Entries in NYC (22)


Hurricane Irene: New York City Direct Hit?

NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response(NEW YORK) -- Philadelphia, Boston and New York are some of the largest metro areas in the United States, and Hurricane Irene is heading their way.

Thursday night, many of the forecast models show the center of the storm blowing straight through New York City.

There are dozens of models that are changing all the time, but Thursday morning, one had the Big Apple and its 19 million people taking a direct hit. The model showed the center of the storm going up Fifth Avenue past the iconic lions of the New York Public Library and then up the west side of Central Park.

So is a city like New York that has seen only five hurricanes since 1851 ready for a storm like Irene?

Experts say the skyscrapers are built to withstand hurricane-force wind, but it is the flooding that is the real problem.

In the major hurricane of 1821, all of lower Manhattan was under 13 feet of water.

Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out and said he was activating a command center, positioning boats and helicopters to rescue the stranded and preparing to shut down one of the the largest subway systems in the world if needed.

"We hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst," said Bloomberg. "That's why this city is, I think, ready for this weekend."

But critics say in the unlikely event that the city had to order major evacuations, the plans are not sufficient.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, says he is worried that New Yorkers themselves, many of whom live in high-rises and many of whom have never experienced a hurricane, are not ready either.

Redlener recommends that everyone in the path of the storm make sure to have enough food, water and medicine to last at least three days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Lays Wreath at Ground Zero

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a solemn and virtually silent ceremony, President Obama laid a wreath at Ground Zero on Thursday, moments after telling a New York City firehouse that the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden showed the world "when we say, 'We never forget,' we mean what we say."

The president helped place the wreath in front of the Survivor Tree, a pear tree rescued from the burning wreckage of the World Trade Center and replanted at the site in December 2010.

After laying the wreath, the president met with survivors and victims' families.

The silence at Ground Zero contrasted sharply with the warm applause from the men of Engine 54 and Ladder 4, the president's first stop in New York City. The president visited the Manhattan firehouse, dubbed "The Pride of Midtown," as part of his trip to Ground Zero, four days after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. The firehouse at 48th Street and Eighth Avenue lost 15 men when the twin towers collapsed.

"The president believes it's appropriate and fitting to travel to New York this week in the wake of the successful mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, to recognize the terrible loss that New York suffered on 9/11 and to acknowledge the burden that the families of the victims, the loved ones of the victims have been carrying with them since 9/11, almost 10 years," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Obama had invited former president George W. Bush to join him at Ground Zero where Bush, speaking through a bull horn atop the rubble of the World Trade Center, had vowed to track down those who knocked down the skyscrapers. Bush, however, declined the invitation.

This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Charges in New York Subway Terror Plot

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. and Canadian authorities announced new terrorism charges Tuesday related to the 2009 plot to bomb New York City's subway system, an attack which investigators said was averted just days before it had been planned to take place, around the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the charges against Canadian citizen Ferid Ahmed Imam, who allegedly helped train Najibullah Zazi, the key operative in the plot, and his associates.

Charges unrelated to the NYC plot were also announced against another Canadian citizen, Maiwand Yar, who investigators said conspired to participate in a terrorist group.

The RCMP alleged that both men traveled to Pakistan in March 2007 before they were to graduate from the University of Manitoba. There, investigators said Imam acted as an instructor to would-be terrorists, including Zazi. Zazi was arrested in Denver in September 2009 and pleaded guilty last year to terrorism charges, admitting that he planned to attack the New York subway system with a series of bombs that he was planning to make.

When he was arrested, after more than a year of surveillance by the FBI, Zazi was found to have chemicals and hydrogen peroxide-based beauty products to make the peroxide bombs. Zazi said he was recruited by al Qaeda in Pakistan and had discussions with al Qaeda about "target locations" in the subways. Two men authorities said worked with Zazi, Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, were arrested in January in 2010.

The head of the New York FBI field office, Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement, "The three men already charged with conspiring to set off bombs in New York were also charged with receiving overseas training to accomplish that nefarious goal. Among other alleged acts of terrorism, Ferid Imam helped them get that training."

The charges against Imam and Yar were unsealed on Tuesday as part of the investigation, which Canadian authorities dubbed "Operation Darken." The two are part of a trio of Canadian men who have been dubbed the "Lost Boys of Winnipeg" according to Canadian press reports, and both men are currently fugitives who officials believe to be in Pakistan. The whereabouts of the third man, Muhannad al-Farekh are unknown.

