Newark Mayor Joins State Senators to Address Gun Violence After Mass Shootings

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez on March 26 at Branch Brook Park to call on reform for gun violence.

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NEWARK, NJ – In the wake of two mass shootings, one in Georgia and another in Colorado which claimed the lives of 18 people, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Friday joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to address the issue of gun violence at a local level. 

Calling on Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to take action against the matter in communities, the mayor and state legislators gathered at Branch Brook Park in Newark to advocate for common-sense gun law reform. 

“This is like a broken record. We have to have these over and over again because mass shootings are happening all over the country,” Baraka said. “There is no difference of a person going into a school or into a spa, shooting innocent people with an AR-15 and a kid getting their hands on an AR-15 or AK-47 on Clinton Avenue, Avon Avenue or Bloomfield Avenue here in the city of Newark, and committing homicide in these cities with guns that are not manufactured on the corner of their streets.”

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Rutgers says all students must be vaccinated before coming to campus in the fall.

The Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J., closed last fall. Credit...
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Taking note of President Biden’s vow to make every adult in the United States eligible for a vaccine by early summer, Rutgers University, in New Jersey, said on Thursday that all students would need to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to be allowed to return to campus in the fall.

“Adding Covid-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students,” the Rutgers president, Jonathan Holloway, said in a statement. The university, one of the largest in the country, is thought to be among the first to require students to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

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Biden administration moving ahead on Gateway tunnel crucial to N.J., Buttigieg says

Posted Mar 25, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration is moving ahead on approving the Gateway Tunnel project, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday.

“I share your sense of urgency with Gateway and related projects,” Buttigieg told the House Transportation Committee. “This is a regional issue but one of national significance because if there was a failure in one of those tunnels, the entire U.S. economy would feel it.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to support Gateway, a new railroad tunnel under the Hudson River to allow the existing tubes to be closed to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Buttigieg on Thursday said the department hoped to complete the project’s long-delayed environmental impact statement by the end of June.

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In-person voting before Election Day almost a done deal in NJ

COLLEEN O'DEA, SENIOR WRITER | MARCH 26, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Paper-trail electronic voting machine

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New Jersey is poised to become the 25th state to require early, in-person voting by machine this fall. The requisite measure was on schedule for final passage by the state Senate Thursday, with Gov. Phil Murphy expected to sign as early as next week.

Despite numerous complaints by county election officials that there is not enough time and may not be enough money to successfully implement an early voting system in time for the November general election, the Senate quickly approved S-3203 by a 28-8 vote without comment. It was one of three election reform measures considered by the Legislature Thursday.

The early-voting legislation would require each county to open between three and seven polling places, depending on the county’s number of registered voters, for machine voting. Those machines would be available to voters for nine days — including weekends — prior to the general election, ending on the Sunday before Election Day. This year, that would be from Saturday, Oct. 23, through Sunday, Oct. 31. Counties now offer early voting only using paper vote-by-mail ballots according to schedules they specify.

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Police investigating ‘knucklehead’ maskless shopping protest planned at N.J. mall, Murphy says

Posted Mar 24, 2021

New Jersey officials on Wednesday said they’re monitoring social media posts promoting a protest calling for people to go shopping at Freehold Raceway Mall on Saturday without face masks more than a year into restrictions to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only we are aware of this ridiculous flyer that’s gone around about maskless shopping, but I am personally aware of it and extremely unhappy about it,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during his latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton.

The origin of the “maskless shopping” protest is unclear, but officials said they were aware of the event being organized by the Patriot Party of New Jersey before a reporter asked about it during Wednesday’s briefing. At least one version of the flyer that appears on Twitter lists a specific time and meeting place, though the authenticity could not be verified.

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All N.J. residents should be eligible for COVID vaccine now, Newark mayor says

Posted Mar 24, 2021

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka feels that any New Jersey resident who wants to get the coronavirus vaccine should be able to do so as soon as possible.

“I think they should make it available to anyone who wants to take it now, actually,” Baraka said during a weekly interview series posted Wednesday night on the city’s Facebook page. “I think they should do that today.”

The mayor made the comment after he was asked if the slower rollout of the vaccine was the result of a supply or distribution issue.

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Bias incidents in N.J. spiked in 2020, data shows

Posted Mar 23, 2021

There were at least 1,441 bias incidents reported by New Jersey law enforcement agencies last year — a 45 percent increase over 2019, according to preliminary data released by the New Jersey State Police on Tuesday.

“As we were starkly reminded by the horrific shootings last week in Atlanta, our country has a hate problem,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a roundtable on anti-Asian racism and violence.

“And the data we just released in New Jersey shows that we are not immune to it.”

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After a $90K setback, café for deaf residents finally opens in Newark

Posted Mar 23, 2021

The road to opening Deaf’s Delight Café, a new eatery in Downtown Newark that caters to the city’s deaf and hard of hearing residents, wasn’t easy. After years of working toward its opening, a burglary in 2019 all but stomped out Sandra Rivers’ hope of creating a place that could honor what her parents went through during their lifetimes.

“Both of (my parents) died in a society that wasn’t built for them,” Rivers told NJ Advance Media. “I wanted to make sure the community didn’t die in the same manner my parents did.”

Rivers’ parents were deaf, and there was never really a place they could go on their own to have fun and meet new people, she said. Sometimes she would even hear people laughing under their breath, when eating out with her mother, she previously told NJ Advance Media. Her dream, she said, was to create a space where that wouldn’t happen.

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Coronavirus variants spreading rapidly, and testing lags dramatically

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | MARCH 24, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

In NJ, just 2% of COVID-19 tests are assessed for the presence of coronavirus variants.

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Variants of the coronavirus behind COVID-19 are multiplying and infecting a rapidly growing number of people in New Jersey and nationwide, with an 830% rise in mutant strains found in this state over the past five weeks.

But that may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Between public, private and academic labs, the so-called sequencing tests needed to screen for variants are only conducted in roughly 2% of the COVID-19 tests given in New Jersey daily, the state Department of Health told NJ Spotlight News. Recently, more than 3,000 people are testing positive almost every day in this state.

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In Softball-Aplenty Virtual Townhall, Murphy Hits Back at GOP’s Core Argument

By Fred Snowflack | March 22, 2021

Insider NJ

Republicans like to say raising taxes drives people out of New Jersey.

Not true, Gov. Phil Murphy said this evening during a virtual town hall.

“There’s no evidence folks are coming or going based on their income tax,” said Murphy, who made increasing taxes on annual income of $1 million or above a part of his 2017 election campaign. It finally happened a few months ago when the tax bracket for that amount of income rose from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent.

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