What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, October 19, 2023
PALESTINE ADVOCATES SPAR WITH MAYOR OVER ISRAEL CONFLICT RESPONSE
CIVIC CENTER — MAYOR ADAMS RECEIVED CRITICISM this week over a contentious Zoom call last Thursday with the NYPD and members of the city’s Palestinian and Muslim communities, reports Gothamist, with several attendees describing Adams’ tone and remarks as condescending and insensitive. One Palestinian-American lawyer told Gothamist that she was muted by the meeting’s host after saying that the mayor’s description of a controversial Times Square rally on Oct. 7 as “extremism” could stir up violence against Muslims; a spokesperson for the mayor later responded that Adams has highlighted unity and spoken against anti-Muslim bigotry, but did not address specific criticisms made by meeting participants.
Adams had initially remained neutral on the Times Square rally, held one day after the attack on Israel by Gaza Strip governing party Hamas began, but later spoke out against it after images emerged of a protester displaying a swastika, an act the mayor called “insensitive and despicable.”
RITE AID WILL CLOSE 2 STORES ALONG OCEAN AVE.
SHEEPSHEAD BAY — THE RITE AID PHARMACY GIANT, which on Monday, Oct. 16, announced its filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and restructuring, expects to close two of its stores in southern Brooklyn, News 12 Brooklyn reported on Thursday, Oct. 19. According to court papers that the television news network obtained, the initial closings include a Rite Aid store at 2002 Avenue U (corner of Ocean Avenue) in Sheepshead Bay and the store at 2981 Ocean Ave. (between Avenue Z and Jerome Ave).
The Avenue U store is nestled between Sheepshead Bay and Madison, a neighborhood to the north. No date was given on the closing.
DEP WILL OVERSEE REPAIR OF
SEWER BREAK ON BAY 32ND ST
BATH BEACH — THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION on Thursday, Oct. 19, advised Brooklyn Community Board 11 of a sewer break on Bay 32nd Street. DEP has contracted JR Cruz to replace the water main and then begin repairs of the sewer line during the week starting Oct. 23. Street opening permits have been obtained for several spots in the vicinity: Bay 32nd Street between Benson and Cropsey avenues; Bath Avenue between Bay 31st St. and 23rd Ave.; and Cropsey Avenue between 23rd Ave. and Bay 32nd St. Parking will be affected and the DEP and Community Board 11 will send more information as it is available.
Community Board 11 serves Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Mapleton in southern Brooklyn.
KID AUTHOR TALKS HAIR, ‘AFFROMATIONS’ WITH JENNIFER HUDSON
CANARSIE — SEVEN-YEAR-OLD AUTHOR AND ONLINE STAR CASSIDY BRIDGES, a Brooklyn native, was featured on the Jennifer Hudson Show with her parents on Wednesday to promote her new picture book (co-written with mom Gabrielle), “Thank You, It’s An Afro.” Two years ago, Cassidy went viral for a short clip of her thanking a stranger for complimenting her halo of hair, and has since gained an online following for her bubbly personality and celebrations of individuality and natural beauty; with Hudson’s encouragement, she led the studio audience in a recitation of her daily confidence-boosting affirmation — or “Affromation” — routine.
Cassidy’s book is available for sale at Target, Walmart and Amazon, and is soon to hit the shelves of the children’s section at Brooklyn Public Library locations across the borough; more about her story can be found on Thank You, It’s An Afro, her website.
GOLDMAN: INFO FOR H.S. STUDENTS HOPING TO ATTEND MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMIES
BOROUGHWIDE — REP. DAN GOLDMAN HOSTED a virtual information session Wednesday night for Brooklyn high schoolers interested in applying for a Congressional nomination to attend a U.S. military Service Academy. The number of nominations per Congressional office is limited, and the application process is highly competitive.
“Students who receive a Congressional Nomination can go on to pursue a prestigious education of the highest quality, at no personal cost,” Goldman explained. Watch a recording of the event online.
