New York City Movie Theaters To Reopen

A man wearing a face mask walk past a closed movie theatre in Lower Manhattan during the coronavirus crisis. The Mayor of New York City announced new contributions from Citi bike, Mastercard and Facebook to help essential workers and small business amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Braulio Jatar / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AFP Images)



Movie theaters in New York City will partially reopen next month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Big Apple.

Cuomo said cinemas will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity, or up to 50 people per screen, from March 5 — almost exactly a year since they shut.

“Assigned seating, social distancing and other health precautions will be in place,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Officials closed movie theaters on March 17 last year as Covid-19 began ravaging America’s commercial capital, where the disease has now killed almost 29,000 people.

In a statement sent to AFP, AMC’s CEO Adam Aron announced that the chain’s 13 movie theaters in New York would reopen on March 5.

AMC is the biggest cinema chain in the United States.

But Andrew Elgart, who owns three independent movie theaters in New York, told AFP he probably would not reopen on March 5, although he is considering the possibility of doing so later.

He said it wasn’t clear that reopening would be profitable under the current pandemic conditions.

Cuomo has been gradually easing restrictions in New York City in recent weeks as positivity rates fall.

Limited indoor dining returned on February 12, with restaurants allowed to seat customers indoors at 25 percent capacity.

Large arenas, including sports stadiums, are able to reopen at 10 percent capacity this week.

The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are set to play in front of 2,000 fans at their respective home games at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center on Tuesday.

New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive test results is hovering above the four percent mark, down from more than six percent in early January, according to state figures.

Former Presidential Hopeful Andrew Yang To Run For New York Mayor

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks onstage during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019.
(Saul Loeb – AFP)


Former US presidential hopeful and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has announced he will run for mayor of New York City in an election this year that he is an early favourite to win. 

Yang, 46, announced his run on Twitter Wednesday, posting a video of him skateboarding with his wife on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants — running as a Democratic candidate — said he would aim to reverse the fortunes of a city shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I moved to New York City 25 years ago. I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our City in so much pain breaks my heart,” he wrote.

The lawyer turned tech entrepreneur would become the city’s first-ever Asian-American mayor.

His mastery of social networks, fervent support within the “Yang Gang,” and fundraising skills placed him among the heavyweights of the presidential election.

But he eventually threw in the towel after the New Hampshire primary in February 2020 in a race won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Yang has been criticised by some for spending too much time outside the city he aims to lead. He spent the last few weeks in Georgia, helping the Democrats to win two key seats in the US Senate.

The election to decide Bill de Blasio’s successor is scheduled for November 2, but in the Democratic stronghold of New York the race will effectively start in the party’s mayoral primary on June 22.

Economic recovery is set to be a central theme in the election to lead a city that suffered a severe financial hit when coronavirus was first recorded there in the spring.

Many businesses have closed, unemployment and crime are rising, and a budget crisis is looming, raising fears that the city may return to its dark days of the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 30 candidates will jostle to win the Democratic primary.

In a December poll, Yang was the most popular candidate even though he had not yet announced his run. He was almost tied with Eric Adams, a Black former police officer who has served as Brooklyn borough president since 2013.

Another prominent candidate is Raymond McGuire, one of New York’s most respected Black bankers, who has the support of Wall Street and the business community.

A political novice, he has already raised more than $5 million for his campaign, according to the New York Times.

COVID-19: New York City To Keep Schools Closed Till End Of 2020, As Politicians Squabble

Health workers carry a patient to an ambulance on April 11, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
Health workers carry a patient to an ambulance on April 11, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that public schools in the city would remain closed to the end of the school year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, but the state’s governor later said the decision was up to him.

“There is nothing easy about this decision,” the mayor said at a morning news conference, before adding that “it clearly will help us save lives.”

But hours later, Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted that the authority to make such a call was his.

“You can’t make a decision just within New York City without coordinating that decision with the whole metropolitan region, because it all works together,” Cuomo said.

