NEW YORK NEWS
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced budget cuts of billions of dollars in response to the rising costs associated with the influx of tens of thousands of migrants into the city. All city agencies will have to reduce spending by 5% starting in November and 15% by the following spring; although no layoffs are planned, a hiring freeze is expected. These steep budget cuts, among the largest in years, are projected to impact various sectors, including public schools, the NYPD, the fire department, sanitation, and more.
The city currently has a $107 billion budget. The migrant crisis, with over 110,000 arrivals in the past year, has strained New York City’s resources, costing over $1.2 billion with a projected total cost of up to $5 billion. Mayor Adams has warned that the crisis threatens to “destroy New York City” and has criticized the White House and the state government for not providing sufficient support. The situation has also led to public disturbances and challenges for businesses. Other Democrat-run cities, such as Chicago, are also grappling with the migrant influx and have received federal funding to address the issue.
A group of New York City Council members, including Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) and Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn), is proposing legislation to explore the possibility of subsidizing parents who choose to send their children to private schools. This initiative aims to prevent families from leaving the public education system in the city. The proposed bill would require the city to study the feasibility of establishing a “school choice” program, where families sending children to private schools (including Catholic, parochial, and yeshivas) could receive annual reimbursements of up to $10,000 for tuition. The Department of Finance and Department of Education would conduct the study, with an estimated cost exceeding $2 billion due to the large number of students enrolled in private schools. The bill aligns with the “school choice” movement, which allocates public education funds to private schools chosen by families, and similar programs exist in other states. The decline in public school enrollment in New York City over the past decade is attributed in part to education policies under previous administrations, although the current DOE Chancellor, David Banks, is viewed more favorably by the council members.
A state judge has ruled that New York’s Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, created to enforce ethics rules for state employees and officials, violates the state’s constitution due to its excessive independence, potentially diminishing its ability to combat corruption and influence-peddling. This decision comes as a response to a lawsuit by former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was facing efforts by the Commission to make him forfeit $5 million earned from a book about his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission was established to enhance public trust in government following Cuomo’s resignation in 2021 and investigates ethics and lobbying violations by state officials, employees, lobbyists, and clients. However, the judge ruled that the Commission’s independence encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to enforce ethics laws, requiring a constitutional amendment to grant such powers to an independent body. State officials are considering an appeal, and the Commission plans to continue promoting compliance with ethics and lobbying laws during the legal proceedings.
Maura Moynihan, the daughter of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is boycotting the opening of a CUNY (City University of New York) institution named after her father due to a commencement speech at the CUNY Law School that was anti-Semitic. Moynihan criticized the university system for not doing enough to combat and condemn anti-Semitism on their campuses. She specifically referred to a May 12 graduation speech by a student, Fatima Mousa Mohammed, who praised the law school as a place to “speak out against Israeli settler colonialism.” Maura Moynihan believes that the university’s failure to condemn the speech goes against her father’s legacy of supporting Israel. The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center is part of City College’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and has received funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, known for supporting various Jewish causes in New York City. Moynihan’s boycott comes after years of accusations of antisemitism and anti-Zionism at CUNY, particularly at the law school, and renewed allegations following Mohammed’s speech. CUNY leadership condemned the speech, but Moynihan believes it is insufficient and calls for more substantial action against anti-Semitism.
The Biden administration has granted a waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar without risking U.S. sanctions, clearing the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the sanctions waivers, which were issued without informing Congress until recently. As part of the deal, the administration agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States. This move is likely to face criticism from Republicans and others who argue that it benefits the Iranian economy while Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and allies in the Middle East. The waiver allows banks in various countries to facilitate the transfer of funds, primarily for humanitarian purposes, which was a crucial element in the prisoner release deal.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has issued an executive order banning the carrying of guns in Albuquerque and the surrounding county for a minimum of 30 days, following a road rage incident that resulted in a child’s death. Grisham declared gun violence a public health emergency in the state and suspended open and concealed carry laws in the designated area. She acknowledged potential legal challenges to the order and conceded that it might not withstand them. When questioned about the constitutionality of her actions, Grisham argued that her declaration of an emergency granted her “additional powers” and that constitutional rights are not absolute, referencing restrictions on free speech and other freedoms. Critics have condemned the move as unconstitutional and ineffective in deterring criminals.
Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro has been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The charges are related to Navarro’s failure to appear for a committee deposition and his alleged failure to produce requested documents under subpoena. Each count carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The committee had subpoenaed Navarro for documents and a deposition related to his involvement in efforts to delay and change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Navarro is the second top adviser to former President Donald Trump to be indicted by the committee, following Steve Bannon, who was indicted on similar charges in November. The Department of Justice has yet to act against other former Trump staff members referred by the committee for contempt of Congress charges.
