NYC Public Advocate decries Comcast/Time Warner merger

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James opposes the idea of a merger between Comcast and Time Warner and is sharing her thoughts in letters sent to media outlets.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has been vocal in her denouncement of the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner. Below is a letter she sent to OnPointPress.net.
Dear friend,

I’d like to bring your attention to a giant merger that will have a significant impact on consumers. As you might already be aware, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) is currently taking public comment and reviewing the proposed merger of Comcast Corporation with Time Warner Cable, Inc. to determine if the merger is in the public interest of New Yorkers.

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James addresses the crowd at an event.

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James (C) addresses the crowd at an event. She has been vocal in protecting consumer rights and she opposes the merger between Comcast and Time Warner.

If you are a consumer of Internet and cable, this merger will undoubtedly affect you directly. I urge you to seriously consider the implications that this merger may have on the quality and cost of services provided to you as a consumer and the impact this merger may have on the overall public interest. The proposal seeks to merge two colossal corporations: Comcast, the biggest cable company in the U.S. and largest media provider in the world; and Time Warner Cable, the second largest U.S. cable company.

For Comcast, New York State’s approval of the merger is essential: Comcast currently has 23,000 customers compared to Time Warner’s 2.5 million in the state. New York would account for 10 percent of the merged company’s customer base. Therefore, by having the authority to reject the merger in New York State, the PSC has the power to persuade the companies to possibly renegotiate its terms, if not stop it altogether. Internet and cable competition in New York City is already essentially non-existent. Connectivity and customer service are already delivered at sub-par and unacceptable levels. Internet Service Providers are currently able to charge consumers inflated prices as a result of poor competition.

New York City Public Advocate has launched a letter-writing campaign to derail the Comcast/Time Warner merger.

New York City Public Advocate has launched a letter-writing campaign to derail the Comcast/Time Warner merger.

I fear that the merger might only ma ke such matters worse.

We must also consider the potential impact on our most underserved communities, which are profoundly affected by the digital divide. Access to the Internet is inarguably critical to function in today’s informal and formal spaces. The costs to digital segregation are rising as we increasingly access the Internet for employment opportunities, education, entertainment, etc. If accessing the Internet becomes more difficult for low-income communities, academic and employment competition may be undermined, and could damage the prospects of upward mobility for low-income New Yorkers and further exacerbate income inequality.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05:  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (L), stands with NYC Public Advocate Tish James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (R), while unveiling his affordable housing plan on May 5, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The mayor's $41 billion 'Housing New York - A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan', billed by his office as the most ambitious affordable housing plan in U.S. history, plans to build or preserve 200,000 apartments in the next decade. The project would serve more than half a million low and middle income New Yorkers across the city's five boroughs. New York City has some of the highest rents and property values in the nation.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 05: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (L), stands with NYC Public Advocate Tish James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (R), while unveiling his affordable housing plan on May 5, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The mayor’s $41 billion ‘Housing New York – A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan’, billed by his office as the most ambitious affordable housing plan in U.S. history, plans to build or preserve 200,000 apartments in the next decade. The project would serve more than half a million low and middle-income New Yorkers across the city’s five boroughs. New York City has some of the highest rents and property values in the nation. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

This merger will likely lead to additional price increases, completely shutting-out families and individuals already facing difficulty paying for the service. Low-income communities would therefore be disproportionately excluded from accessing what is now considered a basic form of infrastructure and means of communication in our society. We must analyze the possible short and long-term social and economic implications of such a merger, and learn from past experience. Does less competition usually lead to better and more economical service for consumers? More often than not, the answer is no.

The PSC is continuing to take public comment on this issue. So far, 2,000 individuals have spoken up mostly against the merger. I have taken action by issuing a public statement to the PSC and offered my concerns in an article currently on the Huffington Post. Please join me in speaking up about the dangers of the merger by posting your comment with the Public Service Commission.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has vowed to  voice her concerns about any issue that she feels can have deleterious effects on New York City residents..

