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NYC Voters Go to the Primary Polls

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

voteaquiWith voter turnout expected to be near record lows in today's primary, those who are showing up say they feel a special responsibility to vote. Om Agrawal, a mathematics professor, was born in India. He says he has voted in ...

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Eight in Race to Replace Ousted Councilman in Dominican District 10

Friday, September 11, 2009

by Marianne McCune
They say all politics are local. But in the northern tip of Manhattan, that may be more so. The 10th Council District includes much of Washington Heights, Inwood, and the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. There are eight City Council candidates vying to replace former Councilmember Miguel Martinez, whose seat is open because pleaded guilty to misusing taxpayer dollars and resigned. Now, as WNYC’s Marianne McCune reports, voters are looking for a candidate they know and trust.

This is the Dominican district.

MC for Dominican band: (IN SPANISH) You guys want Dominican music?!

Its perimeter was purposefully shaped to elect the first Dominican City Council member in 1991. Yes, there are others here - Puerto Ricans, African Americans and a handful of white people who aren’t Hispanic. But if there’s a street fair on Dyckman Street – you can be sure the band will play Merengue.

So when Dominican-born City Councilmember Miguel Martinez pleaded guilty to stealing more than $100,000 of public money and resigned, leaving his seat empty -- many here took it personally. As if Martinez was a nephew and what he did reflected badly on the whole family.

Polanco: No me enojo …

It’s sad, says Martin Polanco, but I’m not angry because we all make mistakes. A woman on another corner invokes the Bible, saying we’re all just fishermen and that hopefully Martinez will repent. Others worry all Dominicans will drop in the world’s esteem. And over an animated game of dominoes, Ramon Echevarria shakes his head disapprovingly, saying the Dominican community has to make sure it’s not seen as a jungle.Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Ramon Echevarria: … una jungla. Somos una communidad de avances.

And so, among the candidates for City Council, many here are looking for someone they can trust. And in the seemingly small town that is this neighborhood, someone they can trust often means someone they know – personally.

At a picnic celebrating the candidacy of community board chairman and teacher Manny Velasquez, Ana Julia Coronado says she’s voting for him because, as Dean at her son’s school, Manny helped turn her son around.Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

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Comptroller Candidates Debate at WNYC

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Watch the debate

Listen to the debate:

Four Democratic Council Members vying to be elected New York City Comptroller met for a final debate last night at WNYC's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space ahead of Tuesday's primary ...


US Open: Wheelchair Player Gets 376th Win

Thursday, September 10, 2009

by Nate Chura

As you marvel at the power of Serena Williams’ forehand, or the graceful footwork of Roger Federer, please also consider the agile wheelchair moves of Esther Vergeer.

Early Thursday afternoon, at Louis Armstrong stadium, the 28-year-old from the Netherlands extended a 376-match winning streak, defeating France’s Florence Gravellier, 6-2, 7-5, in the quarterfinals of the US Open Women's Wheelchair Singles.

Vergeer is the winningest wheelchair tennis player in history. The last time she lost a match was in January of 2003.

Highlights from her playing career include winning the Paralympics three times (2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing). She also took the US Open Women’s Wheelchair Singles title three times. Vergeer was the World Wheelchair Champion nine years in a row, from 2000-2008. Her career singles record is a staggering 571-25. Yes, she’s the number one wheelchair player in the world.

For those who don’t follow wheelchair tennis, the ball can bounce twice. You would hardly know this watching Vergeer and Gravellier. The ball seldom bounced twice as the athletes zipped across the court like laser beams. Gravellier is actually an effective net rusher with a fine volley. Unfortunately for the French woman, she ran up against Vergeer.

Watch Vergeer forehand in action:

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US Open: Oudin Undone

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last night the hearts of 24,881 tennis fans inside the sold-out Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens -- and the dreams of ESPN and Tennis Channel executives -- were crushed as 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin was ousted from the US Open.

Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki tossed the Georgia peach from US Open prime-time, 6-2, 6-2, in 88 minutes.

