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Friday, December 31, 2010

All the President's men: Obama given a 20-MAN motorcade to visit childhood friend in Hawaii (no wonder his Christmas holiday is costing the country $

*Return trip on Air Force One costs up to £1million

*$63,000 to fly Michelle and daughters to Hawaii

*$134,000 for 24 White House staff to stay at home

President Obama provoked fresh outrage today after taking a 20-man motorcade to visit a childhood friend during his lavish Christmas holiday in Hawaii.

The 10-vehicle convoy drove the president and wife Michelle from his rental property in Kailua, across highways cleared of traffic and through a military community to reach Bobby Titcomb's beachfront house.

Mr Obama, who spent eight years at Punahou School in Hawaii before graduating in 1979has splashed out $1.5m on his trip – a decision that will not endear him to the millions of Americans facing economic hardship in the New Year.

The extra cost of the excessive security levels demanded by the holidaying Mr Obama will further enrage opponents of the 49-year-old, who will return to work on January 3.

After a game of golf with his old friends in the day, the president ate at the barbecue, played volleyball and relaxed on the beach with family and friends, White House spokesman Bill Burton said.

Police had stopped cars along the route at on ramps and side streets. Onlookers were often waving or flashing the famous shaka sign.

While enjoying the barbecue the president’s men, armed to the teeth, carefully guarded the area, and waterways, against any possible attack.

Near Dillingham Airfield a group unveiled a sign which read: ‘Hi, Mr. Prez.’

The airfield, frequented by gliders and parachute jumpers, was dormant due to security for the President. Bill Star, one the operators of Original Glider Rides, lamented the lost business as it was the first day of excellent weather this week.

Mr Obama, who also visited Mr Titcomb on the same day a year ago, is facing claims that he could have been more frugal in his two-week getaway with wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha at a luxury beachfront rental home in Kailua, an upscale resort about 12 miles from the capital, Honolulu.

According to the Hawaii Reporter, the bill for the trip included:

*$63,000 on an early flight bringing Mrs Obama and the children to Hawaii ahead of the president.
*$1,000,000 on Mr Obama’s return trip from Washington on Air Force One.
*$38,000 for the ‘Winter White House’ the president has rented for his family on the beach.
*$16,000 to rent beachfront homes for Secret Service and Navy Seals.
*$134,000 for 24 White House staff to stay at the Moana Hotel.
*$251,000 in police overtime.
*$10,000 for an ambulance to be on hand at all times

And those tallies do not include the travel costs of Mr Obama’s staff and Secret Service, car rentals and surveillance operations in advance of the trip, which could easily add up to more than £30,000.
The White House would not comment on the cost of the stay.

A spokesman said the president’s holiday expenses are in line with those of previous presidents.

But the Hawaii Reporter claimed: ‘They could have chosen a less expensive and more secure place to stay such as a beachfront home on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station – just a two-minute drive away from the Kailuana Place property where they are now.

‘The president visits the military base daily to workout, bowl with his kids or enjoy the more private beach there. ‘He also could have stayed at a home 15 minutes away on the beach fronting Bellows Air Force Base as President Bill Clinton did.’

The 7,000 square foot home where the president is vacationing has five bedrooms, a media room and a secluded lagoon-style pool with tropical waterfalls and a spa.

The Obamas holidayed at the same spot last year, but rising fuel costs have pushed up the estimated travel costs and the president flew later than the rest of his family because of delayed votes in Washington, adding more to the escalating expenses.

The Honolulu Police Department said overtime for officers cost $250,000 last year, compared to $106,000 in 2008 before his inauguration.

The President has no intention of going to a new location for his vacations.
Mr Burton, who is with the president in Hawaii, said: 'Like most Americans, the president knows what he likes in his own hometown.

'He's been going to a lot of these places since he was a very young child and they hold an important place in his life.'

‘It Was Hell’: Dispatchers Tell of Flood of 911 Calls During Storm.... Brooklyn Jew dies after street blocked with snow.

As the snow deepened Sunday and Monday, roughly 100 front-line 911 operators in Downtown Brooklyn fielded tens of thousands of calls, struggling to sort the true emergencies from an ocean of concerns about stranded cars, twisted ankles and people simply stuck in their homes.

The result was frayed nerves and growing exhaustion, as call after call piled up on top of other crises, like ambulances stuck in snow. The dispatchers tried to reroute ambulances and fire trucks and keep in contact with increasingly frantic callers, even as they headed into their third and fourth shifts.

Callers who would normally get an ambulance within minutes had to wait far longer; on Thursday, a neighbor of a 73-year-old man in Brooklyn said that he had died while waiting for one Monday evening.

One dispatcher, who worked for 24 hours straight from Monday into Tuesday, said, “This has never happened before — it was crazy.” The dispatcher, like others interviewed, would not give his name for fear of losing his job. “There were 1,500 calls waiting, and when we sent an ambulance out, it would get stuck in the snow. Except for 9/11, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The blizzard, and the flood of calls it produced, came at a time when the city is in the middle of a yearslong, $1 billion-plus modernization of its 911 system that officials say will give dispatchers access to the best technology.

