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    The logic is the same as in criminal court: Lives hang in the balance, and we are national of laws.

    Federal immigration agents make mistakes all the time. They even wrongfully arrest American citizens.

    Since 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released more than 1,480 people after investigating their citizenship claims, a disturbing LA Times report found.

    Hundreds more spent months or years in detention before they could prove they are Americans. ICE often uses outdated government records and bad data and does cursory investigations. And it's not just citizens who have a legitimate claim to fend off deportation.

    Murphy doles out $2M for legal help to undocumented immigrants facing deportation
    So do other immigrants. Like Ahmed Abdelbasit, a Union City physics teacher and father of three who was sentenced to death in Egypt. Had a lawyer not helped win him asylum, he could have been deported and hanged.

    Or Emilio Gutierrez Soto, a journalist who fled death threats in Mexico, and was lucky enough to be represented by the Rutgers law clinic. A federal judge agreed there is compelling evidence that he was arrested by ICE because he was critical of our government. The denial of his asylum case was overturned, and he awaits a new decision.

    Or the church volunteers that ICE arrested in Highland Park, including the father of an American 13-year-old. They fled religious persecution in the late 1990's, entered the U.S. legally, and missed the deadline to file for asylum because they didn't know about it. Then they trusted our government enough to come forward and register.

    They deserve a fair hearing before being separated from their kids. And given the Trump administration's amped-up deportations of harmless long-time residents, the least we can do is ensure they have lawyers. Immigration law is complicated enough without having to plead your own case.

    All this is why Gov. Phil Murphy and state legislators are allocating $2.1 million of taxpayer money to get lawyers for immigrants facing deportation who can't afford them. It's about justice, not a craven embrace of law-breaking.

    Conservatives argue this is nuts, that we'll be footing the bill for prosecution and for defense. But the logic is the same as in criminal court: Lives hang in the balance, and we are a nation of laws.

    Pundits like Judi Franco from 101.5 brush this off as, "Your hard-earned money will be used to help an illegal 'lawyer up.'" But whether people are, in fact, here properly is exactly the issue to be determined. Why is it that conservatives assume ICE never makes an error that a court might correct? Aren't they supposed to think government is inept?

    It's fair to ask whether this spending deprives other lower income families who are citizens from receiving legal aid, like people being evicted from their homes. But it doesn't. No money was taken away from Legal Services, the main nonprofit providing pro-bono lawyers, and redirected to immigrants. In fact, the nonprofit got an even larger increase in state funding, $2.5 million, for other people's legal problems.

    Of course, it always needs more. In a rational world, the cost of fair representation in immigration court should fall to the federal government. But that isn't going to happen under President Trump. Meanwhile, New Jersey counties like Essex are making a killing, taking in millions of dollars a month from ICE to hold churchgoers and pizza guys in their jails.

    They should use some of this "blood money" to throw in their own grants, since $2 million likely won't be enough. A spokesman for Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo previously told us he'd consider providing free lawyers to immigrants in his jail. Last week, he said the "answer is still yes, and a decision hasn't been made about how much."

    Now is the time to act. At least the state is stepping up to do the right thing.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    Who wants to rock and roll all night at The Rock?

    One of the biggest rock bands in history will visit The Rock next year.

    KISS announced on Monday that the second leg of its farewell "One Last Kiss: End of the Road World Tour" tour would include a stop at Prudential Center in Newark on Aug. 14, 2019.

    Tickets will be made available to the general public on Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. at or by calling 1-800-745-3000. The Prudential center box office will have tickets starting Dec. 4 at 11 a.m.

    But if you can't wait that long, KISS Meet & Greet Experiences will be available Tuesday, November 27 at 10 a.m. local time through, and KISS Army fan club presales will begin Thursday, November 29 at 9 a.m.

    "All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who've filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years," the band said in the announcement. "This will be the ultimate celebration for those who've seen us and a last chance for those who haven't. KISS Army, we're saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we'll go out the same way we came in... Unapologetic and Unstoppable." 

    The tour kicks off on Jan. 31 in Vancouver, and the first leg will include stops at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 27 and Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on March 29.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.

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    Angela Bledsoe, 44, was shot once in the jaw and three times in the back, a prosecutor said.

