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Posts Tagged ‘New York City

NYC’s own real-life superheroes

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With great costumes comes great responsibility.

“Kick-Ass,” an action movie opening this week, spins a tale of average Joes becoming masked crime fighters, but New York has been home to real-life caped crusaders for years.

Gotham’s legion of real-life superheroes includes a leather-clad martial-arts expert who battles drug dealers, a masked religious hipster who feeds the homeless and an engaged pair of relationship counselors, Arjuna Ladino, 42, and Shanti Owen, 50, who don star-spangled spandex as the “Transformational Warriors” to spread the power of love.

“We are just people who really care and try to go out and make a difference,” says Chris Pollak, 25, whose alter ego, “Dark Guardian,” strikes fear in the hearts of drug peddlers in Washington Square Park. “The idea is to be this drastic example of making change in your community.”

The Staten Islander has been patrolling city streets for the last seven years, frequently putting himself in harm’s way. A drug dealer flashed a gun at Pollak once, and he has almost come to blows with thugs.

“My fiancée is very supportive, but she gets worried if I’m doing anything that involves danger,” Dark Guardian said. “When I met my fiancée, I told her I liked to do this thing where I go out and help the homeless and patrol the streets. I didn’t get into the whole costume thing — I waited until a little bit into the relationship.”

Occasionally, Dark Guardian gets an assist from two fellow superheroes, Chaim “Life” Lazaros, 25, and Ben Goldman, 23, a k a “Cameraman,” who has videotaped the Washington Square showdowns. The plucky pair also hands out food to the city’s homeless at least once a week.

Lazaros, who shares a Harlem hideout with Cameraman, said it takes a certain type to don a mask and do good. “They all have extremely strong personalities and a desire to change the world,” he said.

That’s not to say all real-life superheroes seek change through crime-fighting.

“The Phantom Zero,” a 33-year northern New Jersey-based superhero, raises money for charities and donates to the homeless. He has also accompanied Dark Guardian on some of his patrols. “I was scared out of my gourd,” The Phantom Zero said, declining to give his real name.

But his 20-year-old masked sweetheart, “Nyx,” has shown some gumption. Before moving to New Jersey to be with her super man, she lived in Kansas, where she would secretly snap shots of meth labs and send them to the authorities.

“I used to carry weaponry with me. But seeing as how I’m in New York . . . I don’t,” Nyx said.

SOURCE: NYC’s own superheroes

See more pictures of the Heroes


Statue of Liberty’s Crown Will Reopen July 4

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The Statue of Liberty’s crown, which was closed after the 9/11 attacks, will reopen to the public on July 4, the White House announced on Friday morning. The decision reversed the policy of the Bush administration.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formally announced the decision at a news conference at 9 a.m. on Ellis Island. “On July 4, we are giving America a special gift,” Mr. Salazar said.

No more than 10 people will be allowed in the crown at a time, he said, and officials anticipate that will allow for 30 visitors an hour. He estimated that 50,000 people would be able to visit the crown in the first year and that the number would be increased later to 100,000 a year. A spokeswoman for Mr. Salazar said that the method for distributing tickets had yet to be determined but that the secretary was committed to making sure the process was fair and equitable. Early reports that a lottery system would be used were incorrect, she said.

The statue’s torch was closed in 1916 after being damaged by a saboteur’s bomb. The entire statue, including the crown, was closed after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The base of the statue reopened to the public on Aug. 3, 2004, after a $20 million effort to improve fire safety, security and evacuation routes. (The park service was criticized for its delays in reopening the base and for relying heavily on a private group, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, to raise money for the project.) But federal officials said the crown could not be safely reopened because of the difficulty of getting people out in an emergency.

Read more: Statue of Liberty’s Crown Will Reopen July 4

FDR secretly pushed to get Jews to safety during Holocaust

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Newly uncovered documents reveal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt worked quietly in the late 1930s to find havens for European Jews, contradicting the view that he ignored their plight in the years leading up to the Holocaust.


Roosevelt was “a master politician who tried to carry out some humanitarian steps while juggling political and military considerations,” writes historian Richard Breitman, co-editor of Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald (1935-1945) released today. The book draws on papers at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

McDonald was chairman of Roosevelt’s advisory committee on refugees. He met Adolf Hitler in 1933 and was convinced the Nazi planned to exterminate Europe’s Jews, prompting him to sound warnings. He later was the first U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Despite FDR’s popularity with Jewish Americans, the influential 1984 book The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust argued that he did little to save their European brethren.

Breitman says McDonald’s papers soften that view, showing that in 1938, Roosevelt:

• Cut red tape that kept immigration quotas from being filled, allowing entry for 27,370 Germans — most of them Jews.

• Hoped to resettle millions of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe to other countries, mostly in Latin America. He called an international conference to line up money and support.

