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TLS waives nearly $20 million in taxi fees in response to cabby suicides

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The city will apply the brakes on millions of dollars in fees due this week from taxi-medallion owners in an attempt to stem a rash of cabby suicides.

Taxi and Limousine Commission head Meera Joshi agreed to waive what would amount to nearly $20 million in fees to give struggling medallion owners some breathing room.

She made the move after nearly a year of driver deaths led to mounting criticism from other cabbies, pols and city officials.

Councilman Mark Levine (D-Washington Heights) has been pushing legislation to provide longer-term solutions for medallion owners and asked for the break for taxi drivers who are already on the brink financially.

“This is a short-term step to provide some relief to the drivers while we work out a longer-term policy,” said Levine.

“It’s critical that we take steps to help out the drivers who have seen their life savings evaporate through no fault of their own.”

The city usually requires hacks to pay $1,650 every two years — a biennial $550 taxi-medallion renewal, six $90 inspection fees and a $10 renewal for the medallion tin. Handicapped-accessible medallion owners only have to pay $540 for the inspections.

With 11,286 regular medallions on the streets and 2,301 accessible ones, that’s nearly $20 million in fees that the city is now waiving.
And all of that was set to come due this week.

“Absolutely anything could help out right now,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “People are struggling and they would definitely appreciate it.”

TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi, who has been scorned by taxi drivers for not doing enough to help them, agreed that the hacks need a hand.

“The renewal fee is one more payment for medallion owners at a time when every penny counts,” said Joshi. “It is certainly prudent to pause collection of that fee while [Levine’s] bill moves through the legislative process and, if passed, the study it requires would be in motion.”

The city could try to recoup the fees in the future.

Levine’s bill would require the TLC to conduct a study of medallion owners’ and drivers’ debt and propose ways to help them out.

Seven for-hire drivers — three of them cabbies — have committed suicide over ruined finances since November.

The most recent was Uber driver Fausto Luna, 58, who jumped in front of an A train on Sept. 26 because of massive debt.

In June, cash-strapped yellow cabby Abdul Saleh, 59, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment.

In May, yellow cab driver Yu Mein “Kenny” Chow, 56, jumped into the East River.

In March, cabbie Nicanor Ochisor, 65, hanged himself in his garage in Maspeth, Queens.

Black car driver Douglas Schifter, 61, killed himself with a shotgun outside City Hall on Feb. 5, leaving a scathing note blaming the city for his woes.

In December 2017, livery hack Danilo Corporan Castillo, 57, wrote a suicide note on the back of a summons and jumped out the window of his Manhattan apartment.

A month earlier, livery driver Alfredo Perez hanged himself.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/10/29/tlc-waives-nearly-20-million-in-taxi-fees-in-response-to-cabby-suicides/

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9-year-old genius to graduate university

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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

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

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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.

Source nydailynews.com/

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