What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, February 9, 2023
NYPD ISSUES STEPS FOR AUTO THEFT PREVENTION FOLLOWING TIKTOK CHALLENGE
STATEWIDE — Following The Tik-Tok Auto Theft Challenge to steal vehicles, the NYPD’s Crime Prevention Division has issued an alert to owners of Kia and Hyundai models manufactured before November 2021, according to an announcement from Community Board 10. The TikTok Auto Theft Challenge targets vulnerabilities in earlier-model Kia and Hyundai vehicles, enabling thieves to bypass the ignition using a USB cable. The NYPD strongly recommends that owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles utilize a steering wheel locking device to deter thefts and to activate the vehicle alarm system.
All Kia and Hyundai vehicles manufactured after Nov. 1, 2021 come standard with anti-theft immobilizers which prevent unauthorized moving or ignition starting.
DUAL U.S.-IRANIAN CITIZEN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL EXPORTS TO HIS HOME COUNTRY
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A dual citizen of the United States and Iran has been sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to illegally export U.S. goods, technology, using a Brooklyn tech company and other similar firms. United States District Judge Eric R. Komitee on Thursday, Feb. 9, in Brooklyn federal court sentenced Kambiz Attar Kashani, for the exports to end users in Iran, including the Government of Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The defendant, who pleaded guilty to the charge in June 2022, has agreed to pay a $50,000 fine
Kashani and his co-conspirators perpetrated the illegal transshipping scheme through two separate United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) companies. They used the UAE companies to procure electronic goods and technology from multiple U.S. technology companies, without obtaining required OFAC export licenses.
IN MEMORIAM: POP COMPOSER BURT BACHARACH DIES AT 94
NATIONWIDE — Composer Burt Bacharach, famous for popular hits “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and many others, died on Wednesday, Feb. 8, according to several news reports. An eight-time Grammy winner and prize-winning Broadway composer who for many years, lived in New York City, Bacharach won two Academy Awards in 1970 for the score of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (shared with collaborator Hal David).
Presidents, Democrat and Republican alike, hosted Bacharach at the White House, The Associated Press’ late obit writer Bob Thomas had written.
‘ELLIE’S’ BILL REINTRODUCED TO FUND ANEURYSM RESEARCH
FLATBUSH AND NATIONWIDE — Preventing and treatment for brain aneurysms and saving lives is at the heart of legislation that Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-9th District/Flatbush and vicinity) and a bipartisan group of her colleagues has re-introduced into Congress. The bill, called “Ellie’s Law,” and named for a 14-year-old girl from Apex, North Carolina who died in 2014 from a ruptured aneurysm, would provide critical research funding to address this public health crisis, authorizing $10,000,000 to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for each fiscal year 2024 through 2028, and to remain available through Sept. 30, 2031.
Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35-60 — particularly women — but can occur in children, and have an annual mortality rate of more than 500,000 deaths worldwide.
PUBLIC ADVOCATE, PRATT HOST NEW YORK STATE OF ENERGY HYBRID FORUM
FORT GREENE — Tonight, Thursday, Feb. 9, Pratt Institute in Fort Greene will host the 2023 New York State of Energy hybrid forum, with sponsorship from the Office of the Public Advocate the New York Public Interest Research Group and other concerned partners. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams sent out a release just after 4 p.m. on Thursday indicating that tickets are still available for the free 6:30 p.m. event taking place at Pratt’s Memorial Hall, or New Yorkers can tune in virtually via Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube.
The forum will focus on current legislation and policies in the New York State Assembly & Senate, the effects of fossil fuel infrastructure on low-income and frontline communities, and the ways in which advocacy groups are organizing to eliminate this infrastructure.
CITY WILL END FISCAL 2023 WITH $4.9B SURPLUS, SAYS INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE
CITYWIDE — New York City is expected to end the current Fiscal Year 2023 (June 30) with a $4.9 billion surplus, according to a new report from the Independent Budget Office — $2.8 billion more than the surplus projected by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and released a week after the appointment of the new IBO director, Louisa Chafee. This higher surplus is the result of IBO’s forecast of $1.8 billion more in anticipated tax revenues in 2023 than OMB, coupled with IBO’s estimate that city-funded spending will total about $1.0 billion less than budgeted in the Preliminary Budget.