But that project has encountered problems and is behind schedule, and for the moment, a spike in calls — like the one during the blizzard — can swamp a system still using outdated radio and dispatch equipment.

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he was “extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency response systems performed.” He said that Skip Funk, the city’s new director of emergency communications, would do a top-to-bottom review of what might have gone wrong.

Mr. Funk, whose $200,000-a-year job was created as part of a reorganization meant to breathe new life into the 911 modernization project, has made a career of managing emergency systems. He held a similar post in Chicago.

In recent years, New York dispatchers sent fire trucks racing to the wrong addresses, including one case in which rigs eventually arrived late to the correct location, where three people died. A number of changes have been made since then.

Mr. Funk, commenting on the effort to modernize the emergency dispatch system, said, “I think it is common knowledge the program has had difficulty.” He added that the size of the city’s emergency system — with 12 million 911 calls each year — made it uniquely hard to modernize, in part because most vendors “have never put in systems in a large system like this.”

Mr. Funk said his initial impression was that the dispatchers themselves were not at fault. They “did a tremendous job in sorting out those calls and getting those vehicles on the street,” he said, and also in rerouting responders who had gotten stuck in snow.

He said he would also look at the influx of 911 calls over the last few days, to see if the planned system could handle it — on Monday alone, there were nearly 50,000 calls. “And what we have seen in every crisis over the last number of years,” he said, “is that the spike in the number of calls can be easily handled when we get these new systems in place.

At 11 Metrotech Plaza, the blocklong building at the center of this transformation, dispatchers detailed more basic concerns. When the storm hit, they said, they were inundated by nonemergency calls, mostly from people whose cars were stuck. Some people who could not get through to the overwhelmed 311 system for nonemergency calls — which received 260,000 calls on Monday — called after hearing the recorded advice telling them to “hang up and dial 911” in case of emergencies.

“It was hell,” said one dispatcher finishing his shift. “It was call after call after call. Nobody plowed the streets. How can we protect the city like this?”

With operators unable to get to the communications center because of stopped buses and trains, supervisors instituted a body-to-body rule, meaning that workers could not leave the center unless they were replaced. That meant some operators worked three 16-hour shifts between Sunday and Wednesday, with others working 24 hours straight.

Operators who did not show up to work were classified as AWOL, some operators said, meaning they could face disciplinary action, like docked pay. “People got upset because they couldn’t go home,” one supervisor said. “There was anger in the air.”

Officially, the blizzard caused no deaths, but the long waits for ambulances sometimes had tragic consequences. A mother in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, gave birth while attempting to reach emergency workers, and the baby did not survive.

A 911 call came in around 6 p.m. Monday from 135 Ocean Parkway in Kensington, Brooklyn, where Joel Grossman, 73, was complaining of stomach pain. “He was very much alive, and we knew he needed help,” said a neighbor, Judith Friedman, who was with Mr. Grossman. “It was very difficult for us to explain to him how bad the weather was because he was in such pain, so we didn’t want to make him feel worse.”

About an hour later, dispatchers were told that Mr. Grossman was now unconscious. At 7:47 p.m., the Fire Department said, its ambulance arrived, although Ms. Friedman said the first to arrive was Hatzolah, the private ambulance service.

In any case, it was too late. About five minutes before the ambulance arrived, she said, “He keeled over, fell off of the couch and died.”

New York's Strongest leaps into action to save stranded heart attack victim

Heart attack victim Pincus (Pinky) Tusk shows how Sanitation worker Lance Lewin massaged his chest until help arrived

There was at least one shining moment for New York's Strongest during the blizzard: A Brooklyn man says a sanitation worker saved his life.

Pincus (Pinky) Tusk says he would have died after having a heart attack during the colossal storm if Lance Lewin hadn't leaped into action, performing CPR and calling for help.

"I was very lucky this gentleman from the Department of Sanitation came by," Tusk said from his bed at Beth Israel Medical Center.

"Besides thank you, there's very little I can say that would reflect how I feel."

Tusk, 63, of Flatbush, was returning from a wedding in Meadowbrook, N.J., in the midst of Sunday's storm when he got stuck behind a car trapped in a snowdrift on Elizabeth St. in Manhattan.

The furniture salesman, who has a history of heart troubles, helped push the car free - then started having chest pains.

Tusk called his son Moshe, who was in another car, and told him he felt ill. But he gave him the wrong location of where his car was stopped.

Lewin, 33, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, had just finished plowing in front of a police stationhouse when he turned onto Elizabeth St. and found a dozen cars stuck in the snow.

A young man flagged him down.

"He said there was a man who needed help," Lewin recalled. "It was snowing really hard at that point and the car had gotten covered over. You couldn't really see in the windows, but I saw there was a man in there.

"I knocked on the window and he didn't respond. I opened the door and pulled him out, and here he was gasping for air. I asked him if he was having a heart attack and he said he was," Lewin added.

Lewin, an 10-year Sanitation Department vet, radioed his supervisor and told him to get an ambulance. He then dusted off CPR skills he learned years ago at a previous job and began giving Tusk chest compressions.

