FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Border Enforcement Actions

New Measures Leverage Success of Venezuela Enforcement Initiative to Limit Disorderly and Unsafe Migration

President Joe Biden announces new border enforcement actions © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

Republicans love to rail against the Biden Administration – even threatening impeachment – and Democrats over the “border crisis,” but the fact is that President Joe Biden, like President Barack Obama before him, have tried over and over to enact policies and procedures to address the influx of people LAWFULLY making a claim of asylum. Republicans are making hay – even as they are incapable of electing a Speaker of the House – over “open border” but it is the Democrats who have proposed rational, humane processes that have, in fact, accounted for 2.7 million taken into custody in 2022 – the vast majority fleeing climate disasters, gang violence – immediately repatriating 45 percent.

The people who were essentially human trafficked by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington DC, and to New York City and other “blue” state sanctuary cities were not “illegal aliens” but people who were processed for a hearing, as international and federal law requires. Meanwhile, Republicans have not come up with any plan to address the flood of desperate people who are legally entitled to seek refuge, but instead, have obstructed any comprehensive reform effort, refused to adopt the DREAM Act, even going to court to overturn the Obama-era DACA program that gives people who were brought to the US as children and spent their entire lives in the US legal status to go to school, college and work.

Obama was forced to issue his DACA policy since the Republicans in Congress refused to consider the bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, which did exactly what was asked: spent a ton of money on border enforcement. But Republicans refused to provide any path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented people living for years in the US until the border was sealed shut. An impossibility of which they were well aware.

Republicans are not satisfied with any immigration “reform” that does not include taking toddlers and infants from the arms of their mothers, and turning them into orphans, putting children in cages, allows migrant women to be sterilized against their will.

President Biden has issued his latest plan for border enforcement, that includes sending more immigration judges and social services to these border entry sites. Here is a White House Fact Sheet–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

While the courts have prevented the Title 42 public health order from lifting for now, the Biden-Harris Administration today is announcing new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. These measures will expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways. They also draw on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
 
The Administration is also announcing that it is surging additional resources to the border and the region, scaling up its anti-smuggling operations, and expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations. Importantly, the actions announced today are being implemented in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western Hemisphere.
 
While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long. That can only happen if Republicans in Congress who have spent the past two years talking about border security quit blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office, and opposing the billions of dollars in additional funds the President has requested for border security and management.
 
Unlike some Republican officials playing political games and obstructing real solutions to fix our broken immigration system, President Biden has a plan and is taking action. Under the new enforcement measures announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration will:
 
Impose New Consequences for Individuals who Attempt to Enter Unlawfully
 
To facilitate a return to the processing of all noncitizens under Title 8 authorities when Title 42 eventually lifts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is:

  • Increasing the Use of Expedited Removal. Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry.
  • Announcing New Measures to Encourage Individuals to Seek Orderly and Lawful Pathways to Migration. DHS and the Department of Justice today are announcing their intent to propose a new regulation that would encourage individuals to seek orderly and lawful pathways to migration and reduce overcrowding along the southwest border and the strain on the immigration system.
     

Expand Legal Pathways for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Migration
 
The Biden-Harris Administration and its international partners in the region are also announcing new and expanded legal pathways to the United States and other countries that individuals can and should use to avoid consequences for crossing the border unlawfully. These include:

  • Expanding the Parole Process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans. Today, the Biden Administration is announcing it will extend the successful Venezuela parole process and expand it to nationals of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. Up to 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries, who have an eligible sponsor and pass vetting and background checks, can come to the United States for a period of two years and receive work authorization. Individuals who irregularly cross the Panama, Mexico, or U.S. border after the date of this announcement will be ineligible for the parole process and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico, which will accept returns of 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries who fail to use these new pathways.
     
  • Tripling Refugee Resettlement from the Western Hemisphere. The Biden-Harris Administration intends to welcome up to 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024, putting the United States on pace to more than triple refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere this Fiscal Year alone. This delivers on the President’s commitment under the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection to scale up refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere.
     
  • Launching Online Appointment Portal to Reduce Overcrowding and Wait Times at U.S. Ports of Entry.  When Title 42 eventually lifts, noncitizens located in Central and Northern Mexico seeking to enter the United States lawfully through a U.S. port of entry have access to the CBP One mobile application for scheduling an appointment to present themselves for inspection and to initiate a protection claim instead of coming directly to a port of entry to wait. This new feature will significantly reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing. 
  • New Legal Pathways to Other Countries Across the Region. Countries across the Western Hemisphere are delivering on their commitments under the Los Angeles Declaration to expand legal immigration pathways. Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Belize are each implementing new regularization or temporary protection policies to provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of migrants. Canada, Mexico, and Spain have expanded refugee resettlement and temporary work opportunities. Mexico and Guatemala have also significantly grown their asylum system. Individuals are encouraged to avail themselves of this wide range of legal pathways in the region and avoid the dangerous consequences of irregular migration.
     
  • Increasing Humanitarian Assistance in Mexico and Central America. The United States is announcing today nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian assistance in Mexico and Central America. This new assistance will help governments in the region respond to the increased humanitarian and protection needs of migrants, refugees and other vulnerable populations in their care. Recognizing that no one country can respond to these needs alone, this assistance will help support shelter, health, legal assistance, mental health and psychosocial support, water, sanitation, hygiene products, gender-based violence response, livelihoods, other protection related activities, and capacity building for partners. 

 
Surge Resources to Secure the Border, Disrupt Criminal Smuggling Networks, and Support Border Communities
 
The Biden-Harris Administration is surging resources and expanding efforts to securely manage the border, disrupt the criminal smuggling networks preying on vulnerable migrants, and support communities receiving migrants as they await their immigration enforcement proceedings. New and expanded efforts include:

  • Mobilizing Record Resources for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Processing of Migrants. The Biden Administration is marshalling available authorities and resources from across the Federal Government to help ensure the border is secure and well-managed when the Title 42 public health order eventually lifts. DHS and DOJ are surging asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases at the border more quickly – with the aim of reducing initial processing times from months to days. The two agencies are also expanding capabilities and technologies to support faster processing, including by installing hundreds of phone lines and privacy booths to conduct these interviews and proceedings. DHS is also hiring and deploying additional agents and officers to join the over 23,000 already working to secure the border. In addition, DHS is significantly scaling up its air and ground transportation capabilities to quickly remove migrants when warranted or transport migrants to less-congested border sectors for further immigration enforcement proceedings.
     
  • Taking Thousands of Smugglers off the Streets and Countering Smuggler Misinformation. In Los Angeles earlier this year, President Biden announced a first-of-its kind operation against the multi-billion-dollar human smuggling industry. Since April, this operation has led to over 7,300 arrests, forcing many criminal smuggling organizations out of business. The Administration is also taking on the smuggler misinformation. The Department of State is expanding its paid and earned media outreach to ensure timely and accurate information is reaching migrants. Messaging and outreach will target high out-migration communities and migrant routes through relevant communications channels (e.g., radio, digital, trusted partners, and more.) with an estimated reach of over 85 million potential migrants
     
  • Expanding Coordination with and Support for Border Cities, Receiving Communities, and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Biden-Harris Administration is increasing funding available to border cities and those cities receiving an influx of migrants, in addition to strengthening ongoing coordination and collaboration across all levels of government. DHS is also expanding outreach efforts with local jurisdictions to provide coordination of resources and technical assistance support and the Administration has been facilitating coordination between state and local officials and other federal agencies. Additionally, the Administration will continue to mobilize faith-based and non-profit organizations supporting migrants, including those providing temporary shelter, food, and humanitarian assistance before often reuniting with family as they await the outcome of their immigration proceedings.

The Biden-Harris Administration will do everything within its authority and available resources to manage this challenge, but until and unless Congress delivers the funding as well as comprehensive immigration reform measures President Biden requested, the United States’ broken immigration system will indeed remain broken.

NY 3rd Constituents Rally to Demand Disgraced Republican Congressman-Elect George Santos Resign

“I am angry and frustrated too,” Democratic Congressional candidate Robert Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure George Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and George Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system and the American Dream.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Asked if he feels cheated out of being elected to US Congress, the Democrat Robert Zimmerman who was defeated by Republican George Santos now being exposed as a fraudster who falsified his career and finances, was emphatic that it was the constituents, the political process and democracy itself Santos cheated.

“It’s not about me,” Zimmerman declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process. The fact Santos thought he could get away with it – this is the antidote. The fact we’re here.”

And they came out in sizable numbers for a press conference at rally in front of the Nassau County Courthouse, calling for Santos to resign and for the Republican leadership to refuse to seat him, and carrying signs including “Make lying wrong again,” “Santos lies. Democracy dies.” “Follow the money.”

Prosecutors at the federal, state and local level have already announced investigations into how Santos, who only two years ago reported earning $55,000 a year, managed to loan his campaign $700,000 and declare income and assets in the multi-millions of dollars.

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine reflected that everyone gathered has the same trauma as any victim of a crime, a fraud, a Ponzi scheme. “the difference is the first few get some of their money back, but we, the citizens of the 3rd District are left holding the bag, the laughingstock of the United States and international community.”

“What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” youth activist Greg Leung of Great Neck said © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Greg Leung, a youth activist from Great Neck and freshman at Boston University where he is studying political science and is thinking about entering government or politics, reflected the feelings of many young people, new voters, who have a right to be disillusioned, jaded, cynical about the political process.

“As a first generation American, in the extraordinary position of a Congressman elect, you are living the American Dream, a set of ideals that those who came before fought so vehemently to defend. The American Dream is an ideal nurtured over centuries – Government for, by the people with integrity. Lately, people like you resorted to deception to take power, eroding the American Dream you  vowed to defend in the campaign. You lied for your own gain. Most vile, you lied about the Holocaust and mass shooting…. What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” Leung said.

Linda Beigel Schulman: “This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Linda Beigel Schulman, who is a daughter of an actual Holocaust survivor as well as the victim of her son’s murder by the Parkland shooter, “1800 days ago,” spoke of the pain and trauma of being re-victimized by Santos’ false claims of his grandparents having fled the Holocaust and having had four employees killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

My father lived in Ukraine, in Kiev. He slept in the forest, in bomb craters evading Nazis for years. He went to Canada and then the US. Others in his family were not so lucky. He would not speak of it, except in an interview by Spielberg’s organization.

“It is insulting and demeaning to every child of a Holocaust survivor.  “How dare you lie about being a child of Holocaust survivors, or being Jew-ish? You lied about having four employees at Pulse. How dare he try to gain sympathy. I know all too well the sense of loss, the grief from gun violence.

“Lying has become commonplace and worse, accepted. Outright lying shouldn’t be accepted by anyone. Integrity matters,” she declared. “Lies are analogous to a virus, afflicting pain, fever, sometimes killing the host. We the people have become an infected host. If we accept lying from political leaders, it will surely destroy our fiber. The antidote is we the people, here today. We are the antidote. This country was founded on We the people, not lies.’

Schulman thanked Republicans Nassau County Executive Blakeman, DA Donnelly, incoming Congressmen Anthony D’Esposito and Nick Lalota for speaking out, calling for a full investigation.

“This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.”

Rabbi Deborah Bravo of the MakomNY Worship Center in Bethpage, said Santos’ lies about his Jewish ancestry were particularly offensive. “To lie about being descendants of Holocaust survivors for the purpose of political gain is beyond unacceptable..No one has the right to presume this ancestry for the purpose of political gain and empathy from constituents.”

State Senator Anna Kaplan: “George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates,” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Anna Kaplan cast blame on the Republicans at the local and federal level who propped Santos up and who are complicit in Santos’ fraud.

 “George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates, many of whom sit in elected office today and others who will soon take office. The questions about exactly who George Santos are not new, but they were brushed aside and minimized by local Republicans desperate to flip this congressional seat at any cost.

“Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability. George Santos must be investigated by all appropriate authorities, particularly surrounding his shady business dealings and mystery millions that seem to have appeared overnight despite having no legitimate career to speak of. The outstanding criminal charges against George Santos in Brazil must be answered for. And we all deserve an apology for his reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust.

“To allow George Santos to be seated as a member of Congress would be a further knife in the heart of this community, and I’m urging Congressional Republican leadership to stop that from happening while investigations are ongoing.”

Kaplan added, “I’m also calling on every Republican in Nassau County who stood with this man over the course of the last three years to apologize to the voters, and renounce their support, along with every organization who endorsed his candidacy.”

