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Smithtown
Saturday, June 22, 2024

National, State and Local Temperature Checks

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National

In perhaps the most pressing geopolitical news, Iran’s President and Foreign Minister were both killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday night.
President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, and other officials were all determined to have been killed after an hours-long search throughout the mountainous northwestern region of Iran just twelve miles from the Azerbaijan border.


Leaders from Yemen, Iraq, India, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan, China, Qatar, and Pakistan all offered their condolences to Iran in the wake of the news. Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, as well as Hamas and Palestinian jihadist groups, the European Union foreign policy chief, and the Yemeni Houthis all offered condolences and signs of support as well.


White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby says that the U.S. does not anticipate “any change in Iranian behavior, and therefore, the Iranians should not expect any change in American behavior when it comes to holding them accountable.” Kirby asserts that the deaths of the Iranian leaders will not substantively impact U.S.-Iranian relations, and that the change in Iran’s leadership will not change the nation’s support of Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Yemeni Houthis who have targeted commercial shipping routes in the Middle East since the war in Gaza started in October. The U.S. also expects new Iranian leadership to continue its military support of Russia in the Ukraine War.


The cause of the crash is still undetermined, but it comes just shortly after Iran and Israel exchanged their first direct military confrontation in years. President Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched drones and ballistic missile attacks at Israel in response to an Israeli airstrike on an Iranian Consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals and five officers.


Israel, with aid from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Jordan, intercepted the projectiles, and Israel countered with a strike on an Iranian air defense radar system.


The exact location of the crash is still under contradiction, with some accounts placing it near the city of Jolfa, and others placing it near Uzi, both near the Azerbaijan-Armenia border and nearly 400 miles northwest of the capital city of Tehran.


In U.S. political news, two more states held presidential primary elections Tuesday night in Kentucky and Oregon, along with other consequential state elections and the special election for CA-20 in the U.S. House.


In Kentucky, both Donald Trump (R-FL) and Joe Biden (D-DE) won their respective primaries handily, but Biden saw a large chunk of the Democratic base opt for the “Uncommitted” ballot option, a movement that started in Michigan ahead of Super Tuesday rallying Americans, mostly Arab-Americans, against Biden’s support of Israel.


Although Kentucky has a relatively small progressive voting bloc, the ballot option still took 17.9% of the collective vote, while Biden took 71.2% of the statewide vote. Biden also lost seven of Kentucky’s 120 counties: Floyd, Knott, Breathitt, Wolfe, Robertson, Union, and Ballard. Biden’s support in the Democratic strongholds of Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington) counties remained strong. Biden is set to take all forty-four delegates available.


Trump swept all 120 counties and took 84.9% of the statewide vote, to Nikki Haley’s (R-SC) 6.4%. He is set to take all forty-six delegates available.


In Oregon, Biden swept the primary with nearly 90% of the vote with 56% of precincts reporting at press time. He swept all thirty-six counties and will take all forty-two delegates available. Long-suspended Marianne Williamson (D-CA) took just 7% of the statewide vote, while the write-in option took about 4%.


Meanwhile, Democrats avoided a disaster primary in OR-05 by electing Oregon Senator Janelle Bynum (D) in the primary over 2022 candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D). In perhaps the largest upset of the 2022 cycle, McLeod-Skinner ousted longtime moderate Congressman Kurt Schrader (D) in the primary. Viewed as too far left for a highly competitive district, the party split after her primary win and Schrader refused to endorse her. McLeod-Skinner would then lose to Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez DeRemer (R) in 2022.


OR-05 is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the House landscape. Bynum won Tuesday’s primary with 70% of the vote. The district runs from the southeast Portland suburbs through the eastern half of the Willamette Valley to take in the cities of Bend and Sisters. It has a slight Democratic lean, making it one of several crossover seats in the House – those that voted for one party for President but voted for another for Congress.


A rematch is also brewing in OR-06, just next door to OR-05. Freshman Congresswoman Andrea Salinas (D) won a narrow race in Oregon’s newest congressional district that it gained after the state saw large population growth as reported by the 2020 Census. Mike Erickson (R), the 2022 challenger, cleared his primary Tuesday night. OR-06 is slightly more Democratic leaning than OR-05. It contains all of the capital city of Salem and southwestern suburbs of Portland.


Meanwhile, fundraising reports for April are in, and despite the ongoing criminal trial, former President Trump led Biden in monthly fundraising for the first time in the 2024 cycle.


Trump reported $76 million in donations for the month of April, while Biden reported $51 million. However, Biden still has the cash-on-hand advantage, with $192 million in the bank to Trump’s $89 million.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., reported $10.7 million for April and started May with $10.1 million in his war chest. His running mate, Nicole Shanahan, ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, donated $8 million to the campaign in April.

State

Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) began her taxpayer-funded trip to Rome, the Vatican, and Ireland to attend roundtables to discuss New York’s leadership in climate initiatives. The three-day climate change summit “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience” saw hundreds of world leaders, including Pope Francis, and scientists descend on the Vatican City.


“I had two hurricanes my first week on the job, more than Florida had that year. Tornadoes, a 1000-year flooding event, [with] our lakes and streams upstate where people have drowned, flooded in their homes,” said Hochul. “And I’m only on the job two years. So, think about the scale of those cataclysmic events, of what it has done to our communities.”


Hochul announced $300 million for climate change resiliency initiatives, with two-thirds funding water quality improvement projects that address flood resiliency or drinking source water protection.


Hochul also said that the state is a “magnet” for migrants seeking a better life, insisting that they are refugees of climate change.
“Those who are the climate refugees – local circumstances, environmental challenges are driving people from their homes because they can no longer sustain themselves in the agricultural jobs that were once there for them. That’s not their fault. We have to help them,” said Hochul.


Hochul was joined by governor Maura Healey (D-MA) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA).

Local

The winner of the 2024 Congressional Art Competition for NY-01 was named as Maia Schnaider of West Hills. Schnaider’s piece Forever Indebted will be displayed in the halls of the U.S. Capitol for one year.


“I am thrilled to announce Maia Schnaider of Half Hollow Hills West as the winner of the 2024 Congressional Art Competition. Her piece, ‘Forever Indebted,’ is a great portrayal of her grandparents’ pursuit of the American Dream,” said Congressman Nick LaLota (R, NY-01). “Through her art, Maia captures the resilience and hope that define their journey, serving as a reminder of the endless opportunities our country offers. Congratulations, Maia, on this well-deserved recognition of your talent and a wonderful tribute to your family.”


“When I think of a Patriotic American Icon, I think of the American flag, which symbolizes the unity that people of different backgrounds and stories share and the promise of freedom. Written between the lines of the flag is a famous quote from ‘The New Colossus’ on the Statue of Liberty, another significant icon of America,” said Schnaider. “My Grandparents are of an older generation; immigrants that came to the United States in the 80s, one, a child of World War Two survivors from Eastern Europe, and the other from the Middle East. Both came to America for all that the flag and Emma Lazarus’s poem symbolize.”


The winner of the Congressional Art Competition in NY-02, represented by Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) was Connetquot’s Sydney Shurgin.

Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.