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Judge places temporary hold on city zoning blocking strip clubs



new york night

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the city from enforcing 18-year-old zoning restrictions that limit where strip clubs and other adult entertainment establishments may operate.

Judge William Pauley III of U.S. District Court ruled Monday that the city must continue a 17-year pause on the zoning measures meant to crack down on the industry while the court continues to examine them. Because of various legal challenges, the laws have not been enforced since being adopted in 2001.

While clarifying that the decision does not indicate whether the challenge to the zoning law will succeed, Pauley called the city regulations on adult entertainment “a throwback to a bygone era.”
Much has changed in the city from when it first started regulating adult entertainment venues, he added, quoting Marcel Proust to say the “reality that the [the city] had known no longer existed.”

The lawsuit was first filed in 2002 by a group of plaintiffs that includes the operators of the strip clubs Platinum Dolls and Satin Dolls, along with owners of bookstores that contain private booths for patrons to view adult films.

The group argues in part that city laws limiting where they can operate violate the First Amendment.

While a “far cry” from political speech that gets the fullest possible First Amendment protections, Pauley wrote, “nude dancing and erotic materials nevertheless fall within the ambit of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees.”

The Giuliani administration led the crackdown on the adult entertainment industry, starting with a law passed in 1995. Those regulations barred adult establishments from certain city districts and prohibited them from being near schools and churches, among other measures.

The industry challenged the regulations, ending with a ruling from the state Court of Appeals that the venues could operate under the zoning rules so long as they followed a “60/40” rule. The rule indicated that the venues were legal so long as the “adult component” of the business was kept to less than 40% of the retail floor area.

The city sought a workaround for the 60/40 rule with a law that would ban any establishment with “live performances characterized by an emphasis on certain specified anatomical areas or specified sexual activities,” or video booths showing explicit films. The industry challenged that rule in state Supreme Court and initially overturned it, but a 2017 state Court of Appeals ruling reinstated the city’s workaround. After taking the loss at the state level, the plaintiffs restarted the dormant federal challenge.

As Crain’s wrote in a 2017 feature, market forces—including the wave of residential and commercial development that swept across the city—have driven many adult businesses to close since the laws were approved.

Pauley scheduled a conference for the case at the end of this month.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, a city Law Department spokesman said the ruling “says nothing about whether the adult-only businesses will succeed on the merits of their claims.”

An attorney for one of the plaintiffs, the Sapphire New York nightclub, told the publication that the group is “pleased and grateful for the result. It’s very clear that the court put a great deal of time and thought and care into the decision.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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