TIME viral

New York Subway Performers Rally for Arrested Musician

The video has almost been viewed 500,000 times

Buskers in New York City planned a demonstration Tuesday on behalf of a fellow subway performer whose arrest for serenading commuters was recorded by protesting bystanders and turned into a viral video, the AP reports.

Adam Kalleen was arrested in an underground station in Brooklyn Friday after he refused a police offer’s request to put down the guitar and go. While the officer said that the 30-year-old needed permission to play, Kalleen and on-lookers said that the MTA does not issue permits.

The video, which has been viewed almost half a million times on YouTube, shows people protesting Kalleen’s arrest for loitering. “You don’t have something better to do? There are people breaking real laws,” someone shouts.

The fedora-wearing busker can be seen singing Neil Young’s “Ohio,” a song written in 1970 by Neil Young about the Kent State shootings, to the chants “F*** the police” from the crowd.

The MTA guidelines state that “artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations” are permitted, although that does appear to conflict with state law that prohibits subway station loitering “for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in business.” Busker advocacy organizations exist to fight for street performers’ rights.

An NYPD spokesperson told the AP that the department is looking into the arrest.

[AP]

TIME Arts

Hundreds Protest Met’s New Opera for ‘Romanticizing Terrorism’

Protestors Hold Vigil, Rally Condemning "Klinghoffer" Opera Outside Lincoln Center
A protestor holds up a sign outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on opening night of the opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer" on October 20, 2014 in New York City. The opera, by John Adams, depicts the death of Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish cruise passenger from New York, who was killed and dumped overboard during a 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists. Bryan Thomas—Getty Images

"The Death of Klinghoffer'' is about the murder of a disabled Jewish man by Palestinian extremists

The Metropolitan Opera House’s opening night of 1991 opera The Death of Klinghoffer received a standing ovation in New York City Monday. But the noise made by crowds outside of Lincoln Center before the curtain rose may have rivaled the cheers inside the opera house.

Hundreds of protesters, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, railed against the John Adams opera about the 1985 murder of disabled cruise passenger Leon Klinghoffer by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front, on charges that it is anti-Semitic and glorifies terrorists who shot a 69-year-old Jewish man in his wheelchair and then pushed him overboard.

“If you listen, you will see that the emotional context of the opera truly romanticizes terrorism,” Giuliani told crowds across the street from Lincoln Center. “And romanticizing terrorism has only made it a greater threat.”

The Met disagreed that the opera, which premiered in Brussels more than 20 years ago, glorifies terrorism.

“There’s no doubt for anyone who sees this opera that… it’s not anti-Semitic,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, told the BBC. “It does not glorify terrorism in any way. It is a brilliant work of art that must be performed… At the end of the day, anyone with any sense of moral understanding knows this opera is about the murder of an innocent man.”

The AP reports that there were a some orchestrated disruptions, including shouts of, “The murder of Klinghoffer will never be forgotten!” from the balcony, during the show, though the heckling was muffled by cheers when the cast took a bow.

MONEY sharing economy

New York Attorney General Says Airbnb Is Making Millions on Illegal Listings

Airbnb
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

A report from the state Attorney general claims Airbnb has made $40 million on illegal rentals, and that 70% of Airbnb's New York City listings violate the law.

If there’s one thing that divides New Yorkers, it’s Airbnb. As New York Magazine’s definitive feature on the do-it-yourself hotel service pointed out, the city is split between those who see Airbnb as an innocent way for New Yorkers to transform their overpriced housing assets into some extra scratch, and those who blame the company for turning their apartment buildings into unregulated crashpads for rag-tag out-of-towners.

On Thursday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman provided the anti-Airbnb camp with more fodder when he accused Airbnb of making $40 million on illegal listings over the past three and a half years. As The New York Post writes, that number is based on a new report from Schneiderman’s office that also estimates 70% of Airbnb’s New York City listings are illegal.

