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Palestinian Who Attended Trump-Backed Bahrain Conference Is Arrested



trump backed bahrain conference

About a dozen Palestinian businessmen defied the official Palestinian boycott of the Trump administration’s economic conference in Bahrain last week.

Once there, most of them tried to maintain a low profile and keep their names out of the news media. The delegation returned to the West Bank on Thursday. But officers of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service arrested one of them, Saleh Abu Mayala, on Friday night as he was walking from his car to his home in the West Bank city of Hebron, according to two Palestinian officials and the leader of the Palestinian business delegation to Bahrain, Ashraf Jabari.

One Palestinian official called his attendance at the conference an illegal act of betrayal.

Mr. Abu Mayala was later released, Jason D. Greenblatt, the White House’s special Mideast envoy, said in a post on Twitter. Palestinian officials had maintained official secrecy about the arrest, and it was not clear when exactly he was freed, but he was released without charge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting that Mr. Abu Mayala had been released “due to American pressure.”

Intelligence officers summoned another conference participant, Ashraf Ghanem, also from Hebron, by phone on Friday night, after they did not find him at home. Instead of turning himself in, Mr. Ghanem was sheltering on Saturday in Mr. Jabari’s house, according to the two men, in the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron — an area where the Palestinian Authority security forces cannot operate without prior coordination with the Israelis.

A Palestinian security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on a sensitive security issue, said the Palestinian businessmen’s participation in the conference was “tantamount to betrayal,” adding that Palestinian law punishes those who betray their homeland.
Once the Palestinian leadership had decided to boycott the event, he said, participation was not optional or a matter of individual freedom.

A second government official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the arrest. He said there had been public pressure on the Authority to put those who attended the conference on trial.

Reached by phone, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of information, said he did not know anything about Mr. Abu Mayala’s arrest.

The Trump administration said the conference was meant to encourage investment of more than $50 billion to jump-start the Palestinian economy and aid neighboring Arab countries, helping to build a foundation for a future peace.

But the Palestinian leadership cut off diplomatic ties with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested holy city. The Palestinian establishment rejected the notion of putting economics before a political solution, fearing they could be seen as having sold out their national aspirations.

Prominent Palestinian business leaders stayed away from the Bahrain conference.

Mr. Jabari, the delegation head, who traveled to Bahrain publicly, was the only Palestinian speaker on the agenda. He said in a telephone interview Saturday that the delegation consisted of 13 Palestinians from the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jenin and from East Jerusalem.

The Authority, he said, had “misunderstood” the purpose of the conference, which he described as about an economic vision for the period after a peace agreement is reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He said that no politics were discussed there, and insisted he had not broken any Palestinian law.

Mr. Jabari, the leader of a large clan in Hebron, is a controversial figure among Palestinians. He has forged ties with Jewish settlers and helped form a chamber of commerce in which Palestinian and settler businesses work together. Palestinian leaders have criticized Mr. Jabari as a political outcast who faces outstanding warrants for bad debts.


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Public Hearing Today On Port Authority’s Planned Hikes At Bridges, Tunnels And Area Airports




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A public hearing will be held this morning in Manhattan to discuss the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s proposed fare hikes.

Last month, the agency laid out plans to raise tolls at bridge and tunnels and increase fares on PATH service and the trains to John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports. It also wants to apply a $4 surcharge to app-based car services when they pick up riders at New York City-area airport.

Under the proposal, tolls at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln and Holland tunnels and outerbridge crossings would increase by $1. EZPass discounts would be reduced by 25 cents.

For PATH riders, a 10-day SmartLink card would rise from $25 to $26. A 30-day unlimited card would go from $106 to $110.25.
The AirTrain fee to JFK Airport would increase from $5 to $7.75, and a $4 fee would be added for all taxi and ride-sharing pick-ups and drop-offs at area airports, similar to fees charged at airports in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance said it will ask its 22,000 drivers to strike if the plan is approved.

The money would be used to pay for long-planned improvements at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports, as well as new projects, like increasing capacity and reducing delays on PATH trains.

A final vote is set for September. Today is the first of six hearings.

