What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, October 18, 2023
MAYOR SIGNS WAIVER ENABLING
PANDEMIC-ERA EMS WORKERS
TO BECOME FIREFIGHTERS
CITYWIDE — EMS WORKERS CAN APPLY TO BECOME FIREFIGHTERS EVEN IF THEY HAVE PASSED THE MAXIMUM AGE, THANKS TO A ONE-TIME WAIVER, part of Intro. 1190 that Mayor Eric Adams signed on Wednesday, Oct. 18. Under existing local law, an individual applying to become a firefighter for the FDNY must not have turned 29 years old before the date of the filing of his or her application for a civil service examination; but the exams were suspended during the pandemic. This waiver would apply to the next promotion examination for EMS workers to become firefighters.
“The Fire Department recognizes that many EMS members may have joined the FDNY with the hope of one day becoming a firefighter and would be denied that opportunity due to a phenomenon that was out of the control of the members and of the city,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “Thanks to this bill, that will no longer be the case.”
MAYOR SIGNS BILL TO PROVIDE DYSLEXIA
SCREENINGS FOR NEW YORKERS IN CUSTODY
CITYWIDE — DYSLEXIA SCREENING WILL BE PROVIDED TO INCARCERATED PERSONS, as part of a bill that Mayor Eric Adams signed into law on Wednesday, Oct. 18. Intro. 349-A, which will allow the city to screen New Yorkers in city jails for dyslexia and provide appropriate interventions, builds upon Mayor Adams’ major 2022 investment and comprehensive approach to supporting public school students with dyslexia. The measure aims to prevent the “pipeline to jail,” in which youth with undiagnosed learning disorders, such as dyslexia and related behavioral issues, wind up in police custody.
“If we don’t educate, we incarcerate. Too many young people are part of the pipeline to jail because of a lack of literacy and dyslexia screenings — and once they are in the prison system, they continue to fall behind,” said Mayor Adams.
KAGAN NOW BACKS ABORTION BAN
CONEY ISLAND — COUNCILMEMBER ARI KAGAN, WHO CURRENTLY REPRESENTS Coney Island and other areas of the southern Brooklyn waterfront, now favors a ban on elective abortions, reports the Daily News, in an ideological about-face for the former Democrat, who just last July voted in favor of a legislative package that expanded access to abortion in NYC. Kagan, who is set to face off against fellow councilmember Justin Brannan for the 47th District seat next month, swapped sides and registered as a Republican in December of last year; he now says he believes that “Life starts at conception. Abortions should be rare, only in cases of rape, incest or danger for the mother’s life and health.”
Brannan, who will be running to continue representing Bay Ridge after redistricting moved the neighborhood from District 43 to District 47, had harsh words for Kagan’s new position: “What Ari Kagan stands for is nothing short of governmental cruelty and totalitarian control over women, their bodies, their families, and their healthcare…The women of southern Brooklyn deserve better than this troglodyte.”
PEOPLE NAMED ‘RYAN’ TO FLOOD WILLIAMSBURG SATURDAY
WILLIAMSBURG — ABOUT 150 FOLKS NAMED ‘RYAN’ from across the country will be attending “Rytoberfest” in Williamsburg this Saturday, the New York Post reports. The Ryan rave sprang out of the Ryan Meetup Group, which was launched in early 2023 and quickly took off. Ryan Rose, a 27-year-old photographer who lives in Bed-Stuy — and one of the few women named Ryan — started the group for the heck of it.
Ryan Le, a 24-year-old software designer who lives in Williamsburg, told the Post that he’s made about eight new friends through the group. “People are just so down with the idea of this.”
GETS 7-MONTH PRISON SENTENCE
FOR INTERFERING WITH VOTER RIGHTS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER Douglass Mackey, who ran a deception campaign urging people to vote by text message, was sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 18, to seven months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to interfere with potential voters’ rights to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly presided at Wednesday’s sentencing. In March 2023, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Mackey, who is also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” of the charge of Conspiracy Against Rights.
As proven at trial, Mackey, who had established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers, conspired with other influential Twitter users to spread fraudulent messages, impersonated slogans from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign and urged people to stay at home and vote via text message or social media, rendering such votes invalid. He had also broadcast tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” by instructing Blacks to vote from home.
