NEW YORK NEWS
Sayfullo Saipov, the terrorist who killed eight people in 2017 by driving a truck down the Hudson River bike path, was convicted of murder charges by a federal jury. The attack, the deadliest terrorist attack in NYC since 9/11, could come with the death penalty. The 34-year-old Uzbek native said after his arrest that he was inspired to carry out the attack by Islamic State videos he watched on his phone, and that he chose a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians. If Saipov is given the death penalty for his crimes, he will be the first to receive the sentence during the Biden administration. Biden campaigned against capital punishment. Saipov was found guilty of all 28 counts he faced. They included eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering activity — one for each victim killed — and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle causing death. Those all carry a maximum sentence of death or life imprisonment. He was also convicted of one count of providing material support to a terrorist organization, ISIS, which carries a maximum life sentence, and 18 attempted murder counts.
The subway system has seen a 16% drop in crime since October, according to Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams. October was when Hochul rolled out a new initiative filling the subway system with more police officers. Hochul’s office said that the state had committed up to $62 million to help the city cover the cost of hundreds of additional overtime shifts a day for police officers to patrol the subway. This led to the drop between October 25 and January 22, compared to last year. “That is a trend that we can feel good about,” Hochul said, “as long as that continues to hold.” Criminal justice experts agreed, but were more cautious. “They can certainly pat themselves on the back for a couple months of good numbers,” said Christopher Herrmann, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “But we’re going to have to kind of wait and see how things play out during the year.”
Representative George Santos, the controversial first-term Republican representing parts of Nassau County and Queens, told his colleagues in a closed-door meeting that he would temporarily recuse himself from sitting on his congressional committees. This is the first act of contrition that Santos has displayed since the beginning of the revelation of his scandals. Santos, who has been called on to resign from the Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Cairo, was named this month to serve on the committees on small business and on science, space, and technology. His decision to step down from his committees came after he met privately with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy said that it was Santos who had brought up the idea and that it was an “appropriate decision” for now, “until he could clear everything up.” “He just felt like there was so much drama, really, over the situation,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, explained after a GOP conference meeting, calling the decision “pretty bold.”
This winter is the longest in recorded New York City history without measurable snowfall. Meteorologists consider “measurable snowfall” to be snow sticking above a tenth of an inch. It’s been 50 years since the last time New York has gone this long without snow, all the way back to January 29, 1973. There’s another snow-related record that NYC could surpass: the most consecutive days without snow. The last record was set on December 15, 2020, at 332 days. The last time there was measurable snow in New York was March 22, 2021.
The Empire State Building received backlash after lighting up in green to celebrate the Eagles making the Super Bowl. A week after the Eagles demolished the hometown New York Giants to advance to the NFC Championship Game, the sight of one of New York’s most famous landmarks awash in green made thousands of New Yorker’s livid. The New York City Sanitation Department called it “treacherous, traitorous, and unforgivable.” Keith Powers, a City Council member who represents an area of Manhattan that includes the Empire State Building, deemed it “absolutely ridiculous.” The New York Post considered the news front-page-worthy, calling it an “off-color” mistake. The Daily News asked, “Where’s yer loyalty?!?” Even the Tri-State Weather Service got in on the action saying, “Really? What’s next, Red Sox?”
Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey, was hit with a Molotov cocktail at 3 a.m. Sunday morning. The attacker was wearing a ski mask and has not yet been identified, but is being actively sought by law enforcement. There were no injuries or damage in the incident. “There’s a little bit of heaviness about today, as one would expect, but I was heartened to see that our building is full again with preschoolers learning,” Ner Tamid’s Rabbi Marc Katz said. “From what I’m finding, people are not going to let this scare them away from educating their children, from finding spiritual connection, from finding community.”
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer denied it conducts gain-of-function research on Covid-19. The statement came days after a bombshell Project Veritas hidden-camera sting that captured a company official describing either proposed or ongoing experiments. While not naming Project Veritas directly, the company clearly is reacting to the 20 million views the video received, despite being banned on YouTube. “Allegations have recently been made related to gain of function and directed evolution research at Pfizer and the company would like to set the record straight,” the company’s statement began. “In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research.” In that video, a man identified as Jordon Walker, Pfizer’s director of research and development, strategic operations – mRNA scientific planner, divulges that the company has considered mutating Covid-19 through “directed evolution” in monkeys to develop new vaccines. The popularity of the video comes after years of speculation that the pandemic began because of a lab leak from the Wuhan virology lab and the gain-of-function research allegedly conducted there.
The Biden administration plans to end the Covid public health emergency this spring, as the U.S. shifts away from responding to the pandemic as a national crisis and instead manages the virus more like a seasonal respiratory disease. The White House said it would terminate on May 11 the public health and national emergencies that the Trump administration first declared in 2020. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said during an interview that he is putting forth a bill this week to bring an immediate end to the Covid emergency. “We’re putting a bill on the floor to end this pandemic,” McCarthy said. “Do you realize that 47 percent of the federal employees are still not in for work? When we took the majority and I became speaker, one of my first actions was make members of Congress to come back to work. For the first time in history, members of Congress didn’t have to show up, and they kept getting paid.” The public health and national emergencies have enabled hospitals and other health-care providers to respond more flexibly when faced with spikes in patient volume during Covid surges. Enrollment in Medicaid also has surged because Congress basically barred states from withdrawing people from the program, citing the public health emergency.
The city of Memphis is disbanding its Scorpion unit, according to the Memphis Police Chief. Reacting to the video of five black police officers beating up Tyre Nichols, Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said she listened to Nichols’ relatives, community leaders, and uninvolved officers in making the decision. The footage of the beatings occurred after a hours-long attempt to subdue Nichols, in which the officers involved began using excessive force. Former President Donald Trump said the footage of the brutal beating of Nichols by the officers is “horrible” and that the attack “never should have happened.” “I thought it was terrible. He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have happened.” In a statement, President Joe Biden said, “Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.”
Several terror attacks in Israel rocked the Jewish State. A shooting attack in the Neve Yaakov Neighborhood of Jerusalem left seven dead. Police responded and killed the terrorist. A Palestinian opened fire at a restaurant at the Almog Junction, close to Jericho in the West Bank. Footage shows the incident; apparently the gunman’s firearm jammed and had only managed to fire one shot. No injuries were reported. A 13-year-old terrorist wounded an Israeli military officer while shooting two individuals in Jerusalem close to the City of David. The terrorist opened fire, leaving a father and his son, two bystanders, seriously wounded. The terrorist resides in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians, including plans to beef up Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in response to these attacks. President Joe Biden phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday night to condemn the “horrific” Palestinian terrorist attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem. “The president made clear that this was an attack against the civilized world,” said a White House readout of the call. It added that Biden also “stressed the ironclad U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.”
A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed over a hundred people in the bloodiest bombing in the country in years. The suicide attack on a mosque in Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province in northwestern Pakistan, occurred while the mosque was filled with over 300 worshippers. The northwest has been the site of several attacks on police and military targets in recent months, especially in areas that straddle the border with Afghanistan, and the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for them. The group denied playing a role in this attack. Earlier, however, some junior commanders of the group claimed in Twitter posts that the bombing had been carried out to avenge the killing of a Taliban leader in a bomb blast in August in Afghanistan. No other group came forward to claim responsibility.