NEW YORK NEWS
Pro-Israel groups and Jewish allies are calling for the defunding of City University of New York’s (CUNY) public law school after a graduating student, Fatima Mousa Mohammed, delivered a commencement speech accusing Israel of indiscriminate violence against Palestinians. Mohammed also labeled laws as “white supremacy” and criticized the “fascist” nature of the NYPD and U.S. military. She celebrated CUNY Law’s support for the anti-Israel BDS movement and praised the school for endorsing it. The speech was initially taken down from YouTube but was later reinstated due to public outcry. Pro-Israel groups condemned Mohammed’s speech, accusing her of promoting anti-Semitic tropes, and called for the defunding of CUNY Law.
A Manhattan college professor, Shellyne Rodriguez, who gained attention for verbally assaulting anti-abortion students at Hunter College, held a machete to the neck of a New York Post reporter, threatening to “chop” him up. When the reporter identified himself at her Bronx apartment, Rodriguez shouted menacing remarks and later emerged with the blade, continuing to threaten him. She chased the reporter and photographer outside, ultimately kicking the reporter and retreating back into her building. Following the incident, Hunter College promptly fired Rodriguez, denouncing her actions. The incident occurred after footage of Rodriguez verbally attacking anti-abortion students at Hunter College went viral.
Following the placement of asylum seekers in the Knights Inn motel in the Village of Liberty by the City of New York, the migrants have been moved out. The hotel owner was unwilling to accept the conditions set by the contractor for New York City, who required full use of the entire hotel, citing existing obligations to Sullivan County and the need to support private paying customers who had already booked rooms for the upcoming busy Catskills vacation season. Consequently, New York City has chosen to relocate the migrants to another county, prompting speculation that it was an easier solution for the city than engaging in a fight with Sullivan County. The county has not received any further information or transports from New York City, and their emergency order still prohibits local lodging establishments from entering into contracts to house social services clients from municipalities outside Sullivan without the county’s express consent.
Comptroller Brad Lander is freezing city deposits at two major banks, Capital One and KeyBank, claiming they failed to submit anti-discrimination policies. Lander, along with Mayor Eric Adams and city Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack, took action against the banks as members of the city’s Banking Commission. The commission also voted to prohibit International Finance Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo from accepting city money due to their failure to provide written anti-discrimination policies. However, the Department of Finance clarified that Capital One and KeyBank were conditionally designated as depository banks and can re-apply for full designation after one year. The Banking Commission’s actions will not affect banking services or current deposits held by the designated banks.
Former President Donald Trump’s trial has been scheduled for March 25, 2024, as announced by Justice Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over his Manhattan criminal case. Trump, attending the hearing remotely, reacted angrily upon hearing the trial date, although his muted microphone made it unclear what he was saying. The timing of the trial, set three weeks after Super Tuesday, a significant day in the Republican presidential primary calendar, underscores how Trump’s legal issues could complicate his third campaign for the presidency. The hearing lasted about 20 minutes, during which Justice Merchan discussed restrictions on Trump’s use of case material, and his lawyers fought against limitations on disseminating prosecution evidence.
Yeshiva University in New York has honored IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Daniel Gold, the inventor of Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system, with its highest honor, the Presidential Medallion. The university awarded Gold during its 92nd Annual Commencement Ceremony at Madison Square Garden. YU President Rabbi Ari Berman praised Gold for his dedication to Israel’s security and his leadership in safeguarding the country. The university also granted an honorary doctorate to Holocaust survivor Emil Fish, who established YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Over 1,700 degrees were awarded to students across various undergraduate and graduate programs during the ceremony.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached a tentative agreement on the debt ceiling just days before a potential default. The agreement in principle was reached after a 90-minute phone call between Biden and McCarthy. The deal, which still requires further work and finalization, includes historic reductions in spending, reforms to lift people out of poverty, and measures to rein in government overreach. Many Republicans expressed their opposition to the deal. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina argued that Republicans were deceived and that the agreement would normalize high spending. The deal suspends the debt limit until 2025, caps spending growth for the next two years (except for defense and veterans), and expands work requirements for certain age groups in relation to food stamps. Mace criticized the bill for normalizing record-high spending levels, which she believes will serve as a baseline for future spending. She expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on the national debt and the small reduction in discretionary spending compared to larger spending increases elsewhere. Other lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, have also raised concerns about the deal, while House Republican leaders celebrated it as a victory.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced his candidacy for President of the United States. DeSantis filed the necessary paperwork and released a launch video outlining his campaign platform. He highlighted his accomplishments as governor of Florida, emphasizing his approach to handling the Covid-19 pandemic and implementing conservative policies. DeSantis’ campaign will focus on restoring sanity, normalcy, and integrity to society, and he aims to lead a Great American Comeback. While recent polls have shown former President Donald Trump leading the field, DeSantis hopes to close the gap as his campaign gains momentum. His administration’s achievements include passing conservative legislation, working against the ESG movement, and signing a heartbeat bill into law.
