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It was as if this moment was meant to be.

For the last three years, the nation has been engulfed in a narrative that began in June 2015 when Donald Trump announced his presidential run.


How WeChat determines the news in Sunset Park

By Sabrina JY He

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Screen shot of Hannah’s “suicide note”

In Sunset Park’s Chinatown, connections that once happened face to face now take place on WeChat.

WeChat, more a mobile lifestyle portal than a mere app, is where people talk, plan events, send cash in digital “red packets,” (traditionally known as gift envelopes that families hand each other on holidays) and even open stores. WeChat is also where they consume news — often the only place they do.

So it was on August 25, 2018, Sunset Park learned that a woman by the name of Hannah had killed herself. People who had never heard of Hannah quickly began circulating messages of condolence and before long, it seemed, everyone knew of Hannah’s tragic…


The Mayor wants to replace the big test, SHSAT, with top grades from each school, and some communities are up in arms

By Yuan Yuan

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Local parents and volunteers in front of a public library in Dyker Heights, helping register Chinese American to vote. Photo by Yuan Yuan

Leo Ni, just as he and his family expected, has been enjoying himself, making new friends and taking his favorite science classes in his new school, I.S. 187, a highly selective middle school. He got into it this fall with an outstanding fourth grade report card and a 99 percent on the state test.

What’s unexpected? He has started to go to multiple protests against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to phase out the current admission test, known as the SHSAT, for eight of the city’s nine specialized high schools. Instead, seats at those high schools would be reserved for the top five to seven percent of eighth graders in each middle school. …


Approval of a controversial 64-story development in Downtown Brooklyn came with high emotions and many tradeoffs.

By Jordan Julian

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Rendering depicting a street view of the future 80 Flatbush development, as seen from the corner of Rockwell Place and Flatbush Avenue. Image from Alloy.

The intersection of Flatbush Avenue and State Street feels almost like a portal between two different eras of Brooklyn. As you round the corner, the chaos of four-lane Flatbush Avenue, with its growing number of sleek glass high-rises, flows into the calm of a brownstone-lined block. Many of State Street’s picturesque brownstones date back to the early 20th century, while the newer skyscrapers, featuring Whole Foods and Apple Stores on their ground floors, range from two to three years old.

This tension is what’s at stake in the fight over 80 Flatbush, the triangular block between the two streets. Last month, a small development company, Alloy LLC., received approval from City Council to build a 64-story tower at the site. It’s a classic David and Goliath tale — neighborhood residents in their four-story houses dwarfed by a real estate firm and its skyscraper. Except, in this version of the story, Goliath is also promising $230 million in necessary public benefits at no cost to the city. So who do we root for? …


A supportive housing project in Coney Island offers hope

By Sara Ohlms

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Surf Vets Place under construction. Photo by Sara Ohlms

Rising above the famous Coney Island Boardwalk, a nine-story tower nears completion. In the shadow of the Parachute Jump, the New York City landmark, this is Surf Vets Place. In a neighborhood weary of development and wary of developers, the people of Coney Island have only positive things to say about it. This is because of the tenants who will eventually live here.

With 135 units, Surf Vets Place has 82 apartments that will soon become home for homeless veterans. These veterans will pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent. If they can’t pay, they can still stay. I wanted to know how it was possible to build a $65 million building without a single market rate unit in it. …


Millions of tons of food gets wasted every year. Who is to blame?

By Blake Ralling

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Should it stay or should it go? Photo by Blake Ralling

Try this experiment. Open your refrigerator. And ask yourself: What you are going to throw away? Take into consideration the expiration date, leftovers from last week, or the bananas that now have one too many brown spots. Made your decision? Ready to start discarding? You have just contributed to the 1.3 billion tons of food being wasted each year.

Roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption around the world gets lost or wasted each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is affiliated with the United Nations. …


Ads for the Bensonhurst weight-loss clinic may be too good to be true

By Sachi McClendon

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A screenshot of an ad taken from Dr. Fat Loss’ website

Dr. Fat Loss, a weight-loss clinic operating out of Bensonhurst, guarantees its patients will “Lose 20 to 45 pounds in 40 days.” As the ads put it, No hunger. No cravings. Fast and easy. The implicit promise: Pay us $2,000 and you’ll have a new body in no time. Sounds magical, right?

Here’s the problem: Dr. Fat Loss features ads on social media and on its website, like the one pictured above, that the Federal Trade Commission has deemed deceptive. In April of 2017, the FTC filed a complaint with four counts related to misleading advertising against Dr. Fat Loss’ mother company, NutriMost. To resolve the FTC complaint, NutriMost, fresh off its legal lashing, agreed to pay $2 million back to consumers who had been misled as well as terminate its fast-and-loose advertising campaign. The settlement further banned all current NutriMost licensees — which includes Dr. …


Temporary Protected Status allowed thousands of Haitians to live in the U.S. for almost ten years. It will no longer exist after July 22, 2019, leaving Haitian New Yorkers with a tough decision: to stay or to go?

By Emma Vickers

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Haitian advocates and activists at a TPS Alliance rally outside New York’s City Hall, October 2018. Photo by Conchita Widjojo

She waited for fourteen hours to be rescued from under the rubble of her home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake. She waited eight months after that for her school to reopen, before moving to New York to continue her education. …


New HIV diagnoses in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights are the highest in Brooklyn. Why?

By Shrai Popat

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GMAD staff at their office on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn (from left to right): George Bellinger Jr., Christopher Johnson, and Vaughn Taylor-Akutagawa (Photo by Shrai Popat)

The offices of the Gay Men of African Descent are purposefully difficult to find. Housed in a generic office block and sitting at the end of a basement corridor, the lack of natural light is the necessary compromise for ensuring that no one walking past can catch a glimpse of those visiting the center.

Vaughn Taylor-Akutagawa, GMAD’s executive director, says that the organization is close to a number of subways lines and “right by the Barclays Center so that if you come here it’s not obvious that you’re coming to the area to get tested or for counselling.” The task of striking a balance between discretion and notoriety proves central in tackling the disproportionately high incidence of HIV diagnoses in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, which remains the highest in Brooklyn and the second highest in New York City. …


After 33 years in the United States, Jonathan Medal is back in Nicaragua. But not even his children know.

By Andrea Salcedo

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Pictures of Medal with his wife and daughters can still be found in their two-bedroom apartment in Ridgewood, Queens. In a way, Mr. Medal is still there. But he’s been gone for five months now. Photos by Andrea Salcedo

Mildred Roque-Tracey was covering the front desk at New Life Child Development Center, a preschool and daycare in Bushwick, when she witnessed a moment she is unlikely to forget.

Aide Medal-Reyes, who had come to pick up her two-year-old daughter, was sitting in the lobby holding her cell phone to her ear. She began to turn red, walked in and out of the building still holding the phone, and at some point, started crying. Roque-Tracey would later learn why. On the other line was her immigration lawyer, breaking the news that she feared the most. Twelve hours earlier, Aide still had some hope. But now it was over. …

About

The Brooklyn Ink

News source covering the streets of #Brooklyn through the eyes of @ColumbiaJourn staff.

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