The Wire Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe Fights Global Injustice From Brooklyn

Being a performer has never been enough for Gbenga Akinnagbe. More »

NYC's Cuban Americans Look Ahead to Life After the Embargo

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A crowd at the Center for Cuban Studies in October, during a book-signing for Back Channel to Cuba.
When President Barack Obama officially announced plans to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, the minds of many Americans immediately went to cigars, or rum, or cigars and rum. But for some Cubans, Cuban Americans, and even Cuban enthusiasts across the country, the decision, announced on December 17, stirred up different sentiments.

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Vandals Advocating Free Subway Rides Spawn Investigation; OWS To March Across Brooklyn Bridge; Pena Witness 'Disturbed'

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Police are now looking for a group of vandals that worked Wednesday morning to let subway riders at thee stations across Manhattan and Brooklyn ride free. The group -- wearing masks, hoods and gloves -- chained open emergency gates, taped over the MetroCard readers and posted signs that read, "customers ride for free." According to the New York Times investigators are still trying to determine whether the group acted "as part -- or in sympathy with --" Occupy Wall Street or another protest group. "We don't know who is behind the incidents or what the motivation is," an NYPD spokesman said Saturday. On Thursday, reports emerged that about 20 stations across the city saw gates opened to protest MTA cutbacks. [NYT]

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Senator Gillibrand Calls For Troop Drawdown From Afghanistan In Manhattan

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U.S. Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand appeared in her office in Manhattan today alongside several veterans who recently served to call for the expedited drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. "While our troops have admirably fulfilled the missions asked of them, we must step back and review our Afghanistan policy in the context of our overall national security," Gillibrand said, according to a press release. In addition to her appearance, Gillibrand -- a member of the Armed Services Committee -- wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explaining her stance that U.S. negotiations should include groups with stakes in the country beyond simply the Taliban.

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Woman Testifies Against Officer Accused Of Raping Her While Off-Duty; Dharun Ravi Found Guilty; St. Patty's Day Hits New York

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The woman who was allegedly raped by Michael Pena, who was an NYPD officer off-duty, in August testified against him yesterday. The 25-year-old teacher explained that Pena asked how to get to the 1 train. After she did so, he still showed her he gun, brought her to an alleyway, forced her to perform oral sex at gunpoint, and raped and sodomized her. Pena's lawyer has said that while his client did assault the woman there was no sexual penetration based on DNA evidence. [NY1, NYT]

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U.S. Soldier Shoots Afghan Civilians; Two Children Found Dead In Bronx, Brooklyn; Japan Mourns At One Year Anniversary Of Quake, Tsunami

A U.S. soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians in their homes when he walked off base. Following the attack he turned himself in. The reports of the number of casualties have been varied. In addition to the at least 16 dead, five were wounded. The victims include girls aged 6 or younger. "We don't know why he killed people," a villager told the New York Times. In February, riots broke out in Afghanistan after Korans were burned at an U.S. military base. [MSNBC, CNN, NYT]

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Army Officers Killed Over Quran Burnings In Afghanistan; Occupy Town Square Set For Tompkins Square Park Today; Subway System Sees Injury, Death

Two U.S. Army officers were killed at their desks in Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior Saturday by a junior intelligence officer. "We believe it was 100% linked to the Quran burning because of the religious background of this junior officer. He spent two months in a Pakistani madrassa,"
an Afghan counter-terrorism official told CNN. The Taliban has claimed responsibility, and has also attributed the attack to the Quran burning by NATO troops at Bagram Airfield. The burning prompted protests, which have killed at least 29 people and wounded around 200. Thursday, two U.S. soldiers were shot and killed at a protest. President Barack Obama wrote a letter of apology to President Hamid Karzai. [CNN, MSNBC]

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Teacher Data Released, Criticized; Nelson Mandela Hospitalized; Strong Winds Coming Through the City

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Data rating 18,000 New York City teachers was released Friday, but not without strong caveats as both teachers and education leaders warned of flaws. Teachers are evaluated based on how much value they add as evidenced by change in student performance on standardized tests relative to measurement of how the student should perform when taking into account demographics. The margin of error is, however, wide: 53 percentage points for English teachers and 35 for math. "I think it's extremely important that we not denigrate our teachers based on the reports. This, as I have indicated, is just one piece of information. It's dated information, it's two years old," Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. News organizations had requested the information under the Freedom of Information Law. [NYT, NYDN, NY1]

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Mitt Romney Wins Nevada Caucuses; Giants To Play In The Super Bowl Today; Russia And China Put Stop To U.N. Syria Resolution

Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucuses Saturday night. As of 9:20 a.m. with 71 percent reporting, Romney had 47.6 percent of the vote. Newt Gingrich trailed him with 22.7 percent. "This is not the first time you gave me your vote of confidence, and this time I'm going to take it to the White House," Romney said in his victory speech before launching into an attack on President Barack Obama. "Well, Mr. President," he said. "Nevada has had enough of your kind of help." The results leave Gingrich hanging onto the race by what seems to be a thinning thread. [NYT, CNN]

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Norway Attacks: Explosions in Oslo; Gunman Opens Fire at Labour Party Youth Camp

Violence broke out in Norway today as two separate, now believed to be connected, attacks wounded and claimed lives. At around 9:30 a.m. EDT explosions hit central Oslo, shattering the windows in government buildings, killing seven people and calling into question the safety of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. At least 15 are injured, though Stoltenberg was not harmed. About three hours after the blasts, a man dressed as a policeman fired shots at a Labour Party youth camp on an island 25 miles from Oslo. A person who has been described as "Nordic in appearance" has been arrested. At least five were wounded in that attack, according to the New York Times, though ABC is citing unconfirmed reports saying that number has died, and, horrifyingly, the Guardian reports that an eyewitness told Norway's NRK broadcaster he saw more than 20 bodies at the camp shooting.

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