Friday, March 16, 2018

President Trump Delivers Remarks at the Shamrock Bowl Presentation by Prime Minister Varadkar

 This video was published on YouTube on March 15.

Senator Jeff Flake at the National Press Club

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R) headlined the National Press Club’s luncheon series in Washington, DC. His remarks focused on political partisanship and how to move beyond this. Senator Flake, who has become a frequent critic of the president, said he has no plans to run for the White House, but would not rule it out. Other topics included the 2020 presidential election and the need for a conservative candidate to run against President Trump, immigration policy, and gun control efforts.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Sends Subpoena to Trump Organization

Source: CBS News

White House Press Briefing on US Helicopter Crash, Trump Nominees, Stormy Daniels

Source: ABC News

UCCA Welcomes New Sanctions Against Russia

New York – The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the largest grassroots representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent, welcomed the news that the Trump administration has finally imposed additional financial sanctions against Russia, both for its meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, as well as for a crippling cyber-attack leveled against Ukraine and other countries.

Thursday’s sanctions against hackers and spy agencies were placed on 5 entities and 19 individuals whose cyber-attacks have been characterized by U.S. government officials as the “most destructive and costly” in history.

Although the Administration missed the congressionally-mandated deadline by some 90 days, UCCA welcomed the development of newly imposed sanctions against Russia, having repeatedly called on this Administration to implement sanctions against Russia through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), passed by near unanimous vote in Congress last summer.

UCCA will continue to advocate for stronger - and specifically  sectoral sanctions -  against the Russian Federation until it withdraws all of its covert and overt forces and equipment from Ukraine and de-occupies the sovereign territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.

Source: The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

South Africa: Authorities Hit Jacob Zuma with Arms Deal Corruption Charges

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Moscow Opens Probe Into Poisoning of Skripal's Daughter

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Russia's Opposition Weakened as Putin Looks Set for Fourth Term

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Colombia Vote: 'In Colombia as Elsewhere in Latin America, Outsiders Are Gaining Popularity'

Source: FRANCE 24 English

France: Rail Unions Plan Three-Month Strike Against Gov't Reforms

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Kenya: Thousands Stranded After Heavy Downpour, 'The Rains Have Been Wreaking Havoc'

Source: FRANCE 24 English

City Scoop: Low Crimes Through Feburary 2018, National School Walkout, Women’s History Month

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Rabbi Mordechai Hager Dies in NY, Thousands Attend Funeral

A famed Rockland County rabbi has died, and throngs of faithful attended his funeral Friday. 

Rabbi Mordechai Hager, the grand rabbi and spiritual leader of the Viznitz Hasidim in Kaser-Monsey, died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan at 95 years old, the Yeshiva World reports.

Source: NBC News 4 New York

Click here for additional information. 

Veteran Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Dies

By Alan Fram, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veteran U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Kentucky blacksmith's daughter who went on to chair one of Congress' most important committees, died Friday at a Washington hospital where she was being treated after falling in her home, her top aide said. She was 88.

The New York Democrat died at George Washington University Hospital a week after a fall in which Slaughter had sustained a concussion, said Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff.

Slaughter was the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and was her party's top member on the panel when she died.

Slaughter was serving her 16th term in the House, and her 31 years in the chamber made her its third longest-serving woman, according to the official House website. She chaired the rules committee from 2007 through 2010.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Yahoo! Finance

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo 

"Louise Slaughter was a champion for New York who had a larger than life presence in Rochester area politics. For more than 30 years, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives with unmatched charm, sharp wit and an insatiable passion to improve the lives of everyone in her community.

"As Dean of our Congressional Delegation, she made all New Yorkers proud. With her training as a scientist, Louise fought for fairness and led the way on the major issues of our time, from environmental preservation to women's rights to attracting 21st century jobs in cutting edge industries like photonics.

"She was trailblazer, a partner and friend ever since we worked together for my father more than four decades ago. She will be missed greatly by all who knew her, but she will not be forgotten anytime soon by all those she served."

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  

Hijab Removal by New York Police Prompts Lawsuit

By Al Baker

One evening in January 2017, after she had been detained for hours in a police holding cell in Manhattan, repeatedly told to remove a head scarf that is part of her Muslim faith and begun to cry, Jamilla Clark relented: She let a New York City police officer photograph her without her hijab.