"I wasn't 100% sure I was doing it right," he said. "It had been a long time."

He took Tusk's cell phone, called the last-dialed number and got his son.

"I told him I was with his father and help was on the way," Lewin said.

With the streets clogged with snow and abandoned vehicles, it took longer than usual for that help to arrive, and paramedics had to walk the last 1-1/2 blocks. Tusk was taken to the hospital, where doctors implanted a stent.

Later, when Lewin went to return Tusk's car keys, he had an emotional meeting with the son. "He came over and just hugged me and said, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you,'" he said. "I told him I was just glad I was there - if it was my father, I'd have wanted somebody to stop and help."

Tusk's son-in-law, Jason Salzberg, said if it weren't for Lewin, "My father-in-law might have died."

"Who knows if they would have found him in time?" he said.

Since then, Lewin has worked around-the-clock shifts, but Tusk said he is eager to meet his savior.

"I will be calling him," he said.

Police summon Safed rabbi over racist letter

Rabbi Eliyahu: Yossi Sarid not summoned

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu refuses to report to interrogation, decrying police favoritism for leftists

Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu has been summoned by police over a letter he published urging the public to refrain from renting and selling homes to Arabs. However Eliyahu told Ynet Friday he would not answer the summons.

Police are seeking to interrogate the rabbi on suspicion of incitement to racism, and he was summoned to Jerusalem on Sunday.

"I asked them if David Grossman, Yossi Sarid, and Shulamit Aloni, who protested against the settlement of Jews in Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, had also been interrogated, but they said no," Eliyahu explained.

"If I am being accused of racism while they are not – this is discrimination."

The rabbi added that it was his right to publish his halachic rulings. "We have no intention of playing into the hands of the justice system, which behaves in an inequitable manner," he said.

Eliyahu is backed by MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel (National Union), who condemned the "summoning to interrogation of the great leaders of Israel" and the "persecution of the Torah and its rabbis".

"Freedom of speech has been stolen from wizened students by the police and the prosecution, because they believe it is deserved only by radical and post-Zionist academicians, who call on Arabs to refrain from renting to Jews in their neighborhoods," they said in a statement.

Popular rabbi in north arrested for allegedly molesting minors

Rabbis name and community remain under gag order; police say at least three charges of molestation have been uncovered so far.

A popular rabbi from a community in the north of Israel was arrested for allegedly molesting minors, it was revealed on Friday after a gag order on the case was lifted.

The rabbi, age 60, was arrested on Thursday after he requested to leave the country for a celebration of a famous rabbi. The rabbi's name and certain details about the case are still under a gag order.

The rabbi is suspected of sodomizing a fourteen-year-old girl three years ago, as well as molesting additional minors, both male and female, over the course of this past year.

Police have been investigating this case for the last several months. The investigation has been headed by police-superintendent Ariyeh Alkobi, who says that there have been three charges of molestation uncovered thus far. Police say there are other minors who were also molested, but they have not yet filed formal complaints with police.

Alkobi said that the accusations against the rabbi took many by surprise, as he was considered a very popular figure in his community, where he has been living for over 40 years. In his community, he helped found academic institutions and non-profit organizations, and had a reputation of always being available to help advise and counsel people.

The rabbi's defense attorneys claim that people in the community are going "home to home, trying to get people to file complaints against the rabbi." They say the claims are a conspiracy created by a few people who are angry about being fired from their positions in different institutions that the rabbi ran.

The rabbis remand was extended by a week on Friday morning.

רב נעצר בחשד לתקיפה מינית של שלושה בני 14

שתי נערות ונער התלוננו נגד מנהל מוסדות חינוך דתיים, שנעצר בנתב"ג, לפני טיסה לחו"ל. ל- נודע כי הוא חשוד בביצוע מעשה סדום ומעשה מגונה. פרקליטו: זו עלילה, אביה של המתלוננת ניסה לסחוט ממנו 100 אלף שקל

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arrest warrant issued for officer's son seen on video punching man

The State Attorney's Office in Florida is investigating an incident in which a person identified as a police lieutenant's son is shown on videotape punching a man described as homeless, authorities said.

A police report said the incident took place early on December 4. But Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford, Florida, police lieutenant, has not been arrested or charged, CNN affiliate WFTV reported Tuesday.

However, Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley told CNN on Thursday that authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Collison on Wednesday night on suspicion of aggravated battery, and that "officers are out looking for him."

"I'm hoping he'll come and turn himself in," Tooley said. "But we'll apprehend him."

WFTV aired video of the fight, in which the person identified as Collison is seen punching the man -- who apparently was attempting to break up an unrelated fight outside a bar -- in the back of the head. The man appeared to be unconscious for at least several minutes after the blow, according to the video.

Sanford police had said that Collison, 21, was not being given preferential treatment. Tooley acknowledged Thursday, however, that "there's a lot of things that could have been done better," and said an internal investigation is under way.

Repeated attempts by CNN to contact Collison and his father were unsuccessful Thursday.

On the tape, the person identified as Collison strikes the man in the back of the head, then walks a short distance and pushes a second man, throwing him to the ground as others shout for "Justin" to stop. The second man left the scene before police arrived, according to the police report.