Share your views with the public advocate by contacting her at :Letitia “Tish” James Public Advocate, NYC,1 Centre Street, 15th Floor North, New York, NY 10007, Email: Outreach@publicadvocate.nyc.gov.–OnPointPress.net

Registration deadline looms for Silicon Harlem conference

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New York, NY (July 22, 2014): Early registration for Silicon Harlem’s inaugural conference is approaching its August 15 deadline. Silicon Harlem, the pioneering group dedicated to transforming Harlem in to a technology hub, will present its inaugural Silicon Harlem Conference on Thursday, October 16 in Harlem, New York at My Image Studios (MIST), 46 West 116th Street. The title of the conference will be “Show Your Love” for technology, film, video games, apps, Harlem and more.

clayton Banks

Clayton Banks, business executive, is a co-executive producer of Silicon Harlem.

The event is a one-day interactive conference on how to transform Harlem into a technology and innovation hub. Inspirational speakers and leaders from software engineering, digital film and art, video game development, broadcast and video, graphic design, mobile and more will share actionable insights about technology, practical skill building, new creative techniques and business innovation that impacts the Harlem community. The event will also feature keynote speakers such as telecommunications expert and technology visionary Larry Irving, whose company The Mobile Alliance for Global Good” is using mobile devices to solve global problems.

“The Silicon Harlem Conference brings together the brightest and most creative minds in the industry to discuss ways to best serve our freelance, startup and anchored businesses and institutions,” said Clayton Banks, co-executive producer of Silicon Harlem. “We’re excited to have so many great people sharing their experience and setting Harlem on the path to thrive in the innovation economy.”

Technology expert Larry Irving will speak at the conference.

Technology expert Larry Irving will speak at the conference.

Silicon Harlem is a social venture focused on growing the technology sector in Harlem. The Silicon Harlem pillars include Gigabit infrastructure, Monthly Meet-ups and an annual conference to galvanize the community, provide opportunities in STEM education for the youth in the community, and collaborate with electives, stakeholders and the investment community to bolster business opportunities in Harlem. Learn more at siliconharlem.net.

The conference will be held at MIST in Harlem and includes a welcome breakfast, networking breaks, luncheon and an appreciation reception. For details, please visit http://showyourlove.mydagsite.com/For questions about registration, contact Katrina Monroe at info@siliconharlem.net or visit the Conference website. For sponsorship information, contact Von Joseph, at von@siliconharlem.net.–OnPointPress.net.

Immediate reforms are needed to combat police brutality in NYC

eric gatner

Eric Garner stands on a Staten Island corner selling loose cigarettes before being put in a chokehold by undercover NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, and his partners, who squeezed his life out of him despite his repeated gasps of “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”

In yet another incident of policy brutality, an unarmed African-American man, father of six, grandfather, son and husband is dead, murdered at the hands of the New York Police Department (NYPD). According to two explosive videos obtained by the New York Daily News that have been making the rounds, Eric Garner, 43, was standing on his usual corner on Staten Island, New York, where he is often seen selling loose cigarettes, which is considered a low level crime in New York City.

Eric Garner's family, including his children, wife and mother.

Eric Garner’s family, including his children, wife and mother are angry and sad about his death.

Mind you, Garner, was no saint, having had numerous brushes with the law for misdemeanor offenses. However, in this instance, all he was doing was standing at the corner, unarmed. According to published reports, he had exchanged numerous text messages with his wife, Esaw, telling her that he was “good” and would “be home early.” She, in turn, told him what she was preparing for dinner.

Garner's heartbroken wife collapses

Eric Garner’s heartbroken wife, Esaw Garner, collapses at the National Action Network (NAN) on Saturday. She is supported by the Reverend Al. Sharpton and Rev. Daughtry.

