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Arsonist sets fires at 7 Brooklyn synagogues and Jewish schools: NYC councilman

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The New York Police Department received reports of fires at seven Hasidic Jewish institutions in a single neighborhood in Brooklyn — around the same time vandals spray-painted “Kill All Jews” inside a reform synagogue in the same borough.

City Council Member Stephen Levin and State Senator Martin Dilan released a statement about the fires Friday afternoon.

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“Earlier this morning, NYPD’s 90th Precinct received reports of fires at seven different locations throughout South Williamsburg,” the statement read. “The perpetrator set fires at local yeshivas and synagogues in the predominantly Hasidic community.”

“Tragically, it would seem these types of attacks are becoming all too common,” the politicians continued. “Words and speech are as real as any weapon, and I again call on the current administration to unequivocally denounce every and all hate groups. We need to do everything in our power to deny hate safe harbor, whether in Pittsburgh, Charleston, or here in Williamsburg.”

The NYPD, along with the Williamsburg Shomrim, or volunteer neighborhood patrol group, reportedly arrested a man suspected of setting the fires.

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The Friday morning vandalism at a Brooklyn Heights synagogue led to the cancellation of a progressive get-out-the-vote event that would have featured Broad City star Ilana Glazer.

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As NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch noted on Twitter, there have been multiple anti-Semitic incidents in the week since the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

The incidents include swastikas found graffitied in Brooklyn Heights and Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the vandalism inside Brooklyn Height’s Union Temple, an anti-Semitic license plate that was removed in Queens and a Jewish man being verbally threatened in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.

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In the Crown Heights incident, which was reported by the neighborhood’s Shomrim on October 30, three teens allegedly threatened to stab a Jewish man and “kill all Jews.”

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During a Wednesday morning briefing, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea noted that the department has seen “an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, particularly swastikas, on buildings in part of the city.”

“In last 28 days particularly, which is a little troublesome, we have seen an uptick in that category,” Shea said.

The New York Daily News reported that the NYPD had logged 116 anti-Semitic “bias incidents” as of October 7 — including 12 assaults.

You can see video and photos of the fires and their aftermath below:

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2020 Election

Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead

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There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.

This article first appeared in Salon.

What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.

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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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