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The Environment

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Jay McInerney Breaks His Foot on a Cliché

Jay McInerney broke his foot running to hail a cab. Outside the Waverly Inn. Martha Stewart and Cosmo editor Kate White were among Glamour's "Top 10 College Women." Pete Wentz and girlfriend Ashlee Simpson cut the bathroom line at Wentz's bar, Angels and Kings. A documentary adaptation is being filmed of Crimes Against Nature, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s indictment of President Bush's environmental policy. Hugh Hefner praised a story in Elle that trashed some of his girlfriends, even though he told the girls he'd write a critical letter to the editor about it. Katie Couric had breakfast with Ted Koppel.

Green School

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• Nine New York universities, including Columbia, CUNY, NYU, and Pratt, have signed on to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017. This exceeds Bloomberg's PlaNYC goals and should, the mayor says, "make a sizable dent" in the city's carbon footprint. [amNY] • A 15-year-old Connecticut girl who disappeared a year ago was found alive, apparently imprisoned in a secret room of her parents' acquaintances' house. [NYP] • Someone is destroying entire print runs, and harassing the editors, of the city's two Urdu-language weeklies that cater to Pakistani-Americans. This is perhaps an inopportune moment to say it, but how cool is it that we have two Urdu weeklies? [CPJ] • More mayhem: A "strapping" and "burly" (in the Daily News' oddly swooning description) ex-con prowled the 2 train for a week, stealing iPods and gold jewelry plus kissing and exposing himself to women. [NYDN] • And Frank Gehry is going to design a playground in Battery Park, as a "gift to the city." Aw, you shouldn't have! As opposed to Miss Brooklyn, which you really, you know, shouldn't have. [NYT]

You Can Find Brooklyn’s Toxic Sludge

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A little freaked out about the 10 million gallons of toxic sludge lurking under Brooklyn and seeping toward the surface? Afraid it might be oozing toward you? You'll be thankful, then, for the efforts of Michael Heimbinder, a Fort Greene resident and member of the Newtown Creek Alliance. He's created an interactive map of Greenpoint, the most affected neighborhood, on which you can learn all about the occasionally escaping sewage and pinpoint known polluted spots. "I wanted to take the opportunity that the Internet offers to create the connection between what's happening in the city — air pollution, water pollution — and what's happening in New Yorkers' apartments," Heimbinder explained. Now you can know all too well. —Rebecca Ruiz Explore Newtown Creek [HabitatMap.org] The Ooze [NYM]

Al Gore's Assault on the Upper East Side

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Al Gore spoke at the 92nd Street Y last night, and crowds thronged the Upper East Side institution's Lexington Avenue entrance in advance of the talk. There were a handful of Gore 2008 campaigners, a group of enthusiastic — if basically nonsensical — Lyndon LaRouche supporters, (none of whom came from New York and most of whom were dressed in fat suits and leaves), and a great number of enamored New Yorkers. They stood around, confused and bemused by the LaRouchies, waiting for friends to arrive — mostly, alas, in cars — for the lecture. We asked them about their thoughts on Gore, the election, and their carbon footprints.

Greening the Yellow Cab: Thumbs-Up

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Who says the press doesn't like good news? Mayor Bloomberg's announcement today that he'll force the city's 13,000 yellow cabs to go hybrid by 2012 is, we'd say, splendid, sterling, superb. Some will argue he should have acted sooner; those people are small-minded. Some will say that this is all part of the grand scheme to raise Bloomberg's national profile in service of his 2008 presidential run; those people are thinking too hard. This is simply a rare case of a good idea whose time has come. Not that there aren't some politics at work: City councilman David Yassky, who was frustrated when the administration diluted his green cab proposal back in 2002, kept the issue alive. And by doing ecofriendly things that are under the city's control, Bloomberg adds some momentum to the push for his 2030 sustainability package, whose biggest transformations require the action of state and federal officials. Next up: Look for a Bloomberg biofuel initiative. The mayor inherited a city where public schools still burned coal. He may leave one that smells like soy. —Chris Smith Bloomberg Proposes Energy Efficient Taxi Fleet [NYT] Related: Uncool New York [NYM]

New York's Racistest?

