Tag Archives: Newtown

Meeks holds first briefing for new congressional district


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Southeast community leaders and clergy members joined Congressmember Gregory Meeks at the first meeting for the new 5th Congressional District.

Having not met since before Sandy, Meeks and the crowd of over 100 area residents spoke about the devastation brought on by the storm, as well as the Congressmember’s work in Washington, D.C. since reclaiming his House seat after the November election.

“The spirit of hope is among all folks,” he said. “[People] have come together like never before to say, ‘We are going to get back on our feet better than ever.’”

Meeks noted the significance of having a second Obama administration, explained the fiscal cliff, acknowledged the tragedy in Newtown, the looming sequester and federal aid for Sandy victims.

“[Sandy] didn’t just hit Democrats, it didn’t just hit Republicans, it hit and hurt everybody. Politics had no need to be in this game,” he said.

Getting the federal aid to disaster-stricken areas took an “unprecedented” three months, but now roughly $60 billion is allocated, hopefully coming sooner rather than later.

Meeks mentioned a number of “coming battles” this spring, including raising the debt limit, immigration reform, keeping student loan interest rates low, gun control and avoiding the sequester.

The sequester, a legislative tactic that proposes across-the-board cuts on federal spending, was initiated to get a bipartisan agreement on the House budget. The proposed cut, $85 billion annually, will last for 10 years if there is no agreement.

Cuts in New York State will fall heaviest on the city, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, according to Meeks. This includes losing over $40 million in funding for education, nearly $13 million for pollution protection, $108 million for army services and more. It could also affect roughly 750,000 public sector jobs – many filled largely in part by southeast residents.

“We have to make sacrifices on both sides [to come to an] agreement,” said Meeks. “We can’t balance the budget simply on the backs of the middle class and the poor. We have to look and prioritize our spending.”

“We’ve got a lot of serious issues that we have to deal with that are going to have major ramifications on our communities across the board,” he added. “Everyone is going to pay a price.”

 

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City plans to put new schools inside Flushing, Newtown high schools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Students in two overcrowded Queens schools could soon learn a lesson in sharing.

The city plans to place two new schools inside a scaled-down Flushing High School and an international school in Newtown High School, education officials said.

The existing Flushing High School building would house a small district high school and another Chinese bilingual school. A school to serve English language learners, preparing recently arrived immigrant students for college, would be added to Newtown in Elmhurst.

“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” said Devon Puglia, spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE). “Designed to meet the needs of individual communities, our new, small schools have delivered resounding results.”

Enrollment is expected to fall in both congested schools by 2016, education officials said, as fewer incoming ninth graders are taken in. Under the plan, Flushing High School students will drop from 3,000 to 2,150 and Newtown High School will see a decline from 2,250 to 1,910.

The proposals will not affect current students, according to the DOE, but State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the struggling schools need time to improve. The change could also reduce the amount of financial aid each institution receives, she said.

“In this case, more is not better,” Stavisky said. “I think Flushing High School desperately needs the proper resources. Reducing the enrollment is not going to help because then fewer resources will be available.”

The senator said the schools would get 13 percent less “Fair Student Funding” from the city.

“Money isn’t everything, but the absence of money hurts,” she said. “They have to be given the opportunity to succeed.”
Flushing and Newtown were among seven high schools in Queens the city tried to close last year before the attempts were blocked by a court order.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the proposals on March 11. Panel members supported the city’s plans to shutter the schools last April.

Newtown improved from a “C” to a “B” on its last DOE progress report. Flushing received a “D” in the last two years, recently failing both student progress and performance.

 

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Op-Ed: Essential steps in the fight against gun violence


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Peralta new

BY STATE SENATOR JOSE PERALTA

As the sponsor of 14 gun bills, I couldn’t be happier to see long overdue action fi nally taken on common-sense measures to protect New Yorkers from gun violence.

From revoking the gun permits and confi scating the fi rearms of domestic abusers and the mentally ill, to requiring background checks and law enforcement oversight for private gun sales and ammunition purchases, to requiring periodic statewide recertifi cation of gun licenses, a good deal of the legislation I have sponsored and fought for is in this package.

After what we saw happen in Newtown, Connecticut, and in Rochester, strengthening New York’s assault weapons ban became an urgent and pressing priority. And we are adopting perhaps the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.

