Bomb threat greeted with skepticism by New Yorkers

admin   •   October 25, 2018   •   2622

 

Bomb Squad at Time Warner Building | REUTERS

In speaking to Reuters, New Yorkers took in stride the events in their city Wednesday (October 24) after police intercepted suspected bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other high-profile Democrats, in what New York officials described as an act of terrorism.

With the country deeply polarized, the packages brought a new level of tension to Nov. 6 political contests that will decide whether Democrats can challenge the majorities now held by Trump’s Republicans in Congress.

The CNN bureau in New York also received a device looking like a pipe bomb, leading police to evacuate the building, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said his office also received a suspicious package. CNN reported that Eric Holder, who was U.S. attorney general under Obama, was also among those targeted.

“We’re used to it a bit. Since 9/11, it’s sort of a routine thing. This happens every few months now. I just want to get my lunch, go on with my day,” Dildeepal Galesa, an employee of Universal Music, told Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned what he called “despicable acts” and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

“In these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America,” Trump said at the White House.

“We’re extremely angry, upset and unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said.

A similar pipe bomb was delivered earlier this week to the home of George Soros, a major Democratic Party donor.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

All of the targets are frequently disparaged by right-wing critics and Trump, whose spokeswoman condemned the acts.

“Our condemnation of these despicable acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter.

Alexander Soros, the son of George Soros, said in an opinion piece published by The New York Times that his father had long faced verbal criticism and threats over his involvement in politics, “but something changed in 2016” when Trump was elected.

“Before that, the vitriol he faced was largely confined to the extremist fringes, among white supremacists and nationalists who sought to undermine the very foundations of democracy. But with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, things got worse,” Alexander Soros wrote.

He placed direct responsibility with those who sent the devices, but added: “I cannot see it divorced from the new normal of political demonization that plagues us today.” — Reuters

New York governor proposes ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday (September 9) to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.

“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.

The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.

The decision is of a piece with how vaping is currently being viewed by many on the street in New York.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re smoking,” Brian, a construction worker, told Reuters. “You don’t know what they’re putting in that oil.”

U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,

Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.

Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.

“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.” (Reuters)

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)

Fake heiress who dazzled New York elite sentenced to up to 12 years in prison

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2019

Anna Sorokin, 28, posed as a wealthy heiress to scam banks for loans in millions | Courtesy: Reuters

A German woman who posed as a wealthy heiress to scam boutique, New York hotels and fashionable friends was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.

Blinded by the glitter and glamour of New York City, Anna Sorokin, 28, was sentenced to prison for defrauding hotels, restaurants, a private jet operator and banks out of more than $200,000.

Sorokin, a would-be art collector, planned to open a members-only arts club but became known as the “soho grifter” after her deception upon New York’s glitzy social scene came to light. She was found guilty last month of grand larceny and theft of services.

She was also fined $24,000 and ordered to pay restitution of about $199,000.

At the hearing, Judge Diane Kiesel rejected the Defence Lawyers’ claim that Sorokin was merely trying to make it in New York, in the words of the Frank Sinatra song about the city.

“Sadly I agree with the people, if Miss Sorokin spent half as much time, half this much time, working legitimately to raise money for a foundation that sounded like a good addition to New York as she spent concocting phony bank statements, fake wire transfers, and non-existent financial advisers, she might have done quite well for herself. She’s clearly smart and very creative,” Judge Kiesel said.

Under her assumed name Anna Delvey, Sorokin falsely claimed she had a multi-million-dollar trust fund at her disposal, as she hired a private jet, attended elite parties, and lived in a luxury New York hotel. She maintained the scam for almost four years.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said, Sorokin had “not a cent to her name”.

Her father is reportedly a former trucker, who runs a heating-and-cooling business.

U.S. immigration and customs enforcement said in a statement that Sorokin was a German citizen who had illegally overstayed in the United States.

The agency said it will seek to send her back to Germany once her criminal proceedings are over.

Meanwhile, during the trial, she was admonished for throwing tantrums when she couldn’t get her stylist-curated outfits and drew unflattering sketches of the lead prosecutor during testimony.

“The defendant repeatedly delayed these court proceedings because she was not happy with the clothing that was offered to her by the department of corrections.

“She seemed to be basking in the press attention and rather than thinking seriously about the crimes she committed and how it affected people,” saidNew York Prosecutor Catherine Mccaw.

But at sentencing she was humbled.

“I apologize for the mistakes I made,” Sorokin said.

Sorokin’s story became a media sensation, and a tv series about her life was also planned.

Fatal, drug-resistant fungus targets hospital-bound New Yorkers

Robie de Guzman   •   April 10, 2019

Photo of a drug-resistant, fatal superbug fungus strain that Doctors at the Nassau University Medical Center said has infected hundreds of hospital-bound people in New York and New Jersey. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Doctors at the Nassau University Medical Center warned New Yorkers to take caution against a drug-resistant, sometimes fatal superbug fungus that has infected hundreds of people in the tri-state area and nationwide.

The recent outbreak of the fungus candida auris, which was discovered in 2009, has disproportionately affected New York and New Jersey, with 309 of the nation’s 617 cases in New York state alone.

Typically spread within healthcare facilities, the fungus kills 20 to 50 percent of patients.

“Anybody who has concerns about fevers, chills, sweats, wound infections, anything like that, should seek care as soon as possible. They should certainly let their healthcare provider know about their symptoms. They should let their healthcare provider know about prior use of antibiotics. They should let their healthcare provider know about travel,” Dr. Janice Verley, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Nassau University Medical Center said.

People in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly those with already suppressed immune systems, are at the greatest risk of becoming infected.

Infection can spread to the blood, heart or brain in severe cases.

The fungus is difficult to identify, as doctors frequently mistake it for other candida strains, and even harder to treat because it is resistant to common antifungal medications.

“This particular species is resistant to the Azole class, which is the class that we would use first-line. So it is possible, if you don’t know what it is, you may be treating it with an ineffective drug,” Verley explained.

According to the Center for Disease Control, several U.S. cases of the superbug may be linked to hospital stays in India, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

“The infections occur on two levels, one its introduction of the infections from other areas, and clearly the New York-New Jersey area has a high amount of immigrant populations coming from all over the world. And then, once it’s introduced then they’re spread within that community, within that organization,” Verley said.

“You know we know that we have seen it going from hospitals to long-term care facilities, so people who get admitted, transferred to a nursing home, transferred back to a hospital, these cases, if, you know, would be at an increased risk,” she added. (REUTERS)

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