The governor said he understood de Blasio’s position, “which is he wants to close them until June, and we may do that, but we’re going to do it in a coordinated sense with the other localities.”

Freddi Goldstein, a de Blasio spokeswoman, noted on Twitter that the two Democratic officials had differed earlier on the timing of shelter-in-place orders.

“We were right then and we’re right now,” she said. “Schools will remain closed.”

The two men are longtime rivals and have butted heads before.

De Blasio unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination this year; Cuomo is the son of a governor and has seen his profile grow with his daily coronavirus briefings.

The death toll in the largest US city now stands at 5,820, according to the latest count from Johns Hopkins University. But the rate of hospitalizations has slowed, authorities say.

De Blasio said he had decided on the continued closures after conferring late Friday with Dr Anthony Fauci, who is leading the government’s scientific response to the coronavirus.

The city closed its public schools on March 16 as the virus continued its rapid spread.

Families lacking computers or laptops are being loaned city-owned devices for use in online learning; 175,000 have already been distributed.

The citywide closing affects 1.1 million students in what is by far the country’s largest public school district.

The mayor said he hoped school could resume normally in September at the start of the new school year.

Cuomo had earlier extended the closing of schools statewide to April 29. The state has registered more than 170,000 cases of the coronavirus, with more than 8,600 deaths.

De Blasio also said that 6,000 single adults living in homeless shelters — one-third of the total — would be transferred to hotels “to make sure people that need to be isolated are isolated.”

NYC Tightens Security Ahead Of Trump Visit

Security was underway in New York City ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s return to New York for three days at Trump Tower on Monday.

Heightened security around Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan included heavily armed police officers, as well as metal and concrete barricades in front of the building on fifth avenue.

Trump is scheduled to arrive at Trump Tower at about 9:00 p.m. edt (0100 gmt) and will then speak with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by telephone.

He’s scheduled to leave for New Jersey later in the week.

Social Services Brace For Cuts Amid Trump’s Budget Plan

President Trump Proposes Massive Aid CutsMany social services in New York City braced for budget cuts as the White House on Tuesday (May 23) laid out plans to slash spending on healthcare and food assistance programs for the poor as they push ahead on plans to cut taxes and trim the deficit.

U.S. President, Donald Trump is set to submit a raft of politically sensitive cuts in his first full budget, for the fiscal year that starts in October.

Trump, who is travelling overseas and will miss the unveiling of his plan, wants lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion (USD) in government spending over 10 years, balancing the budget by the end of the decade, according to a preview given to reporters on Monday (May 22).

More than $800 billion would be cut from the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor and more than $192 billion from food stamps.

Inside a church basement in New York City, City Meals on Wheels prepares more than 500 meals every day to be delivered to the 18,000 people in its program who are elderly and home-bound.

Rachel Sherrow, the City Meals on Wheels associate executive director, said although most of their money comes from private donors, “Ten percent of our budget comes from the government.”

With cuts to government-funded social programs planned, Sherrow said, “What we fear is that folks will not be able to join the rolls who need meals and waitlists will be created. But the worst case scenario is that we would have to pull back and people would actually lose the meals they are currently getting.”

Robert Hawkins, New York University’s McSilver associate professor in poverty studies, said “One of the frustrating things about this budget is that you look at it and you wonder where’s the heart? Where’s the heart? Where’s the safety net? We used to have a safety net in this country. And Trump’s budget takes that safety net away.”

Hawkins said every anti-poverty program will be affected by Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

“The goal of a good budget, of really any good policy goal, should be around ending poverty. When we look at the Trump budget, what we see – the goal appears to be to cut programs. These are completely different goals. If we want to cut programs, we can do that all day long. It’s not that hard. But if we really want to end poverty or if we want to alleviate poverty, let’s forget about ending it for a second.

Even if we just wanted to alleviate poverty, where in that budget does that occur? Where is that policy goal?”

Some analysts expect lawmakers to put aside Trump’s proposed budget as they craft their own budget and spending plans.