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• The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the Fire Department for discriminating against minorities. A complaint filed in Brooklyn alleges that the firefighter recruitment exam is racially weighted and serves to "weed out" blacks and Latinos. [Metro] • We've said it should take more than greening your mansion to make it into the news. This qualifies: An abandoned upstate steel mill has reinvented itself as a wind farm, a first for the Rust Belt. [NYT] • Peter Braunstein didn't just want to kill Anna Wintour: He also spoke of heading down to New Orleans to head up a gang of angry Katrina survivors, according to a shrink. (Braunstein did briefly pretend to be a hurricane victim to get free food and shelter while on the run.) [amNY] • Subway Superman Wesley Autrey left NBC's Deal or No Deal with $25 after picking the wrong suitcase (the other two held $1 million and $10,000, respectively). No X-ray vision, then. [NYDN] • And there's some sort of conspiracy afoot among the Post, CBS, Amy Fisher, and Joey Buttafuoco to pretend that there's some juice left in the Long Island pair's story — enough, perhaps, to sustain a reality show. Let's not encourage any of them. [NYP]

Will Bill Clinton Push Congestion Pricing?

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Former President Bill Clinton popped up at the city's Climate Summit today to lend his name and considerable funding clout to greening the city. Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC calls for city buildings to decrease carbon emissions by 2017, and Clinton has brokered a deal that might actually achieve that goal. Five banks (including local institutions JPMorgan Chase and Citibank) committed $5 billion to finance new insulation and lighting for buildings in sixteen cities, including New York. Four energy companies will audit the work at discount prices, and three trade groups will train minorities and the unemployed to rehab the buildings. Clinton didn't stop the giving there — Bloomberg predicted a "creative ongoing partnership with the Clinton Foundation," which we guess will be put to work on congestion pricing. With a cajoler-in-chief like Clinton at his side, Bloomberg just might be able to persuade state lawmakers to support it. —Alec Appelbaum

Rupert Goes Green — Except for That Whole Using-Tons-of-Paper Thing

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Maybe John Kerry's right, and environmentalism truly isn't a partisan issue anymore. How else to explain the latest passenger on the bandwagon, Rupert Murdoch, who has just promised to take his News Corporation carbon-neutral within four years? An ultracheery news item — in the Post, of course — breaks down the massive undertaking into smaller initiatives. For instance, the 20th Century Fox lot will switch to solar-powered golf carts. The 24 crew will use biodiesel-powered generators for outdoor scenes. (That must well complement the show's commitment to recycling: How many times has Jack gone rogue? CTU been invaded? Vice-president conspired?) Apparently this should go a long way toward negating the 641,150 tons of carbon News Corp. belched out in 2006 alone. But environmentally friendly explosions aside, we can't help but notice one little problem.

Spitzer's Mansion to Go Green

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In a one-home version of PlaNYC 2030, the state's first lady, Silda Wall Spitzer, is turning the governor's mansion fashionably green. The 39-room Queen Anne was built in 1875, and, as you might imagine, it isn't a model of energy efficiency. The planned $650,000 renovation — the state will pick up a third of that, just as it would if you were to green up your mansion — actually doesn't sound all that drastic: a few solar panels, a switch to electric mowers and hybrid vehicles throughout the property (no word on what will power the steamroller), and, um, new lightbulbs. The goals are similarly modest: halving the greenhouse-gas emissions from the mansion and reducing its yearly electric bill, which the AP places at $86,000, to a mere $60,000. (The nation's most currently notorious utility bill, Al Gore's, is $30,000.) We like the Spitzers' realism, but one is left wishing for something a little more inspirational. Shouldn't a truly green governor, like, grow his own wheat and make electricity? We know, we know: Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno must be tying his hands. Governor's Mansion To Become Greenhouse Model [AP via amNY]

Let's Go to the Swap

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The new trend in clothes-shopping among the city's more environmentally conscious sorts are clothing swaps, like last Sunday's Swap-o-rama-rama (that's not a typo) inside NYU's Eisner & Lubin Auditorium. (There's a smaller swap this Sunday afternoon, from 3 to 5 p.m., at 49 Warren Street in Manhattan.) It's a simple idea: Walk in with a bag full of clothes, pay $10, and walk out with as much as you can carry. This is not vintage shopping in the fashion-y, "curated," sense; rather, swappers peruse tables piled high with disused crap, hoping for the occasional gem. Polyester and pleats considered too weird to be vintage move on to a new life phase: Sewing machines lined the NYU room, and participants were invited to transform unwearable pieces into dolls, bras into handbags, and sweaters into mittens. We spoke to a few shoppers about their finds.

