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Parking fines rising for companies in controversial incentive program




It’s going to cost more to break the parking rules on city streets—but not so much more that large fleets from Fedex and UPS will go to court over their tickets. That’s the hope of the Department of Finance, which on Thursday announced an update of its stipulated fine program, which lets 2,700 businesses pay reduced rates on tickets in return for not challenging them in court.

The program has come under attack as a giveaway to large corporations that generate enormous profits while blocking city streets. The Department of Finance believes it serves the needs of both the city and companies making deliveries, which are growing in number as online shopping becomes a way of life.

“We’re trying to find a balance,” said Dept. of Finance commissioner Jacques Jiha. He wants to be fair to the companies, but also encourage delivery truck drivers to be more observant of the rules and help alleviate record levels of congestion.

The updates will add fines to 17 violations that previously had zero penalties in the stipulated program. They include double-parking, which will now have a fine of $35, and parking past a posted time limit, which has gone up to $25.
The city had originally proposed raising the penalty on the zero-dollar fines to $60, but faced fierce objections from enrolled companies, some of whom threatened to leave the program over it.

“If they’re going to leave the program and start challenging every ticket, that would clog the system and impose a huge burden on the city,” Jiha said.

Ten violations that had reduced fines in the original stipulated program will now require payment of the entire fine. Those include blocking fire hydrants ($115), pedestrian ramps ($165) and obstructing traffic ($115).

Critics say it’s too much of a giveaway.

“The negative effects outweigh the potential benefits,” said Marco Conner, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. He’d like the city to fight challenges to the tickets, and increase the fines if more money is needed to do that.

The new fines, which will go into effect Dec. 3, will increase annual costs for participating companies by $15 million, or 27%. The city’s annual revenue from the program is expected to rise 25% to $61 million.


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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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