"I was like, 'God, this guy, he's got to go to jail,'" the man who filmed the incident told WFTV. He did not want to be identified. "You can't walk around doing that kind of stuff."

The first man, identified in the police report as Sherman L. Ware, was described by others on the video as homeless. He fell forward upon being struck and hit his face on a pole, according to the police report. Ware was treated at a hospital for a broken nose, but the police report described him as intoxicated and uncooperative, saying he did not want to provide a sworn statement. In addition, witness accounts of the incident were conflicting, the report said.

Tooley said officers did obtain a statement from Ware on Wednesday night.

Tooley said once the responding officers realized a lieutenant's son was involved, the captain on duty should have been called, and Tooley said he should have been notified as well.

"What should have made a difference, in my opinion, is that this was in fact the son of a lieutenant," he said. "They should have made sure they did everything exactly by the book."

Authorities have asked the State Attorney's Office for Brevard and Seminole counties to review the incident and assess whether charges should be filed. "This case will be forwarded to the SAO for further evaluation for investigation and prosecution," the police report says.

The investigation is under way, Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, spokeswoman for the state attorney's office, said Thursday. The length of the investigation is "well within the realm of normal," she added, saying such probes can take anywhere from two weeks to three months. The speed of the investigation has much to do with a public safety threat, she said; if someone is a threat, the investigation will be rushed.

An interview between the prosecutor and the victim is scheduled to take place next week, she said, and no decision on charges will be made until after that interview takes place. "Part of the issue we face is evaluating the degree of damage, harm to the victim, because that determines the charge filed," Bumpus-Hooper said.

Prosecutors said they also intend to subpoena medical records and hope to get the victim's consent to obtain them, which speeds the process. "There is a lot of information we need," Bumpus-Hooper said.

Tooley said he spoke to the state attorney and the chief assistant state attorney on Wednesday and "they agreed to expedite this process."

He said he was not aware of the incident -- and the fact it involved a lieutenant's son -- until four days after it happened. He said he saw the video for the first time on television news.

"I completely understand the public's frustration, outrage," he said. "It's a shocking video ... I wish I would have seen the video two or three weeks earlier."

Responding officers arriving at a barroom brawl incident are frequently unable to sort out what happened, and call in the State Attorney's Office to investigate, Bumpus-Hooper said. Police requested the incident be investigated as an aggravated battery, she noted, a serious charge.

Whether a person is a law enforcement officer's relative "makes absolutely no difference to this office," said Bumpus-Hooper. She said the office has investigated relatives of police officers before and currently has cases pending against law enforcement officers.

On whether the video will help the investigation, Bumpus-Hooper said she hasn't asked the state's attorney, but "generally the more evidence you have, the better off you are." She said authorities would also be interested in knowing what happened before the tape started and what took place inside the club.

Tooley said the incident has not affected Collison's father's employment status.

Rebbetzin Madonna Tzedakah ?

She may be the “material girl,” but Madonna is spreading her wealth among those focused on the metaphysical.

In 2009, her Ray of Light Foundation, based in Los Angeles, gave out $2.9 million in grants, a majority of which was earmarked to charitable causes headed by those with connections to the kabbalah movement. Madonna, who adopted the name Esther, is a devotee of what some call “New Age Kabbalah.”

The Ray of Light Foundation’s largest gift was a nearly $2.3 million grant to Raising Malawi (, a nonprofit Madonna founded with Michael Berg in 2006 with the goal of ending poverty for Malawi’s two million orphans.

Berg is the co-director of The Kabbalah Centre, and son of Rabbi Philip Berg, the Kabbalah Centre’s founder. The younger Berg, who edited an English translation of the Zohar, is also the author of “Secrets of The Zohar,” “Becoming Like God,” and several other books on Jewish mysticism. Earlier this year, Berg founded UKabbalah, an online learning portal offering interactive kabbalah lectures.

Madonna’s foundation also contributed $200,000 to the Spirituality for Kids Foundation, which is run under the auspices of The Kabbalah Centre. According to its website, Spirituality for Kids funds an educational curriculum that “teaches children and families to eliminate chaos from their lives and to create positive life transformation from within.”

The foundation’s 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service also revealed that the pop star gave $10,000 to Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Los Angeles, which runs programs mentoring Jewish children.

In addition, The Ray of Light Foundation gave $400,000 to American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, as well as $15,000 each to the T. J. Martell Foundation, which supports research for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS, and The Boston Conservatory. An additional $10,000 grant was awarded to The International Society for Health and Development in Derwood, Md.

Death by neck massager: Doctor killed at Christmas when 'her necklace got caught and strangled her'

Radiologist Dr. Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson was found dead by her husband on Christmas Eve in their Florida home

A neck massager may have killed a Florida mom on Christmas Eve.

The Fort Lauderdale woman's death apparently was caused when an electric neck massager became ensnared on her necklace and strangled her, sheriff's investigators said yesterday.

The woman, 37-year-old medical doctor Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson, had been wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve and used the massager to relieve neck pain, Broward County Sheriff's investigators said.