The Independent Budget Office is an agency that provides “city officials & the public with nonpartisan information on the NYC budget & economy,” according to its website; whereas, the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the City of New York’s chief financial agency.
ALL-CLEAR GIVEN IN NYPD PROBE NEAR BROOKLYN COLLEGE
FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD —The NYPD has concluded an investigation into an intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand avenues near Brooklyn College, and traffic has resumed, following reports of gunshots earlier on Thursday, Feb. 9. The City University of New York (CUNY)’s alert system, which had sent out a series of notices starting around noon, with the all-clear given at 3:09 p.m.
As of press time, no new reports had been released on the incident.
NEW BILLS AIM TO EXPAND, UNDERWRITE MUSIC AND ART EDUCATION
NATIONWIDE — Students would have better access to music and art programs in the city schools if two pieces of legislation introduced in Congress on Thursday, Feb. 9, make it to President Biden’s desk for signature. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-7/northern Brooklyn) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) are sponsoring the Music In Our Schools Month Resolution, would affirm the importance of music education, the benefits students receive from its instruction, and recognize the hard work of music educators across the country. They are also co-sponsoring the Guarantee Access to Arts and Music Education Act of 2023 (GAAME ACT), which would further incentivize federal funds for expanded access to music and the arts for disadvantaged and low-income students, taught by certified arts and music educators.
Other members of the New York Congressional delegation co-sponsoring these bills include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-Bronx), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-16/Bronx & Westchester) and Jerrold Nadler (D-12/Manhattan).
POLICE RESPONDING TO REPORTED GUNSHOTS NEAR BROOKLYN COLLEGE
FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD — Police are responding to a 911 call near Brooklyn College in Flatbush/Midwood that was first sent out around noon on Thursday, Feb. 9. Shots had reportedly been fired in the vicinity, at Nostrand and Flatbush avenues, according to the City University of New York (CUNY) alert system, which has broadcast three calls, around 12:39 and 12:54 and 1:19 p.m. As of 1 p.m., before the third alert went out, Brooklyn College had not been placed on lockdown.
Around the U.S. schools have been placed on lockdown a number of times this week. Earlier this week, one student was fatally shot while on the American Tobacco Trail near Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina; and two elementary schools in neighboring Wake County were placed on lockdown within 24 hours of each other.
DON’T LET SCAMMERS EXPLOIT LOVE
STATEWIDE — Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is warning New Yorkers not to let themselves be scammed over love. DCP is offering information and tools to help identify romance and sextortion scams, so they can outsmart scammers who prey on people’s emotions and trust. New Yorkers who have fallen victim to a romance or sextortion scam are urged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and to notify the social networking site or app where they met.
Romance scams occur when a criminal lies about his or her identity and uses romantic interest to manipulate or steal from the victim — often a juvenile or recently-widowed senior citizen — or to entice a victim to send photos and blackmail them with those same pictures.
KEVIN DURANT TO LEAVE NETS FOR PHOENIX SUNS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Nets star forward Kevin Durant will be leaving Brooklyn alongside teammate T.J. Warren for the Phoenix Suns, in exchange for Suns players Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four prime future draft picks, reports ESPN. The deal was made just hours before Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline following personal negotiations between the two teams’ owners, according to unnamed sources.
Nets fans were already reeling from the news on Sunday that controversial player Kyrie Irving would be leaving for the Dallas Mavericks, as well as a narrow loss to the Suns at Barclays on Tuesday night.
MAN THOUGHT TO BE STRUCK AND KILLED BY F TRAIN NEAR JAY ST
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A man was found deceased by transit workers in an F train subway tunnel near the Jay St.-MetroTech station shortly before midnight on Monday, reports the Daily News. Police said the man, who is currently unidentified, appeared to have been struck by a train at some point prior to the discovery and may have been homeless.
The increase in unhoused people living in the subway system has been a core issue for Mayor Adams, who in October began a controversial crackdown aimed at moving people sleeping in stations and on trains into city shelters.
