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What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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PRESIDENT BIDEN JOINS NY POLITICAL LEADERS, ANNOUNCING $292M GRANT FOR HUDSON TUNNEL

CITYWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul joined President Joe Biden, United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, from Brooklyn, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to announce a new $292 million federal grant, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The grant will go towards the completion of an early phase of the Hudson Tunnel project to improve transportation access in the Northeast Corridor.

President Biden, praising both Sen. Schumer and the bipartisan work, said (excerpted), “For years, people talked about fixing this tunnel.  But thanks to the leadership of Chuck in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re finally getting this done. This law is the most significant investment in rail — the most significant investment in rail since we created Amtrak over 50 years ago.”

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DRUMMING AND HEALING WORKSHOP LAUNCHES ARTS SERIES

BROWNSVILLE — The Haitian Cultural Exchange has also partnered with Diaspora Community Services to present six Saturday workshops of arts programming exploring dance, writing, drumming, healing, for Haitian migrants. Percussionist Okai Fleurimont leads the first of free workshops, on Feb. 4, runs from noon to 2 p.m. at the Diaspora Community Services on East New York Ave., near the intersection of the Crown Heights, Brownsville and East Flatbush neighborhoods (register here).

The above-mentioned Salon D’Ayiti is part of the workshop series. Other programs, being held at the partner venues, will explore mental rejuvenation, creative writing and radical self-care.

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DEBUT SALON D’AYITI SHOWCASES HAITIAN LITERATURE

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Haiti Cultural Exchange and The Center for Fiction are collaborating for the first Salon D’Ayiti, taking place on Saturday, Feb. 11. The event, which begins at 2 p.m. at the Center for Fiction on Lafayette Ave. in Downtown Brooklyn, and is free (registration required), will feature a book signing, panel discussion, and Q&A with the editors of The Haiti Reader.

During February, recent Haitian literary works will be featured for purchase in the Center for Fiction bookstore.

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BROOKLYN NEUROSCIENCE CENTER OPENS WITH WIDE RANGE OF CLINICAL PRACTICE

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County on Tuesday, Jan. 31, opened the Brooklyn Neuroscience Center, which offers comprehensive care with interdisciplinary teams to treat disorders of the brain, spine, and peripheral nervous system of patients of all ages. The Brooklyn Neuroscience Center has nine clinical services, providing both inpatient and outpatient, treating patients with headaches, low back pain, dementia, carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathies, and a wide variety of neurologic conditions, including subspecialty practices in neuroimmunology, movement disorders, epilepsy, and stroke.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County is the primary teaching affiliate for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County staff celebrate the opening of the new Brooklyn Neuroscience Center. Photo: NYC Health + Hospitals.

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COMPLAINTS RISE OVER FAKE CORPORATIONS DEFRAUDING LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES

INDUSTRY CITY — The popular Sahadi’s store, which for more than 120 years has served Lebanese and Middle Eastern culinary specialties, became the victim of a fraudulent impersonator corporation, which State Attorney General Letitia James has filed suit to dissolve. A fraudulent corporation using the real Sahadi Fine Foods’ Industry City address, but adding the word “Products” to its corporate name, used the store’s actual address, established a bank account, and diverted $100,000 in checks into the illegitimate company’s account.

The State Attorney General’s Office, having received complaints from New Yorkers who have been receiving mail from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance for businesses they have never heard of, warns the public that sham corporations could be the first sign that more extensive identity or mail theft has taken place.

Sahadi’s famous Middle Eastern food emporium on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Photo: Mary Frost/Brooklyn Eagle.

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REFORM STATE DEBT STANDARDS, SAYS NEW REPORT FROM COMPTROLLER DINAPOLI

STATEWIDE — State debt reform is long overdue and officials should be more accountable to voters, says a new report from NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report identifies policy and fiscal weaknesses that have allowed state debt to grow to troubling levels and offers a roadmap for state debt reform, including comprehensive and binding limits to improve debt affordability and protect New York’s fiscal health.

DiNapoli’s report indicates that debt service is projected to consume an increasing share of State Operating Funds spending over the next five years, growing from 5.4% to 5.9%, thus constricting flexibility in the operating budget and leaving fewer resources available for other priorities and programs.

