Armed and Colorful

Joe Giordano should have seen it coming. He should have noticed the evil glint in the young woman’s eyes. She was fixated on her ex-boyfriend’s smart tuxedo and innocent smile.

But there was no time. She picked up her weapon and “all of a sudden she started unloading on this guy,” Mr. Giordano recalled, his eyes wide as he recounted what had unfolded several weeks ago in his shop in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.

Then Mr. Giordano laughed. The unbridled young woman had merely shot at a photograph of her former lover. She was but one of the dozens of customers at the Paint Spot, Mr. Giordano’s paintball supply store, on Gerritsen Avenue near Everett Avenue.

There, neighborhood youngsters, parents, military personnel and top-flight paintball teams tinker with their equipment, buy gear or replacement parts and share war stories from paintball outings. They practice their aim on a hand-made, paint-splattered wooden silhouette and frying pans that dangle, rainbow-colored, like imitation Jackson Pollocks.

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Staten Island Ice Cream Truck Sold Oxycodone Too, Officials Say

As Louis Scala drove through Staten Island in a Lickety Split ice cream truck, it was not just the children who eagerly awaited his arrival, officials said on Thursday. Mr. Scala also used the truck to sell oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription painkiller, to waiting addicts, they said.

Mr. Scala was one of 31 people indicted in what the authorities described as an “extensive drug trafficking ring that pumped nearly 43,000 pills, worth $1 million, onto the black market in New York City” between July 2009 and June 2010.

It would not be the first time ice cream trucks have been implicated in drug-selling schemes. Nor would it be the second.

In a news release, Bridget G. Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor for the New York City, described Mr. Scala and a fellow Staten Island resident, Joseph Zaffuto, as the leaders of the operation. (See organizational chart below and here.) A third defendant, Nancy Wilkins, described as the “linchpin of the scheme,” worked as an office manager for a Manhattan orthopedic surgeon. She stole prescription pads from the surgeon and sold them to Mr. Scala and Mr. Zaffuto, who then recruited dozens of people to have the prescriptions filled at pharmacies, officials said.

Ice Cream Oxy Ring Organizational Chart

It was Mr. Scala, 29, who developed the “inventive” sales method, the news release said: While making the rounds in his ice cream truck, he would stop on certain blocks, where oxycodone customers would be waiting, usually in cars. “After serving ice cream to whatever children appeared, Scala would invite the adult pill customers” to climb into the truck, officials said.

At arraignments on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 21 defendants who were arrested this week (the arrests of others are pending, while a few were already in custody) pleaded not guilty — including Mr. Scala, who was released on $15,000 bail, and Mr. Zaffuto and Ms. Wilkins, who are being held in lieu of bail.

Mr. Scala and Mr. Zaffuto often recruited drug addicts, people desperate for money, and friends and relatives to get the prescriptions filled, officials said. A number of people became dependent on oxycodone through their involvement in the operation.

In the news release, which was also issued by the State Health Department’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Staten Island District Attorney, officials said the case was “symptomatic of a dangerous drug epidemic” that has hit the city: “the skyrocketing rates of prescription opiate use and abuse.”

The Health Department’s data shows that last year more than a million oxycodone prescriptions were filled in New York City, up from half a million in 2007. The problem is particularly acute on Staten Island: While enough oxycodone prescriptions were filled citywide last year to supply one prescription for every eight people, on Staten Island, the prescription rate was twice as high — enough to supply 28 percent of residents.

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Local Experts Help Keep Exporters out of Trouble

Investigations and prosecutions of export violations are on the rise and penalties have increased by almost 2,500% over the last 5 years – with fines often in the millions of dollars and imprisonment in criminal cases. Companies entering export markets can significantly increase their sales and bottom line but must do so in compliance with U.S. export control regulations. As part of their mission to help promote U.S. exports, the U.S. Commercial Service, in cooperation with the Florida District Export Council and OCR Services, presents the Export Compliance Bootcamp featuring consulting firm Compliance Assurance LLC, the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., and experts from Government, industry and transportation. These trade compliance experts will provide critical information to individuals engaging in export activities and keep them from getting in trouble with federal authorities.

Consider the $180,000 civil penalty levied against a Clearwater, FL company that exported laser resonator modules and components to China, India, Belarus and Russia without the required export licenses. Or worse, the case of a Jacksonville, FL that agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,102,200 to settle charges that it violated the export regulations. The charges were related to unlicensed exports of crime control equipment to foreign consignees in 41 countries including Egypt, Mexico and France. Jim Anzalone, President of Compliance Assurance LLC, believes that now is the time for companies to promote export compliance training. President Obamas goal of doubling exports in the next five years means more companies will be pursuing lucrative export markets and no one can afford the potential risks that come with the territory.

