Wikinews interviews candidate for New York City mayor Vitaly Filipchenko

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Vitaly Filipchenko. Image: Campaign to Elect Vitaly for NYC Mayor.

In early May, Wikinews extended an invitation to Vitaly Filipchenko, an independent candidate in the 2021 New York City mayoral election, set to take place November 2nd, alongside other candidates. Filipchenko answered some questions about his policies and campaign during a phone interview.

Filipchenko, registered on the New York City Campaign Finance Board as Vitaly A. Filipchenko, is the first Russian candidate for New York City mayor, being born in Tomsk, Siberia in 1973, according to news agency Sputnik. He has since naturalised as a United States citizen. According to the web site, Filipchenko has been educated in road construction and maintenance and owns a moving services company; he describes himself on his web site as a “small business owner”. On his web site’s platform page, he says that “[m]y English may not be perfect – but my platform is.”

Incumbent Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio, who won re-election in the 2017 New York City mayoral election by 66.5%, cannot run for a third term under term limits. As of April 28, 22 candidates are currently running, the majority of whom are also Democrats. Ahead of the June Democratic primary for New York City mayor, a poll conducted May 23 and 24 by WPIX and Emerson College of 12 Democratic candidates with a margin of error of 3.2 per cent has former commissioner for the New York City Department of Sanitation Kathryn Garcia and Borough President of Brooklyn Eric Adams leading with 21.1% and 20.1%, respectively.

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Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed further

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “Old deeds threaten Buffalo, NY hotel development” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffalo, New York —The Common Council of Buffalo voted on Tuesday to send the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal “to committee for further discussion”, after citing the need for more public involvement.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a development proposal by the Savarino Construction Services Corporation, a project designed by the architect Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on the southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo.

To make way for the project, at least five buildings located at 1109 to 1121 Elmwood Ave would be demolished. At least two properties on Forest Avenue could also be demolished. The Elmwood properties, according to Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarion Construction, are “under contract”, but it is unclear if Savarino Construction actually owns the Elmwood properties. Hans Mobius, a former mayorial candidate, is still believed to be the current owner the properties. Mobius also owns 607 Forest Avenue.

The properties 605 and 607 Forest Avenue could also be included in the proposal according to Hassett.

“We would use a Special Development Plan to rezone 1119-1121 Elmwood and 605 Forest to a C-2 zoning category,” stated Hassett. It is possible that Savarino Construction may try to obtain a variance for 605 Forest, which would allow them to enforce eminent domain, should the hotel be allowed to go forward.

The building at 607 Forest was also discussed to be rezoned, but it is unclear what the plans would be for that property. During the February 28 Common Council meeting, Hassett stated that the properties 605 and 607 were “now off the agenda”.

Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano’s Restaurant at 1081 Elmwood, owns the property at 605 Forest and attended Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

“Having a hotel is a bright idea. We all love the idea of a hotel, but the way that it is presented, is wishful thinking. This hotel does not fit. It’s like putting two gallons of water in a gallon jug, it does not fit. At the last meeting, the architect admitted that they are planning to put the undergound parking lot and the hotel, right at the property line. If I open my window, I will be able to touch the wall, that goes fifty feet high”, said Georgiadis.

“There is a problem having a seventy-two room hotel and fifty-five parking spaces. That means that all the other cars will spill all over the neighborhood. The footprint is simply too small. If you have a bigger [parking] lot, and a smaller hotel, I will welcome a hotel. I have a parking lot at my own business, and I am chasing people all day long. Remember, the city says it has ‘zero tolerance [for illegal parking]’. Try telling that to the guy from Albany who came to see his kids, that are going to Buffalo State, who would get tickets totaling over a hundred dollars”, added Georgiadis.

The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to meet on March 14, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. about the proposal. Although a discussion will take place, no vote is expected to be taken.

At the moment, none of the properties are zoned for a hotel. Savarino Construction plans on asking for a C2 zoning permit. If that does not work, they plan to implement a new zoning plan called a “special development plan” which would allow for only a hotel on the site. That zone would not be able to be changed.

