Met Opera Management Threatens Lock Out If No Deal Is Reached On Thursday

ralphandjenny via flickr
A 2009 Metropolitan Opera production.

It's deadline day for the Metropolitan Opera. The musicians' contract with the opera company is scheduled to run out at midnight on Thursday, and general manager Peter Gelb has threatened to suspend pay or benefits if a contract is not reached in time.

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Film Podcast: The Over-Stuffed End-of-Summer Edition with Guardians, Lucy and Get on Up

Categories: Film and TV

Universal Pictures
Chadwick Boseman works up a sweat as James Brown.
On this week's , Stephanie defends her Guardians of the Galaxy review against internet trolls who tell her to go suck eggs, and we touch on Scarlett Johansson in Lucy and the excellent James Brown biopic Get on Up. There's a lot to be had in this one. Enjoy.

Brooklyn D.A. Adds 14 Cases to Review of Detective's Work

Categories: Justice

Albert Samaha
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has gotten much praise and credit for his office's focus on reviewing questionable convictions of the past. Over the seven months he has been in office, the New York Times, USA Today, and other news outlets have run stories about how Brooklyn has taken the lead on the issue of wrongful convictions. He bulked up the Conviction Integrity Unit from two lawyers to ten, and he tabbed more than $1 million-a-year to their investigations.

At the center of the office's review, of course, are the Louis Scarcella cases. A majority of the cases under review in Brooklyn involved Scarcella, and the proportion has just grown.

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Canadian Antiques Dealer Indicted in Manhattan For Allegedly Smuggling Rhino Horns

Photo Credit: The Brit_2 via Compfight cc
Ounce per ounce, black rhino horns are worth more than gold.
A Canadian antiques dealer was indicted yesterday in Manhattan in a long-running scheme to smuggle endangered species parts, including black rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, from the U.S. into Canada.

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A Note to the Guardians of the Galaxy Fans Who Are Calling Our Critic a "Harlot"

Categories: Film and TV

They look just broken up that one woman in New York didn't adore their movie.
Hi, comic-book movie super-fans! Yesterday the last remnants of the ol' Merry Marvel Marching Society gathered on our website to let us know that Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie they haven't had the chance to see yet, is absolutely the best movie ever -- and that our chief film critic, Stephanie Zacharek, was terribly wrong when she wrote lines like this in her review:
"Guardians of the Galaxy is proof that a picture can have a sense of humor yet have no real wit. It hits every beat, but it hasn't got the beat."
Inflammatory! Anyway, we're happy to have you here, just as we were when you made similar complaints about our pre-release reviews of Man of Steel and that one movie where Batman cried in a hole for an hour. You were absolutely right about those, of course -- both flicks are undisputed masterpieces.

So, please, fire away at us! But maybe do yourself and your fan community the solid of actually responding to Zacharek's arguments rather than just spewing sexist hate.

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After Two Epileptic Children Die, Governor Asks to Speed Up Marijuana Legalization Timeline

Anna Conte passed away on July 17.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday sent a letter to acting New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker asking him to consider expediting the medical marijuana legalization specifically for epileptic children in New York.

Cuomo's letter comes after two children, nine-year-old Anna Conte and three-year-old Olivia Marie Newton, died this month. In June, state legislators passed the Compassionate Care Act, legalizing marijuana for patients with conditions including epilepsy, but legalization will not be implemented in the state for at least 18 months.

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Three Rikers Guards Indicted for Smuggling Cocaine and Oxycodone Into the Jail

Photo by Flickr user Matt Green
The correctional officer-jail inmate relationship is often a fraught one, rife with resentment, misunderstandings and violence. But sometimes, just sometimes, the two groups can put aside their differences and work together. That's the silver lining we can take from the news that two current Rikers COs, Steven Dominguez and Divine Rahming, have been charged with smuggling cocaine and oxycodone into the prison with the help of an inmate and his girlfriend. Another former Rikers guard, Deleon Gifth, who resigned earlier this year, was arrested Monday on charges that he was paid $500 to deliver what he thought was oxycodone to an inmate back in February.

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New York City's Paid Sick Leave Law Kicks In Today

Categories: Health, Work

Photo Credit: cdw9 via Compfight cc
How many of you are reading this while home with the "flu?"
New York City workers can begin using their paid sick leave today, as part of a measure originally passed by the city council in 2013 over the veto threats of former mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Legal Consultant on Divorce Extortion Cases Murdered in Florida

Brian Stauffer
Dan Markel was a well-respected law professor at Florida State University. In 2011, he was a scholar-in-residence at NYU. His academic writing focused on punishment theory and he kept a legal blog. He wrote op-eds for the New York Times and the Atlantic. Recently, he was also hired as a consultant for the defendants accused of running a divorce extortion operation targeting Orthodox Jewish men in New York and New Jersey.

Earlier this month, Markel was killed. He was 41.

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Outside the Israeli Consulate, 26 People Get Arrested for Lying in the 2nd Avenue Crosswalk

Categories: Arrests, Gaza

All photos by Zachary Roberts for the Village Voice
Norman Finkelstein and dozens of others lay down in the middle of 2nd Avenue in front of the Israeli Consulate.
Outspoken critic of the Israeli bombing and occupation of Gaza Norman Finkelstein was one of 26 demonstrators arrested today outside of the Israeli Consulate. The protestors laid down along the crosswalk of 43rd Street and Second Avenue, blocking traffic. All 26 were arrested and taken to the 7th precinct, where they are being charged with disobeying a lawful order.

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Are High Rents Pricing Manhattan's High-End Restaurants Out of the Market?

Categories: Longform

Courtesy Union Square Cafe
Here's how Danny Meyer found the storefront on East 16th Street in the mid '80s when he opened Union Square Cafe.
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay closed his Fifth Avenue restaurant Mesa Grill last year, laying to rest a landmark that, when it fired up its burners in 1991, was the only destination restaurant in an area dominated by garment factories.

In February, Keith McNally shuttered Pastis, a Meatpacking District institution, amid rumors that the building it inhabited was slated for renovation. He initially maintained he would reopen there, but now says he will have to relocate.

Wylie Dufresne will close wd~50 before the year is out, removing an internationally famed bastion of molecular gastronomy from the Lower East Side block it helped colonize.

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Despite Atheists' Best Efforts, the Ground Zero Cross Can Stay at the 9/11 Museum

Image via Facebook
The cross in its new home at the 9/11 Museum.
The 17-foot-high, 4,000 pound cross fashioned from a column and a cross-beam recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center can stay at its new home at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, a federal appeals court has ruled. The decision brings an end to a lawsuit from the American Atheists, who in 2011 sued a whole bunch of people and agencies, including New York City, the Port Authority and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg over the cross, which they argued was an illegal religious monument in a government-funded museum.

The American Atheists' lawsuit was already
dismissed by a federal judge in 2013. But they appealed that decision to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled yesterday that no, really, the cross can stay.

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Lost Out on Will Soon Be Available at a Domain Auction Near You

Photo Credit: photosteve101 via Compfight cc
The bidding wars for .nyc domains are about to get cah-ray-zee.
When the web address was sold in 2012 for a reported $13 million, it was most likely the highest price ever paid for a single domain name. And precisely no one was surprised that particular address attracted the big money.

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'New York Stands With Israel' Rally Draws Thousands

Categories: Israel

Zachary D. Roberts for the Village Voice
Monday's Rally. See all the photos here: The Stand with Israel Rally Draws Thousands
Ariel Gee, a recent college graduate, is standing near the corner of E. 47th Street and Second Avenue, perfectly still, holding a paper plate with the words "It's better to be disliked than pitied" written on it in ballpoint pen, as a crowd of more than 10,000 roils around her. It's an old quote attributed to Abba Eban, the foreign minister of Israel during the Six Day War, but, she says, "I think it really applies right now."

