Scholastic Roundup: Brooklyn is king in PSAL hoops

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Brooklyn’s a good bet in the boys PSAL basketball playoffs.

In fact, one championship was already decided on Valentine’s Day when Metro-Brooklyn Democracy Academy defeated Mott Haven Campus 66-56 at York College in the Multiple Pathways A Division final. Joe Zollo completed their league schedule a perfect 14-0.

Brooklyn has always been a powerhouse in PSAL boys’ basketball. A team from the borough has won 12 of the past 14 titles – five by Lincoln, three by South Shore and Boys & Girls High and one by Jefferson.

The Vikes of South Shore have won the past three and they got-past Jefferson 67-65 in the Brooklyn Borough Championship to earn a No. 2 seed.

Jefferson – ranked No. 4 — reached the borough final topping Eagle Academy Brooklyn 83-80 on a three-point buzzer-beater in the semi-finals.

Eagle Brooklyn, the No. 3 seed fell to South Shore, 77-52 in the City Championship game last March at the Barclays Center.

Benjamin Cardozo is the Queens champ and Murry Bergtraum represents Manhattan.

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Erik Smiles is the new Director of Athletics, Recreation and Intramurals at Brooklyn College. He replaces Bruce Filosa who has served since 1992.

Smiles arrives from Hostos Community College where he served as Director of Athletics, Recreation and Intramurals since 2019.

Prior to Hostos, Smiles was the Head Basketball Coach at LIU – Post (2013-19) – and coached the Pioneers to four East Coast Conference (ECC) Tournament appearances.

Smiles served as men’s basketball coach at Farmingdale State College nine seasons and amassed a career 182-72 won-loss record. He led the Rams to four Skyline regular-season titles and three Skyline Tournament Championships while posting six 20-plus win seasons. The Rams also made the NCAA tournament four times under Smiles, and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2009.

A graduate of Bridgeport University, Smiles was a four-year member of the men’s basketball team. As a coach he’s received a total of eight Coach of the Year awards. He’s a three-time Skyline Coach of the Year, two-time BCANY Co-Coach of the Year, an All-Met Coach of the Year, NABC Coach of the Year and Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.

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Brooklyn College women’s basketball team copped the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) championship for a third-straight season topping John Jay 64-58 last week.

BC improves to 19-7 – 14-0 in league play — and extends the Bulldogs’ streak to 46 consecutive victories against CUNYAC opponents.

Tonight (Friday) Brooklyn squares off against Coast-2-Coast Conference champ, Christopher Newport University (26-0) in the first-round of the NCAA DIII basketball tournament, at Newport News, Va. It’s the first-time Newport News has hosted a tournament playoff game since 2017. The winner will advance to the second round, Sunday March 5th against the winner of Elizabethtown University (22-4) and Stevens Institute of Technology (22-5).

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St. Francis Brooklyn women’s swimming and diving completed action at the Northeast Conference Championships, Saturday, finishing seventh overall. The Terriers were led senior Mariajose Lopez who won a bronze in the  1,650-yard freestyle. Her time of 17:17.28 was just over a second faster than her closest suitor. She’s a native of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Elayna Pistrin, a sophomore from Victoria, Australia also made the podium. She grabbed the silver in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:18.91. Boel Bergquist, a freshman from Lomma, Sweden qualified for the “A” final, taking seventh. Jenna Pearse, a senior from Johannesburg, South Africa placed 20th. Central Connecticut State won the event with 659.5 points, followed by Wagner (601.5) and LIU (520.5).

Four LIU program records fell at the event, last Friday night.

Maaike Broersma produced a time of 53.83 in the women’s 100-back, topping the previous mark of 54.06.

Venna Anderson had a time of 28.37 in the 50-breast, breaking the previous record of 29.30.

The 400-medley relay team of Broersma, Anderson, Ella Johnson and Aidan Condit set a program record of 3:43.19, topping the previous record of 3:45.03.

On  the men’s side, the 400-medley relay team of Benny Karlsson, Giannis Venetos, Alejandro Pascual Del Cid and Emilio Garcia achieved a time of 3:17.13, topping the previous mark of 3:18.58.