The girl who captured fans' imaginations with wins over Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova, and Nadia Petrova was gracious in her goodbye.

“Caroline played a good match,” Oudin said. “She’s such a strong player."

She said her new role as America"s sweetheart didn't factor into her error-filled game. "These past two weeks have been really different for me. I’ve gone from being just a normal like tennis player to almost everyone in the United States knowing who I am. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think that affected my tennis game tonight at all.”

Listen to Oudin reflect on her US Open run:


US Open: Bryans Double Out

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

by Nate ChuraThe world’s #1 doubles team, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan, lost their bid for a second consecutive US Open doubles title Wednesday. The defending champions were bounced from the semifinals by the 4th seeds Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6).

“It was a little frustrating to lose 7-6 in the third,” Mike Bryan said after the match. “It came down to the wire and it could have gone either way. We had a few break points there in the third set, which I thought we could have got, but I’ve gotta tip my hat to them. They played well when it counted. Leander was quick at net. Dlouhy served really well. He was hitting the lines. But we’ll be back next year and give it our best shot.”

The momentum first slipped away from the Bryans at 3-all in the first set, when Dlouhy/Paes broke the Bryans at 30-40 on Mike's serve. Dlouhy threw up lob return and Mike sent the forehand long. That stroke of good fortune was all Dlouhy/Paes needed to consolidate the first set.


Mayoral Candidates Debate

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Two Democrats who want to unseat Mayor Bloomberg have debated for the last time before Tuesday's primary election. Both candidates agreed that the city should take greater control over the MTA, but differed on how to do that. City Councilman Tony Avella suggested scrapping the 2nd Avenue subway project:



US Open: Off With His Head

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

by Nate ChuraOn match point, Croatian and world #17 Marin Cilic served a bomb down the T of the ad court service box to cut off the hopes of Scottish-born Andy Murray of making a run to a second consecutive US Open final. Brits everywhere are in mourning. The ace was 1 of 10 in the match and the nail that sealed the coffin in the world #2’s straight sets round of 16 loss, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, on Arthur Ashe stadium.

In a post-mortem, Murray couldn’t put his finger on exactly what gripped him on court. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just couldn’t get myself into enough return games and couldn’t quite find a way to get myself back into the match.”

Cilic broke Murray five times in the match to advance to his first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal. After the match, he spoke about beating one of the hottest players of the summer season.

“I mean I’m feeling tremendously happy,” said Cilic. “Of course it’s the biggest result for me so far. Now that I don’t have this blockade in my head, I can look forward, and, of course, focus on the next matches.”

Murray walked onto Ashe the leading hard court player of the season, having won 37 matches on the surface this year. It was his 6th consecutive appearance in the round of 16 of a major slam. Murray also lead Cilic in their career head-to-head, 3 to zip. But when all is said and done, the numbers had little meaning once the players stepped onto the court.


Public Advocate's Debate at WNYC

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Watch the debate

The four major candidates for public advocate debated once again Tuesday night in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. They were all posed a hypothetical question about succession, in which the mayor suddenly resigned and the public advocate automatically succeeded him. ...


US Open: A Suite With a View

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

by Nate ChuraThe view from Suite 136 in Arthur Ashe Stadium this afternoon was worthy of a luxury box. On the blue court below, close enough to hear every grunt, were the American doubles juggernaut, Mike and Bob Bryan, taking on Australians Carsten Ball and Chris Guccione.

One person enjoying the occasion was Dina Moscowitz from Forest Hills. She lives near the West Side Tennis Club, where the US Open was held from 1915 to 1978. Moscowitz went to the US Open at the faded gem, but prefers her view from the box at Ashe.

Listen to what Moscowitz says about suite living at the Open:

Despite its number, Suite 136 is one of only 90 luxury suites in the house. Each one has an attendant to care for the needs of its guests. The chief attendant in Mrs. Moscowitz’s suite is Chris French.

