Tag Archive | "Fordham"

Machete-wielding man slashes neighbor, sets himself on fire, Wall Street Journal

A Bronx man is in critical condition at Saint Barnabus hospital, after allegedly attacking his neighbor with a machete, dousing himself with flammable liquid, and setting himself and the house he was in on fire, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Police say the man, who is identified as Teddy John, 36, may have been involved in a long-running dispute with the family of the machete attack victim, 65-year-old Hobart Barrow.

The incident happened just before 9 a.m. Sunday on 2447 Southern Boulevard, south of Fordham Road. Barrow was treated in hospital for lacerations, and later released. Police are investigating.


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A beleaguered Philippine president seeks approval in the Bronx

The Bronx gave Philippine President Benigno Aquino a warm welcome even as President Barack Obama shied away from a one-on-one meeting with the Philippine leader.

Aquino is in the United States to participate in the launch of Obama’s Open Government Partnership, a global program that aims to promote transparency and accountability in governance. The Philippines is one of the initiative’s eight founding members along with Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

Aquino’s first stop for his three-day trip to New York and Washington was at Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus, where he received an honorary degree from the school. Hundreds of students, dignitaries, and Filipino immigrants  visited the university’s Keating Hall for a glimpse of the maroon-clad Philippine chief executive. Some Filipinos wore jackets emblazoned with the logo of Ateneo de Manila University—Aquino’s alma mater, a Jesuit university in Manila that has close ties to Fordham.

“Ateneo and Fordham together?” Fordham president Joseph McShane joked during the ceremony. “The world doesn’t stand a chance.” The room, which was packed with Filipinos and Americans, erupted in cheers.

Shane noted that Aquino closely followed the career of his late mother, former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino. In 1986, the university gave her an honorary Doctor of Laws degree shortly after the former housewife led the People Power Revolution that ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino’s name will soon be engraved next to his mother’s in Fordham’s “Terrace of Presidents,” a set of stone steps that contains the names of all the world leaders giventhe same honor by the university.

However, “Noynoy,” as he is widely known, is not as popular as his parents were in their prime. His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was assassinated in 1983 and died a martyr; his mother, on the other hand, was revered as a political icon until her death in 2009. Despite winning the 2010 elections in a landslide, Aquino’s poll ratings have dropped significantly just one year later. Critics have accused him of being bent on persecuting former government officials instead of focusing on critical issues such as the reproductive health bill, which would make contraception universally accessible in an impoverished country with a population of 94 million.

His public persona also suffered a beating due to regular media updates of his personal life. Photos with women—often decades younger than his 51 years—frequently made it to the front pages of newspapers. He is the country’s first bachelor president.

Amando Doronilla, an administration critic from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a national broadsheet, alleged that Aquino’s “stagnant rating in opinion polls and his scant economic record are bad news to Barack Obama… the US leader does not need another messenger of bad news visiting Washington.”

But poll ratings seemed to be the last thing on Aquino’s mind as he accepted Fordham’s highest honor. Smiling broadly at audience members who cheered him on loudly and gave him two standing ovations, he talked about good governance, democracy, and the role his parents played in Philippine history, particularly during the Marcos era. “People tend to bow to unlimited authority,” Aquino said. “But the laws of one man cannot prevail against the power of an unfettered conscience. Our social contract cannot tolerate anyone being above the law.”

Aquino added that by the end of his term in 2016, he hoped that “Filipino people will have grown accustomed to genuine public service and become so intolerant of corruption, that whether a saint or sinner succeeds me, no one will be able to roll back the tide of progress and good governance.”

Matthew Novick, a 19-year-old student who heads the Fordham Philippine-American Club, said, “He’s exactly what the Philippines needs—not corrupt, passionate, dedicated.”

Aquino’s popularity with Filipino-Americans was evident by the number of immigrants who came from all over the different boroughs just to get a glimpse of him. “I’m here because he’s my president and I respect him,” said Isel Garcia, 26, a student from the Bronx. “Honestly, I expected him to do more, but I thought his speech was encouraging. I’m sure the improvements will eventually come.”

Bobby Nuñez, a 41-year-old Filipino immigrant from Queens, agreed. “He’s very idealistic. People don’t believe him as much as they used to when he first won the election, but I still do.”

Maxine Cruzam, 21, a Fordham biology student, said it was an honor for her to sing both the American and Philippine national anthems during the ceremony. “He is such an icon,” she said. “I was born in the U.S., but his mother had done a lot for my parents when they were still living in the Philippines by giving them back democracy. I can’t make an educated decision about what he stands for, but I’m proud of how he represents the Philippines to the United States with his heritage.”