It's Not Easy Being Green

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Mayor Bloomberg's released PlaNYC 2030, his environmental agenda for the next quarter-century, yesterday (on Earth Day! get it?) at the Museum of Natural History (nature! get it?). It's almost too sprawling to recap, not to mention hell to pronounce ("plan-why-see twenty-thirty"?), but we know we'd be thrown out of the Bloggers' Association if we didn't do our best to take the most multifaceted matter and reduce it to five talking points. Herewith, our attempt to suss out the essence of the 127 proposed projects.

Mike Goes Green

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• After a long and suspenseful run-up, Mayor Bloomberg finally revealed his 25-year plan for "the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city." On tap: enclosed highways, more green space, river cleanup — and $8 congestion charge. [NYT] • Four Brooklyn policewoman have filed complaints against three of their superiors for allegedly calling them — you're not going to believe this — "nappy-headed ho's." (As in: "Don't give me no lip before I have to call you [one].") Great: postmodernist slur use. [NYDN] • A Mets fan is pleading not guilty to "interfering with a professional sporting event"; he has allegedly tried to blind two Atlanta Braves players with a flashlight. He's represented by Legal Aid, which can always use a diversion, and faces a year in jail. [WNBC] • Dina Matos McGreevey claims she had learned of her husband's sexuality early on, perhaps by 2000. Also: The Post should really stop calling McGreevey "McG" lest Charlie's Angels director McG sue. [NYP] • And The Producers ended its Broadway run yesterday after 2,502 performances, leaving behind only fond memories. Well, and two movies. [amNY]

Three Days Before Bloomberg, Spitzer Announces an Environmental Plan

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In the run-up to Earth Day — and, gosh, it's beginning to feel like an actual holiday — the political talk in New York has turned an emerald shade of green. Mayor Bloomberg will unleash his vision of the city's next 25 years on Sunday, so Governor Spitzer scooped him a bit yesterday. Spitzer outlined the centerpiece of his plan, lowering the state's energy demand instead of spending money to meet it, to "1,100 business executives" at a Crain's breakfast forum. (How much carbon was released by 1,100 limos idling outside?) Spitzer's plan, "15 by 15" (as in a 15 percent cut in emissions by 2015) has the distinction of being the nation's most aggressive, besting even California. What's interesting is that the state's energy use is projected to increase by the same 15 percent between now and then, which means the task is basically keeping it level while continuing to build. Early reactions indicate that the plan managed to please environmentalists without repulsing capitalists, a neat feat in itself; it also dovetails rather beautifully with Mayor Bloomberg's central wish-list item — a 30 percent reduction by the year 2030. Emission-free by 2100, anyone? Spitzer Outlines Aggressive Energy Plan [Crain's]

Sundance Parties for the Environment, Loudly

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Mother Earth apparently loves $600 throw pillows. How else to explain the Sundance Channel's decision to host the after-party for the premiere of the Green, its enviro-friendly programming block, at ABC Carpet & Home, the pricey boho-chic home-furnishing-and- tchotchke emporium? The store proudly touts its recycled, sustainable, and rainforest-friendly headboards, couches, and candles, but, still, the feng shui of the event, held on a second floor already crammed with Nakashima coffee tables and Eames chairs, felt toxic.

Imus Scandal Claims Another Casualty

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• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is in critical condition, and on a breathing tube, after a serious car crash sustained on his way to moderate Don Imus's meeting with Rutgers basketball players. Early reports say an out-of-control driver caused Corzine's car to swerve and hit a guardrail. Richard Codey is acting governor for the moment. [NYT] • It took a mere day for the other shoe to drop: CBS has fired Don Imus after about 30 years (and countless slurs) on the air. And now the talk-radio world is a safe and happy place again, of course. [NYP] • Turns out New York City is not just a ravenous consumer of bootleg DVDs but also a major factory of them, so videotaping films off the screen, which used to get you fined a measly $250, is now a misdemeanor with jail time attached. [IHT] • More scary housing stats: There have been 554 foreclosure auctions in New York City between January and March, up 56.5 percent from last year's fourth quarter, as folks begin defaulting on loans. [Prime Newswire] • And Governor Schwarzenegger — he of the Hummer fleet — is in New York teaching us about the environment. Okay, fine, California did pass a groundbreaking emission-reduction law and refuses to buy coal-derived electricity. Still: annoying. [NY Metro]