As the camera flashed, Ms. Clark, 39, felt as if she were naked, she later said. Several male officers then stared at the image of her uncovered head as they stored it in a police database.

In August, Arwa Aziz, 45, endured a similar experience at a police building in Brooklyn. Police officers made her pull down her hijab for an official arrest photo as she stood in a cramped hallway with dozens of male prisoners. The police snapped photos of her uncovered head and hair from several angles. The prisoners, who saw Ms. Aziz weeping, turned away in respect as the officers looked on.

“It’s the law,” one of the officers told her.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times 

Another Winter Storm Could Drop 'Significant Snowfall' on Upstate NY

By Glenn Coin

Syracuse, N.Y. -- A fourth winter storm this month could slam Upstate New York next week with what the National Weather Service calls "significant snowfall."

"There is a potential for another winter storm Tuesday into Wednesday," the weather service's Binghamton office said. "Our models indicate that another storm system could bring a significant snowfall."

The snow could be heavy enough to topple trees and cause power outages, the weather service said.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: (via Empire Report New York)

Two FDNY Firefighters Among Seven U.S. Service Members Killed in Iraq Military Helicopter Crash

By Graham Rayman, Thomas Tracy and Rich Schapiro

Two of the city’s Bravest — an FDNY lieutenant and a fire marshal — were among the seven service members killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, sources and officials said.

Lt. Christopher Raguso, 39, and Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, 37, were aboard the HH-60 Pave Hawk when it hit a power line and went down Thursday evening near the western city of Qaim along the Syrian border, officials said.

Zanetis was hailed a hero in the pages of the Daily News for his exploits while deployed in Afghanistan with the New York Air National Guard in 2012.

Zanetis was among a team of four FDNY firefighters credited with saving nearly 100 lives in a two-month stretch with the 101st Rescue Squadron.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Daily News 

State Police, Local Law Enforcement to Conduct Special DWI Enforcement March 16 Through March 18

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that the New York State Police and local law enforcement will conduct special enforcement efforts designed to deter drinking and driving during St. Patrick's Day weekend. The traffic enforcement detail, which is funded through the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, begins today and runs through Sunday, March 18, 2018. Drivers can expect a number of sobriety checkpoints, additional DWI patrols, and stings targeting underage drinking and illegal sales of alcohol to minors during the campaign. State Police will also be ticketing distracted drivers who use handheld electronic devices. 

"If your St. Patrick's Day weekend will involve drinking alcohol, please make the responsible decision and have a designated driver to ensure a safe trip home," Governor Cuomo said. "A day of celebrating can quickly turn into devastation because of bad decisions, and state and local law enforcement will be out in full force to keep our roadways safe."

Click here for the full announcement. 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

White House Press Briefing on Mueller Subpoena of Trump Organization, Russia Sanctions

Source: ABC News

Several Killed in Pedestrian Bridge Accident in Miami

A pedestrian bridge stretching across a street on the Florida International University campus in Miami collapsed Thursday afternoon, killing multiple people, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Source: ABC 10 News

On Climate Change and Environment, Cuomo Has Failed to Lead

Governor's Budget Does Not Address the Crisis at Hand

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rhetoric as a progressive reformer has not matched the reality of his environmental record during the past several years. He has been slow with policies to protect communities against climate change and strengthen our environment.

Remember how antifrackers had to chase Cuomo around for years before he banned the fracking of natural gas? We’re seeing the same lack of leadership from him in budget negotiations, but with the Trump administration rolling back major environmental protections, the stakes are much higher.

Cuomo’s proposed budget largely maintains the status quo and misses what this moment in history demands of the state. It’s a timid document lacking robust and aggressive investments to resist Trump’s assault on our environment and to put New York on a sustainable path.

Cuomo must do more to raise standards to safeguard our land, air and water. Until he does, it’s up to state legislators to amend the budget so New York can become a progressive beacon on climate policy. Although rarely given credit, the Legislature stepped up in 2015 with funding for clean water and in 2016 for electric-vehicle rebates.

Cuomo has been particularly weak on the following climate issues this year.

The Climate and Community Protection Act. The governor excluded this far-reaching and bold legislation from his executive budget. It would eliminate human-caused climate pollution from all sectors by 2050 and mandate a complete shift to renewable energy while directing resources to disadvantaged communities and workers on the front lines of climate change.