    A Montclair lawyer arrested in Cuba earlier this month admits fatally shooting his girlfriend, but claims her killing was self-defense, his own attorney told a judge in Newark Monday.

    Superior Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler, however, said the state's evidence was more than sufficient to keep James Ray III behind bars while awaiting trial on murder and weapons charges.

    "I really haven't heard anything that convinces this court you have overcome the presumption for detention," Wigler told Ray, who stood before the court in a green jail uniform, guarded by Essex County sheriff's officers.

    Ray, 55, is charged with first-degree murder and unlawfully possessing a weapon in the death of Angela Bledsoe, whom Montclair police found fatally shot inside the couple's North Mountain Avenue on Oct. 22.

    Ray was arrested by FBI and Homeland Security Investigations on Nov. 6 following his detention by Cuban authorities on an Interpol "red notice."

    Ray's attorney, Thomas R. Ashley, argued his client had been cleaning several guns he owned when Bledsoe took one and pointed it at Ray. Ray fired at her with the gun he was holding only to defend himself, Ashley said.

    Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Shaughnessy, however, said Bledsoe, 44, was shot four times: once in the jaw and three times in the back.

    Ashley said his client had planned to return to the United States and that he left the country only for fear authorities wouldn't believe his story.

    "This court well knows that flight alone is not an indication someone is necessarily guilty," he said.

    The judge appeared skeptical of the argument.

    "There's really no indication you had any intention of coming back to face these charges," Wigler said.

    Prosecutors have said Ray, who has been jailed at the Essex County Correctional Facility, wrote a note admitting fatally shooting Bledsoe.

    The note, found by Ray's sibling in the suitcase of the lawyer's 6-year-old child, said Ray was feeing specifically to avoid a lengthy trial and the possibility of jail time, authorities said.

    The handgun used to kill Bledsoe has not been recovered. In the note, Shaughnessy said in court Monday, Ray admitted disassembling the gun and disposing of the parts in Philadelphia, where he briefly lived on the street after Bledsoe's death.

    If convicted of murder, the judge noted, Ray faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison without parole.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook

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    'Our heart stopped pumping and all of our arteries got clogged,' a Newark official said.

    New Jersey's largest city was paralyzed when the mid-November storm took officials by surprise and forced the state to shut down four major highways that lead in and out of Newark.

    As Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose put it: "Our heart stopped pumping and all of our arteries got clogged."

    Hoping to avoid another gridlock, Mayor Ras Baraka on Monday announced a new regional task force among local and county leaders in the public and private sectors to plan for unanticipated emergencies -- whether natural disasters or terrorism-related.

    "Every institution in the city has an emergency preparedness plan," Baraka said during a planning meeting he called with city stakeholders at NJIT. "What we need is an emergency preparedness plan that involved us all."

    Newark, he said, has about 50,000 people who work in the city but don't live there. That's in addition to its 280,000 residents and all the students who attend the city's colleges and universities.   

    Among Baraka's suggestions: Staggering times when people leave work; opening buildings for stranded motorists to go to the bathroom, shelter or rest; and better communicating with local partners. 

    During the Nov. 15 storm, the state closed Routes 280, 78, 21 and 22 because of safety concerns. That meant those trying to get out of Newark were stuck. 

    Even Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said he was stalled in traffic for 10 hours. 

    "When you had school get out, employees getting out, it was a bottleneck," he said. 

    Baraka said the city needs to partner with the its anchor institutions and businesses to "have places people can go if they're stuck."

    "We have to have our buildings open, we have to be open for business," he said.

    Ambrose said in his 33 years of public service, he's never seen all four major highways close. But, he warned, it could happen again and everyone needs to be prepared. He urged motorists to carry kits in their cars that include medicine, water, snacks and phone chargers.

    Ambrose said 145 officers were on duty that day but some were stuck in traffic themselves. One officer was injured while directing traffic and suffered a concussion, he said. 

    He said the biggest issue was communicating with residents and businesses so they understood what was causing the delay. 

    Part of the problem, Baraka said, is that the city didn't treat the storm as an emergency, "we looked at it as a traffic jam." 

    Performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center were only delayed and not canceled because no state of emergency was declared, which meant people were making their way into the city for those, too. 

