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‘Panic buttons’ for cabbies, riders may lead to trumped up alarms



panic buttons cab

Life in Trump’s America may be making New Yorkers too testy to have “panic buttons” in their cabs.

Political divisions led Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr., the lawmaker in charge of taxi and ehail policy, to question whether drivers and passengers should have dueling panic buttons.

“What about, if they are discussing politics, one likes Trump, the other don’t like Trump,” Diaz asked taxi and NYPD officials testifying at a hearing Monday. “Because they don’t like Trump or they like Trump, one of the two would push the button because, ‘my life is threatened because this guy doesn’t like Trump or he likes Trump, my life is in danger.’”

Two bills in the City Council would mandate a panic button in cabs that would send an S.O.S. from a driver or a passenger directly to the police. One bill calls for the driver to have the button; the other would give a button to passengers in the back.
“I certainly agree that people shouldn’t be hitting a panic button based on their like or dislike of the president,” NYPD’s legislative affairs director Oleg Chernyavsky said.

Chernyavsky said the NYPD would have to track false alarms, such as an argument over politics or a drunk passenger. An NYPD rep said they do not track assaults against professional drivers.

“Although it’s a good idea to connect people to emergency service faster, what we can’t have happen is emergency service responders being diverted from real emergencies to answer false calls,” Chernyavsky said.

Yellow and green taxis, as well as livery cars, have had a button for decades that triggers an amber emergency light on the outside of the vehicle meant to alert police to an emergency. But industry officials say it is routinely ignored or accidentally triggered.

“If a police officer sees it, they’re supposed to pull the vehicle over and question the driver to see if there’s a problem,” said Peter Mazer, general counsel for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. “In the past, we’ve seen that the drivers either hit them by accident, or if they hit them on purpose, there’s no response.”

Aziz Bah, a member of the Independent Drivers Guild, told the Daily News that a panic button is critical for drivers’ safety, but he’d rather rely on a button in the Uber app that connects to 911 instead of a new device in his car that he’d have to pay to install. Riders also have access to a safety button on their app.

“That will add safety and it won’t cost me a dollar,” Bah said.

Councilman Andy King (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill to give drivers a panic button, thought the dangers drivers face take priority over the few passengers who would recklessly hit a panic button. He felt that smartphones would not cut it because cabbies need an inconspicuous way to call for help.

“The goal is making sure they have quick and easy access without drawing too much attention,” King said.


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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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