“This [project] justifies Mobius’s refusal to invest in any maitenance[sic] or improvements”, on the properties said Clarence Carnahan, a local resident. “Where were the Council persons over the years? Where were the city inspectors over the years, to make sure that he maintained and improved his properties? The government was supposed to be protecting, not being preditorial. I see a predatorial issue here when it comes to this hotel. Over the years: Why has the local government been disfunctional when it came to Mobius’s properties? Refusal to invest in improvements, doesn’t that sound like a slumlord? Maybe I am missing a point here, but what kind of messages does this send to other slumlords that havn’t[sic] been jailed or fined? It’s [the hotel] trying to be pushed through.”

Carnahan also presented signs for residents and or business owners who are opposed to the hotel, that could be placed in windows or on stakes in the yard. Some of the signs said, ‘No tell hotel’, ‘Hans off, no hotel’, ‘It takes more than a hotel to make a village’. and ‘Keep Elmwood free, no hotel’. Carnahan plans on making more signs for a protest to be held on Saturday March 18, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on Elmwood and Forest. Some signs were given to individuals after the meeting.

“First things first, Hans is the problem, and I don’t think it has been addressed. Let’s roll back the clock on this project. What can we do with Hans? There is such thing as eminent domain, which could be of greater interest to the community, to seize the property at its lowest assessed value”, said Nancy Pollina, co-owner of Don Apparel with Patty Morris at 1119 Elmwood. “There are so many ideas that have not been explored and we are about to give this parcel away, to a big developer.”

Mobius has not returned any calls by Wikinews regarding the situation.

Letter to one of the business owners that could be displaced. Click to enlarge. Image: Jason Safoutin.

A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained a letter, exclusively, addressed to one of the five business owners from Hans Mobius stating:

There is a proposal to develop my property which you are currently renting. Because of opposition to this development, it does not look like it will happen. I will let you know if there any changes.

Despite the letter, there have been no plans or decisions made to end the proposal.

To date, none of the business owners or residents of 1119-1121 Elmwood have received an eviction notice.

These two buildings on Auburn and Elmwood, were newly renovated last year. The building on the left was boarded up for several years before the renovation took place. Image: Jason Safoutin.

Business owners and residents gave an indication of what they would like to see happen at the corner; a project similar to one done locally last year. There, developers renovated two buildings on Auburn and Elmwood Avenues, merging the buildings into one thus allowing for more shop space. Among some of the shops to move in after the development were Cone Five Pottery, The Ruby Slipper, and Abraham’s Jewelers. Prior to the renovation work, the left building in the picture was boarded up for several years. Many of the concerned locals would like to see a similar development on Forest and Elmwood.

Rocco Termini, a developer in Buffalo, proposed a similar design at the February 28 community meeting

In an interview after the February 28 meeting, Termini stated, “I will be willing to take a look at this myself, or I would be more than happy to be partners with Sam, Sam Savarino”, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Construction Services Corp.

So far Savarino Construction has no plans to team up with Termini.

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Cambridge, Mass., city council recommends construction firm W. R. Grace remain under DEP supervision for asbestos contamination

Sunday, April 10, 2005

 Correction — May 24, 2008 This article refers to the “US Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)”, though the term “Department of Environmental Protection” actually refers to state agencies, and in this case refers to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, not a United States federal agency. 

The Cambridge city council adopted a resolution on April 4 to request that the US Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) “take explicit account” of the activities of local construction firm W. R. Grace, which has previously contaminated an industrial area near the Alewife train station with asbestos. The council cited Grace’s “extraordinarily extensive and well-documented history of contaminating sites and concealing the contamination” as the reason for its request.

The resolution was a reaction to a Response Action Outcome Statement and Risk Characterization (RAO) that W. R. Grace filed with the DEP. The Cambridge Chronicle recently took the filing as evidence that “the state seems poised to stop watching over” the contaminated site.

In February, W.R. Grace was indicted by a federal grand jury for contamination as a product of vermiculite mining operations in Libby, Montana, USA. The company was also charged with “concealing information about the health affects [sic] of its asbestos mining operations.”

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Deadly fire below US President’s Trump Tower residence

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On Saturday, the Trump Tower, in Midtown, New York City, caught fire shortly before 18:00 EST (2200 UTC) on the 50th floor, claiming the life of a 67-year-old resident, Todd Brassner, who lived in apartment 50C. All other residents were evacuated without incident. During the fire, six firefighters received non-life-threatening burns and other minor injuries. Neither US President Donald Trump nor the First Family were in the building at the time of the fire.