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GOVERNOR VETOES ‘GRIEVING FAMILIES ACT’

STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul has vetoed a bill that would have expanded the class of beneficiaries and the statute of limitations in wrongful-death lawsuits, even though that legislation overwhelmingly passed the State Assembly and Senate in the last session. The New York Law Journal reports that Gov. Hochul, who expressed angst at her decision to veto, said that “Grieving Families Act,” (which would have updated a 176-year-old wrongful death law) had “significant unintended consequences,” but her counter-proposal would have excluded families of the adult victims of last year’s mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-47/Manhattan) had sponsored the bill, which would have included compensation for grief or anguish, funeral and medical expenses, and for the intangible consequences of the wrongful death such as the loss of love and protection, and even ostracization from one’s community.

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MAYOR’S PODCAST ‘GET STUFF DONE’ FOCUSES ON CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO CITY PROBLEMS

CITYWIDE — “The Get Stuff Done-Cast” may sound like a task-list app, but it’s actually Mayor Eric Adams’ last podcast outreach to New Yorkers on the flavor of this town. The twice-monthly podcast, which will be released twice a month on Mondays and available across several platforms, will feature the mayor’s interviews with New Yorkers from all walks of life, focusing on the problems the city faces and the solutions to be found in what he calls “the heart, hustle, humor, and heroics of the greatest city in the world.”

Mayor Adams also gave a sneak peek of today’s episode to New Yorkers who already signed up to receive direct communications from the city about new initiatives and policies, local events, and more.

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HEIGHTS SUBWAY ELEVATORS STILL NOT FIXED, MTA BLAMES CONTRACTOR

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Repairs to elevators at the Clark Street 2 and 3 station and at the Court Street R station have been beset by troubles and heavily delayed, reports the New York Post, as the MTA claims the fault lies with their contractor, who it says will miss its January deadline for the completion of work at Court Street despite urging from the agency. The elevators at Clark Street, which reopened in May, have suffered frequent outages since then, irritating and occasionally entrapping members of the public; work on the Court Street station appears to have ground to a halt, although workers told the Post that the project had nearly completed.

Clark Street is one of the deepest stations in the subway system, and its elevators carry passengers eight stories below ground — a climb most would be unwilling to make on a daily basis, even if the currently gated emergency stairs were opened.

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IDIOTAROD CART RACE STAMPEDES THROUGH BROOKLYN

FORT GREENE — Twenty-two teams gathered in Fort Greene Park last Saturday to compete in the 20th iteration of the Idiotarod, a race-like competition where teams of professional idiots elaborately decorate shopping carts and parade them through the city on a route that this year ended in Ridgewood, all while being judged on style, presentation, commitment, willingness to sabotage others and nearly every conceivable metric other than speed. BK Mag reports that Best in Show, the top prize, went to a team called “Mad Max: Furry Road,” a concept that featured racers dressed in furry animal costumes pushing a cart decked out in homage to the post-apocalyptic Australian action franchise.

The Idiotarod derives its name from the highly dissimilar Iditarod, an annual dogsled race in Alaska inspired by the historic 1925 delivery of smallpox vaccines from Anchorage to the remote town of Nome by legendary sled dog Balto.

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HOCHUL TO PRESENT 2024 BUDGET ON WEDNESDAY

ALBANY — Governor Hochul will present her executive budget for fiscal year 2024 in the State Capitol in Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at noon. The contents of the budget are unknown, but Politico speculates that a political battle may be in the cards after the governor’s failed power play to force the legislature to accept an unpopular chief judge nomination.

It is also unknown whether the 2024 budget’s price tag will exceed the $220 billion one for 2023, which was the governor’s first budget proposal and which led to accusations of inexperience and stubbornness from other lawmakers.

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FRONTMAN OF SERBIAN CRYPTO SCHEME TO BE SENTENCED IN BKLYN COURT

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A sentencing hearing for John DeMarr, a Californian man who served as the domestic face of an elaborate international cryptocurrency scheme, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, after DeMarr pled guilty to fraud. DeMarr, previously employed as a private investigator, allegedly tricked investors into pumping more than $11 million into what he claimed was a new cryptocurrency that would yield massive returns, while in actuality funneling the money to the overseas accounts of a Serbian man whose whereabouts are presently unknown.

