Friday, November 22, 2013

City Island News BX: Holiday Train Show Returns

City Island News BX: Holiday Train Show Returns: (Photos by Seitu Oronde) BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 22- A critically acclaimed and always eagerly anticipated tradition, th...

Holiday Train Show Returns

(Photos by Seitu Oronde)
BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 22- A critically acclaimed and always eagerly anticipated tradition, the Holiday Train Show presents an enchanted New York enlivened by model trains amid the glow of twinkling lights in America’s premier Victorian-style glasshouse, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The exhibition showcases replicas of New York landmarks, artistically crafted of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruits, seeds, and pine cones by designer Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination. The original Pennsylvania Station and Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center are among the favorites in the Botanical Garden’s collection of more than 150 Holiday Train Show replicas.
Visit the Garden’s Web site,, to check dates and times for all of the Garden’s holiday offerings and to purchase advance timed tickets.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

City Island News BX: Red Cross Leading Relief Effort in Philippines

City Island News BX: Red Cross Leading Relief Effort in Philippines: Using Facebook to Help Those Hit by Tragedy (Photos courtesy of Red Cross)   WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 14- The American Red Cross an...

Red Cross Leading Relief Effort in Philippines

Using Facebook to Help Those Hit by Tragedy
(Photos courtesy of Red Cross) 
WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 14- The American Red Cross announced an initial contribution of $6 million in support of the global Red Cross response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. These funds will be used to distribute relief items, repair and rebuild shelters, provide healthcare and ensure access to clean water and sanitation systems.
“We are grateful for the American public’s generosity and compassion following what has been called one of the strongest storms in world history,” said David Meltzer, chief international officer for the American Red Cross. “The American Red Cross is in a unique position to help provide support by airlifting relief supplies from its warehouses around the world, providing trained disaster responders specializing in damage assessment and telecommunications, and by channeling its financial support to the Philippine Red Cross and its more than 500,000 staff and volunteers and our other global partners in the Red Cross network – all of which go to providing relief from this devastating storm.”
In addition to financial assistance, the American Red Cross is lending people, expertise and equipment to this effort with four specialists already on the ground in the Philippines. These include two people who specialize in telecommunication and who are traveling with satellite equipment, and two others who specialize in disaster assessment.
The Philippine Red Cross has extensive experience in search and rescue and large-scale relief and recovery programs. The Philippine Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organization in the country, with 1,000 staff members and an estimated 500,000 active volunteers engaged in this disaster response. Their volunteer relief teams continue to provide assistance in the hardest hit communities, including assisting in search and rescue efforts.
The Philippine Red Cross has begun distributions of emergency supplies and has provided meals to people affected by the storm. On Sunday, 6,000 packs of relief supplies were sent to Leyete and other affected communities. However, supply delivery in the worst affected city of Tacloban has been significantly constrained by destroyed infrastructure, blocked roads, and downed communication lines.
Specialized emergency response teams from Red Cross societies across the globe are moving into the Philippines to assist the Philippine Red Cross. These include teams with expertise in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.
“A global Red Cross relief effort is well underway and we are working closely with our international partners to help get aid where it is needed,” said Meltzer.
Despite the tragic aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, thousands of survivors are grateful for their lives. The Philippine Red Cross worked closely with local disaster authorities to support preemptive evacuations, helping move more than 125,000 families to safer shelter prior to the storm making landfall. The Philippine Red Cross also disseminated early warning messages and safety tips in areas along the path of the typhoon.
Here in the United States, the American Red Cross is helping to reconnect families separated by the typhoon and has activated its family tracing services. If people are looking for a missing family member in the Philippines, please remember that many phone lines are down. If people are unable to reach loved ones, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a family tracing case.
The American Red Cross expects to make additional contributions to support the humanitarian response in the coming weeks. Donations received from American Red Cross and other Red Cross partners will aid the Philippines relief and recovery efforts through the Philippine Red Cross and possibly other organizations as experts on the ground determine the best way forward.
HOW TO HELP Those who want to help can go to or call 1-800-REDCROSS to donate to typhoon relief. People can also mail in a donation to their local Red Cross chapter. Gifts to the American Red Cross will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific crisis, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other crises.
In a new partnership, Facebook is making it possible for users to donate directly to the American Red Cross either through a notification in News Feed, or directly on the Red Cross Facebook page. This is the first time that the American Red Cross has engaged in such a large-scale fundraising program with a social platform. For the Red Cross that means that with the click of a button on Facebook, we can connect people who want to help with those who are so desperately in need in the Philippines. This Facebook effort for the Philippines in the United States will continue through November 15.
Tags: Haiyan, Typhoon

City Island News BX: SHAMELESS!

City Island News BX: SHAMELESS!: Con Men Ca$h in on Typhoon Tragedy Prey Off People Trying to Help the Philippines WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 14-  The Department o...


Con Men Ca$h in on Typhoon Tragedy
Prey Off People Trying to Help the Philippines

WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 14- The Department of Justice, the FBI, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) remind the public that there is a potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of a natural disaster. 
Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with Typhoon Haiyan should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721. The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.
NCDF was originally established in 2005 by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud related to any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies—including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service—participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.
In the wake of natural disasters, many individuals feel moved to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country. The Department of Justice and the FBI remind the public to apply a critical eye and conduct due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims. Solicitations can originate as e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls and similar methods.
Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because those files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud by a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, contact the NCDF by phone at (866) 720-5721, fax at (225) 334-4707, or e-mail at
You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Tags: Haiyan, Typhoon

Friday, November 8, 2013

City Island News BX: City Island Eyesore

City Island News BX: City Island Eyesore: Pols Sue to Stop New Bridge                                                                                                     ...