The high-end Fifth Avenue address is the personal residence of President Donald Trump, whose family occupies the top three stories of the 58-story building. The US Secret Service maintains a constant security presence inside the building with the New York City Police Department guarding a hard perimeter, intended to stop vehicular attacks, and a soft perimeter, intended for on-foot attacks.

The four-alarm fire required 200 firemen, extra police, and paramedics. At 20:00 EST (0000 UTC Sunday), the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) declared the fire was under control. Trump tweeted, “Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!” This is the second fire at Trump Tower since the election; previously on January 8, a fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in a cooling tower on the roof. Three FDNY firefighters received minor injuries, and all residents and office workers evacuated without incident on that occasion.

Trump Tower provides a number of unique problems never before encountered by the Secret Service. Never has a US President’s personal residence been inside a skyscraper or in a densely populated area like Midtown. The security measures have disrupted vehicular and pedestrian traffic requiring time consuming detours and delaying emergency response.

The New York Fire Code did not mandate sprinkler systems at the time Trump Tower was built in 1983, which might have reduced the size and severity of the fire had they been present. The 50th-floor apartment was, according to FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, “[T]he apartment was virtually, entirely on fire.” The Secret Service monitors all the fire alarms in the building but it took time to find the source of the thick black smoke emanating from the fire. Secret Service Agents escorted the firefighters throughout the building, including the Trump residence.

Brassner, the sole casualty, was unconscious when firefighters pulled him out of apartment 50C. He was transported to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital. Originally listed as critical, he was pronounced dead sometime during the night. Brassner, guitar collector, was acquainted with artist Andy Warhol and was acknowledged in Warhol’s 1989 autobiography, The Andy Warhol Diaries. The cause of the fire is unknown, with investigations into Brassner’s death and the emergency response ongoing. Currently, the Secret Service leads the investigation.

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England fans watch match in cinema

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

London — A few hundred England fans weren’t watching the 2006 FIFA World Cup match against Sweden last night in a pub or at home, but instead had ventured out to their local cinema to see the game on the big screen. A number of Odeon cinemas nationwide have been using digital projection technology to screen the matches live with a high definition (HD) picture. HD broadcasts contain a greater level of detail than traditional TV broadcasts, meaning a sharper picture and better sound quality.

In the darkened auditorium of the cinema in Covent Garden, the audience (or should that be crowd?) were behaving almost as if they were at the stadium, singing along to the national anthem, cheering at the England goals and groaning at the Sweden chances. At times, chants being sung by the England crowd at the match were even picked up and sung along to by those watching the cinema screen like some kind of football karaoke contest.

Trailers before the match were replaced by a soundtrack of England anthems, both the successful and not-so-successful ones, and the traditional movie treat of popcorn was replaced by trays of beer (in plastic cups) being brought in by the punters. The cinema had cheekily listed the screening as being ‘directed by Sven-Göran Eriksson’ and as ‘starring Wayne Rooney (hopefully)’.

Despite a disappointing 2-2 draw, the audience seemed impressed with the experience. “I’m a bit short and so wanted to make sure I had good view without having to jostle around for position,” Amanda, from London, explained to me. “I also liked that it was non-smoking, and there was a fabulous atmosphere”. Sian, Caio and Laura, who lived locally, said they wanted to see the match on the big screen and commented on the excellent picture quality.

Other events that have been broadcast by the cinema chain include concerts by Robbie Williams and Elton John. Odeon Marketing Director Luke Vetere said “offering films is just one part of the cinema experience – our ambition is to offer guests the chance to watch other events they feel passionate about”. Watching football in the cinema is not a brand new event though, during previous World Cups such as in 1966, film footage from the matches was broadcast in cinemas after the event, providing a way for people to see the games in colour when TV broadcasts were in black and white.

Cinema screenings aren’t the only way that fans can watch the World Cup games in high-definition this year though, as both Sky TV and Telewest have been broadcasting the games in HD to viewers with a special set-top box. There have been trials with HD on the growing Freeview platform too, with a pilot group of a few hundred viewers in London. However, as any move to roll out HD on Freeview would use up extra space on the broadcast spectrum and would require viewers to buy a new set-top box, it seems unlikely that this will happen any time soon.

