What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, July 11, 2023
‘PUPPET SLAM’ AT BROOKLYN COMMONS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A family-friendly “puppet slam” is coming to the Brooklyn Commons (formerly known as MetroTech) this Thursday, featuring “an inclusive line-up of marionettes, hand puppets, giant puppets and more,” according to event sponsor Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The show is part of the Puppets Come Home! series hosted by Coney Island USA, which is designed to platform cutting-edge young puppeteers, as well as pay homage to Brooklyn’s history of puppeteering, which it also honored last year with a puppet parade down the Coney Island boardwalk.
The puppet show will take place on Thursday, July 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Brooklyn Commons; attendance is free and open to all ages.
SHOMRIM LEADER TO FACE TRIAL FOR CHARGES OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINOR
BOROUGH PARK — A leader of Borough Park’s Jewish Shomrim police force is set to stand trial this month over allegations that he sexually abused a 15-year-old girl, a community member who had turned to him for help after a conflict with her family, reports the Daily News. Jacob Daskal, 64, is accused of using his position to scare the teen into silence, at one point allegedly telling her, “It’s just going to ruin your life if you tell people.” The alleged abuse took place in 2017 and 2018, with Daskal following the girl to a retreat upstate, Chicago and even Israel in pursuit of a sexual relationship, but was exposed in May 2018 when the girl told a mentor after returning to NYC, who reported it to the police.
Because the case involved the crossing of state lines, Daskal is facing federal charges of coercion, enticement and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; Daskal is reportedly a well-known civic leader and a donor to state Sen. Simcha Felder and former Mayor de Blasio.
YOUNG REPUBS SLAM CANDIDATE LABELLA OVER ‘GASLIGHTING CAMPAIGN’
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — The NY Young Republicans Club issued a strident condemnation of City Council candidate Vito LaBella on Saturday, after LaBella refused to concede the Republican nomination in District 43 to fellow candidate and victor Ying Tan, despite earlier assurances that he would endorse the winner of last week’s primary in the general election. The club described his conduct as “dishonest, disingenuous and disrespectful,” and accused LaBella of running a “spirited gaslighting campaign” over a Twitter ultimatum demanding that “If Ying cares about adding another GOP councilmember, she has until tomorrow to decline the line and give it to me.”
The Young Republicans also endorsed Tan and chided other GOP local organizations over their silence on the issue, warning that LaBella, who is still on the ballot as a Conservative, was setting up to potentially split the Republican vote; Tan also released a statement pledging to remain in the race for the council seat, which after redistricting has no incumbent — current District 43 Councilmember Justin Brannan is running instead in District 47 versus incumbent Republican Councilmember Ari Kagan, another messy scuffle.
NEW LIDL SUPERMARKET COMING TO CROWN HEIGHTS
CROWN HEIGHTS — A branch of the supermarket chain Lidl will be coming to Crown Heights after commercial mortgage broker Eastern Union announced on Monday that it had secured a $62 million loan to construct the new mixed-use building that will house Lidl’s 33,000 square-foot space. The complex will also include 57 apartment units and areas for other retail tenants, as well as a large community space.
Lidl first inked the deal for the Bedford Avenue space in July of last year, representing the biggest retail leasing of 2022, according to the Real Deal; the second-place spot was also taken by Lidl for a Park Slope store, as the European chain seeks to break into the U.S. market.
SHOOTING VICTIM REMEMBERED AT FUNERAL: ‘PILLAR OF THE CITY’
SUNSET PARK — Mourners gathered on Monday at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center mosque in Sunset Park for the funeral of Hamod Saeidi, 87, the victim of a shooting rampage by a scooter-riding gunman over the weekend, reports the Daily News. Hundreds of relatives, friends, community members and politicians, including Mayor Adams, observed the solemn proceedings and spoke about both his life and legacy, and the violence that shocked the city and wounded three others.
“He killed the whole family. He killed us. My father was a peaceful man. He was a good man. I ask everybody to pray for everyone who got wounded. If my father was alive, he would most likely forgive him. I cannot forgive,” stated son Main Saeidi at the funeral, condemning the shooter, who was captured shortly after the incident; Saeidi is survived by six children, 30 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and his wife.
BROOKLYN CONSERVATORY SELECTS TWO FOR WOMEN’S JAZZ FELLOWSHIP
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on Monday announced the two recipients of its 2023 Jazz Leaders Fellowship, which highlights the achievements and advances the careers of Black women and nonbinary jazz performers, as Melanie Charles and Olithea Anglin, who performs as Miss Olithea. Charles is a Brooklyn-born eclectic innovator who frequently collaborates with genre-bending artists, like SZA, the Roots and the Gorillaz; while Anglin is a native New Yorker and vocal coach who by the age of 18 had performed in every major NYC concert hall, and now focuses on meditative, experimental music.
Both recipients will also receive opportunities to teach at the Conservatory as well as a $12,500 award and will be honored later this month at the kickoff reception for BKCM’s Midsummer Nights music festival.