Broersma was declared Swimmer of the Meet on the women’s side after winning all three of her events and becoming the only swimmer at the competition to achieve an NCAA B cut at the meet.

On the final day of competition, Broersma won the women’s 200 back with a program-record time of 1:56.85 to achieve the B cut. The previous LIU record had been 1:58.31.

On the men’s side Saturday, Stephen Taylor set a program record in the 200 breast at 1:59.82, topping the old mark of 2:00.43.

And the 400 free relay team of Emilio Garcia, Drew Ladner, Porter LeVasseur and Alejandro Pascual Del Cid set a program record at 3:00.84, topping the old mark of 3:01.08.

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The LIU men’s hockey team pounded Alaska Anchorage, 6-2 Sunday night at Northwell Health Ice Center as Cade Mason, Jordan Di Cicco, Isaiah Fox, Josh Zary, Patriks Marcinkevics and Noh Kane scored.

Kira Bucker struck out 11 straight batters at one-point en route to a one-hit shut-out against Fordham Sunday for the LIU women’s softball team. LIU beat the Rams 3-0 and followed with an 8-5 win over Harvard.

The Sharks won four of five games during their trip to the Winthrop-hosted Garnet & Gold Tournament.

Buckner’s 11 consecutive strikeouts were a program record. And LIU coach Roy Kortmann could not recall if there had ever been a previous 13-strikeout performance in a seven-inning game in the school’s Division I history.

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The LIU women’s gymnastics team produced a score of 195.650 Sunday to finish second of three teams at Pratt’s Recreation Center. NC State scored 196.275 while Temple scored 195.175.

Syd Morris had a 39.300 on the all-around; Katy Koopman had the Sharks’ top score on the vault at 9.800; Mara Titarsolej scored a meet-best 9.950 on the bars; Morris had a meet-best 9.900 on the beam and Morris, Lauren Miller and Amanda Loo each scored 9.825 on the floor to lead LIU.

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The No. 6-seed Pratt Institute men’s basketball team saw their 2022-23 season come to close with a 76-43 defeat to No.3-seeded Salisbury University in the quarterfinals of the Coast-2-Coast Athletic Conference Basketball Championship at Kaiser Permanente Arena, last week.

Pratt was paced by All-C2C Second Team selections sophomore Cameron Hatcher and junior Patrick O’Gorman. Hatcher scored a game-high 15 points with six boards; O’Gorman added 12.

O’Gorman finished fourth in the C2C in scoring average with 16.8 points-per-game and led the league in assists (4.4 per-game). He joined the 1,000-point scoring club reaching the mark in 62 games and becoming the first Cannoneer to reach the milestone since Andrew Yaglesnski in 2018.

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Kingsborough Community College defeated JV Ferrum College 7-4 last week in baseball.  Shawn Baxter and Elijah Silver each had ninth-inning RBIs for the Wave.

Freylin Nunez was the winning pitcher – the righthander lasted three and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and one run while walking one. Jayson McCoy threw one inning in relief.

Francesco Bonvini started the game for the Wave – went four-and-third innings, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out seven.

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St. Francis Brooklyn women’s water polo team split games with Princeton and Villanova last Saturday – The Terriers fell to Princeton 17-8 and topped Villanova, 12-8.

Sofia Kolovou, a junior center from Athens, Greece scored four goals in the Princeton loss; junior Anja Miskovic from Belgrade, Serbia scored five goals in the win over Villanova.

The Terriers are 9-1 on the season.

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The Cougars of Medgar-Evers upped their men’s volleyball record to 2-1 with a 15-25, 25-16, 25-14, 19-25 and 15-9 win over SUNY Purchase last week in Purchase, New York.

Senior Sebastian Perez registered match-highs of 26 kills and three service-aces to go along with nine digs. Carlos Abreu notched a match-high 23 digs to go along with 10 kills and six assists, and Isaac Akindipe added seven kills and four block assists.

Senior setter Austin Romeo finished with a match-high 40 assists to go along with eight digs.

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Fred Grasso, former basketball captain on Lafayette High’s 1962 championship team that placed third in New York City would be celebrating his 78th birthday, March 12th.

He was a tremendous high school coach, who later served as an assistant to Rick Pitino with the New York Knicks. He had an outstanding career at Hofstra and was invited to tryout camp with the Denver Rockets in the American Basketball Association.