Carbon pricing. Making carbon polluters pay for the environmental harm they cause is an idea with growing support across the political spectrum and within the business community. Cuomo’s budget omits carbon pricing that could raise billions of dollars a year from the largest corporate polluters and reinvest it in clean energy. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: CRAIN'S New York Business

World Trade Center Workers and Responders Urged to Register Their Service

 Doing So Will Preserve Their Rights to
Future Workers' Compensation Benefits

Governor Andrew Cuomo today urged all workers and responders who participated in the rescue, recovery, or clean-up of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks to register their service with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board by September 11, 2018, in order to preserve their rights to future benefits. This will allow workers and volunteers to file a claim for medical care and lost wages in the event that they become ill from a qualifying medical condition as a result of their World Trade Center duties.

"There are no words to express the gratitude we as New Yorkers feel for those who risked their lives in the rescue and recovery efforts following the 9/11 terror attacks," Governor Cuomo said. "What we can do, is ensure that these brave individuals and their families are protected should their selfless efforts result in any harm to their health. I strongly encourage anyone who worked or volunteered at Ground Zero to register their service so we can provide benefits they deserve should they require them."

On September 11, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that extends workers' compensation eligibility and benefits for World Trade Center workers and responders. Most notably, the legislation reopened the World Trade Center Registry, extending the deadline period for registering their service to September 11, 2018.

Workers and responders, including volunteers, must have participated in rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations between September 11, 2011 and September 11, 2002, at any of the following locations: Ground Zero; Fresh Kills Landfill; on the barges; the piers; or at the morgues. Those who are part of the New York State workers' compensation system are eligible and should promptly register their service with the NYS Workers' Compensation Board, if they have not done so already.

New York State Workers' Compensation Board Chair Clarissa Rodriguez said, "The Workers' Compensation Board will assist World Trade Center workers and volunteers with this important registration any way we can, including providing forms in multiple languages and free notary services at any of our Board locations."

For workers and volunteers who have not yet registered, by September 11, 2018, you must: complete the Registration of Participation in World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and/or Clean-up Operations (Form WTC-12), which is also available in multiple languages on the New York State Workers' Compensation Board's website; sign the completed WTC-12 and have it notarized; and submit the original notarized registration form to the Workers' Compensation Board at P.O. Box 5205, Binghamton, N.Y. 13902.

For more information and assistance, please call 877-632-4993. Governor Cuomo also urges workers and responders to use the World Trade Center Health Programs for ongoing monitoring and care. For more information, click here.

The Board's dedicated World Trade Center work groups and hearing parts have functioned continuously since September, 2001.

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

SUNY Student Assembly Response to One-House Budgets

The following statement was issued today by the Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA).  

The students of the State University of New York were pleased to see a number of legislative funding add backs proposed in the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets unveiled this week.

Earlier this year, students were discouraged to see funding for vital opportunity programs, SUNY’s research hospitals, and university wide programs slashed in the Governor’s proposed budget.
The Student Assembly applauds the Assembly majority’s decision to restore $5.4 million cut in the executive budget and to provide an additional $5.4 million in opportunity program funding. Thousands of students across SUNY are counting on these programs in order to thrive in our system- and their success is worth the investment. We urge the Governor and the Senate to support fully funding all opportunity programs in the final enacted budget.

We were also pleased to see funding restored in both one-house budgets for SUNY’s hospitals. These hospitals not only serve to educate New York’s next generation of health professionals- they also service hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers healthcare needs.  We urge the Governor to rescind his proposed  $78.6 Million cut to these hospitals.

SUNY’s community college students appreciate the decision to increase FTE base funding by $100 per student. We believe though that the state must move to a hold harmless model for community college funding- to ensure that students are not forced to suffer from cyclical changes in enrollment.

The decision by the Assembly majority to once again endorse the DREAM ACT is welcome at a time when SUNY’s undocumented students feel so greatly under attack from Washington. SUNY students urge the Senate to drop its opposition to this important legislation and allow all New Yorkers equal access to financial aid programs.

The students of the State University of New York appreciate the many legislative funding add backs proposed in the Assembly and Senate one house budgets- and look forward to advocating for their inclusion in the final 2018-2019 New York State budget.

Source: SUNY SA

Secretary Shulkin Testifies on Veterans Affairs Budget

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

In Conservative Pennsylvania District, How Did Conor Lamb Win?

