For Twins, a Double Shot at a Slot in Kindergarten

Nine sets of twins will be entering kindergarten at Public School 107 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in the fall, more than its longtime principal, Cynthia Holton, could recall ever admitting at once.

Had the school enrolled every child who applied for a kindergarten spot, the abundance of twins might have become a curiosity for the first day of school and irrelevant, perhaps, to the world outside the neighborhood’s tight familial circles.

But the school has the 14th longest kindergarten waiting list in the city, and it is probably not the only city school with both a waiting list and several sets of multiples among incoming kindergartners.

Blame the twins?

Whenever there are more children than kindergarten slots, principals must pick from the pool of applicants at random, often through a lottery. Twins give parents double the shot, because once one gets in, principals generally admit the other.

Sibling preference is a longstanding tradition in the city public schools. But with twins (or triplets or quadruplets or quintuplets), the siblings come in all at once.

At P.S. 107, the nine sets of twins account for 18 percent of the school’s 2011-12 kindergarten class of 100 children. The school has 53 children on its waiting list, including five who live outside the P.S. 107 zone though their siblings attend the school. So even if the 18 twins were simply nine singletons, there would still be 44 children on the waiting list.

The city is considering moving the building’s sole full-day prekindergarten class elsewhere to make room for more kindergartners, which would certainly make a lot of parents happy — including Marc Sternberg, the deputy chancellor in charge of enrollment, whose son is No. 16 on the list, and the parents of the one set of twins that school officials said applied for kindergarten at P.S. 107, but did not get in.

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Behind Twittering Cobra, a Downtown Brooklynite?

Updated, 1:48 p.m. | We think we may have located the Bronx Zoo’s missing cobra.

Not the actual snake, of course, who remains frustratingly at large, but the snake’s Twitter-dominating alter ego, @BronxZoosCobra, who is set to pass 200,000 followers today. Locational slitherprints left on a photo the snake uploaded to Twitter were traced to a new apartment building near the Brooklyn end of the Manhattan Bridge.

Late Wednesday morning, the world’s favorite smartphone-packing reptile refugee posted the sepia-toned photo at right from its alleged visit to Ellis Island. “A REAL photo on display of 1 of the immigrants to come through Ellis Island in 1900s,” it wrote. “@Jon_Favreau is immortal.”

The man in the picture bore a striking resemblance to the comedic actor and director Jon Favreau, who tweeted back, “Is this real!?!”

While Egyptian cobras are able to swim, computer evidence suggests that the cobra had neither swum nor taken the ferry to Ellis Island to compose its tweet. The photo, the only one it has ever uploaded, appears from the location data captured by Twitpic, the uploading service it used, to have originated from — or perhaps in the immediate vicinity of — Bklyn Gold, a 500-unit complex at Gold and Tillary Streets.

There are several possibilities here. Perhaps the Twitterer lives at Bklyn Gold. Perhaps he or she works in one of the hip commercial buildings nearby, home to Web-savvy outfits like Etsy and Electric Literature. Perhaps the photograph’s location data was generated when it was posted by someone else out in the Twittersphere at some other time. But in any case, it seems like a decent bet that @BronxZoosCobra, many of whose tweets are set in Manhattan, is operating out of Downtown Brooklyn.

The Times has attempted to contact the cobra via e-mail and is awaiting a reply. In the meantime, have you seen any cobras near the bridge lately?

Research was contributed by Tyson Evans.

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Obama facing mounting criticism over Libya

Top Obama administration officials are expected to face continued criticism Thursday over their handling of the crisis in Libya, and louder calls for a clearer explanation of U.S. policy in the war-torn North African nation.

The president, who returned home from a five-day trip to Latin America on Wednesday, has insisted that the goal of the U.N.-sanctioned military mission is strictly to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Specifically, the mission is meant to prevent a slaughter of Libyan rebels and other civilians by forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Obama, however, has also said the administrations ultimate objective is Gadhafis removal from power. U.S. officials have indicated they hope the dictator will be removed quickly by forces currently loyal to him, though they havent publicly called for a coup.

Gadhafi has a decision to make and the people around him each have decisions to make, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. We would certainly encourage that they make the right decision.

Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere are angry over what they consider inadequate administration consultation with Congress before the start of the military mission, which began over the weekend. They also continue to have questions over the conflicts cost and consequences, as well as the U.S. endgame.

