TIME Crime

Nationwide Homicide Spike Hits Small Connecticut Capital City

Hartford has already seen as many murders as it did all of last year

The murder of a 25-year old Hartford man over the weekend was the Connecticut city’s 20th murder this year, making this year already more deadly than last year as homicide rates spike across the country.

The incident in Hartford could indicate that a crime uptick sweeping larger cities is hitting smaller ones, too. Hartford saw only 19 homicides last year, but that was a low point in the city’s crime rate in recent years. According to police statistics, there were 33 murders in all of 2009, 27 murders in 2011, and 23 murders in 2013.

“Our police department continues to work with State and Federal partners in an effort to identify these criminals before they act, without concern for life, with the goal of preventing these most violent crimes,” Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can within our means to identify potential correlations that may assist our policing efforts. Even with a commitment of significant resources and partnerships across all levels of government, our community needs to continue to come together as government cannot address this issue alone.”

The nationwide uptick has prompted police chiefs from all over the country—including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia—to gather Monday in Washington to discuss tactics for stemming the bloodshed.

In larger cities, murders are noticeably on the rise. Baltimore is seeing an unprecedented spike in shootings, especially since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in May.

Forty-five people were killed there in July, making it Baltimore’s deadliest month since 1972, even though the city has 275,000 fewer people than it did back then. Police say 191 people have been killed in Baltimore so far in 2015, and 116 of them were killed between May and July—the highest of any three-month period in records kept since 1970, the Baltimore Sun reports. And 2015 is also the first year that has seen two months with more than 40 killings.

Washington, D.C., is also seeing a spike in violent crime, with 84 homicides so far this year, putting 2015 on track to be the most deadly year since 2008. And in Chicago, murders and shootings have gone up, even as overall crime has gone down—there were 10 more murders in July than last year. Violent crime in Los Angeles is up more than 20%, even as the homicide rate in the city drops by almost 7%, according to the Los Angeles Times.

TIME Food & Drink

This Is the Best Pizza City in America

chicago-deep-dish-pizza
Getty Images

Sorry, New Yorkers

New York City pizza lovers, it’s time to defend your honor as pizza capital of the U.S.

TripAdvisor released a list of the top 10 pizza cities in the U.S. this week, based on the quality and quantity of users’ reviews. The No. 1 city: Chicago.

“Travelers come from all corners of the country to sink their teeth into Chicago’s deep dish, the big cheese of pizza destinations according to reviewers on TripAdvisor,” Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor, said in a statement.

The ranking comes as a blow to New Yorkers, who have long defended their pizza as superior to Chicago’s deep dish. New York City did, however, come in the second spot, followed by New Haven, Conn., Orlando, Fla., and San Francisco.

The method behind TripAdvisor’s pizza madness was based on three factors: the quality of pizza restaurant reviews, the number of restaurants and reviews and the ratio of pizza restaurants and reviews compared to all restaurants in the city. In other words, a city with a higher proportion of good pizza restaurants might edge of a city with fewer pizza restaurants selling higher-quality pizza.

TripAdvisor’s ranking of the best pizza restaurants in the U.S. will soothe the bruised egos of New York pizza lovers, with Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Juliana’s Pizza topping the list. To quantitatively calculate the best of the best in pizza joints, TripAdvisor focused on restaurants with at least 500 reviews, at least 10 percent of which had to mention “best pizza.”

Here’s TripAdvisor’s full list of the 10 best pizza restaurant in the U.S.:

1. Juliana’s Pizza, New York City

2. Pizza Time of St. Augustine, Saint Augustine, Fla.

3. Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, Anchorage, Alaska

4. Keste, New York City

5. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco

6. Pizzeria Regina, Boston

7. Antico Pizza Napoletana, Atlanta, Ga.

8. Bill’s Pizza, Palm Springs, Calif.

9. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Conn.

10. John’s Pizzeria Bleeker St., New York City

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME New York

New York Man Arrested for Attempting to Join ISIS

Arafat Nagi showed active intention of joining the Islamic State group

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Authorities in western New York say they’ve arrested a 44-year-old man on a charge of attempting to support the Islamic State group.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said at a news conference Wednesday morning in Buffalo that authorities were tipped off by a resident who heard Arafat Nagi talking about his jihadi beliefs.

Nagi is due in court later Wednesday to face a charge of attempting to support a terrorist organization. Authorities say his social media posts and travel records were checked out as part of the investigation.

