Privacy concerns mount over tech-based apartment building access

By Sarina Trangle

A building management team in East New York told tenants keys would not be an option once a biometric facial scanning security system is installed, their attorneys said. 

Residents of a Hell's Kitchen loft are in court seeking mechanical keys to the main lobby, their sole path to the elevator. And on the Upper West Side, a tenant said she and her neighbors feared the landlord would transition away from the traditional lock system. 

Residence buildings are considering technology that promises quick, convenient entry for tenants and their guests with biometrics, facial recognition, phone apps and personalized codes, but their traditional counterparts are still required by city rules.

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Advocacy Group Launches New Push Against Flavored E-Cigarettes Targeting Kids

By Natalie Duddridge

Keeping children away from flavored e-cigarettes is the goal of a new campaign launched today at city hall.

Sixth-grader Yael Mintz may look small, but her voice is big, reports CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.

She’s adding to the growing chorus calling for a ban on menthol and flavored e-cigarettes.

“I want to keep Juul and other e-cigarettes away from me my friends and other kids our age,” she said. “The flavors are like ‘Oh, hey, it’s for kids it’s like candy for us. I’m not saying that vapes or Juul should be banned entirely, I just think that flavors are what’s really getting kids.”

Gummy bears and cotton candy are just some of the flavors advocates worry entice kids.

Local leaders joined with parents and medical professionals to launch the “Flavors Hook Kids” awareness campaign on the steps of City Hall.

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Construction sites would see significant fee increases for off-hours noise under proposed bill

By Ivan Pereira

A proposed City Council bill would make it more expensive for construction companies to turn their noise up to 11 after hours.

City Councilman Mark Levine introduced legislation last week that would increase by more than $400 the daily fees construction companies must pay to do work outside typical business hours. Levine said last year there were roughly 29,000 complaints made to 311 about noisy construction taking place on weekdays between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. — a 20% increase from the nearly 25,000 complaints in 2014.

"As we fight for responsible development that preserves the character of our neighborhoods, we need to make sure developers are being mindful of the effect their work has on local communities," Levine said in a statement.

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Councilman wants to keep diet pills hawked by Cardi B, Kardashians away from minors

By Suzy Weiss

Weight-loss laxatives peddled by Cardi B and the Kardashians are a “dangerous scam” that pose a serious health risk to New York’s self-conscious teens, according to a local lawmaker proposing a ban on their sale to minors.

“The fact that kids can stroll into bodega, grocery and health food stores and buy these products without input from a medical professional is not good public health policy,” said City Councilman and bill sponsor Mark Levine (D-Manhattan).

“It’s being pumped up by a social media campaign, led by celebrity endorsers no less prominent than the Kardashians,” added Levine who called the slim-waisted, gapped-thigh ideal propagated endlessly on Instagram a “tyranny of body image.”

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NYC trata de devolver oportunidades a pequeños negocios

By Ana B. Nieto

Con acordes de música latina que llega de la radio como fondo, Carlos Ventura apura el recorte de la barba de su cliente con detalle y cuidado. Concentrado. Es miércoles, en su negocio La Magia Barbershop y hay una cierta calma a primeras horas de la tarde. “Los fines de semana, a partir del viernes es cuando más gente hay. Trabajamos 12 horas”, explica este dominicano de 31 años cuando ya se ha despedido del meticulosamente rasurado cliente.

A la hora de hablar de su experiencia como inmigrante, dueño de un peqeño negocio en Cypress Hills (Brooklyn) Ventura explica que tuvo que cambiar el toldo y ponerlo más pequeño hace seis meses porque vió las multas que estaban llegando a quienes no lo tenían en regla.

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Amendment to close zoning loophole ‘misses the point wildly,’ says city council committee

By Caroline Splvack

City Council members are pushing to revert a contested zoning amendment that seeks to shrink mechanical voids used to beef up building heights back to the city’s initial, slightly stricter proposal.

The Department of City Planning (DCP) originally set out to cap voids, which have been exploited by developers to dramatically boost mostly residential towers, at 25 feet before those spaces are counted toward a building’s overall footprint and mandate that the voids be 75 feet apart from one another. But after a slew of concerned engineers and architects argued for more space, the City Planning Commission tweaked the amendment to allow for a maximum height of 30 feet—despite a chorus of elected officials and advocates urging for greater restrictions.

City Council members slammed the limited scope of the amendment at a Tuesday zoning and franchises subcommittee hearing, arguing that the city has zeroed in on capping void heights while not doing enough to address other areas that builders can exploit.

“I feel that we have gotten lost in technicality and are losing sight of the big picture here,” said Council member Mark Levine, who represents a stretch of Manhattan’s west side. “This is a battle over height and if you close one technical route to excessive height while leaving several more open, developers are certainly going to divert to the other avenues.”

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Jameela Jamil Says She's 'Not Nervous' to Call Out Celebrities Who Promote Weight Loss Products

By Brianne Tracy

Jameela Jamil isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Over the past several months, the outspoken Good Place actress, 33, has become known for calling out celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian and Cardi B — for promoting weight loss teas and appetite-suppressing lollipops to their millions of followers.

“I’m not nervous to call anyone out,” Jamil told PEOPLE ahead of her keynote speech on Saturday at the Create & Cultivate pop up held in Palm Springs, Calif., during weekend one of Coachella.

“I think people are just scared and greedy. I think girls, in particular, are scared because we’re always told to not be unlikable, and not to be difficult, and to be perfect. I would like to, hopefully, be a force of change in that [and] show people that sometimes you have to be scary, and you have to be intimidating, and you have to be bold, and you have to be unlikable in order to protect yourself and to protect other people.”

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UWS Councilman Pushes For Dual-Language Yiddish Program: Report

By Brendan Krisel

A City Councilman representing parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem and Washington Heights is pushing the city to create a secular dual-language Yiddish-English public school program in his district, according to reports.

Mark Levine told the Jewish publication Forward that the dual-language program could be launched at a school in his district by the 2020-2021 school year. The program would be the first of its kind in New York City, Forward reported.

Levine told the publication that meeting with young Jewish activists spurred him to support the program.

"I've been inspired by young activists who are looking to keep this language alive, and keep its literature and theater and culture alive by passing it on to the next generation," Levine told Forward.

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Measles outbreak tests limits of religious freedom in New York City

By Laura Nahmias, Dan Goldberg, and Amanda Eisenberg

A quick fix to New York City’s measles outbreak is proving elusive, and the reasons are as much political as they are medical.

A powerful voting bloc, the ultra-Orthodox community has managed to carve out what is arguably a separate system of city services with their own ambulances, school buses and police. They run their own private schools for which they receive city, state and federal funds.

That insularity coupled with measles outbreaks in Europe and Israel — two popular destinations for Hasidic Jews — made it only a matter of time before the virus spread out of control.

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City Councilman Looks To Ban Sale Of Detox Teas To Minors

New legislation introduced to the City Council is looking to ban the sale of detox teas and appetite suppressors to minors.

Councilman Mark Levine says the so-called “detox teas” are really just laxatives and likened them to “get skinny fast” products.

Several companies that have been advertising the detox products claim they are weight loss supplements that can increase metabolism, improve digestion and boost energy levels. But, the problem is that these products are hardly regulated.

“They are considered food additives and so they aren't under the same intense regulatory oversight that traditional medications or pharmaceuticals would see,” Levine said.

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