Alleged Yahoo Yahoo: Court Wants Oba Arrested To Face Trial

AbdulRasheed-Akanbi-Oluwo-of-Iwo-LandAn Osun State Chief Magistrate Court has issued a warrant of arrest against a first class traditional ruler in the state, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi after he failed to show up in court to defend allegations against him.

The arrest warrant is coming days after Chief Magistrate, Olusola Aluko, threatened at the last sitting of the court that if Oba Akanbi failed to appear before him in compliance with the order of the court on November 25, in a case filed against him by the Oluwo of Iwo-Oke, Oba Kadiri Adeoye, he would have no option but to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

At Tuesday’s sitting, while the applicant, Oba Adeoye, was in court, the Oluwo of Iwo was conspicuously absent, a situation that drew the rage of Magistrate Aluko.

He had at the last sitting sent another monarch, Ologburo of Ogburo, Oba Asimiyu Sadiq, to represent him.

Counsel to the Oluwo of Iwo-Oke, Mr Soji Oyetayo, in his submission urged the court not to entertain any of the applications filed by the respondent until he complies with the order of the court.

He said: “The first respondent (Oba Akanbi) filed an application of stay of proceeding yesterday afternoon, so, I am of the opinion that he is not ready to move any application today.

“Meanwhile, the court made an order on 25 November, 2016 and up till now the order has not been complied with. The application asking for a stay of proceeding cannot stay the order already made.

“The order of the court is meant to be obeyed. The non-appearance of the first respondent in this matter is a flagrant disobedient of the order of the court”.

Counsel to Oba Akanbi, Mr Olayide Yekeen, explained that his client submitted the notice of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case on November 15 and that by careful perusal of the State Magistrate Law, Section 19:1, the court could not entertain the matter.

According to him, “it is the threshold of all cases that whenever the issue of jurisdiction is raised, it is to be taken first. On the issue of jurisdiction and the competence of the case, the respondent has the right to be heard first before any enquiry can be made in the matter”.

In his ruling, Magistrate Aluko stated that he agreed with the respondent’s counsel that the issue of jurisdiction must be treated first.

“On the order of the court made on November 25, 2016, the order remained. I hereby issue a bench warrant against the first respondent while further proceeding on the matter is adjourned to December 27, 2016,” he told the court.

Making Money Through “Yahoo Yahoo”

Oba Adeoye had approached the Magistrate Court accusing the Oluwo of Iwo of concealing some facts about his past to the state government when he was installed as a first class monarch about a year ago.

Oluwo-Oke in a 33-paragraph affidavit said Oba Akanbi’s character did not befit a person of his status and calibre as he was used to carrying armed thugs, miscreants and hoodlums around to harass, intimidate, molest and attack persons whom he perceived as his enemies.

He further alleged that Oba Akanbi forged his name to obtain travelling documents to the United States where he was jailed in New York City and deported to Nigeria in year 2000.

He added that Oba Akanbi later travelled out with his real name to Canada in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen but was also arrested in Toronto and was in jail between 2006 and 2007.

“These facts were concealed for the state government which appointed and installed him as the Oluwo of Iwo,” the suit read.

He also accused him of presently making money through the internet fraud otherwise known as “Yahoo Yahoo” and was using his palace as a cover-up.

But Oba Akanbi reacted to these allegations in a 13 paragraph affidavits through the Aremo of Iwo land, Mr Adelani Akanbi, describing the application filed against the Oluwo of Iwo by Oba Adeoye as “scandalous, vexations and designed to embarrass, blackmail and ridicule the monarch in the view of right thinking members of the society”.

US Blizzard: Residents Begin Clearing Up

New YorkAfter a weekend of heavy snowstorm that practically brought some parts of the United States to a standstill, millions of people across the eastern part of the country have begun clearing up the impact of the blizzard.

They have been digging out their cars and clearing pathways of snow which reached three feet in five states.

But it looks like workers may face some hardship this week, as public transport remains severely disrupted. Many flights had also been cancelled.