Lavine noted, “Each of us is a victim of fraud – whoever represents the 3rd district acts not just for 3rd but the United States. But top of the list of victims of Santos’ fraud is Robert Zimmerman.”

“It’s not about me,” Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic Congressional candidate who Santos defeated, declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I am angry and frustrated too,” Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us. Standing here today, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system, the American Dream.”

At least one in the crowd of hundreds was a Republican who not only voted for George Santos, but helped elect him.

Buyers’ remorse: George Santos’ supporter Teodora Choolfaian plans to tell Santos to resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Teodora Choolfaian said she left the Democratic party, registered Republican and backed Santos over the issue of COVID-mitigation in public schools. Santos came to the rallies she held, and seemed to embrace her call to end mask mandates in school.

But at the rally calling for Santos to resign, she said she believed she had been deceived by Santos. One of her concerns is the source of Santos’ funding – as recently as 2020, he reported a salary of $55,000. In this cycle, his financial disclosures reported a salary of $750,000 plus assets of millions of dollars, without accounting for the source.

She now is calling upon him to resign Santos is worse than you think,” she told reporters.

She will tell Santos as much when she sees him at the swearing in, at the Capitol on January 3, to which she has been invited.

“Follow the money”: Great Neck constituents Bob Fowler, Jody finkel, Sally Marzouk at rally calling for incoming Republican Congressman George Santos to resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Santos’ campaign finance disclosures are now being investigated by the US Attorney, the New York State Attorney General and the Nassau County District Attorney.

A search of the FEC.gov database shows that Santos raised $2.933,614 for his 2022 campaign, including $1,001,151 in itemized individual contributions, $464,406  in unitemized individual contributions,  $12,950 in party committee contributions, $247,551 in other committee contributions, $487,258 in transfers from other authorized committees, $705,000 in loans the candidate made to himself.

The Santos campaign reported spending $3,017,602 in operating expenditures. (https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00721365/).

While a sitting congressman cannot be removed for lying about his background – though the House Ethics committee might see fit to censure him – actual federal crimes are another matter. But investigation and prosecution would take months, possibly years. So New York’s 3rd Congressional district may have to be resigned to waiting to 2024.

See also:

Constituents Call for Federal Investigation into Crimes Arising from George Santos Campaign

Viewpoint: Who owns George Santos? That is the question

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© 2022 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Federal, State Officials Get Serious About Combatting Antisemitism. ‘Silence is Complicity’

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul awards a proclamation to UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein at the Shine a Light event at Times Square to raise awareness of antisemitism and show Jewish pride. Hochul reiterated her support for programs to combat anti-Semitism. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets, writes the organizers of a Shine a Light event in which Jews were called upon to proudly display their identity in lighting the menorah at Times Square. Leaders from President Joe Biden and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and on down have declared that antisemitism, bigotry and hate will no longer be tolerated.

Antisemitism is on the rise across the United States. The Anti-Defamation League which tracks antisemitic behavior nationwide, found 2717 incidents in 2021, a 34 percent rise over 2020 – accompanied by unabashed rise and weaponization of fascism and political violence, the attacks more brazen, more violent, more deadly and more politically strategic.

Charlottesville (where a woman was murdered, after which Trump said there were “good people” on both sides). The Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh.

The Jewish community has a propensity to dismiss anti-Semitic rhetoric and not draw too much attention. But the time is passed for dismissing, or ignoring, or minimizing. American Jews came out to the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square to celebrate and stand up for their Jewish identity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is the highest total we have ever tracked in more than 40 years of doing this work,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League said on Newshour on PBS. “And we should keep in mind that antisemitic acts were going down in the United States for almost 15 years, and then, in 2016, they started to move up. And we’re now at the point where we have nearly triple the number of incidents today that we did in 2015.” In 2022, assaults increased 167 percent, with increases in incidents of vandalism and harassment.  

“So I think antisemitism really isn’t just a Jewish problem. It’s an American problem,” he asserted. “[Antisemitism] is typically the canary in the coal mine. And so, as things are beginning to unravel more broadly, the Jewish community is often the target of scapegoating and victimized in that way.”

Antisemitism is not new in America, but Greenblatt noted, “We have never seen a situation like this before. You had Jews being beaten and brutalized in broad daylight, say, in the middle of Times Square or Los Angeles or the Strip in Las Vegas, where people who were simply identified as Jewish came under assault and attack. That was new. And I think what you’re seeing is a kind of normalization of antisemitism and extremism.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James: “I stand with the Jewish community and Israel. Love will overcome hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Taking a cue from Trump, whose entire political career has been built upon fear-mongering bigotry, politicians who once would never have dared profess support for Hitler and Nazism will actually be in positions of power in Congress, including Marjorie Taylor Greene (who charged that Jewish space lasers were to blame for California’s wildfires and who embraces QAnon, which has repackaged the Jewish Blood Libel conspiracy from the Middle Ages to incite attacks on Jews), while others, like Speaker Wannabe Kevin McCarthy and incoming Congressman George Santos, stand by instead of denouncing attacks.

Celebrities like Kanye West, who command the following of millions use social media to incite attacks on Jews. Only last week, a 63-year old man was attacked in Central Park by a man who shouted anti-Semitic slogans and had a sign, Kanye 2024.

The MC of the Shine a Light event, comedian Ariel Elias, who grew up in Kentucky (very few Jews there) related how a video of her performing in a comedy club went viral after someone threw a beer can at her. She only connected it to antisemitism after noting the timing of the incident: it coincided with Kanye West’s “defcon3” tweet © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In just the few weeks since the recent takeover of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk, who fired moderators and brought back those who were thrown off for inciting violence, hate-filled tweets have increased fivefold.

“The Holocaust didn’t begin with systematic murder of 6 million Jews, it began with rhetoric, normalization of rhetoric that the average person picked up on and ran with; it began with attacks on individuals, businesses, communities, perpetrated by citizens with permission by rhetoric,” Rabbi Michael Knopf, Temple Beth-el, Richmond, told “All Things Considered’ on NPR.

“We ought not to wait around for another Charlottesville, another [Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in] Pittsburgh. “When it manifests, it requires calling out.”

A celebration and statement of Jewish identity at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Jewish community, he said, has a propensity to dismiss anti-Semitic rhetoric, and not draw too much attention. “That is really dangerous. Not just celebrities, but celebrities endorsed by and in relationship with incredibly powerful figures, the former president, refuse to distance themselves from that ideology, welcome and embrace it”. Indeed, they embrace them as their voting base.

But the time is passed for dismissing, or ignoring, or minimizing.

Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets, writes the organizers of a Shine a Light event in which Jews were called upon to proudly display their identity in lighting the menorah at Times Square. Antisemitic incidents and attacks have mushroomed on college campuses, even at City University of New York – indeed, the menorah was lit by four CUNY students who have been victims of antisemitism. Washington DC-area high schoolers, interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, how they are made to feel like outsiders, diminished, less equal, and have new fears of being attacked.

Montana Tucker, TikTok Influencer, at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square. “Antisemitism is intensifying. Our efforts to fight it must be even stronger. Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets,” the organizers stated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, chairing the first-ever White House summit to combat antisemitism and hate-fueled violence, cited “an epidemic of hate, a rapid rise in antisemitic rhetoric and acts. Let me clear, words matter. People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud, they are literally screaming them.”

President Biden is taking action, establishing an inter-agency group led by Domestic Policy Council staff and National Security Council staff to increase and better coordinate federal government efforts to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination. The President has tasked the inter-agency group as its first order of business to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism by raising understanding about antisemitism and the threat it poses to the Jewish community and all Americans, and addressing antisemitic harassment and abuse both online and offline. The President also has secured the largest increase in federal funding ever for the physical security of non-profits, including synagogues and Jewish Community Centers.

The Ramaz Upper School Choir at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One can almost process antisemitism in rearing up in places where there are few Jews and therefore so easy to fabricate the fantastical conspiracies and caricatures. But New York City? Long Island? New York State, which has the largest population of Jews outside of Israel, which is the most richly filled melting pot of nationalities, religions, races on the planet? What does that say?

Governor Kathy Hochul, who came out to the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square on Monday, days earlier announced the launch of a new statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, within the state’s Division of Human Rights. The unit is charged with leading public education and outreach efforts, serving as an early warning detection system in local communities, and quickly mobilizing to support areas and communities in which a bias incident has occurred.

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Kathy  Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.”   Among the issues she raised during the Shine a Light event was the need to teach about the Holocaust with substance, not passing lip service. Holocaust education is mandated in the state’s curriculum.

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Kathy  Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Governor announced $96 million in state and federal funding to safeguard nonprofit, community-based organizations at risk of hate crimes and attacks; and directed $10 million in state grant funds to support county governments as they develop domestic terrorism prevention plans and threat assessment and management teams.

Rapper Nissim Baruch Black performs at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Hate and Bias Prevention Unit will be responsible for establishing and implementing a statewide campaign promoting acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, and understanding of diversity, as required by legislation signed last month by Governor Hochul, The campaign will coordinate and cooperate with public and private organizations, including, but not limited to, local governments, community groups, school districts, places of worship, charitable organizations, and foundations and will develop educational materials to be published on the internet, social media, and other platforms to reach the public. The Division also works with the New York State Police to educate New Yorkers on the State’s hate crimes laws.

The cast of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, directed by Joe Gray, now playing until Jan 1st, give a taste of their performance © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Shine a Light event – which drew New York Attorney General Letitia James (who called antisemitism “a malignant cancer” that must be wiped out) in addition to Governor Hochul and was organized by UJA Federation New York, AJC New York, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, ADl-New York/New Jersey– was aimed at giving Jews an opportunity to proudly display their identity and commitment to their faith and heritage and raise awareness more broadly of antisemitism.

The Moshav Band brings cheer at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square, a celebration and declaration of Jewish identity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The MC of the event, comedian Ariel Elias, who grew up in Kentucky (very few Jews there) related how a video of her performing in a comedy club went viral after someone threw a beer can at her. She only connected it to antisemitism after noting the timing of the incident: it coincided with Kanye West’s “defcon3” tweet.

“What I was talking about [before the beer can was thrown] was being Jewish and growing up in Kentucky,” Elias said. “But because antisemitism doesn’t always look the way it used to, it took a long time for me to connect the dots when it first happened.”

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. (Little Rock, AR), President, African American Mayors Association, declared his support for combating antisemitism at the Shine a Light event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Antisemitism is intensifying. Our efforts to fight it must be even stronger.Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets,” the Shine a Light organizers stated. Shine a Light comprises more than 80 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations which are committed to addressing rising antisemitism.

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square: “People are not born hating, they are taught to hate,” pointing to the unthinkable incidents of antisemitism on New York’s campuses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Antisemitic incidents and attacks have mushroomed on college campuses, even at City University of New York – indeed, the menorah in Times Square was lit by four CUNY students who have been victims of antisemitism. Washington DC-area high schoolers, interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, how they are made to feel like outsiders, diminished, less equal, and have new fears of being attacked.

UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein, who spoke at the Shine a Light event, said that putting on an event like this in a public place is important in order to show that Jews are standing up to antisemitism. “A really important piece of this is to live [a] proudly public, happy Jewish life.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein, who spoke at the Shine a Light event, told the New York Jewish Week that putting on an event like this in a public place is important in order to show that Jews are standing up to antisemitism. “A really important piece of this is to live [a] proudly public, happy Jewish life.”

Around Manhattan, there were numerous trucks manned by Orthodox Jews, playing festive music. “Are you Jewish,” someone would ask, and offering a Hanukkah kit in a box.

Dancing in the street on Fifth Avenue in celebration of Hanukkah © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We are here. We are here to stay.

“We live in a very challenging world, and the only thing we can use to overcome hatred, intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism is light – because light overcomes darkness and hatred,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said at a “Latkes and Lights” celebration at the county executive building.

“We live in a very challenging world, and the only thing we can use to overcome hatred, intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism is light – because light overcomes darkness and hatred,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said at a “Latkes and Lights” celebration © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Drucker, a member of the county’s Task Forceto CombatAntisemitism which was formed in May, said “The biggest problem is education. The task force intends to meet with school district administrators to get input –from faculty, student body – as to the root cause of antisemitism “rearing its ugly head. We are seeing symptoms throughout the country. We don’t want it to happen here. One example is too many.” He said he has reached out to Hochul’s office to being named as a Long Island representative on the satellite offices she is setting up throughout the state.

