NEW YORK NEWS
After a power outage at New York’s JFK Airport caused dozens of flights to be canceled or diverted, crews worked tirelessly to repair the issue overnight. The airport’s operator, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, confirmed that full power had been restored to Terminal 1, which primarily handles international flights. The outage began on Thursday after an electrical panel failure caused a small fire. This led to a range of cancellations and diversions, with some flights even returning to their point of origin. One such flight was Air New Zealand’s, which had to return to Auckland after flying two-thirds of the way across the Pacific Ocean. This resulted in a 16-hour trip that ended where it began. While the restoration of full power to Terminal 1 is a significant achievement, flight activity remains limited. As of Saturday morning, the terminal was open for only 26 of the scheduled 64 arrivals and departures. Eighteen flights were to be handled at other terminals, while ten were canceled. “Concessions will be operating with reduced menu options as activity resumes in Terminal 1 and the private terminal operator will have additional customer service staff in place to assist passengers,” the Port Authority said in a statement.
In a surprising move, the New York State Senate rejected Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee for chief judge of the state’s highest court, breaking a weeks-long impasse. The vote marked the first time that the Senate has ever rejected a governor’s pick for chief judge. The rejection was seen as a rebuke of Hochul by members of her own party, just as she begins her first full term as governor. The nomination of Hector D. LaSalle had been blocked by the Senate Judiciary Committee a month earlier, raising concerns about the constitutionality of the move and whether Justice LaSalle was entitled to a full vote in the Senate. On Wednesday, the Senate made a surprise decision to move the nomination to the chamber floor, where it was voted down 39 to 20. The defeat was driven by Democrats who opposed LaSalle because of his conservative views and opposition to union and abortion rights. The rejection of LaSalle’s nomination now means that the governor and Senate Democrats must come up with another nominee for the Senate to consider. However, state law requires that the rejection of a chief judge nominee creates a vacancy on the bench, which means that a special commission must once again consider applications and come up with a new list of candidates for the governor to choose from. The process could take months, and the outcome remains to be seen.
A four-alarm fire broke out on a quiet residential block on Shotwell Avenue in Staten Island on Friday, damaging two attached duplex homes. Nineteen people were injured, and three firefighters were seriously injured in the incident, officials said. According to Chief John Hodgens of the Fire Department, the firefighters with serious injuries were in stable condition and awake at Staten Island University Hospital. Chief Hodgens added that wind gusts added to the volatility of the fire, and the heavy amount of fire on arrival was an unusual sight. Emergency responders arrived at the fire in the Arden Heights neighborhood at around 1:30 p.m., said Laura Kavanagh, New York City’s fire commissioner. Firefighters were at the scene within four minutes of the call. The cause of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation is underway.
Staff at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in New York captured a 4-foot alligator, which has since been nicknamed “Godzilla.” The park’s authorities were contacted, and the alligator was later taken to the Bronx Zoo. Alligators are typically found in warm-climate states such as Florida and Louisiana, and it is unclear how this one ended up in the park’s lake. Temperatures in New York on Sunday reached highs of 48 degrees, and the animal was found to be in poor condition, “very lethargic and possibly cold shocked,” according to NYC Parks. The authority has warned residents not to release animals into the city’s parks, as non-indigenous wildlife can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality. The alligator did not harm anyone and is currently being evaluated.
The Los Angeles Police Department reported that a suspect had been apprehended in connection with the shootings of two Jewish men who were leaving synagogues in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles. The LAPD stated that evidence including a rifle and a handgun was seized during the arrest in Riverside County on Thursday evening. While the authorities had previously claimed there was no evidence indicating that the shootings were motivated by hate, they are now treating the case as a hate crime due to the circumstances. On Friday, a federal hate crime charge was brought against Jaime Tran, 28, for allegedly shooting and injuring the two Jewish men as they left synagogues in Los Angeles earlier this week. During a press conference, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada stated, “For the past two days, our community has experienced two horrific acts. An individual motivated by antisemitism, hatred for people in the Jewish community, committed two tremendously horrible acts targeting individuals because of their Jewish faith.”