JUDGE ORDERS NYC & ADVOCATES FOR HOMELESS TO ENTER ARBITRATION
CITYWIDE — NEW YORK CITY AND ADVOCATES FOR THE HOMELESS were ordered by the court on Thursday to enter into mediation over the city’s fight to be relieved from the legal obligation to provide shelter to anyone who needs it. In May, Adams wrote to Deborah Kaplan, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts, seeking permission to move for relief from the provisions of Callahan v. Carey in light of the large numbers of asylum-seekers entering the city. Adams announced Monday that he was limiting shelter stays for migrant families with children to 60 days.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said in a statement that they welcomed mediation, saying it would “allow for many of the measures recently put into place to actually materialize and live up to their full intended promise, including expedited processing of work authorization and the extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans, among other items.”
TWO TEENS SHOT IN BED-STUY, CANARSIE
BED-STUY — TWO TEENAGERS WERE SHOT IN SEPARATE incidents on Wednesday morning, reports the New York Post, in a pair of shocking broad-daylight assaults; both boys survived and are in stable condition in borough hospitals, according to police. The first victim, age 17, was shot in the back in Bed-Stuy at Macon and Nostrand avenues at 9:15 a.m.; while the second, age 18, was hit in the lower back just an hour later at a Canarsie playground, forcing students at nearby Lenox Academy middle school to shelter in place.
Police told the Post that no arrests have been made so far in either case.
NEW LAW TO REQUIRE SAFETY CHECKS FOR SUMMER CAMP WORKERS
STATEWIDE — GOVERNOR HOCHUL THIS WEEK SIGNED A NEW LAW that will require operators of children’s day camps to search the Department of Justice’s public national sex offender database before hiring any employee or volunteer to ascertain whether that individual is listed and has committed a sex crime. The new law amends a previous regulation under which some camp operators were inappropriately directed to search a different database inaccessible to non-law enforcement parties.
The DOJ’s National Sex Offender Public Website links all state and territory sex offender registries into one national site that may be searched by name, address, zip code, county or city/town. New York state’s sex offender registry can be searched by name, county or zip code, but information available varies depending on offense.
BBP HARVEST FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK CONSERVANCY IS HOSTING the park’s annual Harvest Festival this weekend, featuring arts and crafts, face-painting, a marine animal touch-tank and more; snacks will be available from Fornino Pizza, Joe Coffee and Fluff + Fluff Cotton Candy. The highlight of the festival is the pumpkin patch, where Halloweenies of all ages can pick and decorate their own mini pumpkins; audiences can also enjoy live music and storytime sessions throughout the day.
The Harvest Festival is free to attend for all ages and will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6; more information and a schedule of events can be found on the park’s website.
BROOKLYN BP REYNOSO CONDEMNS HATE CRIMES LINKED TO MIDDLE EAST TENSIONS
BOROUGHWIDE — SAYING HE WAS DISGUSTED, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ANTONIO REYNOSO on Thursday condemned recent alleged hate crimes in Brooklyn linked to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine. “For generations, our borough has found its strength in diversity and Brooklynites’ ability to focus on that which unites us. The virtues of unity, compassion, and most importantly, humanity, have never been more important than they are right now. And in Brooklyn, we must hold them close, because the only way we will get through this dark time is together,” he said in a statement.
In one incident, nine men waving Israeli flags allegedly attacked a Palestinian man on a Bay Ridge street. In the other, two teens are accused of firing imitation guns outside a synagogue in Gravesend, 1010 WINS reports.
PAST BROOKLYN FEDERAL JUDGE JOHN GLEESON
RE-NOMINATED AS U.S. SENTENCING COMMISSIONER
NATIONWIDE — PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S LATEST LIST OF JUDICIAL NOMINEES includes Judge John Gleeson, who for more than three decades served the U.S. District Court/Eastern District Of New York. Judge Gleeson has been re-nominated as one of two experienced and qualified Commissioners of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan independent agency created during the Reagan Administration to reduce sentencing disparities and promote transparency and proportionality in criminal sentencing. Judge Gleeson, who has served as a Commissioner of the United States Sentencing Commission since 2022, is a partner at Debevoise and Plimpton LLP in New York, where he has practiced since 2016. Before then, he served from 1994-2016 as a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York, and from 1985 to 1994 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
If confirmed again, Judge Gleeson and co-nominee Judge Claria Horn Boom would continue serving with the President’s other five bipartisan nominees whose terms have not expired.