PLANNED NEW ELEMENTARY IN DOWNTOWN BK DELAYED BY DOE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The opening of a long-promised new elementary school in Downtown Brooklyn, originally planned for September of 2023, has been pushed back following a decision by the Department of Education to instead use the space at One Willoughby Square to temporarily house a new high school for two years, reports Brooklyn Bridge Parents. The DOE cited low student enrollment at other area elementary schools as the basis for its decision, but critics charge that P.S. 287, the zoned school for most Downtown families, is inaccessible to many, in addition to students struggling with low test scores.
“It has been deeply frustrating that it has taken nearly 20 years for the School Construction Authority and Department of Education to follow through on the commitment for a new school as a part of the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning,” said Councilmember Lincoln Restler, who also called for increasing middle school seats in the neighborhood.
REP. GOLDMAN LAUNCHES ‘BAGEL CAUCUS’
WASHINGTON — Brooklyn-based U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman has launched a new House caucus with a vital function — introducing lawmakers from less-lucky states to proper New York bagels. Goldman’s new “bagel caucus,” set to hold its inaugural summit at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, will feature bagels, lox and schmears imported from the nation’s true capitol on days when Goldman, known to be a Russ & Daughters man, travels from NYC to DC, and has no other known legislative priorities, reports Punchbowl News.
The congressman could not be reached for comment regarding the presence of capers.
TEENS, SECURITY GUARD SHOT NEAR WILLIAMSBURG CHARTER SCHOOL
WILLIAMSBURG — A 15-year-old girl, a 17-year-old boy and a 37-year-old security guard were shot following a student fight at a Williamsburg charter school on Wednesday afternoon, all of whom were transported to hospitals and are expected to survive, reports NBC News. Witnesses reported that a brawl broke out around 2 p.m. between 15 boys, during which one person pulled out a gun and began shooting, but no arrests have been made.
This event comes just days after another two students were shot at a different Williamsburg school following a similar student brawl, although police have not asserted any connection between the two cases.
SILVER ALERT FOR MISSING CYPRESS HILLS SENIOR
CYPRESS HILLS — Police have put out a Silver Alert for missing senior Frank Cruz, 86, of Cypress Hills, last seen leaving the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan’s Lenox Hill on Wednesday afternoon. He is described as 5’7″ tall and 140 pounds, with a light complexion, thin build and brown hair; and, was last seen wearing a black winter hat, a face mask, a blue jacket and blue pants.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.
RARE WHISKY UP FOR AUCTION TO SUPPORT NY ARTS ORG
BROOKLYN — Sotheby’s is auctioning a hyper-exclusive bottle of whisky by The Macallan to benefit NYC arts charity ChaShaMa, which partners with developers to transform unused spaces into studios and galleries for struggling artists. The top bid for the bottle had reached $100,000 by Thursday morning, with the auction set to close on Friday, Feb. 9, as enthusiasts jumped at the chance to own one of only two bottles ever produced of a limited edition version of The Macallan’s Distil Your World New York whisky, described by the auction house as “a single cask constituent of the original blend, distilled in 2002 and bottled at cask strength.”
ChaShaMa operates a gallery at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is currently hosting the exhibition NIGHT LIGHTS by artist Paco May, which celebrates “the freedom of queer nightlife.”
BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN TO PRESENT PLANT-GENERATED CONCERT
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Metropolis Ensemble will be presenting an “immersive soundbath experience” created by composer Ricardo Romaneiro for Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatories over the upcoming weekend. The installation includes an audiovisual tapestry and lighting installation running in sync with “plant-generated soundscapes” and ecosystem-inspired live musicians in the Conservatory pavilions, as well as a family-friendly hands-on exhibit where kids can interact with plants wired to sensors and speakers, exploring how physical touch changes the tonality of plants and creating their own “living” compositions.
Biophony: SoundGarden will be open to the public on Feb.11 and 12, with the ongoing audiovisual experience running from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as live, concurrent performances in each Conservatory pavilion at 10:30 a.m, 11:30 a.m, 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. both days.