• Promised to ask Congress for $150 million to help resettle refugees if Britain allowed more Jews into Palestine and private funds could be raised.

Read more: FDR pushed to get Jews to safety in 1930s

World’s smallest bodybuilder [Video]

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At 2 feet, 9 inches and a mere 19 pounds, Aditya “Romeo” Dev isn’t like other bodybuilders.

The 21-year-old from Punjab, India, weighs as much as the body armor worn by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but that hasn’t stopped the little person from becoming a body builder.

Dev told “Good Morning America” today that the most he’s ever lifted is 10 pounds — about half his weight.

“From the very beginning I liked lifting the dumbbells and lifting weights,” he said through a translator. “I used to watch wrestling when I was a small kid and that’s how I got inspired.”

His hard work has paid off — three years ago the Guinness Book of World Records named him the world’s smallest body builder.

When he hit a Crunch gym in New York City, people flocked to him, picking him up for a pose and taking pictures.

And ladies, he’s available.

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” Dev said, with a shy grin.

Watch this story and see him in action: An Inside Look at the Littlest Bodybuilder

Family band wins recording contract [Video]

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Here is a follow-up to a story we brought you last month! It’s from my buddy Phillip Murrell.

From singing in their Dad’s church in Bluff City, to singing in front of America, the kid’s lives of the local pop band J4 were changed forever the moment opportunity knocked

The four siblings never thought much would become of a tape they sent to the CBS Early Show Singing Family Faceoff competition.

“We never thought we’d ever get this far since we put all this together the day of the deadline,“ said Jessi Smith of J4.

J4 was chosen from an estimated 700 entries from all over the U.S. to compete against five other bands in New York City.

As they competed, they wowed both the judges and America. With every performance, votes poured in for J4 and they soon made it to the semifinals, then the finals, and early Wednesday morning, they won a recording contract with CBS Records.

“We didn’t think we’d end up winning it. It’s crazy!“ said Jessi.

Needless to say, folks back home in Bluff City are proud.

“It tells me again about the profound amount of talent that’s in our area,” said Jim Hunter, a Tri-Cities resident.

J4 is thankful for all the support they got back home from their fans.

“Thank you guys so much for voting and the support and the prayers and everything you’ve given to all of us. We just really appreciate all of it.“

Jessi reflected on the group’s journey.

“Overall we’ve just really enjoyed this whole experience.“

Watch this story: J4’s Road To Fame

Nations top 10 eaters meet and dig in [Video]

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The world’s best professional eaters gathered in New York to see who could eat the most corned beef sandwiches.
The ten top-ranked competitive eaters gobbled down corned beef sandwiches on rye Monday, for the “Stroehmann Sandwich Slamm” in New York City.

The major league eaters had to eat as many sandwiches as they could in ten minutes.

And when the timer went off, Chicago resident Pat Bertoletti took home the grand prize after eating 16-point-75 sandwiches.

Watch video of the eating competition: Nations top 10 eaters meet

Twitchhiking: Man hitchhikes across globe using only Twitter [Video]

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This is a fun story!

Forget sticking out your thumb to hitch a ride. One man is making his way around the world using a new fangled way of hitch-hiking. He’s getting help via twitter. He calls it twitch-hiking.

Paul Smith started out in the United Kingdom and on Thursday is in Wichita thanks to some help from complete strangers.

“There are some very generous people who want to see this happen,” said Smith.

A freelance journalist from England, Smith happened to come up with the idea last month. The plan is to get from his hometown to a small island off the coast of New Zealand in 30 days relying only on the help from people who use twitter.

“I just put a note out saying this is something I want to try and that I need some help if this is going to work ,” said Smith.

And support him the tweeps have.

After a few days in Europe, someone bought him a flight to New York City. Then he traveled to Washington D.C., across the country to Chicago, onto Kansas City and then drove into Wichita Thursday night.

“I thought it would work. I hoped it would work and there’s been a couple of shaky moments where I thought it was all going to fall apart for me but it’s happening and it’s proved my faith in twitter,” said Smith.

The twitter faithful are invigorated by his test. Carrie Follis is putting him up in her house during his Wichita stopover.

“I called my husband and I said, “What do you think about having a total stranger stay at our house tonight?'” she said. “He was, like, ‘That might be kind of cool'”

After a night in Wichita, Smith’s next stop is in Austin, Texas. He hopes to make it to the West Coast by next week and hopefully from there to his final destination.

“I honestly believe through the power of twitter that somehow, and I don’t know how, I will travel across the Pacific. I don’t know how it’s going to happen but I think it will,” said Smith.

Smith is also using this journey to draw attention to his favorite charity. To find out more about that and his trip in general you can go to his site on Facebook.

Read more and see this story: Man Hitchhikes Across Globe Using Only Twitter

You can follow his travels on his blog as well: Twitchhiker Blog

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