What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, April 5, 2023
HEIGHTS LIBRARY PRESENTS AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY ON JAZZ IN CHINA
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Public Library celebrates April as Jazz Appreciation Month, with a showing of “Jazz In China: The Documentary,” by Eugene Marlow, Ph.D., a longtime Brooklynite. “Jazz In China” chronicles the 100-year story of how this democratic, improv style of music — exists and thrives in China — a country with a long tradition of adherence to central authority. Organizing and hosting the event, on Thursday, April 6 at 6 p.m. is Leslie Arlette Boyce.
The 60-minute award-winning documentary reveals the significant influence of African American jazz musicians with leading indigenous jazz musicians, sinologists, historians, and jazz club patrons in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and archival and contemporary performance footage.
BISHOP BRENNAN TO LEAD GOOD FRIDAY PROCESSION ACROSS BROOKLYN BRIDGE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Diocesan Bishop Robert Brennan will also mark this year’s Easter Triduum, the four holiest days of the Christian calendar, with a number of Masses, prayer services, and a Good Friday procession beginning Thursday night, Holy Thursday, April 6, and continuing through Easter Sunday, April 9. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will take place at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The traditional Way of the Cross Good Friday Procession, starting at 10 a.m. with a prayer service at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James on Jay Street, will head down Tillary St. and across the Brooklyn Bridge to Lower Manhattan.
Some of the liturgies will have live coverage on the Diocesan cable channel, NET TV is available on Spectrum channel 97, Optimum channel 30, and Verizon Fios channel 548, or online at netny.tv. Meanwhile parishes around the diocese also hold their traditional Good Friday processions, particularly in Carroll Gardens, where residents will display crosses in front of their homes.
BISHOP BLESSES HOLY OILS AT CHRISM MASS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Hundreds of priests, deacons and other professed religious participated in the Diocese of Brooklyn’s annual Chrism Mass, which takes place on Tuesday of Holy Week, at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. During the Chrism Mass, which is a time-honored tradition of the Christian Church, Diocesan Bishop Robert Brennan consecrated the chrism oil (blend of olive oil and balsam) that is used in ordinations and confirmations, and he blessed other sacred oils used in baptisms and anointing the ill.
The Chrism Mass is also the occasion in which priests renew their ordination vows.
ESTONIAN NATIONAL HAD SMUGGLED SENSITIVE ELECTRONICS TO RUSSIANS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — An Estonian national has been charged with 18 counts of conspiracy, fraud and other charges in Brooklyn federal court, related to procuring U.S.-made electronics on behalf of the Russian government and military. The defendant, Andrey Shevlyakov, had seized inbound shipments addressed to his front companies, including one that contained approximately 130 kilograms (286 pounds) of radio equipment. Shevlyakov, who was arrested on March 28 in Estonia and faces 20 years imprisonment if convicted, had procured sensitive electronics – including included low-noise pre-scalers and synthesizers and analog-to-digital converters (found in most defense systems) from U.S. manufacturers on behalf of Russian end-users, including defense contractors.
Most of these items would have been unavailable to Russian end-users if ordered directly for shipment to Russia.
STATE CONSERVATION DEPT. HOLDING COMMUNITY MEETING UP GOWANUS CLEANUP PROGRESS
GOWANUS — The Gowanus Canal Superfund Site will be the subject of a community availability session that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is convening this month, to provide an update on status of investigation and cleanup activities related to Gowanus Canal area sites, DEC is also providing a fact sheet, along with invitation in advance of the community availability session, scheduled for Thursday, April 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at P.S. 372, The Children’s School, 215 1st Street.
The Gowanus Canal area of Brooklyn is a former industrial zone with mixed commercial and residential properties. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is managing the investigation and remediation of 47 sites in the Gowanus Canal area in the Brownfield Cleanup Program and the State Superfund Program.
BROOKLYN CONGRESSMEMBERS REQUEST $356M TO ESCALATE SUPERFUND SITE CLEANUPS
GOWANUS CANAL AND NEWTOWN CREEK — U.S. Reps Dan Goldman (D-10) and Nydia Velázquez (D-7) led a group of 30 members of Congress in requesting increased funding of $356 million for the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account. The funds would stimulate the cleanup effort of more than 1,300 Superfund sites across the country, including the famed Gowanus Canal, first so designated in 2010. Superfund sites are contaminated sites that pose significant risk to human health and the environment, often causing lifelong health complications or death.