Hochul says Nagi traveled twice to Turkey within the past three years with the intention of joining the Islamic State group. He says Nagi purchased military combat gear, including night-vision goggles.

Police executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at Nagi’s home in the city of Lackawanna.

TIME Crime

New York Prison Worker Reveals How She Became Embroiled in Escape Plan

joyce mitchell clinton correctional
G.N. Miller—Getty Images Joyce Mitchell, left appears with her lawyer Stephen Johnston before Judge Buck Rogers in Plattsburgh City Court on June 15, 2015 in Plattsburgh, New York.

She told investigators that she performed sexual acts on one of the prisoners

Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping two inmates escape, told investigators that she performed sexual acts on one of the men and sent X-rated selfies to the other and knew the duo planned to kill her husband, police documents show.

Mitchell, 51, told investigators that inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat nicknamed her husband, Lyle, “the glitch” and gave her small round pills to drug him with, according to statements obtained by NBC News that give dramatic new details of the breakout plot…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

Snow Is Still Melting in Upstate New York

Buffalo-Snow Piles
Gary Wiepert—AP Robert A. Raczka uses a stick on top of this dirt-covered snow "glacier" that still hasn't melted at the Central Terminal on Buffalo's East side eight months ago, July 28, 2015.

It has been eight months since November's record-breaking snowstorm

(BUFFALO, N.Y.)—It may be almost August, but dirt-covered snow still hasn’t completely melted since being dumped at a defunct Buffalo railroad station after November’s record-breaking storm.

WGRZ-TV reports that two snow piles nearly 10 feet high in some spots are still melting in vacant lots at the Central Terminal on the city’s east side.

City crews dumped snow in the lots after a lake-effect storm dumped more than 7 feet on parts of Buffalo and the surrounding area the week before Thanksgiving. Eight months later, some of it is still there.

The two piles resemble earthen berms because the snow is covered with a thick layer of dirt with grass growing on it. Underneath the dirt, the remaining densely packed snow is slowly melting.

TIME New York

New York Will Completely Rebuild LaGuardia Airport for $4 Billion

Andrew Cuomo
Richard Drew—AP New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the Association for a Better New York luncheon, in New York, July 27, 2015.

The airport's aging buildings will be completely replaced with a new terminal

(NEW YORK) — A year after comparing New York’s LaGuardia Airport to “some Third World Country,” Vice President Joe Biden helped unveil an ambitious plan Monday to rebuild its collection of aging terminals into a modern, unified hub while easing congestion by doubling the space available for planes to operate.

“I wish everything I said that was truthful but controversial would turn out this well,” he joked during the announcement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The overhaul would remake the entire footprint of the airport, which is shoehorned onto a small, oddly-shaped property on the shore of the East River.

Its existing, cramped and chaotic buildings would be demolished and replaced with a big new terminal 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, the highway that rings the airport like a moat.

That shift would relieve some of the space constraints for aircraft trying to taxi to and from the congested gate areas. More space would be made by having passengers get to their gates using elevated passageways that pass over active taxiways. In all, nearly two miles of new taxiways would be created.

Construction on the first phase of the project would begin next year, pending final approval by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport. A second phase would be overseen by Delta Air Lines.

The first remade portions of the airport would open to passengers in 2019.

“This is what New Yorkers deserve and have deserved for a long time. And now we’re going to get it,” Cuomo said.

He said the current airport is a collection of cramped terminals with high volume and low ceilings, and is “un-New York.”

“It’s slow, it’s dated, it has a terrible front-door entrance way to New York,” he said.

Biden said last year that if he blindfolded someone and took him to LaGuardia, he’d think he was in “some Third World country.” Biden lauded the governor for “thinking big.”

The vice president’s influence was critical, Cuomo said — approvals that would normally take years were expedited by Biden’s office.

The first phase of the plan will cost $4 billion, half from private funding, Cuomo said. Delta is a partner in the new terminal.

The new airport is part of an ambitious plan aimed at four of the state’s airports in the New York area. Stewart Airport north of the city and Republic Airport on Long Island would both get Startup New York designation, offering new and expanding businesses to operate tax free for 10 years. Also, New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport would have its architecturally distinct Saarinen building reconfigured into a hotel.

The construction will add thousands of jobs and help grow tourism and commerce. Officials said it would triple the screening space, increase concession space and create better connections between terminals, a new roadway system and new parking garages.