VIOLENT, ARMED BROOKLYN CARJACKER SENTENCED TO 24 YEARS
DOWNTOWN — AN ARMED CARJACKER WAS SENTENCED ON WEDNESDAY IN BROOKLYN COURT to 24 years — 36 months plus an additional 21 years to run consecutively — by Second Circuit Judge Denny Chin. Dieuverson Caille, a/k/a “Savage,” was convicted in March of committing multiple armed carjackings in Brooklyn during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caille, with his co-conspirator gang members, carjacked four victims at gunpoint, kidnapped one of them, pistol whipped another, and stole their iPhones and money. The defendant was a member of the Eight Tray Gangster Crip and Haitian Loc gangs when he committed these crimes.
Saying that Caille “terrorized Brooklyn,” Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York added in a statement, “The city is a safer place because of today’s sentence and underscores that this Office will vigorously prosecute defendants who commit violent crimes.”
GOUNARDES’ BILL WOULD GIVE NEW HIRES
OPTIONS ON STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENTS
STATEWIDE — A BILL FROM STATE SENATOR ANDREW GOUNARDES (D-26) would give New Yorkers more options regarding their student loan debt, now that the pandemic-era pause on making payments has expired. Senator Gounardes’ bill, S.346, would require employers to provide new employees with information about their student loan repayment options when they begin their new role, including ways to consolidate federal loans and income-based repayment options. This legislation offers an innovative approach, as it aims to empower borrowers with crucial information to make necessary decisions about their financial futures.
“For the millions of New Yorkers with student loan debt, the return to required payments this month has been a shock to the system. I know, because I am one of those New Yorkers,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
BAY RIDGE MAN GETS LIFE SENTENCE FOR JOINING ISIS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE EDNY ON TUESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT FORMER Bay Ridge resident and U.S. citizen Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, also known by the noms de guerre Suleiman Al-Amriki and Suleiman Al-Kazakhi, was given a life sentence plus seventy years for joining, training and fighting for the terrorist group ISIS over a five-year period between 2013 and 2019. The prosecution demonstrated that Asainov had abandoned his wife and daughter in Brooklyn in December 2013 and traveled to Syria, where he joined the so-called Islamic State as a fighter, and later a sniper; during his time with the group, he participated in several battles with opposing forces, as well as training other members in sniping, before being captured during ISIS’s “last stand” in the Syrian town of Baghouz and handed over to the FBI as part of a multinational operation.
Asainov has not expressed remorse for his actions: in 2020 he told his mother in recorded prison phone calls that he believed himself to be following the will of Allah and would resume fighting if released, while in September of that year, prison staff confiscated a makeshift paper-and-pen ISIS flag affixed to his cell wall; at trial, Asainov reiterated his allegiance to ISIS and stated that the group — which had lost nearly all of its former territory in Iraq and Syria by the time of his capture — would rise again.
NEW BILL WOULD GIVE FREE HELP TO AMERICANS
STRANDED ABROAD DURING EMERGENCIES
NATIONWIDE — AMERICANS WHO ARE STRANDED OVERSEAS WOULD NO LONGER NEED TO REPAY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR ITS ASSISTANCE to return home safely, if a bill that Brooklyn Congressmembers introduced on Wednesday, Oct. 18, becomes law. Reps. Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) and Adriano Espaillat (D-13/Upper Manhattan & Bronx) introduced the Safe Return Act, in response to the ongoing crisis faced by United States citizens who currently remain in Israel and Gaza amid war. The Safe Return Act would ensure that Americans stuck abroad would no longer be required to repay the federal government for the assistance they receive to return home safely. The Safe Return Act would transform the current federal Repatriation Loan Program so that Americans and lawful permanent U.S. residents who are trapped abroad would instead receive free grant assistance from the State Department to ensure their safe return home.
Under the current system, Americans stranded abroad during sudden wars or other emergencies are provided with loans to facilitate their return stateside.
$500M REQUESTED FOR NEW YORK TO PROTECT
RELIGIOUS GROUPS AGAINST TERROR ATTACKS
NATIONWIDE — U.S. SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND OF NEW YORK on Wednesday, Oct. 18, held a video press conference to request more funding to protect synagogues, Jewish community centers, mosques, and other religious or non-profit institutions that are at high risk of terrorist attacks, particularly after the violent attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 and the heightened animosities between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups. Citing a disturbing rise in antisemitism and hate crimes, Gillibrand is requesting that $500 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program be included in the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. NSGP provides grant funding to at-risk institutions to strengthen security measures, such as installing physical target hardening measures like gates and motion lights, conducting preparedness and prevention planning exercises, and contracting security personnel.
Said Gillibrand, “As the crisis in the Middle East worsens, we are likely to see threats to Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities grow. Every American has the right to worship freely and without fear. I’m committed to making sure they can.”
