News

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Doug Doyle for WBGO

UCLA  honored basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at this past Saturday’s game at Pauley Pavilion, the famed court where the center dominated at the college level.  The Bruins won three national championships with his amazing scoring touch.

This past weekend's honor is just one of many accolades the Bruins alumnus has received lately.  Abdul-Jabbar was among 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony in November of last year.  The hall of famer also received the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award in December in Brooklyn.

President Donald Trump
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The nation's new president is continuing to sound the themes of economic populism and nationalism that fueled his campaign.  In his inaugural speech in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump painted a dark picture of a country he vowed to take in a new direction.

Click above to hear more of the President's remarks and the oath of office.

Protestors
William Alatriste/City Council

Now that Donald Trump has been sworn in as the nation’s 45th President battle lines have been drawn over the confirmation of his controversial cabinet nominees like his pick to lead the Department of Labor Andrew Puzder, who is a fast-food tycoon.

Puzder is an ardent booster of free and unfettered market capitalism. At an economic policy forum he described how the founder of his global empire got started with just one hot dog stand in California:

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis.

Television and Broadway star Michael Potts has the audience sighing and laughing as Turnbo, who can't help sticking his nose into everybody's business:

Assemblyman John McKeon
Phil Gregory

Legislation being considered by New Jersey lawmakers would require residential and commercial properties with a lawn-sprinkler system to install a rain-sensing device before that property could be sold.

Assemblyman John McKeon says it's abhorrent to see sprinklers going off in a rainstorm.

"As water continues to become more precious and scarce, per gallon it's a lot more expensive to waste it, so whatever initial cost there might be for sensors it'll be easily recouped in a very short time."

Assemblyman Troy SIngleton
Phil Gregory

A bill advanced by the Assembly's Environment Committee would prohibit public schools and colleges in New Jersey from selling food in foam containers.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton says food remains on them, making the polystyrene containers difficult to recycle, so most recycling places won’t take them.

He says the foam products take years to degrade and small pieces end up littering streets and waterways.

"Because this stuff gets thrown out and finds its way into our waterways, by 2050 which isn't that far off we will have more plastic in our ocean than fish."

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis. 

Brandon J. Dirden, who plays Booster in the two-act play, has performed in several August Wilson productions and directed Seven Guitars:

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis.  That's also where Shealy, portrayed by veteran actor Harvy Blanks, runs his numbers game.

Blanks who lights up the stage with his acting and wardrobe:

The Present is Delivered To Broadway

Jan 20, 2017
The Present
The Present for WBGO

British productions, even entire casts, have come to Broadway. Now comes a play (and all the actors, including Cate Blanchett) from Australia.  Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews The Present.

Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak
Phil Gregory

Some New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation they say would balance the responsibility between drivers and pedestrians.

Current law gives pedestrians the right of way, but Assemblyman Bruce Land says some people don't pay much attention when they want to cross the street.

"People up and down the streets, they'll just cross right in the middle of the street without even looking. We're trying to get the onus on you have to cross in certain areas and make sure you look both ways so it's not just put right on the drivers.

Ignition interlock device displayed at  Assembly committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock device displayed at Statehouse hearing,
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Recent Quinnipiac University Polls show a split in New York City voters overall approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

When it comes to Mayor de Blasio, voters polled by Quinnipiac University are divided evenly, give or take a few percentage points on his favorability, leadership skills, or whether he deserved to be re-elected.  Poll assistant Director Tim Malloy says they’re even 50-50 on de Blasio’s public disputes with Donald Trump.

Tim Raines
Newark Bears

Former Montreal Expos and New York Yankees outfielder Tim Raines got the word this week he had hoped to hear for many years.  He will be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in July.  Raines will be joined by former Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell and former Texas Rangers' catcher Ivan Rodriguez who also spent time with the Yankees. 

Many analysts consider Raines to be the second-best leadoff hitter in baseball history behind Rickey Henderson who played for the now defunct Newark Bears in 2003.  Raines, meanwhile, managed the Bears from 2009 to 2011. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Mayor Ras Baraka says planning and investment is ready to complete Newark’s long awaited park project to revitalize the space in front of Prudential Center.

It’s been talked about for eleven years but now it finally looks like the 'Triangle Park Project' is ready to bring new retail and public open space to the Prudential Center.  Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson says there’s been a change in design.

“At one time the project was a triangle, but because of a street and some realignment it became more of a rectangle.  So we ended up changing the name,” said Wilson.

David Sciarra testifies at Assembly Education Committee hearing
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has launched hearings to examine how to revise the school funding formula of 2008.

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, told the Assembly Education Committee the Christie administration has repeatedly failed to provide money in the budget to fully fund the formula.

He says Christie's proposal for state school aid to be based on an equal per pupil amount in every district would turn the clock back 50 years.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark’s Department of Public Safety is introducing its first class of school crossing guards to their ranks.  Twenty-eight vetted and trained residents are being assigned to the most traffic burdened areas of the city.   

“We had a group of people, we went through 500 people to get these 28.  They are the first point of security that these kids will see going to school and out of school,” says Anthony Ambrose, Director, Newark Department of Public Safety.