“LaGuardia and JFK are economic anchors for this city, and they deserve to be the best in the world,” Biden said.

LaGuardia, along the Flushing and Bowery bays in northern Queens, is the closest of the New York area’s three major air hubs to midtown Manhattan — just eight miles — and it handled about 27 million passengers last year.

Often the first building travelers see is the sprawling, boomerang-shaped Central Terminal, which opened just in time to receive visitors to the 1964 World’s Fair. Many passengers say it is like stepping back in time.

They immediately encounter low ceilings and dimly lit, narrow hallways. Check-in kiosks are arrayed haphazardly in rows just inside the entrances, where bright green neon lights blare, “Welcome to LaGuardia Airport.” On the west side of the terminal sits a modest food court featuring a hamburger counter, a pizzeria and a Dunkin’ Donuts.

In 2012, Travel and Leisure magazine named LaGuardia the nation’s worst airport, saying it had the “dubious honor of ranking the worst for the check-in and security process, the worst for baggage handling, the worst when it comes to providing Wi-Fi, the worst at staff communication, and the worst design and cleanliness.”

 

TIME New York

Sharks Spotted Off New York Beaches

Shark
Getty Images

They were swimming just 15ft off the shore

Thousand of swimmers were ordered out of the water on Thursday after two sharks were spotted swimming close to shore in Long Island.

A lifeguard initially spotted a shark swimming off shore, reports ABC News. Police helicopters later spotted two 6ft long sharks swimming up the coast that who were a mere 15ft from the beach.

“It was a really big shark — it was thin and long and it was scary,” said beachgoer Wendy Stechman to NBC.

After 11 shark attacks off the coast in North and South Carolina, authorities took no chances and ordered swimmers out of the water around noon. Swimmers were allowed back when lifeguards sounded the all-clear at 3pm.

TIME weird

New York Pays Family $115,000 Settlement After Accidentally Donating Grandma’s Body to Science

The woman's body was barely recognizable by the time her family found out what happened

A New York family has received a $115,000 settlement from the city after a Bronx morgue accidentally donated their mother’s corpse to a medical school.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that 85-year-old Aura Ballesteros died in May 2014, but instead of holding her body while her children arranged a funeral, the morgue sent her body off to be used for research.

According to the Daily News, the state of New York has the right to either bury or donate a body that hasn’t been claimed after 14 days. When Ballesteros family discovered what had happened, too, her body had already been embalmed. Her son testified that she was nearly unrecognizable.

A new law would prevent this kind of incident from occurring in the future by requiring family consent before donating a body for research.

 

TIME Economy

Here’s Every City in America Getting a $15 Minimum Wage

As New York is set to raise fast food workers' pay

When dozens of New York fast food workers walked off the job in 2013 demanding minimum pay of $15 per hour, their campaign seemed like a longshot. But two years, several nationwide strikes and new rules laws later, a $15 minimum wage is becoming a reality for millions of workers across the United States.

The workers’ campaign, known as Fast Food Forward and backed by the Service Employees International Union, has slowly gained momentum through a series of increasingly large one-day strikes targeting fast food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. At first, the effects of the strikes seemed small, with individual restaurant owners conceding to minuscule wage increases for some of their workers. But even as businesspeople were doing their best to ignore the movement, politicians were paying close attention.

Over the last two years, several cities and now the entire state of New York either have or are in the process of enacting a $15 minimum wage for various workers. Here’s a look at the cities that have enacted huge pay increases, and the ones that could still be to come.

New York

How it Happened: A wage board appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a recommendation Wednesday to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 per hour across the state, up from the current $8.75. Cuomo has enthusiastically backed the initiative.

The Plan: In New York City, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 by the end of this year, then increase incrementally each year to reach $15 by 2018. In the rest of the state, the increments will be smaller and $15 will be reached by 2021. The wage increases apply only to fast food chains with at least 30 locations in the U.S.

The Effect: None yet, since the measure still must be approved by the state’s labor commissioner. Experts predict other types of businesses that employ low-wage workers, like retailers or landscapers, will have to increase wages to compete with fast food restaurants.

Seattle

How it Happened: Mayor Ed Murray made increasing the minimum wage one of his first priorities when taking office at the start of 2014. In May of that year, he put forth a proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage from Washington state’s rate of $9.32 to to $15 over several years. The city council approved the measure a month later.