Marketwatch breaks down the audacious scheme, which was at one point endorsed by controversial action star Steven Seagal, and which fell apart when DeMarr attempted to fake his own assault and disappearance in Montenegro.

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WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS G.O.P. EFFORT TO END PANDEMIC EMERGENCY

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday issued a statement slamming efforts by Republican lawmakers in Congress to bring the coronavirus pandemic emergency to an abrupt close before its planned end date in May of this year. The Biden administration strongly opposes two pieces of legislation currently proposed in the House of Representatives that would officially terminate the national state of emergency and national public health emergency, arguing that ending them without due notice would sow chaos in both American households and in the health care system, as well as at the Mexican border, where one provision of the original public health emergency status is keeping a large group of asylum-seekers from entering the country while the policy is debated in the courts.

The administration also issued a second statement condemning a related piece of GOP legislation that would lift vaccine mandates on health care workers, promising to veto it if passed.

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CITY COUNCIL TO EXAMINE NYCHA VACANCIES

CIVIC CENTER — The City Council’s Committee on Public Housing on Tuesday will conduct an oversight hearing on the surge in vacant apartments in the New York City Housing Authority’s housing stock, which rose from roughly 500 to over 3,000 in 2022 even as more than 250,000 families sat on the NYCHA waiting list. The committee will seek to understand the reasons behind the vacancies; how NYCHA is transferring new tenants into units; and what policies and procedures are in place for units marked for the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together program, which involves partnering with private businesses and non-profit organizations to fund repairs.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. in City Hall’s Committee Room, and will be livestreamed on the council’s official city website.

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MTA CUTS FREE BUS WI-FI

CITYWIDE — The MTA turned off Wi-Fi service on buses citywide on Jan. 14, reports Gothamist, citing low usership and high costs for the program. The agency said that only 33,000 people a day were using the service — just two percent of riders — and that the cut will save the city $3.3 million a year.

The move has met with some anger, as critics charge that a major reason for the low usage rates was that the service was frequently broken or unavailable, in addition to being widely unknown.

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BOY, 13, CONFESSES TO MURDER IN CONEY ISLAND TRAGEDY

CONEY ISLAND — Three teenagers turned themselves in to police on Sunday for the Jan. 20 murder of Nyheem Wright, 17, near his home in Coney Island — among them a 13-year-old boy who confessed to fatally stabbing him, reports NBC News. Police believe that the attack was motivated by a fight the previous day between two girls that then escalated into a deadly confrontation between two groups of teens.

The 13-year-old, who was not named, faces murder charges, while the other boys, 14 and 15, also unnamed, face assault charges.

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COMPTROLLER’S REPORT: NYC REMAINS ONE OF NATION’S LARGEST CONTRACTING JURISDICTIONS

CITYWIDE — New York City remains one of the largest contracting jurisdictions in the country, procuring $43.23 billion worth of goods, services, and construction, while also entering into revenue agreements worth $112.82 million in Fiscal Year 2022, according to a new report from City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office. The report, released on Monday, Jan. 30, shows that the city (Comptroller’s office, as well as agencies) registered 17,832 new procurement and revenue contracts in FY22, the largest share of which were through competitive bidding methods, totaling $19.7 billion, designed to ensure quality goods and services and the best value for the city.

“From opening the doors for a homeless shelter to upgrading school facilities, the contract process is one critical way the city gets stuff done,” said Lander.

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IN MEMORIAM: LISA LORING, WHO PLAYED WEDNESDAY ADDAMS

NATIONWIDE — Lisa Loring, who at age 6 had debuted the role of Wednesday Addams on the ABC sitcom based on the macabre cartoons of Charles Addams, died on Saturday at age 64, according to news reports, after Ms. Loring’s family confirmed the death being from natural causes. Loring played the original Wednesday Addams, an emotionally-distant and reserved child who contrasted with her brother Pugsley, on the sitcom that ran for two seasons between 1964-66 and is now in syndication.

Netflix’s new series ‘Wednesday’ (which premiered in November), based on the Addams’ girl’s adolescence and portraying her as “smart, sarcastic and a little dead inside,” also co-stars former Brooklynite Christina Ricci as a botany teacher at Nevermore Academy. Ricci is reportedly selling her Fort Greene townhouse that was built in 1901.

