Blog Posts by William Holt

  • Cory Booker talks urban policy, Senate run

    Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a top contender for New Jersey's vacant Senate seat, joined a panel of urban policy experts on Monday night to discuss national politics and local problem-solving.

    George Stephanopoulos, the ABC news analyst and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, moderated the discussion at New York's 92nd Street Y. It was one of Booker's first major public outings since announcing his candidacy to succeed Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this month.

    “Why run for Senate?” Stephanopoulos asked Booker, a Democrat in his second term in the mayor's office. “What can you do in Washington?”

    “We need to get more folks in Washington to start changing that spirit to get back to a way of thinking that’s not this short-term, heavily partisan, zero-sum-game politics," Booker said.

    The Senate hopeful also talked about using his candidacy to bring a national focus to poverty, one of the major topics of the evening.

    “One of the reasons why I want to go to the U.S.

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  • Ontario couple finds 400-year-old skeleton, gets $5,000 bill

    A Canadian couple who recently stumbled upon a 400-year-old skeleton is now saddled with a $5,000 bill, the Star reports.

    Two weeks ago, Ken Campbell of Sarnia, Ontario, came upon some bones while digging postholes in his backyard. His wife, Nicole Sauve, encouraged him to unearth the rest of the skeleton.

    Ontario police, who cordoned off the area, called up forensic anthropologist Michael Spence to examine the site. Spence told the Star that the skeleton is likely that of a 24-year-old aboriginal woman who died in the late 1500s or early 1600s. Spence then contacted the Registrar of Cemeteries, which told Sauve that she and Campbell would have to hire an archeologist to examine the rest of the backyard—at their expense.

    According to the Star, property owners are legally responsible to pay for such an assessment "if human remains are found on their land."

    Stuck with a $5,000 bill, Sauve appealed to the mayor of Sarnia but has yet to get a clear answer about whether the government

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  • Bus tour commemorating Sandy Hook takes gun control on the road

    The ceremony kicking off the Newtown, Conn., bus tour on gun control. (William Holt/Yahoo News)

    Six months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, victims’ families, elected officials and faith leaders gathered in Newtown, Conn., for the launch of a nationwide bus tour to step up the pressure on politicians for stronger gun-control laws and to commemorate those who were killed.

    At the pretour ceremony on Friday morning, crowds gathered in front of Newtown’s Edmond Town Hall. There, a ticker counted the number of people killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook shootings that claimed the lives of 20 students and six educators. When the ceremony commenced, that number was 6,003.

    “Over 6,000 have been killed by guns in six months alone,” said Steve Barton, a survivor of the July 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colo., and a speaker at Friday’s ceremony. “More than 3,000 will be killed while this bus is on the road if we don’t do anything.”

    Barton, who works with the nonprofit advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, also said, “Today’s a day of remembrance. Not just for the

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  • Lottery-winning great-grandmother lives simply

    Gloria Mackenzie with her son, right, and his partner (Colin Hackley/Reuters)Old habits appear to die hard for 84-year-old lottery winner Gloria Mackenzie.

    According to the Daily Mail, the great-grandmother from Zephyrhills, Fla., who won $590 million on the lottery two weeks ago, is still being driven around in her son's gold Ford Focus and shopping at Wal-Mart. Instead of spending her fortune on lavish dinners, she's eating at local crab shacks and taking her leftovers home in doggie bags.

    Mackenzie, the biggest Powerball winner in U.S. history, plans to share her winnings with her son Scott, 57, who was with her when she bought the winning $2 ticket at a local supermarket. Scott lives nearby with his partner Jerry Cruz, 65.

    Before claiming her fortune, Mackenzie lived in a modest $30,000 bungalow in Zephyrhills, Fla. (She had been been forced out of the trailer park she called home for 25 years prior to that.) Mackenzie is currently staying in a hotel while construction of her new luxury home is completed in Jacksonville. She's been spotted around town with

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  • Workers rescued outside 46th floor of Manhattan skyscraper

    Two window washers were rescued from a NYC skyscraper after their scaffolding collapsed. (Courtesy NBC New York)

    Two window washers were rescued on Tuesday outside the 46th floor of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper after their scaffolding collapsed, trapping the workers 500 feet in the air for more than an hour.

    A New York Police Department spokesman told NBC New York that police had worked to cut open a window on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower to pull the men to safety. The block in front of the building on 57th Street and Eighth Avenue was shut down for traffic as police and fire crews crowded in to assist in the rescue and helicopters circled overhead.

    Onlookers said the two workers were men and the scaffolding they worked on appeared to have bent in half.

    A man named Nick who described himself as an engineer from a building across the street said the men had attempted unsuccessfully to break a window in the building to escape.

