NEW YORK NEWS
House Majority PAC, the leading super PAC aligned with Congressional Democrats, is set to launch a $45 million fund aimed at regaining the House majority in next year’s elections by winning back four seats in New York that were flipped by Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections and targeting two other competitive districts. The move comes as New York has become a key battleground for both parties, with 6 of the 18 districts nationwide that President Biden won in 2020 now represented by Republicans. The massive Democratic infusion in New York would far exceed outside spending in recent election cycles and reflects the critical role the traditionally blue state has assumed in the national House battlefield. Mike Smith, president of the House Majority PAC, emphasized that “the path to the majority runs through New York,” adding that this perspective is shared not only by his group, but also by the Republican Party and donors across the country.
Jose Alba, the bodega worker charged with murder after fatally stabbing a man in self-defense inside his store, is planning to sue the city of New York for wrongfully prosecuting him and the time he spent in jail on Rikers Island, according to his attorney Imran Ansari. Alba had filed notices of claim against the city and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last year for $10 million, claiming that they wrongfully brought a case against him for fatally stabbing ex-convict Austin Simon. Alba’s claim states that the NYPD mishandled the investigation and withheld crucial evidence that would have cleared his name. In addition, he has filed a notice of claim against the city Health and Hospitals Corporation, alleging that he did not receive proper medical treatment for his stab wounds, one of which became infected, while he was in jail on Rikers Island. The planned lawsuit is expected to seek damages for wrongful prosecution and the time Alba spent in jail before the case was dismissed.
According to a new poll by Siena College, Governor Kathy Hochul has received low ratings from New Yorkers regarding her handling of rising living costs in the state, following the negative rating she received for fighting crime. Despite pushing a range of controversial budget proposals, which include an effective ban on gas stoves in new buildings, Hochul’s handling of affordability has been rated negatively by 54% of voters, with 56% of respondents in the suburbs and 64% in upstate New York disapproving of her efforts. However, 56% of respondents within New York City approve of her approach to affordability, compared to 37% who disapprove. Furthermore, a 49% plurality of respondents disapprove of her handling of crime, with 60% of voters overall believing crime is a serious problem in the state. While Hochul received her worst marks from registered Republicans on crime, she received low marks from voters of all affiliations regarding affordability. Her job approval rating remains unchanged at 56%, though her favorability rating slipped from 48% to 46% over the last month.
The Coast Guard spotted another whale floating south of the Ambrose shipping channel, continuing a worrisome trend that has emerged on the East Coast of the United States. Since early December, 23 dead whales have washed ashore, with 12 of those found in New Jersey and New York alone. While the numbers are lower than some prior years, federal scientists are concerned about the pace of the deaths. Most of the fatalities have been humpback whales, and post-mortem examinations suggest that ship strikes may be the cause of many of the deaths. One of the key reasons behind this trend is the rebounding population of humpbacks, which were hunted legally until 1985. Efforts to clean up the Atlantic Ocean and polluted rivers like the Hudson have played a role in the population’s recovery. Online pandemic buying habits have also fueled a record-setting surge in cargo shipments, which have altered the routes of some of the world’s largest ships. Consequently, more whales may find themselves in the direct path of these ships. As Paul Sieswerda, executive director of Gotham Whale, a New York City-based whale research group, noted, “When the whales are in these channels, you have to cross your fingers and hope there are no collisions.”
A recently provided classified intelligence report from the U.S. Energy Department to the White House and Congress suggests that the Covid pandemic most likely originated from a laboratory leak, marking a shift for the department which was previously undecided on the issue. The update to a 2021 document from the Director of National Intelligence’s office highlights that different parts of the intelligence community have different judgments about the origin of the pandemic, with the Energy Department now joining the FBI in suggesting that the virus may have spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory. However, four other agencies and a national intelligence panel still believe that it was likely the result of natural transmission, while two remain undecided. The Energy Department’s conclusion is significant due to its considerable scientific expertise and oversight of a network of U.S. national laboratories that conduct advanced biological research. The judgment was made with “low confidence,” according to individuals who have read the classified report, whereas the FBI previously concluded that a lab leak was likely with “moderate confidence” in 2021, and still holds to this view.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that puts Disney’s self-governed Reedy Creek Improvement District under state control, renaming it the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District” and giving DeSantis the power to appoint a five-person oversight board. Previously, Disney had the authority to appoint members to the board, but the new bill requires the company to comply with state regulations. DeSantis had initially called for the district to be dissolved entirely, but the finalized bill keeps it intact. The signing follows a months-long feud between DeSantis and Disney, after the company and its former CEO Bob Chapek lobbied against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with students below fourth grade. DeSantis, who has built a national following by crusading against “woke” ideology in business, culture, and education, is considered a frontrunner for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024.