As the tapes unfold, Garner is surrounded by about five officers who try to arrest him. He is heard stating to them: “I didn’t do nothing. What did I do? Don’t touch me!” He is then overpowered by the NYPD crew, who threw him to the ground in a chokehold, which is an illegal form of restraint. He was heard gasping “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Eventually he crumples to the ground, his life squeezed from him in heartbreaking fashion. Protesters have taken to the street to peacefully but angrily denounce this open season on black men and boys.

Eric Garner's family sit with the Reverend Al. Sharpton at the NAN headquarters in Manhattan.

Eric Garner’s family sit with the Reverend Al. Sharpton at the NAN headquarters in Manhattan.

Speaking at the National Action Network (NAN) headquarters on Saturday, Garner’s wife said: “They snatched my heart out of my chest. It’s like I’m an empty shell right now.” She collapsed onstage, tears racking her body, when the Reverend Al. Sharpton said: “An unarmed man was subjected to a chokehold and he’s no longer with us.”

Members of the community march in search of justice for Eric Garner.

Members of the community march in search of justice for Eric Garner.

A chokehold is a specific way of wrapping a police officer’s arms around a person’s neck to restrict breathing. It often leads to death and as a result it was discontinued in New York City several years ago. Sill, it is evident that the rogue officers used this illegal tactic in taking Garner’s life. Addressing the media on this weekend New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said of the incident: “It’s defined in the department guidelines that this would have been a chokehold.”

Eric Garner with his family, including his grandchild.

Eric Garner enjoying an outing with his family, including his grandchild.

Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed his family vacation to Italy by a day to speak to the Garner family and Garner will be buried on Wednesday  While officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and placed on desk duty, this is not enough. And while Internal Affairs is investigating, along with the Staten Island District Attorney, it is clear that immediate reforms are needed to protect innocent civilians, particularly African-Americans from ruthless, overzealous police officers who keep murdering black men and boys. Enough! It’s time for this war on black men and boys to come to an end.–OnPointPress.net.

It’s here again, National Ice Cream Day!

Ice_Cream

By Carmen Glover

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Is it chocolate, rum and raisin, butter pecan? or is it cherry, strawberry, pistachio? Are you the adventurous type who prefers cookies and cream, chocolate chip or will a simple vanilla scoop do the trick? Do you prefer ice cream bars, sandwiches or cakes instead of a bowl, scoop, cone or sundae of the delicious treat? Do you dress up your ice cream with toppings and syrup?

Outset

Whatever ice cream flavor or product causes you to quiver in excitement and move from side to side in uncontrolled anticipation, today is the day to soothe that craving. Yes, today is National Ice Cream Day and July is National Ice Cream Month. And some national chains are celebrating by offering free ice cream or extra treats with purchases.

flavors

So if your ice cream supply is nonexistent, take the time today to replenish your stock. Savor the smooth, creamy or crunchy texture and thank the genius who decided that ice cream is special and worthy enough to be celebrated and enjoyed not only for one awesome day during the stifling, hot summer season, but for the entire month of July. Enjoy a cone today! or a scoop! Happy Ice Cream Day!–OnPointPress.net.

Drake drew laughs, Stuart Scott caused tears, at 2014 ESPY Awards

Music artist Drake (c) was the host for the 2014 ESPY Awards. He was joined on stage  at this moment by the Seattle Seahawks in attendance that won the award for  Best Team.

2014 ESPY Awards host is surrounded by members of the Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks, who won the for Best Team award.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On July 16, 2014, ESPN aired the ESPYs, the network’s award show for the world of sports. Hosted by musician and former child actor Drake, the award show drew laughter and tears. The host performed numerous sketches, monologues, and presentations that are standard for current award ceremonies but Drake stood out by creating a special song for those who didn’t win an award.

Drake  had skits with a few different people including Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins.

Drake had skits with a few different people including Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins.

The well-dressed crowd was entertained all night by Drake and other stars like Brian McKnight, Blake Griffin, Chris Brown, and Skylar Diggins, who teamed up to perform skits.

Drake made jokes on some audience members including Richard Sherman (l) and Russell Westbrook (r). Both won awards that night as well.

