NEW YORK NEWS
New York Community Bank (NYCB) has acquired a substantial portion of the recently failed Signature Bank in a deal worth $2.7 billion, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The transaction includes NYCB acquiring $38.4 billion of the New York-based Signature Bank’s assets, which is around one-third of the bank’s $110 billion total assets prior to its failure. Starting on Monday, 40 of Signature Bank’s branches will be renamed to Flagstar Bank, which is a subsidiary of New York Community Bank. The FDIC added that around $60 billion in loans from Signature Bank will remain in receivership and will be sold at a later time. The acquisition of Signature Bank comes just days after Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) also collapsed, making it the second-largest collapse in U.S. history, while Signature Bank’s failure is now ranked as the third-largest in U.S. history.
New York City is launching a new campaign called We ♥ NYC, featuring a mark inspired by the iconic I ♥ NY campaign from the 1970s. The Partnership for New York City, a group of corporations and business executives, is leading the campaign with a goal of rejuvenating spirits in the city and reminding New Yorkers that they can make a difference in their community. The campaign has received support from more than 15 nonprofit groups and churches, which will help engage people across the city. The We ♥ NYC campaign aims to cut through the divisiveness and negativity that has accompanied the pandemic. The campaign has lined up Broadway stars to promote it, and it has received support from New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams. The I ♥ NY logo, created by designer Milton Glaser in the 1970s, inspired the new mark, which features a font adapted from the one on subway signs.
The investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money continues in New York City, where a grand jury has been meeting. The Manhattan DA’s office is closing in on a decision of whether or not to indict the former president, and Trump’s legal team has been working to discredit the testimony of Michael Cohen, who admitted to paying $130,000 to a woman just before the 2016 election to stop her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump. Trump has denied the affair and called the investigation politically motivated.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s team has responded to House Republicans’ investigation into the potential indictment of former President Donald Trump with a defiant message. The spokesperson for DA Alvin Bragg stated that they would not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process and that they would continue to follow the law without fear or favor to uncover the truth. The House Republicans had demanded records and testimony from the prosecutor investigating Trump. The letter announcing the investigation was signed by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, and House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil. The investigation has been condemned by Rep. Dan Goldman, who led the first of two impeachment cases against Trump, who stated that Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus.
President Joe Biden issued his first veto on a resolution to overturn a retirement investment rule that allows managers of retirement funds to consider the impact of climate change and other environmental, social, and governance factors when picking investments. The resolution, which would rescind a Department of Labor rule, passed both chambers of Congress, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana voting with Republicans in the Senate. Biden said that the legislation passed by Congress would put the retirement savings of individuals across the country at risk. Republican lawmakers led the push to pass the resolution through Congress, arguing that the rule is “woke” policy that pushes a liberal agenda on Americans and will hurt retirees’ bottom lines, while Democrats say it’s not about ideology and will help investors. The veto makes good on Biden’s frequent promise to veto legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House he disagrees with. Opponents of the rule could try to override Biden’s veto, but at this point, it appears unlikely they could get the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to do so.
President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill directing the federal government to declassify intelligence related to the origins of Covid-19. The legislation directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify intelligence related to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, citing “potential links” between the research done there and the outbreak of Covid-19. The law allows for redactions to protect sensitive sources and methods. U.S. intelligence agencies are divided over whether a lab leak or a spillover from animals is the likely source of the virus. Biden said in a statement that his administration will continue to review all classified information relating to Covid-19’s origins and will declassify and share as much of that information as possible while protecting national security.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has introduced new rules to combat spammy text messages and protect consumers. The regulations require phone companies to block messages from suspicious sources, including invalid or unused phone numbers, numbers that claim not to send text messages, and numbers identified by the government as not used for texting. The FCC has received over 18,000 consumer complaints related to spam and scam text messages in the past year alone. The commission is also considering additional measures, such as applying the Do Not Call registry protections to text messages and making it more difficult for marketers to use a single consumer consent to inundate them with calls and texts from multiple sources and numbers. Scam robotexts are particularly dangerous, as they may contain malicious links that can infect devices with harmful software. The new rules were unanimously approved by the FCC in a 4-0 decision.
President Joe Biden expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the government’s planned overhaul of the country’s judiciary system. The move has sparked widespread protests across Israel and caused criticism that the country is sliding toward authoritarianism. Biden reiterated the US’s concerns about the proposed judicial reforms, saying that “democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.” The President encouraged a compromise that would be consistent with core democratic principles and have broad popular support. Critics of the overhaul claim it would upend Israel’s delicate system of checks and balances. In the same conversation, Biden also reinforced the need for all sides to take urgent, collaborative steps to enhance security coordination, condemn all acts of terrorism, and maintain the viability of a two-state solution.
