NEW YORK NEWS
Aphoto agency has responded to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s claims of a “near catastrophic car chase” in New York City, stating that the photographers had no intention of causing harm and were merely covering newsworthy events. The agency clarified that they received photos and videos from freelance photographers who reported that one of the SUVs in Prince Harry’s security escort was driving recklessly and was even pulled over by the police. The agency denied the allegations of near collisions or endangerment, stating that the photographers did not perceive any immediate danger to the couple. The NYPD also confirmed that there were no reported incidents, injuries, or arrests during the transportation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
An Islamic extremist, Sayfullo Saipov, was sentenced to 10 life sentences plus an additional 260 years in prison for a terrorist attack in Manhattan in 2017. Saipov drove a truck onto a bike path on Halloween, killing eight people. The judge described his crimes as “callous and cowardly,” and the sentence was intended to emphasize the severity of the attack. Despite the mandatory life sentence, prosecutors requested consecutive life sentences and additional years to send a strong message to other potential terrorists. Saipov remained defiant during the trial, expressing little remorse and focusing on his radical beliefs. The judge condemned his lack of empathy for the victims and highlighted the impact on Saipov’s own family. He will serve his sentence in a maximum-security prison in Colorado.
President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest honor for bravery by a public safety officer, to two New York Police Department officers who were ambushed and killed while responding to a 911 call. The rookie officer who took down the gunman also received the honor. In addition to the NYPD officers, six other public safety officers, including a Houston police officer, Colorado police official, Ohio sheriff’s deputy, and three FDNY firefighters, were recognized at the White House ceremony. President Biden praised their courage and selflessness, acknowledging that they run towards danger while others flee. The families of the fallen officers accepted the awards on their behalf.
New York State lawmakers are engaged in a heated debate over legislation introduced by pro-Palestinian Democratic socialist lawmakers aimed at preventing New York-based charitable groups from supporting Israeli settlement activity. The proposed legislation, titled the “Not on Our Dime!: Ending New York Funding of Israeli Settler Violence Act,” would grant the state attorney general the power to revoke a charity’s tax-exempt status if it aids in the expansion or security of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Supporters of the bill argue that these settlements contribute to Israel’s “apartheid rule” and violate international human rights law, while opponents claim it would maliciously target Jewish organizations and hinder their humanitarian efforts. The introduction of this bill represents a significant shift in the traditionally unquestioned support for Israel within the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate, with newer Democratic socialist lawmakers aligning with the Palestinian cause.
New York City’s skyscrapers are causing the city to sink into its surrounding bodies of water, according to new geological research. The weight of the city’s buildings, which amount to nearly 1.7 trillion pounds, is causing it to sink at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters per year, with some areas subsiding even faster. This gradual descent poses significant risks, particularly to Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, making the city more vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of sea-level rise. The threat of severe storms and the corrosion of building foundations due to saltwater exposure further compound the problem. The study suggests that transforming parts of the city into a modern-day Venice could be a potential solution in the coming decades.
A 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Codex Sassoon was sold for $38 million in New York. Former U.S. Ambassador Alfred H. Moses purchased it on behalf of the American Friends of ANU and donated it to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv. The leather-bound manuscript, containing a nearly complete Hebrew Bible, is one of the oldest surviving biblical manuscripts in the world. Sotheby’s, the auction house, stated that the price reflects the profound significance of the Hebrew Bible. The Codex Sassoon will be permanently displayed in Israel, returning to the country after being sold several times throughout its history.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has proposed raising the base fare for New York City subways, buses, and paratransit rides by 5 percent, increasing it from $2.75 to $2.90. This would be the first increase to the base fare since 2015. Additionally, the proposal includes a 3 percent increase for the cost of a seven-day MetroCard and a 4 percent increase for a 30-day MetroCard, the first increases since 2019. Fares for express bus service, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad would also go up, along with tolls at the authority’s bridges and tunnels. The proposed increases, expected to generate $305 million annually, will take effect no later than Labor Day if approved by the authority’s board.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stated that Republican leaders are far from reaching a deal with the White House on the debt ceiling, just weeks before the nation faces potential default on its obligations. The debt ceiling, currently set at $31.4 trillion, has already been exceeded, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of a possible default by early June if the limit is not amended. Republicans want to link a temporary increase in the debt ceiling with spending caps, while Democrats prefer separate negotiations. McCarthy urged fellow Republicans to stand firm on the debt limit and highlighted Democrats’ refusal to negotiate. A default would have severe economic consequences, and the national debt has reached over $31.7 trillion, posing ongoing financial risks.
President Joe Biden is considering granting Ukraine’s request for F-16 fighter jets, a reversal from earlier this year. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has been seeking F-16s to counter Russian control of the skies, but Biden previously rejected the request. However, Biden now states that he has received assurances from Zelensky that the jets would not be used over Russian soil. Biden also mentioned that Ukrainian pilots could train on the F-16s in the U.S. The decision follows the U.K.’s offer of a similar arrangement with Ukraine. Russia has warned against such escalation, while Ukraine denies reports of Russian capture of the city of Bakhmut and confirms an incident involving Ukrainian commandos crossing into Russian territory.