Hearing #1
July 16, 8 a.m.
23rd Floor, 150 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10007

Hearing #2
July 17, 8 a.m.
2 Montgomery
3rd Floor, 2 Montgomery St., Jersey City, NJ 07302

Hearing #3
July 18, 7 p.m
EWR Terminal One Redevelopment Outreach Office
79 West Jersey St, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

Hearing #4
July 22, 7 p.m.
College of Staten Island
Williamson Theatre, 2800 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10314

Hearing #5
July 29, 7 p.m.
Hilton Hasbrouck Heights
650 Terrace Ave, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604

Hearing #6
July 30, 7 p.m.
JFK Building 14
3rd Floor, Building 14, Jamaica, NY 11430


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Trump administration freezes fines for fuel-economy violations




trump administration freezes

The EPA hasn’t yet released its final ruling on a proposal to freeze fuel economy standards. However, a different federal agency—NHTSA—has finalized a rule to freeze fines on automakers who exceed the standards.

The fines have been set at $5.50 per 0.1 mpg, per car the automakers produce that doesn’t meet the standards, since 1997. These fines have amounted to tens of millions of dollars a year for automakers. For automakers with budgets approaching $100 billion a year, however, they amount to small change.

Some companies have opted to simply pay the fines instead of improving the fuel economy of their cars.

In 2015, in response to a Congressional mandate to raise fines for non-compliance across the government, NHTSA proposed to raise the fine to $14 per car per 0.1 mpg. Auto industry lobbyists complained that the proposal would cost automakers $1 billion annually, but when environmental groups along with New York, California, and several other states sued NHTSA, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the increase could go forward.

On Friday, the agency released a statement saying the new rule freezing fines at $5.50 faithfully follows Congress’s intent in setting the penalty rate at the highest reasonable amount according to the statute.

Even if the fines were raised, it may have been a moot point with the EPA (in conjunction with NHTSA) planning to freeze fuel economy requirements at 2020 levels through 2026. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler has said he expects to finalize that proposal by late this summer, though automakers and 23 states have now stated their opposition to it.


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Mayor Attacks Trump as Immigration Raids Spark Fear, Protests in NYC




immigrants new york

As a nationwide crackdown on immigrants sparks concerns and protests in New York City neighborhoods, the mayor on Sunday called the raids a “political act” by President Trump intended to help him win re-election.

Mayor de Blasio said the raids weren’t about security or enforcing the law. “This is a political act by this president, he’s politicized a United States government agency to help him win re-election,” de Blasio said as residents confirmed sightings of ICE agents knocking on doors as early as Saturday.

No one has been arrested, the mayor said, and there were no reported raids in the city on Sunday by midday.

“There were two attempts here in Sunset Park and no one was arrested because no one open their doors. And I think that is emblematic of people understanding they have rights,” the neighborhood’s Community Board Chair Cesar Zuniga told News 4.
Protests were held across the tri-state over the weekend as immigrant advocates advised those who feared being deported of their rights.

In Brooklyn, community members surrounded two plain-clothed NYPD officers who were grabbing dinner at a taco spot and asked them to leave because they mistook the police for ICE agents.

“You’re terrifying people in the neighborhood right now,” one protester said to the officers in a video of the exchange.
After the mixup, the NYPD says its officers will be wearing the department’s windbreaker jackets to distinguish themselves to avoid future confusion. The 72nd Precinct’s Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez also assured that officers will not engange in helping ICE with the round ups.

“The NYPD does not ask anyone for documentation in their citizenship in this country,” Gonzalez said.

A senior US official told NBC News on Sunday that ICE raids had begun as part of an operation expected to target 2,000 immigrants in 10 major U.S. cities including New York over the next few days.

De Blasio, who is one of at least two dozen Democrats running for president, came under criticism himself on Saturday when he was campaigning in Iowa during a massive midtown Manhattan blackout. He canceled campaign events and returned to the city on Sunday.

At a news conference on the blackout, he also fielded questions about the ICE raids, which he called “horrible.”

Trump is “stoking fear and he’s trying to pit immigrant against citizen in a way that’s very, very cynical,” de Blasio said. “But then when the moment of truth comes, suddenly it’s all fear, no action.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan would not answer questions about the operation at an unrelated briefing in Washington on Sunday on the emergency management response to Hurricane Barry.

In 2012 under the Obama administration, there were over 1,000 ICE arrests per day on average. However, families were not targeted then as they are now.


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