In Washington, government buildings and many schools would be closed on Monday.

At least 29 deaths had been reported since Friday, when the blizzard began, as a result of car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks suffered while shovelling snow.

The BBC reported that in New York City – which saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869 – a travel ban that effectively shut the city down had  been lifted.

However, officials urged residents to stay off the roads while they are cleared by snow ploughs.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority had said that almost all public transport services will be running in time for the morning rush hour, including nearly 80% of the overground Long Island Rail Road.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, urged people to leave their cars covered with snow all week, but he tweeted that the city was now “bouncing back”.

The World Celebrates New Year In Style

New-YearCountries around the world are marking their entry into 2016 with massive celebrations.

New York City in the United States had a million people converge on Times Square, amid tight security, to watch the famous ball descend.

In Brazil, Rio’s de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach was packed with spectators who came to watch the firework display.

Earlier, cities in Europe welcome the New Year with pomp – despite heightened security measures in some countries.

In Japan, people released balloons by Tokyo Tower, while South Koreans celebrated with traditional bell-ringing.

Revellers in Australia and New Zealand were among the first to welcome 2016.

A laser show and fireworks display helped crowds to count down to the new year at Auckland’s Sky Tower in New Zealand, while fireworks also lit up Sydney Harbour in Australia.

September 11 Anniversary: Americans Remember Lost Lives

Americans remember lost livesAmericans on September 11, remember the lives lost when terrorists hijacked passenger planes and rammed into New York City’s World Trade Center, in Washington.

14 years ago, terrorists killed 2,977 people in one of the deadliest attacks on American soil.

Tears flowed as the nation marks a dark day in sorrowful yet hopeful ceremonies.

On September 11, 2001, terrified strangers became friends as Americans united on a day that changed the world forever.

Today, like every other anniversary, a resilient nation looked forward to the future, but remembered the past.

In 14 years since the September 11  attack, the face of terrorism has changed out of recognition. To many experts, the threat of Islamist terror is in some ways greater and in some ways diminished. It is geographically more diverse and organisationally more divided, and leverages on social media and the internet since 2001.

In the West, Islamist terrorism is often more inspired than organised and directed. Its menace is also more fluid and unpredictable than it was on that bright autumn morning in 2001, but the tools to combat it are also more plentiful, from ever more sophisticated and accurate drones to financial intelligence and algorithms for chewing terabytes of data in the pursuit of suspicious communications.

The likelihood of an attack on the scale of September 11,  has receded. But the probability of more frequent though less devastating attacks have increased.

Japan Maglev Train Breaks World Record

maglev trainA Japanese Maglev train has broken its own world speed record, hitting 603km/h (374mph) in a test run near Mount Fuji in Japan. 

The train beats the 590km/h speed it had set last week in another test.

Maglev trains use electrically charged magnets to lift and move carriages above the rail tracks.

However, the train would  only travel at around 314mph when it opens to the public.

Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027.

Japan is hoping to export the Maglev technology to the United States and has even offered to pay for part of a new line between New York City and Washington DC.

However, passengers would not get to experience the Maglev’s record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains would operate at a maximum of 505km/h.

By 2045, Maglev trains are expected to link Tokyo and Osaka in just one hour, slashing the journey time in half.

About 200 train enthusiasts gathered along the route to witness Tuesday’s test run.

Japan is known for its Shinkansen that run on steel rails, but has been investing in Maglev technology which it is hoping to sell overseas.

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe would visit the US on Sunday, where he is expected to pitch for a role in building the new high-speed rail line between New York and Washington.

Jonathan Assures World Leaders Of Renewed Commitment To MDGs

President Goodluck Jonathan today as part of his visit to the United States addressed the 68th United Nations General Assembly.

Amidst several concerns surrounding peace and security on the African continent raised in his speech, the president says there will be more commitment to millennium development goals by his administration.

“There have been several conflicts with devastating consequences in virtually all regions of the world, as global citizens; we have a sacred duty to free our world of wars, rivalries, ethnic conflicts and religious division.