Her husband, dentist Kenneth Gegerson, found her lying unconscious on the bedroom floor in their home and called paramedics, who pronounced her dead.

Paramedics found the neck massager on the floor next to the woman.

Investigators believe the massager got tangled on her necklace and tightened it around her neck, causing her to lose consciousness and stop breathing.

Ferrari-Gegerson, 37, worked as an emergency room radiologist and was the mother of a one-year-old, colleagues said.

Her death is believed to be accidental, but homicide investigators are withholding details about the brand of massaging device until the investigation is complete, a sheriff's spokesman said.

NY: Hate crimes across the state see 14 percent spike in 2009

ALBANY – Hate crimes across New York State spiked 14 percent in 2009 led by an increase in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, state records released yesterday show.

There were 683 hate crimes reported to police authorities across the state in 2009 compared to 599 in 2008, according to a report released by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS.)

In the New York City, reported hate crimes rose six percent, to 275 from 259.

Brooklyn led the city with the highest number of incidents, 92, followed by Manhattan, 70, Queens, 61, the Bronx, 33, and Staten Island, 19.

Nassau County had 82 reported incidents, down form 100 in 2008, Suffolk County had 80incidents, up from 62, and Westchester County had 23 incidents, up from 16.

Most of the hate crimes involved assaults or intimidation, 45 percent, or damage and destruction to property, 44 percent. A total of 179 individuals were arrested on hate crime charges in connection with the incidents.

Anti-Semitic incidents, which made up 37 percent of the reported hate crimes, were up 15 percent in one year, from 219 in 2008 to 251 in 2009.

The report found anti-black crimes, 21 percent of the total, were down slightly to 144 in 2009 from 147 in 2008. Anti-white hate crimes increased to 29 from 21.

Anti-gay hate crimes were up sharply, with those targeting male homosexuals jumping 32 percent, from 62 to 82, and those aimed at lesbians up by more than 200 percent, from eight to 25.

Crimes motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment rose to 11 from eight the year before.

“A hate crime is an offense not only against a specific individual, but against an entire community,’’ said DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean Byrne.

Reported hate crime incidents in New York City:
2009 2008

Manhattan 70 66
Brooklyn 92 117
Queens 61 40
Bronx 33 17
Staten Island 19 19

Rattner agrees to pay $10M to settle NY pay-to-play pension scandal

The New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, announced on Thursday an agreement with Steven L. Rattner that resolves allegations that Mr. Rattner engaged in a kickback scheme involving the state’s pension system.

Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Rattner will pay $10 million in restitution to the State of New York and will be barred from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund in the state for five years. He did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The agreement will settle two lawsuits filed in November against Mr. Rattner, who oversaw the federal rescue of the auto industry, by the attorney general’s office.

“I am gratified that we have been able to reach an agreement in this case, as it resolves the last major action of our multi-year investigation,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “The state pension fund is a valuable asset held in trust for retirees and supported by taxpayers. Through the many cases, pleas and settlements in this investigation, I believe we have been able to help restore and protect the integrity of the state pension fund.”

Mr. Cuomo will be sworn in as New York’s governor on Saturday.

In a statement issued in conjunction with the agreement, Mr. Rattner said: “I am pleased to have reached a settlement with the New York attorney general’s office, which allows me to put this matter behind me. I apologize if during the course of this process there is anything I did that may have made reaching this agreement more difficult. I respect the work of the attorney general and his staff to ensure that the New York State Common Retirement Fund operates properly and in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

In November, Mr. Rattner settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, agreeing to disgorge $3.2 million related to the accusations and pay a penalty of $3 million. He also accepted a two-year ban from certain Wall Street businesses. He did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

Mr. Cuomo had previously sought stiffer penalties, including $26 million.

The dispute between the two men began several years ago, when the attorney general’s office began examining how investment firms won business from the pension fund and whether they had improper dealings with officials.

Mr. Rattner’s former private equity firm, Quadrangle Group, reached a settlement earlier in the year, admitting to paying Hank Morris, a top adviser to a former New York State comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, for his help in securing investments from the New York pension fund.

Before helping found Quadrangle, Mr. Rattner was a former reporter for The New York Times who went on to work as an investment banker at Lazard. When he was appointed to head the Obama administration’s auto task force in 2009, he disclosed a net worth of $188 million to $608 million.

Swedish thief of Auschwitz 'Work Makes Free' sign is jailed by Polish court

In cuffs: Anders Hogstrom enters court in Krakow today to be sentenced over the theft

A Swedish man was today sentenced to two years and eight months in prison over the theft last year of the notorious ‘Work Sets You Free’ sign from the former Auschwitz death camp.

A judge at a regional court in the southern Polish city of Krakow approved a settlement that Anders Hogstrom reached with prosecutors.

Hogstrom, who had confessed to involvement in the December 2009 theft of the sign that reads ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ in German, was convicted of instigating it.

He is expected to be transferred to Sweden in the coming weeks to serve his term.
Both sides have seven days to appeal the verdict.

If no appeal is made - which appears likely given the deal between the defendant and prosecutors - Hogstrom can then be transferred to Sweden.