CITING GRIEVANCES, NBC JOURNALISTS PLAN IMMINENT JOB WALK-OFF
NATIONWIDE — More than 200 journalists at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and its local affiliates announced Wednesday, Feb. 8, on Twitter that they will walk off the job Thursday. Among their grievances: that “NBC has repeatedly broken the law, disrespected the rights of its employees, and illegally terminated hard-working union journalists. Enough is enough.”
Among those planning to strike are reporters at @NBCNews, @MSNBC, and @TODAYshow. National Labor Law protects the rights of union workers to strike or walk off their jobs without being terminated.
JUDGE TESTIFIES ON RISING THREATS AGAINST JUDICIARY
ALBANY — As Acting Chief Administrative Judge Tamiko Amaker testified on Tuesday, Feb. 7, about the rising number of threats made against judges, an attack was in progress, targeting a jurist in Plattsburgh. During a joint legislative budget hearing, Judge Amaker said that judicial threats have increased 40% statewide during the past two years, from 225 incidents in 2020, to 322 in 2022; Office of Court Administration spokesman Lucien Chalfen said on Wednesday, adding that during the first five weeks of 2023, 16 threats in New York City have been investigated.
The threats can vary from stalking, inappropriate contacts, false and purposefully incendiary commentary on social media, harassing home phone calls, including to private cell phones. The court system’s Department of Public Safety has two units that address threats, one in New York City and one for the other counties.
PHYSICIANS SERVING MEDICAID PATIENTS HAIL PRESIDENT BIDEN’S SPEECH
CITYWIDE — SOMOS, a leading physician-led network committed to lower-income neighborhoods, offering care in the languages of the community and representing nearly one million Medicaid patients, were among many who praised President Biden’s Feb. 7, State of the Union Address. “Since day one, President Biden and his Administration have made equity in healthcare a priority, they have visited our clinics, stood with us and our patients and ensured community doctors have a voice in key policy making decisions and a place at the table,” said Dr. Ramon Tallaj, chairman of SOMOS Community Care, and Dr. Henry Chen, SOMOS president.
They added, “SOMOS doctors care for 20% of the Medicaid patients in New York. We look forward to being a supportive partner to the Administration to improve preventative primary care services, patient navigation to support Americans facing cancer, and to tackle the growing mental health crisis in New York and across our nation.”
REP. CLARKE REAPPOINTED TO SEVERAL COMMITTEES IN NEW SESSION OF CONGRESS
BROOKLYN — Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-9th District), who has served portions of central and southern Brooklyn in Congress since 2007, has been reappointed to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She will also be on several other committees in the 118th Congress, including the House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce, and Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials.
Congressional subcommittees function as subdivisions, considering specified matters and reporting back to the full committee.
BRIC TOWN HALL TO DISCUSS CITY’S NEW POLICY ON HOMELESS AND MENTALLY ILL PERSONS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BRIC TV and The City will bring together experts and leaders to discuss the housing crisis facing communities throughout Brooklyn, during a Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 23. The meeting, titled Healing with Housing: Decriminalizing the Unhoused & Mentally Ill,” will focus on the mayor’s recently-implemented policy stating that unhoused individuals who appear mentally ill can be forcibly hospitalized. Entry to the Town Hall, at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., is first-come, first-served and online RSVPs are encouraged.
The meeting will also discuss the impact of various strategies to mitigate harm being done to mentally-ill persons to neighborhoods and families, and to create pathways toward economic justice.
POLICE OFFICER SHOT IN ATTEMPTED CAR SALE SCAM LOSES LIFE
EAST NEW YORK — The off-duty police officer shot over the weekend by a career criminal during a scam-turned-robbery has passed away after spending days in the hospital in critical condition, reports CBS News. The gunman, Randy Jones, 36, has been charged with murder following the death.
The officer, Adeed Fayaz, 26, was a five-year veteran of the NYPD and is survived by a wife and two young children.
DEPT. OF SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF TO STEP DOWN AFTER 36 YEARS
CITYWIDE — NYC Department of Social Services commissioner Gary Jenkins announced on Tuesday his intention to step down from the post in March, reports NY1, after being appointed to the top post by the mayor in January of last year. The resignation comes as the city’s homeless care networks, which the department oversees, have been strained by the migrant crisis, leading to a breakdown in services and prompting Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to call for the Department of Homeless Services to be split from the larger department before a new head is appointed.