“Our collective efforts in our drive for a better world will continue to bind us together”.

Realising the need to sustain peace in Nigeria beyond the year 2015, Jonathan says he is committed to building systems that will see that the conflicts and insecurity confronting the nation doesn’t pull it apart.

“Mr. President, Nigeria continues to support the efforts of the United Nations in addressing the global initiatives to combat the menace of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons

“We have redoubled efforts to address this arduous challenge within our borders and across the West African sub-region. In doing so, we also recognised the need for a God-based global partnership in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes including terrorism and acts of piracy

“It is regrettable that these scourges are sustained by concerted assets by non-state actors to illicit small arms and light weapons with which they foster insecurity and instability across the continent

“For us in Africa, these are the weapons of mass destruction; it is therefore in the light of our collective obligations and unseasoned struggle to end this nightmare that I congratulate member states on the adoption of the arms treaty in April this year

“Our hope is that, upon the entry into force, the arms treaty will herald an era of accountable trade in conventional arms, which is critical to the security of nations”

Man survives mauling by tiger in Bronx zoo, charged for misdemeanour trespassing

A New York man named David Villalobos endangered his life in his quest to be one with nature’s pets when he decided to come one on one with a tiger in the Bronx zoo. Luckily for him, rescue came just 10 minutes after he flew into the cage of the male Siberian but not without severe injuries and broken bones.

Police said that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”

Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound (18-kilogram) beast attacked him and dragged around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger — a male Siberian named Bashuta — before his rescue, the spokesman said.

Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalised Villalobos with misdemeanour trespassing on yesterday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.

Police had said earlier that Villalobos admitted to a police officer at the scene that he made a conscious decision to jump — “Everyone has a reason for what they do in life,” he was quoted as saying — but that his motives were murky and an arrest uncertain.

That changed when, during a follow-up interview, Villalobos told detectives that “his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be one with the tiger,” Browne said.

Browne said Villalobos was charged because he had gone “beyond a perimeter security fence and an electrified wire designed to keep the public out and the tiger in.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described Villalobos’ actions as “foolish,” in part because they put zoo personnel “in harm’s way.”

Villalobos remained hospitalised with bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back, as well as a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung. Police said there was no indication he was intoxicated.

The Wild Asia exhibit that’s home to the tiger was operating as usual on Saturday, zoo officials said, declining to comment further.

Villalobos’ Facebook page makes clear his infatuation with wildlife. One of several postings from Thursday was a photo of a tiger licking a cub, and the comment, “Nice.” Another was of a black jaguar.

An earlier post displayed a promo for a movie called “Facing Animals,” a Dutch documentary about “the complex and often bizarre relationship between man and animal.”

His comment: “This looks fascinating.”


Villalobos’ own bizarre encounter began with a ride on the elevated train that takes unrestrained visitors over the Bronx River and through a forest, where they glide along the top edge of a fence past elephants, deer and a tiger enclosure. He and a date had taken in the same sights from the monorail during a visit to the zoo about two weeks ago, police said Saturday.

This time without warning, Villalobos apparently jumped out of his train car and cleared the 16-foot-high perimeter fence. He was alone with Bashuta for about 10 minutes before he was rescued by zoo officials, who used a fire extinguisher to chase the animal away.

The zookeepers instructed him to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety, zoo director Jim Breheny said. They then called the tiger into a holding area.

The Bronx Zoo, one of the nation’s largest zoos, sprawls over 265 acres and contains hundreds of animals, many in habitats meant to resemble natural settings. Its exhibits include Tiger Mountain, Congo Gorilla Forest and World of Reptiles.

There are 10 tigers at the Wild Asia exhibit, but the 11-year-old Bashuta was the only one on display at the time. Zoo officials said he would remain in the rotation.

“When someone is determined to do something harmful to themselves, it’s very hard to stop that,” said Breheny. “The tiger did nothing wrong.”