Anzalone said there is a common misconception that export controls apply only to companies exporting high tech or licensable commodities. He says this is simply not the case. Most non-military commodities fall under the scope of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and U.S. export controls affect the entire export community as controls apply to sanctioned countries, certain individuals and entities, and particular situations, not to mention the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) that affect exports of all commodities.

It is no secret that export enforcement and penalties have increased significantly in recent years. However, that is not the main reason that most people work hard to ensure their compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. Says Jim Anzalone, our laws exist to ensure national security and advance foreign policy objectives and it is our collective desire to protect the U.S., its allies, and to do the right thing.

Compliance Assurance LLC is a private consultancy firm specializing in global trade compliance solutions. The firms primary mission is to assure companies compliance with the federal regulations governing import and export trade activities. For more information on the ITAR and U.S. export and import laws and regulations, contact Jim Anzalone at (561) 641-5036 or via email at [email protected]

A full-day Export Compliance Bootcamp seminar will be held at the EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Seminar participants may register by contacting Sandra Campbell at the U.S. Department of Commerce (727-893-3738) or via email at [email protected]).

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Is Western Civilization Dead As We Know It?

Some people are wondering if Western civilization as we know it is dead because of the dramatic changes and Dhimmitude of the culture. Although at one time the Western world was largely intolerant of any other culture that deviated from its own, in recent years tolerance has been the key buzzword tossed around through the politically correct circles. Ironically, because the west is so tolerant, it has opened up the floodgates for those who wish to conquer from within. Dhimmitude of western ideas and culture have taken place throughout a very short period of time.

Although there are a great deal of people who are eager to go out on a limb to prevent any type of Christian influence into politics, laws or every day life to the point where saying Merry Christmas in stores that are catering to those buying Christmas presents is banned, such is not the same when it comes to Islam. Despite the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 that killed over 2,000 civilians in the United States, the people in the United States are still very tolerant of Islam and the culture. Any intolerance towards Islam is considered to be hateful and many publications, including internet publications, will ban what they deem as hate speech.

Hate speech and hate crimes in the United States, do not apply towards those who say hateful things against Christians. There is a war on Christianity and what it symbolizes like never before. Schools are very careful not to mention the world Christmas even though it is a federal holiday. Christmas trees are now Holiday Trees in politically correct language. Even those who are celebrating Christmas or are catering to those who do, will use the term Holiday instead of the actual name.

Hate crimes are those that are directed at another individual because of their religion, race, sex orientation, gender, national origin or other special group. A person who says something derogatory to a Christian and slaps them will be charged with a misdemeanor battery. However, someone who does the same to a Muslim will be charged with a felony hate crime. The disparity between who is protected in the law and who is not does not escape many when it comes to Dhimmitude and Western civilization.

Most people who live in the West, particularly in the United States, are raised to believe that everyone has a right to express their own religious beliefs. Freedom of religious worship is one of the basic concepts on which the country was founded. Therefore, they often feel as though everyone else feels the same way. It can be hard for them to get their mind around the idea of someone who wants to convert them at all costs. Or kill them because they do not share their faith. A great many people in the west are therefore practicing tolerance to death. They are quick to defend any other culture or religion that is not the dominating culture or religion in the country and are even willing to give those who practice those religions special rights to protect their interests.

Author Bio.

Many believe that Western Civilization is dead because they are too tolerant of Dhimmitude. This can be explored fully by going to Western Civilization.

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At Board 18, Nary a Whisper of Kruger

A federal corruption investigation into State Senator Carl Kruger has upended politics in Brooklyn and dominated conversations across the borough. Everywhere, it seems, but at Community Board 18, in his home district.

The board, which has many ties to Mr. Kruger, met on Wednesday night for the first time since federal investigators accused Mr. Kruger of taking more than $1 million in bribes.

But over the course of a packed two-hour meeting near the Kings Plaza shopping mall on Flatbush Avenue in the Mill Basin neighborhood, there was no mention of scandal or any acknowledgment of Mr. Kruger. The only thing out of the ordinary was a vase of flowers and heart-shaped balloon sitting on the desk of Dorothy Turano, who has led the board as district manager for 22 years.