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

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• Kurt Vonnegut died in Manhattan last night. He was 84 and battling a brain injury after a bad fall, and we won't insult you, or him, with a half-sentence recap of his career. [NYT] • City Comptroller William Thompson is asking the U.S. Attorney General to investigate allegations of Wal-Mart's "chilling and truly outrageous" surveillance of shareholders. Now we're definitely not getting a Wal-Mart. [Reuters] • As expected, MSNBC has killed its simulcast of Don Imus's radio show. The canning, framed in the "we're doing what's right" terms, was an easy call after a whopping nineteen advertisers pulled out. [NYDN] • NYU's wunderkind con artist Hakan Yalincak has been sentenced to 42 months in prison, with a possible deportation to Turkey to look forward to when he's done. Yalincak scammed investors out of $8.8 million through a phony hedge fund. [NYP] • And worried that environmental protests tend to come out "shrill," a group is planning to flood Battery Park this Saturday with a so-called Sea of People — including a fake Blue Men Group and a church congregation dressed as Noah's Ark. Sounds, well, not shrill. [MetroNY]

PlaNYC to Be Unveiled on Earth Day

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PlaNYC — the catchall term Mayor Bloomberg has given both the planning document being drafted to guide New York's development over the next 23 years and the months-long process of public meetings to gather input for it — is, it turns out, almost ready to be unveiled. The formal announcement will come next Sunday, April 22 — you know, Earth Day — at the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side, a City Hall source confirmed to us today. The city has been explicit that PlaNYC is needed to help it deal successfully with an anticipated population explosion while our infrastructure ages and the environment deteriorates. So, while we're excited to see the plan, we confess the museum's symbolism is making us nervous: dinosaurs … carcasses … oy. —Alec Appelbaum

New York Is Full of Hot Air

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• According to a new study, New York City is responsible for a full one percent of the nation's greenhouse-gas emissions. A remarkable thing about the study: It was commissioned and publicized by our own mayor, who's basing an emission-cutting program on it. [MetroNY] • Citigroup is laying off 17,000 employees in a major slimming-down operation, and its New York headquarters is expected to be hit hard, alongside the megabank's London and Hong Kong hubs. [NYT] • A female teacher at the Newark Boys Chorus School is the latest inductee into the tabloid pantheon after an alleged dalliance with a student; she is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of child endangerment. [WNBC] • Notoriously cash-poor Columbia University is in the money, as 92-year-old billionaire John Kluge is giving his alma mater $400 million for scholarships to the needy. Somewhat weirdly, the money will be distributed among already accepted students. [NYP] • And in a cross-platform twist on an old story, a CBS News producer was fired for plagiarizing, "almost verbatim," a Wall Street Journal article — which Katie Couric proceeded to read in her video blog. Those bloggers: No scruples, we're telling you. [amNY]

Kerry at the Y: How Do You Ask a Species to Be the Last Species to Die for a Mistake?

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What do politicians do between elections? They write (or "write") books filled with folksy uplift and anecdotes about their imaginary friends or real-life relatives. John Kerry's new tome, This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future, co-written with his wife, Teresa, belongs to this beatific genre — with one notable exception: It makes a bold retroactive case for its author as a leading environmentalist. Not only is Kerry a bona fide earth defender, it turns out, he's always been one. "As ranking member and Chairman of the Fish and Marine subcommittee," the book's jacket copy explains, "he was able to write or rewrite laws affecting national fisheries, flood insurance, marine mammals, coral reefs, the Gulf of Mexico dead zone." (Ah, there's the Kerry we remember!) We caught the senator at the 92nd Street Y last night before his Q&A session with Charlie Rose, and we were pleased to see that the new, environmentalist Kerry is still the same Kerry we've long known and, well, not loved, but at least donated to and campaigned for and had our hearts broken by. He's still smart, still stiff, and still frustratingly incapable of rendering a simple sound bite. After the jump, we try.