This report was published on YouTube on March 14.

President Trump Participates in a Roundtable Discussion on Tax Cuts and Tax Reform

This video was published on YouTube on March 14. 

Source: The White House

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Speaks to Chiefs of Police

House Minority Leader Pelosi Holds News Conference

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol and fields questions from reporters on a range of issues facing Congress. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

Congresswoman Confirms Erik Prince Tied to Assassination Program Run Out of Dick Cheney’s Office

This report was published on YouTube on March 14. 

Source: Democracy Now!

NY Students, Teachers Disciplined for Taking Part in National Protest

  Cuomo Issues Open Letter to NYSED Commissioner

Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued the following open letter to New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

Dear Commissioner Elia,

Yesterday, I proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with brave students and faculty who spoke out against gun violence. History provides moments where real change is possible, and the thousands of students who participated in organized walk-outs all throughout the state are seizing the moment and admirably standing up for the safety of their classmates and students across the country.

In the last 24 hours, there have been several reports of New York State schools disciplining students and faculty for participating in yesterday's historic events to stop gun violence.  In at least one disturbing incident, it was reported that the school physically blocked the exits to prevent students from demonstrating.

These actions send a terrible message to New York's children and are against constitutional free speech protections. I call on you to use SED's authority to stop these schools, reverse course and cease any disciplinary actions.

Peaceful expression of views on controversial issues that is not disruptive or threatening is a right that all students have in this country, and any attempts to stifle this speech violates the constitutional rights of students and faculty to free speech. Threatening to discipline students for participating in the peaceful demonstrations is not only inappropriate, it is unconstitutional. Reports that schools may also discipline faculty are also highly concerning and would send a terrible message to our students.

The students who participated in the walk-out are trying to advance laws and actions that would save their lives, and many viewed their participation as necessary to their own safety. The scourge of mass shootings in schools is very real, and these students were taking proactive steps to protect themselves and their classmates. These actions, coupled with the peaceful manner in which the demonstrations were conducted, is something that should be lauded, not punished.

Additionally, I call on you to thoroughly investigate any reports of schools that blocked the exits to physically prevent students from leaving during the event. This an egregious safety violation and it is also unlawful.

Yesterday's actions were a testament to the courage and leadership of New York's students. As I said yesterday, these young people are showing more leadership than the so-called leaders in Washington.  To punish or discipline them is inconsistent with the freedom of expression that we cherish.  It would say more about the adults imposing discipline than it would about the students who exercised their rights to speak out.
Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

NY Senate and Assembly Members Push for Climate and Community Protection Act in Final Budget

ALBANY, NY - Members of the New York Renews Coalition stood with Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, and additional legislators today, calling on Governor Cuomo to include the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) in the enacted FY 2019 state budget. The press conference built on momentum that had been growing all week.

On Monday, the State Assembly included in the CCPA (A.8270A, Englebright) as a priority in its one house budget bill for the second year in a row. On Wednesday, the Senate Democratic Conference followed suit, including the bill in its annual budget priority letter. All eight members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference cosponsored the bill (S.6617A, Avella) last year, and have since garnered the support of three Republican cosponsors. And on Thursday Senator Brad Hoylman introduced an effectively identical version of the landmark climate bill, lining up the support of his mainline Democratic colleagues.

With the State Assembly, Senate Democrats, and the Independent Democratic Conference all pledging support for the CCPA, Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans are the remaining obstacles to enacting the ambitious climate change policy in 2018. The CCPA mandates that New York reach 100% renewable energy economy-wide by 2050, while setting standards in place to protect workers and climate-vulnerable communities. NY Renews—a statewide coalition of 143 labor unions, community groups, and environmental organizations—has been advocating to pass the bill in both houses.

“The Climate and Community Protection Act will solidify the fact that New York is a leader in renewable energy, environmental justice, coastline resiliency, and sustainability. We must act in order to help mitigate the effects of climate change. As the federal government threatens to jeopardize the progress New York has made, we must continue to do everything within our power to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help slow the rate of climate change to ensure the best possible outcome for the state’s public health, environment, and economic well-being,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation.

The State Assembly has passed the bill twice, by a large majority with members of both the Republican and Democratic parties supporting the bill.