Ms. Turano, 73, is a trusted companion of Mr. Kruger; he had all but moved in to a multimillion-dollar mansion in Mill Basin with her and her two sons, according to a criminal complaint filed by the United States attorney in Manhattan earlier this month. Neighbors described Mr. Kruger and Ms. Turano as a couple, though Mr. Kruger appeared to be closest to one of Ms. Turano’s sons, Michael, according to the complaint.

While Ms. Turano was not accused of wrongdoing, prosecutors portrayed the community board as a political tool of Mr. Kruger.

On Wednesday, it was business as usual for Ms. Turano. She smiled, thanked board members for the flowers and blew a kiss to a police officer. As news media cameras tracked her every move, she fielded complaints about broken lamps and dangerous stretches of highways.

After the meeting, Ms. Turano declined to be interviewed and did not respond when asked if she would stay on as district manager.

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Morning Buzz | Tour Bus Driver Under Scrutiny

Thursday will be the first clear spring day, with temperatures reaching the low 60s. Keep a jacket handy in the morning, though.

The low-cost tour-bus industry, where drivers often work long hours with little or no rest for little pay, has come under renewed scrutiny since a crash in the Bronx on Saturday killed 15 passengers on a return trip from Mohegan Sun. The trip was typical of many in the industry, a motley collection of small outlets that operate largely out of sight of government regulators.

The cause of the weekend crash still had not been determined Wednesday, but much of the focus has turned to the driver, Ophadell Williams. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered an inquiry into how Mr. Williams, who had driving violations and a criminal record, was allowed to become a commercial bus driver. But when other drivers heard about the crash on Saturday, many said they immediately wondered if fatigue had played a role. [NYT]

Nuclear Matters

For residents of Buchanan, N.Y., a quiet, dog-eared village, and in nearby communities, the nuclear power plant at Indian Point provides the jobs and the tax dollars. Elsewhere in the region, the attitude toward it is hardly so benign, Peter Applebome explains in the Our Towns column. And as the nuclear disaster lurches along in Japan, it remains to be seen what effect it will have on the future of Indian Point, whose owner, the Entergy Corporation, has applied for its two reactors to be allowed to remain in operation for another 20 years beyond 2013 and 2015, when their 40-year operating licenses expire. [NYT]

Governor Cuomo may be one of the plant’s most vocal critics. On Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo called for the closing of the plant after a federal assessment deemed it the most likely to suffer damage because of an earthquake. [Daily News] (Also see The New York Post.)

Share your ideas on how best to explain the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster to children. [City Room]

Housing & Economy

In a bid to cut costs at his star-crossed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, the developer Bruce C. Ratner is pursuing plans to erect the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure, a 34-story tower that would fulfill his obligation to start building moderately priced housing at the site. The prefabricated, or modular, method could cut construction costs in half. [NYT]

The William J. Clinton Foundation is moving most of its offices from Harlem to 77 Water Street in the financial district in Lower Manhattan. But Mr. Clinton will keep a toehold in Harlem: his office as a former president will remain on the top floor of 55 West 125th Street. [NYT]

Government & Politics

Congress pledged to usher in a new way of doing business in recent months when it banned earmarks, the widely criticized provisions that lawmakers insert into huge federal budget bills to pay for pet projects back home without much, if any, public oversight. But as it turns out, lawmakers still have a way to get their favorite projects financed: appealing directly to federal agencies for money that is already available. [NYT]

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made a joke about the beleaguered upstate city Buffalo on Wednesday, prompting a furious response from Mayor Byron Brown. [Daily News] His honor’s approval rating has dropped to 39 percent. [New York Post] (Also see The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)


Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus is an extremely urban outpost of higher learning, just off the DeKalb Avenue subway line. The school recently won its conference championship, earning one of 68 bids to the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, but Brooklyn does not seem to have noticed. The situation is far removed from the 1930s and ’40s, when L.I.U. was a basketball powerhouse, winning two championships and lauded all over the city. [NYT]

After running into heavy community opposition, New York University unveiled a modified expansion plan for its Greenwich Village campus. The university wants to construct four high-rises on two large blocks that are bounded by West Houston and Washington Square Village and by La Guardia Place and Mercer Street. N.Y.U. also wants to develop three acres of green space on the site. [Wall Street Journal]

People & Neighborhoods

Jack Garfein, an actor and director who survived 11 German concentration camps and would never afterward be intimidated by the Hollywood establishment, gave a master class at the Actor’s Studio, where he had nurtured his talent alongside James Dean and many others, and he took part in a book signing. He will be honored next week by a Film Forum screening of his movies. [NYT]

Shirley Soffer gave up on an unworkable novel and turned to the stars in 1985. Nowadays she works as a professional astrologer, and she has written a book about the practice. [NYT]

Crime & Public Safety

The body of Tina Adovasio, a mother of four in the Bronx who disappeared, was found in a wooded area of Westchester on Wednesday night. She had possibly been choked to death, the police said. Her estranged husband, Edwin Coello, a former New York police office, is the primary suspect, and he is expected to turn himself in Thursday. [Daily News] (Also see The New York Post.)