Obama himself conceded in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that Gadhafi could hunker down and wait it out even in the face of (the U.N.) no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Obama Wednesday complaining that military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what Americas role is in achieving that mission.

In fact, Boehner said, the limited, sometimes contradictory, case made to the American people by members of your administration has left some fundamental questions about our engagement unanswered.

Among other things, Boehner asked whether it is acceptable for Gadhafi to remain in power once the military campaign ends.

If not, how will he be removed from power? Boehner asked. Why would the U.S. commit American resources to enforcing a U.N. resolution that is inconsistent with our stated policy goals and national interests?

Boehner also posed other questions for the president. Since the stated U.S. policy goal is removing Gadhafi from power, do you have an engagement strategy for the opposition forces? If the strife in Libya becomes a protracted conflict, what are your administrations objectives for engaging with opposition forces, and what standards must a new regime meet to be recognized by our government? his letter said.

Another key House Republican called Wednesday for a withdrawal of U.S. forces, arguing that Obama had failed to rally public support for military action.

Mr. President, you have failed to state a clear and convincing explanation of the vital national interest at stake which demands our intervention in Libya, said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan. You have failed to state a clearly defined mission for our military to defend that interest. I believe you must pull our forces from the coalition immediately.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-California, sent his own letter to Obama on Wednesday, contending the president violated the 1973 War Powers Act and other constitutional restrictions against authorizing military action.

With all due respect, I can only conclude that your order to United States Armed Forces to attack the nation of Libya on March 19, 2011 is in direct violation of the War Powers Resolution and constitutes a usurpation of constitutional powers clearly and solely vested in the United States Congress and is accordingly unlawful and unconstitutional, McClintocks letter said.

Liberal Democrats in Congress have also expressed unease with the Libyan intervention, particularly in regard to the relative lack of congressional consultation and the prospects for an open-ended conflict.

Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Reps. Barbara Lee, Mike Honda and Lynn Woolsey of California released a statement late Tuesday arguing that the United States must immediately shift to end the bombing in Libya.

We will fight in Congress to ensure the United States does not become embroiled in yet another destabilizing military quagmire in Libya with no clear exit plan or diplomatic strategy for peace, they said.

Top Senate Democrats, however, continue to defend the administration, insisting that Obama moved methodically and carefully to assemble a strong international coalition capable of saving innocent lives and reinforcing the broader Middle East reform movement.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, told reporters Wednesday that Obamas pursuit of international approval was reminiscent of former President George H.W. Bush lining up global support before taking military action to drive Iraq from Kuwait in the early 1990s.

Obama has pursued a very prudent course of action, Durbin said. The United States is supporting unprecedented and long overdue change that is consistent with our national values.

Durbin noted that, if the conflict drags on, members of Congress could push for a vote of approval under the War Powers Act.

The United States is coming to the support and to the aid of a democratic movement in general, and trying to protect a population inside Libya to the extent that it is possible, said Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

If the president hadnt taken the time to assemble a broad coalition in Libya, there would have been huge opposition in the streets of the Arab world, Levin said. Protests currently aimed at Arab dictators would have been turned against us.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, stressed the administrations intention to hand over leadership of the military effort to international allies as soon as possible.

U.S. operations have generally been limited to Americas unique capabilities relating to the establishment of a no-fly zone, he said.

Some analysts, however, echoed complaints about what they insisted was unclear administration guidance about ultimate U.S. goals in Libya and the methods being used in pursuit of those objectives.

Obama has been fairly muddy in what hes said, argued Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The president has been reacting frantically to events and being pulled hither and yon.

Boot predicted air power would not be sufficient to knock out the Gadhafi regime, and warned of a protracted and costly stalemate if the United States doesnt send in military advisers to help arm and train the rebels.

Obama may be hoping for a palace coup, Boot said, but I wouldnt bet on it.

Boot also stressed the need for more planning for a post-Gadhafi Libya. Theres a real danger of chaos and protracted tribal warfare if Gadhafi falls, he said. Al Qaeda may be able to exploit such a situation, he warned.

Boot blasted the White House for not really preparing the American people for the possibility that this could be a protracted and expensive conflict.

The public and the administration should not be going into this with rose-colored blinkers on, he said.

But Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told CNN that Obama has no interest in a full-scale war with Libya and every intention in keeping our mission there limited in scope and duration.

Mann also argued that Obama probably doesnt want a congressional vote of approval because it would heighten the public attention and the stakes involved.