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Australia reclaim Ashes in Perth

Monday, December 18, 2006

Australia has reclaimed The Ashes after defeating England in the third 2006-07 Ashes Test match in Perth, Western Australia. The win gives Australia an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

Australia lost The Ashes for the first time since 1987 in the 2005 Ashes series, when England won the series 2-1, with the other two tests drawn.

Australia won the toss and batted first on the WACA ground wicket. The English bowling dominated, dismissing Australia for 244 off 71 overs. Michael Hussey was the only Australian to build an innings, scoring an unbeaten 74. Recalled left-arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar claimed 5-92, and teammate Stephen Harmison took four wickets.

England went in to bat late on day one, and lost two wickets for 51 runs before the close of play. On the resumption of play on day two, the wickets continued to fall, and they were eventually bowled out for 215. Kevin Pietersen made 70 for the visitors, whilst Stuart Clark took 3-49 for the home team.

The second innings of Australia was a vast improvement. They lost one wicket before stumps on day two, and resumed at 1-119 on day three. They proceeded to dominate England in 40oC+ temperatures, with three Australians – Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Adam Gilchrist – scoring centuries. Gilchrist’s century was the second-fastest in history, reaching 100 in 57 deliveries. Australia declared their innings closed late on day three at 5-527.

England required 557 to win in their second innings, or needed to bat for two-and-a-bit days to salvage a draw and keep the 2006-07 series alive. They were 1-18 by the close of play on day three. On day four, English batsman Alastair Cook scored his first Ashes test century, stalling Australia’s roll towards victory. He was assisted by teammate Ian Bell, who made 87.

Cook was dismissed by paceman Glenn McGrath on 116 in the third last over of day four, sparking an English batting collapse; the visitors were 5-265 at stumps on day four, after losing three quick wickets. Day five saw England bat well for an hour, before collapsing after losing captain Andrew Flintoff to be all out for 350 two balls after lunch. Shane Warne finished with 4-123 in the second innings, whilst Pietersen was unbeaten on 59.

Michael Hussey was named Man of the Match for his two innings of 74 not out and 103.

The fourth test will begin on Boxing Day (December 26) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Warne requires just one wicket to be the first bowler in history to reach 700 Test wickets.

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Wikinews interviews Amir Abbas Fakhravar about Iranian nuclear intentions

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

File:Amir Philly 2.jpg

Iran has been operating a nuclear program for years and announced opening a new uranium facility on Tuesday. Its claims over nuclear enrichment are for a nuclear power program, although this requires 5% enrichment as opposed to the 20% enrichment level they claim the right to pursue which is more commonly used in nuclear bombs.

Wikinews interviewed Amir Abbas Fakhravar, the President of the Iranian Freedom Institute which is based in Washington DC, United States, also a research fellow at the The Institute of World Politics, about the Iranian nuclear program in light of recent talks with this week with the P5+1 group of countries.

((Wikinews)) What is your role at the Iranian Freedom Institute?

Amir Abbas Fakhravar: I am the President and Founder of the Iranian Freedom Institute.

((WN)) Iran seems unwilling to give up its nuclear programme, do you think they will eventually given the UN [United Nations] sanctions?

AAF: The only way Islamic Regime in Iran will give up its nuclear program is either full operation and military attack by the West or total oil sanctions. 85–90% of the the Islamic Republic’s money comes from crude oil sales. This money does not go to the Iranian people, but instead funds the nuclear program, the Revolutionary Guards, basijis, Hezbollah, and other terror operations worldwide. The Islamic Republic will be forced into abandoning its nuclear program when oil sanctions dry up the money supply.

((WN)) Do you feel the Islamic Republic of Iran is trying to provoke a response from the Western nations (USA, UK, France, Germany)?

AAF: A limited military response from the West which will not be for a regime change would be a gift to the Islamic Republic, and would feed the narrative of “overreaching, imperialistic Western governments” perpetuated by the regime. The IR is well aware of the rapid decline in support from the Iranian people and is looking for a way to gain back some of that support, even superficially. An attack from the west would buoy the regime and damage the work being done by the opposition.

