Saturday, October 9, 2021

Former Taliban Commander Charged With Killing American Troops In 2008


Haji Najibullah, Previously Charged in 2008 Kidnapping of American Journalist, Indicted for 2008 Attacks on U.S. Servicemembers in Afghanistan, Including Murders of Three American Soldiers and Afghan Interpreter and Downing of U.S. Helicopter

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mark J. Lesko, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced the filing of a 13-count superseding indictment charging HAJI NAJIBULLAH, a/k/a “Najibullah Naim,” a/k/a “Abu Tayeb,” a/k/a “Atiqullah,” a/k/a “Nesar Ahmad Mohammad,” with federal terrorism-related offenses spanning approximately 2007 to 2009 and stemming from NAJIBULLAH’s role as a Taliban commander in Afghanistan.  NAJIBULLAH had previously been charged with crimes related to the 2008 kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals.  In addition to those charges, the superseding indictment charges NAJIBULLAH with attacks on U.S. troops conducted by NAJIBULLAH and the Taliban fighters under his command, including a June 26, 2008, attack on an American military convoy that killed three U.S. Army servicemembers – Sergeants First Class Matthew L. Hilton and Joseph A. McKay, and Sergeant Mark Palmateer – and their Afghan interpreter, as well as an October 27, 2008, attack that resulted in the shooting down of a U.S. military helicopter.  NAJIBULLAH is already in federal custody on the initial indictment.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine P. Failla.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, during one of the most dangerous periods of the conflict in Afghanistan, Haji Najibullah led a vicious band of Taliban insurgents who terrorized part of Afghanistan and attacked U.S. troops.  One of these lethal attacks resulted in the deaths of three brave American servicemembers and their Afghan interpreter, and another attack brought down a U.S. helicopter.  Najibullah also arranged to kidnap at gunpoint an American journalist and two other men, and held them hostage for more than seven months.  Neither time nor distance can weaken our resolve to hold terrorists accountable for their crimes and to see justice done for their victims.  Thanks to the outstanding work of our law enforcement partners, Najibullah will answer for his heinous acts in an American courtroom.”          

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko said: “Najibullah, who allegedly served as a Taliban commander in 2007 and 2008, is charged with numerous terrorism offenses relating to attacks against the U.S. military in Afghanistan, including an attack that killed three U.S. servicemembers, and others relating to taking an American journalist hostage in Afghanistan. He will now be held accountable in an American courtroom. The National Security Division and our partners are committed to identifying and holding accountable those who target and harm Americans anywhere in the world. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “We meant what we said when we told the public we wouldn’t stop aggressively pursuing charges against those who harm our citizens, servicemembers, and allies, whether at home or abroad. Najibullah’s alleged actions will not be forgiven or forgotten, and the FBI, along with our partners, will continue to pursue justice for all victims in this case.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “Time and again, the FBI agents and our NYPD detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force have demonstrated that they will go to any corner of the globe to ensure terrorists are captured and brought to justice. Haji Najibullah was charged with kidnapping three men including a journalist from New York City. Even after those crimes were charged, the JTTF investigators continued to gather more evidence. These newest charges for the terrorist murders of U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan will hopefully bring some small measure of closure to the families of those soldiers who gave their lives for our country.”

According to the superseding indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

As of in or about 2007, NAJIBULLAH was the Taliban commander responsible for the Jaghato district in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province, which borders Kabul.  In this role, NAJIBULLAH commanded more than a thousand fighters, at times acted as a spokesperson for the Taliban, and reported to senior leadership in the Taliban.  During that time, NAJIBULLAH and the Taliban fighters under his command conducted attacks intended to kill and which did kill American and NATO troops and their Afghan allies, using automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”), rocket-propelled grenades (“RPGs”), and other anti-tank weapons, including an attack that destroyed an Afghan Border Patrol outpost in or about September 2008.

On or about June 26, 2008, Taliban fighters under NAJIBULLAH’s command attacked a U.S. military convoy in the vicinity of Sayed Abad, Wardak Province, Afghanistan, with IEDs, RPGs, and automatic weapons, killing three U.S. Army servicemembers – Sergeants First Class Matthew L. Hilton and Joseph A. McKay, and Sergeant Mark Palmateer – and their Afghan interpreter.

