New York State Government Gets a D-Minus in Integrity
The Center for Public Integrity graded all 50 states on corruption and the best any state did was a C (congratulations, Alaska). New York, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, got a D, which is perhaps not a surprise given the leaders of both legislative bodies are currently under federal investigation. Cuomo himself has frequently drawn criticism for a lack of transparency; earlier this year, his administration purged thousands of emails sent to and from state addresses and last year he came under fire for meddling with a corruption commission he formed himself. The state is actually doing worse than it was in 2012, the first time CPI did this study, when New York earned a D. DNAinfo recently graded Mayor de Blasio according to his own standards when he was the public advocate, and found he would have given his future self a D on open government. Not looking good, New York. [USA Today]
A Hoverboard Crimewave is Rolling Right For Us
As those two-wheeled, handless, mini-Segway scooter things you see under the feet of cool teens everywhere become more popular, so do thefts of the “hoverboards,” as documented by The Daily Beast. The site rounded-up multiple thefts and violent incidents involving one or more hoverboards across the city, country and world — in July, a London teen was robbed of his scooter by knifepoint — proving at least anecdotally that the slow-moving toys (max speed is about 6.2 miles per hour, the article says) are quickly becoming a headache for law enforcement. Here in New York City, at least two hoverboard crimes have been reported in Crown Heights along with one in the Financial District. [The Daily Beast]
Real Estate Shell Companies Defraud Longtime Owners Out of Their Homes
It’s an all-too common complaint heard around changing neighborhoods: individuals hiding behind untraceable LLCs are scamming longtime owners out of their homes.
In this New York Times story, one woman signed over the deed to her brownstone and ended up with no home and $529,000 in debt. Relatives could not find the LLC behind the offer. Another couple thought they were refinancing their property and were tricked into transferring the building to another entity — and the stories go on across the city. [NYT]
The Mob Ain’t What it Used to Be
Reputed mob “capo” Vincent Asaro is currently on trial for a bunch of mob-related charges, including accusations that he took part in the legendary Lufthansa heist at JFK Airport that became a major plot point in “Goodfellas.” The mafia used to run organized crime in New York and stuck tightly to its code of silence, but, unluckily for Asaro, many of the traditional mafia rackets have been rooted out and his old pals are singing like they’re at choir practice. [NYT]
Starbucks’ New Holiday Cups Stir Up Online Anger
The Internet is mad — again! — this time over coffee giant Starbucks and the design for its cups this holiday season, which are a simple two-toned red. The problem? Some are fired up that the plain new look, sans the usual snowflakes and other cheery seasonal themes, isn’t Christmas-y enough. Buzzfeed points out that while the cup that your peppermint mocha comes in might not have a pine tree on it this year, Starbucks is still selling its “Christmas Blend” coffees. [Buzzfeed]
Adele is Very Likeable
Rolling Stone takes you into the private life of pop mega star Adele, and she comes off like you might imagine: very aware of her talent, but also handling her fame and not drowning in it. The 27-year-old mom says her rise from a poor London town still seems surreal — and she’s still overwhelmed by meeting other musicians she grew up loving, though it doesn’t always go so well. She drops this tidbit, about attempting to collaborate with Blur frontman Damon Albarn: "It ended up being one of those 'don't meet your idol' moments.” [Rolling Stone]
Look Back at Blackout of 1965
When a blackout hit the Northeast U.S and parts of Canada on. Nov. 9, 1965, 30 million people in 80,000 square miles were left without electricity for up to 12 hours. The power failure hit New York City during the evening commute, trapping thousands of people on subway trains and in elevators, snarling traffic, forcing airplanes to divert and turning Grand Central Terminal into a makeshift bedroom for stranded commuters.
SeaWorld Ending Killer Whale Show
SeaWorld announced Monday it was ending its theatrical killer whale experience at its San Diego theme park. After the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” the company has faced protests over the treatment of orcas and seen attendance numbers go down. Animal advocates take it as a good first step, but are disappointed SeaWorld will continue to host the show in Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, Texas, and breed orcas in captivity. [The Atlantic]
Marc Maron Talks Out His “Daddy Issues” with Lorne Michaels
Fans of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast are well aware of the host’s tormented history with “Saturday Night Live” creator and comedy legend Lorne Michaels over Maron’s failed audition for the show in 1995. After years of talking to other people about this, Maron finally got the chance to talk about it with Michaels himself when he interviewed him on the latest episode of his show. If you want to learn about the context of their relationship before delving into the episode itself, check out Splitsider’s epic breakdown of their history (which includes some highlights from Maron’s interview with Michaels) dating back to that notorious meeting in the mid-90s. [Splitsider]
This Bunker Holds $1.5 Billion of Wine
Forget a wine fridge — for some well-heeled wine collectors, the place to store their precious vino is in an old World War II bunker-turned-wine vault in Bath, England. Bloomberg recently profiled Octavian Corsham Cellars, which safeguards $1.5 billion worth of wine in a 1 million square foot facility, a size equivalent to 22 football fields. Property in the vault’s care includes bottles dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as cases worth more than $181,000. Naturally, the Octavian takes security seriously with a system that “would require an Ocean’s Eleven-type operation to haul anything out of here.” [Bloomberg]
Man in Cat Mask Scares Cats
A man put on a cat mask and scares his many cats, which are in a crib for whatever reason. Their reaction and the freaky mask are hard not to laugh at.
This column was compiled by DNAinfo reporters Lisha Arino, Camille Bautista, Emily Frost, Jeanmarie Evelly, Noah Hurowitz, Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Irene Plagianos, Eddie Small, Rachel Holliday Smith, Danielle Tcholakian and Shaye Weaver.