I applaud the governor for his perseverance and commitment. Above all, I want to thank him for his leadership. Making it harder for criminals to get guns, and keeping fi rearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, are essential steps in the fight against gun violence.

We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology.

That’s why we need to require microstamping, a simple, inexpensive technology that stamps a code—invisible to the naked eye—on the shell casings ejected when a gun is fired.

The microstamps on recovered shell casings give law enforcement the ability to identify a gun used in a crime and determine where and when it was purchased and who bought it.

Not surprisingly, my bill requiring that handguns made or sold in New York be equipped with microstamping technology has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.

And there’s absolutely no logical, coherent reason for not requiring microstamping in New York—or at least not one that has been articulated yet.

We’re told that requiring microstamping would put our state’s gun manufacturers out of business. Yet one of the reasons we needed to toughen New York’s assault weapons ban is because many high-powered rifl es now in production are exempt from the current ban.

Why? Because manufacturers altered their products to circumvent the law.

So ignoring the law is profi table, but complying with a microstamping requirement would be bad for business?

That’s a business model that has no business in New York.

In addition to making it harder for criminals to get guns, we need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail. Longer jail sentences won’t make a difference if we’re not catching the people who need to be locked up.

And please: Let’s not waste any more time on the nonsense that a microscopic code on a shell casing constitutes an assault on the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and law-abiding gun owners.

New Yorkers deserve better than that. Especially those waiting on justice for a loved one lost to gun violence.

Senator Jose Peralta serves on the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He represents the communities of Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights and Astoria.

 

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President calls for stronger gun laws following recent mass shootings


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Screenshot/whitehouse.gov

The day after New York passed some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, President Barack Obama signed a package of 23 executive orders that set parameters to reduce gun violence in the wake of several devastating shootings last year.

Seeking the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden, the president put forth a push for background checks to prevent criminals from accessing firearms, school support for resource officers to work on emergency preparedness and guides for mental health workers with spotting and reporting threats of violence.

“[I] will sit at that desk,” he said, “and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”

Obama announced the plan 33 days after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. In attendance were children from across the country who wrote the president asking for stronger gun laws.

The president also suggested banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun clips, more than assault weapons, have been associated with mass shootings over the last few years.

Unlike the new New York law, which limits a magazine round to seven bullets, the executive directive suggests capping clips at 10 rounds – going back to the law under a 1994 to 2004 assault weapons ban.

Despite allegations that the presidents plans would go against the Second Amendment, Obama said these orders were targeted at illegal gun ownership and the violence it can cause.

“I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said. “I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.  That’s what these reforms are designed to do.  They’re common-sense measures.  They have the support of the majority of the American people.”

It’s now up to Congress, Obama said, to require universal background checks and enforce a magazine limit that will keep the country safer. But to make Congress act and approve these limits, the American people have to speak, especially in districts with a strong pro-gun lobby.

“We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts, where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important.  It can’t just be the usual suspects.  We have to examine ourselves and our hearts, and ask ourselves what is important.”

 

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Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Rain before 10am. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 56. Breezy, with a west wind 20 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph. Friday night: A slight chance of snow showers after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. West wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

EVENT of the DAY: Irish Movie Night

Two Emerald Isle flicks will be screened. The Dead (1987), John Huston’s last film, is an adaptation of James Joyce’s love letter to the land of his ancestors and the country where his children grew up. Cluck (2011) is a comedy short about a feathered friend who upsets a family’s pecking order. New York Irish Center, 7:30 pm.Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens music teacher accused of sleeping with 16-year-old

A music teacher out of Jamaica was arrested for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Vaughn McKinney, 58, is accused of starting a relationship with the female student when she was 16 after the two met through a Brooklyn church choir group, led by McKinney’s wife at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, according an Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) report. Read more: Queens Courier

Nation to join Connecticut in moment of silence for Sandy Hook shooting victims

People across the county will pause Friday for a moment of silence to remember the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre one week ago. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy urged other states to honor the moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. ET, almost the exact minute that gunman Adama Lanza stormed the Newtown, Conn. school, killing 20 children and six adults. Read more: Daily News

NYers flock to ‘end of the world’-themed bashes to celebrate ‘Mayan apocalypse’

It was either a real “last call” — or just another excuse to get blotto. New Yorkers flocked to “end of the world”-themed parties at local bars last night to celebrate their potential final hours on Earth as the Mayan calendar predicted doomsday this morning. Read more: NY Post

Deli clerk killed in Queens bodega shooting

A deli clerk working alone in a Queens bodega was shot and killed last night during a brazen robbery. Cops said Ishak Ghali, 26, was shot once in the head after a lone gunman entered the All Friends Grocery & Deli on Onderdonk Avenue in Ridgewood, shortly after 6 p.m. Read more: NY Post

City housing to provide $5.6M for post-Sandy rent abatements

Some New Yorkers living in city public housing buildings will start seeing rent credits in their January bill. The New York City Housing Authority said it will provide $5.6 million in rent abatements for approximately 35,000 families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Read more: NY1

Formerly conjoined twin girls greet the public after successful separation surgery

Nine-month-old girls who were formerly conjoined twins are making their public debut at the Philadelphia hospital where they were separated. Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker and their parents were introduced at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Thursday. Read more: Daily News

 

DOE reviews safety for its students


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Now, Bristy Roy is afraid that tragedy can strike her daughter’s school too.

In the days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Roy, whose six year old is in kindergarten at P.S. 31, told The Courier, “Now, I’m so scared.”

In the wake of the shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut, city parents, school administrators and the Department of Education (DOE) are responding accordingly, and making sure that students stay safe.

“The fathers and mothers in that situation . . . I’m still crying every time I watch it on the news,” Roy said.

Schools in the area have responded to the tragedy by reviewing safety procedures with teachers, that include having teachers sign up for text alerts and executing a mandatory procedure in which any adult entering the school must show photo identification.

DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a letter to schools citywide, assuring them that safety is of the utmost concern.

“We have been in constant communication with the NYPD and their School Safety Division,” said Walcott. “I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss.”

Roy’s daughter has been one of the students learning more about the shooting, and innocently asked her mother what had happened.

“Five years old, six years old, that’s a baby,” said Roy, grabbing her heart. “I felt like something happened to me, because I have a child the same age.”

When Roy picked her daughter up from school Friday afternoon, she said she just hugged her as tight as she could, thankful that she was safe.

“Anyone can just walk into that school,” she said, pointing to the P.S. 31 doors. “They need to really check every single person that walks in.”

Walcott said that administrators should provide a safe place to discuss what happened for any students that wish to talk, and that guidance counselors and school psychologists should make themselves available. Resources on how to deal with the situation have also been posted on the Principals’ Portal and the Guidance and Teacher pages of the DOE website.

The DOE also requests that every school community review their visitor control procedures as well as the general response protocols, covering shelter-in, lockdowns and evacuations.

“While this tragedy occurred outside the bounds of our city, I know you share my sorrow for the students, families and colleagues affected,” said Walcott.

Enough


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com


It is time to put aside partisan politics, reach across the aisle . . . and tackle gun control.

Last Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, inside Sandy Hook Elementary, took the lives of 20 children and six adults. It should serve to galvanize pundits, politicians and the nation to embrace tougher legislation on guns.

Maybe it’s time to look at the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004 – and reinstate it.

President Bill Clinton signed into law the ban that prohibited the manufacture of 18 models of semiautomatic guns as well as magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds.

It expired in 2004 and, despite several attempts to reinstate it, our politicians foolishly let the ban go by the wayside.

Up until a few days after the shooting spree, you could purchase the Bushmaster Patrolman’s Carbine M4A3 Rifle, a military-style assault rifle, on the Walmart website.

Since then, Walmart officials have apparently thought better of it and pulled the gun from their site.

But the fact still remains: you can buy a gun at the same store you can purchase groceries, and gun violence takes the lives of 34 Americans every single day.

Now there is rhetoric from Texas Governor Rick Perry that individual school districts should have the ability to determine whether teachers and administrators carry guns.

ENOUGH!

Fighting fire with fire is not the answer.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) – suspiciously quiet in the days since Sandy Hook and whose Facebook page has been deactivated – has many politicians in its corner, thanks to campaign contributions.