On or about October 27, 2008, Taliban fighters under NAJIBULLAH’s command shot down a U.S. military helicopter using RPGs in the vicinity of Sayed Abad, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.  The Taliban subsequently claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, asserting that it was “shot down [by] the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate.”  The Taliban also falsely claimed that “[a]ll those onboard were killed,” when, in fact, no troops died as a result of the attack.

On or about November 10, 2008, NAJIBULLAH and his co-conspirators, armed with machineguns, kidnapped an American journalist (“Victim-1”) and two Afghan nationals who were assisting Victim-1 (“Victim-2” and “Victim-3”) at gunpoint in Afghanistan.  Approximately five days later, on or about November 15, 2008, NAJIBULLAH and his co-conspirators forced the three hostages to hike across the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan, where NAJIBULLAH and his co-conspirators detained the hostages.  For the next seven months, NAJIBULLAH and his co-conspirators held the hostages captive in Pakistan.

During their captivity, the victims of NAJIBULLAH and his co-conspirators were forced to make numerous calls and videos seeking help.  For example, on or about November 19, 2008, while in Pakistan, NAJIBULLAH and a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) directed Victim-1 to call his wife in New York.  In one of the videos, Victim-1 – the American journalist – was forced to beg for his life while a guard pointed a machinegun at Victim-1’s face.      

NAJIBULLAH, 45, of Afghanistan, is charged with (1) conspiring to provide material support for acts of terrorism resulting in death, (2) providing material support for acts of terrorism resulting in death, (3) conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, (4) murdering U.S. nationals Hilton, McKay, and Palmateer, (5) murdering officers and employees of the United States, and a person assisting them in their duties, by killing Hilton, McKay, Palmateer, and their interpreter, (6) attempting to murder officers and employees of the United States, (7) conspiring to destroy U.S. military aircraft, (8) destroying a U.S. military aircraft, (9) conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, (10) conspiring to take hostages, (11) hostage-taking, (12) conspiring to commit kidnapping, and (13) kidnapping.  Counts One through Five and Nine through Thirteen each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.  Counts Six through Eight each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Count Five also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Ms. Strauss and Mr. Lesko praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD.  They also thanked the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police and the Department of Defense for their assistance with this investigation, as well as the Ukrainian authorities and the Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division for their assistance in the arrest and extradition of the defendant.

The charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.   

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the superseding indictment and the description of the indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.



Defendant Charged in 76-Count Indictment that Includes Hate Crime Charges

 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted on multiple charges, including Criminal Trespass as a Hate Crime, for defacing multiple synagogues in Riverdale earlier this year. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly went to multiple synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and vandalized property. Those shameful incidents brought fear and terror to worshippers. To our Bronx Jewish community: we support you and we are also horrified about those attacks. We live in a vibrant, diverse community, and we are united against these appalling acts.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Jordan Burnette, 30, of 3333 Hudson Parkway, was arraigned today on a 76-count indictment charging Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Trespass, second-degree Criminal Mischief, Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime, first-degree Aggravated Harassment, third-degree Criminal Mischief, Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, fourth-degree Criminal Mischief, Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime, third-degree Burglary, Burglary in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Petit Larceny, Petit Larceny as a Hate Crime, and fifth-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler. He is due back in court on January 11, 2021.

 According to the investigation, at approximately 5:45 p.m. on April 21, 2021, the defendant allegedly entered the Riverdale Jewish Center without permission and activated the fire alarm. The next day, the defendant allegedly threw rocks at the front glass door of the premises, shattering the window and damaging the door. On April 23, 2021, the defendant went to the Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale and allegedly threw rocks at one of the front windows, shattering the glass. 

 At approximately 10:25 p.m. on April 24, 2021, the defendant allegedly threw rocks at the front glass door and widows of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue, damaging the property.

 At approximately 10:50 p.m. on April 24, 2021, Burnette allegedly threw rocks at the front glass door of the Conservative Adath Synagogue, as well as the office windows and a side window, shattering glass. Approximately five minutes later, the defendant returned to Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale and allegedly threw rocks at two windows, breaking the glass. 

 According to the investigation, on the night of April 24, 2021, the defendant went back to the Riverdale Jewish Center and allegedly threw rocks at the front glass door and side windows of the premises. On May 1, 2021, Burnette returned to the Conservative Adath Synagogue and allegedly took a bicycle from the storage shed. The defendant also allegedly damaged several religious books.