The Federal Reserve’s plans for slowing down the overheated economy may hit a bump as inflation rates continue to rise unexpectedly. The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, surged 5.4% in January compared to the previous year, according to data from the Commerce Department released on Friday. The figure was higher than the 5.3% rate recorded in December, after six months of consistent cooling. Even after excluding food and fuel prices, which are volatile, the PCE price index increased by 4.7% over the previous year through January, higher than Bloomberg’s survey of economists had predicted. These readings are well above the Fed’s goal of 2% annual inflation. In addition, revisions show that the previously reported slowdown in December, which had given economists hope, was less pronounced than initially thought. While price increases had consistently slowed down on a month-to-month basis, they are now showing signs of speeding up again. The recent data highlights concerns about inflation that could affect the Fed’s interest rate decisions. Investors are recalibrating their expectations, with financial markets under pressure, as interest rates may rise due to high inflation rates. Furthermore, the report shows that the broader economy is not cooling as much as expected, as Americans continue to spend freely on goods and services, and wages continue to rise.
Subway is reportedly pushing its franchise owners to increase sales and profits as the struggling sandwich chain tries to attract a buyer. The company is seeking a private equity firm to purchase it, and it has shown potential buyers revenue and earnings figures that suggest Subway could be worth over $8 billion. According to sources close to the process, Subway claims it had between $650 million and $750 million in Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) in 2021. This means that bids are expected to range between $7 billion and $8.4 billion. To achieve these figures, Subway is pressuring franchise owners to pay for costly store upgrades while simultaneously waiving fees for new owners. The company is also cracking down on those who want to close unprofitable locations.
The family of Elan Ganeles, an American-Israeli citizen killed in a terrorist attack near the Dead Sea, has decided to bury him in Israel instead of their hometown of West Hartford, Connecticut. Ganeles, 26, was visiting Israel to attend a friend’s wedding and had previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a computer programmer before returning to the United States to obtain his university degree. During the current wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, Ganeles was shot and killed on Monday while driving near Jericho. At the time of the attack, he was on his way to another wedding.
Two Israeli brothers were killed in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara, according to the military and medics. The Israel Defense Forces stated that a Palestinian gunman fired from close range at an Israeli-owned car on the Route 60 highway, then fled the scene, seemingly on foot. The two victims were identified as Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, residents of the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha. Footage from the attack in Huwara showed the victims’ car riddled with bullets. Troops at the scene found 12 nine-millimeter shell casings, suggesting that the attacker used a handgun or makeshift submachine gun. An initial investigation of the shooting indicated that the attacker took advantage of a traffic jam on the highway to carry out the assault.
Dozens of Israeli settlers engaged in a violent rampage for several hours in the West Bank town of Huwara, setting fire to Palestinian homes and cars. The attack occurred a few hours after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in a terror attack in the same town. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that one Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli fire during the riots in the town of Za’tara, while two others were shot and wounded, another was stabbed, and a fourth was beaten with an iron bar. About 95 other people were treated for tear gas inhalation by the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service. The Israeli military said that their troops were not involved in the shooting of the Palestinian man. There was no immediate comment from Border Police officials on the incident, and it remained unclear if he was shot by settlers.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen visited Kyiv, one week after President Biden’s visit, to emphasize the United States’ commitment to provide Ukraine with the necessary funds to operate its government as the war enters a second year against Russian invasion. During her trip, Yellen announced the transfer of $1.25 billion in economic and budget aid to Ukraine, as part of a diplomatic effort by the Biden administration to support Ukraine while putting pressure on Russia.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is expected to visit two former Soviet republics to encourage them to distance themselves from Russia and China. The US is closely monitoring the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, with concerns that China may provide Russia with lethal military assistance. Additionally, China is set to host a state visit from the president of Belarus, a key ally of Russia.
Canada has announced a ban on TikTok from government-issued phones as of Tuesday, citing privacy and security concerns. Following in the footsteps of the United States and Europe, the Canadian government carried out a review of the video-sharing app and determined that it poses an unacceptable level of risk. The Treasury Board of Canada stated that TikTok will be removed from all government-issued mobile devices, and users will be blocked from downloading the app in the future. Treasury Board President Mona Fortier affirmed the Canadian government’s commitment to keeping government information secure and stated that the decision is being taken as a precaution, given concerns about the legal regime governing the information collected from mobile devices. She further noted that the decision is in line with the approach of international partners, although there is currently no evidence that government information has been compromised. TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company, has faced scrutiny from numerous countries over concerns regarding data privacy and national security.