Drake made jokes on some audience members including Richard Sherman (l) and Russell Westbrook (r). Both won awards that night as well.

Drake also poked fun at a number of athletes who were in attendance, such as Lance Stephenson, Russell Westbrook, and Richard Sherman. All those who were mentioned as part of jokes and skits seemed to take everything in stride in what was mostly a light-hearted event.

Michael Sam (r) was presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (l).

Michael Sam (r) was presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (l).

There were serious moments in the show as well. Michael Sam was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sam expressed his appreciation for the award and shared a touching story of how he was able to make a difference in the life of a young woman who gained courage to admit that she is also gay after conversing with Sam.

Stuart Scott (l) gave an emotional speech after receiving the Jimmy V Award for  Perseverance. He is pictured with his daughter Sydni (m) and Peyton Manning (r).

Stuart Scott (l) gave an emotional speech after receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. He is pictured with his daughter Sydni (m) and Peyton Manning (r).

The emotional highlight of the night might was ESPN’s Stuart Scott’s acceptance speech for the Jimmy V[alvano] Perseverance Award. Scott was presented the award by the star of Scott’s favorite television show, Kiefer Sutherland, from “24”. Scott’s moving speech touched on all the challenges he currently faces while fighting cancer and continuing to persevere for the sake of his family, his daughters in particular. Scott was joined on stage at the end of the speech by the youngest of his daughters, Sydni, 14. Scott concluded his speech stating:

Scott (m) and his daugher Sydni (r) were congratulated on stage by the presenter for the  award, Kiefer Sutherland (l).

Scott (m) and his daugher Sydni (r) were congratulated on stage by the presenter for the award, Kiefer Sutherland (l).

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived. So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

Danica Patrick (l) and Taye Diggs (m) were the presenters for the Male Athlete  of the Year Award that was won by Kevin Durant (r).

Danica Patrick (l) and Taye Diggs (m) were the presenters for the Male Athlete of the Year Award that was won by Kevin Durant (r).

The awards presented to the different winners gave viewers an opportunity to see entertainers from numerous fields in the same setting. The most noticeable awards handed out that night include the Seattle Seahawks winning “Best Team,” Ronda Rousey winning Female Athlete of the Year, and Kevin Durant winning Male Athlete of the Year.

Blake  Griffin (l) and Chris Brown (m) were a part of one of the skits that kept the audience laughing at Drake's (r) expense.

Blake Griffin (l) and Chris Brown (m) were a part of one of the skits that kept the audience laughing at Drake’s (r) expense.

Overall, the ESPYs were entertaining from beginning to end. There was a good blend of levity and solemnity from host Drake and the other stars who graced the stage. If you were unable to catch the show, check your local listings for replays on the ESPN family of networks.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Grassroot efforts raise funds for New York City Public Libraries

New York Public Library received good news this year when they were informed that they would gain $10 million from New York City to help fund the free services the libraries provide.

New York Public Libraries received good news this year when they were informed that an extra $10 million was allocated  in the budget to help fund the free services the libraries provide.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On July 16, 2014, 130,000 petitioners and letter writers received thank you notices from the New York Public Library (NYPL). These grassroots efforts put forth by the NYPL were instrumental in securing the first budget increase since 2008. City Hall allocated  an additional $10 million for the 2015 fiscal year which began on July 1, 2014. The funding was set aside for the NYPL (which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island), Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library. In a statement on the NYPL website, New York Public Library President Tony Marx stated:

This Brooklyn branch of the NYPL is one of the 92 total branches will be able to continue its normal operating hours with the addition of the funds to the budget.

This Brooklyn branch of the NYPL is one of the 92 total branches will be able to continue its normal operating hours with the addition of the funds to the budget.