    "Hopefully this doesn't happen again but if it does, next time we'll be ready," Baraka said. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    The crash occurred between High Street and Hillside Avenue

    Two people were killed Monday night in a crash in Glen Ridge that took down trees and left car parts scattered across Bloomfield Avenue.

    The crash occurred about 10 p.m. between High Street and Hillside Avenue.

    The victims were the driver and his passenger, according to Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

    "They hit a pole," Carter said.

    News video from showed debris including car parts, a downed pole and tree branches.

    Authorities did not release the names of the victims Tuesday morning, saying they were making notifications to family members. 

    Carter said only the victims were men.

    glen-ridge fatal.jpgWreckage from the scene of an apparently fatal crash Monday night on Bloomfield Avenue in Glen Ridge. (Armando Diaz | TAPinto) 

    News12 New Jersey reported a 25-year-old man from Harrison died in the wreck.

    Carter said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

    The crash closed part of Bloomfield Avenue - a major thoroughfare connecting several Essex County towns - for much of the night.

    car-fatal3.jpegDebris was scattered over the road after an apparently fatal accident Monday night in Glen Ridge. (Armando Diaz | TAPinto) 

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.

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    The health department first learned about the outbreak and the first child's death from an anonymous employee.

    Two more infants who had spent time at University Hospital in Newark died last week, bringing the total to three deaths related to a bacterial outbreak inside the neonatal intensive care unit since September, the state Health Department announced Tuesday. 

    The health department sent an inspection team to the hospital Tuesday after learning University's own infection control program had not been informed two more babies had died.

    "A Department survey team is on-site today to investigate the hospital's internal notification policies, governance, and other factors that relate to reporting of deaths of cases during an ongoing outbreak," according to the announcement.

    The cause of death is unclear because these were premature babies with other medical problems, according to the health department's announcement. Two of the infants died after being transferred to other hospitals.

    A total of four infants have been exposed to the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria, a hospital-acquired infection, since September. The two babies who died last week contracted the infection six weeks ago. 

    The fourth child exposed was discharged from the hospital last month, Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said.

    Anonymous 'concerned employee' alerted state to outbreak in hospital 

    Dana Yeganian, a hospital spokeswoman, said the staff "have worked diligently since the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria was discovered in our neonatal intensive care unit to control the outbreak, and there have been no new cases in the NICU since October. We continue to reinforce proper procedures and protocols with our team."

    Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal last month ordered the hospital to hire a full-time certified infection control practitioner after an inspection uncovered "major infection control deficiencies" with "hand hygiene, personal protective equipment and cleanliness."

    Hiring the infection control practitioner was part of the state's "plan of correction" for New Jersey's only public hospital.

    The health department first learned about the outbreak and the first child's death from an anonymous employee, Elnahal said.

    The state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is holding a hearing Monday on the rash of unrelated outbreaks at health care facilities treating children: University Hospital, the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where 11 children have died, and the Voorhees Pediatric Center where 13 children have been infected but none have died.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find Politics on Facebook.  

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    Investigators said the woman's death was still under investigation as of Tuesday afternoon

    A 70-year-old woman was fatally struck by a car in Millburn Monday night, authorities said.

    Virginia S. Thaler, of Brooklyn, New York, was was attempting to cross the street in the area of Lackawanna Place when she was struck by a car around 8:45 p.m., the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and Millburn police said in a statement.

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    The driver stopped and called for help, investigators said. First responders took Thaler to Morristown Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at at 9:54 p.m., according to the prosecutor's office.

    Authorities said Thaler's death is still under investigation, and no charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook.


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    Two Jersey City men charged with murdering a 17-year-old girl will be detained through the course of their prosecution.

    JERSEY CITY -- The two Jersey City men charged with gunning down a 17-year-old girl on Brinkerhoff Street in October will remain behind bars through the course of their prosecution, a judge ruled Wednesday. 

    Alterik Ellis, 25, and Travis Defoe, 28, were ordered to be detained when they appeared before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul Depascale for a detention hearing Wednesday morning. 

    Both are charged with the Oct. 26 murder of Lincoln High School senior Jade Saunders who was hanging out with friends in a building's vestibule when authorities say Ellis and Defoe opened fire from a vehicle.

    Investigators said Saunders died at the scene in front of her friends.