Under New York state law, renters are allowed to sublet their apartment on Airbnb (assuming their lease permits it), but must be physically present while subtenants are there. Conventional landlords, meanwhile, are barred from leasing an apartment for fewer than 30 days — precisely to prevent residential buildings from being turned into unregulated hotels. The Attorney General’s report, which looked at Airbnb bookings from the start of 2010 to June of this year, says the vast majority of the site’s listing are not private citizens monetizing a spare room, but lessors renting out multiple apartments at a time.

Specifically, the Attorney General’s office found more than 100 landlords who used Airbnb to rent out more than 10 apartments each. These owners alone accounted for 47,103 reservations and took in almost $60 million in revenue. One particularly ambitious landlord accounted for 272 unique listings and made $6.8 million off 3,024 reservations. Schneiderman also complained that Airbnb users rarely, if ever, pay the city’s 14.7% hotel occupancy tax and the site has not tried to collect that tax from any of the transactions reviewed by his office.

Concerns over illegal listings are not a new issue for Airbnb. In September, New York Magazine reported on the ongoing fight between the company and New York State Senator Liz Krueger over regulations for the nascent apartment sharing industry. While Airbnb argues that their service enables average folks to pay their rent, the Attorney General’s office has countered that the site’s average “power-user” is making $500,000 a year renting at least 10 different residencies. “[They're] hardly making ends meet,” a spokesman for the office told the magazine.

Airbnb responded to the report by urging regulators against overreaction. “We should not deny thousands of New Yorkers the chance to share their homes, pay their bills and stay in the city they love,” said the company in statement to the Post. “We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live.”

 

 

MONEY Autos

Traffic Jams Cost Americans $124 Billion in 2013

Traffic congestion cost the average American household dozens of hours and thousands of dollars last year, according to a new study.

A new study from the London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research aims to put a price on traffic—now, and in the near future. After crunching the numbers and factoring in projected population growth and rising living standards, as well as costs associated with road congestion such as wasted fuel, decreased productivity, and higher prices for goods as a result of higher transportation costs, the researchers estimate that the combined annual price of traffic in the U.S. and Europe will soar to $293 billion by 2030, a rise of nearly 50% from 2013.

For what it’s worth, drivers in the U.S. get off easy compared with motorists in Europe. By 2030, the average American household is expected to incur traffic-related costs of $2,301 per year. That’s a 33% increase compared with 2013, but it’s still much lower than annual congestion costs for drivers in Germany ($2,927), France ($3,163), and the U.K. ($3,217).

At the same time, however, the U.S. has bragging rights for being home to the city where the costs of traffic are highest. No surprise which city has that dubious distinction: It’s Los Angeles, which of all the cities in the study has the most autos (4.5 million) and the highest percentage of workers who commute by car (67%), and where the annual costs of road congestion per household are projected to reach $8,555 by 2030, a 49% increase from 2013. (London is a distant #2 in the category, with traffic costs per household forecast to be $6,259 by 2030.)

A separate line of research estimates how much traffic costs not merely individual households, but the nation as a whole. The U.K. is facing the sharpest spike, with a 66% increase by 2030, but even then the total would come to only $33 billion, a pittance compared with the much larger, more car-crazed U.S. In this category, the USA is #1, with the economic impact of road congestion forecast to reach $186 billion for the nation as a whole by 2030, a 50% increase over 2013.

What can we do about any of this information—besides saying, “That sucks,” and perhaps moving out of L.A. as soon as possible? Among other things, researchers call for improved public transportation options and more of them, to help ease traffic by getting more drivers off the roads.

TIME animals

Here’s a Giant Dead Whale That Just Washed Up on a New York Beach

It was about 58 feet long, and the cause of death is unknown

On Thursday, things took a strange turn for early morning beach-goers at Smith Point County Park on Long Island, New York. A massive finback whale washed up dead on the beach, NBC New York reports. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Prevention estimates that the creature was around 58 feet long, and though it showed no visible signs of injury, it did show signs of advanced decomposition. That means it had probably been dead for some time before washing ashore.

The foundation is now working with park officials to investigate — and to figure out how to get rid of it.

Clearly, this incident proves why you shouldn’t go to the beach when it’s obviously autumn. Just embrace the changing seasons — why not grab a pumpkin spice latte and head to an apple orchard instead?

