TIME energy

New York Bans Fracking

After years of debate in the state over the controversial drilling technique

The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the controversial drilling technique known as fracking will be banned in the state, citing concerns over risk of contamination to the state’s air and water.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. The announcement comes after years of debate over the practice, during which New York has had a defacto fracking ban in place, the New York Times reports.

Fracking employs chemicals and underground explosions to release oil and gas trapped in shale deposits that are inaccessible by conventional drilling techniques. Some environmentalists contend that fracking contaminates groundwater and can contribute to seismic activity, and that increased drilling activity can contribute to air pollution and other environmental problems.

[NYT]

TIME Travel

9 Little Known Places to Visit in New York City (That Aren’t Tourist Traps)

New York has more to offer than Times Square and the Statue of Liberty

  • The New York Federal Reserve’s Gold Vault

    A real-life Mt. Doom, this vault is the world’s largest storehouse of treasure. You can see its 7,000 tons of gold—5 percent of all that was ever mined, even more than Ft. Knox—which is now worth $273 billion. The vault was robbed in Die Hard With a Vengeance, but you’ll never get away with it. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Explorers Club Headquarters

    A stuffed polar bear. Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki globe. A “yeti scalp.” The spectacular Explorers Club is stuffed to the rafters with the treasures, curios, maps, and books collected by the world’s greatest adventurers. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • A Panorama of the City of New York

    Constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair, and updated recently, this basketball-court sized model shows the entire, sprawling city, with tiny scale versions of every single one of the 895,000 buildings in the five boroughs. Circumnavigate it on a catwalk, and feel like an emperor! (Queens) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Harry Houdini’s Grave

    Fans still gather at the grave of the magician, awaiting his escape from death. For years it was the site of Halloween séances. Now Houdini’s admirers leave decks of cards and tarots for him. (Queens) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Earth Room

    For nearly 40 years, this loft space has been filled two-feet deep with dirt, sometimes sprouting mushrooms. It’s an art installation, not poor housekeeping, and the room is a peaceful, quiet sanctuary from the city bustle below. The dirt is valued at a million dollars; the real estate is worth a lot more. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Pratt Institute Engine Room

    With its glistening 19th century steam generators and its marble switchboard, it’s heaven for steampunks. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Mmuseumm

    Exhausted by huge museums and giant exhibitions? Then Mmuseumm is the place for you: a museum housed in a freight elevator. The quirky, tiny collection includes that shoe that was hurled at President George W. Bush in Iraq. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The John M. Mossman Lock Collection

    A gorgeous display of more than 300 antique bank locks, each more ornate, more complex, and more fiendish than the last. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Marilyn Monroe’s Grate, and the Ghostbusters Firehouse

    New York is jammed with real-life movie locations, but these are two of the most iconic. Hook and Ladder 8 was the Ghostbusters firehouse. The most famous subway grate in the world is at the corner of Lexington and 52nd. It’s where, during The Seven Year Itch, a passing 6 subway train blew up Marilyn Monroe’s dress. (Manhattan) More on the firehouse and the subway grate in Atlas Obscura.

    This article was written by David Plotz for Atlas Obscura.

TIME animals

New York Makes Tattoos and Piercings on Pets Illegal

Puppy Dog
Getty Images

Offenders could face up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines

If you live in New York and were planning to get matching tattoos for you and your cat, think again.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal sponsored the legislation, which was signed by the state’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and will take effect in 120 days. “It’s simply cruel,” said Rosenthal, adding that unlike humans, animals do not have the ability to choose the pain that comes with body art.

The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers.

Other than that, the governor’s office says, piercing your pooch could now get you up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines.

[AP]

TIME Companies

New Yorkers Can Now Use Uber to Carpool

Passengers could save up to 50%

New York passengers traveling a similar route can now save money by sharing a ride through Uber’s new carpooling service, UberPool. The company announced Thursday that the service is now available 24/7 in all five boroughs, making New York the third city (after San Francisco and Paris) to adopt UberPool.

On the bright side, this could mean saving 20-50% per ride, while adding only a few minutes to transit time. On the dark side, the road from Manhattan to Brooklyn could feel mighty long when shared with a “new friend.”

TIME Travel

This Is The Number One Travel Destination for 2015

Surise at the East River with jetty and the Manhattan skyline.
A jetty in Long Island City, Queens, with the Manhattan skyline in the background. Getty Images

"Queens, New York’s largest borough, is also quickly becoming its hippest, but most travelers haven't clued in… yet."

Travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet has unveiled its list of the best U.S. travel destinations for the coming year, and the winner is… Queens, New York.

“With microbreweries springing up, new boutique hotels, a reinvented seaside at Rockaway, a world-class art scene, and a truly global food culture, 2015 is the year to try Queens,” Lonely Planet explains on its site. Home to more than two million people — which would make it the fourth largest city in America if it were its own city — Queens is “finally emerging from the shadows of Manhattan to take its place as one of New York’s most fascinating boroughs.”

Some of the borough’s many tourist destinations include the Queens Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image, the boardwalk at Rockaway and tons of restaurants, Lonely Planet says.

Here’s the full list of top travel destinations:

1. Queens, New York

2. Western South Dakota

3. New Orleans

4. Colorado River region

5. North Conway, New Hampshire

6. Indianapolis

7. Greenville, South Carolina

8. Oakland, California

9. Duluth, Minnesota

10. Mount Shasta region, California

Read more at Lonely Planet.

TIME Crime

New York Cop Says He Didn’t Put Eric Garner in a Chokehold

Police Chokehold Death
Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner gather in Columbus Circle, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. Jason DeCrow—AP

NYPD officer says it was a takedown technique learned in police academy

The New York Police Department officer whose aggressive arrest of Staten Island resident Eric Garner led to his death has denied using an illegal chokehold to subdue him.

It was a take-down move, Officer Daniel Pantaleo has told NYPD investigators, and not a chokehold.

Pantaleo, whom a grand jury declined to indict in Garner’s death, has told NYPD internal affairs investigators that he used a takedown techniqueon Garner that he was taught in police academy.

(MORE: Here’s What a Chokehold Actually Is)

“He said he never exerted any pressure on the windpipe and never intended to injure Mr. Garner,” Stuart London, Pantaleo’s attorney, told CNN.

The video of Pantaleo taking down Garner as he tried to arrest the Staten Island man for illegally selling loose cigarettes led to protests and nationwide debates over police conduct and use of force. While a grand jury chose not to indict Pantaleo, he’s still subject to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as an internal NYPD probe.

Since the grand jury decision, Garner’s last words of “I can’t breathe” have been widely used in demonstrations nationwide and in several other countries by protesters against police brutality.

[New York Post]

TIME Companies

U.S. Hits Deutsche Bank With $190 Million Tax Fraud Lawsuit

A general view of Deutsche Bank on Sept. 5, 2011 in London.
A general view of Deutsche Bank on Sept. 5, 2011 in London. Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

Justice Department has accused the banking giant of using shell companies to conceal profits and avoid paying taxes

The Justice Department has sued Deutsche Bank for fraud over an alleged scheme to avoid paying federal taxes.

The government is seeking more than $190 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in federal court in New York, alleges that Deutsche Bank DB -1.23% engaged in a series of transactions meant to evade federal income taxes — leaving the U.S. government “with a significant, uncollectable tax bill,” according to the Justice Department.

“Through fraudulent conveyances involving shell companies, Deutsche Bank tried to make its potential tax liabilities disappear,”Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “This was nothing more than a shell game.”

The government went on to describe the alleged fraud, which included the German bank’s creation of three separate “shell companies” as well as a series of subsequent transactions involving those companies that federal authorities claim were designed to avoid federal tax laws.

Deutsche Bank responded to the allegation in a statement to Fortune, saying: “We fully addressed the government’s concerns about this 14-year old transaction in a 2009 agreement with the IRS. In connection with that agreement they abandoned their theory that [Deutsche Bank] was liable for these taxes, and while it is not clear to us why we are being pursued again for the same taxes, we plan to again defend vigorously against these claims.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME justice

Chokehold Case Stirs Debate on Special Prosecutors

Letitia James, Dasani Coates
New York public advocate Letitia James speaks after taking the oath of office on the steps of City Hall in New York on Jan. 1, 2014 Frank Franklin II—AP

"It's clear that the system is broken and an independent prosecutor is needed"

(NEW YORK) — After a police officer wasn’t indicted in a fatal chokehold caught on video, some officials are reviving calls to entrust such cases to special prosecutors, rather than local district attorneys.