But in fact, there are been many instances, now, of antisemitism on Long Island, including leaflets left in neighborhoods suggesting a Jewish cabal controlling government, and only weeks ago, a Long Island man arrested at Penn Station with weapons who had made threats against the Jewish community.

Just this month, Municipal Leaders Against Antisemitism was formed to counter an uptick in antisemitic incidents in Long Island. There were 28 incidents in Nassau County so far this year, up from 24 in 2021.

At a Hanukkah reception at the White House, Biden stated that in the face of emboldened antisemitism in the US and around the world, “silence is complicity and we must forcefully say that all forms of hate, antisemitism and violence can have no safe harbor in America.”

Still, the question must be despite all these positive pronouncements and announcements and initiatives, whether it is just lip service or actual action, and whether these programs will be sustained long enough to reverse course again, making antisemitism culturally deplorable.

Happy Hanukkah for all those who celebrate – proudly.

__________________________

© 2022 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Announces COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan

Administration focused efforts on making vaccinations, testin, and treatments even more widely available and accessible as COVID-19 cases increase
 

The Biden Administration’s plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter includes working with states, medical providers, businesses, and other groups to expand awareness about updated COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective treatments, and resources to stand up additional vaccination sites and other delivery options to make it easier and more convenient to get vaccinations and treatments. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features

The Biden Administration announced a plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter. While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays. Throughout the COVID-19 response, this Administration has been prepared for whatever the virus throws our way – and this moment is no different.
 
The Administration’s COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan includes:
 
Expanding easy access to free COVID-19 testing options in the winter. COVID-19 testing is an important tool to help mitigate and slow the spread of the virus. The Administration is encouraging Americans to use at-home COVID-19 tests when they have symptoms of COVID-19, before and after traveling for the holidays, or visiting indoors with immunocompromised or vulnerable individuals. The Administration has made free COVID-19 testing widely available and easily accessible. This includes providing over 15,000 free community testing sites nationwide, covering over-the-counter tests under Medicare, and requiring all health insurance plans to cover eight free at-home tests per month per individual, which can be easily accessed at local pharmacies and online. Ahead of continued increases in cases, the Administration is taking new action to ensure that all Americans have easy and free access to COVID-19 tests in the winter months.
 

  • Making free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available through COVIDTests.govThe Administration is announcing that COVIDTests.gov is open for a limited round of ordering this winter. Starting today, all U.S. households can order a total of four at-home COVID-19 tests that will be mailed directly to them for free. In the absence of Congress providing additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration has acted with its limited existing funding to add more at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation’s stockpile and support this round of ordering ahead of continued increases in COVID-19 cases. Orders for this round of testing will begin to ship starting the week of December 19th and continue in the weeks ahead. The Administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low-vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8:00 a.m. to midnight E.T., seven days a week. For more information, people can visit www.COVIDTests.gov.  
     
  • Distributing more free tests to Americans at trusted locations. In addition to continuing to support access to free COVID-19 tests in schools, community health centers, rural health clinics, long-term care facilities, and other convenient locations, the Administration is announcing additional distribution programs to reach people with free, at-home tests. This includes distributing free at-home tests at more than 6,500 Department of Housing and Urban Development-assisted rental housing properties serving seniors; and expanding a program to distribute free at-home tests to as many as 500 major food banks for them to distribute to people in their communities.

 
Making vaccinations and treatments readily available to all Americans as cases rise. As we have throughout the pandemic, the federal government continues to leverage all capabilities to support state, local, territorial, and Tribal communities to prepare for, prevent, and respond to increased incidence of COVID-19. That includes working with states, medical providers, businesses, and other groups to expand awareness about updated COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective treatments, and resources to stand up additional vaccination sites and other delivery options to make it easier and more convenient to get vaccinations and treatments. 

  • Offering resources and assistance to increase vaccinations and respond to a possible surge. Today, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is sending a letter to all governors outlining key actions that he would like state leaders to take as they prepare for increased cases and hospitalizations this winter, and reminding them of federal supports that are available for their COVID-19 responses. This includes setting up additional mobile and pop-up vaccination sites, surge testing sites, as well as Test to Treat sites where Americans can not only get tested for free, but also can get prescribed and dispensed safe, effective COVID-19 treatments right on site if they test positive and treatment is appropriate for them.
     
  • Collaborating with communities to open pop-up and/or mobile vaccination sites. Communities across the nation are answering the call to expand vaccine access through the increased presence of mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics. This includes efforts in Los Angeles County to open up to 800 pop-up clinics per week; expanded use of mobile vaccination, testing, and treatment units, as well as outbound vaccine and treatment calls to people age 65 and older, at-home administration of vaccines and free home delivery of treatments in New York City; and an increase in Chicago’s at-home vaccine administration program, which provides vaccines for up to 10 people per visit in their place of residence. The Administration has been engaging jurisdictions on the availability of federal resources to continue and increase these efforts, including through use of flexible single-dose vials, and will continue to engage state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in the weeks ahead.
     
  • Getting additional resources to community health centers and aging and disability networks to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Administration for Community Living is awarding $125 million to support community-based organizations in the aging and disability networks to hold accessible vaccine clinics and provide in-home vaccinations, transportation, and other supportive services to increase COVID-19 vaccinations for older adults and people with disabilities.

 
Preparing personnel and resources. Together with states, we will monitor the impacts of variants, cases, and hospitalizations on our communities and – should it become necessary – escalate our support to states and communities. The Administration stands ready with federal capabilities to support urgent needs as they present, including through clinical staffing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and technical assistance. 
 
Readying clinical personnel for deployment as needed to support jurisdictions. The Administration continues to make federal teams and medical personnel available to alleviate strains on hospitals and health care systems through the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the U.S. Public Health Services Corps, and the Department of Defense. Federal agencies can also help offer support for states to take actions, such as providing more flexibility to hospitals balancing patients and staffing, exercising telemedicine options, pursuing staffing options such as contracts, and employing the National Guard to help alleviate strains on health and medical facilities.  
 

  • Pre-positioning critical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. Tanks to the President’s leadership, the U.S. government has hundreds of millions of N-95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns, and over 100,000 ventilators stored in the Strategic National Stockpile—all ready to ship out if and when states need them. The Administration has pre-positioned these supplies in strategic locations across the country so that we can send them to states that need them immediately.
     
  • Closely monitoring emerging variants and assessing their potential impacts on testing, treatments and vaccines. This winter, federal agencies will continue to monitor Omicron subvariants and the spread of any other emerging variants of the virus in the United States. This includes genomic surveillance of specimens from representative populations to detect new variants and to monitor trends in currently circulating variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks and reports on genomic sequencing results from a variety of sources, including public health and commercial laboratories.  CDC also recently expanded variant reporting from additional sources, including wastewater and through international air travel. The Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance Program currently collects samples from international air travelers arriving from more than 25 countries at several major U.S. airports. This data, which provides an early warning system for detection of variants and trends over time, is publicly shared on the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.


Focusing on protecting the highest-risk Americans. As we have done since the beginning of the Administration, we remain focused on meeting the needs and protecting Americans at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes residents of nursing homes and other congregate care facilities, where we know vaccination rates remain too low. This also includes older Americans, individuals who are immunocompromised, disabled individuals, and others who face a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.   

  • Releasing a winter playbook for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Administration will release a winter playbook for administrators of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that summarizes the actions these facilities should take to reduce serious illness, prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and minimize disruptions in their communities. Nursing homes often serve residents at great risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, and congregate care settings have an increased risk of spread of respiratory infections. All facilities should take concrete actions to ensure that every resident is educated on and offered an updated COVID-19 shot; that every resident who tests positive for COVID-19 is evaluated and offered treatment; and that every facility is taking steps to improve its indoor air quality.
     
  • Expanding the pool of providers that may administer COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition to working with their partners, staff at nursing homes will now be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to all residents. HHS will work with states to launch teams and use partner with their Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), home health agencies, and Emergency Medical Technicians to deliver vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities. On December 1, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also added COVID-19 vaccination rates of health care staff and the residents at these facilities to the “Measures under Consideration” list, the list of measures it will potentially consider for certain Medicare quality payment programs, reinforcing its commitment to increased vaccination and improving outcomes for patients.
     
  • Reaching out to governors on nursing home vaccinations. In Secretary Becerra’s letter to governors reminding them of available federal COVID-19 supports, he also highlighted how their states are performing as compared to their peers on vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, and asked governors for their assistance and partnership in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates for long-term care residents and staff. CMS leadership will also be reaching out to the jurisdictions with the lowest vaccination rates at these long-term care facilities to remind them of what additional steps they can take to increase vaccination rates among seniors and long-term care facility residents.
     
  • Encouraging hospitals to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to patients before discharge. HHS leadership, including Secretary Becerra, has called upon hospitals through direct outreach to vaccinate their unvaccinated patients or make sure they are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations before they are discharged, especially if they are heading to a nursing home.
     
  • Expanding access to high-quality masks in communities. In January 2022, HHS made up to 400 million N-95 respirators from the Strategic National Stockpile available through tens of thousands of locations including pharmacies and grocery stores, so Americans could have convenient, free access to high-quality masks. About 270 million masks were sent out as part of this initiative, with many still available in stores nationwide. To expand access to these high-quality masks, HHS will offer guidance to participating pharmacies and grocery stores on how they can to work with local health clinics, aging and disability networks, community-based organizations, and health departments to distribute these masks more widely, so that any spare inventory can be utilized through distribution to even more locations.
     
  • Ensuring that every individual has a plan for COVID-19 this winter. With updated COVID-19 vaccines, at-home tests, and effective oral antiviral treatments widely available, the Administration encourages every individual American to have a plan for how to prevent and respond to COVID-19 this winter. CDC has launched a COVID-19 Personal Action Plan, an easy-to-use guide for individuals, caregivers, and clinicians that helps guide individuals through making a plan for where to access free tests, the location of their closest Test to Treat site, and what to ask their provider on treatments if they test positive. The Personal Action Plan helps lay these steps out in an easy-to-use template so that all Americans – especially those at highest risk for severe illness – can decrease the risk of COVID-19 and, if they become infected, have a plan to quickly seek out treatment and avoid its worst outcomes.

Biden-Harris Administration Releases Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook for Clean Energy and Climate Programs

Solar powered New York State farm. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair, U.S. Climate Alliance stated: “States are leading the way to a cleaner, greener climate and with the extraordinary investments made possible through the IRA, we’re getting ready to transform our states and our country. Thanks to the hard work of President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, New York and the United States are poised to rapidly reduce emissions, support green jobs, save money for hard-working Americans, and improve the health of our communities. This new resource is a critical tool to help get the job done.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House released the first edition of a new resource titled Building a Clean Energy Economy: A Guidebook to the Inflation Reduction Act’s Investments in Clean Energy and Climate Action, which provides clear descriptions of the law’s tax incentives and funding programs to build a clean energy economy, lower energy costs, tackle climate change, and reduce harmful pollution. The Guidebook will help state, local, territorial, and Tribal leaders, the private sector, non-profit organizations, homeowners, and communities better understand how they can benefit from these investments and unlock the full potential of the law. The Guidebook walks through the law program-by-program and provides background on each program’s purpose, eligibility requirements, period of availability, and other key details. 

In a letter at the beginning of the Guidebook, John Podesta, President Biden’s Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, said:
 
“When President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August 2022, he said the new law ‘is not just about today, it’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families.’ The Inflation Reduction Act makes a historic commitment to build a new clean energy economy, powered by American innovators, American workers, and American manufacturers, that will create good-paying, union jobs and cut the pollution that is fueling the climate crisis and driving environmental injustice.”
 
The Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook follows the successful model of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook and creates a roadmap for the clean energy and climate funding available under the law at the program level.
 
Since President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act four months ago, his administration has been working quickly to design, develop, and implement its programs. This Guidebook provides information on current and prospective clean energy and climate programs. In the coming weeks and months, new developments will be published on www.CleanEnergy.gov to keep stakeholders and potential beneficiaries up to date on the latest deadlines and details.
 
The Inflation Reduction Act builds on the foundational climate and clean energy investments in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Through his historic legislative accomplishments, along with key executive actions and international leadership, the Administration is delivering on the President’s ambitious climate agenda centered on workers, families, and communities. President Biden has made transparent communication and open engagement top priorities as a means to ensure successful implementation and to fully unlock the unprecedented benefits of the law. This Guidebook is critical step toward delivering on that vision.
 