He passed in 2017.

His son, Jared is varsity basketball coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

U-Haul driver’s NYC ‘rampage’ leaves 1 dead, 8 hurt

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A man driving a U-Haul truck swerved onto sidewalks and plowed into cyclists and scooter riders in New York City on Monday, killing one person and injuring eight others before police were able to pin the careening vehicle against a building following a mileslong pursuit through Brooklyn.

The driver was arrested and taken to a police station. His son identified him as Weng Sor, 62, a troubled man with a history of harmful behavior and stints behind bars.

The mayhem unfolded over a harrowing 48 minutes as the truck tore through Brooklyn’s bustling Bay Ridge neighborhood, hitting people at several points along the way before veering on and off a highway as police gave chase.

This December 2018 photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows Weng Sor, who authorities say was driving a U-Haul truck that struck and injured several people in New York City before police were able to pin the vehicle against a building. It followed a mileslong pursuit through Brooklyn. Nevada Department of Corrections via AP

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell described it as a “violent rampage,” but said there was no evidence of “terrorism involvement.”

The nine people struck by the vehicle ranged in age from 30 to 66. All were men. One of the injured people was a police officer.

The 44-year-old man who was killed suffered a head injury when he was hit by the truck roughly a half hour after it struck the first victim, the police department said in a statement.

The truck’s winding route ended when a police cruiser cut it off and blocked it against a building near the entrance to a tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) from where the chase began.

Weng Sor’s son, Stephen Sor, 30, told The Associated Press that his father had a history of mental illness and, until recently, was living in Las Vegas, where records show he was convicted and served time for multiple acts of violence, including stabbing his own brother.

“Very frequently he’ll choose to skip out on his medications and do something like this,” Stephen Sor said in an interview outside his Brooklyn home. “This isn’t the first time he’s been arrested. It’s not the first time he’s gone to jail.”

The destruction shattered the late-morning routine and immediately evoked memories of other vehicle assaults on bikers and pedestrians in the crowded city, including a terrorist’s deadly 2017 attack that killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path and a disturbed motorist’s rampage through Times Square the same year that killed one and injured 20.

The truck struck the first victim at 10:17 a.m., police said, and other reports followed as the vehicle moved through a busy section of Brooklyn, just north of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge along New York Harbor.

The neighborhood, a melting pot of immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is known as the setting of “Saturday Night Fever,” and parts of TV’s “Blue Bloods.” Each fall, it hosts a leg of the New York City Marathon.

Katherine Aronova said she saw the U-Haul run a red light, hit a delivery worker on an e-bike in the middle of the road and drag him a short distance.

“His face was covered with blood. He was unconscious,” and his shoes were scattered on the sidewalk, Aronova said. “The electric bicycle was destroyed completely.”

A security camera captured the truck clipping a scooter, then swerving onto a sidewalk and nearly plowing into a pedestrian, who dived to safety just in time. A police patrol car then followed the truck down the sidewalk at high speed.

“I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening until I saw the police patrol was chasing it,” a witness, Andrea Vasquez, said in Spanish. “Thank God that man saved himself,” she added of the person who narrowly escaped.

After the chase ended, authorities examined the vehicle to make sure it didn’t contain explosives.

Sor rented the truck in West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 1 and was due to return it there on March 3, U-Haul spokesperson Jeff Lockridge said. He provided a valid driver’s license and paid for a 30-day rental in advance. U-Haul had no record of Sor previously renting from the company, Lockridge said.

Stephen Sor said he was surprised when Weng Sor showed up in Brooklyn in the middle of the night about a week ago. He said they didn’t speak often and described their relationship as “rocky.”

“I try to just distance, as long as he leaves us alone,” Stephen Sor said.

In 2015, Weng Sor stabbed his brother in Las Vegas and served about 17 months in a Nevada prison, according to court and prison records. In 2020, he stabbed someone in the arm and chest with a knife and was sentenced to 364 days in county jail, with about 10 months of time already served.

Before pleading guilty in that case, Sor underwent several months of evaluations at state psychiatric facilities until he was found competent to face charges, court records show. The records don’t list a possible diagnosis, but note that Sor was placed on medications.

