News Sparks: US Prepared to Face COVID Surge, BBC Tops anti-Semitic List, US Considers Waiving Israelis’ Visas, NY Adds to State’s Artificial Reef

News Sparks: US Prepared to Face COVID Surge, BBC Tops anti-Semitic List, US Considers Waiving Israelis’ Visas, NY Adds to State’s Artificial Reef

By Yehudit Garmaise

US Prepared to Meet COVID Surge, but Still Some Hospitals May be Stretched 

“Omicron is a source of concern, but it should not be a source of panic,” said President Joe Biden today in a virtual meeting with several state governors and top health advisors, who agreed that Americans’ high rate of vaccinations, boosters, and testing make the country well-prepared to face COVID’s latest surge.

Biden, who spoke from the White House, stressed that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant would not have the same terrible impacts the initial outbreak of COVID-19 did in the spring 2020 or the Delta surge did last winter. “We’re mobilizing an additional 1,000 military doctors and nurses and medics to help staff hospitals,” the president said as he prepares for another COVID onslaught. “FEMA is deploying hundreds of ambulances and EMS crews to transport patients.”

“Because there have been so many vaccinations and boosters, we’re not seeing hospitalizations rising as much as they did previously,” said Biden, who added, however, “With the rising number of cases, we still have tens of millions of unvaccinated people, and we’re seeing hospitalizations rise, and hospitals in some places are going to be overrun both in terms of equipment and staff.”

Jewish Man Assaulted in Williamsburg Last Night

The NYPD and Williamsburg Shomrim are searching for a perpetrator who assaulted an Orthodox Jewish man, stole his phone, and then pushed him down all the stairs of the subway station last night at Myrtle Avenue and Cedar Street.

Hatzolah transported the Jewish man to Bellevue Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. 

The NYPD is investigating whether the assault was a hate crime.

Simon Wiesenthal Center says Iran, Hamas, and BBC Top List of “2021’s Most anti-Semitic”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which assembled a “Global Anti-Semitism Top 10” list for 2021, ranked Iran first for its nuclear threats, Hamas, second for its terrorist acts, and the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) third for its terribly biased reporting, the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

A recent example of the BBC’s anti-Semitic reporting was last month, when the British news outlet blamed a group of Jewish teens who were joyously celebrating Chanukah while riding a bus on Oxford Street in London, where they were singing and dancing, when they were assaulted by men who chanted anti-Israel slogans.

“People might assume we would put neo-Nazi groups on our list, but the BBC is there because when a globally recognized organization allows anti-Semitism to creep into its reporting, it makes it all the more insidious and dangerous,” Wiesenthal Center founder and president Rabbi Marvin Hier said. “People around the world trust the BBC and rely on it for truthful reporting of world events.”

Israel Quantifies the Food the Country Wasted in 2021 to Equal $6 Billion

Sadly, some 2.5 million tons of wasted food in 2020 cost the Israel the equivalent of $6 billion, and the average household the equivalent of $1,140, said Leket Israel’s 6th annual Food Waste and Rescue Report, which published in partnership with the Environmental Protection Ministry today.

The wasted food accounted for 35% of the food that was produced in Israel in 2021. Half of it was edible and could have been resold, Leket Israel said. 

Additionally, when the wasted uses of land resources, water, waste collection, and processing was taken into account, as well as air pollution and the unnecessary emission of an estimated 5 million tons of greenhouse gases, the total cost to the environment was an additional $1 billion, the study found.

US Considers Adding Israel to its Visa Waiver Program

Some excitement was buzzing in Jerusalem that the US was considering adding Israel to its US Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Israel to become the 40th country that can send its citizens to travel to the US for tourism, business, or business for up to 90 days without first having to obtain visas, however US Ambassador Tom Nides is not so sure that the visa waiver for Israelis who wish to visit the US is imminent.

“Seeing some news in Israel on the Visa Waiver Program,” Nides tweeted. “We still have lots of work to do.”

After the Israeli Interior Ministry told US counterparts last week that Israel will ease restrictions on the entry of American citizens of Palestinian descent at Ben Gurion Airport: a move that could address a key barrier that has prevented Israel from joining the US’s visa waiver program, a senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel on Sunday.

NY Adds Barge and Tugboat Named "Chickadee" to the State’s Artificial Reef at the Bottom of the Sea 

In the 2010s, 2,500 out-of-use New York City subway cars found renewed purpose deep down in the Atlantic Ocean to provide urban “artificial reefs” for a variety of sea flora and fauna that require hard surfaces on which to cling and to thrive, and this week, the 80-foot Barge 226 and a 45-foot tugboat named “Chickadee” were also sunk into the waters near Long Island to provide intricate structures on which algae and invertebrates such as barnacles, corals, and oysters can attach, shelter, and even offer themselves as food for the schools of fish that swim by.

After the two vessels were cleaned and prepared to be sunk into the water, Barge 226, was released to enhance the Smithtown Reef, and the “Chickadee, which was built by the Navy in 1948 and was used as tugboat for coal and oil barges, joined the McAllister Grounds Reef. New York State's artificial reef system, which includes 12 artificial reefs nearby: two in the Long Island Sound, two in Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean, south of Long Island.

"Steel surplus materials are stable and durable reef-building material that provide shelter and forage opportunities for fin fish and crustaceans that inhabit these underwater structures, such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass, scup, and lobsters,” The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation explains. “Sunken vessels also attract Scuba divers who explore and photograph the assemblages of iridescent fish that swim through the sculptural underwater structures."

(Photo by: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Dole, Fresh Express salad products recalled over possible listeria contamination
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