On its homepage, in an article titled “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia” and dated November 27, the author writes, “The point is, gun owners and the NRA have been right all along. It’s the criminals, not the law-abiding gun owners, who are the issue.”

Really?

To our knowledge, Adam Lanza was no criminal until the morning of December 14, when he used his mother’s own gun to execute her and the 26 other innocent victims.

In response to the massacre, former Congressmember and current MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican who received the NRA’s highest ratings over four terms in Congress,” spoke out:

“Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our school yards than putting together their next fundraiser. And it’s time Washington stops trying to win endless wars overseas and instead starts focusing on winning the war at home.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Obama taps Biden to head task force on gun violence


| brennison@queenscourier.com


In an effort to prevent another tragedy like last week’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force to develop a concrete plan no later than January to curb gun violence in the country.

“The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence, doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence,” Obama said at the White House five days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The administration-wide effort led by Biden will include outside organizations and address an issue of gun control and violence that has not often been broached in Obama’s first term.

Biden’s hand in writing the now-expired 1994 bill banning assault weapons made him the right man for the job, said Obama.

The president said he wants a plan no later than January that he will “push without delay.”

“I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed the at preventing more tragedies like this,” the president said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long been critical of Washington’s lack of progress on gun control, said he is encouraged by the president’s statements and that it was a “step in the right direction.”

“The country needs his leadership if we are going to reduce the daily bloodshed from gun violence that we have seen for too long,” Bloomberg said. “The task force must move quickly with its work, as 34 Americans will be murdered with guns every day that passes without common sense reforms to our laws.”

Sunnyside vigil remembers Newtown victim Ben Wheeler


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Seventy miles from where Benjamin Wheeler was killed, mourners gathered to remember the irrepressibly spirited boy who loved The Beatles, sprinting across a soccer field and riding the No. 7 train to Sunnyside.

Hundreds cradled flickering candles as they marched from the Sunnyside Reformed Church to Sunnyside Park – the same grassy sanctuary where six years earlier, Ben’s mother Francine wept as friends gifted her a stroller at her baby shower. It was the park where Ben made his first friends and his earliest memories. Now, it was where they said goodbye.

Ben and 19 of his classmates, along with six teachers and staff members, were killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14.

Ben was born in New York City on September 12, 2006. His parents Francine and David were musicians who left busy city life to raise Ben and older brother Nate in quiet Connecticut. Singer-songwriter Francine wrote children’s music, inspired by her boys. At Ben’s vigil, family friend Roger Hitts played her song “Come Sit Beside Me” through a loudspeaker.

Come sit beside me

Hold my hand

Sing me a song

Of the things you have planned

The song, Roger said, now has new meaning.

“They are the most loving family you’d ever want to know,” said Hitts.

Although Ben was barely a year old when his family left for Connecticut, Hitts — who runs a Greenpoint children’s activity center — remembered an outgoing, energetic and sweet child, permanently attached to his big brother.

“They were leaders,” said Hitts. “Nate is a leader and Ben was a leader.”

Before leaving the house for school on Friday morning, Ben proclaimed to his mother that he was to become an architect or a paleontologist, settling on the latter. It’s what Nate wants to do, and as with most six-year-olds, he wanted to be just like his nine-year-old brother.

Ben was a member of Tiger Scout Den 6 which conducted meetings at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse. His uniform was orange and blue. He still had badges to earn.

Earlier in December, Ben performed in a piano recital, reveling in his ability to sit still through the single piece of music he was assigned to play. Not long before Ben was killed, his parents discovered he had perfect pitch.

“Benjamin began his life here in our neighborhood, in our homes and in our parks,” said Bright Owens, who belonged to a local sisterhood of mothers with Francine called Sunnymoms. “Just as we have plans and dreams for our kids, Francine and David had dreams and plans for Benny. Our hearts are heavy with unbearable grief.”

Sunnyside resident Nicole Perkins spoke of her stepsister, Dawn Hochsprung — Sandy Hook’s principal, killed while shielding students from the murderer’s bullets. Perkins said everything you read and see in the news about the fallen educator is completely true.

“She was so dedicated to her whole family and all her students and she was just really, really vivacious and loved what she did,” said Perkins. “It makes it easier to know she’s such a hero – she went out trying to save people. That’s what we should all do.”