Prosecutor Robert Parys said the main motive of the group of six that carried out the theft was financial.

Hogstrom maintains that another Swedish man talked him into organizing the heist, but Polish prosecutors have been unable to find evidence to support his claim.

Judge Jaroslaw Gaberle also approved plea deals Thursday for two Polish men, Marcin Auguscinski and Andrzej Strychalski.

They were convicted of involvement in stealing the sign and given sentences of two and a half years and two years and four months respectively.

Three other Poles involved in the case were convicted of secondary roles in the theft and handed prison terms in March.

The theft occurred in the night between December 17 and December 18, 2009.
Police tracked down the sign less than three days after it was stolen, finding it cut into three pieces in a forest.

Between 1940 and 1945 more than 1million people, mostly Jews, were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau or died of starvation, disease and hard physical labour at the camp, which Nazi Germany set up in occupied Poland.

Ponzi scammer Kenneth Starr denied in bid to lower 10M bail

A Manhattan judge refused Ponzi swindler Kenneth Starr's request on Tuesday to lower his $10 million bail while awaiting final sentencing.

At the same time, Federal District Judge Shira Scheindlin put the kibosh on the U.S. attorney's request to revoke bail altogether.

Starr has become estranged from family members who would put up their homes for the disgraced financial consultant to the rich and famous - and could flee if they do, prosecutors argued.

Starr pleaded guilty in September to a Ponzi scheme the government says scammed $60 million from his clients, including Hollywood A-listers Uma Thurman and Martin Scorsese.

He faces up to 12 years in prison when Scheindlin sentences him in February.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly OK after snowy smashup on Gowanus Expressway

This is the white van involved in the crash. (credit: CBS 2)

A police car carrying NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was involved in a three-car smashup on the snow-slick Gowanus Expressway on Wednesday, cops said.

The unmarked police vehicle - a 2008 Ford Expedition - was traveling behind a white van as it merged onto the Belt Parkway entrance ramp near 65th St. in Bay Ridge at 8 p.m., police said.

Suddenly, a red sedan cut off the van as the two-lane ramp narrowed to one lane - causing the driver of the Ford Econoline to brake hard and fishtail out of control, police said.

The van slid sideways and got wedged across the roadway between a snow embankment and a jersey barrier - causing the SUV carrying Kelly to T-bone the van at 40 mph, cops said.

A livery car behind Kelly's SUV smashed into the rear end of the vehicle.

No airbags were deployed in any of the vehicles.

Police and firefighters responded to the scene, but everyone involved refused medical attention.

All vehicles were damaged in the crash, but only the van had to be towed away.

The driver of the red sedan continued without stopping.

NYC: Taking a plower nap

It was bad snooze for people buried under the blizzard in Whitestone, Queens, one of several outer-borough neighborhoods where sources said Sanitation bosses ordered slowdowns.

Instead of plowing the streets, this driver was caught snoozing Monday morning from 9:30 to at least 11 on 14th Avenue near 149th Street.

A Sanitation Department spokesman would not comment until he saw the pictures, and he did not answer questions about the agency's sleeping-in-the-truck policy.

US: Poisoning attempt against Israeli stabbing suspect

Prosecutors say a Michigan jail inmate has been charged with trying to poison a man suspected in a series of stabbings.

Prosecutor David Leyton tells the Flint Journal an inmate tried to put an oven cleaner in Elias Abuelazam's food.

Leyton says it happened some time ago and he isn't revealing the suspect's name. Attempted poisoning can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Abuelazam faces charges of murdering three people and trying to murder five others for a series of stabbings in the Flint area. He's also charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio, and suspected in similar attacks in Leesburg, Va.

Abuelazam was arrested in Atlanta on Aug. 11 while trying to fly to his native country, Israel.

Former Israeli president convicted of rape

Dec. 30: Israel's former president Moshe Katsav (C) arrives at Tel Aviv District Court to hear the verdict on charges of rape and sexual misconduct against him

JERUSALEM – Former Israel President Moshe Katsav was convicted Thursday of raping an employee when he was a Cabinet minister, the most serious criminal charges ever brought against a high-ranking official and a case that shocked the nation.

Katsav, 65, faces a minimum of four years and up to 16 years in prison on two counts of raping an employee in 1998 when he was tourism minister. The Tel Aviv District Court also convicted him on lesser counts of indecent acts and sexual harassment involving two other women who worked for him when he was president.

Katsav served as a minister in several right-wing Likud governments before he was elected president in 2000. He claimed he was an innocent victim of a political witch hunt, suggesting he was targeted because he comes from Israel's Sephardic community. Sephardic Jews, of Middle Eastern origin, were for decades an underclass. Katsav was born in Iran and immigrated to Israel as a child.

A somber Katsav left the courtroom without commenting, surrounded by his high-powered legal team. He was ordered to surrender his passport while awaiting sentencing at a date that has not yet been set. His son Boaz vowed his father would clear his name.

"We will continue to walk with our heads high and all the nation ... with God's help, will know that father, the eighth president of the state of Israel, is innocent," he said.

