Nick Garcia
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April 30, 2016
This is amazing! I wish we had something like this in the Bronx
Benefit concert raises money for victims of Ecuador earthquake
by Benjamin Fang
Apr 30, 2016 | 96 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elected officials from the federal, state and local level, including State Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Judge Carmen Velasquez and Public Advocate Letitia James attended the benefit concert.
Elected officials from the federal, state and local level, including State Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Judge Carmen Velasquez and Public Advocate Letitia James attended the benefit concert.
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Hundreds of community members turned out to help raise money for Ecuador.
Hundreds of community members turned out to help raise money for Ecuador.
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Many performers supported the benefit concert and sent positive messages to the victims of the earthquake.
Many performers supported the benefit concert and sent positive messages to the victims of the earthquake.
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After an earthquake in Ecuador tragically killed more than 650 people, elected officials in Queens stepped up to host a benefit concert on Sunday to raise funds for the victims. “Queens for Ecuador” was hosted by State Senator Jose Peralta and raised $10,332 from hundreds of community members who attended the event at La Boom in Woodside. All proceeds will be donated to UNICEF, one of the international organizations working to direct funds to victims. “As soon as the earthquake hit, I wanted to do something positive to help our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters back home,” Peralta said. The earthquake struck on April 16, killing at least 655 people and injuring more than 16,600 others. Nearly 50 people are still reported missing, and more than 25,000 people were left homeless. According to UNICEF, 281 schools were destroyed in the country, displacing 150,000 schoolchildren. Authorities have estimated that the disaster caused at least $3 billion in damages. While $10,000 is just a fraction of the costs needed to put the country back in a state of repair, Peralta said every dollar counts. “We wanted to send a message that although we can’t raise the millions of dollars that are going to be needed to clean up in Ecuador, at least in Queens, in my district, we can make it a little bit easier,” he said. “It also sends a message that everyone is working together as one and everyone wants to participate. We’re all in this together.” Peralta received a call from the owner of La Boom, a nightclub located at 56-15 Northern Boulevard in Woodside, who said he was more than happy to donate the space for a fundraising event. After speaking to the Consul General of Ecuador, who said it was a wonderful idea, Peralta then contacted elected officials to try to put it all together. Public Advocate Letitia James, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Congressman Joe Crowley, Assemblyman Michael DenDekker and Judge Carmen Velasquez, the first Ecuadorian to become a judge in New York, all attended Sunday’s benefit concert. One of the leading elected officials working to provide relief was Assemblyman Francisco Moya, the Queens lawmaker who is also the first Ecuadorian American elected to public office. Moya said efforts to direct resources to the people who really need it in Ecuador was a personal endeavor. “I like to say that Ecuador may be a small country, but we have a very big heart,” he said. “With the number of people coming in to lend their support, I think it’s very overwhelming. “It shows that in times of tragedy in other parts of the world, we really come together,” he added. “That’s the beauty of New York City.” Moya, who represents the largest number of Ecuadorians outside of the country itself, said his family in Ecuador is fine. During the first few hours after the quake there was no communication, but eventually his cousins, through social media and Facebook, sent him messages that his family was safe. The following day, many of his neighbors began coming over to find out what was going on with their family members back home in Ecuador. “It became sort of a hub of information,” Moya said. “These are the things that make us such a close and tight-knit community.” Moya said the government is working with companies like Time Warner and AT&T to allow free calls and texts between the United States and Ecuador. Family members are starting to call and check in with one another, Moya said. The Corona native has also been working directly with the Consul General’s office to secure a cargo plane to send all of the supplies they’ve collected. “I will do whatever I can to make sure I help the people in Ecuador that are suffering right now,” Moya said. At the federal level, Crowley and Staten Island Congressman Dan Donovan introduced a resolution to support the people of Ecuador. On Sunday, Crowley said $100,000 was immediately made available to aid the victims of the earthquake, and another $500,000 in equipment, food, water and other resources are being directed to Ecuador. Crowley also requested to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ecuadorians both here and abroad to make recovery easier for the community. “Countries may not always see eye to eye, but when it comes to tragic events like what we’re experiencing in Ecuador with the earthquake, people come together,” Crowley said. “The United States has always had a proud tradition of helping our neighbors.”
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100 aspiring techies take part in first QueensHack
by Benjamin Fang
Apr 29, 2016 | 441 views | 1 1 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students team up to work on a project together at QueensHack.
Students team up to work on a project together at QueensHack.
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A student shares his ideas with his team members during the 24-hour hackathon.
A student shares his ideas with his team members during the 24-hour hackathon.
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Lin Ochoa, right, and his teammate developed a web app that calculates tolls for users. Their team won third place.