HOCHUL URGED TO BAN ‘DEEPFAKED’ AI PORNOGRAPHY
STATEWIDE — Lawmakers are urging Governor Hochul to sign a proposed ban on the use of AI technology to alter pornographic images or videos to appear to be other, nonconsenting people, such as celebrities and victims of sexual violence, reports Spectrum. The ability to quickly and seamlessly alter porn and other media by superimposing the faces of unrelated people over the bodies of those in the images, known as “deepfaking,” has exploded in recent years, as access to the AI tools needed becomes more widely available; the proposed ban would level a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail, as well as granting victims the right to pursue legal action against the fakers.
Experts have expressed concern over the possibility of AI’s usage in other situations as well: for example, videos could be altered to smear political rivals, as U.S. Rep. Clarke pointed out when introducing her DEEPFAKES Accountability Act in 2019, prior to the presidential election.
FLATBUSH GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS FOR MURDER
CROWN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez on Monday announced that Gymanni Carrington, 22, of Crown Heights, a member of the Martense Beverly Bosses gang based in East Flatbush, has been sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder of alleged gang rival Donavan Frazier, 20. According to the DA, Carrington shot Frazier in the chest with a handgun in the early hours of Sept. 16, 2017, as Frazier was leaving a deli in Crown Heights; Carrington was captured on surveillance video firing into the deli, claimed credit for the murder in calls recorded by the NYC Department of Corrections and on social media posts, and made admissions in emails to his mother just after the shooting, according to evidence presented by the prosecution.
Carrington and 17 others were named in a 2018 indictment in which they were charged in connection with eight separate shootings, including two fatalities; the co-defendants have since pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.
SECOND IN ‘CITY OF YES’ BRIEFINGS WILL FOCUS
ON NEED FOR ZONING REGULATION UPDATES
CITYWIDE — The second in Mayor Eric Adams’ “City of Yes” proposals will be the focus on a public briefing with the Department of City Planning, scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. Mayor Adams has proposed three Citywide zoning text amendments collectively titled the “City of Yes” proposals. The July 11 public information session, to be held virtually, will concentrate on “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,” and the concomitant text amendment that aims to update zoning regulations affecting businesses across the city. The amendment means removing limitations on the categories of businesses allowed in commercial districts and will clarify and modernize zoning rules.
The Mayor’s Office points out that the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of flexibility in city zoning regulations, some of which have barely been updated since 1961.
VISION SESSION FOR SHIRLEY CHISHOLM MONUMENT
PROSPECT PARK — Assemblymember Brian Cunningham and Councilmember Rita Joseph are hosting a discussion session for the community to contribute their opinions on the future monument to trailblazing U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, who represented Bed-Stuy from 1969 to 1983 and passed away in 2005. The design for the monument was unveiled in 2019, and features a 40-foot image of Chisholm’s face blended with an image of the U.S. Capitol in an interactive steel structure placed at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park; it was originally planned to be completed by 2020 but construction and planning were delayed due to the pandemic.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 11, at Cunningham’s office at 249 Empire Boulevard, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the monument’s designers are the invited speakers for the night.
FIRST GIGLIO LIFT OF FAMOUS WILLIAMSBURG FEAST
WILLIAMSBURG — A 136-year-old tradition continued on Sunday, July 9, in Williamsburg, with the world-famous Dancing of the Giglio and Boat Parade, a highlight of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast. The Nolani immigrants from Italy began the tradition in 1887, consisting of the Giglio (the Italian word for “lily,” flowers handed to a saint returning from captivity), a seven-story tower structure decorated with Gigli (lilies) and the image of St. Paulinus. A platform at the base of the tower supports a twelve-piece brass band and singer. A corps of 112 dancing and marching men, the lifters, hoisted the entire assemblage — tower, band and pastor — through the streets of Williamsburg.
A separate boat, complete with fitted mast, sail, and rigging, represents the ship that returned St. Paulinus from captivity. Like the Giglio, it has a band and singer and is also carried and danced through the streets.
DISASTER SIMULATION TRAINING SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY ON CADMAN PLAZA EAST
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — People in the vicinity of Cadman Plaza East on Wednesday evening, July 12, should be alerted that a disaster simulation drill will be conducted as part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training class. The drill, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. near Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place, will also engage FDNY and NYPD personnel in action. Readers can go online to learn more about the CERT program or to become volunteers.
Graduates are dedicated volunteers who undergo a training program that provides basic response skills needed for fire safety, light search and rescue, community disaster support, disaster medical operations, and traffic control. A commitment of one year is required.
FORCIBLE GROPING ON SUBWAY
KENSINGTON — Police are searching for a man who on the afternoon of Saturday, July 8, approached a 25-year-old woman on the northbound F train platform at the Church Avenue subway station and grabbed her rear end, before fleeing out of the station. The suspect is described as 5’4” and approximately 150 pounds, with short black hair, he was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt, blue jeans and blue sneakers.
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 tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
SCOOTER SHOOTER LINKED TO SIXTH INCIDENT
JAMAICA — Police on Sunday announced that the alleged gunman who shot four people, killing one, from the back of a scooter on Saturday in a spree of drive-by incidents in Brooklyn and Queens has been linked to a sixth shooting, one that fortunately did not cause injury to the target. Thomas Abreu, 25, of Cypress Hills, was quickly caught and arrested in connection with these crimes and charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, after shooting two men in the shoulder, one in the face, and fatally shooting Hamod Saeidi, 86, of Queens, in his back; it is unknown what could have motivated the violent spree, which appears to have been random.