Katsav's case initially broke in 2006, when the then-president complained that a female employee was extorting him. The woman then went to police with her side of the story, detailing a series of sexual assaults and prompting other women to come forward with similar complaints.

According to the indictment, Katsav forced one woman to the floor of his office at the Tourism Ministry in 1998 and raped her. A second time that year, he summoned her to a Jerusalem hotel to go over paperwork and raped her on the bed in his room. The indictment alleged that Katsav tried to calm his victim by saying: "Relax, you'll enjoy it."

The indictment also alleged that he harassed two women during his term as president, embracing them against their will and making unwanted sexual comments.

On Katsav's 60th birthday in 2005, an assistant offered congratulations. He then hugged her at length, sniffing her neck, according to the indictment. She complained to police, and the indictment said Katsav later tried to persuade her to change her testimony, earning him an additional charge of obstruction of justice.

The conviction by a three-judge panel was widely praised as a victory for Israel's legal system and for women's rights — a sentiment reflected in the reaction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The court sent two clear and sharp messages: that everyone is equal and every woman has the full right to her body," he said in a statement. He called the verdict a sad day for Israel and its citizens.

Katsav can appeal the verdict or seek a presidential pardon.

The conviction capped a four-and-a-half year saga that stunned Israelis, both with its lurid details and bizarre twists and turns.

Katsav resigned in 2007, two weeks before his seven-year term expired, under a plea bargain that would have required him to admit to lesser charges of sexual misconduct. He was replaced by elder statesman and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.

But in a dramatic reversal in April 2009, Katsav rejected the deal, which would have kept him out of jail, and vowed to clear his name in court.

Around that time, he held a news conference in which he lashed out at prosecutors and the media and denied any wrongdoing. His behavior, in which he shook in anger and screamed at reporters in the room, was widely criticized.

The president in Israel is head of state but a largely ceremonial post, representing the country at ceremonies around the world. The post, filled by parliament, is traditionally given to an elder statesman as a reward for years of public service.

Katsav's case sparked a high-profile campaign by woman's right groups. On Thursday, hundreds of women stood outside the courtroom holding signs against Katsav and chanting: "The whole nation knows Katsav is a criminal."

Prosecutor Ronit Amiel said the verdict sent a strong message that victims of abuse of power should not keep silent.

"This day is not a happy day. It is not an easy day," she said.

Oren Gazal-Ayal, a professor of criminal justice at Haifa University, called the verdict a "badge of honor" for the country's legal system.

"I think we should be very proud of the Israeli justice system," he said, noting that he knew of no parallel worldwide to such a case.

The conviction was the latest in a series of high-profile cases against Israeli officials.

Former Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson is currently in prison after being convicted of embezzling more than $600,000 from a workers union. Former Justice Minister Haim Ramon was convicted in March 2007 of forcibly kissing a female soldier. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is currently standing trial on corruption charges.

'You are not alone': Outside the Tel Aviv court women's rights activists protested, fearing Katsav would not be found guilty

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brazen Christmas Day diamond store heist

Danny Ocean would be impressed.

Three sophisticated thieves made off with $500,000 worth of baubles after staging an elaborate "Ocean's Eleven"-like break-in at a Manhattan diamond store on Christmas Day, law enforcement sources said.

The blockbuster 2007 film, starring George Clooney who played the Danny Ocean character, centered around a high-tech Las Vegas casino robbery complete with acrobatic thieves.

This morning, The NYPD released shocking video of the real life heist, showing the brazen burglars ransacking display cases like hungry piranha.

The incident began at about 5 p.m. Saturday, when three masked men, wearing hats, gloves and dark clothing, entered a building on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue and climbed up to the roof, sources said.

They crossed the roof to an adjacent building, which houses Burlington Coat Factory and Ultra Diamonds, and dropped down inside.

Two of the crooks then possibly used a sledgehammer to smash a hole in the wall and crawled inside, sources said.

To cover their tracks, they disabled some cameras and destroyed the DVR system, then shattered numerous display cases with a claw hammer, the sources said.

They removed a treasure trove of jewelry, including gold and platinum wedding bands, watches, diamond engagement rings, earrings and bracelets, the sources said.

During the looting, one of the perps made a cell phone call to the third suspect, who snaked through the same wall.

All three bandits then broke into an office and swiped more jewelry from a safe, before crawling back out through the wall.

The suspects are still at large.

Anyone with information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls are confidential.

Death of newborn baby among several blizzard tragedies as city is accused of 'dropping the ball'

Ludmila Kowalow is reduced to tears after she discovers B1 bus she rides to visit her doctor in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, is not in service

A blizzard baby delivered inside the lobby of a snowbound Brooklyn building died after an emergency call of a woman in labor brought no help for nine excruciating hours.

The baby's mother, a 22-year-old college senior, was recovering Tuesday night at Interfaith Medical Center, where her newborn was pronounced dead at 6:34 p.m. on Monday. That was 10 hours after the first 911 call from the bloody vestibule on Brooklyn Ave. in Crown Heights.

"No one could get to her. Crown Heights was not plowed, and no medical aid came for hours," said the student's mother.