 District Attorney Clark also thanked Detectives Alfred Genao and Eric Pena of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 - OCTOBER 9, 2021

Clinical specimen testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Wadsworth Laboratory

73,603 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours  

32 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday 

 Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.  

"Yesterday, we hit a major milestone. Eighty-five percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting us one step closer to ending this pandemic and getting our lives back to normal," Governor Hochul said. "We must continue to do what we can to keep the number of new infections and hospitalizations down. Wear a mask, wash your hands and get your vaccine. It's that simple."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 216,154
  • Total Positive - 4,804
  • Percent Positive - 2.22%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.47%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 2,120 (-55)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 260
  • Patients in ICU - 462 (-12)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 254 (-9)
  • Total Discharges - 203,163
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 32
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 44,837

The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.

  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 57,047

This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.

  • Total vaccine doses administered - 25,850,896
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 73,603
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 479,952
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 82.6%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 74.6%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 85.1%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 76.2%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 69.9%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 63.0%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 72.1%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 64.5%

Team AOC - Infrastructure, reconciliation, and holding the line: Explained


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress

The media coverage of the infrastructure bill and the ‘reconciliation bill’ before Congress can be a bit confusing and mystifying. (What does reconciliation even mean?!). We’re going to catch you up in this email below.

It’s a longer read, but it’s important to understand this transformative moment we’re in.

It all began in May when President Biden put forth an ambitious set of proposals known as the Build Back Better Agenda, designed to help our country come back stronger from the pandemic. It included approximately $6 trillion worth of investments in pre-k, childcare, climate change, affordable housing and more.

Republicans immediately pushed back on this historic spending — suggesting that we should only focus on ‘traditional infrastructure’ spending — and a small bipartisan group of Senators stripped major priorities from the President’s plan. Working with the White House, they eventually agreed on a framework for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

But Alexandria and her colleagues spoke out on our need to deliver on the priorities that voters elected us to fight for, and stipulated that they would only vote to pass this small-scale infrastructure bill if another bill that meets the needs of working families and addresses the climate crisis was passed at the same time. Congressional leaders agreed and decided to pass these priorities through Congress in a process known as ‘budget reconciliation,’ which only requires a simple majority in the Senate to pass, rather than the 60 votes normally required.

After much additional back and forth between the Senate and the House, they agreed to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. This would be used to expand Medicare to cover vision, dental and hearing; make pre-k universal; provide paid family and medical leave; create a Civilian Climate Corps and fight climate change, and much more.

This reconciliation package is no more, and no less, than President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda. It's the promises that we campaigned on and what the American people voted for — and sent Democrats to the House, Senate, and White House to deliver.

And, by the way, we're going to pay for it by taxing the very wealthy and corporations.

Despite the fact that this reconciliation package has incredibly popular and widely-supported policies, conservative Democrats are still working to strip down and altogether stop the Build Back Better Agenda in favor of only passing the smaller Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that was largely designed to keep corporate lobbyists happy.

The entire House Progressive Caucus is focused on passing Biden’s full agenda — that means keeping our promise to hold the line and refusing to vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill until reconciliation passes first.

We’re essentially saying they get the bill they want, and we get ours — per the original agreement. Fair, right? But if we vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill first — alone — we do not have the assurances necessary to believe that the Build Back Better Agenda will pass afterwards, and lower-income, working-class families, and communities of color will be left behind.

Alexandria is not going to let that happen.

Many of the arguments that are holding things up are concerns about the price tag. But let’s be clear: This is about so much more than $1.5 trillion vs. $3.5 trillion — it’s about the impact that working people will feel in their daily lives.

When we talk about topline numbers, there’s a lot hidden in that discussion. It’s easy for Senators like Joe Manchin to hide behind a number and simply say “this is too expensive.” It’s harder to vocally reject popular ideas like universal pre-K, expanding medicare, or the child tax credit — but the effect is same. It’s like saying, "You can either feed your child, recover from your c-section, or have childcare so you can go to work — but I don’t think you should be able to do all three."

The people deserve to know what substantive programs they’re willing to gut.

It’s unfortunate that we — as Democrats — have to compromise with ourselves for an ambitious agenda for working people. Free community college should be a standard. Climate action in line with science should be a given. Cutting child poverty in half is a good thing.