To view the Guidebook in full, click here.
 
Here’s what leaders have to say about the new Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook:
 
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair, U.S. Climate Alliance: “States are leading the way to a cleaner, greener climate and with the extraordinary investments made possible through the IRA, we’re getting ready to transform our states and our country. Thanks to the hard work of President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, New York and the United States are poised to rapidly reduce emissions, support green jobs, save money for hard-working Americans, and improve the health of our communities. This new resource is a critical tool to help get the job done.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, Texas: “Cities have long been on the frontlines of climate change, but the federal support provided by the Inflation Reduction Act will allow us to take action like never before. We thank Congress and President Biden for passing such historic legislation and providing guidance to lawmakers which will light the path forward to justice driven environmental policies, clean energy economies and a livable planet for all.”
 
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Madison, Wisconsin, Co-Chair of Climate Mayors: “As the incoming Chair of Climate Mayors, I am pleased that Congress and the White House are delivering critical resources for climate action in the form of the historic Inflation Reduction act, and providing strong guidance for policy makers. We are eager to begin implementing the Inflation Reduction Act at the local level and will be making use of the climate provisions, rebates, and tax breaks within it to better the lives of people in our communities while also securing a sustainable, resilient, and prosperous future for all.”
 
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): “The Inflation Reduction Act is the most robust and forward-looking climate bill ever enacted. Solar and storage companies are eager for clear guidance on the bill so they can focus on creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for all Americans and deploying low-cost, reliable energy in communities across the country. Timely, easy to understand discussion of this transformative – but complex – new law is exactly what consumers and industry alike need and we look forward to referring to the IRA Guidebook for this valuable information as we work with other allies to build an equitable and just clean energy future.”
 
Lori Lodes, Executive Director, Climate Power: “Passing the Inflation Reduction Act was an historic victory in the fight against climate change. Now, it’s time for the hard work of implementing the law and making sure people understand how the climate and clean energy investments will positively impact their lives and keep their communities healthy and strong. Cleaner, cheaper, American-made energy is taking off. The guidebook is a critical resource to help people and communities get the information needed to use the incentives found in the climate law.”
 
Faye Park, President, U.S. PIRG: “The new Implementation Guidebook for the Inflation Reduction Act makes it clear: Consumers, cities, states, businesses and community organizations now have myriad opportunities to reduce pollution that makes us sick and worsens global warming. Cities can swap dirty buses and garbage trucks for clean electric ones. Your favorite home chef can get a clean electric or induction stove that doesn’t increase the risk of asthma for their kids. All of us can save energy in our homes and businesses. We encourage everyone to use this great resource to learn more.”
 
Lisa Frank, Executive Director, Washington Legislative Office, Environment America: “Climate change is a problem that impacts all of us. Now, the Inflation Reduction Act helps us all be part of the solution too, by making it cheaper and easier for Americans to go solar, purchase an electric vehicle or weatherize their home. This new implementation guidebook will help raise awareness of new tax incentives and other programs we can use to take President Biden up on this historic offer to save energy, save money and save the planet. We’re excited to put it to work.”
 
David Masur, Executive Director, PennEnvironment: “The Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits and climate programs will help Pennsylvanians breathe cleaner air, make their homes more energy efficient and expand our use of clean, renewable energy. Thanks to the new Implementation Guidebook, it’ll be easier for cities, school districts, community organizations and all Pennsylvanians to understand and utilize these beneficial programs.”

NYC Celebrates Holiday Season

The famous Christmas Tree above the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink is a hallmark of the holidays in New York © Karen Rubin/goingplacefarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The arrival of Santa on his sleigh to close out the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ushers in the beginning of or the holiday season throughout New York City and the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center means festivities are well underway. 

As one of the most iconic holiday destinations, NYC once again hosts a potpourri of festive experiences, attractions and events across dining, shopping, culture and entertainment throughout the city. Here are highlights:

HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES

A New York City holiday staple: Radio City Rockettes performing Christmas Spectacular Wooden Soldiers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
  • DREAM BIG: Big Apple Circus Returns to Lincoln Center for 45th Anniversary, Nov. 9–Jan. 1. For eight weeks, Big Top at Lincoln Center will be home to astonishing wonders and daring acrobatics, setting imaginations soaring to the most astounding, awe-inspiring heights.
  • Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, Nov. 18–Jan. 2 has dazzled audiences of all ages for nearly a century with incredible costumes, festive songs, synchronized high kicks, new acts and several shows daily.
  • A Christmas Carola one-man show on Broadway, Nov. 21–Jan. 1. In this astonishing Broadway adaptation, Tony Award–winning actor Jefferson Mays tackles more than 50 roles in this season’s limited run of A Christmas Carol at the Nederlander Theatre. The beloved Dickens story featuring notable characters—Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the four ghosts—is making its return for the first time since 2019 and will enchant theatergoers with its redemptive story.
  • George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Presented by New York City Ballet, Nov. 25–Dec. 31 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center returns for its annual performance featuring exquisite costumes, magnificent sets and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score that transports audiences to a land of twirling snowflakes, leaping candy canes, waltzing flowers and more. On November 27, TDF Autism Friendly Performances will present the first-ever Autism-Friendly Performance of New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center, Nov. 30–Dec. 24, returns to New York City Center for a season that has become a joyous winter tradition. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will move audiences with world and company premieres by Kyle Abraham, Jamar Roberts, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. In addition to repertory favorites, founder Alvin Ailey’s choreography is spotlighted with a new production of Survivors and the staging of over a half dozen classic works, including the must-see American masterpiece Revelations.
  • The Magic Flute Holiday Presentation at The Met Opera, Dec. 16–Jan. 6. The Met Opera’s abridged, English-language version of Mozart’s magical fairy tale is a classic holiday treat for audiences of all ages, bringing the charming story and enchanting music to life. This year’s series features Maestro Duncan Ward, making his company debut conducting Julie Taymor’s irresistible production.

CULTURAL EVENTS

The NY Phil annual tradition returns Dec. 16-17 with the holiday Brass and former Philharmonic Principal Trumpet Philip Smith as host, conductor, and trumpet (Photo by Jennifer Taylor)

HOLIDAY LIGHTS

Amaze Light Festival is the newest holiday attraction in New York City © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
  • Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards, throughout the holidays, Hudson Yards, Manhattan. Featuring over 2 million twinkling lights, Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards, presented by Wells Fargo, adorns the neighborhood with 115-miles of string lights, 725 evergreen trees dressed and 16-foot-tall illuminated set pieces in the shape of hot air balloons arranged through the Public Square and Gardens with a 32-foot hot air balloon centerpiece suspended in The Great Room of The Shops and Restaurants.
  • Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Nov. 16–Jan. 8, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Explore the garden after dark at the illuminated Lightscape, celebrating the beauty of nature with an enchanting one-mile trail through BBG’s 52-acre landscape. Sold out in its first season, this year’s after-dark, illuminated spectacular features new works of art alongside returning favorites. Enjoy the Winter Cathedral tunnel, Fire Garden and Sea of Light, as well as new site-specific light works by local artists, accompanied by a curated soundtrack.
  • Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights, Nov. 18–Jan. 8, Bronx Park, The Bronx. With more than 360 lanterns representing nearly 90 animal and plant species, Bronx Zoo’s family-centric holiday lights festival will connect visitors with real wildlife and wild places. During the evenings, the park comes to life with holiday cheer as immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns (with some life-size, some larger-than-life-size) and animated light shows sparkle across the zoo. The celebration is complete with seasonal treats, classic holiday music and other festive entertainment. The beloved tradition is sure to enchant visitors of all ages, making it the perfect way to kick off the holidays this year.
  • NYBG GLOW, Select dates from November 18–January 14, Bedford Park, The Bronx. Discover the beauty of New York Botanical Garden through NYBG GLOW, which will illuminate the garden’s landmark landscape and historic buildings after dark with a newly expanded 1.5-mile colorful experience. Building upon sold-out evenings the past two years, the event is expanded across more of the garden’s collections.
  • Amaze Light Festival at Citi Field, Select dates from Nov. 20–Jan. 8, Flushing, Queens. Guests are greeted by the lovable characters Zing and Sparky from the Amaze storybook, who bring the stage dancers, singers and light show to life with their magic powers. Visit the holiday market and grab a treat at Sparky’s Sweet Spot. Enjoy culinary treats, specialty drinks and cocktails. Zip down Zing’s icy Thrill Hill, take in the wonder on a train ride, and write a letter to Santa.
  • NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Journey to the East, Oct. 21–Jan. 8, St. George, Staten Island. The NYC Winter Lantern Festival is back for its fourth year to transform a new venue, SIUH Community Park in Staten Island, into an immersive world of light. Enjoy over eight acres of luminescence, live DJ, projection mapping, food vendors.
  • NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Illuminate the Farm at Queens County Farm Museum, Nov. 11–Jan. 8, Glen Oaks, Queens. Back for its second year, the NYC Winter Lantern Festival transforms Queens County Farm into an immersive and radiant oasis with festive lights and handmade lanterns in the shape of flowers, tractors, farm animals.
  • Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights from A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Dec. 1–31 (except 24 & 25), Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Experience the extravagant Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, also known as “Dyker Lights.” This guided bus tour, departing from Manhattan, offers visitors a special experience to view the uniquely decorated homes, learn about the history and stories of the neighborhood tradition.

ICE-SKATING, OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES:

Holidays in New York City: Ice skating at Bryant Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
  • The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Nov. 5 throughout the holidays. Skate under the iconic Christmas tree, a quintessential NYC experience on the world-famous rink. In collaboration with Coach, Rockefeller Center will unveil this year’s activations, including a bespoke holiday gift shop, custom hospitality cart serving special treats, and live onsite patch customization for a curated line of Coach products. Santa will join visitors on the ice in December.
  • The Rink at Bryant Park, Oct. 28 throughout the holidays, Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy NYC’s free 17,000-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Visitors can also enjoy the Holiday Shops, free shows, events, activities, and eats and drinks at The Lodge.
  • Wollman Rink in Central Park, Oct. 23–throughout the holidays, Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy skating in Central Park with the picturesque Manhattan skyline in the background. This year, Wollman Rink is partnering with Culture Pass.
  •  Classic Harbor Line Holiday-Themed Cruises, throughout the holidays, Manhattan. Enjoy four-course holiday brunch cruises, a Cocoa and Carols cruise and more holiday themes, while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers with views of the NYC skyline and Lady Liberty.
  • City Cruises Holiday-Themed Cruises, throughout the holidays, Manhattan. Enjoy a NYC dining cruise (available Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s) featuring festive decor, meals and stunning views of the City while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers from the glass-enclosed deck.

FESTIVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING

  • Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, Oct. 28 throughout the holiday season, Bryant Park, Manhattan.
  • Shop at Grand Central Terminal, Nov. 14–Dec. 24, Midtown Manhattan. Grand Central Terminal welcomes back its famous indoor Holiday Fair to the splendor of Vanderbilt Hall after a two-year hiatus. The Grand Central Holiday Fair is one of New York City’s most coveted attractions, welcoming thousands of locals, commuters and visitors for a curated holiday shopping and gifting experience. This year’s event features 36 vendors, including Ekologic, Garden of Silver and Rebel Designs.
  • Union Square Holiday Market, Nov. 17–Dec. 24, Union Square, Manhattan. Urbanspace’s longest running holiday market returns with over 160 vendors featuring unique gifts created by local craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs.
  • Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market, Sundays, Nov. 24–Dec. 24, Dumbo, Brooklyn. Come to Pearl Street for Dumbo’s iconic Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market. One of the borough’s most popular attractions, shoppers support local vendors and cross off holiday shopping with vintage and antique items, crafts and gourmet food stands.
  • Grand Holiday Bazaar, Sundays, Nov. 27–Dec. 18, Upper West Side, Manhattan. Find one-of-a-kind handmade holiday decoration and giftable items: candles, skincare, fashion, handbags, vintage accessories and collectibles, handmade jewelry and furniture, rare antique silver and glassware, and of course delicious artisanal treats and foods. Annually, the market provides 1,000 independent local merchants with much-needed affordable retail space.
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Nov. 28–Dec. 24, Upper West Side, Manhattan. Internationally known as one of the most elegant places for holiday shopping, visitors will lose themselves in aisles of art, jewelry, home goods and delicious eats from local artisans and designers, with the backdrop of NYC’s iconic Central Park.