In an earlier Nevada case, Sor was ordered to undergo counseling and perform community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery in 2005. The judge noted at the time that Sor was moving to New York and ordered him to submit to a mental health evaluation once there.

A story of what we do for love

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Oh, the things we do for love.

Take Mike Stankovich for example.

His love for the restaurant business saw him bussing tables at Benjamin’s restaurant back in 1996.

“It has been a life long endeavor, working in the food industry,” the 42-year-old told the Brooklyn Eagle. 

Stankovich lived in Clinton Hill, Greenpoint and Cobble Hill starting from the ground-up in the business.

“From Bus Boy to management,” he joked.

And he can’t forget Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick.

That was a three-year stint.

Then Mike Stankovich found his real love — Shailah.

One problem – she lived in Cincinnati – he was still in Brooklyn.

The outside of the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Andy Furman

Yes – the things we do for love.

“We’ve been together now for 11 years,” he said. “And yes, we now live in Cincinnati. In fact, I’ve never been to Cincinnati – until I moved there.”

But his other love didn’t die.

In 2017 he opened the first of two restaurants in the Queen City of the Midwest – Longfellow.

“We specialize in deli sandwiches and salads, and happy to say we’re doing very well,” he said. “We’ve developed a regular-base from seven to 73.”

And in October, 2021 Mid-City Restaurant was born – again in the downtown area of Cincinnati. Tucked-away on 40 East Court St. 

“I like to think of my establishments as alternatives,” he said.

What does that mean?

“Well, most people go to a bar/restaurant with their friends to perhaps watch a sporting event,” he said. “We have no TVs in either one of my places.”


“TVs,” he said, “interrupt what you should be in a bar for – chit chat.”

And good eats.

Some of the favorites on the Mid-City menu include: Mushrooms in foil- turnip greens, shoyu, butter; The Mid-City Plate – bratwurst, pork belly, frankfurter, potato, kraut; and Petite Steak Filet—bay leaf-ramp hollandaise, chive.

But, no Brooklyn pizza to be found.

“Yes, it was hard leaving Brooklyn,” he admits, “but I’ve really found quite a niche here and I like it.”

So does Shailah.

And her dad – Thayne Maynard – who just happens to be the Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Inside the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Andy Furman

In fact, USA Today’s 10Best editors announced that the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden once again took the top spot in the Best Zoo category in its 2022 Readers’ Choice poll. It also earned the number two spot in the 10Best Botanical Garden category.

Seems Stankovich has some lofty goals to achieve to remain on-par with his father-in-law.

“Really, this is all I know how to do,” he said. “I know what I say is somewhat rare, but I truly enjoy it.”

So does his staff.

“We’ve had the same staff for almost six years,” he said, “Which is almost unheard of in the restaurant business.”

Mid-City rolls out their red-carpet Wednesday through Sunday from 5 pm till 1- pm and serves brunch on the weekends.

The door of the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Andy Furman

But there’s no TV.

Just chit-chat – the way a restaurant should be.

Even though it’s not in Brooklyn – Mike Stankovich was.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

‘Paulie Walnuts’ Sopranos actor is laid to rest in his native Brooklyn

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Tony Sirico, the actor who portrayed Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos,” was laid to rest on Wednesday at a church in Bensonhurst — with his brother, Father Robert Sirico, celebrating the funeral mass.

The funeral took place at Basilica of Regina Pacis, on 65th Street between 12th and 13th avenues. The crowd included fellow “Sopranos” actors Lorraine Bracco, Steven Van Zandt and Joseph Gannascoli.

The New York Post quoted Father Robert Sirico as saying, “My friends, if Paulie Walnuts can steal heaven, so can you and I.”

Sirico, who died on Friday at the age of 79 in Florida, was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Bensonhurst and East Flatbush. 

Although he almost certainly was not a “made man,” Sirico, who once described himself as a “tough kid,”  was arrested more than 20 times on such charges as robbery, disorderly conduct and assault, according to numerous online sources. 

Tony Sirico, who played Paulie Walnuts on the HBO series “The Sopranos,” arrives at the premiere of the show’s fourth season on Sept. 5, 2002, at Radio City Music Hall. AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File

After a stint at Sing Sing, he took up acting, playing both gangsters and police officers.