    One woman watching the rescue didn't seem to understand the seriousness of the situation: "They're probably looking down at us, saying, 'What a crowd!'"

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  • Bloomberg asking donors to cut off 4 Senate Democrats

    New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (John Minchillo/AP)Mayor Mike Bloomberg will send a personal letter to hundreds of the biggest Democratic donors in New York on Wednesday, urging them to cut off funding to the four Democratic senators who helped derail a major gun-control bill in April, according to The New York Times.

    The effort marks a new phase in the aggressive gun-control effort from the New York City mayor. It includes millions of dollars spent on targeted TV and radio ads and, starting June 14, a planned 100-day bus tour run by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Bloomberg’s nonprofit advocacy group. It will take gun violence survivors and law enforcement officials to 25 states in an effort to pressure lawmakers into supporting stronger gun-control legislation.

    In a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Post, Bloomberg wrote, "I am writing to ask you: next time these four Senators want you to support them with donations to their campaigns, tell them you cannot. Until they show that they will stand up for the American people and

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  • Bloomberg unveils initiative to protect New York City from climate change

    Rockaway beach boardwalk devastated by Sandy (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)Citing the perils of climate change and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday called for a sweeping $19.5 billion initiative that would include new coastal protections and zoning codes for the city as well as new standards for telecommunications and fuel provision.

    “I strongly believe we have to prepare for what scientists say is a likely scenario,” Bloomberg said at a press briefing at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    The initiative followed the release of a 400-page report titled “A Stronger, More Resilient New York.” The report was produced by the mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, launched after Sandy to assess the impacts of climate change on the nation’s largest city.

    Sandy, which took the lives of 43 New Yorkers and displaced countless others when it struck last October, cost the city an estimated $19 billion in damage and economic loss. The hurricane brought a record 14-foot storm surge to lower Manhattan,

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  • New York’s bike share program off to a fast start

    Citi Bike kiosk (AP)After more than 160,000 rides, a few software glitches and one particularly irate Wall Street Journal editorial, New York City’s bike share program, Citi Bike, is up and pedaling.

    Modeled after similar bike share systems from Minneapolis to Montreal, and privately funded by Citigroup among other sponsors, New York’s Citi Bike is already the largest bike share effort in North America. While bike share programs have worked well in smaller cities, the program is a significant gamble for New York, a densely packed home to 8.2 million people notorious for its traffic-choked streets and crowded sidewalks.

    Citi Bike also represents a major test for the city’s mayor, Mike Bloomberg, who has yoked his legacy to this program and a range of other controversial efforts to get New Yorkers to quit smoking, eat better and generally improve their health.

    While many riders are still somewhat reserved in their praise, the assessment on the street has been mostly positive so far.

    “It was a bit confusing

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  • Sandy-ravaged high school gets gift of a senior prom

    Seniors from Abraham Lincoln High School pose for photos (MKG)After months of hardship, the seniors of Coney Island’s storm-ravaged Abraham Lincoln High School got the party of a lifetime: a senior prom they never expected.

    On Thursday night, more than 150 prom-goers walked down an ice-blue carpet illuminated by flashing lights into the historic Vanderbilt house on Staten Island. The foyer of the oceanfront ballroom housed an ice castle almost three feet tall, and the tables were immaculately decorated with gorgeous wintry centerpieces. It was a night students had looked forward to for months but thought might not happen.

    Last October, Hurricane Sandy nearly destroyed this school in the heart of New York City’s famed beach community. Students, many of whom were displaced by the storm, returned to class over a week after the rains had stopped to find the school’s athletic fields and basement flooded and many of of its facilities severely damaged.

    The greatest tragedy, though, was the loss of beloved science teacher Henry Sullivan, who drowned in

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  • JetBlue flight diverted after bird strike

    JetBlue (Bloomberg)

    A JetBlue flight from White Plains, N.Y., to Fort Myers, Fla., was diverted to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday morning after experiencing a bird strike shortly after takeoff, the airline said.

    “Out of an abundance of caution, the aircraft diverted to John F. Kennedy airport for inspection and landed safely at 8:25 AM,” JetBlue announced in a statement.

    Bird strikes—collisions between any airborne animal and an aircraft—represent a growing danger to flight safety. Damage and lost flight time from such collisions are estimated to average $600 million, according to the FAA.

    One such bird strike resulted in the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident of 2009. In January of that year, US Airways flight 1549 lost both engines after a bird strike occurred just northeast of the George Washington Bridge that spans New York City and New Jersey. The pilot, Capt. Chesley B Sullenberger, safely landed all 155 passengers in the middle of the Hudson River before rescue

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