Former Newark Police Officer Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud Newark Watershed Corp.

By Insider NJ | January 7, 2021

A former Newark police officer was sentenced today to 108 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (NWCDC) and giving kickbacks to its former executive director, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Janell Robinson, 45, of Newark, was previously convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the NWCDC facilitated by use of mails and wire transmissions, two counts of mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right affecting interstate commerce, following a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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Trump agrees to ‘orderly transition’ of power

01/07/2021 

Politico

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally protesting the electoral college certification, which then turned violent, on Jan. 6.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump early Thursday morning acknowledged for the first time he will leave office and agreed to an orderly transition of power, bringing an end to an unprecedented and chaotic chapter in U.S. history and a presidential term that supporters and foes alike agree was among the country’s most consequential.

Notably though, Trump didn’t admit defeat or say he was conceding. He also failed to publicly recognize the deadly riot his supporters participated in inside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement. “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”

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A president incites an act of domestic terror. Here, in America | Editorial

Posted Jan 06, 2021

Donald Trump’s final attempt to cling to power was a failed coup, and the US Capitol, a symbol of democracy throughout the planet, was turned into a cauldron of knuckle-dragging misfits and rioters.

This is not an ironic twist to the American story. It is a tragic realization of what this malevolent man-child had promised all along, in thought, word, and tweet: This was the professional liar who encouraged violence against peaceful protesters, who called opponents traitors, who belittled dissenters, who galvanized white supremacists, and who has spent five long years trying to divide the nation.

Too many of us ignored the warnings, which is our great failure.

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Giant turbines will generate power at New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm

JON HURDLE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER | JANUARY 7, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Wind turbines from the Deepwater Wind project off Block Island, Rhode Island

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New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm will also be among the first in the world to be powered by the biggest and most powerful turbines ever built, the project’s developer said.

Ocean Wind, a planned farm about 15 miles off Atlantic City, is due to start operating in 2024, using as many as 99 Haliade-X turbines — giant machines that will tower 853 feet (260 meters) above the ocean’s surface, using blades that are 351 feet (107 meters) long, and can each generate enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.

The technology, built by GE, has a working prototype near the Port of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, but it hasn’t yet been commercially deployed. The turbines are also scheduled to be used for the planned Skipjack wind farm — much smaller than the New Jersey project — off the coast of Maryland, that is expected to start operating by the end of 2023.

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Raphael Warnock Defeats Kelly Loeffler In Georgia Senate Runoff

By Amanda Terkel

01/06/2021

HuffPost

Democrat Raphael Warnock has defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.

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Raphael Warnock has defeated GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s runoff election, making him the first Black U.S. senator in the state’s history.

Control of the Senate rests on the two runoffs in Georgia. In the other, Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging Sen. David Perdue (R). If Democrats win both, they control the chamber. (It would be split 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.) If Republicans hold on to just one seat, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remains the majority leader.

Warnock’s win is historic. There have been only 10 Black senators in history, and Warnock is the first Democrat from the South since Reconstruction. (The other Black senator from the region is Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina, who is a Republican.)

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Early voting won’t be ready by primary election, officials say

By Nikita Biryukov, January 05 2021

New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy.

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There’s no chance in-person early voting systems will be in place in time for the state’s June 8 primaries, five election officials told the New Jersey Globe, and they may not be fully prepared by November.

The officials’ warnings directly contradict Gov. Phil Murphy, who on Monday said he believed the system could be in place by primary day if lawmakers moved quickly enough.

“Early voting, without commenting on the specifics of the bill, I’m all in, and I think if we move quickly enough, I believe it can be in effect for primaries,” he said at Monday’s virus briefing.

Election officials’ concerns are numerous, but the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) is foremost among them.

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New Jersey’s Murphy singles out Van Drew for ‘siding with conspiracy theorists’

 01/04/2021 

Politico

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said President Donald Trump‘s actions “subvert American democracy for his personal benefit. … Let that sink in for a minute.” 

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday launched a verbal attack against a group of congressional Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Van Drew, for their “shameful” and “dangerous” plan to challenge the presidential election results based on unsupported allegations of voter fraud.

“I have to address, in the words I will use, the shameful, dangerous, undemocratic and unpatriotic display of a number of congressional Republicans who are openly and unabashedly working to undermine our constitutional norms … and to overthrow a free and fair election decided by the American people,” Murphy said during his regular briefing in Trenton.

Congress on Wednesday is set to certify the Electoral College votes, confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, but at least 12 incoming and current Republican senators, along with well over 100 GOP House members — including Van Drew — have said they are going to challenge the results based on unfounded false claims of voter fraud.

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NJ looks to retired medical professionals to speed pace of COVID-19 vaccinations

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | JANUARY 5, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

RN Maritza Beniquez receives a COVID-19 vaccination at Newark’s University Hospital. Retired medical professionals are being asked to step in and protect frontline workers and speed vaccinations.

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As New Jersey prepares to establish its first vaccine “megasites” this week, state officials are looking for retired medical professionals to help administer COVID-19 immunizations to fellow health care workers at risk for infection.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that 100,000 New Jerseyans have been vaccinated so far through the state’s program, which began Dec. 15 at select hospitals and two weeks later at nursing homes under a federal partnership with pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens.

As of last week, the state had received some 400,000 doses from vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, officials said, 120,000 of which are slated for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Eventually the state hopes to immunize 4.7 million people, a process that could last well into the fall.

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Self-made Black women: The new faces of small business in Newark

CARRIE STETLER | JANUARY 4, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Shikhana Muhammad at the walk-up window she installed at Salaam Ice Cream Parlor to serve customers during the pandemic

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In 2019, photographer Tinnetta Bell and I embarked on a year-long photojournalism project called Self Made, which documents nine women who own small businesses in Newark’s South and West Wards.

As editor, I wanted to localize a national trend. For more than a decade, Black women had been the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the nation, despite the obstacles they faced. From 2014 to 2019, firms owned by Black women grew at a rate of 50%, according to the American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report.

Americans love the image of small-business owners, even as they flock to big-box stores and shop online. Main Street’s mom and pop shops symbolize hard work, independence and community. But Black women are rarely presented as the face of small-business owners — despite their exponential demographic growth. That’s especially true if they’re located in struggling and often stigmatized communities like Newark’s South and West wards. Self Made was created to shine a light on them.

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Congresswoman: ‘We cannot condone the monetization of justice’ | Opinion

Posted Jan 03, 2021

By Bonnie Watson Coleman

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman says Hudson County has had to choose between extending its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to keep people on the payroll or stay true to the promises it made to end its contract with ICE.

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Nationwide, cities and municipalities are stretched in ways they could never have imagined nor planned for. With dimming hopes for federal aid in the pipeline, it’s forcing them to make difficult choices. Hudson County, not far from my own congressional district, has had to make just such a choice: extend its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to keep people on the payroll or stay true to the promises it made to end it.

This crisis is the quintessential example of what happens when our justice system, and prisons in particular, operate with a profit incentive. It’s also an important illustration of why it has to stop.

Our national history, and particularly the stories of African Americans and other marginalized groups, are proof that where there is a financial incentive for incarceration there is always an equal drive to ensure people fill prison cells.

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