The Post also said that at the funeral, Gannascoli said that when he got to the gates of heaven, he might tell St. Peter, “You don’t wanna be my enemy, St. Peter.”

Bob McGowan, Sirico’s agent, said Sirico was unconcerned about playing bad-guy roles. “He didn’t mind playing a mob guy, but he wouldn’t play an informant.”

Michael Imperioli, who portrayed Christopher Moltisanti on “The Sopranos,” called Sirico his “dear friend, colleague and partner in crime.”

“Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone I’ve ever known,” Imperioli said on Instagram.

Among Sirico’s other credits were Woody Allen films including “Bullets over Broadway” and “Mighty Aphrodite,” and appearances on TV series including “Miami Vice” and voice roles on “Family Guy” and “American Dad!”

Sirico is survived by daughter Joanne Sirico Bello; son Richard Sirico; his brother, the aforementioned Father Robert Sirico; and other relatives.

Puerto Rican Parade and Festival returns to Brooklyn

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Sunset Park played host again to its growing tradition of celebrating Puerto Rican pride, as the neighborhood’s Sixth Annual Puerto Rican Parade and Festival was held for the first time in three years on June 12.

The parade was brought back to the neighborhood in 2015 by community organization El Grito after years of not having one for decades.

El Grito founder Dennis Flores said it was great to bring the celebration back as locals and people that traveled from different areas came to support the prideful day.

“After two years of not being able to come together and have a parade due to the pandemic, the community made it abundantly clear that the Puerto Rican people aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “We continue to be here, survive and be resilient. But in order to continue to do so, we must always honor and memorialize all those who came before us and those who sacrificed for all of our well-being. That’s what this year’s parade meant to all of us.”

The music festival, featuring Afro-Puerto Rican Roots Bomba Ensemble Alma Moyó, also took place at 6 p.m. on Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez greets officers at the parade. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Elected officials also marched with parade-goers. The parade honored Councilmember Alexa Avilés, who represents the area, as the Madrina (grand marshal) of the parade.

“A longtime resident of Sunset Park, Alexa Avilés is fighting for our community by advocating for education, housing, immigrant justice, and the arts and ensuring that our community receives the resources we need to thrive,” El Grito said in a statement. “As a proud Boricua born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, Alexa Avilés understands the importance of celebrating Puerto Rican culture and heritage, and honoring those from our community who have contributed so much to its richness and diversity.”

Dancers in flowing white outfits entertained the crowd. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Ted General

Avilés said it was a joy to celebrate the parade’s return.

“So many neighbors turned out to enjoy the festivities together,” she said. “It was rich in symbolism and paid homage to the many Puerto Rican revolutionaries who fought for our island’s survival and self-determination.”

She added that marchers paid tribute to the more than 4,645 Puerto Ricans who died in Hurricane Maria and all those lost to COVID-19.

The Puerto Rican flag was everywhere during the festival and parade in Sunset Park. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Ted General

“It also paid tribute to figures from Lolita Lebrón to Pedro Albizu Campos, who were persecuted for their belief in independence,” she said. “The struggle for survival continues, as many communities’ members continue to fight inequities of today. Multiple parents came up to me and voiced disapproval of the proposed school budget cuts.

“Just like my heroes and ancestors, I am here to fight with them and for them every step of the way,” she said. Lebron was imprisoned for 25 years after carrying out an armed attack on the U.S. Capitol in 1954 that wounded five Congress members.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez also spoke at the parade. “My Puerto Rican heritage has shaped me in significant ways,” he said. “Glad to join my Puerto Rican brothers and sisters in Bushwick and Sunset Park today to celebrate the richness of our culture and all we bring to Brooklyn and our city.”

Conga drummers provided rhythm during the Puerto Rican Parade. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Ted General
Councilmember Alexa Aviles, the “Madrina” of the parade. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Ted General

Bill de Blasio, ex-NYC mayor, to run for redrawn House seat

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Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he will run for Congress in a redrawn district that includes his Brooklyn home.