"These warrants are the result of a lengthy and thorough national security criminal investigation involving key partners throughout Canada and the U.S.," Assistant RCMP Commissioner Bill Robinson said.

Zazi and his associates were allegedly in contact with senior members of Al Qaeda when they traveled to Pakistan in 2008. Among the senior members they met included Adnan Shukrijumah, a top operational planner in the terror group who has long been sought by the FBI for his connections to other Al Qaeda plots and possible connections to Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta. The charges unsealed today charge Imam with aiding and abetting Zazi and his associates, allowing them to receive military type training, use of a destructive device and providing support to Al Qaeda.

Last July Shukrijumah, who is also a fugitive, was charged in an indictment for recruiting and directing Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin to return to the United States to undertake the attacks. The FBI and State Department have issued a $5 million reward for information resulting in Shukrijumah's capture.

Shortly after Zazi was arrested, it was disclosed at a court hearing that Zazi had traveled on several occasions to Canada, but it is not known if he had previously met with Imam.

Last year, Ahmedzay pleaded guilty to three terrorism charges for his role in targeting the New York City subway in the planned attacks, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass of destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to Al Qaeda. Medunjanin is awaiting trial on terrorism charges scheduled top begin in January 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Investigate Car Parked Outside NYC Museum

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Police in New York City shut down a portion of 5th Avenue in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a brief time Monday as bomb technicians assessed the contents of a legally parked car.

Authorities on scene gave the all-clear shortly before noon after pulling a number of suitcases from the vehicle.

The car's proximity to the home of an Israeli ambassador to the United Nations may have triggered an escalated police response, a source told ABC News.

The museum was not scheduled to open Monday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NYC Fashion Designer Found Dead at SoHo House Hotel

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images for IMG(NEW YORK) -- Authorities questioned the boyfriend of a 33-year-old fashion designer after she was found dead inside a New York members-only hotel and private club Thursday. Sylvie Cachay's partially clothed body was discovered inside an overflowing hotel bathtub at the exclusive SoHo House -- a boutique hotel often visited by celebrities and the wealthy.

"Soho House is full of celebrities, has very prominent New York City membership and it's very exclusive," said New York Magazine senior editor Chris Rovzar. "So of course when a fashion designer is found dead in a hotel room here it's going to raise eyebrows."

Police were called to the scene at about 3 a.m. after a hotel guest noticed water leaking into a room below Cachay's. The woman’s boyfriend, Nicholas Brooks, 24, told authorities the two checked in together and then he left to have some drinks with people he met at the hotel. When he returned, Brooks found police already in his room.

The New York Daily News reported investigators were first looking into whether Cachay died of a drug overdose but are now investigating if she was strangled.

Cachay designed for Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria's Secret before breaking out to start her own fashion line. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Murdoch: Bloomberg Called Obama Most 'Arrogant' Man He Ever Met

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp (NEW YORK) -- You may recall that during President Obama’s vacation at Martha’s Vineyard on August 27, he took in a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown.  His partners? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Democratic lawyer, business man and éminence grise Vernon Jordan; and White House trip director (and former golf pro) Marvin Nicholson.

The pool report at the time said that "We are told Bloomberg and Obama talked in the clubhouse for about 15 mins about the economy. They then went to the driving range.”

Apparently -- at least from a second-hand report -- the Obama-Bloomberg conversation could have gone better.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch says ''Bloomberg said it was a pleasant day. In conversation he put a few ideas … He said it was like verbal ping pong.”

Bloomberg, according to Murdoch, “came back and said 'I never met in my life such an arrogant man'."

A spokesman for Bloomberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Murdoch is CEO of News Corporation, which, earlier this year, gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association as well as $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Both RGA and the Chamber of Commerce largely worked to elect Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections.

It's worth pointing out that Bloomberg and Murdoch have been friends and allies for years.

Bloomberg also chatted with his longtime friend (Murdoch) before he made public his plans to change New York City’s term-limits laws and run for a third term; he’d need the New York Post, which Murdoch owns, on board.

In September of this year the two joined forces to testify in favor of immigration reform.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Four Convicted in Synagogue Bomb Plot

Photo Courtesy - RiverdaleTemple [dot] org(NEW YORK) -- A federal jury in Manhattan found four defendants guilty Monday of plotting to blow up a synagogue and a Jewish community center as well as plotting to use a shoulder fired missile to take down a military plane at a suburban New York airport.