Not everyone was such a fan. Melissa Ortega, a 22-year-old who works with a nonprofit group in the Philippines,  said that she expected more from Aquino, especially on the reproductive health bill. “We need a president with balls,” she said. “I wish he would stand up to the Catholic Church and step up for the people.”

Aquino will return to Manila after attending conferences for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


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Female bus driver assaulted for passing a bus stop in Fordham

Maria Hogan had to pass the 192nd Street/Kingsbridge Road stop due to construction. An angry passenger attacked Hogan several blocks later, punching and pushing her. This is the second attack on a bus driver this month. The MTA, ABC Local reported, is expected to buy 100 new bus partitions to protect drivers.

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Nicaraguan diplomat dead in Fordham

Fordham residents and media gathered in front of 2070 Grand Concourse. Photo: Amara Grautski

Fordham residents and media gathered in front of 2070 Grand Concourse. Photo: Amara Grautski

Residents of 2070 Grand Concourse arrived home Thursday afternoon to a scrum of police requesting identification, and a stream of anxious parents negotiating their way under the yellow police tape to pick up their children from day care inside.

Inside, until late into the evening, lay the body of a Nicaraguan diplomat near the front door of his sixth floor apartment, his throat sliced open and stab wounds in the abdomen, with a knife by his side.

According to published reports, Cesar Mercado, 34, who had lived in the building for four years, was discovered by his driver around 10:30 a.m. near his front door, covered in blood. Mercado, who had been working as a consul for the Nicaraguan embassy in New York for eight years, was expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting yesterday.

Neighbors described Mercado as a quiet man, who kept to himself.

“He’s very kind,” said Veronica Castro, who has lived on the same floor as Mercado for a year. “Yesterday, he came up with us on the stairs, I mean on the elevator, after school.”

One woman, who asked not to be identified, said that most neighbors kept to themselves in the building, so his behavior was not unusual.

“Here, almost no one talks,” she said in Spanish. “No one knows each other, no one knows anything. I don’t talk to my neighbors. Everyone rides the elevator in silence.”

Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who had been in the area on other business, pulled up to the scene at 5:30 p.m. to speak with police and community members in front of First Union Baptist Church nearby.

Councilman Fernando Cabrera talking to community members in front of the First Union Baptist Church. Photo: Amara Grautski

Councilman Fernando Cabrera talking to community members in front of the First Union Baptist Church. Photo: Amara Grautski

“When we heard the news, we were very saddened,” said Cabrera, who didn’t have any information relating to the investigation. “I just came just to make sure that the investigation is moving, it’s flowing, and that once they get accurate information, they’re able to bring it right back out.”

According to La Prensa, a Nicaraguan newspaper, the country’s foreign minister, Samuel Santos Lopez, was still in the process of contacting Mercado’s family.

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Helping Love Gospel Assembly

By Amara Grautski and Connie Preti

Elected officials and more than 150 community members gathered at Lehman College Saturday afternoon to rally for Operation Restoration, a fundraiser to help rebuild the Love Gospel Assembly and restore the services it provided.

On July 25, the Grand Concourse church was gutted by a four-alarm fire, leaving thousands of the hungry people who were fed every month through its Love Kitchen to seek food elsewhere.  “It’s so important that we get back up and running, because there’s a whole community of people that depend on us,” said Love Gospel Assembly Bishop Ronald Bailey. “We’re feeding 300 to 400 people every day, somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 people a month. Those people need these services that we provide, so we’re trying to move quickly.”

During the two-hour event, the college’s Center for the Performing Arts was filled with song, prayer and testimonials about the church’s importance in the Fordham community.

Brian Draper, 53, told audience members that he has been a born-again Christian for about 15 years since finding the church. “When I first was going, I was only going for the physical food,” Draper said. “It was a way of physically staying fed because of my addiction. But God has such a sense of humor, you know, I’m thinking I’m just physically getting fed, but every time you get fed physically, there always always a word said, a prayer said or someone encouraging you. So then eventually, it was like a seed being watered…and eventually that seed grew into what I am today.”

The largest contribution came from State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada  Jr. and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, who presented a check of $100,000 from the state senate to a roaring crowd.  “An institution such as this provides so much to our communities, but more so plays a vital role in the economic crisis we are experiencing here,” Sampson said. “And the only way we are going to rise from that is through our faith, through institutions, churches like this, who extend beyond the four corners of those institutions.”

“We all know government and the faith have to work together,” Espada added. “God is everywhere.”

Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz Jr. also spoke and contributed $1,000 to the cause.

Bailey said he believes the turnout from elected officials is evidence that the community cares about the work of the church.  “It’s good to get recognition, because it’s not about us, it’s about the work that we’re doing,” Bailey said. “So we thank them, we take the pat on the back and keep going.”

