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  • Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’: What Do You Think???

    Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail has been unleashed on Samsung users, and already went platinum before anybody heard a single note. Of course, because we live in the future, the album was fully available to non-Samsung users moments after the clock struck midnight. There will be a full, in-depth review of Magna Carta Holy Grail on the Music Mix and in next week’s issue of the magazine, but upon first listen, the thing that really jumps out is how impeccable the production sounds. Timbaland, Pharrell, and Swizz Beatz have all brought their individual A games, and it helps prop up some lyrical moments that occasionally feel phoned in (a judgment levied against Jigga over his last few releases). But what do you think of Magna Carta Holy Grail? How does it stack up against other Jay-Z albums, and how does it compare with other hip-hop albums in 2013? Sound off about your evolving opinions on Magna Carta below.

  • Statue Of Liberty Reopens On Fourth Of July

    Statue of Liberty Reopens on Fourth of July Tourists and Vendors Welcome Reopening of Liberty Island Permalink Facebook Twitter Expand/Collapse Throngs of tourists returned again to the Statue of Liberty on Thursday, a colorful day marking a new chapter for an American icon that had been closed for much of the past 21 months. By Derek Kravitz Visitors to the Statue of Liberty disembark onto Liberty Island from the ferry leaving Manhattan on Thursday. Associated Press Throngs of tourists returned again to the Statue of Liberty on Thursday, a colorful day marking a new chapter for an American icon that had been closed for much of the past 21 months. Wearing foam Lady Liberty hats and American flag T-shirts, about 17,500 visitors were the first to come to Liberty Island since Oct. 28, when the island had re-opened after a year-long renovation. Then superstorm Sandy struck the next day, inundating the island and closing the national monument again. Marykay Osborn, 55 years old, of Napa, Calif., woke up at 5:30 a.m. with several of her relatives and drove from her lodgings outside of Philadelphia to New York to be among the first visitors to the Statute of Liberty. “It’s just great to see it,” said Mrs. Osborn, who added that she hadn’t been to the statue since she was 11. “We’re just excited that it’s open for everyone to see.” The Fourth of July crowds provided a boon to merchants who had been shut out of Liberty Island business since October 2011, when it was closed for a $30 million renovation. “It’s been tough,” said Michael K. Burke, vice president of Statue Cruises, which runs 13 ferry boats to Liberty Island. “Even before Sandy, business had been down because they weren’t sure what was open.” After the storm, Statue Cruises laid off 130 employees, including dock hands and ticket sellers, and began offering hour-long harbor tours from Battery Park to make up for lost money. With the reopening of Liberty Island, Mr. Burke said he has rehired about 70% of the workers he laid off and brought staffing levels up to their pre-Sandy levels. By midday Thursday, there were long lines and half-hour waits to board departing ferries at brand-new docks festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting. The crowds kept concessions workers busy as they scrambled to get idle cash registers working and food delivered. Among the more notable changes for visitors: A bigger tent and new screening machines, which experienced glitches and shut down at least twice during the day, have been installed at Battery Park, and ports were rebuilt for separate New York and New Jersey ferry traffic. A plan to have security screeners on Ellis Island was scuttled after Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly criticized the plan as unsafe. Visitors also had a potentially more pleasant experience inside the statue: The renovation completed last October included new elevators, fire alarms and air-conditioning systems inside Lady Liberty. “It’s looks a bit cleaner,” said Ally Goeller, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, who planned her trip to New York with her mother, Lora, and sister, Krysten, around the statue reopening. She had last visited the statue six years ago. Lora Goeller, 41, said the 10-minute ferry ride made the entire trip worth it. “It’s such a beautiful ride over,” she said. The 305-foot-tall copper statue—erected in 1886—wasn’t damaged in the storm, but the tidal surge left 75% of the island under 5 feet of water. The national monument and surrounding park still face challenges as they come back from Sandy. Repairs to Liberty and Ellis islands—considered one national park—have cost at least $77 million so far, National Park Service officials say. Federal budget cuts have caused hundreds of layoffs, leaving fewer information guides for visitors on Thursday, although seasonal workers are expected back on Liberty Island in the next few weeks. Workers spent weeks clearing mud and debris, and some brick walkways are still being fixed. Ellis Island, the historic port of entry for millions of immigrants until the mid-1950s, has no timetable for its reopening. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said officials were “aiming for the fall” and could offer special tours by the end of summer. “Now that the Statue of Liberty is done, we can turn our full attention to Ellis Island,” Mr. Jarvis said. The lack of a firm reopening date for Ellis Island has frustrated business owners who rely on summer tourist crowds for much of their revenue. “We need a date, like Labor Day,” Mr. Burke said. “If we didn’t have the date set for the Fourth of July here, we wouldn’t have opened until Bastille Day or who knows when.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the lengthy repair schedule had made Liberty Island safer from hurricane-force storms and more secure from potential terrorist attacks. “Sandy left a lot of repairs to be done,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We’ve also taken steps to protect this island from big coastal storms in the future, as we have done with the rest of our city.” The statue has been closed on-and-off for much of the past 12 years. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the entire island was closed for several months, and the statue was shut off to visitors for nearly three years. The crown of the statue didn’t reopen until 2009. The closures have drawn criticism from congressional leaders. In February, Mr. Schumer said the Department of the Interior, which oversees the nation’s parks and monuments, had done a “bad job” in working to reopen the site and had given the public “no knowledge, no inkling even, of when the statue is going to open.” Mr. Schumer successfully pushed to have the island reopen on the Fourth of July and praised the department’s effort in a statement on Thursday. Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell said park employees had “worked round the clock” to get Liberty Island ready. “I was here a month ago and we’ve come a long way,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work left to go.”

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