Mayor Ras Baraka says hiring more crossing guards has been a request from city parents since he took office.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno announces her candidacy in Keansburg
Phil Gregory

The woman who's been New Jersey's Lt. Governor for the last seven years, has kicked off her campaign to replace her boss in 2018.

In her first campaign speech, Kim Guadagno told supporters in Keansburg that she wants to be governor because she believes the state can do better.

"You want your governor to be committed to making New Jersey a place for families, who strives to do better, who answers the phone, who is there in a crisis, who walks in your shoes, who cares fearlessly and without exception about you, and only you."

Scott Pioli
Atlanta Falcons

Scott Pioli's 25th NFL season has been another magical one.  He's the Assistant General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has advanced to the NFC Championship Game this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Success is nothing new for Pioli.  He has been named NFL Executive of the Year by various national media outlets five different seasons during his career, including honors from the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Democrats in New Jersey’s congressional delegation staged a rally in Newark against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The republican majority congress in both houses are already beginning the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.  The president-elect ran on the platform of repealing and replacing Obamacare.  Democrats in Congress find that troubling.

“They don’t have a plan, we know that,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a point that was made by each speaker at the rally.

Archbishop Tobin
Ang Santos for WBGO

There's a new Archbishop in Newark and he's the first Cardinal to hold the position in the 164-year history of the Archdiocese.  If he wasn’t dressed in the robes of a Cardinal, you might think Joseph Tobin was a bodybuilder.  As it turns out he sort of is.  Tobin and his six foot three frame were a regular fixture at a gym in Indianapolis, where he previously served as their Archbishop.  Late last year Pope  Francis had other ideas for him.  For Tobin that was a surprise.

Nat Hentoff during the annual "A Great Night in Harlem" Benefit Concert at The Apollo Theater in New York City.
STEPHEN LOVEKIN / FILMMAGIC VIA GETTY IMAGES

Lifelong Jazz and Blues fan Dr. Cornel West, the American philosopher, political activist and social critic wished he could have had more conversations with the late Village Voice columnist and jazz critic Nat Hentoff.  Listen above to Dr. West's thoughts on why Hentoff was so instrumental in his work.

Edison Jaquez
Doug Doyle for WBGO

After spending four months in jail for selling drugs six years ago, Edison Jaquez has turned his life around and is now giving back to his community.  Jaquez, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey is the 2016 Berkeley College Alumnus of the Year.  Jaquez created the mentor group B-Men so he could help troubled teenagers.  Listen above to the in-depth interview with the author and WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.

Hidden Figures
complex.com

Silence, by Martin Scorsese, is a good old fashioned art film about selflessness in a Facebook planet. The Jesuit mission to convert Japan to Christianity has failed in 1633, as Buddhist Japan searches out and executes Jesuit priests and their followers. The last priest, Father Ferreira, played by Liam Neeson has sent word back to Portugal that he has apostasized—renounced God and become a Buddhist.

Should you see The Babylon Line?

Jan 16, 2017
The Babylon Line
lincolncenter.org

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews one of the new plays of the 2017 season, The Babylon Line.  Listen above to see if Dr. Bourne was applauding at the end of the show.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker says the explanation of benefits that insurance companies send to patients contain message codes that are difficult for consumers to understand.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says it's irritating to get pages and pages of confusing information about why a medical bill hasn't been paid.

"I think it can frustrate people to the point where they don't know what to do. They end up maybe they don't provide the documents that the insurance company needs because they can't quite figure out what they need."

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to help make sure people with disabilities are allowed to take a service dog into public places.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says her bill calls for fines up to a thousand dollars for denying that access.

“The American Disabilities Act allows for service dogs to be with their owner to various locations, be it a restaurant, be it department store. However, those within the general population don’t always understand where service dogs can reside.”

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
Phil Gregory

One Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey is scaling back his campaign. Another is just getting into the race.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli says he's planning to limit his campaign appearances to two or three days a week because he's having side effects from radiation therapy after surgery for throat cancer.

"I thought I would be one of those people who would get through radiation therapy entirely without feeling the most significant aspect of those side effect challenges. I'm not."

State Treasurer Ford Scudder testifies at Senate committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are questioning the Christie administration's proposal to spend $300 million on renovating the Statehouse in Trenton.

Senator Jim Whelan is among the members of the Senate Economic Growth committee who wonder if a less costly project could adequately resolve the building's safety hazards.

"Is there a sweet spot below the $300 million and above doing nothing that addresses the safety issue, that maintains the architectural and historic integrity and so on and so forth? I don't know if that's $125 million or $150 million or $75 million.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Ever dream of securing that law degree but didn’t have the time to pursue it?  Seton Hall is launching a program to make entry level law degrees more accessible to working professionals. 

Kathleen Boozang, Dean of Seton Hall University School of Law says they’re launching a weekend program at the Newark campus to work around people’s family and work schedules.

“Two-thirds live, one-third online, so each semester the students attend in person classes eight weekends a semester, every other weekend.  Then in the off week they work in small groups with the professor online.”

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