GUILTY PLEA AND SENTENCING FOR COMPANY THAT AIDED FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS: Lafarge S.A. (Lafarge), a global building materials manufacturer headquartered in France, and Lafarge Cement Syria, S.A. (LCS), a Lafarge subsidiary headquartered in Syria, pleaded guilty today in Brooklyn federal court to a one-count criminal information charging them with conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the al-Nusrah Front (ANF), both U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Immediately following the defendants’ guilty pleas this morning, United States District Judge William F. Kuntz, II sentenced the defendants to terms of probation and to pay financial penalties, including criminal fines of $90.78 million and forfeiture of $687 million, totaling $777.78 million.
For many years, LaFarge had a location on 25th Street on Sunset Park’s waterfront. The site was since acquired by another company.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE SYSTEM UPGRADES ACCESS SECURITY: A new multi-factor authentication (MFA) initiative is now in use throughout the unemployment insurance (UI) system to provide top tier cyber protection for New Yorkers, the New York State Department of Labor announced today, in concert with October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month. MFA is an increasingly-used security technology that requires multiple methods of authentication, such as a code sent via text message or as a push notification on a mobile app, to verify a user’s identity for login purposes.
This new security measure, which provides added protection against criminals seeking to defraud the UI system, will keep users’ information secure; but the new policy could become an additional obstacle for those who do not have mobile devices or text message services.
DIGITAL GIRL’S NEW TECHNOLOGY HUB UNVEILED: Digital Girl, Inc., a Brooklyn non-profit with a mission to empower inner city youth — especially young girls — to pursue careers in STEM, has unveiled its new technology hub in Crown Heights. The project was completed with the support of a $250,000 donation from the Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty, both of which have a long-standing relationship with Digital Girl, and Webull, the official jersey partner for both basketball teams.
The new space will help Digital Girl serve the community through providing free access to technology and computer development classes to the public, including new desktop Macs, PC computers, and a 3D printer for the computer center.
NEW REPORT: ONLINE PLATFORMS HAD MOTIFYING ROLE IN BUFFALO MASS SHOOTING: Online platforms played a key role in the tragic and racially-motivated Buffalo mass shooting that took the lives of 10 Black individuals earlier this year, according to a newly-released report from New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul. During the course of the investigation, OAG obtained and reviewed external and internal content and policies of several of the online platforms used by the shooter, fringe online platforms, like 4chan, radicalized the shooter; livestreaming platforms, like Twitch, were weaponized to publicize and encourage copycat violent attacks; and a lack of oversight, transparency, and accountability of these platforms allowed hateful and extremist views to proliferate online, leading to radicalization and violence.
The investigation has prompted Attorney General James and Governor Hochul to urge that federal and state reforms be made to combat online extremism and violence, including state legislation that would criminalize graphic images or videos created by a perpetrator of a homicide, penalize individuals who reshare or repost those same materials, and to hold the online sites accountable.
AFTER LATEST BURGLARY, MALLIOTAKIS DEMANDS CHANGES TO BAIL LAW: After the burglary this morning of Lulianos Pizzeria in Bay Ridge — the latest in a series of thefts against merchants — U.S. Rep Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn) demanded that Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature fix the bail law. “This morning, a small business located one block from my office was targeted by a perp whom police tell us is a parolee with a criminal history,” said Malliotakis, who has introduced legislation (H.R. 8647, the Protecting All Communities Equally Act) that would hold states with lax bail laws accountable and require that bail laws provide judges with the discretion to set bail if the accused is considered a danger to society.
Three weeks ago, Malliotakis held a press conference calling on Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to fix the bail law and stop releasing repeat offenders and parolees back on the streets.
CHILD CARE ACCESS WILL EXPAND AMONG SUNY, CUNY SYSTEMS: A $15.6 million state investment will expand child care access for students with dependents at the State University of New York and the City University of New York, Governor Kathy Hochul announced yesterday. The funding includes $10.8 million to address child care scarcities across SUNY campuses and $4.8 million to provide additional child care services on CUNY campuses. This is the second phase of a broader initiative to ensure that students, faculty and staff on all SUNY and CUNY campuses have access to high-quality child care centers.
At some State University of New York campuses, about 80 percent of students with dependents reported that they had trouble meeting their child care needs.
NEW LAWS REINFORCE PROTECTIONS FOR DOMESTIC/GENDER ABUSE SURVIVORS: A comprehensive package of legislation will strengthen protections for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence by ensuring guns are seized from abusive partners and protecting the confidentiality of survivors. Among the bills: Legislation (S.7157-A/A.6207-B) requires utilities allow survivors of domestic violence to opt-out of shared contracts without penalty; and Legislation (S.7263-A/A.2519-A) requires health insurance companies give survivors of domestic violence the option to provide alternative contact information to access claims and benefits information.
Governor Hochul signed five bills into law alongside survivors, advocates and legislative champions at Union Settlement, a nonprofit providing resources to survivors in East Harlem.
FRANCIS COLLEGE HOLDS INTERFAITH BREAKFAST: St. Francis College recently held its inaugural Interfaith Breakfast at its new Livingston St. campus Downtown Brooklyn. The keynote speaker was Dr. Farid Hafez, Teaching Fellow in Human Rights at St. Francis College and Class of 1955 Visiting Professor of International Studies at Williams College, whose expertise and research interests include Islamic political thought, migration and racism, human rights, theories of democracy, human rights and democracy, Muslim minorities in the West, Islam in the media, and religion, politics and society.
The event highlighted SFC’s Franciscan values in action, celebrated the rich diversity of faiths represented at the College and strengthened its ties with surrounding faith communities. It was held on the closing day of St. Clare & St. Francis Week, which recognizes the life and legacy of the two people who inspired a worldwide movement for good that has endured for more than eight centuries.
‘THE RISE AND FALL OF PROTESTANT BROOKLYN’: The Center for Brooklyn History presents “Talks in the Othmer | The Rise and Fall of Protestant Brooklyn,” this Thursday, October 20, with historians Stuart M. Blumin and Glenn C. Altschuler. Their new book of the same title chronicles 19th century Brooklyn’s domination by upper-class and middle-class Protestants with roots in Puritan New England, and it describes the unraveling of the control they wielded as more ethnically diverse groups moved into the “City of Churches,” during the 20th century.
Center for Brooklyn History’s Fall series, Talks in the Othmer, is presented in partnership with New York University’s Brooklyn-based 370 Jay Project. Programs take place in CBH’s beautiful Othmer Reading Room at 128 Pierrepont St. Register via: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/talks-othmer-rise-and-center-for-brooklyn-20221020