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BROOKLYN MOTORCYCLIST KILLED IN CHAIN-REACTION CRASH

NAVY YARD/VINEGAR HILL — A Brooklyn motorcyclist was killed in a late-night collision on the northbound FDR Drive on Sunday, Jan. 29. A preliminary investigation determined that a 40-year-old male, whom the NYPD has since identified as Nathaniel Knight of Sands St., was operating an electric motorcycle northbound on the FDR Drive near East 55 Street when the 19-year-old drivers of two Honda Civics cars of different model years got into a chain-reaction crash with him.

Knight, driving the electric motorcycle, was pinned underneath the 2008 Honda Civic that hit him, and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

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L TRAIN HITS COMMUTER; SERVICE NOW RESTORED

BUSHWICK/QUEENS COUNTY LINE — L train service in Brooklyn was suspended for about an hour and a half on Monday, Jan. 30, after reports that emergency teams were treating a person who had been struck by a train at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Ave. station on the boundary with Ridgewood in Queens. During the disruption, L trains were running on the 8th Ave./Manhattan-bound track between the Williamsburg stations of Bedford Ave. and Lorimer St., in both directions.

The MTA announced at 9:16 a.m. that service has been restored — with residual delays on the route, which runs from 8th Ave. in Manhattan to Canarsie, with a stretch through northern Brooklyn.

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VERRAZZANO BRIDGE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE DURING OVERNIGHT HOLLAND TUNNEL CLOSURES

BAY RIDGE — The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island might get busier nights and weekends, as it is a designated alternate route while the DOT closes the westbound Holland Tunnel tube for planned work expected to last into 2025.  Starting Sunday, Feb. 5, all New Jersey-bound lanes of the Holland Tunnel will be closed Sunday through Thursday nights from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., and Friday nights 11:59 p.m. to 9 a.m. Saturdays.

During the New Jersey-bound tube repairs, motorists are advised to use alternate routes based on their origins and destinations, with the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge being the access point for Staten Island or southern New Jersey, the Lincoln Tunnel for Hudson or Essex Counties, or the George Washington Bridge for northern New Jersey.

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NYPD CLEARS COP WHO PEPPER-SPRAYED STATE SENATOR AT PROTEST

CROWN HEIGHTS — An NYPD judge has cleared an officer who pepper-sprayed state Sen. Zellnor Myrie at a protest in 2020 following the death of George Floyd, reports Patch – despite what Myrie says is hard video evidence from the officer’s body camera of the event taking place. While this Civilian Complaint Review Board trial result, which judged the officer’s actions “reasonable,” could mean that the officer faces no internal discipline for the spraying, Myrie has also filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city for the incident, which continues to progress.

Myrie’s is only one of many lawsuits related to aggressive conduct by the NYPD during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 and following years, including one filed by NY AG Letitia James in 2021.

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BIDEN TO TRAVEL TO NYC, DISCUSS HUDSON RIVER PROJECT AND INFRASTRUCTURE

CITYWIDE — President Biden will make a visit to NYC on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to discuss the Hudson Tunnel Project, which will be funded by Biden’s landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Further details on the specifics of his visit have not been made public.

The Hudson Tunnel Project, a longtime goal for the MTA, will see the construction of a new underwater train tunnel connecting NYC’s Penn Station with New Jersey, as well as the rehabilitation and repair of the currently existing train tunnel, which Superstorm Sandy damaged.

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PRINT OF BOB DYLAN’S BROOKLYN HEIGHTS PAINTING SELLS AT UK AUCTION

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A signed giclee print of a painting of Brooklyn Heights by superstar musician Bob Dylan sold at a UK auction for £2,000 last week. Auctioneer Dawson’s, which featured the print in their January Fine Art & Antiques event, notes that it is one of 295 limited editions of this print and belongs to Dylan’s 2019 ‘The Beaten Path’ series.

While Dylan is primarily known for his musical career, he is also a talented painter, focusing on capturing scenes of daily life in America.

The print shows a sunny Brooklyn Heights street in the fall. Photo courtesy of Dawson’s Auctions.