TikTok has filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana over a bill that aims to ban the app starting from early next year. The company alleges that the ban violates the US Constitution, including the First Amendment, and other federal laws. TikTok argues that concerns about the Chinese government accessing user data are unfounded. Montana’s ban, signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte, would impose a daily fine of $10,000 on TikTok or app stores for making the app available in the state. TikTok is seeking to invalidate and permanently block the ban. The legal challenge highlights the obstacles faced by lawmakers attempting to restrict the platform in the US, and a group of TikTok creators has also sued Montana, claiming that the ban violates their First Amendment rights.
A man has been charged with multiple crimes, including threatening the president, after crashing a U-Haul truck into barriers near the White House. The driver, identified as Sai Varshith Kandula, was charged with offenses including threatening to harm the president or vice president. The crash occurred at Lafayette Park, with the truck’s cargo hold empty but a Nazi flag found in the cab. No injuries were reported, and the incident is under investigation. The nearby Hay Adams Hotel was evacuated, and roads and walkways in the area were temporarily closed.
The Mayor of Odessa, Missouri, Stephen Wright, issued a letter of apology after comments he made during a meeting, saying a local trash company is “not trying to Jew anybody” at a recent public meeting. The archived video of the meeting was removed due to the inappropriate content. In his letter, the Mayor expressed his sincere apology to the Jewish community and all citizens of Odessa for his statements, acknowledging that they did not reflect the city’s beliefs and values. He emphasized that his intent was not to degrade or marginalize anyone and that he deeply regretted his choice of words. The Mayor affirmed his commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in the city and pledged to do better in the future.
Disney has officially canceled a $1 billion office complex project in Orlando, Florida, after previously clashing with Governor Ron DeSantis over regulatory issues. The company had sued the governor and his allies, emphasizing that their planned $17 billion investment in Walt Disney World was at stake. The office complex would have brought over 2,000 jobs to the region. Although the cancellation announcement did not directly mention Governor DeSantis, sources familiar with the matter state that Disney’s conflict with him and the Florida Legislature played a significant role in the decision. Several pundits analyzing the situation believe that the cancellation of the project was driven by financial concerns and logistical considerations. The company’s streaming service has experienced a decline, losing millions of subscribers, and Disney’s stock price has significantly dropped. Additionally, the project had faced delays and was deemed unfavorable by Iger, who believed it made little sense to move Disney’s Imagineering workforce from California to Florida. The cancellation decision aligns with Disney’s need to address financial difficulties rather than being solely motivated by ideological disputes. The company remains committed to its other construction plans at Disney World, aiming to create 13,000 jobs through a $17 billion investment in the coming decade.
2024 Presidential Race
Senator Tim Scott has officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race, filing paperwork and entering the Republican primary field. Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, will compete against former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and other candidates like former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is also expected to join the race. Scott enters the primary with a record-breaking $22 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records. Despite polling at only 7% among South Carolina Republicans in an April survey, Scott aims to address the nation’s divisions and promote hope over victimhood in his campaign.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential race next week. DeSantis aims to position himself as a challenger to former President Donald Trump, signaling a bid to shape the future of the party. He is set to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and make a formal announcement in his Florida hometown of Dunedin the following week. While the planning remains subject to change, DeSantis has already summoned his top fundraisers and donors to South Florida in preparation for building a campaign war chest. The governor’s entry into the race is anticipated to occur with a soft launch, potentially on Wednesday, coinciding with the filing of paperwork.
A new poll conducted by the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center reveals that President Biden’s handling of the economy is met with deep skepticism among Americans as he enters his 2024 re-election campaign. Only 33% of respondents approve of Biden’s performance on economic issues, while similar doubts are expressed regarding his ability to handle guns and immigration, with approval ratings of just 31% for both. The poll also indicates that Biden’s overall approval rating has risen to 40%, compared to earlier this year when it hit a low of 36%. The findings come amidst criticism of the administration’s handling of immigration and the recent end of Title 42, as illegal immigration numbers have surged during Biden’s presidency. Former President Trump consistently polls better than Biden on economic matters and immigration, with Americans displaying greater confidence in his ability to address inflation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government leaders attended a ceremony honoring the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who died while attempting to reach Israel. The event took place at the official memorial site on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, paying tribute to the 4,000 Beta Israel members who perished between 1979 and 1990 during their journey from Ethiopia to Sudan. Most deaths were attributed to malnutrition and disease. Netanyahu expressed the significance of Jerusalem in the lives of Ethiopian Jews and pledged to provide increased support in housing, employment, education, and healthcare. The Ethiopian Israeli community, numbering around 160,000, also participated in Jerusalem Day celebrations, commemorating the reunification of the city during the Six-Day War.
