car culture


From Gothamist, Sept. 13:

No Charges For Running Over Schoolkids On Queens Sidewalk
The SUV driver who plowed into five teenagers on a Queens sidewalk yesterday morning has not been charged with any crime nor issued any summonses. This stands in stark contrast to another sidewalk collision yesterday: between a cyclist and Nicole Kidman in Manhattan. The crash in Queens resulted in very serious injuries; in Manhattan, Kidman was knocked down but unscathed. But in Kidman's case the cyclist was swiftly issued three summonses.


From Gothamist, Aug. 10:

4-Yr-Old Killed In SI Hit-And-Run, Cops Seek Mercedes Benz Driver
Police are looking for the driver of a black Mercedes Benz sedan in connection with the hit-and-run death of a four-year-old on Staten Island. A witness told WCBS 2, "The Mercedes stopped. Everybody was yelling at him. He knew what he did. He pulled out of the parking lot of the deli where I am standing right now and he ran the child over. He has no regard for life if he could leave a little child laying in the street after he ran him over and just drove away. He has no conscience."

Mexico: municipal uprising against road project

Some 150 followers of the United Front in Defense of Tepoztlán (FUDT) seized control of the town hall and took captive the mayor at the historic village in the central Mexican state of Morelos July 23. The mayor, Francisco Navarrete Conde of the center-left PRD, is being held to demand that the federal Communications and Transport Secretariat (SCT) halt plans to widen La Pera-Tepoztlán highway. The FUDT asserts that some 1,800 comuneros (communal farmers) whose ejidos (collective landholdings) would be impacted by the road expansion have not been consulted. The comuneros, armed with clubs, sucessfully routed municipal riot police guarding the town hall. Speaking to a reporter by phone from his protester-occupied office, Navarrete Conde expressed support for the demands of his captors, charging that the company with the road contract, Tradeco, "is violating the rights of the comuneros." The company apparently has an agreement with the comuneros, but FUDT followers have challenged it as illegitimate, with a case over the matter pending before the Agrarian Tribunals. (La Jornada, July 23)

Brazil comes to Zuccotti Park

New York's Zuccotti Park, which three weeks ago was filled with Turkish protesters in solidarity with the Istanbul uprising, today filled up with Brazilians gathering in support of the protests that have for days been shaking São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and other cities. One banner reflected the multi-issue scope of the protests: "PRES. ROUSSEFF: HANDS OFF PROTESTERS! TAX THE RICH, BUILD SCHOOLS! BRAZILIAN TROOPS OUT OF HAITI!" Many wore matching t-shirts reading "Não é só por 20 centavos" (It isn't just 20 cents)—a popular slogan of the movement, referring to the transit fare hikes that sparked the protest wave. Protesters are demanding an investigation into corruption around the $15 billion that has been spent in preparation for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, with new stadiums going up in several cities and poor residents being evicted to make way for them. (See The Guardian, June 18) New York area Brazilians plan to return to Zuccotti tomorrow and march on the United Nations on Tuesday June 25. The gathering drew some support from Occupy Wall Street activists; one sported a sign reading: "BRAZIL, TURKEY, GREECE—IT'S YOUR TURN, AMERICA!" The New York protests are being coordinated through the Facebook page Democracia não tem Fronteiras/ Democracy without Borders.  

Ecuador: Quito bicyclists get a martyr

Sebastián Muñoz, founder of the bicyclists' rights group Andando en Bici Carajo in Quito, Ecuador, was struck by a car and killed while on his bicycle March 22. It was a hit-and-run collision, with the motorist still at large. Muñoz had made  bicyclists' safety his special concern, leading a campaign to leave white-painted "ghost bicycles" at places around the city where cyclists had been killed, and painting murals advocating for the cause. A memorial bicycle ride for the fallen activist is planned for April 6, with stops at the murals and "ghost bicycles," culminating in the installation of a ghost bike in his honor at the intersection where he was killed. (La Línea de Fuego, Quito, March 25; El Comercio, Quito, March 24; El Comercio, March 22)


From Gothamist, March 4:

Baby Whose Parents Were Killed
in Williamsburg Hit-And-Run Has Died

The infant who was delivered prematurely after his parents were killed in a Williamsburg hit-and-run has died, according to Orthodox community leader Isaac Abraham. The child had been listed in stable condition after being delivered in the wake of the crash that killed parents Nathan and Raizy Glauber, both 21. But Abraham now says the child has died. Regarding the driver who fled the horrific scene, Abraham tells the Times, "This guy's a coward and he should pay his price."

New expressway to divide Palestinian village

Residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa will appeal next week to Israel's Supreme Court to halt construction of a highway that is to divide the district, community activists said at a press conference Feb. 18. Work on the six-lane artery, an extension of the north-south Begin Expressway, is sparking opposition in Beit Safafa, a quiet, middle-class Arab neighborhood that lies among Jewish areas in southern Jerusalem. Aluminum walls along the construction site are covered in graffiti against the expressway, with slogans such as "Don't run over Beit Safafa." Said Mohannad Gbara, a lawyer for residents: "The road in its current format cannot go ahead. It would be a disaster for Beit Safafa."

Iranian cities evacuated by smog alert

Iranian authorities on Jan. 2 advised the 1.5 million residents of Isfahan to leave the city if they can because air pollution has reached emergency levels. (BBC Radio, Jan. 2) Tehran's Air Quality Control Company also warned Jan. 2 that air pollution in the capital has also reached alarming levels, and ordered elementary schools and daycare centers closed in the city due to heavy smog. (Mehr News Agency, Jan. 1) Early last month, Tehran residents were likewise urged by authorities to lave the city in response to "dangerous" smog levels, blamed on nearly incessant bumper-to-bumper traffic. Similar edicts were issued for Isfahan and Arak. Schools were also ordered closed, and a cabinet meeting in the capital cancelled. Hospital admissions during the smog alert jumped by 15%, primarily due to people suffering headaches, respiratory problems and nausea. (AAP, Dec. 6; IBT, Dec. 5; AFP, Dec. 3)

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