TIME History

New York Opens Oldest Known Time Capsule, Dating Back to 1914

The bronze time capsule was originally slated for opening back in 1974

The oldest known time capsule was opened in New York City on Wednesday; its contents date back at least 100 years.

The New York Historical Society, which possesses the bronze capsule and hosted a ceremony for its opening, says the capsule was created in celebration of the tercentennial of the New Netherland Company charter back in 1914. According to a NY Historical Society blog post on the capsule, its original to-open date was back in 1974, but past curators neglected to do so.

In celebration of the opening of the oldest-known time capsule, student-interns at the Historical Society are creating a time capsule of their own—one can only wonder what artifacts they’ll use to represent 2014. A cronut recipe, perhaps? A series of Snapchats? All of which will surely look ancient when the capsule is opened in 2114.

TIME Theater

Doctor Zhivago Is Heading to Broadway This Spring

Cast memaCast members perform during a media call for the Doctor Zhivago musical romance in Sydney on Feb. 17, 2011.
Cast members perform during a media call for the Doctor Zhivago musical romance in Sydney on Feb. 17, 2011. Greg Wood—AFP/Getty Images

Yuri not even gonna believe this new musical

A musical version of the romantic epic Doctor Zhivago is heading to Broadway in March, the Hollywood Reporter says. Preview performances of the show based on Russian author Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel, which spawned the 1965 Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, will begin on March 27, with the show set to open on April 21 at the Broadway Theatre.

The musical is being directed by Des McAnuff, a two-time Tony Award winner who has headed up productions including Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Who’s Tommy.

[THR]

TIME Hong Kong

Global Support Pours In for Hong Kong Democracy Protests

AUSTRALIA-HONGKONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY
Notes from supporters of the thousands of protesters who paralyzed parts of Hong Kong to demand greater democracy from Beijing are seen in Sydney on Sept. 29, 2014 Peter Parks—AFP/Getty Images

Rallies in the U.S., Australia, Taiwan, Europe and elsewhere have been held to express solidarity

As tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend, their struggle for democracy captured the imaginations of supporters across the world.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a group called the Hong Kong Overseas Alliance organized protests Saturday in various cities to show their solidarity with the Occupy Central movement — now being dubbed the Umbrella Revolution because of the ubiquitous umbrellas being used by protesters to shield themselves from police pepper spray.

Demonstrations were held by the group in New York City, which saw 200 people march on the Chinese consulate. Smaller protests were held in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Another group, calling itself United for Democracy: Global Solidarity With Hong Kong, conducted a rally in London on Saturday that drew over 400 people. The protesters, mainly Hong Kong citizens and students, marched to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the city’s plush Mayfair district, and tied yellow ribbons on the building’s railings.

The yellow ribbon has been adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy, and has inspired a movement in Australia called the Yellow Ribbon Campaign. The campaign reportedly collected 500 signatures from 12 Australian universities for a petition of support.

“My heart sinks, as my brother and sister are participating in Occupy movement. I am worried for their safety,” organizer Chrisann Palm, a Brisbane-based Hong Kong citizen who teaches at Queensland University of Technology, told the Journal.

According to Global Solidarity’s social-media accounts, there were rallies in Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, as well as in Kuala Lumpur and Paris. Demonstrations are planned for Dublin, Seattle, Auckland, Copenhagen and Stockholm on Oct. 1.

A petition urging support for Hong Kong’s push for democracy has also made its way onto the White House public petitions site. “We hereby strongly appeal to the U.S. government to make it clear to the Beijing authorities that any effort to crackdown peaceful demonstrations by force will be strongly opposed and severely punished,” said the petition, which has already reached more than 183,000 signatures in response to its goal of 100,000 by Oct. 4.

Meanwhile Mashable reported that a group in Ferguson — the Missouri town where the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown sparked protests and police crackdowns — held up signs in Chinese to express their solidarity with Hong Kong demonstrators.