NEW YEAR’S  

New Year’s Eve in Times Square, NYC
  • New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop, Dec. 31–Jan. 1, Times Square, Manhattan: The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball will sparkle in Times Square all season, but watching its descent in person on New Year’s Eve is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year. Guests can also stop by the New Year’s Eve Confetti Wishing Wall from December 1 on to submit (in person and online herefor nye wishing wall) a wish for the New Year on a piece of official NYE confetti that will be dropped at midnight as the ball drops. 
  •  NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park, Dec 31–Jan. 1, Midtown Manhattan: Start the new year off on the right—and left—foot at the NYRR Midnight Run. Join the fun and celebrate as 2022 comes to a close; the countdown to 2023 begins at 11:59pm, and at the stroke of midnight, a fireworks display will light up the night sky and kick off the start of the 4-mile race.
  • Coney Island Polar Plunge, January 1, Coney Island, Brooklyn: Each year on January 1, members of the Polar Bear Club and anyone else brave enough to participate venture into the frigid waters at Coney Island. Watch hundreds of daring souls plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, where the temperature of the water hovers right above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature can be well below freezing. The event is free, but in lieu of admission, participants are encouraged to donate to community organizations.

For additional holiday celebrations and itineraries, visit nycgo.com/holidays.

For the official source on all there is to see and do in New York City, go to nycgo.com

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected] Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Photo Highlights: Holiday Season Officially Underway, With Arrival of Santa at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The 96th edition of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® got underway with more than 5,000 volunteers, 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, 700 clowns, 12 marching bands and 10 performance groups, plus a host of musical stars and celebrities, climaxed with the arrival of the one-and-only Santa Claus on his grand sleigh © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® returned to full strength on Thursday, November 24 to usher in the holiday season. The 96th edition of Macy’s iconic spectacle got underway with the cheer 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Let’s Have A Parade During the course of the parade, hundreds of thousands of onlookers thrilled to see more than 5,000 volunteers, 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, 700 clowns, 12 marching bands and 10 performance groups, plus a host of musical stars and celebrities, climaxed with the arrival of the one-and-only Santa Claus on his grand sleigh.

Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cuts the ribbon to launch the  96th edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 “Since its first march in 1924 and through the decades, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has served to bring joy to the millions who gather nationwide each year to experience it with friends and family,” said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, who cut the ribbon to launch the parade. “This November, as we once again set the stage for the start of the holiday season, we are thrilled to showcase another spectacle full of magic and wonder that will help create everlasting memories with loved ones during this special time of year.”

 
Mario Lopez and family ride in the iconic turkey float that leads the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down Central Park West to 34th Street  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Stars on 34th Street

Arriving at 34st Street by float were Paula Abdul; Big Time Rush; Cam; Jordan Davis; Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz; Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan; Jimmy Fallon & The Roots; Fitz and the Tantrums; Kirk Franklin; Mario Lopez and family; Ziggy Marley; Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles; the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®; Sean Paul; the cast of Peacock’s Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin (Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg); Joss Stone; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Jordin Sparks; Dionne Warwick; Betty Who; and Santa Claus.

Mario Lopez and family ride in the iconic turkey float that leads the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down Central Park West to 34th Street  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ballooning Icons

Conceived during the Parade’s infancy, the giant character balloons have become a signature of the annual celebration. Since 1927, the world’s most popular characters have been transformed into high-flying art in the sky. Originally inspired by marionettes, the Parade’s balloons first debuted as upside down puppets filled with air, which were carried down the Parade route on sticks. The design later evolved to include helium, making them high-flying giants. Over time Macy’s artists innovated creating several types of inflatables including balloonheads (inflated heads sitting atop of a costumed participant), balloonicles (hybrid inflatables with vehicles inside) and most recently, trycaloons (tandem tricycles with an inflated balloon character).

Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Books © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New giants joining the line-up this year included Bluey by BBC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
DINO and Baby DINO by Sinclair Oil © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stuart the Minion from Illumination © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New giants joining the line-up this year included Bluey by BBC; Diary of A Wimpy Kid®by Abrams Books; DINO and Baby DINO by Sinclair Oil; and Stuart the Minion from Illumination.

A Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu™ by Funko and in partnership with Lucasfilm © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The classic Pillsbury Doughboy by Pillsbury © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Boss Baby from DreamWorks Animation © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Making return appearances to the skies above New York City were giant balloon favorites including Ada TwistScientist by Netflix; Astronaut Snoopy by PEANUTS Worldwide; The Boss Baby from DreamWorks Animation; Goku by Toei Animation; a Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu™ by Funko and in partnership with Lucasfilm;Chase from PAW Patrol®by Nickelodeon; Pillsbury Doughboyby PillsburyRed Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch; Ronald McDonald®by McDonald’s®USA; Papa Smurf from The Smurfsby Nickelodeon; Pikachu& Eevee™ by The Pokémon Company International; and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon.

Ada TwistScientist by Netflix © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is famous for its giant balloons, a signature of the event since 1927 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Goku by Toei Animation © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Smokey Bear by the USDA Forest Service © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ronald McDonald® by McDonald’s®USA © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Astronaut Snoopy by PEANUTS Worldwide © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Papa Smurf from The Smurfsby Nickelodeon
Red Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch;

The inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports. Returning inflatables include Sinclair’s Baby DINOs, the Go Bowlingballoonicles; Hot Air Dolly by Universal Orlando Resort, Smokey Bear by the USDA Forest Service; and Macy’s very own special reindeer Tiptoe and Toni the Bandleader Bear.

The inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports, in honor of the US Mens Team playing at the World Cup in Qatar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports, in honor of the US Mens Team playing at the World Cup in Qatar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Floating Fantasy

The Parade’s signature floats transported spectators to magical worlds. Conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy’s Parade Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, balloon technicians, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and costume designers – this year’s line-up of floats showcased the animated theatricality that the Macy’s Parade has become world-famous for.

Paula Abdul arrives by Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O float © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party by Toys“R”Us with Jordin Sparks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This year five new floats debuted in the Turkey Day celebration, carrying performers: Baby Shark by Pinkfong and Nickelodeon (Ziggy Marley); Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party by Toys“R”Us (Jordin Sparks); People of First Light by Macy’s; Supersized Slumber by Netflix (Ballet Hispánico); and The Wondership by Wonder (Cam).

The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Brick-changer by The LEGO® Group carries Fitz and the Tantrums © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Big City Cheer by Spirit of America Productions float carries Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
People of First Light by Macy’s © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Colossal Wave of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions carries Sean Paul © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Birds of a Feather Stream Together by Peacock® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Macy’s Choir) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The returning float roster and its scheduled performers included 1-2-3 Sesame Street®by Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big City Cheer by Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles); Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O (Paula Abdul); Birds of a Feather Stream Together by Peacock® (Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg); Blue’s Clues & You! by Nickelodeon (Josh Dela Cruz); The Brick-changer by The LEGO® Group (Fitz and the Tantrums); Celebration Gator by the Louisiana Office of Tourism (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue); Christmas in Town Square by Lifetime® (Kirk Franklin); Colossal Wave of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (Sean Paul); Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan); Elf Pets®by The Lumistella Company®Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s®Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder™ (Big Time Rush); Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant® (Jordan Davis); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Joss Stone); Her Future is STEM-Sational by Olay (Betty Who); Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Macy’s Choir); Magic Meets the Sea by Disney Cruise Line (Captain Minnie Mouse and Friends); Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Snoopy’s Doghouse by PEANUTS Worldwide; Tom Turkey (Mario Lopez and family); Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Dionne Warwick); and Winter Wonderland in Central Park (Jimmy Fallon & The Roots).

Dionne Warwick on Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Sean Paul © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ziggy Marley © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Trombone Shorty © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Jimmy Fallon & The Roots © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Strike Up the Band

Bringing the beat to the holiday revelry were some of the most gifted marching ensembles in the country:  Benedict College (Columbia, SC), Bourbon County High School (Paris, KY), Carmel High School (Carmel, IN), Clovis North Educational Center (Fresno, CA), Delfines Marching Band (Veracruz, Mexico), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), The Queer Big Apple Corps (New York, NY), South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD), Tarpon Springs High School (Tarpon Springs, FL), University of Missouri (Columbia, MO), and Vandegrift High School (Austin, TX).

University of Missouri Marching Mizzou © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Queer Big Apple Marching Band © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 Clovis North Educational Center (Fresno, CA) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Performance Spotlight

This year’s lineup of performance groups featured the dazzling dancers of Ballet Hispánico, the hilarious Big Apple Circus, the rhythmic movement of Boss Kids, the artistry of the Fusion Winter Guard, two-steps and high kicks from the Kilgore Rangerettes, the puppeteering skills of Phantom Limb, the iconic stepping of The Sigma Gamma Rho Centennial Steppers, the energetic moves of the St. John’s Dance Team, and the exuberance of Spirit of America Cheer and Spirit of America Dance Stars.

Ballet Hispánico © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Spirit of America Cheer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Big Apple Circus performers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Spectators lined the parade route from its traditional starting line at 77th Street and Central Park West, down its signature 2.5-mile route from Central Park West to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and then marching down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade made its final turn west to end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

The crowds erupted with delight as Santa Claus came to town.

Santa Claus comes to town on his sleigh at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Santa Claus comes to town on his sleigh at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Spectators line the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® route from the start at 79th Street down Central Park West to 34th Street © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The crowd erupts with cheers and delight at the sight of Santa Claus on his sleigh to close out the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected] Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Travel Companies Go Big with Black Friday, Cyber Monday Deals to Put Bucket List Experiences Within Reach

Take advantage of Xanterra Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals at iconic hotels in national parks like Yellowstone © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Travel companies are going big for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and no doubt are weighing both the massive outpouring of pent-up demand for travel against potential travelers’ concerns for tightened budgets. Here is a snapshot of offerings – it can be a discount on the package price, or upgrade, or special features added on. Take advantage because not only are the deals limited, but space is booking up.

Xanterra’s “Thankful for Travel Sale” Nov. 22-29

Xanterra’s “Thankful for Travel Sale” is lasting a full week, from Tuesday, Nov. 22 – Tuesday, Nov. 29 for value and money-saving deals on lodges in Yellowstone, Zion, Glacier, Death Valley and Grand Canyon South Rim; Windstar Cruises, the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, The Oasis at Death Valley, Holiday Vacations, Country Walkers and VBT Bicycling Tours; the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and Sea Island Resort in Georgia are also participating in the sale. Highlights include:

Get 30% off hotel stays at the luxury Inn at Death Valley with Xanterra’s Black Friday deal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Oasis at Death Valley – 30% off hotel stays at the beautifully renovated historic AAA Four-Diamond Inn at Death Valley and newly revitalized, family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley, including new, cozy cottages, spring fed pools and the lowest elevation golf course. Valid for select overnight stays between Dec. 1, 2022 and Feb. 9, 2023.

Historic Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel – 30% off roundtrip train tickets on an entertaining journey in fully restored historic train cars to the Grand Canyon’s fabled South Rim when booking a two-night Getaway Package over select dates between Jan. 2, 2022 and March 5, 2023.

Grand Canyon South Rim – Save 30% on in-park lodging at newly built Maswik Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Bright Angel Lodge and 20% at the historic El Tovar Hotel. All lodges are in the Historic Grand Canyon Village within walking distance of the rim of the Grand Canyon, Lookout Studio and Hopi House. Take advantage of the Secret Season at Grand Canyon and enjoy the park without the crowds.

The historic El Tovar Hotel on the Grand Canyon South Rim and Grand Canyon Railway are participating in Xanterra’s “Thankful for Travel Sale” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Grand Hotel – 30% off at the only AAA Three-Diamond hotel near the Grand Canyon in Tusayan (just one mile from the South Rim entrance) on select dates between Dec. 1, 2022 and March 9, 2023.

Zion National Park – 30% off overnight stays inside the park at Zion National Park Lodge on select dates between Dec. 4, 2022 and Feb. 28, 2023.

Cedar Creek Lodge, at the gateway to Glacier National Park – Save 30% on Rooms (for select dates Dec. 2022-April 2023)

Yellowstone – Save 25% on daily rates for specific stay dates in deluxe rooms at Canyon Lodge, deluxe and standard rooms at Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and deluxe rooms at Grant Village. Offer available for new reservations booked between Nov. 22 and 29, 2022. Stay dates for Canyon Lodge: May 19 – 25, 2023; May 30 – June 17, 2023. Lake Yellowstone Hotel: May 12 & 25, 2023; May 30- June 17, 2023; Grant Village: May 30 and June 17, 2023

The Broadmoor – Rates as low as $259 for select dates and suites available at 25% off published rates; 20% off all-inclusive Wilderness Properties for select dates during 2023.

