Trump praises N.J. Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who’s ready to switch political parties

Updated Dec 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to sing the praises of U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Democrat who’s about to switch sides.

“Wow, that would be big,” Trump tweeted in response to reports that Van Drew would become a Republican. “Always heard Jeff is very smart!”

Trump, a Republican, met with Van Drew at the White House on Friday after the New Jersey lawmaker said he would vote against impeaching the president over allegations that he withheld aid to Ukraine to force that country into announcing investigations to benefit him politically.

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Undocumented N.J. student won a big award -- that she may not be able to accept

Posted Dec 15, 2019

Esder Chong doesn’t limit herself to the boundaries of her reality.

She’s an undocumented immigrant.

Had she surrendered to her status, Chong said she wouldn’t be a senior at Rutgers University-Newark. She wouldn’t be an outspoken activist, either. Undocumented immigrant students and their families who face barriers to education, healthcare and driving would have missed her voice on these issues that she’s addressed at the state and national level.

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Cory Booker Leads the Charge to Change Debate Rules That Excluded Him

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Updated Dec. 15, 2019

Senator Cory Booker did not make the cut for next week’s debate, but said he would not “argue with the refs” about the December event.Credit...

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WASHINGTON — At the urging of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, eight Democratic presidential candidates, and Mr. Booker, have signed a letter urging Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, to lower the thresholds to qualify for the party’s January and February debates.

The letter, written and circulated by the Booker campaign, was sent to Mr. Perez and his top deputies Saturday afternoon. It comes amid angst that Thursday’s debate in Los Angeles will include just one candidate of color — the businessman Andrew Yang — among the seven qualifying participants.

Mr. Booker did not qualify for next week’s debate and is unlikely to meet the criteria for the debates in January and February unless thresholds are lowered or he sees a significant improvement in his polling numbers.

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Jersey City Shooting Was ‘Domestic Terrorism,’ Officials Say

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 12, 2019

Mourners gathered on Wednesday for the funeral for one of the victims of an attack on the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, N.J.Credit...

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The deadly rampage that ended with one police officer slain and three bystanders killed at a kosher market in New Jersey is now being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, the authorities said on Thursday.

Investigators believe the two attackers were “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, told reporters at a news conference.

As a result of the evidence so far, the F.B.I. was investigating the violence as “a domestic terrorism incident with a hate crime bias,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s office in Newark.

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Hunger on New Jersey Campuses Is More Common than You May Think

SHEILA NOONAN | DECEMBER 13, 2019

NJ Spotlght

The food pantry at Montclair State University, the first at a four-year New Jersey university, opened in 2016.

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Every college student is on a budget, but for one Bergen Community College student, money is especially tight. The 22-year-old Hackensack man lives on his own, renting a room for $545 a month and taking a bus to campus. A full-time course load and a work-study program at BCC leave him without time for additional employment, so he stretches his limited financial resources as best he can. The student, who did not wish to be identified, works about 20 hours a week in the work-study program for $10 an hour.

A food pantry run by the college and Hunger Free New Jersey, an anti-hunger advocacy organization, has been a lifeline for the mass communications major, and recently, that lifeline has reached a little longer. In October, the Bergen County Board of Social Services came to the Paramus-based school with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach and assistance and helped him apply for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Soon, his Electronic Benefits Transfer card will provide $190 a month that he can spend on food, such as refrigerated goods that are unavailable at the food pantry.

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House poised to restore your property tax deduction

Posted Dec 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — A move to give you back your full property tax deduction gained big momentum Wednesday in Congress.

But don’t celebrate quite yet.

A key House committee on Wednesday voted to temporarily restore the full federal deduction for state and local taxes, and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. said the full House will vote on the measure before going home for the year.

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Stop blowing off abuse allegations at Joe D’s jail | Editorial

Posted Dec 11, 2019

An immigrant detainee who claimed to have been assaulted by guards at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark had indeed been beaten up by multiple people, a doctor said.

A medical report showed signs of injury to his genitals – which the man said were stepped on by an officer.

It’s hard to imagine any prosecutor in the world who would say it’s not important to interview the alleged victim in a case like this.

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How Late Amendments Have Stalled Effort to Ban Plastic, Paper Bags

TOM JOHNSON | DECEMBER 11, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

A different version of the bill won legislative approval last year, but was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy, who wanted a stronger bill.

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It might take a bit longer to win passage of a bill touted as the nation’s most comprehensive effort to ban single-use plastic and paper bags and other plastics in New Jersey.

The legislation (SCS-2776) unexpectedly was pulled from a vote by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday, a step both advocates and foes agreed was spurred by late amendments adopted last week when the measure moved out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The critical amendments called for a ban on both plastic and paper single-use bags one year from enactment, as well as a surprise provision that big-chain grocery stores provide free reusable bags for two months after the law takes effect. Previously, the bill would have waited two years before paper bags were banned.

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NYC Pauses Moving Homeless Families to Newark

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
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NEWARK, NJ — New York City has agreed to temporarily stop sending homeless families to Newark through the Special One-Time Assistance program pending the court’s ruling on an injunction over the issue.

Through SOTA an estimated 1,200 of New York City's homeless were relocated to Newark apartments, regardless of the spaces' living conditions, with no safety net beyond their one-year rental assistance.

The agreement between Newark and New York City was reached in a day-long discussion between the two cities’ attorneys at the Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark on Monday.

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We need to open more prison doors, and do more to help those who step out: McGreevey

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