City to Open Sunday, 7/24, So Gay Couples Can Say I Do

New York City, whose elected officials strongly supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, is planning to take the unusual step of opening city offices on a Sunday so that gay couples can wed as soon as the law takes effect.

The city clerk’s offices in all five boroughs will open on Sunday, July 24, and judges will be on hand to officiate at the weddings immediately after couples receive their marriage licenses.

The decision by New York city officials to expedite same-sex weddings comes as city and town clerks around the state grapple with something of a scheduling conundrum caused by the fact that the first day same-sex marriage becomes legal is also a day when municipal offices are ordinarily closed. Officials in some cities and towns say they are expecting a surge of marriage applications from gay couples seeking to wed.

New York’s action comes a day after the city began allowing gay couples to apply online for marriage licenses. But the licenses cannot be issued until same-sex marriage becomes legal on the 24th. Ordinarily, couples must wait 24 hours after receiving a license to get married, but some judges have expressed a willingness to waive that requirement for the first day of same-sex marriage.

Earlier Wednesday, Binghamton said it would open its municipal offices on the 24th in order to accept marriage applications. And town clerks in several other municipalities, including Ithaca and Woodstock, said they were also inclined to make themselves available that weekend in order to process applications.

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There’s a Busy New Bank Robber, the Police Suspect

Some three months after the authorities captured the so-called Holiday Bandit and charged him with robbing nine banks, the police said another prolific bank robber was on the loose in the city.

On Wednesday, the Police Department said that investigators believed 15 different bank robberies and attempted robberies — 14 in Brooklyn and one in Queens — were likely the work of a single man. The robberies, mostly of Chase branches, occurred in two clusters — one from December to February, and another beginning mid-June. All the robberies were “note jobs,” meaning that the robber handed over a demand note but never brandished a weapon, the police said.

All told, the robbery spree has yielded the man $47,938, the police said. The largest single take was $15,432; on four occasions the man received nothing, the police said.

The police released two images of the suspect. In one, taken during a January robbery, he wore layers of dark clothing; only his eyes and the bridge of his nose were visible. A second image, taken during a robbery last month, shows a man wearing a white baseball cap and a green jacket.

Here’s a rundown of the man’s work:

  • Dec. 22, Chase Bank, 506 Kings Highway, Brooklyn: $4,100.
  • Dec. 30, Chase Bank, 1521 Kings Highway, Brooklyn: $15,432
  • Jan. 7, Chase Bank, 1240 Liberty Avenue, Brooklyn: $4,412
  • Jan. 11, Chase Bank, 2100 Linden Boulevard, Brooklyn: $1,499
  • Jan. 20, Apple Bank, 776 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn: $1,096
  • Jan. 22, Chase Bank, 2401 Ralph Avenue, Brooklyn: $3,800
  • Jan. 25, Chase Bank, 533 5th Avenue, Brooklyn: no cash
  • Jan. 29, Chase Bank, 127 7th Avenue, Brooklyn: no cash
  • Feb. 7, Chase Bank, 6501 18th Avenue, Brooklyn: no cash
  • Feb. 7, Citibank, 133-07 Rockaway Boulevard, Queens: no cash
  • June 14, Chase Bank, 1640 86th Street, Brooklyn: $2,000
  • June 17, Capital One Bank, 2102 Ralph Avenue, Brooklyn: $1,402
  • June 22, Capital One Bank, 2123 Avenue U, Brooklyn: $2,197
  • June 23, Chase Bank, 159 5th Avenue, Brooklyn: $4,900
  • July 1, Chase Bank, 210 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn: $7,100

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A ‘Potential Problem’ for Strauss-Kahn’s Accuser

Could it be that when all is said and done, the Guinean woman who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a Midtown hotel will find herself deported?

The Day

Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.

It is a possibility, immigration lawyers say, though for now it is firmly planted in the realm of the theoretical. This sordid drama has many more acts to go. But as one lawyer familiar with comparable situations said to me, “She does have a potential problem.”

At issue is not what did or did not happen in mid-May at the Sofitel New York, where the woman worked as a housekeeper. We’re going much further back, to the middle of the last decade, when she applied for asylum in this country.

Investigators in the Strauss-Kahn case say she admitted to them that back then, she had lied to the federal authorities about why she fled Guinea. She said in her application that government soldiers destroyed her home and beat her and her husband. Not true, the investigators say she told them. Another story of hers, about having been gang raped? Also not so.

“She volunteered this information, and I think that has to count for something,” the woman’s lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said Tuesday night. Maybe. Nonetheless, Mr. Thompson acknowledged that his client runs a risk that “she could be jammed up.”

Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Homeland Security Department, declined to discuss the case. But they are not famous for smiling on people who make their way into this country through fraud.

In an age when immigration is far from universally regarded as a virtue, you may be sure that some will want to see the housekeeper punished for having lied. No doubt, too, others will regard any attempt to deport her as harsh retribution — “a victim being revictimized,” in the words of Aileen Josephs, an immigration lawyer in West Palm Beach, Fla., who reached out to Mr. Thompson on Tuesday. She did so, she said, because she was upset about the way details of the asylum application had been leaked.

One thing is certain: Call it what you will — embellishment or maybe embroidery — many foreigners seeking refuge in the United States bend the truth about their backgrounds, sometimes to the breaking point. “I think there’s a lot of exaggerating going on,” said John A. Assadi, an immigration lawyer in Manhattan.