Sea Island – Receive a $100 resort credit per night of stay in December, January, February at The Cloister or Lodge. Minimum 2-night stay on the standard rate. Offer valid Nov. 22 – 29, 2023.

Bicycling Tours – Book any departure of the 2023 France: The Burgundy Wine Region & Dijon Guided Biking Tour and get the Post-Trip Extension to Paris free which includes a 2-night stay at the Hotel Château Frontenac or La Demeure Montaigne (both centrally located in the 8th Arrondissement in Paris), daily breakfast, airport car service for departure and a city information packet.

Walking Adventures – Book any departure of the 2023 Italy: Tuscany & Umbria Guided Walking Tour and get the Post-Tour Extension to Rome free which includes a 2-night stay at the Hotel Dei Mellini in the center of Rome (between the Spanish Steps and St. Peter’s Basilica), daily breakfast, airport car service for departure and a city information packet.

Holiday Vacations – Book a Timeless France with Burgundy & Provence River Cruise from April 24 – May 4, 2023 and receive $200 off exploring Paris and French waterways with included airfare, 7-day river cruise, accommodations, most meals, and attractions.

Windstar Cruises – Select one Perk on your upcoming cruise. Perk offerings vary depending on cruise length and room category. Perks include a free upgrade to an All-Inclusive Fare or one Easy Stays hotel night or up to $1,000 in Onboard Credit. Enjoy reduced deposits of only 5% during one week sale only.

Looking for an unparalleled gift of discovery and wanderlust? Xanterra Travel Collection Gift Cards  are redeemable across all Xanterra Travel Collection destinations for accommodations, experiences, dining, retail purchases and more. The recipient can choose their adventure with this gift of A World of Unforgettable Experiences. Learn more at Xanterra.com/GiftCard.

For a complete list and to take advantage of Xanterra and its affiliates’ “Thankful for Travel” offers, visit xanterra.com/thankful-for-travel-sale.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tours Sales

EF Go Ahead Tours’ Black Friday Sale started early this year! Week 3 deals are running until November 17th with a variety of tours discounted to Scotland, France, Italy, and Ireland. Week 4 deals start Nov. 18 and feature more deep discounts on bucket list trips to destinations like Australia, Costa Rica, Portugal. (https://www.goaheadtours.com/travel-deals/black-friday)

Contiki  is offering its Cyber Sale from Nov 23-Dec 1 (see https://www.contiki.com/en-us/activity/black-friday

Trafalgar is offering 15% off worldwide trips for Black Friday; book before December 5 for limited time savings (https://www.trafalgar.com/en-us/deals/black-friday-travel-deals, 866-513-1995. (Plus, get a $250 per couple Travel Credit toward your first trip when you sign up to our newsletter.)

GA Adventures is offering up to 30 percent off on on a huge number of its popular adventures like Inca Discovery, Morocco, Jordan, Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, and even Antarctica with travel by April 30, 2023.and up to 10% on select trips departing between May 1-and June 30, 2023 (https://www.gadventures.com/travel-deals/cyber-sale/, 1 888 800 4100)

GA Adventures is offering up to 30 percent off on many of its popular adventures like Inca Discover to Machu Picchu © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Travel Offers at Luxury Hotels, Resorts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday present limited-time offers that put luxury hotels and resorts from the Caribbean to Belize to Maldives to the Florida Keys, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, North Carolina, New York City, to West Hollywood, in reach. Here are a sampling of offers for travelers to snag the steepest travel deals of the year and enjoy unforgettable experiences at reduced rates:

Club Med, the pioneer of the all-inclusive concept, is offering its best discount of the year with its Black Friday sale. Travelers can receive up to 60% off their upcoming winter, spring or summer getaways at Club Med’s spacious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada – like family-friendly Club Med Punta Cana, the five star eco-chic Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, or the new Club Med Québec, opened December 2021 offering four-season mountain escapes. Additional participating resorts include Club Med Caravelle, Guadeloupe, French Caribbean, Club Med Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinique, French Caribbean, Club Med Ixtapa Pacific, Mexico, and Club Med Columbus, Bahamas. The deal includes 60% off Deluxe and Suite Rooms and 55% off Superior Rooms. Additional perks include free cancellations and free stays for kids under 4. Book between November 16-27, 2022 for travel November 26, 2022 to June 30, 2023 (check out on July 1, 2023).  Perks include: kids under 4 stay free and no single supplement. Book at https://www.clubmed.us/o/black-friday.

Coco Collection, Maldives: Comprised of two different boutique island resorts, Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, each create a unique and authentic Maldivian experience ranging from luxe amenities to eco-forward initiatives for travelers to begin indulging in as soon as they arrive. This Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Coco Collection is offering a 50 percent off total booking.  The first 5 bookings within this timeframe at both resorts will receive 70 percent off their booking. Offer valid from Friday, Nov. 25 – Monday, Nov. 28 for stays from Nov. 26 through Dec. 25, 2022 and May 1, through Oct. 31, 2023.

Casa Kimberly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Formerly Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s home (it was his gift to her for her 32nd birthday, in 1962), this luxurious nine-suite boutique hotel is situated in the heart of Puerto Vallarta and has stunning views of Banderas Bay and the red clay rooftops that dot the Sierra Madre Mountains. From Black Friday (Nov  25) through Cyber Monday (Nov. 28), receive 50% off stays booked December 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023 (does not apply to reservations from Dec. 24-Jan. 3 and other blackout dates may apply). Use code CYBERCK to reserve at the discounted rate. Visit here to book.

At the five-star Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, no detail is overlooked © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Mexico is a secluded coastal resort located about half an hour outside of Cancun in Puerto Morelos. The resort itself and surrounding setting allows for both active and relaxing experiences, including a bike tour, spa treatments, cooking demonstrations, a Kids Club, and more. Private airport transfers to/from the resort are included in every stay. Grand Residences is providing a 25 percent discounted rate on all-inclusive stays for all room categories for those who book their travel up through Dec. 16, 2022. (Valid on new bookings only, no minimum length of stay required; blackout dates apply.)

Hawks Cay Resort, the Florida Keys is offering guests the ultimate Florida Keys vacation experience with on-site amenities like fishing excursions, dolphin encounters, snorkel trips, and more. This Black Friday (Nov. 21-29), Hawks Cay is extending 35% off accommodations booked under promo code CYBERW, for a 2-night minimum stay at the hotel and a 3-night minimum stay at its villas. Subject to availability, blackout dates apply.

Cayo Espanto, Belize:  Located three miles off the coast of San Pedro, Belize, Cayo Espanto is home to seven villas, a helipad, private yacht, and endless opportunities to enjoy a barefoot luxury escape in a naturally beautiful setting. The private island resort is offering guests a free airfare credit (up to $750 per person) with the booking of a seven night stay this Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Travelers looking to take advantage of this offer must complete their booking online at aprivateisland.com between Friday, Nov. 25 – Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. A booking code is not required; all reservations made during this timeframe will receive airfare credit with confirmation. Offer valid on new bookings only and may not be combined with any other offers. Blackout dates apply and reservations are based on availability.

The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort, Panama, one of Panama’s leading family-friendly luxury hotels,  is extending a Flight Cash Back promotion that travelers in pursuit of a discounted luxury vacation will love! The new promotion extends $400 cash back upon check out; complimentary breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years; and complimentary use of bicycle, tennis and volleyball courts. The offer is valid until Dec. 31, and a 5-night minimum booking applies.

Atlantis Paradise Island is offering a Cyber Week Sale for stays between December 1, 2022 – November 1, 2023 in The Coral, The Royal, The Cove and The Reef Towers. The Cyber sale is Atlantis’ biggest sale of the year. Atlantis Paradise Island newsletter subscribers get early access from November 17 – 22 (sign up via the website here to receive the invite to this exclusive offer. Guests booking 5+ nights for stays during December 1, 2022 – November 1, 2023, save 20% on accommodations plus $500 Resort Credit or more at The Coral, The Cove, The Royal and The Reef. Those booking from November 23 – December 1, 2022,  get 20% savings on 5+ nights at The Coral, The Royal, and The Reef  PLUS receive a $250 Resort for stays during June – September.

  • Direct Offers include:
    • The Coral: 25% Savings on 2+ nights when booking Air + Hotel compared to rates of $500 during peak season and $200 throughout the year
    • The Cove: $500 Resort Credit per stay with BAR 5+ nights compared to rates of $2,000 during peak season and $500 throughout the year
    • The Royal: $50 daily Resort Credit on 2-4 nights for travel June-Sept 2023 compared to rates of $900 during peak season and $279 throughout the year
    • The Reef: 20% savings + $300 Resort Credit per stay of 6+ nights compared to rates of $1,500 during peak season and $350 throughout the year

Travelers will also have the option to book their reservation with flexible payment and cancellation policies. To book, visit: www.atlantisbahamas.com or call 1800-ATLANTIS. Blackout dates include December 27, 2022 – January 1, 2023. 

Saba Rock, British Virgin Islands: Now with on-site amenities like snuba, diving, kiteboarding, island tours, beachfront spa, and more, the one-acre island recently reopened following a complete luxury rebuild after damages sustained from Hurricane Irma. Saba Rock is offering guests the opportunity to save up to 40% on a three-night or more stay, booked from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Offer valid for bookings made Nov. 26 to 29, 2022 for stays Nov. 30, 2022 through February 15, 2023. Book at www.sabarock.com using promo code BLKFRI. Blackout dates apply, 3-night minimum required.

Mount Cinnamon Resort, Grenada: Tucked away on the hillside atop Grand Anse Beach, Mount Cinnamon is an eco-luxe hideaway with an enclave of 37 luxury villas and suites. Ranked as one of the Top 40 resorts in the Caribbean Islands from the 2022 Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards  This Black Friday, save 30% on stays of 5 or more nights, daily breakfast included. Booking window: Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022. Travel window: Apr. 10 – Nov. 30, 2023. Booking code: MC-BLACKFRIDAY.

Also: This Giving Tuesday, November 29, for every reservation made, Mount Cinnamon Resort will donate one bag of pet food to the Grenada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA). The GSPCA is a no-kill shelter that is committed to providing all animals that come through the doors with the best possible love, care, and attention. No code needed.

Andaz West Hollywood: Those who choose to book a stay at Andaz West Hollywood will be right on the Sunset Strip, the perfect point between Hollywood, Beverly Hills. The hotel is home to the highest rooftop pool in Los Angeles which was recently renovated and is an artist’s dream with works of art throughout the property.   

Get 20% off rates for travel booked between now and Nov. 30, valid for stays until April 30, 2023. Use the code UNLOCK.

Little Gem Resorts is a family-owned and operated boutique hospitality company with three properties located in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and St. John in the USVI. This is the brand’s first Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. This Cyber Monday, they will be offering a 25% off discount off their regular rates. The three boutique, seasonal resorts all have high demand and occupancy rates, especially during their busy seasons. Their Cyber Monday deal is the biggest sale each property has ever done.

  • Lovango Resort + Beach Club is offering a 25% off stay in one of the property’s glamping tents or luxury treehouses for a three-night minimum stay from April 30-June 15. Using the code CYBL, guests will receive $248.75 in savings on regular rates from $995 per night plus tax.
  • Winnetu Oceanside Resort is offering a 25% off stay in one of the property’s accommodations for a two-night minimum stay from May 18-June 15. Using the code CYBW, guests will receive $98.75 in savings on regular rates from $395 per night plus tax.
  • The Nantucket Hotel + Resort is offering a 25% stay off stay in one of the property’s accommodations for a two-night minimum stay from April 30-June 15. Using the code CYBN, guests will receive $73.75 in savings on regular rates from $295 per night plus tax.

NoMo SoHo soars across New York City’s downtown with its 26 stories in the heart of SoHo. The neighborhood known for its fashion, design, art, and culture is the epicenter of creative up-and-comers, in addition to housing established brands, well-known artists, and cultural icons. Each room features floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of New York City and the hotel is also home to the wildly popular NoMo Kitchen, an iconic restaurant with a glass atrium and intimate outdoor patio. This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, NoMo SoHo is offering 30% off all room types for stays between November 28, 2022, and August 31, 2023. Past hotel guests and NoMo SoHo subscribers will get exclusive access to this offer. Travelers can sign up for NoMo SoHo’s newsletter by clicking here in order to receive access to book this Black Friday / Cyber Monday offer. 