Since 2010, the number of Superfund sites has grown, and there are three in Rep. Velázquez’s district that covers much of eastern Brooklyn and part of Queens, including the Newtown Creek and Meeker Avenue Plume sites, and the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site in Ridgewood, Queens, which borders Bushwick and East Williamsburg.
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL TISH JAMES TAKES DOWN FAKE STATE DEPT. WEBSITE
STATEWIDE — New York Attorney General Letitia James has shut down two websites that impersonated the New York State Department of State and significantly overcharged users for services provided by NYSDOS. The misleading websites that Thomas Romano and his company, Steamin’ Weenie LLC (Steamin’ Weenie) created, closely mimicked NYSDOS’ Division of Corporations site by usurping the agency’s official seal and logo, and allowed users to file various business-related documents with federal, state, and local entities for much higher prices than NYSDOS offered — for example, $135 for a certified copy of a certificate of incorporation, which cost only $10 from NYSDOS at the time.
The impersonated website gave no disclosures that they were operated by a private third-party agreeing to file documents on behalf of their users.
POETRY INSTALLATION UNVEILED ON RED HOOK PIER
RED HOOK — Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue on Tuesday joined poet Edward Hirsch and students from P.S. 676 and Summit Academy Charter School on Red Hook’s Valentino Pier to celebrate a new installation bringing poetry to New York’s public parks through the Park Poems initiative, which transforms poems on the theme of reflection into environmentally integrated works of public art. Attendees were treated to a poetry reading by Hirsch before the unveiling of his poem “I Was Never Able to Pray” on the scenic pier; meanwhile, students crafted poems of their own, arranging stanzas out of park-themed Velcro word sets.
“This is the perfect place for my poem, which is all about sending my voice out across the waves. Encountering poetry in daily life, not in a classroom or museum — that seems to be the dream of poetry in American life,” Hirsch said at the ceremony.
HOCHUL SEEKS TO RAISE EMISSIONS LIMIT AT LAST MINUTE
ALBANY — Environmental groups are sounding the alarm after an eleventh-hour budget addition that would significantly increase emissions in New York was proposed in negotiations this week, reports New York Focus, whose sources assert that the governor supports the proposal, alongside lobbyists from the gas and forestry industries, as a potential concession to conservatives in the legislature. The proposal involves a change to the state’s emissions-measuring formula that would potentially increase methane emissions by a third, as well as exempting “biofuels” like wood from emissions counts entirely, opening the door to wood-fired power plants — some of which, advocates say, are actually worse for the environment than traditional coal plants.
“It would make gas companies look like they’ve been reducing their emissions overnight, when they actually wouldn’t have to have done anything differently,” Liz Moran of advocacy group Earthjustice told New York Focus.
POLICE SEEK BROOKLYN MAN IN SEX ABUSE INVESTIGATION
BED-STUY — On the morning of Monday, March 13, a 28-year-old woman was working in the basement of a building in the vicinity of Myrtle Avenue and Nostrand Avenue when an unknown man approached her and grabbed her breast, pushed her down and attempted to pull down her pants, then fled on foot after the victim screamed. Police are asking the public to help locate the man, who is described as having a medium build and a red beard and was last seen wearing a black hat, black coat, white shirt, black pants and black shoes.
Anyone with information regarding 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); the public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter at @NYPDTips.
BROOKLYN CURLERS SEEK TO BUILD NEW DEDICATED ICE RINK
PROSPECT PARK — The Brooklyn Lakeside Curling Club is looking to build a dedicated facility for enthusiasts to practice the quirky sport, having outgrown its current location at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center, reports Brooklyn Magazine, with its sessions and lessons regularly selling out as interest in curling has exploded nationwide. The group says it’s having trouble locating a space that can accommodate a curling rink’s unique needs, however, as most buildings it has viewed have structural columns that would block construction, and is considering a crowdfunding campaign to build one from scratch, with an estimated cost of $5 million to $8 million.