    Ellis and Defoe are also charged with wounding a 26-year-old Jersey City man two and two 19-year-olds when one of the men opened fire from a Toyota Camry registered to a Nutley resident and reported stolen Newark days earlier.

    Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Roe said Jersey City police were already on the lookout for the car because it was believed to have been involved in a another shooting.

    During the probable cause portion of Wednesday's hearing, Roe told the judge there is extensive security video evidence that detectives recovered from multiple locations in Jersey City and Newark. According to criminal complaints charging Ellis and Defoe, the footage revealed they had gotten into the car on Oak Street at 11:26 p.m. that night and turned onto Brinkerhoff from Monticello Avenue just prior to the 11:35 p.m.

    Security cameras later captured Ellis getting out of the vehicle and walking to an apartment on Lexington Avenue in Newark. Defoe was spotted walking from the vehicle to Penn Station in Newark and boarding a PATH train before arriving at Journal Square at 12:45 p.m., according to the complaints.

    Defoe's lawyer, Whitney Flanagan, and Ellis' attorney, Jason LeBoeuf, asked Depascale to release their clients with conditions for supervision pending trial.

    There is a presumption of detention in homicide cases because defendants face up to life in prison and are therefore flight risks. Depascale said the defense lawyers had not overcome that presumption.

    The two men will return to court on Dec. 6 for an early disposition hearing, where defendants typically receive their best plea offer from the prosecution. 

    Ellis and Defoe are each charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, three counts of aggravated assault, firearm offenses and theft related to the vehicle used in the shooting.

    Ellis and Defoe stood beside their attorneys at the defense table Wednesday and said nothing during the hearing. The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office has not commented on a potential motive for the shooting. 

    Saunders hoped to be a hair stylist after graduation. Her family members said she was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was shot dead. Investigators said she did not know Ellis or Defoe.

    The Camry was recovered in Newark after the shooting on Brinkerhoff. 


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    The attacks cost victims more than $6 million in ransom payments and more than $30 million in damages, prosecutors said

    Two hackers in Iran were behind an international wave of ransomware attacks that shut down Newark's computer systems until the city paid $30,000 last year, federal and local officials said Wednesday.

    An indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Newark accuses Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri of running what Assistant U.S. Attorney General Brian Benczkowski called "an extreme form of 21st century digital blackmail," using the SamSam ransomware to target vulnerable institutions across the U.S. and Canada.

     Both men are still at large. Authorities were hopeful the two could be arrested while they traveled or through other means, Benczkowski told reporters in Washington.

    The ransomware, which encrypts the files of a target computer until the victim pays the hackers, was also used to attack the computer systems of the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and numerous hospitals, among other victims.

    Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, told reporters at the Justice Department's Washington headquarters the hackers had looked for institutions "that could least afford to have downtime."

    Prosecutors said Savandi and Mansouri directed their victims to download the encrypted Tor internet browser and navigate to hidden web pages, where they were instructed to pay a designated ransom amount in Bitcoin, a so-called "cryptocurrency."

    The hackers used European-based servers to launch the attacks outside of their victims' regular business hours, scanning for vulnerabilities in the targeted computer systems, Carpenito said.

    The men allegedly targeted computers on Newark's city systems on April 25, 2017.

    "These attacks seriously compromised our networks and disrupted vital services that we provide to residents," Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. 

    He said the city ultimately paid the hackers a bitcoin ransom worth about $30,000 as recommended by law enforcement "in order to prevent long term disruption."

    "Both the FBI and Department of Justice were extremely helpful in guiding us every step of the way and assisting in a situation we had never faced before," Baraka said. "The city of Newark has significantly strengthened its cyber defenses and learned a great deal from having gone through this experience."

    Newark SamSam ransomware messageThe ransom note displayed on Newark city computer systems hijacked in a 2017 attack using the SamSam ransomware. (U.S. Justice Department)

    The attacks ultimately cost the hackers' victims more than $6 million in ransom payments and more than $30 million in losses from lack of access to their data, according to the indictment.

    Savandi, 34, and Mansouri, 27, developed the ransomware in 2015 and first used it a year later against a business in Mercer County, according to the six-count indictment.

    The two men have been charged with conspiracy, intentionally damaging protected computers and demanding ransom in relation to the damage.