“Climate change is one of the toughest challenges in the state of New York and our entire nation is faced with each season. We all have seen the disastrous effects of massive storms such as Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Maria which left a path of destruction and many without a home.

Harsh winters, An increase in flooding, increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels threaten our neighborhoods and infrastructure each and every day. We see the initiative from our elected officials, with Community Solar projects but there is still more work to be done,” said Assemblymember Latrice Monique Walker.

“Climate change is a reality.  Although it seems the President and at times others want to refute this fact, the evidence is undeniable.  I’m proud that the Assembly reaffirmed New York’s leadership in protecting our planet by including language in our budget proposal which would implement the Climate and Community Protection Act.  It is my hope that the Governor and State Senate will follow our lead in this regard to preserve this earth for future generations,” said Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill.

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "President Trump and his merry band of climate deniers have dedicated themselves to undoing a decade of environmental protections and regulations. In the face of federal abdication states like New York must confront this growing threat of climate change. The decisions we make now will directly impact my daughters' generation and beyond. That's why I am proud to work with NY Renews to advance the Climate and Community Protection Act and build a more prosperous and sustainable future for New York."

“As New Yorkers, we must be proactive in leading the way to protect the environment,” said Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz. “By passing the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, we will be protecting the future of our children and grandchildren.”

“Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey recently announced his support for 100% renewable energy by the year 2050 in New Jersey”, said Dan Sherrell, Campaign Coordinator for NY Renews. “That’s a stark contrast with Governor Cuomo, who is increasingly isolated in his failure to back the CCPA, which would codify the same standard for New York.”

“NY Renews is not just about the environment. It’s about health, it’s about jobs, and it’s about justice. Frontline communities are making their voices heard on the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act because we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prioritize investments in the most impacted communities. Governor Cuomo has the urgent responsibility to take bold action for climate justice, and to lead a just transition to clean, renewable energy for all New Yorkers,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

Elected officials across the state have demonstrated support for the climate policy platform advocated by NY Renews. Last week the coalition released a letter signed by over 160 local elected officials from every part of the state--including mayors of Syracuse, Utica, and White Plains, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and 13 New York City council members--calling on the Governor and state legislators to support the coalition’s policy platform.

“New York should be the model of a just transition away from an extractive fossil fuel economy to a regenerative economy powered by renewable energy", said Ryan Madden, Sustainability Organizer for the Long Island Progressive Coalition. "Governor Cuomo must commit New York State to 100% renewable energy, thousands of good union jobs in the new economy including retraining programs for workers in the fossil fuel industry, and environmental justice by investing in communities most impacted by climate change. This means passing the Climate and Community Protection Act in the 2018-2019 budget. With support from the Assembly, Senate, and Independent Democratic Conference, this is the year to get this bill across the finish line."

"New York is on pace to fall well short of its climate goals, and it's low-income communities and communities of color that will pay the price. The Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) protects our most vulnerable communities from the worsening effects of climate change," said Bob Cohen, Policy Director for Citizen Action of New York. "We thank Assemblymember Englebright and Senator Hoylman for recognizing the urgency of our climate crisis and need to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy."

“The Assembly and Senate Democratic Conference are showing true leadership on climate justice by bringing the Climate and Community Protection Act to the budget negotiations,” said Conor Bambrick, Air & Energy Director for Environmental Advocates of New York. “The state budget offers a crucial opportunity for Governor Cuomo to take bolder action on climate change that is threatening the well-being of New Yorkers across the state. The Governor should take advantage of that opportunity by pushing for the inclusion of the Climate and Community Protection Act in the final budget.”

Source: Environmental Advocates of New York

Meet the American Helping Irish Women Get Abortions

Source: CBS News

Several of Trump's Cabinet Members' Jobs in Jeopardy?

This report was published on YouTube on March 14.

Source: CBS News

After ‘Rexit’: What's Next for US Diplomacy Under Pompeo?

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Philippines: Rodrigo Duterte Moves to Quit ICC Over 'Outrageous Attacks'

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Saudi Crown Prince Warns of Nuclear Arms Race with 'Hitler' of Middle East

Source: CBS News

Houthis: Snipers Kill at Least Six Saudi Soldiers Daily

Ports War: Somalia Bans Dubai Ports Operator

'No Survivors': Vietnam's My Lai Massacre

Source: Al Jazeera

America's Guns: Secret Pipeline to Syria

Source: Al Jazeera