Members of Sunnymoms read a letter written by Francine, thanking the community for their support during such a difficult time.

“In the days ahead when our community comes together to heal from this tragic event, please think of Ben with a smile as you go on with your daily lives,” the note said. “When you see dinosaur exhibits or subway trains or elevators, pianos – or anything you think a vivacious six-year-old would love, we hope he will be with you in your hearts as he continues to live in ours.”

How to talk to your child about tragedy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com


With the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut plastered all over the news, chances are that children are going to catch a glimpse of a television broadcast or overhear a conversation about it. Helaine Shahar, a Bayside-based Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), gave The Courier some insight into how to speak to kids about the horrific event.

- Look out for behavioral changes.

Children struggling with emotional turmoil often have difficulty sleeping, isolate themselves for others and tend to refrain from engaging in conversation as much as they used to. Gauge their behavior on a scale of one to 10. If their level of activity is usually around a five or six and rockets to a nine or plummets to a two, something is up.

- Find out what they need first.

Some kids who have never had a serious discussion about emotions may feel awkward suddenly opening up about such a sensitive topic. It’s important to find out what the child needs from you before you hand out information that might be overwhelming.

- If kids don’t know about it, you don’t have to tell them.

There’s no use upsetting a child, especially if they are very young. If they don’t know what happened and you feel it’s best they remain in the dark, that’s OK.

- If they do know, it’s important to understand what they understand.

According to Shahar, if a child is aware that a tragedy occurred, one of the best things to do is ask them what they think happened. “If they say they’re afraid, that’s OK,” said Shahar. Make sure you normalize the day and let them know it’s not something that happens on a regular basis.

- Be clear about your own feelings.

Parents have to be clear about how they’re feeling themselves. Otherwise, their feelings might spill over to their children. “If children see their parents being upset, they have to be able to explain their own behavior,” said Shahar.

- Talk about it more than once.

It’s important to have several conversations. Continue to check in, even if it’s just to ask how they’re feeling or if they thought about the incident. Even if they didn’t think about it that particular day, keeping a dialogue about the incident lets kids know you are still open to discussing it if it does upset them.

Experts say Asperger’s syndrome has no ties to violence


| mchan@queenscourier.com


A diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome had no link to shooting suspect Adam Lanza’s decision to kill in cold blood, experts said.

“The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy,” said Dr. Valerie Paradiz, director of Autistic Global Initiative. “With 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding.”

Lanza had been reportedly diagnosed with Asperger’s, a high functioning form of autism that is characterized by well-above average intelligence and social awkwardness.

While individuals with Asperger’s may have trouble reading social cues, experts said the condition has no ties to violence and should not be used to explain why the troubled teen chose to massacre 26 children and adults at the Connecticut elementary school last week.

“A typical person with Asperger’s wouldn’t have the tendency to pick up a gun and shoot anyone, let alone go to ongoing target practice, which this individual did,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of Quality Services for the Autism Community.

Professionals in the field warned the public not to point to the lifelong brain disorder as a scapegoat.

“Autism is no excuse or explanation [for] evil,” said Autism Rights Watch, a nonprofit group. “Being ‘autistic,’ ‘odd,’ ‘awkward,’ ‘camera shy,’ a ‘nerd’ and ‘uncomfortable with others’ does not cause a person to become a mass murderer.”

Instead, the organization said Lanza’s easy access to weapons in the household is “the most solid contributing factor” for his murderous rampage.

The 20-year-old also likely suffered from other mental health issues, whether he was diagnosed or not, experts said.

Bloomberg demands a plan to end gun violence


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo by Edward Reed

Dozens of Americans affected by gun violence joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall for the release of 34 videos renewing the call for the federal government to reduce gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The 34 videos each tell the personal story of survivors and family members of victims of gun violence, one video for each of the 34 Americans killed daily by guns.

“Gun violence is a national epidemic — and a national tragedy — that demands more than words. It demands immediate national action, from the president and from Congress. It needs to be at the top of their agenda,” Bloomberg said.

The videos can be viewed at demandaplan.org.

Survivors and family members of deceased relatives from shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech and Columbine told their stories on the series of two-minute videos of the trauma they continue to face following the tragedies.