Abreu has thus far only been charged in connection with three of the six shootings, but the police investigation is ongoing; a firearm was recovered from Abreu at the time of his arrest.
CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS TO THANK FDNY FOR PROTEST ACTIONS
MANHATTAN — New York AG Letitia James, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and FDNY Lt. James McCarthy of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association will join five civil rights leaders from Alabama on Monday to thank the FDNY for condemning the city of Birmingham for using its fire department to attack children during a historic march. The march, known as the “Children’s Crusade,” caught national media attention when on May 2, 1963, Birmingham fire officials ordered high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs be turned on nearly 1,000 grade school students — including the five leaders — participating in a nonviolent protest, the water hitting with enough force to tear off clothing; the FDNY’s union voted to make a proclamation speaking out against using fire resources to suppress protests, according to the New York Post.
The press conference will occur on Monday, July 10, at 2 p.m. at FDNY Engine Co. 1, Ladder 24 in Manhattan.
NYC’S PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM OFFERS CLINICAL LEADERSHIP FELLOWSHIPS
CITYWIDE — The application period has opened for NYC Health + Hospitals’ Clinical Leadership Fellowship, a yearlong opportunity for post-residency graduates interested in administrative roles within the nation’s largest public hospital system. Now in its fifth year, the Fellowship assigns selected participants to team within NYC Health + Hospitals’ offices of quality, population health, ambulatory care, managed care and patient growth, or medical and professional affairs to acquire practical work experience. As part of their participation, Fellows will be required to design and lead a quality improvement or population health project at their sponsoring facility.
The Fellows will also provide clinical care to some of the city’s most vulnerable patients. The application deadline for next year’s fellowship is September 29, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
LIBRARIES’ CULTURE PASS CELEBRATES 5TH BIRTHDAY
CITYWIDE — Three public library systems are celebrating the first five years of the Culture Pass program that grants access to more than 80 museums, gardens, historic sites and performance venues around the city. The Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Queens Public Library all participate in Culture Pass, which began in July 2018 with just 30 partners, is an extension of the core mission of the city’s public libraries to provide free access to a wide variety of resources for learning for all New Yorkers, including the city’s world class art and performance venues. Overall, more than 80 cultural organizations generously participate in the program, and about 60% of the reservations have been made by New Yorkers living in low or mixed-income neighborhoods across all five boroughs.
Even after a pause for pandemic-related closures, demand for passes has bounced back and remains strong — in April 2023, 7,200 New Yorkers reserved a pass, the most in a single month since the program launched.
CITY SUES TO STOP ILLEGAL FLAVORED E-CIG SALES
CITYWIDE — The City of New York is filing a federal lawsuit against four major distributors of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix announced on Monday, July 10. These exotically-flavored e-cigarettes, which are popular vaping devices among middle-school children and high schoolers, come from four defendant companies, including Star Vape, based in Brooklyn, another based in Queens, and the other two headquartered in Buffalo. The defendants are alleged to have distributed, and continue to distribute, exotically flavored disposable e-cigarettes to retail vape and smoke shops, convenience stores, and directly to consumers in New York City through online sales, in violation of nearly every applicable federal, New York state, and city law governing the sale of such products.
The July 5 lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks to block the four defendants from further sales of these illegal items and seeks both monetary damages and fines.
DOE COMMUNICATIONS CHIEF OUT AFTER TEN MONTHS
CITYWIDE — A top Department of Education official, communications chief Michael Vaughn, has been asked to leave after less than a year on the job, reports the New York Post, with sources citing several public relations slip-ups as the motivating factor. The DOE was heavily criticized for not consulting parents in its decision to temporarily house asylum seekers in school gymnasiums earlier this summer — a decision walked back quickly after days of parent protests — as well as incidents where parents were informed of a critical data breach days after the media, and where school schedules were released prior to the conclusion of teachers’ union negotiations.
Vaughn denied the allegation that he was asked to leave and told the Post that he resigned from the job.
MONDAIRE JONES RETURNS TO WESTCHESTER FOR NEW HOUSE RUN
WESTCHESTER — Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones has decamped from Carroll Gardens back upstate in a bid to retake the House seat he lost last year in a redistricting scuffle, reports Gothamist. Jones was elected as a freshman representative in 2020 in his hometown District 10, which includes Rockland, Putnam and part of Westchester counties, but after redistricting forced him to butt heads with senior Dem leader Patrick Maloney, he threw his hat into the primary ring with now-Rep. Dan Goldman (who Jones described in an Eagle interview as “a conservative Democrat [buying] his way into Congress”) and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou over the incumbentless brownstone Brooklyn/lower Manhattan’s District 17, to which Jones had few ties, ultimately coming in third in the primary, according to the Daily News.
Maloney ultimately lost the race in District 10 to Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who Jones hopes to unseat in the 2024 election from his new base in Sleepy Hollow.
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