These are the things we believe are worth standing up for. It’s time to think big, do what we were elected to do, and reject the "something is better than nothing" argument.

We believe there is a path to get this done. And Alexandria will continue to hold the line.

This is a moment when we need all hands on deck. If you agree with Alexandria that it's time for our government to prioritize the needs of working people over keeping billionaires and rich corporations comfortable, add your name to say you support the policies in the Build Back Better agenda.

In addition, we encourage you to reach out to your representatives to make sure they support the Build Back Better Agenda.

Thank you for fighting alongside Alexandria for real change, and we’ll continue to keep you informed as things progress.

– Team AOC

Attorney General James Announces 49 Guns Turned in at Community Gun Buyback in the Capital Region


AG James Has Taken More Than 2,500 Firearms Out of Communities Since 2019

 New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that 49 firearms were turned in to law enforcement at a gun buyback event in Albany County hosted by her office in partnership with the Watervliet, Cohoes, Colonie, Green Island, and Menands police departments. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) accepts — with no questions asked — working and non-working, unloaded firearms in exchange for compensation on site. To date, Attorney General James has taken more than 2,500 firearms out of communities through gun buyback events and other efforts since taking office in 2019.

“Gun violence has long terrorized our communities and endangered the welfare of New Yorkers,” said Attorney General James. “Whether it’s hosting gun buyback events or through other measures, we are taking a multipronged approach and doing everything we can to combat this crisis and keep our streets safe. My office has successfully taken more than 2,500 dangerous firearms out of circulation, and we remain committed to continuing our efforts to protect New Yorkers from harm. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their vital support and collaboration in ensuring public safety.”

waterpic1 gbb 10.9.2021

waterpic2 gbb 10.9.2021

“Gun violence is not a single solution problem,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni. “I am hopeful that these events will assist in the larger effort to protect exposed populations such as children, those confronted with mental health issues, and domestic violence victims.”

Today’s community gun buyback resulted in the collection of 49 guns, including 13 handguns, 22 shotguns and rifles, and 14 non-working guns. Since 2013, OAG has hosted gun buyback events throughout New York state and has successfully collected more than 4,500 firearms.

In exchange for the firearms, OAG offered monetary compensation, in the form of prepaid gift cards, when an unloaded gun was received and secured by an officer on site.

Gun violence is a public health crisis that is plaguing communities throughout New York, and this event is the latest action that Attorney General James has taken to combat this crisis and protect New Yorkers from harm. This year alone, Attorney General James has held 16 gun buybacks across the state, and has also secured dozens of dangerous firearms through takedowns of violent groups terrorizing New York. To date, Attorney General James has taken a total of more than 2,500 guns out of communities since 2019.


 Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that 90 loan restructuring deals have been approved under the City’s $65 million Medallion Relief Program (MRP), delivering $14 million in debt forgiveness to individual medallion owners. The program continues to gather pace: in the last week alone, 33 drivers have received $3.6 million in relief. 

More than 1,000 medallion owners have completed intake appointments to begin the restructuring process. In all, the program is anticipated to achieve as much as $500 million in total debt forgiveness.
“As the Medallion Relief Program continues to build momentum, more and more medallion owners are finally getting the fair deal and fresh start they deserve,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This program is delivering economic justice for the hardworking New Yorkers who need it most, and I look forward to celebrating even more successes in the weeks and months to come.”
“With nearly 100 approved deals, the MRP is working to provide immediate debt relief to our patient and deserving individual Medallion Owners,” said TLC Commissioner and Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk. “We strongly encourage anyone in need to please schedule an appointment with the Owner/Driver Resource Center. Our goal to work in unison with the Industry, Electeds and Advocates to ensure and advance a prosperous future for NYC Yellow Taxis.”
“Hundreds of taxicab medallion owners have already benefited from getting free legal assistance and financial counseling to help lower and even eliminate their debt,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “We urge any drivers/owners who are struggling with medallion-related debt to use these financial resources and schedule an appointment at the Driver Resource Center. We are looking forward to helping many more manage their debt and improve their financial health.”
"It has been rewarding for NYLAG to represent so many yellow taxicab medallion owners and provide legal services on a multitude of their legal issues,” said Rose Marie Cantanno, Associate Director Consumer Protection Unit, New York Legal Assistance Group. “Now with even more lenders participating in the Medallion Relief Program, we are confident we will be able to aid even more owners from losing the medallions they work so hard to acquire and maintain.”
About the Medallion Relief Program
The City of New York will provide $65 million in grants to economically distressed individual medallion owners. This includes $20,000 as a down payment to restructure loan principals and set lower monthly payments, as well as up to $9,000 for monthly debt relief payments.
Many medallion owners will have over $200,000 in debt forgiven, and loan payments reduced to about $1,500 or less per month. Some owners will achieve total debt erasure through settlements.
TLC's Owner/Driver Resource Center, which offers a range of free financial counseling and legal assistance for TLC Licensees, as well as connecting them with government benefits and health and wellness resources, has already served over 1,000 licensees. TLC Licensees in need of these services can call 311 or visit to make an appointment. 