Leo Dee, who tragically lost his wife and two daughters in a terrorist attack, has announced his intention to sue CNN over comments made by the network claiming that they were “killed in a shootout.” Dee expressed his frustration with CNN’s choice of words, emphasizing that his family was brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists funded by Iran. While CNN’s Christiane Amanpour sent Dee an apology email, he dismissed it as insignificant compared to the impact of the original statement made on prime-time television. Dee also recounted an “interesting” conversation he had with the head of CNN’s Jerusalem bureau, which left him questioning the level of humanity displayed.
A soldier in his 20s was injured in a terrorist ramming attack in the village of Huwara in Samaria. The attack occurred on Sunday evening, and the perpetrator fled the scene after Israeli Defense Forces soldiers opened fire. A manhunt is underway to locate the assailant. The injured soldier received medical treatment at the scene and was later evacuated to Beilinson Medical Center, where he is in moderate condition. MK Danny Danon has called for the closure of shops and businesses along the main road in Huwara and emphasized the need for a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism in the area.
Israel and Saudi Arabia are reportedly in advanced negotiations, facilitated by the US, to allow direct flights from Israel to Jeddah, near Mecca, for Israeli Muslims to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Hebrew news outlets have indicated a potential breakthrough in talks, with a senior Israeli official estimating a 60 percent chance of announcing the move next month. Currently, Israeli pilgrims must travel through a third country to reach Mecca, increasing costs. If approved, the direct flights would significantly ease the journey for Israeli Muslims, with an expected increase in the number of pilgrims from Israel. Last year, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for civilian overflights, but the expectation for approving Hajj flights did not materialize. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has also expressed optimism about the possibility of a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia within the next six months, citing shared interests in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Three Palestinian terrorists were reportedly killed by Israeli fire during an overnight raid in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank. The al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a terror group, confirmed that the three individuals were members of their organization and were killed while battling Israeli forces. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported three deaths and six injuries among Palestinians, while the IDF stated that an officer was lightly wounded. The IDF conducted the operation to arrest terror suspects and discovered a laboratory with explosives, which was subsequently destroyed. Weapons were seized, and the IDF claimed that Palestinian suspects threw explosives and rocks at soldiers, prompting a response. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant praised the raid, stating that it prevented planned terror attacks against Israelis.
The largest rabbinic gathering in the Middle East, excluding Israel, commenced in Morocco with around 60 Chabad rabbis arriving from 40 different countries across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Joined by their families, the three-day conference aims to strengthen Jewish life, awareness, and practice in Muslim-majority countries and regions with relatively small Jewish populations. The event takes place in Fez, the former home of the renowned scholar Maimonides, and marks a significant indication of the future of Jewish life in the region. The gathering has the presence of Serge Bardugo, the president of Morocco’s Jewish communities, and was opened with a traditional blessing in front of King Mohammed VI by Rabbi David Banon. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the establishment of emissaries in Morocco in 1950.
Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, showcased its military strength by inviting media to observe a simulated exercise at one of its training sites in southern Lebanon. Masked fighters performed stunts, including jumping through flaming hoops and blowing up Israeli flags. The display of force coincided with the upcoming annual celebration of “Liberation Day” and followed recent tensions between Israel and Palestine in Gaza. Hezbollah’s senior official Hashem Safieddine stated that the exercise aimed to demonstrate their readiness to confront any Israeli aggression. The event appears to be a lower-risk way for Hezbollah to assert its power in response to recent developments without escalating the situation on the border.
The funeral and lying-in-state of Queen Elizabeth II last year incurred a cost of approximately £162 million ($200 million) for the British government. The state funeral, held on September 19, 2022, was the first in the UK since Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965. The event, attended by world leaders and dignitaries, followed a period of national mourning after the queen’s death at the age of 96 on September 8. Hundreds of thousands of people visited Westminster Hall to pay their respects to the longest-serving monarch. The costs were disclosed to Parliament, with a focus on ensuring the smooth running, dignity, and public safety of the events. Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, were laid to rest at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The funeral of Prince Philip, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 99, was more subdued due to Covid-19 restrictions. The previous royal funeral was for Queen Elizabeth II’s mother in 2002, which had estimated costs of around £5.4 million.
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has been hit with a record-breaking €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) fine by European Union regulators for breaching EU privacy laws. The fine was imposed due to Meta’s transfer of Facebook users’ personal data to servers located in the United States, which violated the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The European Data Protection Board, following an investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commission, announced the fine and also ordered Meta to stop processing European users’ personal data in the United States within six months. This penalty marks the largest fine ever imposed under the GDPR, surpassing the previous record set by Amazon in 2021. The decision highlights the ongoing challenges faced by global businesses regarding the lawful transfer of EU users’ data to overseas servers.