An investigation is underway into the shooting death of a man in North Miami Beach, who was set to be married in a week. The victim, identified as Hershy Schwartz by friends, was discovered dead near his car on Sunday in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant located on Northeast 167th Street close to Interstate 95. Friends believe the shooting occurred the previous night. Originally from New York, Schwartz had lived in South Florida for 12 years and was an active member of the Orthodox Jewish community in North Miami Beach and elsewhere. He was also a prominent member of an organization that provided aid to those in need, including cleaning up crime scenes involving Jewish people. His colleagues had to respond to his own crime scene on Sunday, as religious reasons dictate that such scenes be cleaned up promptly. “The things that he was known for was his ability to give dignity in death, and it’s unfortunate that his friends had to do the same thing for him yesterday, which was literally a week before his wedding,” friend Yehuda Kaploun said.
During a high school soccer game in Miami, a fight broke out after members of a Catholic program allegedly made anti-Semitic comments towards a Jewish institution. The Scheck Hillel Community School and Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School had to be separated, and spectators joined in, throwing punches during the altercation. Parents from the Jewish school reported that slurs were used throughout the brawl, including the statement “Hitler was right.” In a joint statement, the schools expressed their zero-tolerance policy towards aggressive language and behavior, hate, and anti-Semitism. Both schools are investigating the matter and will take appropriate action with the involved students. They also committed to building understanding between the schools in their mutual commitment to safety, respect, and forgiveness.
The Carter Center announced that former US President Jimmy Carter, who at 98 is the longest living president in American history, has decided to forego further medical treatment and will receive hospice care at his home in Georgia. The center released a statement on Twitter saying that after a series of hospital stays, the former president has decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention. The statement added that Mr. Carter has the full support of his family and medical team, and the family is asking for privacy during this time. The statement did not provide details on the reasons for the recent hospital visits or Mr. Carter’s decision to enter hospice care. The former president has faced multiple health challenges in recent years, including skin cancer that had spread to his liver and brain, as well as several falls.
Pennsylvania Democrat Senator John Fetterman may need to remain hospitalized for over a month while undergoing treatment for depression following a series of health issues. The senator had previously checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the second time in recent weeks due to his history of depression. His doctors will be experimenting with new medications and dosages, as well as providing talk therapy sessions to help him cope with his experiences, including his campaign. The aide added that the senator’s hospitalization could last between several weeks to just over a month, but likely less than two months, as per the doctors’ focus. Senator Fetterman’s recent hospitalization was due to malnourishment and dehydration, which he previously experienced after attending the State of the Union address on February 7.
If Republican presidential candidates do not sign a pledge to support the GOP’s ultimate presidential nominee, they will be barred from the debate stage this summer, according to draft language set to be adopted when the Republican National Committee meets next week. The proposal creates a potential conflict with former President Donald Trump, who has suggested that he may launch an independent candidacy if he does not win the GOP nomination outright. Although RNC officials and Trump aides downplay this possibility, such a move could jeopardize the GOP’s White House aspirations in 2024 and raise existential questions about the party’s future. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel stated that “After the primary, it is imperative to the health and growth of our Republican Party, as well as the country, that we all come together and unite behind our nominee to defeat Joe Biden and the Democrats” when asked about the loyalty pledge. As many as a dozen Republicans are expected to enter the 2024 presidential race as the GOP prepares for an all-out civil war in the coming months.
A group of amateur balloonists based in Illinois has reported that one of their small balloons is currently “missing in action” after its last known location was reported over Alaska on Saturday. Coincidentally, on the same day, the US military shot down an unidentified object in the same region. Although the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) has not accused the US government of taking down their 32-inch-wide “Pico Balloons,” the hobbyist group did mention in a blog post that the balloon had been airborne for more than four months and had circled the globe seven times before its last transmission near a small island off the west coast of Alaska. The NIBBB post, dated February 14, stated that the “Pico Balloon K9YO last reported on February 11th at 00:48 zulu near Hagemeister Island after 123 days and 18 hours of flight.” The cost of a sidewinder missile that shot down the $12 balloon is approximately $400,000.