The Texas House of Representatives made the unprecedented decision and voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton due to allegations of corruption. Paxton has been temporarily suspended from office pending a trial in the Senate. He faced 20 articles of impeachment, including violations of whistleblower laws, entering a settlement agreement using public funds, and violating the Securities Act. This makes Paxton the third state official in Texas history to be impeached. Following the impeachment, Paxton criticized it as illegal and unjust. The state House Committee on General Investigating is investigating Paxton’s attempt to settle a lawsuit with public money, and they have subpoenaed his office for records. The lawsuit was brought by former employees who claimed retaliation after accusing Paxton of corruption.
Former diplomat and presidential adviser Henry Kissinger celebrated his 100th birthday, surpassing many of his political contemporaries who played key roles during a tumultuous era in the United States, including the Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard Nixon. Kissinger’s centenary is seen as a symbol of his strong character and ongoing activity in his 90s. He continues to hold influence in Washington and has advised presidents from both parties, including during the Trump administration. Kissinger has remained engaged in international affairs, offering insights on topics such as the war in Ukraine and the risks associated with artificial intelligence. While his career was marked by significant foreign policy events, Kissinger also faced criticism for actions linked to the Vietnam War and his association with repressive regimes.
Retail giant Target has experienced a $10 billion loss in market capitalization over the span of ten days, primarily due to backlash surrounding its prominent LGBTQ+ PRIDE displays featuring transgender-friendly clothing items for children. Viral videos showcasing these displays, including “tuck-friendly” and “binding” bathing suits for trans-identifying kids, led to calls for a boycott. Target’s stock price dropped from $160.96 per share to $138.93 per share, a 14% decrease in value. Executives held an “emergency call” to address the situation and implemented damage control measures, including reducing the size of the PRIDE section. This loss is reminiscent of the backlash faced by Bud Light after a partnership with a trans-identifying influencer, which resulted in plummeting sales and billions of dollars in market capitalization loss for Anheuser-Busch.
The U.S. economy grew at a revised 1.3% annual rate in the first quarter of the year, slightly better than the initial estimate of 1.1%, according to the Commerce Department. The growth rate represents a slowdown from the previous two quarters and is attributed to businesses reducing inventories amid concerns of an economic slowdown. Consumer spending, however, increased at a robust 3.8% pace, indicating strong household confidence. The Federal Reserve’s efforts to control inflation through interest rate hikes have affected borrowing costs and weighed on the real estate market. Despite the resilience of most sectors and a solid job market, economists predict a recession later this year due to the economy’s slowdown. In contrast, Germany’s economy contracted for the second consecutive quarter, signaling a downturn and adding to concerns about global economic growth.
Knesset lawmakers approved state budgets for 2023 and 2024, resolving months of coalition disagreements over funding priorities that had threatened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. After facing numerous objections from the opposition to delay proceedings, lawmakers finally voted in favor of the budgets, ending the all-night session. The budgets were passed by a 64-55 vote along coalition lines. With the deadline to pass a budget or call new elections approaching, Netanyahu made last-minute deals to secure support from coalition partners. The passage of the budgets provides the government with another 18 months until the next budget approval, resolving a major point of contention within the coalition. However, thousands of protesters gathered in Jerusalem to criticize the budget, particularly for its grants to the ultra-Orthodox community while allowing exemptions from employment and military service for men in that community.
Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes on targets in Damascus, Syria, according to reports from Syria’s state-run media. The Israeli Air Force allegedly launched missiles from the Golan Heights, targeting multiple sites in and around the capital. Syrian air defenses reportedly responded and downed some of the missiles, although the extent of the damage is unclear. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, but the veracity of these claims is doubted by military analysts. Israel has not officially commented on the specific strikes in Syria, but it has acknowledged conducting numerous airstrikes over the past decade against Iran-backed groups, including Hezbollah, and arms shipments believed to be destined for these groups. The reported attack on Sunday would be the 17th Israeli strike in Syria this year.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog was evacuated from a soccer stadium in Haifa after enthusiastic fans stormed the field following Beitar Jerusalem’s victory in the State Cup. Video footage captured the moment when rowdy fans approached the president as he was presenting medals to the winning team, prompting security personnel to intervene and escort Herzog off the pitch. In a statement, Herzog expressed disappointment that the fans’ actions disrupted the final ceremony and prevented the trophy from being awarded to the victorious team, highlighting the significance of the moment for the fans who had been waiting 14 years for this achievement.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has won a defamation lawsuit against Rabbi Ronen Shaulov, who falsely claimed that Bennett and his parents were not Jewish. The lawsuit was filed last year after Shaulov made derogatory remarks about Bennett and his family, including false accusations about his mother’s conversion and loyalty to non-Jews. Following the court verdict, Shaulov issued an apology and admitted that the claims were false. The damages to be paid by Shaulov will be decided by the court at a later date, and Bennett has stated that any proceeds will be donated to charity. Bennett’s legal team emphasized that the verdict sends a strong message against the spread of lies.
Tens of thousands of mourners gathered in Bnei Brak, Israel, for the funeral of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the spiritual leader of the non-Hasidic Ashkenazi Haredi community, who passed away at the age of 100. The funeral procession started at the Ponevezh Yeshivah, which Edelstein headed since 2000, and ended at a cemetery in Bnei Brak. The city was closed to traffic, and highways near the city were also closed to accommodate the large number of attendees. Police created a sterile area around the gravesite and surrounded the cemetery to ensure safety. Rabbi Edelstein was known for his leadership in the ultra-Orthodox community and was revered for his wisdom and understanding of Jewish heritage.
Sea urchins in Israel’s Gulf of Eilat are experiencing a rapid die-off due to an unknown pathogen, posing a threat to the Red Sea’s coral reef ecosystems. The die-off, which was first observed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and gradually spread, has now reached the Gulf of Eilat and the Red Sea. The black sea urchin, crucial for maintaining a healthy reef habitat, is being affected, leading to unchecked algae growth that endangers corals and disrupts the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Researchers suspect a rapidly spreading epidemic caused by an unidentified pathogen and have called for urgent action to protect the endangered reef ecosystems. Similar sea urchin die-offs have been observed in the Caribbean, raising questions about the potential connections between these occurrences in geographically separated regions.
Nvidia Corporation has announced plans to build Israel-1, one of the world’s most powerful AI supercomputers, at its facilities in Israel. Israel-1 is expected to deliver up to 8 exaflops of peak AI performance, making it one of the fastest AI supercomputers globally. It will also provide over 130 petaflops of peak performance for traditional scientific computing workloads. The system, valued at several hundred million dollars, is set to enter early production by the end of the year. The supercomputer will be based on Nvidia’s Spectrum-X networking platform and will feature 256 HGX H100 GPU systems supplied by Dell Technologies. The construction of Israel-1 represents a significant investment by Nvidia to drive innovation in Israel and globally in the field of AI.
Russia’s Interior Ministry has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham after his comments about the fighting in Ukraine. In a video released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Graham praised U.S. military assistance to Ukraine and mentioned that “the Russians are dying.” The edited video sparked outrage in Russia, with President Putin’s spokesman criticizing Graham. The Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal inquiry against Graham, leading to the Interior Ministry issuing an arrest warrant. Graham, who is already banned from entering Russia, responded on Twitter, expressing joy that his commitment to Ukraine has angered Putin’s regime and vowing to continue supporting Ukraine’s freedom.
Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, is being investigated by Berlin police for wearing a Nazi-style costume during a concert in the German capital. In a video shared on social media, Waters is seen wearing a black trench coat and red armbands while firing a fake machine gun. He has defended his actions, stating that it was meant as a statement against fascism and injustice. Waters is being investigated for potential incitement and for violating the dignity of Nazi victims. The musician has faced accusations of anti-Semitism and attempts to cancel his concerts in Germany, but the shows have proceeded as planned.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in the country’s runoff election, securing a third term in office. Unofficial results showed Erdogan with 52% of the vote compared to 48% for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan, who has been in power for 20 years, thanked the nation for entrusting him with governing the country once again. The election had high stakes as Turkey’s geopolitical position impacts Europe and Asia, with implications for NATO. Erdogan’s government has faced criticism for its economic policies and response to a devastating earthquake, but he retains support from conservative voters who appreciate his influence and Islamic profile.