Kimpton Hotel Eventi, located at the intersection of the NoMad and Chelsea neighborhoods, is inside a modern skyrise with floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning views. The property features an eclectic-chic “living room” lobby, curated art collection, technology touches everywhere and three restaurants run by Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel, Skirt Steak, L’Amico and The Vine. This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Kimpton Hotel Eventi is giving back with their Kimpton Cyber Sale launching on November 22, 2022. This offer is available on stays from November 25-April 30, 2023; must be booked by December 5. Those who book directly at Kimpton Hotel Eventi’s website (offer goes live on November 22nd) can save up to 20% off the best available rate. Each Cyber Sale booking made by IHG Rewards members will include a $5/night donation to No Kid Hungry.

The Art of Living Retreat Center located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, North Carolina (2 hours from Charlotte), is participating in Black Friday/Cyber Monday for the first time, and it is their biggest sale ever created, providing $200-600 in savings, depending upon the type of retreat booked.  Book Nov. 21-28 to get  30% off December 2022 – March 2023 stays for Signature Retreats (Happiness, Stepping Into Silence, Meditation) and R+R Retreats. Book by entering the code BLACKFRIDAY (those who would like to give the gift of meditation and relaxation – to others or themselves – should use this exclusive deal.

Other hotel deals:

Book a stay at Virgin Hotels between Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023, and receive 30% off the reservation, plus a chance to win a free upgrade to Richard’s Penthouse Flat. Virgin Know Members can take advantage of a pre-sale, starting Monday, Nov. 21. Reservations can be made for stays anytime between November 25, 2022 – December 31, 2023. Participating properties include; Virgin Hotels Chicago, Virgin Hotels New Orleans, Virgin Hotels Nashville, Virgin Hotels Dallas, and Virgin Hotels Edinburgh.

Hyatt Hotels is offering up to 20% off stays through April 30, 2023, when you book by November 30, 2022; choose from over 950 participating hotels; use Special Offer Code UNLOCK to book your qualifying stay. (https://world.hyatt.com/content/gp/en/offers.html)

Cruise Deals

Princess Cruises’ Black Friday Sale:  from Nov. 22-30, choose from 60 sailings under $60 per day(per guest), and 100’s more sailings under $100 per day(per guest), taking travelers to Alaska, the California Coast, the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Europe. In addition, guests booking through the sale can take advantage of $1 deposits, meaning those who reserve their sailings to worldwide destinations by Nov. 30 don’t have to pay the remaining balance until 90 days before their trip, when deposits typically range between $100 – $800 at the time of booking (www.princess.com).

Take advantage of Celebrity Cruises’ biggest Black Friday Sale with early access and turn your bucket list into your book it list. Enjoy 75% off your second guest’s cruise fare, plus up to $800 savings per stateroom and up to $800 onboard credit per stateroom. On Cyber Monday, take advantage of $25 deposit and up to $500 to spend onboard (https://www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-deals/black-friday)

For Royal Caribbean Black Friday to Cyber Monday specials, go to https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-deals/black-friday.

For Royal Caribbean Black Friday to Cyber Monday specials, go to https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-deals/black-friday© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rainforest Cruises has some special offers for Christmas Galapagos and Amazon cruises that are usually sold out years in advance, for bookings made by Dec. 4: Amazon: Zafiro’s 5D/4N Amazon & Marañón Dec. 22-26 departure (from $3,879pp); 50% OFF the second passenger when staying in double occupancy; FREE* domestic flights between Lima and Iquitos (*Flight value up to $250). Galapagos: Galapagos Sea Star‘s 6D/5N Southern Islands Dec 20-25 (from $6,139pp); $2000 OFF the second passenger when staying in double occupancy. Eco Galaxy‘s 6D/5N Western Islands Dec 24-29 (from $5400pp); $1500 OFF the second passenger when staying in double occupancy; No Single Supplement in select cabins, subject to availability. Alya‘s 5D/4N Northern Islands Dec 22-26 (from $4,725pp); $1000 OFF the second passenger when staying in double occupancy. The Galapagos Christmas cruises also include FREE night’s hotel stay before your cruise at the Wyndham Quito Airport hotel; PLUS your $100 Galapagos National Park entry fee; AND cover the cost of your Transit Control Card ($20)! RainforestCruises.com, 888 215 3555.

Quark Expeditions’ Black Friday 2 for 1 Sale: book a voyage by December 2 to Antarctic 22-23 or upcoming Arctic 2023 season and bring a guest for free! Solo travelers also benefit from our Black Friday Sale by only paying 50% of the regular rate for a shared cabin. Additionally, guests can get a free cabin upgrade on any voyage in Quark’s Antarctic 23-24 and Arctic 2024 seasons at in-market rate. So, if you’re traveling on the game-changing Ultramarine, you could move up from a Terrace Suite to a Penthouse Suite (https://travel.quarkexpeditions.com/black-friday/, 866-250-7034).

A great source for Black Friday/Cyber Monday cruise deals is cruisecritic.com. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2022 deals are making waves, with cheap cruises and enticing bargains galore. Whether you have your heart set on cabin upgrades, free shore excursions, rock bottom fares or all sorts of onboard goodies, Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals are your best bet to snag an irresistible bargain,” writes Marilyn Borth, Assistant SEO Editor. She includes Norwegian Cruise Line, Azamara, Cunard, Holland America in her roundup. (https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/6617/)

Camping/Outdoors

Sun Outdoors, a leader in outdoor hospitality offering guests unforgettable experiences outdoors, has launched their Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion, offering guests 40 percent off on select campground, RV site and vacation rental bookings from December 1, 2022 – December 21, 2023*. www.sunoutdoors.com/specials/black-friday

Sun Outdoors will kick off the season of giving by giving back 5 percent of ALL bookings made during the promotion period to charitable partner, the National Park Foundation. Donations will contribute to the NPF’s ParkVentures fund, which supports equity-focused outdoor leaders and organizations by providing grants for programs and activities that help people create and strengthen life-long relationships with national parks. (www.sunoutdoors.com)

More Deals

Tuscany wine lovers can experience the top wine-producing sub-regions with the luxury boutique hotel Borgo San Vincenzos Black Friday specials.  Sangiovese by Air, Land and Trail:5- night stay with breakfast,explore Montepulciano by e-bike, Montalcino by helicopter, and Chianti Clasico with a private driver ($10,859); and Escape to Tuscany (four-night minimum stay). Direct bookings only. Email [email protected] or call +39 0578 810 137 and reference the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Escape to Tuscany special.

LEGOLAND® California Resort, the family theme Park in Carlsbad, CA is offering huge deals to the Park, LEGOLAND® Hotel and LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel exclusively through its website, for purchases Nov. 22-Nov. 28. Save up to $100 on Annual Passes, valid for a year of admission to LEGOLAND Park, SEA LIFE aquarium and Water Park, with discounts on dining, shopping, and LEGOLAND Resort Hotels;  Save up to 50% on vacation packages at LEGOLAND Hotel or LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, which include 2-Day admission tickets to LEGOLAND California theme park (on select nights from Jan. 8 through May 26, 2023); Save 50% on LEGOLAND + SEA LIFE Hopper Tickets ($69.50 each), valid for admission to LEGOLAND Park and SEA LIFE aquarium from Jan. 1 through March 17, 2023 (plus option to add a second day for only $12.50). Sign up now at https://www.legoland.com/california/ to receive exclusive access to these deals before they become available to the general public. Each LEGOLAND California offer is limited and may sell out quickly.

SpaFinder is offering 20% off gift cards of $100+ with promo code FRIEDSGIVING for purchases through Nov. 30. Go toSpafinder.com. (https://myspafinder.spagiftcards.com/category/eGift-Cards)

Red Thread, which customizes made-to-order tailored clothes (with lifetime fit guarantee) ideal for travel is offering 40% off for its Black Friday Sale on pants, essential black dress, snap jackets. Email  [email protected], visit redthreadcollection.com, call 775-384-9681.

Travel Gear

Black Friday/Cyber Monday is also an excellent opportunity to buy the specialized gear for your traveler. Among our favorite go-to’s: EMS offering up to 75% off; REI.com (https://www.rei.com/s/gifts-for-travelers); B&H for camera/video (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/holiday-shopping/deals). Also Patagonia.com, REI.com, LLBean.com, TennisExpress.com, sunandski.com, www.basspro.com.

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected] Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

$600 Million in Refunds Returned to Airline Passengers Under DOT Rules Backed by New Enforcement Actions

Frontier Airlines was one of the airlines fined by the US Department of Transportation for extreme delays in providing refunds to passengers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced historic enforcement actions against six airlines, which collectively paid $600 million to people who were owed a refund due to a canceled or significantly changed flight. These fines are part of DOT’s ongoing work to ensure Americans receive the refunds they are owed from airlines. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, DOT has received a flood of complaints from air travelers about airlines’ failures to provide timely refunds after they had their flights canceled or significantly changed. 

“When a flight gets canceled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travelers and get passengers their money back.” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “A flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn’t also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund.” 

In addition to the more than $600 million in refunds airlines have paid back, the Department announced today that it is assessing more than $7.25 million in civil penalties against six airlines for extreme delays in providing refunds. With today’s fines, the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection has assessed $8.1 million in civil penalties in 2022, the largest amount ever issued in a single year by that office. A majority of the assessed fines will be collected in the form of payments to the Treasury Department, with the remainder credited on the basis of payments to passengers beyond the legal requirement. The Department’s efforts have helped lead to hundreds of thousands of passengers being provided with more than half a billion dollars in required refunds. The Department expects to issue additional orders assessing civil penalties for consumer protection violations this calendar year. 

The fines assessed today and required refunds provided are: 

  • Frontier – $222 million in required refunds paid and a $2.2 million penalty 
  • Air India – $121.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.4 million penalty 
  • TAP Portugal – $126.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty 
  • Aeromexico – $13.6 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty 
  • El Al – $61.9 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty 
  • Avianca – $76.8 million in required refunds paid and a $750,000 penalty 

All of the consent orders are available at www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2022-0001. 

Under U.S. law, airlines and ticket agents have a legal obligation to refund consumers if the airline cancels or significantly changes a flight to, from and within the United States, and the passenger does not wish to accept the alternative offered. It is unlawful for an airline to refuse refunds and instead provide vouchers to such consumers.  

The fines announced today are one of the many steps the Department is taking to protect consumers. Below are additional actions DOT has taken: 

  • During the summer, the Department rolled out a new airline customer service dashboard to help consumers determine what they are owed when a flight is cancelled or delayed because of an airline issue. Previously, none of the 10 largest U.S. airlines guaranteed meals or hotels when a delay or cancellation was within the airlines’ control, and only one offered free rebooking. However, after Secretary Buttigieg called on airlines to improve their service and created this dashboard, nine airlines now guarantee meals and hotels when an airline issue causes a cancellation or delay and all 10 guarantee free rebooking. The Department will continue to work to increase transparency so Americans know exactly what the airlines are providing when they have a cancellation or delay. 
     
  • The Department’s proposed rule on Airline Ticket Refunds, if adopted, would: 1) require airlines to proactively inform passengers that they have a right to receive a refund when a flight is canceled or significantly changed, and 2) define a significant change and cancellation that would entitle a consumer to a refund. The rule would also 3) require airlines to provide non-expiring vouchers or travel credits when people can’t travel because they have COVID-19 or other communicable diseases; and 4) require airlines that receive significant government assistance in the future related to a pandemic to issue refunds instead of non-expiring travel credits or vouchers when passengers are unable or advised not to travel because of a serious communicable disease. The Department invites the public to submit comment on this rulemaking by December 16, 2022. The Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee will publicly deliberate on the Department’s proposed rule on Airline Ticket Refunds and decide on recommendations to make to the Department at a virtual meeting on December 9, 2022. To register and attend this virtual meeting, please use the link: https://usdot.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_V2zwVF3RQfuoOkyYFVqvdA
     
  • The Department has proposed a rule that would significantly strengthen protections for consumers by ensuring that they have access to certain fee information before they purchase their airline tickets. Under the proposed rule, airlines and travel search websites would have to disclose upfront – the first time an airfare is displayed – any fees charged to sit with your child, for changing or cancelling your flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage. The proposal seeks to provide customers the information they need to choose the best deal. Otherwise, surprise fees can add up quickly and overcome what may look at first to be a cheap fare. DOT encourages members of the public and interested parties to submit comments by December 19, 2022. 