“While I was laying in my hospital bed and watching the news, I heard a lot of public officials offering their condolences, but I guess I’m still waiting for all of that to turn into some sort of policy that will prevent these mass tragedies from happening to anyone ever again,” said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the movie theater shooting in Aurora.

Among the legislation Bloomberg demanded passed when the 113th Congress convenes next year was closing the gun show loopholes and requiring all gun purchases to be subject to background checks, reinstating the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a felony.

Queen’s Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’s FORECAST 

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 54. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Fog overnight. Low of 48. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: “How Much Do I Owe You?”

No Longer Empty is proud to announce its 14th exhibition in the Clock Tower in Long Island City. The iconic former Bank of Manhattan building has opened its doors, vaults and even illuminate The Clock Tower to host an immersive and ambitious site-specific exhibition. As the title implies, “How Much Do I Owe You?” is a personal and conversational exploration into the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial flux, growing debt and job insecurity. Open now, Monday-Thursday, 1-7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Triumph of Civic Virtue is moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

The Triumph of Civic Virtue, the controversial Queens statue that has divided local lawmakers and residents for decades, has moved to greener pastures. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo delivers $154 million in federal Sandy aid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered the first federal aid since Superstorm Sandy hit New York – more than $114 million for New York University Langone Medical Center and $40 million to help remove debris on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Report: City to offer ‘bounty’ to landlords to ban smoking in apartments

Smoking has been banned in New York City restaurants since 1995, in bars since 2002, and in parks and beaches since last year. Read more: CBS New York

Teachers say they don’t feel prepared to teach new Common Core standards before April state exams

Teachers across the city do not feel adequately trained to prepare students for upcoming state exams aligned with new, more rigorous standards called Common Core, according to a survey conducted last month by the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: New York Daily News

Extell’s chief thinking tall for Midtown

Gary Barnett, one of New York’s leading developers, is planning a new Midtown skyscraper that could rise 300 feet higher than the Empire State Building, and he’s has hired the architect who designed the world’s tallest tower. Read more: Wall Street Journal

‘These tragedies must end,’ Obama says

President Obama vowed on Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.” Read more: New York Times

Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre

Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness. Read more: AP

 

 

 

20 children killed in Connecticut elementary school shooting


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Dozens were shot at  a Connecticut elementary school this morning leaving at least 26 dead, including 20 children, said Connecticut state police.  According to multiple reports, the shooter has been identified by officials as Adam Lanza, 20.  Earlier reports indicated his brother Ryan Lanza as the shooter.

The shooting took place at approximately 9:40 a.m. when a man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire near the school’s main office, according to reports. The shooter is dead, said Lieutenant Paul Vance of Connecticut State Police at a press briefing.

According to reports, Lanza’s mother, who worked in the school, is among those killed.  Reports also indicate that his father and brother have also been found dead.

CBS2 reported that a SWAT team is at the suspected shooter’s New Jersey home.  A second suspect is in police custody, according to CBS News.

Police evacuated children and faculty out of the school that runs from kindergarten to fourth grade to a staging area where kids were reunited with their parents. Vance said the public is currently at no risk.

The dozens of injured were taken to Danbury Hospital, which remains on lock down.

An emotional President Barack Obama addressed the nation at 3:15 p.m. saying the country has seen too many of these tragedies the past few years.

“I know there is not a parent in America that does not feel the overwhelming grief that I do,” the president said. “They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

Obama said something must be done to stop further tragedies from taking place.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

Turnaround schools get new names


| brennison@queenscourier.com


When the seven Queens Turnaround high schools reopen their doors, it will be under a new name.

The names were chosen through a process of engagement with students, staff, community members, alumni and elected officials.

“I want to congratulate all 24 schools on a thorough process to propose school names that honor their histories, their neighborhoods and their new visions for success,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The schools new names are as follows:

August Martin- School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus

Bryant- Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus

Flushing- Rupert B. Thomas Academy at the Flushing Campus

John Adams- Future Leaders High School at the John Adams Campus

Long Island City- Global Scholars Academies of Long Island City

Newtown- College and Career Academies High School at Newtown Campus

Richmond Hill- 21st Century School of Richmond Hill