Calvin Pietri of Woodhaven, Queens, was arrested on Wednesday night as the fifth suspect in the killing of Anthony Collao after bragging about the attack on a Facebook posting. [Daily News]

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Stalled Plan for Donnell Library Site May Be Moving Again

The plan for the West 53rd Street site of the Donnell Library, shuttered since 2008, may be morphing once again, from a library-cum-hotel into a library-cum-hotel-cum-condominium.

In case you missed it, in 2007 the New York Public Library sold the building, a Modernist hulk across from the Museum of Modern Art known for its holdings in movies, music and children’s books, to Orient-Express Hotels for $59 million. Orient-Express planned to build an 11-story hotel that would connect internally to another of its properties, the “21” Club on 52nd Street. As part of the arrangement, the library would get space for a branch on the ground floor and underground. The building was to be completed in early 2011.

Then the recession hit, and Orient-Express tried to back out of the deal. After some negotiating, the company committed to pay the library the full purchase price, but over a longer period of time. In the years since, Orient-Express has not demolished the building or announced any development plans.

Now, the company is in talks to sell the development contract to Tribeca Associates, the developer of the Smyth Hotel and Artisan Lofts in TriBeCa, and Starwood Hotels, Crain’s New York Business reported Wednesday. According to Crain’s, the companies plan to build a $400 million building that would include both hotel rooms and condominium units. Bill Brodsky, a partner at Tribeca Associates, declined to comment, saying it was premature.

But will the vicissitudes of real estate further delay the opening of a new Donnell Library?

No, said David G. Offensend, the New York Public Library’s chief operating officer. Orient-Express needs the library’s approval to transfer the deal, Mr. Offensend said, and the library won’t accept anything less than the full purchase price, the “same quality and size” of library space, and “the same time frame,” which, under the revised terms, requires Orient-Express to deliver a space to the library by June 30, 2014.

“If we aren’t guaranteed all of that” with a new developer, “they won’t get our approval,” Mr. Offensend said.

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Parents Are Tempting Target in Debate on Teacher Seniority

The debate over whether stop protecting long-serving teachers from layoffs is getting closer and closer to the classroom.

First it was the Department of Education’s release of a worst-case list of the number of teachers that could be laid off from each school. Then there was the teachers’ union decision to hand out fliers outside schools in Brooklyn, asking parents to call 311 and “tell the mayor that layoffs hurt children” (see below).

On Tuesday, the Education Department’s Office of Family Information and Action sent an e-mail to every parent coordinator (see also below) in Queens — and to more than 300 parent coordinators citywide — asking them to circulate a petition demanding action from lawmakers in Albany on three fronts: restoring the money cut from the schools, rejecting the cuts to school construction plans and allowing teachers to be fired based on merit and not on seniority.

The teachers’ union president, Michael Mulgrew, cried foul, accusing the Department of Education of “directing its employees to circulate a petition to parents and students to engage them in partisan political activity.” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his allies have spent a lot of time, money and political capital making the case for merit-based layoffs.

“The same Department of Education, which on the pretext of sheltering students has forbidden teachers even from wearing buttons indicating support for candidates, has now embraced using students and parents in a clearly partisan legislative initiative,” Mr. Mulgrew said.

For its part, the department said that the e-mail had not been authorized by Mr. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Cathleen P. Black or any of members of their senior staffs.

“While we strongly encourage parents to speak out on issues concerning children’s education, it was not appropriate for Department of Education staff to prescribe a specific solution for parent coordinators, or parents, to advocate,” a spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, said.

The signed petitions were meant to be brought to “Lobby Week,” a series of informational sessions to be held in the five boroughs about the state’s proposed budget cuts.

Mr. Mulgrew called for an investigation to check if the department — or, for that matter, the employee who sent the e-mail, Jaclyn Berryman, — violated civil service rules that prohibit municipal workers from using their office or authority to compel others to engage in political activities. He also wants to know who exactly is behind the e-mail.

DOE Letter to Parent Coordinators

Union Leaflet for Parents

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