemployment could surge to around 20% by June — a level not seen since the 1930s Great Depression.

New York’s skyrocketing unemployment numbers could be just the beginning. And with many working in sectors hard hit by coronavirus and potentially facing discrimination, it could be difficult for Asian Americans to find jobs once New York opens back up again.

Wilson Tang, 41, owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor — a dim sum restaurant that first opened in 1920 — said almost all of Manhattan’s Chinatown has shut down. He has furloughed about 55 employees in Chinatown and is keeping a location north of Little Italy open only for takeout and delivery.

“I have told the people that we laid off to please go exercise that right and use the unemployment benefits that they’ve paid towards and the company has paid towards and whatever stimulus checks or whatever resources they can to survive and weather this storm,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Jing Fong employees who were furloughed.



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