The Justice Department is investigating ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, for its surveillance of American citizens, including several journalists covering the tech industry, according to three anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The investigation began in late 2022 and is linked to the company’s admission in December that its employees had inappropriately obtained the data of American TikTok users, including that of two reporters and some of their associates. The Justice Department’s criminal division, the FBI, and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia are investigating ByteDance, which is based in Beijing and has close ties to China’s government. The investigation comes as the White House takes a harder stance on TikTok and its potential national security concerns, including fears that China might be using the popular video service to gather data about or spy on Americans, undermine democratic institutions, and foster internet addiction among young people. TikTok disclosed this week that the Biden administration had asked its owner to sell the app or face a possible nationwide ban.
The Republican-led Florida House of Representatives passed legislation on Friday making state-funded vouchers for students universal, in a win for school choice supporters. The bill, HB1, aims to expand parents’ access to education savings accounts by removing income caps for eligibility. If the bill becomes law, all qualifying students will have the ability to use a voucher next school year of about $8,000 for tuition at eligible private schools or for other education-related costs such as homeschooling, tutoring, materials and fees for standardized tests. Currently, the vouchers are limited to two-child families with an annual income of $110,000 or less. The Senate version of the bill advanced out of the Appropriations Committee this week and will soon head to the floor for a vote.
The Oregon legislature has passed a bill that adds Jewish history and contributions to the list of marginalized peoples that public schools must teach, in a unanimous vote. The law previously required curricula to address Native American, African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Chicano and Latino people, as well as those of Middle Eastern descent, women, those with disabilities, immigrants, refugees and LGBTQ people. State Rep. David Gomberg, who is Jewish, pushed to amend the bill to include Jewish people in response to reported rises in antisemitism. The 2019 bill required teaching about genocides and the Holocaust, but supporters of the amendment sought to include instruction about Jewish achievements broadly.
T-Mobile announced that it would acquire Ka’ena Corporation, including its subsidiaries Mint Mobile, Ultra Mobile, and Plum, for up to $1.35 billion. Mint Mobile is a prepaid wireless brand that gained popularity for offering cheaper alternatives to expensive mobile plans. The company was partly owned by actor Ryan Reynolds. T-Mobile stated that Mint Mobile’s pricing would remain unchanged after the acquisition. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless plans for as little as $15 a month and an unlimited plan for $30 a month. The acquisition is expected to be finalized later this year.
Jerusalem has been named one of TIME magazine’s 50 most extraordinary travel destinations, according to the publication’s third annual list of the World’s Greatest Places. TIME asked for nominations from its international network of correspondents and contributors. The Tower of David Museum’s 360-degree view of Jerusalem was featured as one of the city’s must-see attractions. Other sites mentioned included the Biblical Zoo, Jaffa Gate, Kerem Tunnel ,and the Mahane Yehudah market. Jerusalem was listed alongside other destinations, including Kyoto in Japan, Musanze in Rwanda, Giza and Saqqara in Egypt, Ladakh in India, and Aqaba in Jordan.
Israel is ranked as the fourth happiest country in the world in the 2023 World Happiness Report. The ranking is based on subjective well-being, measured by how people report the quality of their lives. The Cantril ladder is one tool used by the report, which is a 0-10 scale where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 represents the best possible life. The report also considers “positive affect” and “negative affect,” which refer to positive and negative emotions, respectively. Finland, which has held the top spot for six consecutive years, ranked first in the 2023 report, followed by Denmark and Iceland.
An Israeli man was seriously injured in a terror attack while driving through the northern West Bank town of Huwara on Sunday. The man, David Stern, a weapons instructor and a former US Marine, sustained gunshot wounds to his head and shoulder. His wife, who was in the car with him, suffered from traumatic shock. Stern’s condition was later upgraded to moderate-to-serious, and he was taken to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah. The IDF said the Palestinian terrorist was shot by both Stern and soldiers immediately after the attack before he fled the scene on foot. Troops located and detained the gunman after a brief chase. The makeshift “Carlo” submachine gun used in the attack was also seized.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for their alleged involvement in a scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia. The court alleges that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the crimes, which he committed directly alongside others and for failing to exercise proper control over his subordinates who carried out the acts. This is the first time formal charges have been lodged against officials in Moscow since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine last year. The Kremlin has denounced the ICC’s actions as outrageous and unacceptable and refused to recognize the court’s jurisdiction. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the ICC for its decision, calling it “historic” and stating that Ukraine’s own investigations suggest that the Kremlin was directly involved in the forced deportations of children. The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, stated that the message from the arrest warrants is that basic principles of humanity bind everybody and that nobody should feel they can commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide with impunity. As Russia is not a member of the ICC, any Russian officials charged would need to be handed over by Moscow or arrested outside of Russia.
The leaders of China and Russia, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, met in Moscow and presented a proposal for ending the war in Ukraine that has been criticized by the United States as being one-sided and aimed at providing diplomatic cover for Russia’s invasion. China’s plan calls for a ceasefire and talks but does not require Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. The proposal was created without the involvement of Kyiv. Despite Putin’s endorsement of the plan, it has not been taken seriously as a framework for peace. The meeting between the two leaders has raised concerns about the potential for a strengthened anti-Western alliance.