The case centered on the evidence of an informant whose tactics had been criticized by defense lawyers as approaching entrapment. The informant was also criticized for allegedly leading the defendants down the path to jihad.

The jury deliberated for eight days before reaching Monday's verdict, and according to sources there was a sense of relief at the Department of Justice when the case was decided.

The jury heard taped conversations in which ringleader James Cromitie, 44, and three other men spoke extensively about their plans as the informant, Shahed Hussain -- posing as a representative of a Pakistan-based terrorist group -- recorded the discussions. Hussain had made hundreds of hours of recordings.

Cromitie's attorney argued during the trial that Hussain entrapped the defendants and that Hussain's testimony on the stand was filled with lies.

"The bottom line is when it comes to Hussain's testimony, it's worthless. It's garbage," lawyer Vincent Briccetti told the jury. "He lied to you."

The attacks were never carried out, but prosecutors argued that was not a mitigating factor.

"The defendants thought this was real -- real bombs, real missiles," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told the jury. He said that Cromitie was intent on committing a terrorist act and that the informant had not put that idea in his head.

Cromitie and the other defendants -- David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- were arrested on May 20, 2009. They were charged with conspiring to blow up the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center in the New York City borough of the Bronx. They are also accused of planning to fire surface-to-air-missiles at a New York military facility.

On the tapes, Cromitie can be heard telling Hussain, "I am a soldier in America, but not for America."

One juror in the case was dismissed after she told Judge Colleen McMahon that she was uncertain if she could ignore extraneous information she saw in her transcript binder during the third day of deliberations Oct. 8.

Sentencing was set for March 24, when the defendants could face up to life in prison.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


FAA Unable to Identify Objects Flying Over NYC

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New Yorkers froze in their tracks Wednesday and gazed skyward at mysterious objects that hovered above the iconic Manhattan skyline for several hours.

"We are not able to make an identification of what the objects were," Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said. "We know they weren't aircraft or helicopters. We wouldn't be able to say if they were balloons or something else."

Described as bright white lights or glittery silver balloon-like objects, the floating balls seemed to separate and converge on Manhattan's West Side, high above the trendy Chelsea neighborhood.

The New York Police Department said it received dozens of calls about the unidentified flying objects, but it would not speculate on what the objects were.

"Maybe [it's] Superman, maybe Wonder Woman," one bystander told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV, who confessed he would rather it was Wonder Woman.

"I think it's a balloon," said another man, adding, "but then again balloons don't stand still."

Students and faculty at a Westchester County, New York elementary school believe the balloons may belong to language arts teacher Andrea Craparo, reports the New York Daily News.  Craparo received the balloons for her recent engagement, but the wind swept them away. 

The National Weather Service reportedly said that the direction and speed of the wind Wednesday afternoon make the balloon theory plausible.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NYPD Hunts Ninth Gang Member in Brutal Gay Assault

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WABC-TV New York(NEW YORK) -- New York City police are searching for a ninth suspect accused of participating in a savage, night-long gang assault against a man and two teenage boys whom they accused of being gay, authorities said Monday.

A citywide manhunt is in place for Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, who police say participated in a torture session that involved slashing the victims with box cutters, burning them with cigarettes, sodomizing them with a plunger handle and, in one case, forcing a victim to select the weapon with which he would be beaten -- a bat or pipe.

Cops denied reports that Vargas-Perez had offered to turn himself in and then ran off.

Perez's eight accused accomplices, all allegedly members of the Bronx gang the Latin King Goonies, were arraigned in court Sunday on hate-crime, robbery, assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment charges.

The nine members of the gang earlier this month heard a rumor that one of their 17-year-old recruits was gay. Early in the morning on Oct. 3, the gang members allegedly lured the teenager to an abandoned apartment, stripped him, beat him and sodomized him a plunger handle.

Prosecutors say the men then lured another 17-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man in to the apartment, where they were also tortured, in an attack city officials have condemned for its brutality.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Police: Who Left Dynamite in a Cemetery?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- FBI agents and New York City police spent much of Monday at a lower Manhattan cemetery after eight sticks of the military explosive C4 were found there.  There was no detonator with the C4.  Hours before, a rambling note was found on the windshield of a police cruiser in front of the nearby ninth precinct headquarters.

The note contained religious statements in it and authorities are looking into it.  So far, they see no connection between the note and the explosives. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio