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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New York's Bridge-Climbing Subculture Is Fighting Over Those White Flags on the Brooklyn Bridge

Image via City Council Member Mark Weprin's office
The infamous white flags.
Maybe you heard: on Tuesday morning, or maybe very late Monday night, someone swapped out the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge and put some bleached white ones in their place. New York's public officials have been competing to see who can be more outraged and appalled over the stunt: Public Advocate Letitia James said the incident "raised serious concerns about our safety as a city," while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams offered called the stunt a "terrorist act" and "descration" and offered $5,000 of his own money as a reward for information leading to the capture of the flag-swapping menaces.

Meanwhile, in a rapidly devolving debate taking place through Instagram and thinly-veiled jabs in the news, the subculture of daredevil photographers who like to climb high things and take stunning photos are pointing the finger at each other.

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Podcast: Karina Longworth on Old Hollywood

Categories: Film and TV

Karina Longworth
On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice interview film critic and author Karina Longworth, who's just launched a fascinating new podcast on the history of Hollywood called You Must Remember This.

Democratic Challenger Zephyr Teachout Wants Cuomo to "Resign Immediately" After Allegations of Meddling In Corruption Panel

As far as Albany skulduggery goes, this one is almost too on-the-nose: a New York Times investigation out today alleges that Governor Andrew Cuomo's office interfered with an anti-corruption commission, making sure it was unable to investigate any alleged corruption emanating from people or groups with close ties to the governor.

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Architect Files Construction Permits for 5 Pointz Replacement; Demolition Set to Begin in One Week

Categories: 5 Pointz

Then: "View of 5 Pointz, January 20, 2013" by Ezmosis - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Soon: H. Thomas O'Hara, via NYC Department of City Planning
5 Pointz: Then and Soon.
H. Thomas O'Hara -- architect of the two towers set to be erected on the lot where 5 Pointz sits now -- filed construction permits with the Department of Buildings on Tuesday. The filing comes one week after owner Jerry Wolkoff announced he had secured a permit to demolish the building. On July 17 Wolkoff said he planned to begin tearing the iconic building down within two weeks.

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Eric Garner's Death: How a Video Undermines a Police Narrative

The NYPD's internal report about the death of Eric Garner explained what happened through the eyes of the officers at the scene. As the Daily News first reported, one officer said that Garner "resisted arrest" while being apprehended in Staten Island last week. He was "struggling" with Officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo, who "attempted to place him in handcuffs."

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Trolling Hell: Is the Satanic Temple a Prank, the Start of a New Religious Movement -- or Both?

Categories: Longform

The most controversial new work of art in the United States is a sculpture that resides in an undisclosed warehouse location in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Hardly anyone knows where it is, and few have actually seen it. The people who commissioned the piece have warned the artist not to publicly identify himself.

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In 1951, the FBI Thought the Soviets Might Be Hiding an Atomic Bomb Somewhere in New York City

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Fat Man, the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki by the United States in 1945.
In the incredibly overheated, paranoid environment of the Cold War, anything seemed possible. Senator Joe McCarthy saw Communists hiding in every broom closet, Julius and Ehtel Rosenberg were executed as spies -- although the evidence we have today suggests that Ethel, at least, wasn't guilty of anything of the sort -- and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched COINTELPRO, a series of covert actions spying on and disrupting various political organizations, including civil rights leaders and Vietnam war protesters. In 1951, according to a recently declassified FBI file, the agency also became convinced that an atomic bomb built by the Soviet Union could be hiding somewhere in New York City, waiting to be detonated. After receiving a rather flimsy tip from an unnamed informant in Brazil, the FBI spent several years quietly looking for the bomb.

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Here Are New Jersey's Most Agile Cats

Categories: Cats, Video

"Dogs have masters and cats have staff, the servants, and that's us. It takes some intelligence to know how to twist that dynamic around and that's what cats do."

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Jill Abramson on New York City's Pedestrian Death Epidemic: 'We Know The Causes'

Jean Chambers was in the crosswalk, with the signal in her favor, when she was struck and killed by a driver at West 95th Street and West End Avenue on July 10. That day Chambers became the fourth pedestrian struck and killed within one two block radius on the Upper West Side in the last six months.

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City Will Pay $2.75 Million to Family of Killed Rikers Inmate

Ronald Spear was arrested and charged with burglary in September 2012. He awaited trial at Rikers Island. He was 52-years-old and had health problems. He had a kidney disease and he walked with a cane. He needed dialysis and other treatment.

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Bill Nye Talks Evolution and Climate Change, Poses for Selfies, at Irving Plaza

C.S. Muncy
Nye poses for a quick photograph before his show on Saturday night at Irving Plaza.
The show was about to start with the kind of problem one could only find at a Bill Nye event: All the liquid nitrogen had evaporated overnight. It was one of those tiny things -- somebody had forgotten to put a cover back in place from the previous show, and overnight it had all burned off. Nick, Nye's producer, put it pretty simply. "We've got a problem."

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Rightbloggers Take Back the Culture with Anti-Feminist Tumblr, Religious Film Reviews, Etc.

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

Let's be honest -- we really don't want to talk about last week's big, horrible news stories. The Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 story is too disturbing and, aside from the usual it's-all-Obama's-fault knee-jerks, not much differentiates right from left on the subject. Similarly, reactions to the Israel-Palestine fight have little to do with anything in American politics except the strength of the Israel lobby and the absence of a Palestinian one.

So we will instead go with an evergreen -- or, as we like to think of it, a topic that never gets enough updates: Culture War, which is what rightbloggers have instead of culture.

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Video: This is the Deadliest Intersection in New York

Categories: Traffic, Video

"I feel terrified to cross this street, which I have to cross about 10 times a day, every day," said a tenant who lives in a building on 95th Street and West End Avenue.

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Video: De Blasio Addresses Death of Man Strangled by NYPD Officer

Cut to 31:45 into the video see the beginning of the press conference.

On Thursday night, Staten Island man Eric Garner, 43, known affectionately as "Big E,"died while being arrested after an NYPD officer placed him in a chokehold. Garner, a father of six, was reportedly asthmatic. A disturbing video of the incident posted on Live Leak shows that Garner repeatedly said "I can't breathe!", sounding close to tears, as the police held him to the ground. The Staten Island Advance reports that Garner, who stood over 6 feet and weighed more than 350 pounds, was a fixture in the neighborhood who sometimes sold loose cigarettes for 50 cents apiece. Witnesses have said that Garner was trying to break up a fight in front of a beauty supply store.

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