84 Days and Counting


At least I got my free flu shot, or is that in the 49 page report from the Department of Investigation claiming what I will have to pay back the city for using free city services. I wonder who is trying to sabotage my chances to be the next governor of New York State. 

You people are going to miss me comes February, March, April, and May. You will say things were better under Bill de Blasio, he led us out of the Pandemic, but now it is getting worse. Yep, you people are going to miss me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 Was the Official Launching of Healthy Lifestyle Month

NYCDOE Bronx Public Schools, under the leadership of Dr. Erika Tobia, The Executive Superintendent, has officially adopted a Healthy Lifestyle campaign for all Bronx schools.

This year however, elected officials were the ones reaching out to us to make the entire month of October a Healthy Lifestyle Month.
Soon-to-be City Councilwoman Hon. Amanda Farias were given the honor to assist in sponsoring this game-changing health and wellness initiative in their respective legislative chambers. 

With this amazing collaboration of leadership in the quest to transform our current health and wellness conditions as well as closing the existing health disparities, we will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in public resources.  This is the most prudent and fruitful investment in New York. 

Lifestyle plays a prominent role in every disease that is killing us, in addition to being the determining factor for the quality of our lives.  LIFESTYLE LIFESPAN!

We’re extremely grateful to our elected leaders who have committed to this transformative campaign, because every neighborhood is transformable by a sustained healthy lifestyle campaign like ours. 

Against the backdrop of the above developments, we’re hereby officially welcoming the first Healthy Lifestyle Month to be formally adopted by our city and state legislators.  Nothing is more urgent, considering the ongoing pandemic that has excruciatingly highlighted the importance of a healthy lifestyle.  We’re grateful!

We encourage you all to organize healthy lifestyle activities and events in your neighborhoods. Get your political, religious and community leaders involved.  Work with schools and other organizations that serve the youth, said Ms. Pamela Stewart-Martinez, who was the Chairperson of the Healthy Lifestyle Day and is also the Female District Leader of Bronx’s 87th Assembly District.

October is #HealthyLifestyleMonth
First Tuesday in October is #HealthyLifestyleDay
#not62 #lifestylelifespan

With the proliferation and exponential growth of organic products, plant-based menus and healthier beverages coupled with a strong increase in public curiosity of centuries-old religious dietary guidelines, give us the opportunity to return to the wonders of natural living.  As we’re all aware, nature is built on an unadulterated system in which all of its components are perfectly customized to work symbiotically and seamlessly including our amazing human bodies.  

For this trending reality, it is therefore reasonable to foresee this nascent industry of healthy products and services to continue to expand worldwide.  This new consciousness of the importance of healthy living has unquestionably ushered in a paradigm shift in the attention given to the importance of healthy lifestyle in the 21st century forward. Religious Foods Festival is added to the Healthy Lifestyle Month activities.

It’s an irrefutable fact that the cost of unhealthy lifestyles on precious lives and resources is unsustainable, inequitable, and has resulted in a painfully sustained health disparities among haves and have nots.  As a result, October is designated Healthy Lifestyle Month to highlight these disparities and seek their remedy through education, inspiration and investment in health and wellness programs. 