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CITY’S TEMPORARY WATER BILL AMNESTY WILL FORGIVE INTEREST ON AMOUNTS

CITYWIDE — A new temporary water bill amnesty program has been launched to help New Yorkers save up to $150 million of interest when they pay their overdue water bills. The limited-time program, (available via https://www.nyc.gov/site/dep/pay-my-bills/amnesty-program.page), will forgive up to 100 percent of interest when customers pay a portion or all of their outstanding water bills, Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala announced on Monday.

Nearly 200,000 customers owe a combined $1.2 billion in water bill charges to DEP, with the unpaid amounts becoming an urgent matter as they are considered a lien against a property. For example, a large number of black homeowners in Central Brooklyn who were unable to pay their water bills lost their homes through the city’s Third-Party Transfer program.

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BUSH HOOK LIQUORS SELLS 2ND-PRIZE POWERBALL TICKET

RED HOOK — A Red Hook merchant sold a second-prize winning ticket for the Jan. 28 Powerball drawing, worth $1 million. The ticket was purchased at Bush Hook Liquors, LLC on Lorraine Street.

The winning numbers for the Powerball are drawn from a separate field of 1 to 26, with the Powerball drawings televised every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 11 p.m. The next drawing, on Jan. 30, now has a $613 million jackpot.

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BENSONHURST WOMAN FACES MULTIPLE CHARGES IN ASSAULT AGAINST FAMILY MEMBERS

BENSONHURST & DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A 22-year-old Bensonhurst woman has been charged with murdering her father on Dec. 29 with a hammer and a knife, and with seriously wounding her sister with a knife when she tried to intervene. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendant as Nikki Secondino, who was arraigned on a multiple-count indictment — including second-degree murder and attempted murder — on Monday, Jan. 30, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Warin. The defendant, being held without bail, faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

The defendant was also found to have given a false account of the incident to responding officers; an investigation revealed that the defendant and her father had a history of domestic incident reports, and that the father had expressed fear of the defendant in the past.

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LOTTERY LAUNCHES FOR AFFORDABLE SENIOR APTS IN SUNSET PARK

SUNSET PARK — A lottery has opened online for 57 affordable apartments for seniors in a brand-new Sunset Park apartment building, reports Brownstoner. The apartments, which are studios and one-bedrooms, will be open only to households where one or more members are over the age of 62, and have a variety of different income tier restrictions, which interested applicants can find on the city’s Housing Connect website until March 17.

The building, which sits on the former site of Zion Norwegian Lutheran Church, reuses and incorporates some of the church’s architectural details like stained glass windows and stonework, as well as having a museum display about the history of the church, alongside five new Universal Pre-K classrooms on the ground floor.

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NYPD ADDS CROWN HEIGHTS PATROLS AFTER VIOLENCE IN JERUSALEM

CROWN HEIGHTS — The NYPD announced on Friday that it had added extra police patrols in Crown Heights over the weekend, reports COLive, after a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue claimed the lives of seven people. The department said that while there was no specific threat known to them, coverage would also be increased at houses of worship around the city.

The attack at the synagogue on Friday night was the most deadly attack on Israelis by a Palestinian since 2008, and while the gunman appears to have acted alone, the incident has raised fears that violence may yet again be poised to engulf Israel.

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CUNY CENTRALIZES ONLINE PORTAL FOR REPORTING HATE SPEECH AND VIOLENCE

CITYWIDE — The City University of New York (with several colleges in Brooklyn) has launched a centralized online portal for staff and students to report instances of discrimination and retaliation, covering cases of hate speech and violence. The online portal — which was started in late fall as part of a sweeping effort to address hate in all forms — will standardize reporting across the system and the information will be shared with college presidents and deans, who are required to file semi-annual reports on the cases shared through the portal. The reports will also serve as a basis for the development of policy and training as needed.

This action, which marks the latest action the University is taking to combat hate in all forms, comes as the nation faces an increase in antisemitic attacks, including a 125% increase in such crimes across New York City.

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LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION AT BOROUGH HALL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso is inviting Brooklynites to join him at Borough Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The free event, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature food from Park Asia restaurant, as well as dance performances.

Attendees are encouraged to RSVP online.


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