    The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday also announced sanctions against two Iranian nationals accused of processing the bitcoin payments of SamSam victims, accusing them of providing material support to cyber criminals.

    Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan used two digital addresses to process more than 7,000 bitcoin transactions worth millions of U.S. dollars, officials said in a statement.

    The sanctions mark the first time specific digital currency addresses have been attributed to foreign individuals sanctioned by the Treasury Department, officials said.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook.


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    With apologies to the City of Trenton, "New Jersey Makes - The World Takes."

    It's called the Garden State, but more than fruits and vegetables have their seeds planted and nurtured in New Jersey.

    Innovative minds have always been some of the state's most valuable assets. And while we all know about Thomas Edison and his inventions, some people may not be aware of the host of other products and innovations that got their start in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    This list is incomplete; future galleries will cover even more of the wonderful things "Made in New Jersey."

    Be sure to right-click on the links that tell more of the story about many of these 'Made in New Jersey' entries.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    If infection control protocols aren't being followed in Newark and Wanaque hospitals, the Legislature must rattle their cages. Watch video

    In a committee room in Trenton today, a group of lawmakers, hospital administrators, infection experts, and the commissioner of the Department of Health will try to untangle the mystery that took the lives of 14 medically-fragile children and infected dozens more in two long-term facilities over the last few months.

    At the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, 11 children died and 34 others have fallen ill from the common adenovirus, which can be life-threatening to those with severe disabilities or compromised immune systems.

    At University Hospital in Newark, three premature infants died in the neonatal intensive care unit after a bacterial outbreak.

    The root cause analysis from the Health Department is still weeks away, and we may never learn whether the culprit was human failure or tragic happenstance at either facility.

    But when they meet before the Senate Health Committee chaired by Sen. Joe Vitale, one thing must happen: They have to agree that when the most vulnerable lives are at stake, there cannot be any acceptable margin for staff error - and that doesn't always seem to be the case at either facility.

    The Legislature needs to take an especially close look at the University Hospital, which has been under intense scrutiny from DOH Commissioner Dr. Shareef Elnahal for months.

    He admits to having "concerns" about whether UH has followed proper infection protocols, and when Elnahal sent a survey team to the hospital Tuesday, it learned that UH's own infection control program "was not even aware" that two children had died the week before. A state-run teaching facility should not have such systemic problems, but it is sadly predictable.

    It is a reminder that UH's last grade from the venerable Leapfrog Group - the transparency advocate that assesses hospitals on avoidable errors, injuries and infections, which studies say kill 500 people every day in the U.S. - was a D.

    It was the second-lowest Leapfrog safety rating given to a New Jersey hospital during the Fall 2018 term. Leapfrog has high standards, and participation is voluntary, but 67 hospitals were graded, and 54 of them were rewarded with an A or B.

    "Quality measures seem esoteric," says Linda Schwimmer, president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, "but they highlight the importance of transparency, particularly with regard to posting a hospital's infection rate."

    Vitale (D-Middlesex) is more blunt: "Real leadership creates and reinforces a culture of safety and excellence," he said. "It is woefully lacking at UH."

    Wanaque's reputation, meanwhile, is not sterling in all areas. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses a five-star grading system based on on-site inspections, with 1,500 standards reviewed. And while Wanaque's overall rating was 4 out of 5 in its last assessment, CMS gave it a 2 for health inspection.

    So this is a chance to re-examine protocols and determine where lapses may exist. Health industry experts tend to think that new requirements bring normal hospital functions to a screeching halt, but it is crucial for Vitale's committee to determine whether the state needs to be granted more authority to enforce these protocols.

    It's true that the Health Department may not be able to pinpoint the origin of these infections and the insidious pattern by which they spread. It is possible that they were the lethal link in a chain of unfortunate events perpetuated by a single employee making a tragic mistake.

    But we are certain of this: Children died, and we are obligated to seek solutions. There is no other way to honor the loved and the lost, now linked in our collective memory as a divine kinship, forming a sacred ring of eternity. They deserve our best.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    A tiny sampling of the thousands of pets awaiting adoption in New Jersey.

    It's that time of year again, when we spend enormous sums on pets that can't tell us they hate what we got them.

    Here's just a sampling of some of the good, the bad and ... the other gifts available for your pets in 2018.