The Plan: Workers at large businesses with 500 or more U.S. employees will see their wages hit $15 per her hour by 2017. Workers at businesses with fewer than 500 U.S. employees will reach that rate by 2021. After the hikes, large businesses will have to keep increasing wages to keep pace with inflation.

The Effects So Far: The first stage of Seattle’s plan went into effect in April 2015, with large businesses raising their minimum wage to $11 per hour and small businesses’ wages rising to $10. So far, the effects are largely anecdotal. Some local restaurants have raised prices from 4 to 21%. In nearby SeaTac, where the minimum wage for some workers jumped to $15 per hour last year, there hasn’t been any measurable economic fallout.

San Francisco

How it Happened: City residents voted by a large majority to raise the city’s minimum wage from $10.74 to $15 last November.

The Plan: Wages have already jumped to $12.25, and will increase to $15 by 2018. After that, the minimum wage will increase every year at a rate tied to the consumer price index.

The Effects So Far: This year’s wage increase boosted the pay for as many as 86,000 workers, most of whom were women and minorities, according to one estimate. However, at least one local bookstore said it would close due to the increased costs.

Los Angeles

How it Happened: The Los Angeles city council voted in May to increase the local minimum wage to $15 by 2020, up from the current $9. This week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 for people working in unincorporated parts of the county.

The Plan: Workers will earn $10.50 per hour starting next year, with incremental increases until they make $15 in 2020. The hikes are delayed by a year for workers at businesses with 25 or fewer employees. After reaching $15, annual minimum wage increases will be tied to the consumer price index.

The Effects So Far: Because many cities in L.A. County, like Pasadena and Long Beach, haven’t yet committed to matching the county’s wage increase, prices for goods and services at stores very close to one another could become highly skewed.

Washington, D.C.

How it Might Happen: Residents of the nation’s capital will vote next year on whether to increase the minimum wage to $15 from the current $10.50.

The Plan: The minimum wage would increase to $15 per hour by 2020 and would afterward be tied to increases in the consumer price index.

MONEY buying a home

These States Offer the Most Help for Buying a Home

"For Sale" sign outside town home in Society Hill neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frances Roberts—Alamy Society Hill neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Grants and no-interest loans are available if you know where to look.

Trying to scrounge together a down payment for a house? Your first instinct may be to hit up mom and dad. One more option you shouldn’t overlook: The state where you live.

Each of the 50 states has some sort of program to help homebuyers, especially those making their first purchase, according to mortgage Web site HSH.com, which recently compiled data and ranked the states.

The most generous state of all is Pennsylvania, where homebuyers have access to no fewer than 11 programs, including ones for first-time and repeat buyers, and even assistance for homeowners looking to make improvements. The Keystone state was followed by Wyoming and New York.

While not necessarily new, state homebuyer assistance programs may be more critical than ever. That’s because seven years after the 2008-2009 financial crises, lingering after-effects like depleted savings and an expensive rental market have made it particularly hard for 20- and 30-somethings to buy homes.

Traditionally, getting a mortgage in the strictly private market requires a down payment of 20%. Yet the Federal Housing Administration makes it possible to buy homes with as little as 3.5% down, with the caveat being that you will be required to pay mortgage insurance. The assistance offered by states — often in the form of grants or no-interest loans — can help get you to the finish line.

Not all programs are available to all would-be homeowners. As well as targeting groups like veterans and the disabled, many state programs have income caps that reduce or eliminate benefits for those making more than a certain amount. One thing you shouldn’t assume, however, is that programs only target the needy. Many are open to middle-income earners.

For instance, Pennsylvania offers closing-cost assistance up to $6,000 in the form of a no-interest 10-year loan to borrowers at participating lenders. The program is open to all borrowers regardless of income or whether it’s your first home. In addition, first-time homebuyers (and some repeat buyers) can turn the first $2,000 of their federal mortgage income tax deduction into a much more valuable tax credit. While incomes are capped, you can earn up to $97,300, or $113,500 if you have kids, and live in relatively high-cost counties like Philadelphia.

Want to find out what your state offers? The HSH directory includes links to state pages with detailed descriptions of individual programs. But you don’t have to be an expert to claim the benefits. Most assistance is arranged through private lenders. So if you think you might qualify, look for participating banks that should be able to help you enroll.

One final thing: If there isn’t much on offer in your state, you should also check Web pages of county and local governments. Even states that offer relatively little help, like Hawaii and Kansas, may fill in the gap with county level programs, according to HSH.

 

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