City Island Eyesore

Pols Sue to Stop New Bridge
BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 8- Standing at the foot of the historic, 112-year old City Island bridge, Senator Klein, community leaders, and local business owners announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against the Department of Transportation as part of their effort to halt construction on the bridge's controversial new replacement. The new bridge's proposed design includes a 150-foot tower and an aesthetic that many residents believes threatens the unique and historic character that drives thousands of tourists to City Island each year. Despite serious concerns raised by community members, Island residents and business owners were never formally invited to be part of the process.
When the Department of Transportation announced work on a temporary bridge in late September, the City Island Civic Association met with Senator Klein to explore possible legal options. After meeting with the City Island Civic Association, Senator Klein, working with volunteer staff members from the offices of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Assemblyman Mike Benedetto and Council Member Jimmy Vacca, developed a legal strategy to ensure that voices of City Islanders are heard and that the proposed design is subject to a more comprehensive review prior to construction. 
Senator Jeff Klein said, "Putting a cable-stayed bridge over Eastchester Bay is like telling the Starship Enterprise it can land at LaGuardia – it just doesn’t fit. We should not have to sacrifice the majesty of City Island in exchange for a 21st century bridge. As I have said all along, the community should have been consulted throughout this process. With the Department of Transportation moving ahead with a design that does not address some of the community's biggest concerns, I think it's important we file this lawsuit to make sure that the City Island community's voices are heard.
"After reviewing possible courses of action against the proposed design for the new bridge, I have worked with the Civic Association on developing a legal strategy. Working with the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Assemblyman Mike Benedetto and Council Member Jimmy Vacca, I plan to do everything possible to ensure that the City Island community's voices are heard."   
City Island Civic Association Officer, Barbara Dolensek said, “For over 10 years the Civic Association has tried to get the Department of Transportation to honor our concerns about the new bridge, but they continue to force a bridge on us that City Island residents and business owners don't want. Finally, with the help of Senator Klein and other local elected officials, we have found a way to make sure our voices are heard!”  
In the lawsuit, the City Island Civic Association and Barbara Dolensek, challenge the action of the New York City Department of Transportation in moving forward with the replacement of the City Island Bridge and the construction of such replacement bridge by the contractor, Tutor Perini Corporation, without a completed Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP) review. The ULURP review is required under Section 197-c of the New York City Charter. The purpose of the ULURP review is to measure the impact of proposed land uses and to take into account community input.
On September 30, 2013, the New York City Department of Transportation issued a Notice to Proceed with construction to Tutor Perini Corporation, without a completed ULURP review. As a result, NYC DOT is in violation of procedures set forth by ULURP.
The City Island Civic Association and Barbara Dolensek are seeking a Court order compelling a completed ULURP review prior to any funds being allocated or expended for or beginning construction in connection with the replacement of the City Island Bridge and a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo during the pendency of this action. As the press conference concluded, Senator Klein was notified that the temporary restraining order had been issued.
“The people of City Island have the right to voice their concerns or support for the construction of a new City Island Bridge, and this lawsuit will ensure that this proposed bridge is subject to complete review. I strongly believe that the DOT should begin the ULURP process immediately, so that City Island residents have their chance to speak out on this proposal before a single shovel hits the ground. City Island residents have expressed real concerns with the design and cost of this bridge and it is imperative that the ULURP be completed with transparency and collaboration with the residents and businesses of City Island before the City moves forward with its new design.  I look forward to an amicable resolution to this entire matter,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Assemblyman Mike Benedetto said: "The proposed bridge in no way reflects City Island's unique charm and seaside landscape. That's why I have stood with the residents, business owners, community leaders and local elected officials in supporting legal action against the new bridge. We know that a new bridge is necessary, but I believe that the design should incorporate the input of the community it serves."
“For years, I, along with my fellow elected officials and the City Island community, have expressed our concerns about this new bridge, but the Department of Transportation has done little to address these issues. Once this lawsuit is filed, we can let the courts decide if this project should proceed as planned,” said Council Member Jimmy Vacca.
City Island Chamber of Commerce President Skip Giacco said, "From the Chamber's point of view, City Island is successful as a destination because it offers an alternative to the high-rise, high-density parts of the city. If built, the bridge, in its current design, will mark the beginning of a change on City Island that many residents and business owners don't support. At the very least, I believe that taking legal action will help ensure that our community's input is taken seriously."

City Island News BX: Red Panda Cubs Make Their Zoo Debut 

City Island News BX: Red Panda Cubs Make Their Zoo Debut : BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 8- Four red panda cubs are debuting at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zo...

Red Panda Cubs Make Their Zoo Debut 

BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 8- Four red panda cubs are debuting at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo. 
Two cubs are at the Himalayan Highlands at the Bronx Zoo and two are at Discovery Trail at the Prospect Park Zoo.
Both litters consist of a male and female and were born this summer.
WCS has a successful history breeding red pandas at the Bronx, Central Park and Prospect Park Zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in accredited zoos.
Red pandas are native to Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. The subspecies of red panda at the Bronx Zoo (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) is found in the western part of their Himalayan range. The Prospect Park pandas (Ailurus fulgens refulgens) are a subspecies from the eastern portion of the range and are characteristically darker in color and slightly larger.
Panda cubs are born with a very soft, plush coat. They reach adulthood at around 18 months.
Adult red pandas have reddish-brown and black coats that serve as camouflage in the wild. They have an adaptation on their wrists much like a thumb that enables them to grasp food items like bamboo as well as tree branches.
The species is listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss caused by deforestation for timber, fuel and agricultural use. Their population is declining. WCS works in China and Myanmar to save red pandas and other Asian wildlife.