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New York City's Health Department Would Like to Remind You Fake Weed Is Dangerous and Stupid

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Just don't.
New York City emergency rooms are seeing an outbreak of fake marijuana-related illnesses, according to the city's health department. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a warning on Sunday urging people not to buy or use "synthetic cannabinoids," which are often sold at head shops under names like K2, Spice, and Green Giant. The agency says it's gotten reports of 15 fake weed-related emergency room visits over the past two days, concentrated in East Harlem, Central Harlem and Chelsea.

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With 1,000 Dead in Gaza, Rightbloggers Claim Obama's Peace Process Threatens Israel

[Roy Edroso dissects the right-wing blogosphere in this weekly feature]

Another week of horrible violence in Israel and Gaza has passed, and the world waits for a solution. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are working on it -- which rightbloggers consider an outrage. For one thing, diplomacy just isn't butch enough for them; isn't the solution in every case just to obliterate one's enemy and then enjoy the resulting millennia of peace?

For another, while diplomacy by Presidents with names like "Bush" and "Reagan" may be excused as minor infractions, diplomacy by Presidents named "Obama" is always part of a wider effort to destroy America, and that's what rightbloggers affect to believe the current Administration's turn at the well-worn Israel-Palestine peace table is all about.

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Lyft's Terrifying Mustache Cars (Sans Mustache) Can Legally Drive in New York City Starting Tonight

Categories: Cabs, Cars

Image via Facebook.
A Lyft car in absolutely not New York.
In news that will really bum out ride-sharing service Uber, other ride-sharing service Lyft can legally operate in New York City starting tonight at 7 p.m., the company announced on their blog. Lyft, which launched in 2012, operates in dozens of cities around the country already, where you can recognize their cars by the enormous, fuzzy, disquieting pink mustaches affixed to the front bumper. The company expanded operations into Rochester and Buffalo in April, and said they'd have cars in Brooklyn and Queens on July 11. (In New York, the company will reportedly opt to forego the mustaches.) That was unwelcome news to State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and top financial regulator Benjamin Lawsky, who filed a lawsuit against them earlier this month, saying the company's ride offerings amounted to an unlicensed livery service.

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No, New York Is Not the Unhappiest City in America

Categories: Studies

National Bureau of Economic Research
A map of adjusted life satisfaction, after controlling for demographics and individual income.
Last week the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper, "Unhappy Cities," that was a collaboration between Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, Vancouver School of Economics professor Joshua Gottlieb and Harvard doctoral student Oren Ziv.

Researchers found that differences in a person's level of happiness depended on the city that person lives in, regardless of whether he or she has lived there his or her entire life or just relocated. The report ranked metropolitan areas in terms of happiness and, since rankings (no matter how arbitrary) are one thing reporters and readers just can't resist, "New York Is the Unhappiest American City" is the headline that emerged.

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The Brooklynite Who Brought the Joys of A Transit Countdown Timer Into His Home

Categories: DIY, MTA, Technology

Ian Westcott
Westcott's own personal, magical, countdown clock.

When it comes to mass transit, the only thing New Yorkers really care about is punctuality. We'll elbow onto a packed bus and huff a stranger's armpit for thirty minutes -- and we'll do it gladly -- if it means we get to our destination on time.

But to do that, we need to know when that bus or train is actually going to arrive. That's why there's something magical about a countdown timer.

A 2011 MTA survey found that transit stations featuring countdown timers -- with their soothing, authoritative glow -- increase customer satisfaction in mysterious ways. Survey respondents liked the stations with timers better, but they didn't know why.

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Almost All Allegations of NYPD Brutality Go Nowhere

Categories: NYPD

Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing"
Every now and then, a charge of police brutality hits the headlines. Such was the case when Staten Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold last Thursday. Garner died. Somebody caught the whole thing on video. There has been much outrage since.

But browse through civil court dockets in any of the five borough, and you'll notice that charges of police brutality are common. Many more don't make it to court. Most are phoned in to the NYPD or the Civilian Complaint Review Board. From 2009 to 2013, the department faced 11,334 "force allegations," according to a report by the CCRB. That's more than 2,000 a year. Less than two percent were substantiated.

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