Tag Archives | NYC

Mayor Mike Bloomberg Says Surveillance Drones Will Soon Be Everywhere In New York City

The mayor’s tone suggests that mere mortals are helpless against a coming onslaught of drones, The Verge reports:

Governmental use of unmanned surveillance drones has inspired a lot of concern about privacy, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks the battle’s already over. In a radio interview this week, Bloomberg said essentially that drones are an inevitable part of our future (and maybe our present), comparing them to the thousands of cameras already located around Manhattan.

Striking a tone more of resignation than endorsement, Bloomberg said that our future includes more visibility and less privacy: “It’s not a question of whether it’s good or bad. I just don’t see how you can stop them.”

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Artists Recreates Strangers’ Faces From Discarded DNA On NYC’s Streets

You’ve been leaving yourself everywhere. For her ongoing project Stranger Visions, Heather Dewey-Hagborg culls discarded DNA (in the form of cigarette butts, chewed gum, et cetera) from the New York sidewalk and then uses a 3D printer to create sculpture portraits based on the genetic information. A reminder that we may soon need to guard our DNA tightly?

In Stranger Visions artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of biological surveillance. Designed as an exploratory project based on emerging science, the forecast of Stranger Visions has proved prescient. For an example of DNA phenotyping at work in forensics check out the companiesParabon NanoLabs and Identitas and read about their collaboration with the Toronto police. Also see Mark Shriver’s research at Penn State on predicting faces from DNA.

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Viva la Muerte! Holy Death Comes to Brooklyn

Morbid Anatomy Library Acquisition Number 1,352: New Lot of Santa Muerte Related Materials from Mexico

The Morbid Anatomy Library’s most recent acquisition brings the Boney Lady to Brooklyn, NY:

“The Morbid Anatomy Library is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new lot of materials related to Santa Muerte, which is, depending on whom you ask, a Mexican-based “cult” or “new religion” which worships death as a female saint.

Santa Muerte,” which literally translates to “Holy Death” or “Saint Death,” is popular in Mexico and the United States with disenfranchised populations for whom conventional Catholicism has not provided a better or safer life. It is thought to have its roots in the rich syncretism of the beliefs of the native Latin Americans and the colonizing Spanish Catholics.

The artifacts donated to the library, many of which you see above, include sacred books and pamphlets, devotional statues, magical soaps and oils, charms, incense, and even “La Biblia de la Santa Muerte.” They were generously donated by Friends of Morbid Anatomy Tonya Hurley and Tracy Hurley Martin as found on their travels in Mexico.”

These items have joined the library’s other “curiosities, books, photographs, artworks, ephemera, and artifacts relating to medical museums, anatomical art, collectors and collecting, cabinets of curiosity, the history of medicine, death and society, natural history, arcane media, and curiosity and curiosities broadly considered,” and are now on display in their collection.… Read the rest

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Bloomberg Praises Occupy Sandy Relief Effort, Then Sends Police To Shut It Down

After helicoptering in and praising Occupy Sandy this past Thursday (watch below), On Friday New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to have police shut down the only relief effort actually providing on-the-scene assistance to storm-affected New Yorkers. Via Occupy Wall Street:
The mayor’s office is calling upon local police forces to “clear all outdoor sites” effective immediately. Staten Island police representing the mayor’s office have threatened eviction action against the crucial Staten Island hub in the heavily hit Midland Beach area. Aiman Youssef, a 42-year-old Syrian-American Staten Islander whose house was destroyed in the hurricane, has been running a 24/7 community pop up hub outside his property at 489 Midland Avenue. Community members are serving hot food and offering non-perishables, medical supplies, and clothing to the thousands of residents who are still without heat, power, or safe housing. This popular hub is well-run, well-staffed, and has a constant hum of discussion, support, and advice as well as volunteer dispatch through another pop-up group.
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Hurricane Sandy Robin Hoods Steal From NYC Luxury Sites To Aid The Poor

Last month’s hurricane further widened the massive economic inequality of New York City — Manhattan has recovered, while poorer outer-borough areas affected remain seriously damaged. Via Grist, an anonymous civic group has taken it upon themselves to correct matters, as their press release explains:

Over the past two weeks, a group of concerned New Yorkers has been expropriating thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials from luxury residential developments across Manhattan and delivering them to neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Confiscated materials, some of them never even used, include: shovels, wheelbarrows, hand trucks, hard bristle brooms, industrial rope, contractor trash bags, work lights, work gloves, flashlights, heat lamps, and gasoline.

Liberated from their role in building multimillion-dollar pieds-à-terre for wealthy CEOs and Hollywood celebrities, these tools are now in the collective hands of some of the hardest-hit communities in the city where they are now being allocated and shared among the people who need them most.

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Confidential Police Documents Mistakenly Used For NYC Thanksgiving Parade Confetti

Somehow quite fittingly, highly-legible details on the War on Terror and police officers’ social security numbers served as the confetti poured onto revelers attending the nation’s largest parade, Gawker reports:

The magical specks of color that float down the city streets are normally just a mishmash of multicolored confetti, but this year, shredded confidential documents from the Nassau Police Department were also in the air.

The worst part is that the documents were shredded horizontally, so they were still highly readable. Some strips that stuck to parade attendees contained Social Security Numbers of officers and others detailed crimes like a pipe bombing in the Kings Grant area of Long Island.

Hypothetically, these pieces of paper could have very easily been collected and been put back together again using some simple “unshredding software.” It’s a very scary Thanksgiving weekend for some Nassau County cops who might get their identities stolen in the first few days of this holiday season.

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New York To Use Jails As Homes For Those Displaced By Hurricane Sandy

If your home had no heat or electricity with winter approaching, would you consider being herded into jail? Russia Today reports:

With nowhere else to go, New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy may have no choice but to sleep in jails. The Arthur Kill Correction Facility on Staten Island may serve as a temporary home for up to 900 displaced victims of the storm. The medium-security prison was closed last December and with some fixing up, it could once again be fully functional.

As many as 40,000 New Yorkers are in need of shelter from extreme weather and rapidly decreasing temperatures, the city estimates, as the winter months approach. About 434,140 homes are currently still without power in the region that was in Hurricane Sandy’s path – mostly in New York and New Jersey. ­About 100,000 homes and businesses will remain without power for the next several months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday in a news conference.

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NYPD Has Spied On Muslim Residents For Years, Hasn’t Generated A Single Terrorism Lead

The Mercury News on the frustrating lack of insidious plots by the city’s residents:

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.

[The NYPD had] help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames. Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism.

But in a June 28 deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said none of the conversations the officers overheard ever led to a case. “Related to Demographics,” Galati testified that information that has come in “has not commenced an investigation.”

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Lawsuits Against Police Are A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ For New York City

 In the era of smartphone video, cities may no longer be able to afford their police forces’ misconduct. The city of New York now budgets a whopping $180 million a year for payouts to victims of police brutality and wrongful arrest, New York World writes:

Lawsuits against the city’s police soared to a record 2,004 cases entering the courts in the year that ended July 1, indicat[ing] that the flood of cases brought against the New York City police — which have seen a 63 percent rise over the last decade — has not subsided.

Meanwhile, a federal judge ruled this week that the city is liable for hundreds of arrests the NYPD made during the Republican National Convention in 2004, opening up the possibility that plaintiffs could sue for false arrest and further exacerbate the problem.

For fiscal year 2013, now underway, the NYPD has budgeted $180 million for payouts.

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