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Mayor de Blasio Happy to Discuss the Bathroom Situation at Gracie Mansion

Never one to miss an opportunity to demonstrate that he is definitely not Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio "gushed," as the New York Post put it, about his favorite aspect of his family's new home. "The No. 1 development for our family in this move is not having to wait in line for the bathroom," he said. (The de Blasios' place in Park Slope has only one bathroom; New York City's official mayoral residence has five.) "Now there will not be a line for the bathroom, or conflicts over the bathroom." That alone probably makes Dante's longer commute to high school seem worth it.

Stephen A. Smith Suspended for Half As Long As Ray Rice Over Domestic Violence Comments

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocks a woman unconscious, and the NFL suspends him for two games. First Take host Stephen A. Smith says that sometimes women can "provoke wrong actions" and should "try to make sure it doesn't happen," and ESPN gives him seven days. Everyone comes away looking awful.

"ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week," the network said in a statement today. "He will return to ESPN next Wednesday."


Rikers Island Guards Charged With Providing Inmates With Painkillers and Cocaine

Another day, another problem with Rikers Island: The New York Times reports that two guards, 26-year-old Steven Dominguez and 30-year-old Infinite Divine Rahming, have been arrested and charged with repeatedly accepting money to smuggle drugs, including cocaine and oxycodone, to inmates inside the massive prison complex. (The two were originally arrested for cocaine possession in late June and have been in jail since.) Deleon Gift, who resigned from Rikers this spring, was also arrested and charged with taking $500 from an undercover officer to bring what he thought was oxycodone to a prisoner back in February.


Impeachment Mania Is Sweeping Both Parties

This week, House Republicans are moving forward with their plan to sue President Obama for executive overreach — specifically, the White House’s delaying of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. It’s a silly piece of political performance art designed to amp up the Republican base. But something much sillier has rapidly subsumed it — a political meme that is rallying conservatives and liberals alike, and that an idle media has amplified with gusto. Welcome to impeachment mania.


Why Do Times Square Spider-Men Keep Getting Arrested? Spider-Man Himself Explains

"Okay," Spider-Man told me last night. "I'll tell you the reason Spider-Man's the one that's always getting into problems. It's the costumes."

This particular Spider-Man was on a quick break from his solemn duty: standing at the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue to take pictures with passersby. By day, he goes by the name Paul Smith, and he says he works in marketing for Liberty Tax Service. Just moments before, a pedestrian had shouted at him, "Hey Spider-Man, how come you beat up that cop?"


Plagiarizing Wikipedia Is Still Plagiarism, at BuzzFeed or the New York Times

The New York Times says it is "looking into" accusations that a recent article on the painter Piero di Cosimo lifted most of its first paragraph straight from Wikipedia. The similarities, in a piece by reporter Carol Vogel, were first pointed out by MediaBistro's FishbowlNY, and are of particular media interest following the firing of BuzzFeed's viral politics editor Benny Johnson for similar offenses (albeit at least 41 of them), which included plagiarism not only from Wikipedia but even flimsier sources like and internet cesspool Yahoo! Answers. But with journalism living increasingly online, where prominent attribution via links is a vital part of the lexicon, and aggregation widely accepted so long as proper credit is given, the source of the words is irrelevant.


Bronx Man May Have Been Killed While ‘Elevator Surfing’

Early Monday morning, EMS workers were called to the Adams Houses in the south Bronx, where a man named Tito Morales was found crushed between an elevator car and the wall of an elevator shaft in between the building's 18th and 19th floors. The 20-year-old tattoo artist was pronounced dead at the scene. Since then, "police sources" have told the New York Post that they blame the gruesome incident on "elevator surfing," a dangerous activity that involves riding on top of the car "like a roller coaster."


‘There’s a Lot of Women Giving Birth Here Every Day’: Inside the Maternity Ward of Gaza’s Largest Hospital

Photographer Loulou d'Aki was in Berlin for a family vacation when Operation Defensive Edge broke out. The Swedish national, who had been based in Jerusalem for two years and had frequently traveled to Gaza, quickly cut her plans short and flew down to document the conflict. 

Once there, d'Aki found herself back at the morgue of Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital, which she'd also covered during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Again, she found herself noticing women in a building across the street. "They would just stand by the window, looking at what happened," she said. Her local fixer told her the building was a maternity ward.

D'Aki described the realization as "a bit creepy," but an apt analogy for the situation in Gaza. "There's a lot of women giving birth here every day, but there's also a lot of funerals," she said. "Death is just there."

This eerie coexistence of birth and death served as the inspiration for her new photo series. D'Aki spoke to and photographed women in the ward, many of whom leave the clinic just hours after giving birth. She says over 700 children have been born in that maternity ward since the war began, with death visible clearly through the hospital windows. —Katie Zavaski

George Zimmerman Now Guards a Gun and Motorcycle Store, for Free

When the world last heard from George Zimmerman, he was signing autographs at a gun show. Depressing but unsurprising, the man responsible for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin continues to spend a lot of time around firearms. According to a recent police report, a cop recently came across Zimmerman inside of Pompano Pat's, a DeLand, Florida, store that sells motorcycles, guns, and ammunition. When asked what he was doing in the shop in the middle of the night, Zimmerman said that "he was watching the business due to a recent burglary." In a conversation with a local TV station, Pompano Pat himself (a.k.a. Pat Johnson) confirmed that explanation, though he noted that Zimmerman is "patrolling" the shop as a free favor and is not a paid security guard. Considering that Zimmerman is the United States's most infamous volunteer watchman, his new position does seem to make a messed-up kind of sense. Let's just hope (against hope) that he's not armed this time.

Why I Have Become Less Pro-Israel

A half-dozen years ago, I attended the first conference of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel organization, to debate the meaning of the term pro-Israel itself. Pitted against Matthew Yglesias, I maintained that, while one certainly did not need to agree with everything Israel does to be pro-Israel, a meaningful definition required some form of sympathy more concrete than the sort one might extend to humanity writ large. I suggested two possible qualifications: a sympathy for the country’s history vis-à-vis its critics, or an ongoing support for its political stance in relation to its international foes. It has dawned on me that I am one of the liberal Jews who, by the second definition, if not the first, has grown less pro-Israel over the last decade.


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