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."

Thursday News Links

Four men are in custody in Lower Manhattan, suspected of plotting to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx. Authorities say they were "aspirational," meaning they had the will but not the weapons or expertise to launch a major terrorist attack.

Mayor Bloomberg holds a summit meeting at Gracie Mansion this afternoon to try to break a stalemate between the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein over the fate of ground zero. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called for the summit two weeks ago, saying he was "fed up" with the delays. The New York Observer notes that Silver has no direct say in the outcome, only a bully pulpit. But the New York Post views Silver as a key player in finally resolving the conflict.

The mayor is facing growing criticism that the city hasn't moved fast enough to close schools affected by the swine flu outbreak.

Job posting of the day, via Twitter:
Small group of Jewish students interested in stories and poems written
by contemporary Yiddish writers with the intention of forming a new
quarterly publication in Yiddish. Please write a brief inquiry if you
are interested in contributing.

Wednesday News Links

New York City school principals receive their budgets from Chancellor Joel Klein's office today, Klein says the schools face cuts of about 5-percent next year, not as deep as he feared. While there will be no major layoffs, he predicted some schools would be forced to lay off teaching assistants and aides.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in New York has now climbed past the 200 mark. Today, P.S. 130, the Hernando Desoto School on Baxter (near Grand Street), closes.

The New York Comptroller's Office is concerned about the cuts in MTA station agents. On their web site, you can look up how many agents have been eliminated from your stop. For instance, one part time agent was eliminated from both the F train stop at East Broadway and the F/J/M/Z Essex Street stop.

Frank Bruni can't get enough of those crunchy breadsticks at Sorella on Allen Street. He also seemed to enjoy the "duck fat-soaked muffin that’s not only slathered with a thick
chicken-liver mousse but also, in case that’s not heart-stopping action
enough, topped with a soft-yolked fried egg and bacon."

Friday News Links

There are now 49 confirmed cases of the swine flu in New York City. NYC's health commissioner is calling for stepped up efforts to develop a vaccine (NY1).

Juan Gonzalez says small businesses in Chinatown are being exploited while the Bloomberg administration ignores their plight. One tenant sub-leasing space in the East Broadway Mall recently had his rent raised to $9600/month from $2000. Gonzalez says the city, as the landlord, needs to step in (Daily News).

As the New York pension scandal widens, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed records involving a lobbyist with ties to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (Daily News).

Curbed updates the progress, or lack thereof, of the development they dubbed the Orchard hell building (Curbed).