Actor Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his family announced on Thursday. While there is currently no treatment available for the disease, which affects cognitive abilities, the family said they hope to raise awareness and support research efforts. Willis’ family had previously disclosed his diagnosis of aphasia, a condition that affects language and communication, in 2022. The family statement emphasized Willis’ commitment to using his voice to raise awareness about important issues and connect with others affected by the disease.
Susan Wojcicki, who co-created Google Image Search and served as YouTube’s CEO for 25 years, announced on February 16 that she will step down from her role. While she plans to maintain an advisory position with Google and Alphabet, Wojcicki intends to prioritize her personal life, health, and other projects. Her departure comes as the video-sharing platform faces scrutiny over its handling of misinformation and harmful content. “Today, after nearly 25 years here, I’ve decided to step back from my role as the head of YouTube and start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about,” Wojcicki said.
China says more than 200 million of its citizens have been diagnosed and treated for Covid-19 since it lifted strict containment measures beginning in November. With 800,000 of the most critically ill patients having recovered, China has “decisively beaten” the pandemic, according to notes from a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee presided over by President and party leader Xi Jinping.
Protesters in Iran marched through the streets of multiple cities overnight in the most widespread demonstration in weeks amid the months-long unrest that’s gripped the Islamic Republic, online videos purported to show Friday. The demonstrations, marking 40 days since Iran executed two men on charges related to the protests, show the continuing anger in the country. The protests, which began over the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the country’s morality police, have morphed into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The United Arab Emirates on Thursday opened a center housing a mosque, church and the country’s first official synagogue with the aim of promoting interfaith coexistence in the Muslim nation. At Thursday’s opening ceremony, UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis affixed a mezuzah to the entrance of the new Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, which he tweeted was “the first purpose-built synagogue in the Arab world for nearly a century.”
An Israeli delegation was ejected on Saturday from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia, a move the Israeli Foreign Ministry blamed “extremist” countries influenced by Iran. “Israel looks harshly upon the incident in which the [Foreign Ministry] Deputy Director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges,” the ministry said in a statement.
Israel has told the Biden administration it will rein in the approval of new West Bank settlement outposts, the prime minister’s office said Monday, a day after a potential diplomatic crisis was averted at the United Nations over Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would not greenlight any new wildcat settlements in the West Bank beyond nine such outposts built without authorization that it approved retroactively earlier this month.
Israel’s parliament passed a controversial judicial system overhaul proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government. The changes have caused widespread protests, with tens of thousands of Israelis gathering outside parliament to voice their opposition. Despite opposition in parliament, the proposed changes were approved in a first reading after a lengthy debate. Netanyahu expressed his satisfaction with the outcome on Twitter, calling it “a great night and a great day.” With a comfortable majority in the Knesset, Netanyahu is expected to achieve eventual ratification for both proposed revisions, one of which increases the government’s control over judge selection and the other of which limits the Supreme Court’s authority to overturn legislation.
North Korea threatened Friday to take “unprecedently” strong action against its rivals, soon after South Korea announced a series of planned military drills with the United States to hone their joint response to the North’s increasing nuclear threats. North Korea has halted weapons testing activities since its short-range missile firing on Jan. 1, though it launched more than 70 missiles in 2022 — a record number for a single year. Friday’s warning suggests the North’s testing could resume soon over its rivals’ military training, which it views as an invasion rehearsal.
US commandos killed a senior ISIS figure in a helicopter raid in Syria that also left four American troops and a military working dog wounded Thursday night, US Central Command said. As the US and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces conducted the raid, “an explosion on target” hurt the US service members and dog, who now “are receiving treatment in a US medical facility in Iraq,” according to a CENTCOM statement released Friday. “The targeted ISIS senior leader, Hamza al-Homsi, was killed,” CENTCOM said. “Hamza al-Homsi oversaw the group’s deadly terrorist network in eastern Syria before he was killed in the raid.”