Governor Andrew Cuomo Is Still Ignoring Challenger Zephyr Teachout's Requests for a Debate

Photo by Caleb Ferguson
Zephyr Teachout
With 11 days to go until the Democratic primary election, it looks pretty unlikely that Governor Andrew Cuomo will ever debate Zephyr Teachout, his main challenger, despite many requests from her, and even an online petition circulated by her campaign. Cuomo missed New York 1's August 28 deadline to respond to an invitation for a debate on September 2.

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Venice Film Fest: In Birdman, Michael Keaton Is Haunted by His Superhero Past

Categories: Film and TV

The gent at the Delta check-in counter back in New York sighed when he saw where I was headed. "Romantic Venezia!" he said, and the comment stopped me short, because film festivals located in the most beautiful settings in the world have a way of making you forget - almost - that you're in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The Venice Film Festival - this is the 71st edition - is held not in Venice proper, but on Lido, a summertime island where winter seems impossible, resplendent with dusty pink and ochre stucco villas. It is also the home of the formerly grand Hotel des Bains, where Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice, and which, sadly, closed in 2010, destined to become a luxury apartment complex that has not yet materialized. I haven't yet walked by the Hotel des Bains on this trip, but I hope it's looking more cheerful than it did last year, when it sat dejected behind its majestic iron grillwork gate, a sad relic of past glory that even a Venetian Miss Havisham might find hard to love.

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New York City's Wealthy Neighborhoods See Spike in Heroin Deaths

Photo Credit: wstryder via Compfight cc
Overdoses are down in Staten Island, but overall things are still ugly.

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Five Unaccompanied Children To Be Deported From New York, The First Since Hearings Began

Categories: Immigration
Between October 2013 and July 2014, 62,998 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection. An estimated 10,000 of those children are being released to family members or sponsors in New York state, where they must appear before a judge (and opposite an Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyer) to make their case for remaining in this country.

On August 22, a week and a half after expedited hearings began in New York's federal immigration court, five teenagers were ordered back to their home countries after failing to show up for their initial hearings. These are the first deportations of the so-called "surge docket."

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Filmmaker Miranda July's New Somebody App Lets Your Intimate Messages Be Delivered By a Complete Stranger

Image via Miranda July's Twitter
If Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr don't allow you to air quite enough of your private life, Miranda July's got the app for you. The filmmaker, artist, and author launched Somebody today, a messaging service that enlists strangers to verbally deliver your messages.

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Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly Talks Militarized Cops, Body Cams and ISIS

Categories: NYPD

Photo Credit: azipaybarah via Compfight cc
Ray Kelly in days gone by.
Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly had a some surprising things to say about current events in an interview on WABC radio on Wednesday, in a conversation ranging from the events in Ferguson, MO to police body cameras and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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Wide Racial Divide on How New Yorkers Feel About NYPD & Eric Garner's Death, Poll Shows

One thing most New Yorker agree on: Officer Daniel Pantaleo should face prosecution for killing Eric Garner.

In a new Quinnipiac University poll, 68 percent of New Yorkers said that "there is absolutely no excuse for how the police acted" and 64 percent believe that Staten Island Distriact Attorney Daniel Donovan should press criminal charges.

But even within that general point of agreement there are stark racial divides.

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Video: This New Yorker is the National Pole Dancing Champion

Shaina Cruea is the 2014 U.S. National Pole Dance Champion, known for combining her signature contemporary dance style with the beauty of fluid strength and grace. But she wasn't always so confident.

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Video: Watch the March for Eric Garner & Michael Brown on Staten Island

On August 23, 2014, about 5,000 protesters peacefully marched through Staten Island to protest police brutality, spurred by the deaths of two black men by white police officers in the space of a month.

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Westboro Baptist Church Will Also Picket Gawker, Buzzfeed, Foursquare, Basically Everybody Else

Photo by Flickr user Shamey Jo, who is not affiliated with the WBC.
A fuzzy kitten pile: the direct opposite of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Last week, we told you that the Westboro Baptist Church, a merry band of noxious trolls with questionable ties to Jesus, is returning to New York to picket the New York Times, Facebook, the Huffington Post, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It appears that the WBC has realized that picketing media outlets is a good way to get attention: they've added a couple dozen other websites, publishing companies and tech ventures to their picket schedule. This is probably our fault. Sorry, everyone. Sorry.

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Queens Assemblymember Fears Chalk-based Graffiti Toy Will Usher in New Urban Dystopia

Photo Credit: Kevin Labianco via Compfight cc
Is it chalk or cocaine? And is there really any difference?
State Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder is very worried; there's a toy on local shelves that's turning children into criminals.

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Friendly Skies Flight Diversion Over Knee Defender an Airline First?

Categories: Air Travel, Beefs

The Knee Defender, a device marketed to airline passengers fed up with fellow fliers who hog their legroom by reclining, has been around for more than 10 years.

But the low-tech gadget appears to have registered a first yesterday morning, when United Airlines diverted a Newark-to-Denver flight to Chicago after a knee defender and his target got into a physical altercation.