    A 'medium dog bowl' from one company costs $32 plus shipping; it must be a water bowl because there's a molded bone sticking up in the middle of it around which the dog would otherwise have to eat. My dog enjoys her water just fine out of a 32-cent Tupperware bowl.

    Another company is selling a 'Riviera Dog Bed' for only $398. The picture shows a dog that can't weigh more than 20 pounds taking up most of it. Meanwhile, a name-brand queen size mattress sells for $239, and your dog would prefer to be on a human mattress anyway, as you well know.

    There's a pillow that has 'Santa, I've Been a Good Cat' stitched into it and selling for $68. No cat I've ever owned slept on a pillow and the last time I checked, they can't read anyway.

    That doesn't mean all pet gifts are ... curious. I also found a beautiful embroidered pet Christmas stocking that comes with the pet's name for $29. And in the spirit of the season, there's a bag of rawhide bones that look exactly like candy canes for $15.99.

    And before you picture a doting senior like me as the purchaser of such things, take note: according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and reported on, "people in the 17- to 21-year-old age group -- which PwC calls "mature Generation Z" -- will spend an average of $71 on their pets this holiday season."

    "Urban dwellers in large cities will spend about the same," the article goes on to note, "followed by fathers between the ages of 22 and 35, who will spend $70 on their pets."

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Several women have made allegations against Tyson, who appeared at NJPAC on Wednesday.

    Appearing at NJPAC for a scheduled event, Neil deGrasse Tyson again denied claims of sexual misconduct from several women. 

    Tyson took the stage at Prudential Hall on Wednesday night just days after sexual misconduct allegations first surfaced and less than two hours after BuzzFeed News reported another accuser had come forward.

    The astrophysicist and TV host addressed the claims at the beginning of the Newark event, reading segments from a lengthy post he shared on Facebook on Dec. 1.  

    "For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today's 'me-too' climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion," he said. "Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin. In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it's just one person's word against another's, and the stories don't agree?"

    The crowd raucously cheered after Tyson read from his statement, before the scientist launched into a nearly two-hour talk on collisions in space. It was just his second public event since the scandal broke. 

    One of the women who has accused Tyson alleges that he raped her when they were graduate students at the University of Texas in Austin.  

    Tyson, 60, is director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and host of the Fox series "Cosmos," which will return next year on National Geographic.

    He spoke at NJPAC just after BuzzFeed News published the results of an almost three-year investigation that revealed allegations from the fourth woman, who chose to remain anonymous. 

    The woman claims that she had been at a holiday party with her boyfriend in 2010 at the American Museum of Natural History, which is home to the planetarium. She told BuzzFeed that Tyson appeared drunk and was making sexual jokes when he approached her, asking if she would come to his office alone.

    She provided an email from 2014 in which she related the account to her employer to explain why she didn't want to collaborate with the scientist. 

    Fox and National Geographic have said they are investigating the previous three allegations against Tyson, two of which first came to light on This newest accuser said she was moved to come forward after hearing about the investigation. 

    BuzzFeed spoke to more than 30 people for its story on the Tyson allegations, including the women who have made allegations, "Cosmos" crew members, and students and professors from the University of Texas. 

    The famous scientist had posted a detailed statement on his Facebook page, saying he would cooperate fully with the investigation. In the post, he addressed allegations leveled against him by three women. 

    Tyson denied that he groped or "felt up" Katelyn Allers, a physics and astronomy professor at Bucknell University who claims Tyson pawed her dress in 2009 to see her solar system tattoo, calling the encounter "creepy." Tyson said it was "simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress."

    "I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy," he continued. "That was never my intent and I'm deeply sorry to have made her feel that way."

    Tyson also denied that he made sexual advances toward Ashley Watson, who worked with him as a production assistant, at a wine and cheese gathering in his home this past summer. On the Patheos blog, Watson claims that Tyson had made misogynistic comments and kept a list of overweight actresses on his phone to prove it was untrue that women feel societal pressure to be skinny.

    In the BuzzFeed story, she says that Tyson took off some clothes and played a Nina Simone song, focusing on the line "do I make you quiver."