Elon Musk’s social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, has filed a lawsuit against the state of California challenging a law that requires social media companies to publish their policies for removing offensive content such as hate speech and misinformation. The lawsuit argues that the law violates the First Amendment by compelling companies to engage in speech against their will and interfering with their editorial judgments. The California law also requires social media platforms to submit reports to the state twice a year detailing how they address issues like hate speech, racism, misinformation, and foreign political interference. Elon Musk has made significant changes to Twitter’s content moderation system since taking over the platform, including reinstating accounts banned for hate speech and harassment. The state’s attorney general’s office will review the complaint and respond in court.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved updated Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech as cases and hospitalizations rise. The vaccines have been shown to be effective against the currently dominant EG.5 strain in the US. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the safety and effectiveness of the updated vaccines before making recommendations for their use. Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated, especially with concerns about a potential surge in respiratory viruses like Covid-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus in the coming fall and winter season. The updated vaccines are designed to address the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant and related strains.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has selected Secretary of State Tahesha Way to become the state’s third lieutenant governor following the recent passing of Sheila Oliver. Way, 51, is set to be sworn in on Friday. The decision reportedly came down to Way and Nina Mitchell Wells, but Murphy opted for Way to fill the role, which does not require Senate confirmation. Way has a long history of public service and is known for her leadership in various roles, including as an administrative law judge and as the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, becoming the first Black person and New Jersey official in that position.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly expected to make a strong case to House Republicans during a special conference meeting that launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, specifically related to his son Hunter’s business dealings, is the next logical step. McCarthy has been signaling his intent to pursue such an inquiry, privately telling Republicans that he plans to begin the process by the end of September, according to GOP sources. While he has publicly mentioned the possibility of an inquiry, sources suggest that McCarthy has conveyed even stronger signals about his intentions behind closed doors. This move by McCarthy comes as he lays the groundwork to argue for keeping the government funded, with a funding deadline approaching by the end of the month.
An Israeli delegation, led by the head of Israel’s Antiquities Authority, Eli Escusido, arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend a U.N. conference on world heritage sites, marking the first public visit by Israeli government officials to the kingdom. While it’s not a bilateral visit, this move comes amid Washington’s efforts to broker normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which share concerns about Iran. A formal agreement for normalization would be historic but faces significant challenges, including demands by the Saudis related to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. defense guarantees, and aid for a civilian nuclear program. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee session, running until September 25, is being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has accused Iran of establishing an airport in southern Lebanon, close to the Israeli border, which he claims is being used for “terror purposes” against Israel. He presented images of the airport, alleging it bears the fingerprints of Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. Gallant’s accusations have the potential to escalate tensions in the region, especially as he warned that Israel would not hesitate to use the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) if conflict arose. This development comes amid concerns about Iran’s influence in the region and its support for groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag carrier, has initiated direct flights between Tel Aviv and Almaty, aiming to enhance cooperation and strengthen business ties between the two countries. This development is expected to boost trade turnover, facilitate business connections, and promote tourism and cultural exchanges. The flight will operate twice a week, using an Airbus A321LR aircraft, and offers new opportunities for travelers between Israel and Kazakhstan. It also supports existing Israeli-Kazakh business ventures, with Israeli investments in Kazakhstan amounting to approximately $60 million.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited Israel for a three-day trip, during which he condemned Iran’s support for regional terror groups and reiterated the UK’s support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Cleverly’s visit comes amidst Israel’s largest protest movement in history and heightened violence in the West Bank. He also discussed expanding the 2020 Abraham Accords and the importance of halting Iranian support for groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The trip aimed to deepen ties between Israel and Britain, with discussions on various regional issues and challenges.
A cache of ancient Roman weaponry, including four spatha swords and a javelin head, was discovered in a hidden chamber inside a cave at Israel’s Ein Gedi Nature Reserve in the Judean desert, a “once in a lifetime” discovery according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. These well-preserved weapons were most likely hidden by Jewish rebels around 1,900 years ago after being seized from Roman forces. Three of the swords were found with their blades still concealed, preserving the steel, while the fourth sword was identified as a ring pommel sword. Researchers aim to determine the historical event that led to the weapons’ concealment and the individuals involved.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has faced condemnation after making false claims that European Jews were persecuted by Hitler due to their predatory lending practices rather than their religion. In a recent speech to members of his political party, Fatah, Abbas asserted that Jews were persecuted because of their social role related to usury and money. He also repeated a discredited theory that Ashkenazi Jews have no ancient roots in the Middle East, arguing they were descendants of a nomadic Turkic tribe that converted to Judaism during the medieval period. Abbas’s comments have drawn swift criticism from Israeli and European officials, fueling accusations that he is not genuinely committed to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jews and Jewish sites in Morocco appear to have largely been spared following the devastating earthquake that struck the country, killing over 2,800 people. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has sent staff to begin an aid operation there, and Israel Hatzalah has sent a preliminary team to assess the situation. Israel said it was aware of 479 Israelis in the country at the time of the quake and had accounted for the safety of all of them. The earthquake struck at a time of heightened Jewish tourism, following Israel’s normalization of relations with Morocco in 2020, and as the country’s etrog farms were completing their harvests for the festival of Sukkos.
Libya’s eastern city of Derna is grappling with the aftermath of Mediterranean storm Daniel, which caused devastating floods resulting in hundreds of deaths and widespread destruction. The death toll is estimated to be in the thousands, with at least 10,000 people still missing. The storm exposed the nation’s vulnerability due to a decade of internal chaos and neglect of infrastructure, a situation exacerbated by the country’s division into rival governments. The floods damaged or destroyed access roads to Derna, hindering relief efforts. While outside aid was only starting to reach the city, the scale of the disaster raises questions about poor infrastructure maintenance and the impact of factionalism in the country.
The United Kingdom has appointed its first Jewish defense secretary in over 30 years, with Conservative politician Grant Shapps taking over from the departing Ben Wallace. Shapps, who lacks military experience, defended his appointment in an article, highlighting his involvement in international security matters and expressing his commitment to the role. He also discussed his Jewish heritage, emphasizing his family’s history of fleeing persecution and pogroms in Eastern Europe to find refuge in Britain. Shapps has previously served in various government positions and has expressed support for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.