NEW OCA DIVISION WILL MODERNIZE
ACOUSTICS, DIGITAL TECH IN COURTROOMS
STATEWIDE — A NEW DIVISION OF COURT MODERNIZATION IS BEING CREATED within the Office Of Court Administration, Chief Administrative Judge Joseph A. Zayas and First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Norman St. George announced on Thursday, Oct. 19. Sheng Guo, who brings two decades of experience with the NYS Unified Court System, will serve as Director of the Division. The court system’s Courtroom Modernization Initiative (CMI) Team, formed in 2019 with the goal of providing basic audio capacity to 1540 courtrooms, has seen its role increased in supporting in-person, hybrid and virtual court operations. DCM projects focus on audio and acoustics, accessibility, evidence presentation, videoconferencing, streaming and digital signage, among other areas, particularly in technology in each of Queens County Supreme Court’s Criminal Term’s 24 courtrooms.
Mr. Guo served as Chief Technology Officer of the New York State Unified Court System for over two decades. Sheng was named one of the Premier 100 IT leaders by Computer World in 2008.
DiNAPOLI: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCREASED IN 2022;
WOMEN COMPRISED 54% OF MURDER VICTIMS
CITYWIDE — THE NUMBER OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS INCREASED in 2022 by 8.5% in New York City and 8.7% in the rest of New York state when compared to 2019, according to an analysis by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, released during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, observed annually during October. DiNapoli’s report showed that one in four women and one in ten men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. In both New York City and the rest of the state, close to 70% of all domestic violence victims were hurt by their intimate partner, with 80% of intimate partner victims being female. Women were 54% of domestic homicide victims, a rate nearly five times greater than for non-domestic homicides.
The Office of the State Comptroller is conducting an audit focused on whether domestic violence programs and services are effectively coordinated between agencies to provide needed resources and support to domestic violence victims.
NEW BILL WOULD ENSURE REIMBURSEMENT
FOR AMERICANS STRANDED IN ISRAEL
STATEWIDE — STATE LEGISLATORS HAVE INTRODUCED A BILL THAT WILL ALLOW NEW YORK TO FINANCIALLY REIMBURSE RESIDENTS WHO ARE EVACUATING from Israel and the Palestinian territories during the crisis in the Holy Land. State Senator Julia Salazar (D/WF-18), who represents northern Brooklyn, is the primary sponsor of S7716, which would establish an emergency fund to cover otherwise unreimbursed expenses incurred relating to travel outside of Israel or Palestine as a direct result of the conflict that began on Oct. 7. Reimbursement will include costs relating to travel, lodging, lost personal property, medical care, other related expenses, and reimbursement provided to the United States government for such travel. Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D-50) will be introducing the same bill in the NYS Assembly.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Brooklyn Congress members Dan Goldman (D-10) and Nydia Velázquez (D-07) and Bronx Congressman Adriano Espaillat introduced The Safe Return Act to ensure that Americans stuck abroad would not have to repay the federal government.
HOCHUL, IN ISRAEL, MOURNS FATHER’S SUDDEN PASSING
ISRAEL — GOVERNOR HOCHUL IS CONTINUING WITH HER TRIP to Israel following the sudden passing of her father, John Courtney, at age 87 in Florida on Wednesday night, reports ABC News; Courtney reportedly encouraged Hochul’s decision to visit the Mediterranean nation in the wake of last week’s eruption of violence between Israel and Gaza Strip ruling party Hamas. The governor visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, a Jewish site of mourning, on Thursday morning, and placed a note praying for the victims of the recent attacks and for her father in its cracks, a traditional practice.
Hochul then visited the Catholic Church of the Holy Sepulchre, held to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, before resuming her scheduled tour and meeting wounded soldiers and families at a military hospital; she is set to return to the U.S. on Friday.