Still, while Congress has no stomach for assuming responsibility for approving or reversing the steps taken by Obama, the president (would be) well advised to step up his consultation with the first branch of government, he said.

Wendy Schiller, a Brown University political scientist, argued Obama might have eventually paid a political price if he didnt intervene before Gadhafis troops took control of the last rebel stronghold in Benghazi.

Americans generally do not like to see protesters seeking political rights shot, wounded or killed, she said. Standing by and watching that happen, especially after the U.N. authorized a no-fly zone, would have made Obama look weak and indifferent to their struggle. (CNN)

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New York City: What’s Not to Love?

The news that New York City’s population grew by a mere 2.1 percent over the last decade has baffled some of the city’s denizens, but not left them speechless (really, what could do that to a true New Yorker?). For some residents of the city of Ellis Island, the Yankees, Radio City Music Hall and more, the idea that the world is not rushing to their shores is inconceivable, even just plain wrong, as Senator Charles E. Schumer said.

The increase to the city’s eight million residents amounts to about 167,000 newcomers, which is, give or take, what a few subway trains might accommodate during any given rush hour. “Could that really be possible?” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, after claiming an undercount by the census.

Whether the numbers are wrong is up to federal number-crunchers. But tell us: for natives and the long settled, is the city as crowded as ever to you, or has it lost some of its charms? And for the newer transplants, those who arrived with the suitcases and dreams and passion that E.B. White elucidated, why come to the New York City of now, with all its problems and hidden bliss? The floor is yours.

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Vintage Signs Head Home (for Sale) After Year in Police Custody

William LeRoy and his lawyer trudged up a short flight of dusty stairs in a former factory on a dead-end street in Queens. Behind a steel mesh barrier, a man in a pork-pie hat waited at a counter with his ledger. He had heard something about Mr. LeRoy.

“Oh, you’re the sign guy,” he said. “Go out to the loading dock out front.”

One year and 11 days earlier, Mr. LeRoy had been visited in his store, Billy’s Antiques and Props on Houston Street in the East Village, by the police. They informed him that the old subway signs he was selling — a mainstay of his business for years — had been stolen from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They took away 109 signs and charged him with felony possession of stolen property. The district attorney’s office dropped the charges in September, but did not return the signs to Mr. LeRoy because it was not satisfied that they were rightfully his.

Wednesday afternoon, after a six-month detour through the more obscure corridors of the criminal justice system, at the New York Police Department property retrieval unit on Pearson Place in Long Island City, Billy LeRoy got his signs back.

Seventy-four of them, anyway. The other 35 are being returned to the transportation authority because it remains convinced that they might have been stolen. “These are the signs that they were comfortable turning over,” said Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

But first, Mr. LeRoy, a suave 51-year-old with gelled hair, a black leather jacket and a silk scarf and pocket square, had to wait some more. He smoked a cheroot on the loading dock. His wolfhound, Twilight Zone, sat patiently in the back of a van.

His lawyer Lea Spiess flipped through the paperwork.

“Billy, they are keeping nine Wall Streets,” she said.

“They’re keeping all the good ones — Brooklyn Bridge, 42nd Street, World Trade Center — more than coincidental, I’d say,” Mr. LeRoy said ruefully. “Every yuppie wants Wall Street.”

The broad outlines of the case are this: Mr. LeRoy said he bought the signs from a contractor, known to him only as Mike, who had been hired by the M.T.A. to get rid of them. The M.T.A. said the signs should have been returned to the agency for possible sale to the public. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case because they could not bring it to trial as quickly as legally required (not, they emphasized, because they thought the defendant innocent of all charges).

But the city’s administrative code requires people who want confiscated property back to prove that they are the rightful owner. And courts have ruled that being cleared of criminal charges does not entitle them to the property if the authorities doubt their right to it.

When Mr. LeRoy’s lawyers asked the judge in his criminal case to order the signs returned to him, the judge said that she did not have the authority to do so and that he might have to sue the government to recover his property — at greater cost than the signs were worth. The judge wrote that the situation violated Mr. LeRoy’s rights to due process and urged the State Legislature to change the law.

Finally, though, Mr. LeRoy’s lawyers — Ronald L. Kuby and Ms. Spiess — the district attorney and the transportation authority came to an agreement. Mr. Kuby said he had to look in three boroughs before he found the signs in Queens.

At the loading dock, Mr. LeRoy watched as a team of workers handed the signs over to his assistants.