MISSING TEEN, BABY IN NEW LOTS
NEW LOTS — POLICE ARE URGENTLY ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP LOCATE Zariya Bennett, age 16, and her two-week-old son, Kayden Bennett, who were last seen together on the night of Monday, Oct. 16, in their residence near the Pennsylvania Ave. 3 train stop. Zariya is described as 5’7″ and 135 pounds, with a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing gray sweatpants.
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 X (Twitter) @NYPDTips.
LUNA PARK SET TO HOST PUMPKIN CARVING SHOW
CONEY ISLAND — LUNA PARK IS SET TO HOST THE MANIAC Pumpkin Carvers this weekend as part of the funfair’s Halloween Harvest celebration, featuring live demonstrations of elaborate gourd-shaping, culminating with the creation of a giant, custom-made pumpkin sculpture for the park. The Carvers will also offer tips, tricks and more for novice audience members; the two artists, Marc Evan and Chris Soria, founded their studio more than 20 years ago, and have had their work featured on Good Morning America and the Food Network, as well as displayed at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum.
The Maniacs will be on stage on Saturday, Oct. 21, at Luna Park’s Halloween Harvest Festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; more information, as well as ticket sales, can be found on Luna Park’s website.
24-YEAR-OLD MAN KILLED IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT ON BELT PARKWAY
PLUMB BEACH — A 24-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS KILLED on the Belt Parkway in Plumb Beach in a collision involving three vehicles at roughly 10:26 p.m. Monday night, according to police. Rakibul Hasan, a resident of Belmont Avenue in Cypress Hills, was driving a Toyota Prius eastbound on the Belt Parkway when a BMW sedan driven by a 23-year-old man struck Hasan’s Toyota from behind. The collision forced Hasan’s Toyota over the median into westbound traffic, where his car was then struck by a Honda CRV SUV driven by a 35-year-old woman. Police responders from the 61st Precinct found Hasan unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma throughout the body. EMS transported him to Lutheran Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.
EMS units transported the 23-year-old man driving the BMW to Brookdale Hospital in stable condition, and the 35-year-old woman driving the Honda to NYU Langone Brooklyn in stable condition. There were no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing, police said.
MAIMONIDES HOSPITAL, ACCUSED OF BREACHING EMPLOYEE HOUSING AGREEMENT, STARTS EVICTIONS
BOROUGH PARK AND SUNSET PARK — THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY CRITICIZED MAIMONIDES MEDICAL CENTER, a nonprofit hospital in Brooklyn, for attempting to mass evict dozens of current and former healthcare workers from their longtime employee residences in Sunset Park. Maimonides had, in 2018, sold a number of buildings that the hospital had been renting out for decades at subsidized rates to workers as a part of their employment contracts. As part of the sale, Maimonides agreed to remain the landlord of the employee apartments under a “master lease,” which would have allowed the building’s current tenants to retain their housing. However, Legal Aid contends, Maimonides has claimed it has become too expensive to continue subsidizing and has begun the process of evicting all current and former employees. The hospital has filed 37 eviction cases across seven buildings so far, with 21 of those cases consolidated under Maimonides Medical Center v. Edwardo Silva-Fierro.
Legal Aid represents 13 healthcare workers, many of whom are disabled and have retired after years of being employed by Maimonides Medical Center, and the employees’ family members.
OFFICIALS, ORGS BLAST ADAMS’ PLAN TO LIMIT REFUGEE KIDS TO 60 DAYS OF ‘UNSAFE’ HOUSING
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS’ PLAN TO LIMIT asylum-seeking families with children to just 60 days of housing received blowback from several city officials and organizations on Monday. He also received criticism for his plan to place roughly 500 families with children in a “semi-congregate setting” at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Among those weighing in were Comptroller Brad Lander, Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, who said that the plan would be cruel, possibly illegal, and would disrupt kids’ access to schools and stability.
“Denying families with children the stability of a private room and curtailing their shelter stay is a short-sighted, cruel step that will endanger the physical and mental wellbeing of children, exacerbate trauma, and leave many families on the streets,” Lander said in a statement. If the plan is illegal, “We will have no choice but to seek an immediate injunction from the court,” the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless said.
BOTH BIDEN AND HOCHUL HEAD TO ISRAEL
NEW YORK — PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND NY GOV. KATHY HOCHUL are both traveling to Israel, Hochul on Tuesday and Biden on Wednesday, their respective press offices said. Biden is traveling there to “demonstrate his steadfast support for Israel in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack and to consult on next steps,” the WH said. Biden will then travel to Amman, Jordan, where he will meet with his Majesty King Abdullah, Egyptian President Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “He will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza,” the WH said.