Lin Ochoa, right, and his teammate developed a web app that calculates tolls for users. Their team won third place.
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Armed with laptops, fueled by pizza and teeming with innovative ideas, nearly 100 high school and college students attended the first QueensHack event last weekend at the Falchi Building in Long Island City. The two-day hackathon was planned and organized by two Queens students, Liang Gao, a freshman at Stony Brook University, and Najm Skeikh, a recent graduate of Bayside High School. With tech on the rise in the borough, Gao and Sheikh wanted to promote computer science by creating their own hackathon for students. “We’ve been to a lot of hackathons, but we realized that there’s not that many in New York City,” said Gao, a Flushing resident. “If there is one, it’s always in Manhattan. Queens is always getting the short end of the stick, so we thought, why don’t we start a hackathon in Queens?” Gao said over the course of 24 hours, students brainstorm ideas, find a team and try to turn the ideas into reality. About 100 students, half of whom are in high school and the other half in college, came to both compete and learn. Gao said they received more than 400 applicants in a four-week period. No experience was necessary to participate, and some students selected for the event had never participated in a coding project. “There’s not that much of a criteria, so they don’t need to know anything about programming,” Gao said. “We know everyone will be learning at a hackathon, so it doesn’t matter what their level is.” Gao and Sheikh began planning for the weekend event back in November 2015, beginning with a few months looking for an appropriate venue in Queens. Luckily, Coalition for Queens (C4Q), a nonprofit that aims to create and foster a tech community in the borough, has an office big enough to fit about 100 students. When that was secured, they sought sponsors and mentors who could help out during the event. “It’s almost like a full-time job for us to get everything organized, get sponsors and make sure that the event happens,” Gao said. The Stony Brook freshman, who is studying computer science, got his start with tech back in middle school. By the 8th grade, he created his first website. Gao then honed his skills at Bayside High School, where he learned more about computer programming. “From that point on, I wanted to do something with coding,” he said. Sheikh told a similar story. The Floral Park resident started off playing video games, and eventually thought about being the person who actually creates the games. An art student at Bayside High School, his first step was looking up online workshops and resources. During his sophomore year, he started getting into coding. The following year, he started attending hackathons and other tech events at colleges like University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan. “It’s a cool thing because a lot of these hackathons are hosted by different universities,” he said. “They provide travel reimbursements. It’s a good way to travel and meet a lot of like-minded people.” Sheikh was also part of an initiative called Generation Tech, a summer entrepreneurial program for teenagers. Over the course of six weeks, he joined other teens in creating mock companies. Sheikh said after attending the program, he began thinking about hosting a hacking event for Queens students and making the borough “the next Silicon Valley of New York City.” “The hackathon itself was just an idea for them to meet like-minded people, network, learn something new and build something incredible over the course of the weekend,” he said. After the inaugural hackathon, Sheikh said they’re planning to make QueensHack a biannual event. Lin Ochoa, a third-year student at Queens College studying computer science, heard about the event through his school’s emails. QueensHack was Ochoa’s second hackathon. Although he’s fairly new, he came with a friend and was already working on a project early on in the weekend. “What we’re working on is a web app that will help calculate the tolls from Point A to Point B,” he said on Saturday. “All you have to do is put in where you want to go and where you’re starting out.” Using data from maps and toll prices, Ochoa’s team put together an app called TollGO that won third place. First place went to a group of students that created Tai Chi Kinect, an app that allows users to practice the martial art with the help of a robot instructor. Ochoa said he’s currently interested in data science, but isn’t sure how to get into it. Attending QueensHack, he said, is one way to start. “This is a great environment to learn and I’m very appreciative,” he said.
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Nick Garcia
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2 Hours Ago
This is amazing! I wish we had something like this in the Bronx
Jeff Lewis
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April 28, 2016
A very good letter. Thanks for taking the time to study the problem and report it accurately, thoroughly. As a retired FAA ATC on the West Coast, I have made it something of a weird hobby to study aviation impacts and try to identify solutions. It is absolutely true that FAA has basically opened all faucets and removed all barriers for the airlines, and in the process has destroyed all community balances that previously existed. The health of many individual residents is also being destroyed. Thankfully, with responsible citizens speaking up and demanding accountability, all of this can (and will, eventually!) be repaired. The normalization, so that airports and FAA serve people and communities and not just airline profits, would be greatly accelerated if our elected officials spent less time politicking and fundraising, and more time SERVING YOUR CONSTITUENTS!
V.S.Resident
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April 28, 2016
With hundreds of thousands of people across the country suffering under NextGen, this would almost seem to qualify as a crime against humanity. FAA head Michael Huerta needs to be held accountable.