I have papel, I have pineapple! ‘Pinyapel’ wins int’l award in New York

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 31, 2019   •   413

Philippine-made ‘Pinyapel’ is among the winners of the D&AD Future Impact Awards for Environment and Sustainability in New York City.

The ‘Pinyapel’, which came from the Filipino words pinya (pineapple) and papel (paper), is made from discarded pineapple leaves from pineapple plantations of Bukidnon.

According to the statement of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the product was coined and developed by the DTI – Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), with the collaborative efforts of the DCP, Cagayan de Oro Handmade Paper, Nature’s Fresh and Ideatechs Packaging Corporation.

“Rather than leaving pineapple leaves to rot, the DTI-DCP partnered with Cagayan de Oro Handmade Paper to launch a sustainable innovation to transform waste into new and useful material, a forward-thinking approach to combat the growing problem on non-biodegradable plastic,” according to the DTI.

The award will be given on November 6 in New York City.—AAC

Coronavirus-warning robot descends on New York’s Times Square

UNTV News   •   February 11, 2020

A 5-foot-tall Promobot descended on New York’s Times Square on Monday (February 10) to inform the public about the symptoms of coronavirus and how to prevent it from spreading.

Curious passersby stopped, and complete a short questionnaire on an iPad attached to the robot’s chest, and even had a conversation with the machine.

“This thing is very clever. It’s really, really clever,” said Tara Healy, who was visiting New York from London.

Others thought the bot was part of the New York experience.

“A bit mental,” said Thomas McAlinden from Scotland. “But sums up New York for me.”

Promobot was created by a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, – based startup run by a group of Russians.

The company’s chief business development officer Oleg Kivorkutsev told Reuters the company makes autonomous service robots for businesses.

Kivorkutsev and his colleagues said they organized several events around New York City, with Promobot giving away face masks and talking to people, to promote its products.

“We did a special software to detect coronavirus symptoms,” Kivorkutsev told Reuters. “We understand how this problem is important, how people are nervous, people are afraid of this. But if they understand few, simple things, for example, what symptoms coronavirus has, what they should do to prevent (it), everything will be fine and everyone will be happy.”

So far, five people in New York City have been tested for the virus – with four cleared and one pending.

(Production: Aleksandra Michalska & Nelson Villarreal)

New York governor proposes ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday (September 9) to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.

“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.

The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.

The decision is of a piece with how vaping is currently being viewed by many on the street in New York.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re smoking,” Brian, a construction worker, told Reuters. “You don’t know what they’re putting in that oil.”

U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,

Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.

Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.

“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.” (Reuters)

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)

Fake heiress who dazzled New York elite sentenced to up to 12 years in prison

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2019

Anna Sorokin, 28, posed as a wealthy heiress to scam banks for loans in millions | Courtesy: Reuters

A German woman who posed as a wealthy heiress to scam boutique, New York hotels and fashionable friends was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.

Blinded by the glitter and glamour of New York City, Anna Sorokin, 28, was sentenced to prison for defrauding hotels, restaurants, a private jet operator and banks out of more than $200,000.

Sorokin, a would-be art collector, planned to open a members-only arts club but became known as the “soho grifter” after her deception upon New York’s glitzy social scene came to light. She was found guilty last month of grand larceny and theft of services.

She was also fined $24,000 and ordered to pay restitution of about $199,000.

At the hearing, Judge Diane Kiesel rejected the Defence Lawyers’ claim that Sorokin was merely trying to make it in New York, in the words of the Frank Sinatra song about the city.

“Sadly I agree with the people, if Miss Sorokin spent half as much time, half this much time, working legitimately to raise money for a foundation that sounded like a good addition to New York as she spent concocting phony bank statements, fake wire transfers, and non-existent financial advisers, she might have done quite well for herself. She’s clearly smart and very creative,” Judge Kiesel said.

Under her assumed name Anna Delvey, Sorokin falsely claimed she had a multi-million-dollar trust fund at her disposal, as she hired a private jet, attended elite parties, and lived in a luxury New York hotel. She maintained the scam for almost four years.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said, Sorokin had “not a cent to her name”.

Her father is reportedly a former trucker, who runs a heating-and-cooling business.

U.S. immigration and customs enforcement said in a statement that Sorokin was a German citizen who had illegally overstayed in the United States.

The agency said it will seek to send her back to Germany once her criminal proceedings are over.

Meanwhile, during the trial, she was admonished for throwing tantrums when she couldn’t get her stylist-curated outfits and drew unflattering sketches of the lead prosecutor during testimony.

“The defendant repeatedly delayed these court proceedings because she was not happy with the clothing that was offered to her by the department of corrections.

“She seemed to be basking in the press attention and rather than thinking seriously about the crimes she committed and how it affected people,” saidNew York Prosecutor Catherine Mccaw.

But at sentencing she was humbled.

“I apologize for the mistakes I made,” Sorokin said.

Sorokin’s story became a media sensation, and a tv series about her life was also planned.

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