((WN)) What is the need for Iran to have a nuclear programme, are they doing it for energy or for weapons?

AAF: Iran makes clear its intentions for the nuclear program through its actions. The regime expresses desire to annihilate Israel almost daily, and has repeatedly refused negotiation and inspection of its nuclear sites. Also you can find several type of energies in Iran and at all they don’t need to have this expensive and dangerous nuclear energy. For sure Islamic republic of Iran wants to have Nuclear bomb.

((WN)) If Iran does not listen and change course with regards to its nuclear program, do you think that the United Nations will apply more sanctions?

AAF: It took a very long time to sanction the Islamic Republic to the extent it is now, and since the UN continues to send negotiators to the table to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, tighter sanctions at this point in time are unlikely. It is our responsibility at Iranian opposition to inform United Nations about this regime’s threat to international community. We should move much more organize[d] and faster to cut Islamic Republic’s diplomatic relationship with the world. Our campaign on oil sanctions showed us it is possible.

((WN)) Do you think that the United States is particularly unhappy and international relations are poor considering that Iran recently captured a drone and refused to return it?

AAF: While a failure militarily and with regard to foreign policy, the captured drone incident is a relatively small event in the context of ongoing tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
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Wikinews interviews Mike Lebowitz, chairman of the U.S. Modern Whig Party

Friday, July 17, 2009

According to the Pew Research Center, a non-advocacy organization that evaluates issues, attitudes and trends shaping the political landscape of the United States, centrism is on the rise in America. According to Pew, the number of Americans identifying themselves as independents has reached the highest level in 70 years.

Recently 36% of Americans say they are independents, 35% identify as Democrats, while 23% see themselves as Republicans. Some people are abandoning the major parties, re-registering as independent or joining third parties.

One of these third parties are the Modern Whig Party (MWP), who have enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past year; from just 3,000 members last summer to 30,000 now. With the Party’s commitment to “fiscal responsibility” and “bold social progression”, several conservative Democrats and centrist Republicans have been attracted to it.

Wikinews reporter Joseph Ford recently spoke with the Modern Whig Party’s chairman, Mike Lebowitz, about the MWP’s history, present state and future prospects. “Our membership is comprised of people from all parts of the mainstream political spectrum,” Lebowitz explains. He says that the MWP has “pragmatic, realistic, and mainstream” approaches to the numerous issues facing America today.

“A number of print and broadcast media outlets have even gone so far as to proclaim that the Modern Whig Party is “potentially viable,” and “makes sense”,” Lebowitz points out. “We are building this organization realistically, methodically and gradually in an effort to get this right.”

He went on to say much more — including why he thinks you should consider leaving the GOP or the Dems for the MWP — in the interview below.

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George Deutsch resigns NASA post after Texas A&M refutes his resume

Thursday, February 9, 2006

George Deutsch, a controversial George W. Bush appointee at NASA, resigned his post as press officer the same day that Texas A&M University confirmed that he never graduated from the school. The resume of the 24-year old had claimed he received a “Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003.”

Mr. Deutsch gained notoriety when it was revealed he had instructed NASA web site designers to insert the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang, on the grounds that it was a religious matter. “This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA.” said Mr Deutsch in an e-mail.

Mr. Deutsch also told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to James Hansen, a top climate scientist and longtime director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen’s lectures and papers were also to have been censored by public affairs workers. Dr. Hansen stated he would ignore the restrictions, which came through the less official channels of phone calls.

Dr. Michael Griffin, NASA chief, appeared to back Dr. Hansen’s claims of internal censorship, when he sent a strongly worded email message to all NASA employees stating “It is not the job of public-affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.” Several other NASA employees reported similar tampering after the incident. NASA personnel told the New York Times that “Mr. Deutsch played a small but significant role in an intensifying effort at the agency to exert political control over the flow of information to the public.”

Climate science has long been linked with the space program because many of the underlying mathematical modeling techniques were originally developed to help understand the atmospheres of other planets, such as Venus.

Mr. Deutsch was given his job in NASA’s public affairs office in Washington after working on President Bush’s re-election campaign and inaugural committee.

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