The city’s elected public advocate and some state lawmakers are pressing for appointing special state prosecutors for police killings, saying Eric Garner’s death has bared problems with having DAs lead investigations and prosecutions of the police who help them build cases. Similar legislation has been proposed in Missouri since the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson.

“This is a watershed moment,” New York Public Advocate Letitia James said by phone. “It’s clear that the system is broken and an independent prosecutor is needed.”

She’s advocating appointing such prosecutors whenever police kill or seriously injure someone. Assemblymen Karim Camara and Marcos Crespo are proposing special prosecutors for police killings of unarmed people.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that the state should examine whether DAs should bring such cases and “potential roles for special prosecutors,” as part of a broad look at the criminal justice system.

After Garner died July 17, the Staten Island district attorney’s office took the case to a grand jury that spent two months hearing from 50 witnesses and scrutinizing evidence including police policy manuals, medical records and four videos, according to the few details released.

Medical examiners had found that a police chokehold — a maneuver banned by police policy — caused Garner’s death. Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s lawyer argued the officer used a permissible takedown. Grand jurors decided Wednesday that no criminal charges were warranted.

The decision spurred protests and questions about how prosecutors conducted the secret process. And it has prompted debate over whether special prosecutors would build public trust or undermine a system set up to put tough decisions in elected prosecutors’ hands.

“There has to be a permanent special prosecutor for police misconduct because of the inherent conflict” in tasking local prosecutors with exploring allegations against the police who are often their partners, said civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel.

But DAs bristle at the implication that they’re too close to police for public comfort.

“Why would the people’s choice to be their elected law enforcement officer be disqualified in favor of some political appointment?” says Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, the Syracuse prosecutor who is president-elect of the National District Attorneys Association.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said Friday he expects to take a recent deadly police shooting of an unarmed man in a public housing stairwell to a grand jury, rejecting suggestions that a special prosecutor take over.

“I was elected by the people of Brooklyn to do this job without fear or favor, and that is exactly what I intend to do,” Thompson said.

Special prosecutors sometimes have been tapped for cases involving police, including allegations that a former Chicago police commander oversaw the torture of dozens of suspects to coerce confessions. He was never charged with abuse but was convicted of perjury.

Some states have established permanent special prosecutors’ offices for various types of cases. Maryland’s handles everything from election law violations to misconduct by public employees, including police.

But the idea of a special prosecutor specifically for police has a particular history in New York. The state created a state special prosecutor’s office in 1972 to explore police corruption in New York City, responding to the allegations later chronicled in the 1973 film “Serpico.”

The office was sometimes accused of overreaching — unfairly, says Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, who worked in the office in its early years.

“There was some pressure not necessarily to charge, but to look closely at these cases and try hard to see whether or not there is an innocent explanation or whether or not the officer really did break the law,” he recalls.

Then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, the current governor’s father, disbanded the special prosecutor’s office in 1990, citing budget constraints. Calls to reinstate and extend it to police misconduct and brutality allegations have arisen over the years, including after three officers were acquitted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on his wedding day in 2006.

Some DAs have set up their own separate units for allegations against police. But prosecutors say in any event, they have enough distance from police to investigate them.

“We view ourselves as an independent agency that is called upon, on a daily basis, to review the work of the police,” says Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, the Buffalo prosecutor who heads the state DA’s association. While they work closely together, “in my office, there’s not a week that goes by that there’s not some disagreement between prosecutors and police.”

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: From Nationwide Protests to a Historic Space Launch

Watch this week's #KnowRightNow to catch up on all the latest stories

This week, Cyber Monday shattered records with sales surpassing $2 billion. Sales were up 17% compared to last year, making it the biggest shopping day ever.

Protests flared around the country after a grand jury decided there would be no indictment in the case of Eric Garner, a black man who died while being violently subdued by the NYPD. Protesters blocked major roadways in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C., and more than 200 protesters were arrested in New York alone.

The Orion spacecraft successfully launched Friday morning, orbiting 3,600 miles above the planet, 15 times higher than the International Space Station. The spacecraft orbited Earth twice before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

And finally, Warner Bros. revealed the cast for its movie Suicide Squad this week. The film will feature Will Smith as Deadshot, Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg, Jared Leto as The Joker, and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. It’s slated for release in 2016.

TIME portfolio

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 28 – Dec. 5.

From ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s acquittal to protests over Eric Garner’s chokehold death verdict and the launch of NASA’s unmanned exploration spacecraft Orion to the White House’s Christmas decorations, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

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