De Blasio, whose second mayoral term ended last year, announced on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 10th Congressional District, which will include part of Manhattan and a swath of western Brooklyn.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler represents New York’s 10th District now but will no longer live in the district under maps that have been redrawn under the supervision of a New York judge. Nadler has said he believed the new maps are unconstitutional — but if the proposed districts do become final on Friday, he intends to run in the 12th District, currently represented by Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

The primary has been pushed back from June to August 23.

De Blasio, 61, toyed with running for governor this year but decided not to challenge incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. He also had a short-lived run for president in 2019.

Brooklyn voices react strongly to Roe v. Wade leaked draft

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Officials in Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York have reacted strongly to the leaked draft that would weaken the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case legalizing abortions.

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said, “The Supreme Court majority decision draft is confirmation of our worst fears come true. This will reverse all of the progress of the last five decades on abortion rights. The threat the decision poses is not just an attack on women’s rights: it’s a blow to democracy.”

On the other hand, Gerry Kassar, Brooklynite and chair of the New York State Conservative Party, hailed the Supreme Court’s action. 

“The New York State Conservative Party has been arguing for nearly 50 years that Roe v. Wade was a bad legal decision. Today’s news leak, which may or may not stand, hints at a long-awaited victory for those of us who respect the rights of the unborn and who never viewed abortion as constitutionally protected.”

Still, in heavily Democratic Brooklyn, dismay over the court’s action seems to be the majority opinion. For example, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) said,  “Rejecting Roe v. Wade 50 years later amounts to an all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, and it is a political act by an extreme and hostile Supreme Court. Fifty years ago it was established that every woman has the right to the control of her body, a right that already existed for every man.”

She reminded those reading the statement that Planned Parenthood started in 1916 in Brownsville, now part of her district.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Southern Brooklyn-Staten Island) said that if the court’s decision is allowed to stand, it could jeopardize other constitutional rights that were decided as a result of Supreme Court action, according to the Staten Island Advance.

On Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, both former Brooklyn councilmembers, scheduled a rally at Foley Square for abortion rights with other officials, advocacy groups and “concerned New Yorkers.” Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul assured New Yorkers that abortion would remain legal in New York State.

Plans for a protest at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on the same day were canceled in the face of plans for the larger Foley Square action.

The leaked draft, published late Monday by Politico, is a 98-page majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the constitutionality of Currie’s bill that banned abortion after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

 “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

On Tuesday, , the court confirmed the draft’s authenticity, though it cautioned that the document “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak’s source. While there have, on very rare occasions, been leaks of the outcomes in cases, the publication of a draft running nearly 100 pages was without an evident modern parallel.

The draft opinion does not represent the court’s final word, and the language could change before the court issues its ruling. But if the heart of the draft remains the same, it would give states the power to decide the legality of abortion. More than half are likely to quickly ban abortion.

Abortion clinics in those states opened Tuesday morning, still seeing patients but uncertain about the future.

NYC sheds vaccination mandate, school masks precautions

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New York City shed major COVID-19 precautions on Monday as masks became optional in city schools and restaurants and other businesses could stop asking patrons for proof of vaccination.

“We’re in that place right now where we’re lifting our across-the-board mandate for Key2NYC,” Mayor Eric Adams, who announced the relaxed coronavirus rules last week, said on WINS radio Monday morning.

Adams announced Friday that indoor venues including restaurants, theaters and gyms would no longer be required to check the vaccination status of patrons. Businesses can require vaccination if they choose to, however, and proof of vaccination will be required at Broadway theaters at least until April 30.

The Key2NYC vaccination mandate was imposed last year by Adams’ predecessor, Bill de Blasio, in a bid to increase vaccination rates by barring the unvaccinated from many activities. The city is dropping the mandate as other U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Chicago are also easing some virus rules.

Most of the city’s public school students were allowed in class without masks on Monday for the first time since March 2020. Masks are still required for children under 5, who are not eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Adams praised New Yorkers for following rules on masking and social distancing over the past two years.

“We did our job as New Yorkers and now we’re winning,” the mayor said on TV station NY1. “COVID is no longer in control of our lives. We are in control of our lives.”

New York and other cities are dropping virus rules as the most recent surge in infections fueled by the omicron variant wanes.