The Department has proposed a rule to refund passengers for services they paid for that aren’t actually provided (e.g., broken WiFi). 

For information about airline passenger rights, as well as DOT’s rules, guidance, and orders, the Department’s aviation consumer website can be found at: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces Roadmap for Nature-Based Solutions to Fight Climate Change, Strengthen Communities, and Support Local Economies

The Biden-Harris Administration at COP27 in Egypt released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, an outline of strategic recommendations to put America on a path that will unlock the full potential of nature-based solutions to address climate change, nature loss, and inequity. This marks the first time the U.S. has developed a strategy to scale up nature-based solutions. Examples include protection or conservation of natural areas- such as Acadia National Park in Maine – reforestation, restoration of marshes or other habitats, or sustainable management of farms, fisheries, or forests. These actions can increase resilience to threats like flooding and extreme heat, and can slow climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Nature-based solutions play a critical role in the economy, national security, human health, equity, and the fight against climate change. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New actions and recommendations announced at COP27 will make nature-based solutions a go-to option for fighting climate change and boost progress towards U.S. climate goals. The White House provided this fact sheet:

The Biden-Harris Administration at COP27 in Egypt released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, an outline of strategic recommendations to put America on a path that will unlock the full potential of nature-based solutions to address climate change, nature loss, and inequity. This marks the first time the U.S. has developed a strategy to scale up nature-based solutions.

To demonstrate how the U.S. is already taking action, the Administration also announced new and recent interagency commitments aligned with the roadmap including: agency actions to ensure over $25 billion in infrastructure and climate funding can support nature-based solutions; a new guide for bringing the power of nature to maximize the value and resilience of military bases; and a new technical working group to better account for nature-based options in benefit cost analysis – a powerful tool for federal decisions.

Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural or modified ecosystems as solutions to societal challenges, like fighting climate change. Examples include protection or conservation of natural areas, reforestation, restoration of marshes or other habitats, or sustainable management of farms, fisheries, or forests. These actions can increase resilience to threats like flooding and extreme heat, and can slow climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Nature-based solutions play a critical role in the economy, national security, human health, equity, and the fight against climate change.

John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, and chair of President Biden’s National Climate Task Force, unveiled the roadmap at the opening of the U.S. Center at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties (COP27). Mr. Podesta encouraged other nations to join the U.S. by taking bold action to invest in nature and its many benefits.  

On Earth Day 2022, President Biden issued Executive Order 14072, which recognizes the importance of forests and other nature-based solutions to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen communities and local economies. In the Executive Order, President Biden directed the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Climate Advisor, in consultation with agencies, to identify key opportunities for greater deployment of nature-based solutions across the Federal government. The Roadmap submitted to the National Climate Task Force today calls on expanding the use of nature-based solutions and outlines five strategic areas of focus for the federal government: (1) updating policies, (2) unlocking funding, (3) leading with federal facilities and assets, (4) training the nature-based solutions workforce, and (5) prioritizing research, innovation, knowledge, and adaptive learning that will advance nature-based solutions.

This work builds on President Biden’s climate leadership. The Administration is already advancing nature-based solutions in support of the President’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030, to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, and to increase community resilience to extreme weather and other climate impacts. The new Nature Based Solutions Roadmap will help the Administration seize additional opportunities; key recommendations and related new and recent agency commitments are below.

The Biden-Harris Administration also released a companion resource guide with examples of nature-based climate solutions and over 150 resources to spur action. The Nature-Based Solutions Resource Guide: Compendium of Federal Examples, Guidance, Resource Documents, Tools and Technical Assistance is available here.  

NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS ROADMAP: FIVE STRATEGIC AREAS FOR ACTION

  1. Update Policies to Accelerate Nature-Based Solutions

The roadmap recommends that agencies update federal policies and guidance, making it easier to consider and adopt nature-based solutions. Major areas for advancement include policies and guidance for federal planning, permitting, cost-sharing, risk management, and benefit cost analysis. Aligned Administration actions include:

  • Guidance on valuing nature: Current federal policies and guidance on accounting and analysis can under-value nature-based solutions. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing central guidance on benefit cost analysis (Circulars A-4 and A-94) to help federal agencies more fully account for the value of nature in regulatory and funding decisions. Today, the White House is standing up a new technical working group on Frontiers of Benefit Cost Analysis to support agencies in benefit cost analysis for nature-based solutions and other analysis needs. This is coupled with the developing National Strategy for a system of natural capital accounts, which will place nature on the nation’s balance sheet and allow regular tracking of the economic benefits that investments in nature-based solutions provide.
  • Nature-based solutions in floodplain management: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is revising its floodplain management requirements to require consideration of nature-based solutions as alternatives for all projects that have the potential to affect floodplains or wetlands. This action is in response to Executive Order 13690, which established the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that requires federal agencies to amend their floodplain policies to consider the use of nature-based solutions. Interim program policies are underway.
     
  1. Unlock Funding for Nature-Based Solutions

Federal funding for domestic and international projects can provide a strong lever to increase deployment of nature-based solutions. The roadmap recommends that Federal agencies do more to prioritize nature-based solutions in funding decisions; increase and ease access to this funding; and catalyze private investment. Actions by the Administration to unlock funding include:

  • Supporting nature-based solutions in hazard mitigation: FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program already prioritizes nature-based solutions in its project scoring criteria. Last month, FEMA announced a new effort that will reduce the burden of applying for BRIC funding for disadvantaged communities, and that may make it easier for projects with nature-based solutions to access funding. This effort reduced the discount rate from 7% to 3% for these communities on some projects in FY 2022.
  • Combining solar energy and nature-based solutions: The Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Office (SETO) is investing in combined development of ground mounted solar systems and pollinator habitat. In fiscal year 2022, SETO selected projects worth $14 million for Deploying Solar with Wildlife and Ecosystem Services Benefits, developing innovative strategies that maximize benefits and minimize impacts to wildlife and ecosystems from solar energy infrastructure.
     
  1. Lead with Federal Facilities and Assets

The roadmap recommends that federal agencies expand their use of nature-based solutions in the design, retrofitting, and management of federal facilities and embed these solutions in management of natural assets through improved planning, co-management, and co-stewardship. Given the scale of federal assets, expanding deployment of nature-based solutions would have direct climate and conservation benefits and send a strong signal to others. Administration actions include:

  • Guide on nature-based solutions for military installations: The Department of Defense is developing a guide on nature-based solutions for Military Installation natural resources management planning. The guide will provide military installation planners and managers with current and actionable information on the appropriate use of nature-based solutions; the current state of science and observed performance reliability; and other considerations regarding design, cost and benefits, implementation, and operations and maintenance. Preliminary guidance will be published in March 2023, with the full technical guide expected by March 2024.
  • Nature-based solutions for energy, the economy and national security: In October, 2022, the Department of Energy launched Sustainable Climate-Ready Sites (SCRS), a site performance rating system. The program challenges DOE sites to apply innovative nature-based solutions as they manage 2.4 million acres of land and carry out their missions. SCRS performance criteria include environmental justice and cultural resource protection, emphasizing collaboration and engagement with communities and Tribal nations. Annual leadership awards will be given to personnel at participating sites that achieve top SCRS category scores.
     
  1. Train the Nature-Based Solutions Workforce

We need a diverse, equitable workforce skilled in building nature-based solutions. To reach this goal, the roadmap recommends that agencies expand educational and workforce training offerings related to nature-based solutions to support good jobs in federal agencies and the private sector. These needs apply across a wide range of skills including engineering, law, finance, ecology, accounting, economics, community planning and maintenance for nature-based solutions. Administration actions include:

  • Growing awareness of how nature-based solutions benefit households: The Department of the Treasury’s Financial Literacy Education Commission (FLEC) is producing a series of reports entitled How Climate Challenges American Household Finances. One report in the series will address housing, and FLEC will include ways that nature-based solutions can provide benefits to households through housing and landscaping options. The report will be released in 2023.
     
  1. Prioritize Research, Innovation, Knowledge, and Adaptive Learning

As the world changes, we must continually innovate and fill gaps in our understanding. The roadmap recommends that federal agencies advance research and innovation in all sectors to fully reveal the scale of the opportunity that nature-based solutions provide, and incentivize continual learning about how and where nature-based solutions work best. Administration actions include:

  • Synthesizing what we know about nature-based solutions effectiveness: Nature-based solutions have been evaluated in different ways by different experts and sectors, making it difficult to see the big picture of what we now about where and how these solutions provide benefits. Today, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is announcing a study to synthesize this multi-disciplinary evidence base, and evaluate the effectiveness of nature-based solutions for climate mitigation, adaptation and other benefits. An initial database of evaluations will be made public in 2023 and the analysis will be available by 2024.
  • National summit on measuring nature-based solutions: The USACE will host a National Summit on Measuring What Matters at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington D.C. on November 30, 2022. At the public Summit, the USACE Engineering with Nature Program will share the results of a two-year project focused on approaches for advancing comprehensive benefit evaluation for nature-based solutions and other projects. 

 
BUILDING ON THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW AND INFLATION REDUCTION ACT
 
The roadmap and aligned actions build on major investments made through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. These laws made unprecedented investments in nature-based solutions, placing forests, agricultural lands and coastal wetlands front and center in the climate fight. For example, $20 billion is directed to farmers, ranchers, and private forest owners working to increase carbon storage and reduce emissions. Another $5 billion is for forest management actions that can reduce wildfire risk, store carbon, and cool communities. These laws also weave nature into infrastructure investments. Over $8.7 billion will build climate resilience into transportation systems from the ground up. Another $8.6 billion will restore and conserve coastal habitats, investments that will buffer communities from storms and boost local economies. Several agencies are  acting to leverage recent laws and appropriations towards nature-based solutions, including:

  • Increasing carbon stored in wetlands and grasslands: The Inflation Reduction Act provides additional funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs, including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). In FY23, this funding will be targeted to improve climate and environmental outcomes. The programs will prioritize conservation and restoration of carbon rich wetlands and conservation of grasslands that are at risk of losing carbon and habitat through conversion to more intensive agriculture.
     
  • Promote resilient housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through the new Green Resilient Retrofit Program, is administering $837.5 million in grant funds and $4 billion in loan authority provided through the Inflation Reduction Act. This program provides grants that include nature-based solutions to improve energy efficiency, water efficiency, and climate resilience. HUD will ensure the program promotes nature-based solutions as effective investments to improve a properties’ climate resilience. HUD will encourage owners to implement the nature-based solution recommendations, where appropriate and feasible. Additional technical assistance will be offered with this program to aid communities in exploring nature-based solutions.
     
  • Protecting watersheds and communities with nature-based solutions: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes more than $23 billion in supplemental funds to EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and nearly $1.9 billion to EPA’s place-base Geographic, National Estuary and Gulf Hypoxia programs. In its March 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law SRF Implementation Memo, EPA emphasized the importance and eligibility of nature-based infrastructure, and encouraged states and communities to make full use of the SRF Green Project Reserve, which supports nature-based solutions and other environmentally innovative activities. EPA’s implementation of its National Estuary, Geographic, and Gulf Hypoxia programs also prioritizes use of nature-based solutions, where applicable, to restore coastal and riparian ecosystems and protect the communities that depend on them.
     
  • Coordinating access to funds that reduce floods and benefit wildlife: The White House Infrastructure Implementation Task Force is advancing an effort to simplify access to new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds that aim to reduce the risk of flooding, improve habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife, and improve public safety. The Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are coordinating to facilitate access to these opportunities and ensure efficient use of federal funds.
     
  • Advancing Coastal Resilience with Natural Infrastructure Projects: Through its Climate Ready Coasts Initiative, the Department of Commerce’s NOAA is helping coastal communities by investing in high-impact natural infrastructure projects that build economic and environmental resilience, create jobs, store carbon and restore habitat. The $1.5 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds will be supplemented by future Inflation Reduction Act funding opportunities.

 
DRIVING GLOBAL ACTION
 
President Biden is committed to unlocking the full potential of nature-based solutions for achieving climate goals and combatting nature loss, especially for communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental injustices. By announcing this roadmap and actions at the UNFCCC COP27, we recognize the need for global action to confront these triple crises and look forward to announcing additional actions during the upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity COP15. We invite partners, communities, and other nations to join the Biden-Harris Administration in taking aggressive action to advance nature-based solutions as powerful tools that the world needs now.