Wednesday News Links

Two more New Yorkers with the swine flu have died, but health officials say they both had other health complications that may have been contributing factors. Still, the city is continuing to grapple with the swine flu even as it has subsided in other parts of the country. Experts at the NYC Health Department are trying to determine why H1N1 is so persistent here.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has unveiled his plan for mayoral control of the New York City schools. But many of his members remain skeptical, convinced that more oversight of the mayor and accountability are necessary.

Beliefnet columnist Brad Hirschfield, says the release of "Rebecca Rubin," American Girl's latest historical doll, is being treated like the arrival of the Messiah. He questions whether Rebecca's "life story" (growing up on the Lower East Side in 1914), written by author Jacqueline Dembar Greene, is relatable to Jewish girls in the year 2009:

"We are a community that has entered Jewish life through
inter-marriage, adoption, conversion… I am just not sure why having dolls
whose "life" stories are written by an author who struggled to come of
age as a Jew in the 50's, is the place to begin for little Jewish girls
today.

Russ & Daughters is heralding the arrival of the New Catch Holland Herring on June 9th. They're only available for about a month.  The famed appetizing store's blog, Lox Populi, calls these delicacies "a piece of gastronomic heaven, a fabulous buttery and mild matjes (young) herring unlike any other."

The New York Times, previewing summer food events, highlights the Rahkaing Thingyan New Year Water Festival. It's held July 12th at the J.H.S. 56 schoolyard, Madison and Montgomery Streets. The Times says to look for:

"… a bowl of shwe yin aye, whose loose translation is “something that
cools you.” It drenches sticky rice, coconut, assorted colorful agars
and scissor-snipped white bread in several ladles of coconut milk and
tapioca pearls. Other dishes (most are about $5) include mohinga, or
fish noodle soup; shrimp fritters tossed with watercress, cucumber and
fish sauce; and mont kyar si, hand-rolled rice-flour dumplings with
shredded coconut."