Listen to French describe his job:

Meanwhile on court, the Bryan brothers, the #1 doubles team in the world, muscled past Ball and Guccione to clinch the quarterfinal contest: 6-4, 7-6(2).


President Delivers a Back-to-School Talk

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan host a group discussion with students at Wakefield High School September 8, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan host a group ...


US Open: Georgia on My Mind

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

by Nate Chura Ray Charles said it best. Georgia was on the minds of American tennis fans on Day 8 of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens this Labor Day.

After back to back upsets against the fourth seed Elena Dementieva and former US Open champ Maria Sharapova, seventeen-year-old Melanie Oudin, of Marietta, GA, continued the trend, besting 13th seed Russian Nadia Petrova to advance to the quarterfinals of her first ever Grand Slam. The final score was: 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

Oudin got off to a sluggish start, losing the first set in 31 minutes, but quickly took a 2-0 lead in the second. However, the Russian would not give up easily. Oudin had to fight hard to reverse the momentum that had accumulated in the more experienced Petrova's favor. It took a lot of hustle and composure under heavy fire for the upstart to stay in the match. But each point Oudin won bred more inner belief and the large, excited crowd in Arthur Ashe stadium also threw her a lifeline. Eventually, the American found herself up 5-0 in the tie break before she closed out the second set. Oudin allowed Petrova just two points.

Oudin continued to roll in the third set, breaking Petrova in the first game. But Petrova broke Oudin right back. In the fifth game, with Petrova serving at deuce, Oudin hit a deep slice backhand -- a shot she's taken from retired Slam champion Justine Henin's toolbox -- and it caught Petrova by surprise, chipping the back of the baseline. The rattled Russian double faulted on her next serve to hand Oudin a break, and a 3-2 lead.

From that moment on, the momentum was all Oudin's. Petrova's play turned sloppy. She overcooked an overhead at 15-40, serving at 2-4, to give the unseeded teen a second break. Oudin served it out, finally winning on her third match point.

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First Fridays in The Greene Space

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Comedienne Leighann Lord, a New York City native, voted "The Most Thought-Provoking Black Female Comic," at the fourth annual NYC Black Comedy Awards.

Vocalist Maya Azucena.


US Open: Tennis Apprentice

Saturday, September 05, 2009

by Nate Chura

If television were ever to consider a tennis version of the hit NBC reality series The Apprentice, a different Donald would host the show…Donald Dell.

Dell is a former US Davis Cup captain and founder of Pro Serv Sports Management Agency, one of the first full-service sports ...


Today in History: Munich Massacre

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Members of the Israeli Olympic team.

Members of the Israeli Olympic team.

On September 5, 1972, during the summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Arab terrorists took members of the Israeli delegation hostage, ultimately killing 11 Israelis.

President of the Olympic Committee ...


US Open: Stringer for the Stars

Friday, September 04, 2009

by Nate Chura

Last night’s double feature on the main stage of the 2009 US Open included appearances by Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick. In between points, the tennis stars occasionally looked to their player’s box. Maybe they were seeking approval from a coach or family member, or maybe they were assigning blame. We’ll never know for sure, but one man who was definitely responsible for the matches under the Virgo moon was Australian, Glen Flint, stringer for these particular stars.

Flint is the full-time traveling stringer for Roddick, and, at the major slams, he is Sharapova’s racquet technician as well. And he is a technician. A stringer at this level isn’t just pulling polyester threads through the holes of a racquet’s head. A stringer like Flint tweaks and manipulates these space-age instruments so that they are, as he says, “an extension of the player’s arm.” Listen here for more:

Listen to what Flint does to Roddick’s and Sharapova’s sticks:

For the day session, Dinara Safina narrowly escaped extinction yesterday for the second time in the tournament. She prevailed in three sets over Kristina Barrois of Germany, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3. By the end of the match, the Russian served 15 doubles faults and committed 38 unforced errors.


19th Council Race Asks Who's More Local?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The candidates competing for the Democratic nomination in the 19th City Council district in Northeast Queens all want to be seen as good neighbors. But some claim they have stronger ties to the district than others.

