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The Sky is Falling: Manhattan's Aging Infrastructure Causes Explosion and Concern

Last week, an explosion beneath a street near Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan sent a giant stream of scalding, brownish steam up through the street and into the sky. The explosion caused a large crater, roughly 35-40 feet wide, and was so strong that it flipped over a tow truck. The cloud of steam and hail of debris from the explosion lasted more than two hours and raised concerns of asbestos contamination. The cause of the blast? Not as some rushed to assert, a terrorist attack, but an underground steam pipe constructed in 1924 that exploded when too much cold rain water leaked on it. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged this when he stated, "There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure."

States May Get Federal Help to Modernize Unemployment Insurance

http://www.progressivestates.org/dispatch

Thursday, July 26, 2007

States May Get Federal Help to Modernize Unemployment Insurance

Did Lead Paint Abatement Lower Crime in the 1990s?

It's a puzzle that has driven heated arguments among social scientists and policymakers. Why did crime rise precipitously in the decades following the 1960s, then fall dramatically in the 1990s?

NY: Increasing Funds for Legal Services for the Poor

 

New York Governor Elliott Spitzer announced new regulations that will increase fourfold state spending on civil legal services, critical help in protecting the working poor's legal rights regarding housing, protection from domestic abuse, child support and essential heath care.

Overcoming Racial Discrimination

Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin.  The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:

NYC: Bill to Revoke Restaurant Licenses of Wage Law Violators Introduced

 

If a restaurant employer is willing to break the law by violating the minimum wage or other laws, can you trust them not to endanger customer health as well?  In fact, a study by the Restaurant Opportunities Center in New York (ROC-NY), Dining Out, Dining Healthy, unsurprisingly found that employers violating labor laws were also more likely to cut corners in ways that harmed the health of customers, from serving spoiled food to handling food improperly.

In Health Care, 2007 May Be the Year of the Child

To little fanfare, the New York General Assembly and Governor Eliot Spitzer enacted a budget in early April that includes health care for essentially all children.  The budget increased SCHIP eligibility for children in families with incomes up to 400% of poverty ($80,000 for a family of four) and allows families above 400% without other options to purchase the SCHIP coverage at full-cost, which is still cheaper and likely more comprehensive than private options.  Premiums for families below 400% of poverty will be set at $20, $30 and $40 per child depending on income. 

Greening Urban Areas: City Mayors Make Bold Moves Towards Going Green

On Earth Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed his plan to create the "first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city," and integrate an estimated population growth of 1 million people by 2030. PlaNYC is comprised of 127 proposals for environmental improvements in six areas: land, water, air quality, transportation, energy, and climate change. The proposals range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% to improving transit connections to planting 1 million new trees. 

An Agenda to Reduce Poverty

While the Bush Administration has reduced taxes on the wealthiest Americans and undermined social welfare programs over the past 6 years, 5 million more Americans have fallen into poverty, bringing the total to 37 million.  That means at least one in eight Americans are now living in poverty.  

New York Acts to Restrict Improper Influence of Student Loan Companies

 

We highlighted the problems of predatory lending industry a few weeks ago and now, problems are coming to light with the student loan industry.  In one of the more egregious examples, Student Loan Express, a student loan company that is a unit of CIT Group, Inc, is alleged to have paid more than $21,000 for Johns Hopkins University's director of student financial services to attend graduate school.  Coincidentally (or not), Student Loan Express happens to be on the preferred lender list at Johns Hopkins.