More than 4,000 people in New York City died of COVID-19 in January and February, making those two months the deadliest of the pandemic since the spring of 2020. New infections have plunged, though, in recent weeks. The city is now averaging a little more than 700 new cases per day of the virus, the lowest infection rate since late July.

Trump must testify in New York investigation, judge rules

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Former President Donald Trump must answer questions under oath in New York state’s civil investigation into his business practices, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and his two eldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., to comply with subpoenas issued in December by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump and his two children must sit for a deposition within 21 days, Engoron said.

Engoron issued the ruling after a two-hour hearing with lawyers for the Trumps and James’ office.

“In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so.” Engoron wrote in his decision.

The ruling is almost certain to be appealed, but if upheld it could force the former president into a tough decision about whether to answer questions, or stay silent, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Spokespeople for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

James, a Democrat, said her investigation has uncovered evidence Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits.

Trump’s lawyers told Engoron during the hearing that having him sit for a civil deposition now, while his company is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation, is an improper attempt to get around a state law barring prosecutors from calling someone to testify before a criminal grand jury without giving them immunity.

“If she wants sworn testimony from my client, he’s entitled to immunity. He gets immunity for what he says, or he says nothing,” Trump’s criminal defense lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, said in the hearing, which was conducted by video conference.

If Trump were to testify in the civil probe, anything he says could be used against him in the criminal investigation being overseen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a deposition — something he’s criticized others for doing in the past. But Fischetti said if Trump did so, it could still hurt a potential criminal defense.

“If he goes in and follows my advice, which will be you cannot answer these questions without … immunity because that’s what the law provides, and take the Fifth Amendment, that’ll be on every front page in the newspaper in the world. And how can I possibly pick a jury in that case?” Fischetti said.

A lawyer for the attorney general’s office, Kevin Wallace, told the judge that it wasn’t unusual to have civil and criminal investigations proceeding at the same time.

“Mr. Trump is a high profile individual, yes. That’s unique,” Wallace said. “It’s unique that so many people are paying attention to a rather dry hearing about subpoena enforcement. But the the legal issues that we’re dealing with here are pretty standard.”

Another Trump son, Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization’s finance chief Allen Weisselberg, have previously sat for depositions in the civil investigation — and invoked their Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times when they were questioned by investigators in 2020.

Another lawyer for Donald Trump, Alina Habba, accused James of trying to use the civil investigation to gather evidence for the criminal probe.

She said the civil investigation should be stayed until the criminal matter is over, claiming James’ office is putting the Trumps “in a position where they either disclose evidence in a civil investigation or they have to invoke the constitutional right not to testify, thereby triggering an adverse inference in the civil action.”

“How is that fair, your Honor? We have to stop one,” she said.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., both of whom have been executives in their family’s Trump Organization, said during the court hearing that so far he had no reason to believe either are targets of the district attorney’s criminal investigation.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump railed against what he called a “sham investigation of a great company that has done a spectacular job for New York and beyond” and a racially motivated “continuation of a Witch Hunt the likes of which has never been seen in this Country before.”

Habba argued at Thursday’s hearing that James’ investigation is “selective prosecution” and that the attorney general is “engaging in viewpoint discrimination” motivated by her political ambitions and disdain for the Republican former president, evinced by comments she made over the years about going after Trump.

“We have an extraordinary rare case where we can prove selective prosecution because she’s put her words out there so much and taken every opportunity to voice her vendetta against Donald Trump and his family to take him down,” Habba said.

Wallace noted the state attorney general’s office was investigating Trump-related matters as far back as 2013, including probes into his charitable foundation and a Trump University real estate training program that started long before James was elected.

In a court filing this week, James included a letter from Trump’s longtime accounting firm advising him to no longer rely on years of financial statements it prepared based on his company’s valuations, given the questions about their accuracy.

James tweeted after the ruling Thursday: “No one will be permitted to stand in the way of the pursuit of justice, no matter how powerful they are.”

Last summer, spurred by evidence uncovered in James’ civil investigation, the Manhattan district attorney’s office charged Weisselberg and the Trump Organization with tax fraud, alleging he collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation. Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.

Engoron previously sided with James on other matters relating to the probe, including making Eric Trump testify after his lawyers abruptly canceled a scheduled deposition.