“You show curling to someone and they go, ‘I want to try that. I think I could do that.’ You quickly find out it’s not that easy. But it’s accessible. I can get you doing a really solid version of curling within 15 minutes. And you’re just off to the races. If it hooks you it hooks you. Like, we just don’t have people quit,” club member Than Tibbetts told the magazine, describing why the club sees it as a priority to expand.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOTTERY OPENS FOR BROOKLYN TOWER
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The affordable housing lottery for Brooklyn’s tallest building, Brooklyn Tower, has opened, reports Brooklyn Bridge Parents, with applications now open for its 63 affordable units. The luxury building features amenities like an outdoor pool, a childrens’ playroom and a dog park, and its affordable 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom apartments are open to households earning between $96,000 and $215,000 a year.
Applications can be submitted online to the housing lottery on the city’s Housing Connect website until May 30.
MAIMONIDES PERFORMS OPERATION USING VR TECH
MIDWOOD — Surgeons Jack Choueka and Ramin Sadeghpour at Maimonides Medical Center on March 30 performed one of the nation’s first “mixed reality” shoulder replacement surgeries using advanced virtual technology. The hospital used imaging software to create a 3D model based on CT scans of the patient, Maria, who was suffering from a painful rotator cuff tear; during the surgery, the surgeons wore headsets that superimposed a hologram based on that model over their lines of sight, allowing the surgeons to see the anatomy and surgical site precisely and helping to guide the exact placement of the prosthetic.
The hospital says it plans to explore the technology further and touts its use in exposing new surgeons to cutting-edge techniques, writing in a press release that “familiarity with MR technology can help the next generation of surgeons contribute to the ongoing development of these innovations.”
HEALTH CARE UNION TO RALLY AT ‘SAFETY NET’ HOSPITALS
CITYWIDE — Health care workers’ union SEIU 1199 will hold rallies at hospitals across New York state on Wednesday, calling on the Governor and Legislature to provide $1.3 billion in order to close a funding gap at “safety net” hospitals that serve marginalized groups, as well as to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates and to raise the minimum wage. The union also criticized the proposed cuts in the governor’s budget that would slash funding for safety net hospitals by $700 million and reduce wages for home health aides.
Brooklyn health care workers will rally outside Brookdale Hospital at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, during their lunch breaks.
ANNUAL ‘GREENEST BLOCK’ COMPETITION KICKS OFF: BBG
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is launching the 2023 edition of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest, and is inviting gardeners and plant fanatics from all over the borough to submit applications for their blocks if they think they can wow its judges with their vegetation creations, like last year’s winners in Crown Heights. Top prize is a $300 check, with smaller awards going to subcategory winners and all participants who attend the prize ceremony in the fall receiving a bag of plant bulbs.
Interested groups can find more information and the contest entry form online on the BBG’s website; winners will be announced in August.
ICONIC GARDEN’S YELLOW MAGNOLIA CAFÉ REOPENS WITH LOCALLY-SOURCED INGREDIENTS
WASHINGTON AVENUE — Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Yellow Magnolia Café has reopened in partnership with Union Square Events and Restaurant Associates. The results of this collaboration include new menus and refreshed spaces at the Garden’s three dining venues — Yellow Magnolia Café, Canteen, and the Coffee Bar — as well as a refresh of its private events business. Yellow Magnolia Café, which is the BBG’s full-service restaurant, offers a range of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients meal choices from vegetable-centric small plates, to larger, heartier main dishes, as well as plant-inspired desserts, a children’s menu, and an exciting wine, beer, and cocktail beverage program.
On its opening season menu, small plates include Mushroom Pie with Époisses, finished with an herb salad and truffle vinaigrette; BBG Mezze Platter, composed of cucumber salad, carrot muhammara, mezze olives, marinated olives, and pita; and Beet Tartare, served with labneh, dill, mint, soba, and rice crisps.
