POLITICAL ARENA

Gillibrand wants kosher, halal school foods labeled

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Soon it might be easier for school students to identify kosher and halal choices in the cafeteria.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Manhattan congressman Jerrold Nadler in an effort to convince the U.S. Department of Agriculture to properly label kosher and halal foods used by the National School Lunch Program.

That federal meal program provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, although there is no system in place to differentiate food that meets religious requirements and those that don’t.

In New York City alone, according to Gillibrand’s office, more than 180,000 Jewish children live in poor or near-poor households. 

As part of the request, Gillibrand and Nadler not only are looking for a commitment to start labeling kosher and halal foods, but a timeline on when such a program will be implemented.

 

Biaggi, other IDC challengers earn nods

True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition has endorsed five candidates who are set for primary challenges against members of the Independent Democratic Conference in the state senate, including Alessandra Biaggi, who is up against IDC leader Jeffrey Klein.

Biaggi joins other endorsed challengers who include Robert Jackson in northern Manhattan, Rachel May in Syracuse, Zellnor Myrie in Brooklyn and Jessica Ramos in Queens.

“We stand here today not just because of stalled legislation in Albany, but because the IDC has been costly in other ways,” said Carmela Gaines of Queens Huddle, in a release. “Sen. Jeffrey Klein and Independent Democratic Conference divide the Democratic Party when unity is paramount. We also stand here today because we’ve decided it’s time to take back our government and our party.”

The coalition at this point is working without the help of the state Democrats. After Klein announced last year that the IDC would stop caucusing with Republicans in the state senate and move back into a relationship with Democrats, the party said it would not field or support challengers to sitting IDC members. 

 

Eliot Engel pushes assault weapons ban

Just two weeks after a lone gunment opened fire on a Parkland, Florida, high school and killed 17 people, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel joined 150 other congressional Democrats to introduce the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, which would make it illegal for anyone to import, sell, manufacture, transfer or possess a semi-automatic assault weapon.

“As I have said many times before, the Second Amendment wasn’t written with semi-automatic weapons in mind,” Engel said in a release. “They are weapons of war, and no fair-minded person would confuse regulating them with infringing on personal freedom. It’s long past time Congress did something to stop this horrific gun violence, and there is no better place to start than getting these weapons of war off our streets.”

When an assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine is used in a shooting, the number of victims who are killed increases by 63 percent, Engel said. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,300 gun violence incidents, with more than 2,200 people losing their lives. 

The bill will have a tough path through Congress as Republicans haven’t been keen to pass a ban.

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