“This is going to cost me $400 to hire these guys and the extra truck to get my property,” he said. “It’s the arrogance of these suits. They should be delivering this stuff back to me.”

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Do state and local governments feel our pain?

The most recent benchmarked data does little to evidence that state and local government is recognizing the true impact of the recent recession. As shown in the chart below, as private sector employment in the nation and the Delaware region dropped from 2007 through 2009, state and local government employment continued to grow.

While total private jobs in the U.S. fell 4.2%, state and local government jobs across the nation rose 1.3% (and Federal government jobs jumped 3.4%). The same pattern occurred in Delaware where private sector employment fell by over 20,000 as state and local government added almost 1,000 net new positions.

As benchmarked 2010 data becomes available, we will be able to see if state and local government is reacting slowly due to contract obligations, or if politicians simply are reluctant to lose the votes of government employees. Preliminary national data for 2010 is encouraging with private sector jobs up 1.1%, and although Federal employment is also up 1.0%, state and local government employment dropped by -1.3%.

Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director
Center for Economic Policy and Analysis
[email protected]

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Why Inflation Will Be Great For Manufactured Home Community Owners

With the price of oil nearing $100 a barrel, and other commodities heading up sharply, only a fool would not see the trend to a more inflationary environment in the U.S.. And despite the government’s attempts to stem the increases, clearly inflation will be the big news story right up to the elections in 2012. But what will the effects of inflation be on manufactured home communities as an investment? It appears only positive.

People have to live somewhere.

Housing is not a luxury (although it would seem that way in some countries). People have to have shelter – they can’t just cut that out of their budget. As a result, manufactured home communities do not have to fight a battle to keep consumers buying their product despite their attempts to trim costs to deal with inflation. This is one moment in history when being at the top of the demand food-chain is a good thing.

And, equally important, manufactured home living is among the least expensive options out there. At a time when people will be seeking a way to reduce their budget, life can’t get any cheaper than the manufactured home community. While others may be losing tenants, we may actually see increasing demand.

Our customers are in the best position not to lose their jobs.

In times of inflation – when companies are struggling to trim costs such as payroll – there are some jobs you can cut, and some you can’t. The ones you can cut are administration. Executives, supervisors – jobs that you can’t directly link to sales – are the ones that go first. Our customers are the folks you can’t let go of. Let’s look at a hotel as an example. You can’t fire the people who clean the rooms, cook the meals in the restaurant, or valet the cars. But you can fire the management staff, and the management company that supervises them. Our customers are the former, not the latter. The manufactured home communities will not feel the pain. The McMansions will.

Those jobs paying minimum wage to $15 per hour will be the survivors of the cost-cutting mania that is about to be unleashed.

We have the ability to still raise rents.

As inflation increases, we will be able to raise rents to stay in step with increased costs. And we can do that because our rents are still very low. When you have a lot rent of $200 to $300 per month, you are delivering a low price that still has plenty of room for a boost – yet still remain uniquely affordable.

In many communities, the residents already own their homes outright. With no mortgage to pay, they are effectively living in a two or three bedroom home for a few hundred dollars a month. Let’s compare that to the average apartment in the U.S., which exceeded $1,000 per month in 2010. Which do you think has more room for price growth?

Manufactured home communities do not use a lot of inflating resources.

The single largest line item for the average manufactured home community is water & sewer. While these will probably always be going up over time, they are not energy related and are not expected to inflate wildly. In fact, there are few – if any – line items that are going to go anywhere fast. The most dangerous cost from an inflationary perspective is going to be the electricity, but that is paid directly by the tenant. So there is really little inflationary damage from the community owner’s perspective.

While many industries – from airlines to trucking – will be struggling to survive the increasing costs of inflation, community owners will pretty much be on the sidelines.

Inflation is good for real estate.

When the stick-built housing bubble burst a few years ago, some economists said that the only salvation would be a good round of aggressive inflation to boost values. Well, it looks like they’re going to get their wish. But inflation is not just good for houses, it’s good for all forms of real estate. Why? Because inflation gives you a sales point to make all hard, tangible investments more valuable, while investments tied to currency falter. Just look at what happened to the stock market the day I wrote this article – it fell 180 points due to concerns on inflation.

As real estate values increase, so will the value of your manufactured home community. Just like those lucky Californians who bought real estate before the great inflationary run up of the past few decades, a basic manufactured home community – any community – will increase in value without any help on your part. As a result, you will see the benefits when you go to sell or refinance.