    "Afterwards, she came into my office to told me she was creeped out by the wine & cheese evening," Tyson said on Facebook, denying he had touched her apart from a handshake and a hug, saying their conversation was the same as usual. Tyson said he apologized, but that the assistant quit her job working with him.

    Watson told BuzzFeed that after an awkwardly long handshake that Tyson called a "Native American handshake," he held her shoulders and said, "I want to hug you so bad right now, but I know that if I do, I'll just want more." She says she was forced to quit because of Tyson's advances.  

    Tyson also addressed the rape allegation, saying that in the 1980s, he had been intimate several times with Tchiya Amet, who blogged about her claim, when they were graduate students in astrophysics at UT Austin. She alleges that Tyson drugged and assaulted her, but he casted doubt on her assessment of events because she said she couldn't fully recall what happened. Tyson also treated Amet's accusation with skepticism because of her New Age beliefs. 

    "I note that this allegation was used as a kind of solicitation-bait by at least one journalist to bring out of the woodwork anybody who had any encounter with me that left them uncomfortable," he said in the Facebook post. 

    In the BuzzFeed story, Amet says she was friends with Tyson but doesn't remember ever being intimate with him before the alleged rape, and that the alleged assault is part of what made her decide to drop out of her graduate program. Allers and Watson say they were moved to come forward with their allegations after hearing about Amet's claims and witnessing how she was not believed. 

    "I saw that her credibility was being questioned in a way that honestly had a lot of racist and sexist and anti-religious undertones," Allers told BuzzFeed. "I kinda figured if I had any credibility to lend to that so that she's taken more seriously, I should do that."

    Elsewhere in his Facebook statement, Tyson seemed to attempt a scientific remove. 

    "I'm the accused, so why believe anything I say?" he said. "Why believe me at all?"

    Tyson is scheduled to appear at Asbury Park Convention Hall on Thursday.

    NJ Advance Media reporter Jeremy Schneider contributed to this report.

    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    The food shopping experience hasn't changed a lot over the years.

    We already have drones delivering online purchases in some parts of the country. You have to admit - you probably didn't think you'd live to see the day.

    Yet it's interesting that supermarkets are remarkably similar today to the experience a succession of generations have had over the years.

    Think about it. The manual cash register (and its almost musical sound) has been replaced by bar code scanners ... but the process of your purchases passing along a conveyor as you move through the thin checkout line is hardly different.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Items are still arranged in rows of shelves that we push shopping carts up and down. The carts themselves may be made of plastic instead of metal but the design has barely been altered.

    Fruits and vegetables are still open to be chosen individually; meats and fish are neatly arranged in refrigerated displays. It's an experience we had as children that our own children -- and likely their children - have been and will be able to share.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos of supermarkets in New Jersey. And here are links to more vintage photo galleries of supermarkets and food stores in the Garden State.

    Vintage N.J. photos of supermarkets

    Vintage photos of supermarkets and food stores in N.J.

    Vintage photos of neighborhood food stores in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    The book, titled 'Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies,' chronicles Ausiello's last days with his husband, who died of cancer.

    Focus Features just picked up a movie project based on a book from Michael Ausiello, Deadline reports.

    Ausiello, 46, who grew up in Roselle Park, is founder of TVLine, a website that covers television (which is a sister site to Deadline).

    In Ausiello's 2017 memoir: "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Other Four-Letter Words," he documents his relationship with his husband, Kit Cowan, and their last days together before Cowan died. The photographer had been diagnosed with an aggressive neuroendocrine cancer.

    "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons optioned the book last year and is set to star in the film, which will be directed by Princeton native Michael Showalter ("The Big Sick," "Wet Hot American Summer").

    Dan Savage, writer of the column "Savage Love" from Seattle's The Stranger alternative biweekly, who served as an executive producer on ABC's "The Real O'Neals," and David Marshall Grant (ABC's "A Million Little Things") will write the screenplay. Parsons will also serve as a producer. 


    This won't be Ausiello's only project for the screen. The Union County-reared writer who formerly lived in Bloomfield is also developing a TV series based on his New Jersey upbringing.

    The half-hour '80s dramedy is inspired by Ausiello's "TV-obsessed, closeted-gay childhood," Deadline reported in July, saying the writer, a huge fan of "The Smurfs," would be penning the script for Warner Bros. Television and serving as an executive producer. 

     Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.