Paul Vallone, in particular, has had to answer questions about his loyalty to the 19th. Vallone is the youngest son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who represented Astoria and was succeeded by his oldest son, Peter Jr. The family has a law firm in Astoria, too, where Paul Vallone works. And though Paul Vallone has lived in North Flushing since 1994, opponents Jerry Iannece and Steve Behar have seized on a news report that he didn't vote in the District until 2005. Iannece, who chairs Community Board 11, portrays Vallone as a newcomer who's never solved an issue or addressed a problem and refers to the Vallones as "Astoria people, not Bayside people."

Vallone dismisses that, saying "If there's an advantage coming from a family that has done nothing but community service I'll take that advantage. It truly is a blessing." He acknowledges he didn't get around to switching his voter registration from Astoria to North Flushing for several years. But he says he was preoccupied when his young daughter required serious surgery. He also claims his commitment to the district is evident in the work he's done with a variety of local civic groups.


US Open: Climbing Mt. Ashe

Thursday, September 03, 2009

by Nate Chura
At the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium, the view of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is surprising. It’s beautiful and has a calming quality. Yesterday, while Venus Williams was blasting her way through fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4, 6-2, in the second round of the U.S. Open, I took the long hike up to row Z of the upper promenade. It's the highest point of the National Tennis Center. When I arrived I discovered I wasn’t the only one who thought the trip might be worth it.

Randy, a local twenty-something from Flushing Meadows, is a regular Ashe climber.

“The best part,” he says about watching matches from the nose-bleed section, “is you don’t have to turn your neck as much. You can have a view of the whole court without having to turn your neck left and right. And you can also see the ball where it hits the lines. Actually, the ump should be sitting up here rather than down there.”

Another fan soaking in the last remaining summer rays in row Z was, Lee Griffin from Australia, who currently lives in London, but was meeting up with her sister for a week of tennis in New York. Griffin found the surrounding views serene as she rooted for Williams to win the match.

Listen to Nate’s interview with fellow rooftop climber, Lee Griffin, at the top of Mt. Ashe.

“It’s a great vantage point to actually see a whole lot of the surrounding countryside,” Griffin said. “A bit difficult for the tennis, but good for the views.”

Down in the deep caves of Mt. Ashe, in Interview Room 1, Williams wasted no words after her victory over Mattek-Sands.

“I’m in the U.S. Open,” the older Williams sister said. “The U.S. Open, baby. I’m in the process of being in the third round. So I love it.”

At ground level, fans of the U.S. Open said goodbye to two of the game's most interesting personalities: former world number 1 and 2000 champion, Marat Safin, and Fabrice Santoro, who made his 69th Grand Slam appearance in New York.


Po Bronson on Nurtureshock

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Po Bronson argues that when it comes to raising children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas.
Listen to the whole interview:

In his new book, Nurtureshock: New Thinking about Children, written with Ashley Merryman, Po Bronson sifts through many of the common behaviors of parents raising children. Bronson argues that many parents are unaware of how praise, tattling, lying, punishment and even bedtime are linked to issues of childhood independence, self-esteem and obesity.

"There are key areas in which some of the assumptions we make are contradictory to scientific records," says Bronson. "A lot of parents tell me that they're proud to be doing something good, like being more affectionate [to their children]. In many dimensions they are doing the opposite of the authoritarian parent they've had." But apparently, the more lenient or "progressive" a parent is, the more their child may be likely to act out. A study Bronson cited of a middle school showed "progressive" dad's kids were acting up in class as much as the children of the "deadbeat" dads. "What it seems to be about is inconsistency at home," says Bronson.

According to Bronson's research, it is the progressive parents who are unsure of how to punish their child. "When it comes to disciplining their child, progressive dads are sort of embarrassed to do it, weren't counting on having to do this as a part of fatherhood, and as a result are often inconsistent." It all amounts to confusion as a result of different punishments received from lenient parents. "The inconsistency ends up leading to kids becoming more socially aggressive."