A prominent example was another Guinean immigrant, Amadou Diallo, the unarmed street peddler who was killed in a barrage of police fire in February 1999. Weeks later, it became known that Mr. Diallo had filed an asylum claim based on utter falsehoods, about how he was from Mauritania, a human-rights basket case. Mauritanian soldiers, he said, murdered his parents and imprisoned him and his uncle. Nothing of the sort had happened.

Those fabrications had nothing to do with the controversy caused by Mr. Diallo’s death. Still, immigration lawyers said at the time, whenever an asylum seeker in a high-profile situation is found to have lied, it can jeopardize the prospects of those with genuine claims of having escaped oppression. There is a similar risk now.

For immigrants, a lot may depend on the counsel they receive. Not everyone has high-quality representation. Mr. Assadi said that some people stretch the truth beyond elasticity simply because others from their homeland have recommended that they tell the American authorities this or that story. Often, he said, it is “unwarranted advice.”

With the woman in the Strauss-Kahn case, a great deal is unknown. Does she, for example, have a green card? It’s not clear. If she has one, several lawyers said, it would present an extra hurdle for the government in any effort to toss her out of the country.

Another question is how severely did she twist reality in her pursuit of asylum. Though Mr. Assadi has no first-hand knowledge of her case, he said it was always possible that “maybe she did have a claim and never articulated it properly.”

On that last point, everyone seems in agreement. Whatever her circumstances may have been, she sure didn’t articulate them properly.

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For French Tourists, Strauss-Kahn Town House Is Must-See

Louis Lelias, 30, skipped up to the door of 153 Franklin Street on Monday afternoon. He smiled broadly and stuck out his fist, extending his pinky and thumb to make a jovial “hang loose” hand gesture, as his wife snapped a picture.

Then Mr. Lelias, who is from Brittany, looked up at the TriBeCa town house, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has been holed up for nearly six weeks. “It’s such a shame the curtains are closed,” Mr. Lelias lamented.

Mr. Lelias is one of many French tourists to treat the curtained town house as another must-see stop while visiting New York City. Some are supporters of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, and still hope he will be president some day. Others simply wanted to see the house that has served as the backdrop to so many French broadcasts of late.

“I saw the house on TV, on the newspaper, on the Internet,” Francis Muller, 37, who is visiting from Paris and stopped by the town house before going on a boat tour. “Obviously, I had the idea of coming to see the place. It’s a real curiosity.”

“It’s much nicer than Rikers Island,” observed Bob Taylor, 44, who is in town from French-speaking Belgium and who popped by the house after a day of shopping with his son and daughter. “The house will become popular, like the suite in Sofitel now, because it’s part of history.”

Some came hoping to see not just the house, but the man inside.

“We’d like to meet D.S.K.,” said Patrick Arbet, 57, a fellow member of the Socialist Party. “He’s one of our friends.” Mr. Arbet, who later set out to explore Chinatown and Little Italy, wore a shirt bearing a slogan he translated as “This summer, everyone is for love.”

“That’s for D.S.K.,” he said. “I wore this for D.S.K.”

Like numerous other French tourists interviewed, Mr. Arbet said he was not troubled by the allegations against Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper but was released from house arrest on Friday after the credibility of his accuser was called into question.

“American justice, it’s too fast,” he said. “There’s no reflection.”

Even as the house remained shuttered, across the street, French television crews prepared for the evening news beneath white tents.

“I don’t understand why so many journalists should stand in front of a house,” said Michel Bilis, 62, who was visiting from Paris with his family and who spent 15 minutes watching the newscasters after realizing that nothing was happening at the house. “It’s very strange. So many people for just one man.”

Chantal Bertand, 46, said the number of news cameras spread before her and her family was “strange.” Then, in a statement that seems increasingly apt with each new twist and turn in the case, she added: “But the entire story is strange.”

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As It Campaigns to Build in the City, Wal-Mart Donates $4 Million

He called Wal-Mart “one of the great corporate citizens in this country.” He praised its efforts to conduct background checks before selling guns. He flatly rebuffed suggestions that the company was killing jobs.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took on the role of ardent defender of big-box America on Tuesday at a news conference announcing a $4 million donation by Wal-Mart to a city program that offers summer jobs to young people.

With Wal-Mart in the midst of an aggressive campaign to open its first store in New York City, was the donation simply a coincidence?

Michelle Gilliard, a representative for the company’s philanthropic division, said the money was part of an effort to help children across the country.

But when reporters pressed further, it was Mr. Bloomberg who took over as spokesman.

“You’re telling me that your company’s philanthropy doesn’t look to see what is good for your company?” the mayor shot back at a reporter.

When a reporter tried to follow up with Ms. Gilliard, Mr. Bloomberg grew impatient, saying: “She answered it. You’re just not listening.”

Mr. Bloomberg, a longtime defender of free-market principles, brushed aside a question about whether it was coincidental that the news conference, held at a recreation center in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was just miles from one of the company’s potential construction sites. “This is city is not in the business of promoting any more than it is in the business of discriminating against stores,” he said.

Wal-Mart has encountered opposition from some City Council members and labor advocates, who have criticized its hiring practices and expressed concern that its presence in New York would hurt small businesses.

But the company’s donation, which will help finance some 3,400 jobs, seemed to help win over some skeptics.

The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, who has expressed concern about Wal-Mart’s expansion in the past, praised the company at Tuesday’s announcement.

“This is a good, major first step,” he said.

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