DISASTROUS LICH SALE GETS EVEN UGLIER AS LAWSUIT CONTINUES
COBBLE HILL — THE LAWSUIT-RIVEN SALE OF LONG ISLAND COLLEGE HOSPITAL (LICH) in Cobble Hill just gets uglier as previously secret details come out about an alleged behind-the-scenes deal Fortis Development Group claims the state made in 2014, and then reneged on, The Real Deal reports. Fortis is claiming in court that the State University of New York secretly promised Fortis $75M in credits based on NYU building a medical facility on the Cobble Hill site, despite it being a money-loser for Fortis. Fortis alleges it received verbal assurances from SUNY’s vice chancellor and Andrew Cuomo confidant Jim Malatras that Fortis would receive this bonus under the table.
The developer alleges SUNY was concerned about bad press and possible legal action if the news of the behind-the-scenes deal got out. SUNY was especially worried about a lawsuit from Don Peebles, a rejected bidder on the property, TRD reports. The Brooklyn Eagle has reported extensively on this Cuomo-backed deal.
NIGHTTIME WORK ON BQE TO CONTINUE, FURTHER WEEKEND WORK DELAYED
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A SINGLE LANE OF THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY in the Staten Island-bound direction will be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. to carry out repairs to the underdeck of the Queens-bound roadway at the Triple-Cantilever in Brooklyn Heights. These nighttime, single-lane closures will continue for the remainder of this year’s construction season (mid-November), DOT said in a statement. No lane closures in the Queens-bound direction are anticipated at this time, but DOT will shift traffic lanes in the Queens-bound direction.
Because the start of the project was delayed, the second extensive weekend closure has been delayed to some time in spring 2024, dates to be determined, DOT said.
N.Y. GOV. HOCHUL IN ISRAEL
ISRAEL — NEW YORK GOV. KATHY HOCHUL arrived in Israel Wednesday on a solidarity mission after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack. During day one of her trip, the governor met Ambassador Michael Herzog, visited displaced families at Shefayim, thanked volunteers at the Leket Israel food pantry and greeted displaced families staying in Ra’anana. She will return to the U.S. on Friday.
President Biden was also in Israel on Tuesday to express heartfelt solidarity with Israel, address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and announce new humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinians.
CONEY ISLAND PREP HOLDS FALL FESTIVAL
CONEY ISLAND — STUDENTS, PARENTS AND TEACHERS CELEBRATED the season at Coney Island Prep’s Fall Festival on Saturday, enjoying face-painting, caricatures, tasty autumn treats and more. High schoolers from the charter school and their families ran the community event, while a representative from the office of state Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton stopped by to hand out coloring books to youngsters and hear constituent concerns; more than 400 visitors joined in the fun.
Senior Director of Family and Community Engagement Elizabeth Anoff said that the festival was intended to help build a sense of support and belonging and help kids stay engaged in preparing for college and beyond; Coney Island Prep, a public K-12 charter school, has a graduation rate of 100% and a matriculation rate of 93%.
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.
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,” she said.
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 Avenue No. 3 train stop. Zariya is described as 5’7″ and weighing 135 pounds, with a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes. Hewas 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.
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.”
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 Black people to vote from home.
BAY RIDGE MAN GETS LIFE SENTENCE FOR JOINING ISIS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK 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.
MAYOR SIGNS BILL TO PROVIDE DYSLEXIA SCREENINGS FOR NEW YORKERS IN CUSTODY
CITYWIDE — DYSLEXIA SCREENINGS 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 Adams.
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. However, 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.”
GOUNARDES’ BILL WOULD GIVE NEW HIRES OPTIONS ON STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENTS
STATEWIDE — A BILL FROM STATE SENATOR ANDREW GOUNARDES (D-26th) 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 Gounardes.
$500M REQUESTED FOR NEW YORK TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS GROUPS AGAINST TERROR ATTACKS
NATIONWIDE — U.S. SEN. 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 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.”
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 and 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 act would also 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.
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