Hochul said she was going to Israel to show solidarity with the U.S. ally. “During these difficult times, it’s more important than ever for New York to show up in support of Israel,” she said.
INDICTMENT FOR BROOKLYN PIMP WHO ALLEGEDLY THREATENED AND BEAT VICTIMS
DOWNTOWN — A PIMP WHO ALLEGEDLY THREATENED AND BEAT WOMEN IN BROOKLYN, including smashing one with a baseball bat saying he wanted to leave a “stain on her brain,” was indicted in Brooklyn Federal Court on Tuesday. Douglas Welch, 40, a Queens resident also known as “Paradise,” was charged with sex trafficking by force, sex trafficking conspiracy, interstate prostitution and promotion of prostitution on a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York known as the “Penn Track.” Welch routinely threatened his victims with physical violence if they disobeyed his orders, according to Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Welch was scheduled to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Cho.
The Penn Track has for years operated as an open-air sex market where Welch and others have forced trafficking victims to earn money for them, according to the indictment.
NY EMPLOYERS CAN NO LONGER DEMAND WORKERS’ PERSONAL EMAIL OR SOCIAL MEDIA PASSWORDS
STATEWIDE — EMPLOYERS IN NEW YORK can no longer demand their workers or job applicants turn over the passwords for their private email or private social media accounts, thanks to a law Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed, reports Staten Island Live. The legislation was brought by state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-the Bronx). Such requests represent “a grave breach of privacy on the employer’s part and can raise concerns regarding unfair and discriminatory hiring and admission practices,” Dinowitz said.
This new law does not apply to certain types of employees, such as police; accessing information that’s publicly available on a website; or having access to employees’ login information for the businesses’ system.
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR’S NEW BOOK CHALLENGES TRADITIONAL ‘LAW AND ORDER’ MINDSET
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS—BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR JOCELYN SIMONSON joins James Forman Jr. of Yale Law School for a Center for Brooklyn History Talk next Monday on her book, “Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary Americans Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration.” Their conversation on Monday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m., both in person and via YouTube livestream, will focus the on the impact from ordinary people who are challenging the ideas that prosecutions and prisons make America safer; that public officials charged with maintaining “law and order” are carrying out the will of the people; and that justice requires putting people in cages. Simonson’s book chronicles the power of collective organizing to dismantle the carceral system and reimagine justice. Register online.
Brooklyn Law School and n+1 magazine are co-presenting the talk at the Center for Brooklyn History, 128 Pierrepont St. in Brooklyn Heights. A book signing follows the program.
FDNY: PROHIBITED IN NYC STORES, DANGEROUS E-BIKE BATTERIES CAN STILL BE ORDERED ONLINE
CITYWIDE — A MONTH PAST THE PASSAGE OF A NYC LAW PROHIBITING the sale of batteries that don’t meet national safety standards, illegal and dangerous e-bike batteries remain for sale to New Yorkers online, according to FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh, who on Friday sent a letter complaining about these online sales to Amazon. Kavanaugh urged the retail giant “to make sure it only sells lithium-ion batteries & micro-mobility devices that meet legal safety standards,” she said via X/Twitter.
Unsafe e-bike batteries have been the cause of numerous deadly fires in homes and businesses throughout New York City.
NO, ADAMS CAN’T REALLY SPEAK EVERY LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS IS ROBOCALLING NEW YORKERS, speaking perfect Spanish, Mandarin, Urdu and Yiddish — and it’s all fake, Politico reports. City Hall is using voice-cloning artificial intelligence to create audio public service announcements that sound exactly like him. The calls do not include a disclaimer that they were created with generative AI, but Adams isn’t concerned that he is potentially misleading residents, Politico says.
“I have to be able to speak to people in languages that they understand, and I’m happy to do so,” Adams told Politico.
BELOVED PROSPECT PARK ZOO CLOSED ‘INDEFINITELY’ AFTER OPHELIA DESTRUCTION
PROSPECT PARK — THE PROSPECT PARK ZOO, beloved by generations of Brooklyn children and parents, is closed indefinitely after its basement power and heating systems were destroyed by roughly 25 feet of floodwater from Tropical Storm Ophelia two weeks ago, Gothamist reports. The zoo’s animals, including sea lions, baboons, red pandas, bunnies and farm animals, are doing fine and their habitats were not damaged, Craig Piper, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s director of city zoos, told Gothamist, but critical boilers and electrical equipment in basements were wrecked.
Rebuilding will likely cost many millions of dollars and take months. To donate to WCS, visit https://prospectparkzoo.com/donate.
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