REYNOSO TO HOST RAMADAN IFTAR MEAL AT BOROUGH HALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso will host a Ramadan Iftar this Wednesday, the meal that observant Muslims eat after breaking their daytime fasts during the month-long holiday. Participants should bring their own prayer mats to the event, which will include a reading of Adhan, or the call to prayer, and the sunset Maghrib prayers.
The iftar will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall; attendees are asked to RSVP online, as space is limited.
CITY TO HOLD JOB FAIR FOR MUNICIPAL POSITIONS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Councilmember Crystal Hudson, alongside NYC Citywide Administrative Services and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, is hosting a NYC Government Hiring Hall in Downtown Brooklyn this Wednesday, offering attendees the chance to explore opportunities at agencies across the city and learn more about finding careers in public service. The city is recruiting applicants for a wide variety of positions; there will also be on-the-spot interviews for select government jobs, including maintenance worker positions, inspectors, eligibility specialists and more.
The fair will be held on Wednesday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ingersoll Community Center; jobseekers can pre-register online on Eventbrite.
STATE ISSUES THREE MARIJUANA LICENSES FOR BROOKLYN
CROWN HEIGHTS — The state’s Cannabis Control Board announced on Monday that it had awarded 99 licenses to open recreational marijuana dispensaries to people impacted by drug laws across the state, including three in Brooklyn, following a judge’s decision to partially lift a ban on new licenses last week. The City reports that successful applicants celebrated after the board met at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights to issue their licensing decisions, with one of the three Brooklyn licensees, Misha Morse-Buch, telling The City, “It almost feels not real, I still can’t almost comprehend that it’s happened the way that it’s happened. Literally went from the people trying to lock me in a little box to here’s a life possibly.”
While others were disappointed at the relatively few licenses granted in Brooklyn, state officials said that this was a result of a backlog in application reviews, and that more operators would be approved as the backlog was worked through.
NATIONAL GRID BACKS DOWN ON GREENPOINT GAS PLAN
GREENPOINT — Gas utility National Grid has dropped its controversial plan to build two large gas vaporizers in Greenpoint, reports Gothamist, after the state Public Service Commission ruled last month that the vaporizers were unnecessary and that the state would therefore not reimburse National Grid for the estimated $38 million in costs should it decide to move ahead with the project. National Grid said in a statement that it disagreed with the state’s assessment of its gas needs and that it intended to resubmit its application for funding in the future, although it did not offer a timeline.
This marks a win for neighborhood advocates and environmentalists, who vehemently opposed the plan to expand gas infrastructure in Greenpoint, citing years of pollution, and who celebrated after news broke of the state’s decision last month.
FRANCHISER COLLECTS $165K FOR CITY HARVEST
BROOKLYN — Tim Doherty, president and CEO of franchise group Doherty Enterprises, on Saturday donated $168,000 to food rescue organization City Harvest, the result of years of fundraising at the group’s Panera cafés throughout the city. City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens accepted the donation on behalf of the charity, as Doherty, alongside his family, presented the oversized check before joining in on repacking food for delivery to underprivileged communities.
Doherty at the event said that he was proud to support City Harvest, citing their efforts to feed the hungry throughout the city and calling the charity “near and dear to my heart.”
BROOKLYN STARTUP SECURES DEFENSE DEPT CONTRACT FOR GREEN FUEL
BROOKLYN — Brooklyn startup Air Company, a green technology firm that focuses on carbon capture and reuse, has been awarded a $65 million contract from the Department of Defense to develop a sustainable airplane fuel, reports Cheddar News. CEO Gregory Constantine told Cheddar that the contract was a big win for the company and for the environment, as aviation is responsible for an estimated four to five billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — a number that Constantine believes Air Company could help reduce, as its methods are carbon-negative, meaning that they remove more of the gas from the atmosphere than they emit.
The company also uses its tech to manufacture products like perfume and vodka — its process produces alcohol, which is used in a wide variety of applications.
EATER NY FEATURES 15 POPULAR NEW BROOKLYN CULINARY TREATS
AROUND THE BOROUGH — Fifteen of Brooklyn’s hottest and most innovative new restaurants are featured in this week’s edition of Eater New York. Carroll Gardens locals lamenting the closing of century-old G. Esposito & Sons pork store might become enamored with Bobbi’s Italian Beef, on Smith Street in Cobble Hill. There’s also Akara House, a Nigerian vegetarian burger spot on Nostrand Avenue near Bergen St. in northern Crown Heights.