Love Gospel Assembly Deacon Tasha Andrews said the fire resulted in $150,000 worth of equipment damage alone. The church will continue to accept donations through its website: www.lgabronx.com.

Andrews said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Fordham Retires Gregory-O’Connell No. 55

by Fred Dreier

Anne Gregory-O'Connell Meets Fordham's New Stars

Anne Gregory-O'Connell (right) meets the latest generation of Fordham University's basketball stars

Long before the New York Liberty and the WNBA, Anne Gregory owned the maple boards at Fordham University.

From 1976-1980, Gregory (now Gregory-O’Connell) scored more points (2584) than any woman in school history and grabbed more rebounds (1999) than any female collegiate player ever.

Her jersey now hangs next to Fordham’s only other retired shirt — the No. 11 worn by Ed Conlin.

The two jerseys tell two very different stories of post-college basketball. Conlin left Fordham after graduating in 1955 and joined the pro ranks with the primordial NBA franchise, the Syracuse Nationals, who would later become the Philadelphia 76ers. Gregory-O’Connell didn’t enjoy the same career opportunities when she finished school 25 years later.

Gregory-O’Connell crossed the pond to play in a French women’s league, residing in the Mediterranean town of Antibes. After six months she came back to her home in the Bronx. Her coach at Fordham, Kathy Mosolino, had become coach of the New Jersey Gems, one of the teams in the budding Women’s Basketball League (WBL), and Gregory-O’Connell enlisted. She earned about $10,000 for her efforts. But when the league folded in the spring of 1981, Gregory-O’Connell called it a career.

“I loved it, I didn’t want to give up playing basketball,” Gregory-O’Connell said. “When you grow up in a basketball family, you want to keep it going as long as you can.”

Now in her mid 50’s and a high school guidance counselor, Gregory-O’Connell still has the height and trim physique of a basketball player. She wonders whether she could have enjoyed a pro career, had the WNBA been around when she left school.

Even now, there are questions about whether a women’s professional league can survive. Thirteen years since its inception, the WNBA is struggling at the gate and with ratings. In 2009 110,000 fewer fans attended WNBA games live, a drop of nearly five percent. The WNBA lost ground on television as well. ESPN2 and ABC combined to televise only 13 total regular season games last year.

But it’s the evaporation of job opportunities that is most alarming. In May, the league mandated the trimming of rosters from 14 to 11 players, effectively putting 39 professionals out of work. Those 39 pro women must now fight with incoming prospects o secure a league job, which, in 2009 paid between $35,500 and $95,500 a year.

Teams can only bring 15 players to training camp, down from 18 in years past. Those 39 total tryout spots traditionally went to pro hopefuls, many of them recent college grads or players from overseas. That means even fewer opportunities for women, who come out of college like Gregory-O’Connell once did, with talent, youth and the motivation to keep playing basketball.

“Job security is going down. I hear girls talking about it all the time,” said Laura Harper, a forward with the Sacramento Monarchs this past March. “It’s going to be different. You have to come ready, or you are going to get cut.”

In November the Monarchs announced they would not return for the 2010 season, and Harper was out of a job. The team was the second of the original eight to fold within the last year, after the Houston Comets called it quits in 2008.

Anne Gregory-O'Connell still holds school records for points scored (2,548), field goals (982), free throws (584), and blocks (200). Her 1999 career rebounds is the most in the history of women's college basketball. photo by Fred Dreier

Anne Gregory-O'Connell still holds school records for points scored (2,548), field goals (982), free throws (584), and blocks (200). Her 1999 career rebounds is the most in the history of women's college basketball. photo by Fred Dreier

So what would Gregory-O’Connell’s career path look like had she graduated from Fordham in today’s climate? Mosolino, who worked with ABC Sports and NBC after her coaching career, said Gregory-O’Connell would likely have followed a similar career path — play in Europe, then hope to transfer to a team in the United States.

“Anne would have to play overseas today, most of the kids in the WNBA do it,” said Mosolino. “It’s really tough to get a spot on one of those teams. The players are really good. There’s a lot more talent out there now.”

Had she had the chance to do it all over again, Gregory-O’Connell would gladly follow her dream of pro basketball. These days she works at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, New York, where she lives with her husband, AP sports writer Jim O’Connell, and their two sons. She still shoots hoops with her coworkers. And she follows women’s pro ball.

“I took my boys to a game in the first season of the WNBA,” Gregory-O’Connell said. “When the lights came on and they introduced the pros, I got chills. I think I would have loved to have played in [the WNBA].”

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