Closer to home, solidarity protests have been convened in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, with the Straits Times reporting that a group of protesters led by student activist Chen Wei-ting demanded that their President condemn the situation in Hong Kong and cease all dealings with the Chinese government. Pro-democracy protesters also reportedly crowded a Hong Kong trade office in Taiwan, and briefly scuffled with police.

TIME Crime

NYPD Confrontation With Pregnant Woman is Latest Police Video to Go Viral

The recording of an NYPD officer shoving a pregnant woman to the ground belly first is part of a shift in the relationship between the public and police

It was another disturbing video of a heated police encounter: As New York Police Department officers attempted to arrest a suspect, a pregnant woman is taken down by one of them, her swollen stomach hitting the pavement. And like an increasing number of police incidents, it was recorded by bystanders and widely shared on social media.

This one began early in the morning on Sept. 20 in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, when police tried to arrest 17-year-old Jhohan Lemos for carrying a knife. The footage shows his mother, Sandra Amezquita, trying to intervene, then getting shoved to the ground belly first by an NYPD officer and later given a summons for disorderly conduct.

“The first thing I thought was they killed my baby and they’re going to kill my wife,” Ronel Lemos, Amezquita’s husband, told The New York Daily News.

Amezquita filed an excessive force complaint, prompting an investigation by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. Her lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said in a news conference Wednesday that Amezquita was suffering from vaginal bleeding.

The significance of the footage goes far beyond the borders of this Brooklyn neighborhood. The video from Sunset Park is the latest in a string of recorded confrontations between the police and the public that have fundamentally changed the relationship between the two.

Since a bystander captured Los Angeles Police Department officers assaulting Rodney King on a camcorder in 1991, ever-more-accessible recording devices have added layers of eyes and evidence to encounters with law enforcement that were once unthinkable. The fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by Oakland police in 2009 was documented by commuters at the train station where it happened. The death of Eric Garner during an arrest on Staten Island, N.Y. launched a national debate on the use of force by police after cell phone video of the confrontation went viral. And in the tense aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson, Mo., an organization called We Copwatch has provided citizens with cameras to document the actions of local police.

“The police are often the only people at a scene without cameras,” says John DeCarlo, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

That, too, is changing. Dozens of police departments are now testing or considering adopting body-worn cameras for officers. Police in Ferguson are now using cameras and the NYPD is testing two types of officer recording devices. Law enforcement agencies in Miami Beach, Washington, D.C., and Colorado Springs all plan to start wearing cameras by October.

The effect of all this surveillance can make it seem like the police are increasingly heavy-handed, but the numbers say otherwise. “There may be fewer incidents of abuse of force nowadays than there had been during the 1960s and ‘70s and earlier than that, but because we see them more commonly now because of the advent of cameras, people think they’re going up,” says DeCarlo.

Earlier this month, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton released statistics showing that only 2% of the 400,000 arrests last year involved use of force by officers, a decrease of 8.5% from 20 years ago. The figures have been challenged by city council members who questioned the way the police department defined use of force, but the drop mirrors a similar decline in departments around the nation. In 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 1.4% of people who had contact with police reported that an officer had used force or threatened to do so, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, down from 1.5% in 2002 and 1.6% in 2005.

But there is no doubt that recordings can elevate local incidents into national issues. And for many of the people behind the cameras, that’s just the point. The video of Amezquita was released by El Grito de Sunset Park, a community watch group. Its leader, Dennis Flores, has his own history with the NYPD: After filming police arresting a teenager in the neighborhood in 2002, Flores says the cops destroyed his camera, assaulted and arrested him. He says he later received a six-figure settlement that allowed him to form the group and buy dozens of cameras for neighborhood citizens to record officer incidents. One of those cameras, he says, was used to film Saturday’s altercation.

“We don’t interfere or obstruct,” Flores says. “We’re just trying to help prevent abuse. Citizens now with their cell phones are able to document and upload these videos for all the world to see. They’re balancing power.”

TIME Environment

See Thousands March for Climate Change

400,000 people took to the streets of New York City Sunday to participate in the People's Climate March, which attracted celebrities like Edward Norton, and leaders like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon

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