While a number of the new eateries are in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, there are also some unusual spots, such as Lula Mae, a Cambodian restaurant on Myrtle Ave. and Sy Ko in Windsor Terrace, which defines itself as offering both Syrian and Korean dishes, but not as a “fusion” restaurant.
INAUGURAL NYC CYBER ACADEMY GRADUATES 21 CITY EMPLOYEES
CITYWIDE — The first-ever New York City Cyber Academy graduated 21 city employees on Tuesday, April 4, at a ceremony with Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser and Chief Information Security Officer Kelly Moa. NYC Cyber Academy is a specialized training program designed to bolster the city’s cybersecurity workforce and enhance agency cyber capabilities to defend against threats to essential services and critical infrastructure.
The graduates, who represent several city agencies, from the Department of Social Services and of Health & Mental Hygiene to the Fire Department, the Comptroller’s Office and Dept. of Transportation, will serve as liaisons to the Office of Cyber Command, representing their respective agencies and serving as the primary contact with the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation’s Cyber Command, in accordance with Mayor Adams’ Executive Order 10, issued last February.
FIVE BORO BIKE TOUR NEARLY SOLD OUT
CITYWIDE — Bike New York announced on Monday that its annual Five Boro Bike Tour has nearly sold out, and that riders who want to register should hurry if they want to secure spots in this year’s race. The tour, held on May 7, will kick off in lower Manhattan and wind through the entire city before finishing in Staten Island, near the ferry terminal.
Riders can find more information and sign up on Bike New York’s website; registration costs $129, with part of the costs going to fund Bike New York’s free bike education programs.
AIRPORT EMPLOYEE ARRESTED FOR BRINGING LOADED HANDGUN WITH HOLLOW BULLETS THROUGH SECURITY
NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT — Police on Saturday, April 1, arrested a New Jersey man who worked at Newark Liberty Airport when TSA officers spotted a loaded 9mm handgun — loaded with eight hollow-point bullets — in his backpack being scanned in the checkpoint X-ray machine. Police who were called to the checkpoint confiscated both the man’s weapon and his airport employee ID badge. The man is reported to no longer be working at the airport.
“Saturday was April Fool’s Day, but I can assure you that nobody was laughing when our officers detected a loaded gun,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Bringing a firearm to a checkpoint is no joke.”
GOLDMAN PRESSES ADMINISTRATION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman of Brooklyn and Lou Correa of California on Monday led 71 of their colleagues in a letter to House Appropriations Committee leadership requesting $865 million for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to address the historic immigration backlog and better process asylum applications. The congressmembers say that USCIS is unable to handle the high volume of requests after cuts made by the Trump administration forced the agency, which is currently mostly funded by application fees, to let go of two-thirds of its employees during the pandemic; and that the increased funding would cover staffing costs and general expenses to reduce the backlogs, as well as supporting up to 125,000 refugee admissions in fiscal year 2024.
“Without support from Congress, fees will continue to go up — as we’ve seen in the news in the past weeks: paperwork for citizenship naturalization, green card, application to work in the US, and more… The cost for an adjustment of status application could increase by as much as 130%,” the congressmembers warned in their letter; the full text is available online on Goldman’s official House webpage.
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES FIGHTS WV LAW BARRING TRANSGENDER STUDENTS FROM SPORTS
NATIONWIDE — A student who is challenging a West Virginia law that bans her and other transgender students from athletic teams has a new set of allies in New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 18 of her counterparts across the United States. Attorney General James has led the coalition which is arguing in an amicus brief filed in B.P.J. v. West Virginia Board of Education, argue that the sole purpose of the West Virginia law is to exclude and stigmatize transgender students like B.P.J., and therefore it clearly violates her right to equal protection under the law.
The attorneys general argue that the West Virginia statute, which bans B.P.J. from participating on her school’s all-girls cross country and track teams, violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as it denies transgender girls like B.P.J. access to the same athletic opportunities that other boys and girls have.
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