Yes, inflation is coming back. The signs are everywhere. Remember gold at $300 an ounce? Try $1,400. Remember $20 per barrel oil? Try $100. Remember what that shopping cart at Walmart cost you last week? Well, it’s going to be a whole lot higher soon. And the effects of inflation are going to be huge, as we have avoided it for so many years that we don’t factor that into our decision making any more.

But one of the few happy participants in the inflation game are going to be the community owners. They will see continually higher cash flow and values. And that’s a happy security blanket when the rest of the economy is crashing and burning.


Frank Rolfe is regarded as one of the leading Manufactured Housing

Industry experts. He has purchased over 100 mobile home communities,

100’s of mobile homes, and through his Mobile Home Parks and Mobile Homes

websites, he has helped thousands of individuals buy and sell mobile

home parks and mobile homes.

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Avoid Becoming Blocked At Facebook and Discover Your Market

Nowadays we all know about the significant traffic at Facebook and enough has been stated about it. Of course, all businesses from small to large tend to view that in terms of profits which is easy to understand. But have no illusions about doing business at Facebook, you will need to be geared up and put in a strong effort. Social marketing at Facebook, or elsewhere, is not as simple as publishing some content and expecting the money to appear. If you are wondering what can be done, if you are unknown you can turn that around and become recognized. Your business can acquire massive visibility which often means tons of contacts and improved business reach. But that is not going to happen if your strategies are incorrect, or you do not put the needed effort into your marketing.

We see all types of mistakes at Facebook, and at least one is being inconsistent with your social marketing. The issue about this is you might take a few steps in the wrong course if you are not consistently in touch with your target audience. So possibly in the beginning you are productive, but after that after a while you recognize you have been disregarding your efforts. But then you get a rush of enthusiasm, and the outcome is you appear and post a bunch of announcements to your fans, or market. To make things worse, you publish a link or two in those updates and expect people to come running to them. Hopefully you can easily see why that will never be an effective technique with your market. The combination of your absence and the hyperlinks you gave them will result in a bad opinion about you. So just spread out your marketing and ensure you talk to people on a recurrent basis.

You can cause other annoying effects by failing to keep in regular contact with your market. Recall you are constantly perpetuating and creating your business brand. The desire to have a constant tone in your messages along with how you speak in your content matters a great deal. But not only do you have to do that, but you must be professional while at the same time being friendly. That really is not very different from any situation where you desired to remain personable while preserving some decorum. Whenever talking to your target audience, stay on the appropriate topics which are the reason why they are there with you in the first place. There is nothing wrong with being casual and making a ruse occasionally. But keep things heading in the right direction which is the theme of your page as well as your business branding.

Facebook is smart to develop and further advance their operations for both members and businesses. Just one change that has taken place concerns transmitting friend requests to members who will not know who you are. Well, Facebook has really come to be very strict about doing that, and if you send out way too many you could get banned. One good solution includes using their search function with keyword phrases that are a good fit for your niche. If you do that, you will be able to find ongoing conversations about those subject areas. At that time it is just a matter of tactfully adding to the interactions.

Social Networkings are great methods to boost the popularity and boost traffic to your Web Site! The author an specialist in Article Marketing utilizes all tools of promoting his Internet business. A plethora of different traffic boosting methods should be part of your every day routine of boosting your Internet business. If you would like to discover a lot more come check out one of the greatest Marketing Robot Tools to promote your business! Terrific Success with Internet marketing is actually within reach!

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4-Year-Old Citizen Who Was Deported Comes Back

Emily Ruiz, the 4-year-old United States citizen who was deported to her parents’ native country, Guatemala, this month, has returned to New York.

She was greeted at Kennedy International Airport early Wednesday morning by hugs from her mother, the family’s lawyer, David M. Sperling, wrote on Twitter.

“Mission accomplished,” he wrote.

Mr. Sperling said a news conference would be held later in the day.

The case has caused outrage among immigration lawyers and reform advocates.

When Emily, a Long Island native, was detained at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on March 11, she was returning to the United States with her grandfather from a trip to Guatemala.

Because of an immigration infraction two decades ago, her grandfather was told he could not stay in the country. Emily’s parents are illegal immigrants — a fact that left the young girl in limbo and complicated her return to the United States.

“She was treated like a second-class citizen or worse,” Mr. Sperling has said. “She’s a U.S. citizen, and she’s entitled to the same rights as any other U.S. citizen.”

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