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Against Football Author Steve Almond Blasts the NFL and Its Hypocritical Media Machine

Categories: Longform

ESPN bloviator Colin Cowherd has a blind spot when it comes to the violence in football.
SSG Dale Sweetnam/US Army
ESPN bloviator Colin Cowherd has a blind spot when it comes to the violence in football.
The dog days of summer aren't much fun in the land of sports talk radio. The only major league in play is baseball, with the pennant races still two months off. Amid these doldrums, the Ray Rice story hit the airwaves last month like a gale.

In late July, word leaked that the National Football League was going to mete out its punishment to the Baltimore Ravens' star running back, who was alleged to have assaulted his fiancée in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February. Surveillance footage, leaked online, captured Rice attempting to remove the insensate body of the woman -- whom he subsequently wed -- from the elevator. To this task, he brought all the empathy of a hog butcher tugging at a carcass.

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NYPD Cracked Down on Cyclists, Will Cops In the Bike Lane Be Next?

Categories: NYPD, Vision Zero

Tuesday marks the last day of the NYPD's two-week long crackdown on cyclists, "Operation Safe Cycle." When it announced Operation Safe Cycle fourteen days ago, the police department said the sting would target "hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and bicyclists: failure to stop at a red light, disobey a traffic signal or sign, riding the wrong direction against traffic, riding on the sidewalk, and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk."

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Podcast: Why Did So Few People See Sin City 2?

Categories: Film and TV

Very few people saw this movie.
Why did so few people see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For over the weekend? That and other topics are discussed in this week's edition of the Voice Film Club podcast with the Village Voice's Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek, joined as always by Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly via the magic of the Internet.

The trio also discusses the latest YA adaptation If I Stay, the BDSM doc Kink, and it wraps up with Alan and Amy split on relationship movie The One I Love, starring Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.

Mob Informant Who Ran Afoul of FBI Will Get New Trial

Categories: Crime, The Mafia

Photo Credit: bloomsberries via Compfight cc
Mob informant gets a new trial.
A longtime mob informant will get another chance, after an appeals court granted his motion for a new trial.

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A Brooklyn Librarian Will Now Make You a Personalized Reading List, and You Don't Even Have to Put on Pants

Photo by Flickr user Jose Raimundo Sousa Ribeiro Jr.
The main Brooklyn Public Library branch at Grand Army Plaza
This has been, without a doubt, an excellent summer for New York's libraries. In Manhattan, the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch set up a beautiful outdoor reading room that was open for the past two weeks before closing on the 22nd. A group of seafaring book lovers announced that they'll launch a floating library aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship for a month come September. And now, in a less temporary and totally genius move, a group of hardworking librarians across the Brooklyn Public Library system will make you a personalized reading list. You don't have to leave the house, dress yourself, or talk to another human being to put in a request for one. The future is here, and it is glorious.

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Number of Shooting Victims Has Increased in 14 NYPD Precincts Over the Last Five Years

The Warriors
It's unfair to judge a police department solely against the crime stats of the previous year. Numbers can fluctuate from one year to the next. What matters is improvement over the long run.

Over the past few months, there has been much attention on the rising number of shootings in New York City this year--up 10 percent from this time last year. Must be the fault of new mayor De Blasio or new stop-and-frisk policies, some have said. But then there's also this stat: the number of shootings are down 22 percent from this time two years ago.

This is the message the NYPD has been trying to get people to understand. The city is, in fact, getting safer with time.

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The 11 Best Found-Footage Horror Movies

Categories: Film and TV

Did you hear that?
Found footage horror movie As Above, So Below follows a team of urban explorers into the catacombs beneath Paris, home to "200 miles of tunnels right underneath our feet!" as announced in the trailer by Perdita Weeks, who plays urban archeology student Scarlett Marlowe. "Holding the remains of six million corpses," replies fellow explorer George, played by Ben Feldman. You can imagine what happens next: images of walls built from skulls, enveloping darkness, nightmarish visions of each character's past, and what looks like the Grim Reaper's hood, all viewed from the perspective of a GoPro.

"Tell me we just didn't go in a circle," says Weeks's Marlowe in the red band trailer. (Of course they did.)

There are no doubt high expectations for As Above, So Below (it opens in 2,500 theaters on Friday), but for every truly memorable found-footage horror movie, there are eleven derivatives. Here are our picks for the eleven best found-footage flicks, from The Blair Witch Project, which put the genre on the map in 1999, to ones released just this summer. More than a few are available on-demand, as well. And remember to keep your cameras recording.

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Topless Book Club Wisely Opts Out of "Go Topless Day"

Image via Facebook
The topless book club during a recent outing.
We're sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you missed out on an important national holiday on Sunday: GoTopless Day, which was held in cities across the country and is exactly what it sounds like. The festival of shirtlessness is sponsored by the Raelian Movement, a cheerful and publicity-hungry group of folks who believe that life on earth was created by aliens.

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