“Commissioner Jenkins also brought his own experience living in a shelter as a child to the job, a unique understanding of the struggles families in shelters face, and a steadfast commitment to treating all of our clients with dignity and care. I’m incredibly grateful to Gary for his decades of service and wish him the very best in his next chapter,” wrote Mayor Adams in a press statement.
SIMON TO HOST ‘JAVA WITH JO ANNE’ COFFEE SHOP CHAT
PARK SLOPE — Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon will be holding a community coffee shop meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, to discuss concerns and events with her constituents in brownstone Brooklyn. Interested attendees can join Jo Anne on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Velvette Brew coffee shop on 5th Avenue.
Guests are asked to pre-register online.
MAYOR ANNOUNCES CRACKDOWN ON GRAY-MARKET MARIJUANA STORES
CITYWIDE — Mayor Adams announced on Tuesday that the city would be stepping up enforcement efforts to crack down on stores operating in a legal gray area to sell marijuana and other cannabis products following the city’s legalization of the drug and steps towards recreational sales last year. Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, who joined the mayor at the announcement, said that the crackdown, which has so far seen nearly 400 stores receive shutdown letters and the seizure of more than $4 million in merchandise, was necessary to protect members of the public from inferior and unregulated cannabis products, which the mayor suggested may be contaminated by other drugs such as fentanyl, as well as to support NYC’s two officially licensed recreational dispensaries and to make sure no cannabis products were ending up in children’s hands.
New York’s dispensary licensing process has been criticized by some for being lengthy and restrictive, complaints which increased following a judge in November blocking the licenses entirely for Brooklynites.
MAN ATTEMPTS SUICIDE IN BROOKLYN CRUISE TERMINAL SHELTER
RED HOOK — A 26-year-old man attempted to take his own life on Tuesday afternoon at the newly opened shelter for asylum seekers in Red Hook at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, reports the New York Post. The man allegedly attempted to wound himself with a razor blade in one of the bathrooms, before fortunately being discovered and taken to a hospital in stable condition.
The ongoing controversy over the cruise terminal shelter and the migrant crisis has caused significant debate as migrants say the Red Hook location is too far from Manhattan and has insufficient heat and supplies.
BK JUDGE ORDERS COMPANY TO HALT SALES OF GUN CONVERSION GADGET
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn judge has issued a temporary restraining order instructing gun company Rare Breed Triggers to stop selling “forced reset triggers,” which are used to modify rifles to fire significantly faster, reports Gothamist. The U.S. government is seeking in a lawsuit to stop sales of the device for good, claiming that they are in violation of a federal law that prohibits the sales of machine guns, while firearms industry advocates say that the triggers do not technically run afoul of those regulations due to their design.
The company has also been accused of wire and mail fraud, as well as disobeying previous instructions from the ATF to cease sales of the triggers.
BROOKLYN BUS REDESIGN COULD BE FLAWED: FORMER MTA DIRECTOR
BROOKLYN — A former top MTA official has penned an editorial in Bklyner suggesting that the MTA’s ongoing Brooklyn bus route redesign process may not be working to ensure that the needs of Brooklynites are adequately met. Allan Rosen, a former director of bus planning at the MTA, warns that the MTA’s community meetings have been sparsely attended due to a lack of notice given to the public, and that at the meetings questions are frequently unanswered and information is not always readily available for concerned residents.
Rosen also highlights ongoing community efforts to protest what appear to be reductions in service in proposed route plans, such as his own petition against eliminating bus stops and a petition from Councilmember Brannan against cuts in southern Brooklyn.
TEENAGER MISSING IN EAST FLATBUSH
EAST FLATBUSH — Police are searching for 19-year-old Deandre Matthews, who was last seen leaving his East Flatbush home on the afternoon of Feb. 6. Matthews is described as a 5’4”, 180-pound man, with a dark complexion and black hair, wearing eyeglasses and a blue and red sweater.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.
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