“It is extremely satisfying that the Mayor and City Council see the value in the city’s libraries, and understand that New Yorkers desperately need the services that we provide, from internet access to technology training to job search resources to English language classes. The funding increase will certainly help us continue to provide free education, knowledge and opportunity to all New Yorkers. We are thankful to city officials for their dedication to and investment in libraries, a critical and irreplaceable city resource, and hope that this is a first step towards restoring our funding to Fiscal Year 2008 levels.”

New Yorkers of all ages benefit from the various services offered at the NYPL.

New Yorkers of all ages benefit from the various services offered at the New York City Public Libraries.

As summer vacation continues for the millions of New York City kids, it is useful to recognize the bevy of options that the New York City Public Libraries provide to keep children academically engaged throughout their time away from school. Many students use the library to complete summer reading lists and summer school assignments, or partake in the other amenities the library offers. The increased budget should allow the libraries of New York City to continue to offer a multitude of services to their patrons and online customers.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (l) and New York City listened to the 130,000 petitioners and letter writers who urged them to increase the city budget for the NYPL.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (l) and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito listened to the 130,000 petitioners and letter writers who urged them to increase the city budget for the NYPL.

The New York City Public Libraries offer traditional books, magazines and newspapers, as well as audio-books, e-books, DVD’s and video games. There are millions of people in New York City who take advantage of the free services offered. It is good that Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the New York City Council recognized the importance of helping these libraries extend their services to New York City’s citizens. However, the New York City Public Libraries depend on both public and private funding, so for those interested in learning more about how to support the library, visit nypl.org/support.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Finding Samuel Lowe depicts tale of love, family, determination, grit

 

Samuel lw

Trailer from the documentary that tells the tale of the cross-continental search to find relatives.

By Carmen Glover

Retired NBC executive Paula Madison can truly say that she has reached the self actualization phase on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Drawing from her love for family and the desire to trace her roots and forge a connection with all members of her extended family, Madison and her siblings, Elrick and Howard, embarked on a cross-continental quest to find their maternal grandfather, Samuel Lowe. The journey takes Madison and her siblings to the picturesque island of Jamaica, the homeland of their parents, to China, the homeland of their maternal grandfather. The result is the film Finding Samuel Lowe.

At a screening held at the Museum of the Moving Images in Queens, New York last Friday in conjunction with the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ), Madison talked about growing up in Harlem with her mother, after her father was deported back to Jamaica, and observing an air of sadness hovering around her mother, whose face was unquestionably Asian.

paula madison

Retired NBC executive Paula Madison is greeted by a relative on one of her trips.

“Finding my family has been like filling a hole that existed in my soul. That longing that I had to find my family has been filled. Since I have found my family in China I have been back to China every six months,” Madison stated during a question-and-answer session that followed the screening. “It feels like I’ve been guided my grandfather since I was a child,” she said as she examined various truths that she unearthed during the investigation for the film and the redemption came when the family all met. “When we gathered in China there were over 320 of us and all of us were Lowes.”

The film explores the origins of the Haka clan, a Chinese tribe to which Madison’s ancestry was traced, the history of Chinese indentured servants in the Jamaica, how those servants eventually became entrepreneurs, and the link between the Chinese men who came to work in the cane fields in and the black women in Jamaica bonding and forming families.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

The values emphasized in the film, such as respect for education, family and prosperity are stark. Told with no holds barred, Finding Samuel Lowe is an emotional, loving, tribute to a family’s determination to answer the most fundamental of questions: Who am I? It describes a journey that many viewers will be inspired to take so that they, too, can answer that question without reservations.

The screening was attended by a large contingent of NYABJ and NABJ members, current and former NBC employees, and media stars such as former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor, publicist/author Terrie Williams and Karl and Faye Rodney, publishers of the Carib News. The film, which was directed by Jeannette Kong, will be screened in Jamaica, West Indies on July 30. Visit the website for more information.

Madison has been involved actively in the  national and local chapters of the association of black journalists for years. She is now expanding into the Chinese portion of her culture and will release a book detailing her nuanced journey, under the Harper Collins imprint, in February 2015.–OnPointPress.net.