Activities on Healthy Lifestyle Day were:

1.     Healthy cooking exhibition

2.     Healthy menus from eateries

3.     Healthy beverage marketing

4.     Religious Foods Festival

5.     Physical Activity demonstrations

6.     Mental Health training

7.     Healthy relationship sessions

8.     Financial management forums

9.     Health and wellness seminars

Among the participants were:

1.     Government agencies

2.     Educational institutions

3.     Medical institutions

4.     Restaurant & Beverage Industries

5.     Plant-Based Diet organizations

6.     Religious organizations.

7.     Media Networks.

8.   Politicians & United Nations diplomats

Dr. Erika Tobia Bronx Public Schools Executive Superintendent with Healthy Lifestyles Founder  C, and Ms. Pamela Stewart Martinez. 

Representing the 43rd Precinct, Deputy Inspector Ramsey. The 43rd Precinct is a partner in Healthy Lifestyles.

Incoming City Councilwoman and partner Amanda Farias speaks as Incoming Bronx Borough President Vanesa Gibson and Sheikh Musa Drammeh are on the stage.

The New York City Department of Health was represented by these three women.

New York Project Hope was another information table.

A group photo of the founders of Healthy Lifestyles, elected officials, and some of the vendors.

Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Protecting Undocumented Immigrants from Threats to Report Their Immigration Status


Legislation (S.343-A/A.3412-A) Applies the Legal Standard of Extortion or Coercion to a Person Threatening to Report Another Person's Immigration Status

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.343-A/A.3412-A) classifying certain threats to report a person's immigration status as extortion or coercion under New York law. Threats to report a person's immigration status can currently be treated as a crime in cases of labor trafficking and sex trafficking, but were not previously treated as potential extortion or coercion offenses.

"New York is built on the hard work and determination of generations of immigrants, and we need to support people who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families," Governor Hochul said. "This legislation will protect New Yorkers from bad actors who use extortion or coercion due to their immigration status, and make our state safer against vile threats and intimidation."

This bill allows prosecutors to prosecute efforts to blackmail an individual by threatening to cause deportation proceedings even when unrelated to labor or sex trafficking. Similar measures have been enacted in California, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia, and this legislation is based off model legislation recommended by The Public Leadership Institute titled "Prevent Extortion of Immigrants Act."

Councilman Mark Gjonaj's NYC Moving Forward Week in Review - 10/8/2021


Dear Friends,

I hope you and your families are continuing to do well. October is Italian-American Heritage Month and in honor of this month and Columbus Day, we salute and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Italian Americans in our communities, our City and the US.

During this week’s NYC Council Stated meeting, my colleagues and I passed a whole slew of bills. I was a lead of six of those—including bills that will develop citywide climate plans, take steps towards electric school buses, connect 311 for NYCHA complaints, and require shelter security guards be paid prevailing wages. I also introduced my own bill that would enter procedures for the confiscation and disposal of illegal dirt bikes into the administrative code. I look forward to seeing this bill through the legislative process.

I was proud to stand in solidarity with a near-majority of my colleagues in calling on NYS to revise current state laws to curb the endemic gun violence afflicting our neighborhoods. Gun incidents rose to their peak this July with an increase of 133.5%. This violence is simply intolerable and we plead with the state to work with the city on this issue. New Yorkers deserve justice but they deserve safety too!

Illegal dirt bikes are creating havoc in our streets and I am glad to have introduced legislation to tackle this issue and addressed it again with Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, part of a larger conversation on public safety issues.

I was also glad to address the much anticipated NYPD 45th Precinct Community Council Meeting where the main focus was the loud noise and music. Thank you to all who attended and voiced their concerns. Great to hear from Captain Isaac Soberal and as per their advice, constituents have to continue calling 311, as the more complaints the more auxiliary police can be assigned to the area. We will continue to monitor the situation and work with all players and the community to address this issue.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we hosted our first free mammogram event in Westchester Square, at the Santa Maria Church in partnership with the American Italian Cancer Foundation. Our second event will be held on October 16th in City Island. Take advantage and call our office to register by calling 728-931-1721.

I am happy to continue the tradition of bringing Free S.A.T. Prep Courses at the Bronx House. Families and College bound students should benefit from these courses and inquire and register with the Bronx House at (718) 792-1800.

Please remember we are here for you, contact my office with issues or concerns at 718-931-1721 or email at


NYC Councilman Mark Gjonaj
District 13, Bronx

We had a great mask and hand sanitizer giveaway with Community Activist Christian Amato on the corner of Astor Avenue and Boston Road where we gave out over 81,000 masks, 1,000 hand sanitizers, reusable bags and more.