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Hundreds protest over shutdown of New York’s ‘autonomous zone’ bar

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The owner of a New York City bar was arrested Tuesday for continuing to provide indoor service despite coronavirus restrictions that forbid indoor dining. On Nov. 22, Mac’s Public House announced on Facebook that they were an “autonomous zone.”

“As of November 20th 2020, we have declared Mac’s Public House an Autonomous Zone. We would like to clarify what this means, specifically to us, and how we’ll operate business going forward. The simple answer to most questions is Mac’s will be doing ‘business as usual.’ In the event of a shutdown, we will continue to stay open,” they wrote on Facebook.

A week after the Facebook post, the New York State Liquor Authority suspended the bar’s liquor license after an investigator was prohibited from entering the bar. That day, owner Danny Presti announced that the bar would serve alcohol and food indoors for free in exchange for a “donation.”

Undercover sheriff’s deputies went inside the bar Tuesday and ordered food in exchange for the required $40 “donation.” Deputies then shut down the bar and began issuing citations to employees for violating local and state restrictions, New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito told ABC News.

Presti was charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to the charges from serving unauthorized food and beverage, the sheriff said. A cook, bartender and the bar’s lawyer were also charged.

A video posted to YouTube by the Associated Press shows Presti being led out of the bar by sheriffs while a crowd chants, “Stand your ground!” “F— Cuomo!” and “Open up!”

The bar has been fined thousands of dollars as it continued to serve customers inside and to operate past the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurant service that Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed citywide.

A large crowd began to assemble outside of the bar Wednesday to protest the restrictions.

The bar was closed for business Wednesday. Eight NYC sheriff officers were seen guarding the bar entrance.

Mac’s Public House is raising donations through their Facebook page by selling t-shirts printed with “We Stand With Mac’s Public House” and “We hereby declare this establishment an autonomous zone. We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY state.”

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The bar’s defiance is part of a larger pushback from bars and restaurants in New York City as hundreds of bars and restaurants have permanently closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

“What we will not be doing is living in fear. By fear, we mean the constant threat of our local city and state governments sending agencies in to check up, fine and threaten to shut us down. Every day small businesses are living in fear, not just of this virus, but that our governments will take our livelihoods away, even as we’re being safe. Just to clarify, we acknowledge this virus as a real threat and are still taking necessary precautions. What we do not acknowledge is that our government has the right to shut us down when we’re operating in a safe manner,” Mac’s Public House wrote on Facebook.

“We should not live in fear of our government, and this is how we’ve felt for almost an entire year. At a time when our local government should have assisted and helped us, they have done exactly the opposite. This a vote of no confidence of the leadership of this city and state. We are New Yorkers, and we are stubborn and we are proud but more importantly we are a community. We need to be there for each other and we promise Mac’s Public House will be there for each and every one of you. We hope you have a great holiday and you and your family are safe. When you’re ready, Mac’s will be here doing “business as usual.”

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Biden spends $1.65 trillion taxpayer dollars while vacationing in St. Croix

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Joe Biden

While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.

The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.

“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.

“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”

For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.

National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”

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