By the time a horde of firefighters and cops finally trooped to her aid through snow-covered blocks, the baby was unconscious and unresponsive, sources said.

Details of the tragedy emerged as the abominable snowstorm continued to wreak havoc across a city still digging out from the wintry blast. Some of the other blizzard horrors include:

- In Queens, a woman tried to reach 911 operators for 20 minutes Monday and then waited for three hours for first responders to arrive. By then, her mom had died, state Sen. Jose Peralta's office said.

Laura Freeman, 41, said her mother, Yvonne Freeman, 75, woke her at 8 a.m. because she was having trouble breathing. When the daughter couldn't get through to 911, she enlisted neighbors and relatives, who also began calling.

One of the callers reached an operator at 8:20 a.m., but responders stymied by snow-clogged streets didn't reach the Corona home until 11:05 a.m., said Peralta, who wants the death investigated.

"The EMS workers walked down the block trudging through snow," Freeman said. "They tried. I could tell by the look on their faces. I really would just like [Mayor] Bloomberg to admit that there were casualties."

- A woman in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was forced to spend the night with her dead father after the medical examiner's office took more than 24 hours to claim his body. Ismael Vazquez died at 10:31 a.m. on Monday, and the 82-year-old man's body remained in his bed until 1 p.m. yesterday. His daughter kept vigil in the living room.

"This is New York City, and I'm a New Yorker, and this is not the first storm we've ever had," said Florence Simancas, 51, holding back tears. "Somebody dropped the ball ... big-time."

- A Brooklyn woman was left sobbing at a Bay Ridge bus stop yesterday when the driver said there was no way to get her to a doctor's appointment in Bensonhurst.

"Please help. I have a doctor's appointment that is important and I can't get nowhere," 64-year-old Ludmila Kowalow said. "I don't know what to do," she added, throwing her hands in the air.

- A 76-year-old Bay Ridge heart attack victim nearly died when an FDNY ambulance became stuck in a snowbank, but he was rescued by a gang of good Samaritans lugging him through the unplowed streets on a sled fashioned from a gurney.

"My husband could be dead right now," said Lucy Pastore, whose husband, Salvatore, was in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center. "The mayor acts like this is a minor inconvenience. Makes me sick."

Still, nothing approached the tragedy of the newborn on the busiest day for 911 calls since Sept. 11, 2001.

The pregnant woman was walking from her home to the nearby hospital in the still-swirling snow when she ducked into the building lobby, unable to make it any farther.

The young woman had not told her family she was pregnant - she didn't want to disappoint relatives - or that she and her college boyfriend had decided to put the child up for adoption.

An 8:30 a.m. 911 call was made, with the caller saying the birth wasn't imminent, a Fire Department source told the Daily News. The call received a low priority, and the city unsuccessfully tried twice to contact the caller during the next few hours, the source said. A second, more urgent 911 call at 4:30 p.m. reported the woman was bleeding and the baby was crowning - and the call was upgraded to level two, the source said.

An hour later, the NYPD contacted the FDNY/EMS to report the baby had been delivered but was unconscious. Cops cut the umbilical cord and tried to revive the newborn, police source said.

The call was then upgraded to level one - highest priority - and an FDNY crew arrived in 12 minutes, sources said. EMTs were on the scene at 6 p.m.

"The mayor was spouting nonsense to say Crown Heights was plowed. It wasn't," the woman's mother said. "No one could get to her ... any other day she would have gotten to a hospital."

The city medical examiner will do an autopsy today on the baby.With Matthew Lysiak

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rabbis' wives: Don't date Arabs

New letter signed by rabbis' wives appeals to women urging them to stay away from Arabs. 'As soon as they have in you in their grasp – everything becomes different. Attention will be replaced with curses, physical abuse and humiliation,' letter states

After the rabbis' letter called on Jews not to rent apartments to Arabs comes their wives' turn: Twenty-seven prominent rabbis' wives signed a letter distributed by the 'Lehava' organization calling on Jewish women not to date Arabs, work in places where Arabs are employed or volunteer for National Service with them.

The letter's instigators say that its goal is to prevent assimilation and romantic relationships between Jewish women and Arab men.

The letter's signatories include: Daughter-in-law of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, wife of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, Nitzhiya Yosef, Rabbanit Esther Lior – the wife of Rabbi Lior from Kiryat Arba, Rabbanit Shlomit Melamed – the wife of Rabbi Zalman Melamed of Beit El, Rabbanit Esther Levanon – the wife of Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh, Rabbanit Starena Druckman – wife of Rabbi Meir Druckman of Kiryat Motzkin and others.

The letter stated that "there are quite a few Arab workers who use Hebrew names. Yusuf becomes Yossi, Samir becomes Sami and Abed becomes Ami. They seek your proximity, try to appeal to you and give you all the attention you could ask for, they actually know how be polite and act making you believe they really care…but their behavior is only temporary.

"As soon as they have in you in their grasp, in their village, under their complete control – everything becomes different. Your life will never be the same, and the attention you sought will be replaced with curses, physical abuse and humiliation."

The letter further stated, "Your grandmothers never dreamed that one of their decedents would, by one act, remove future generations from the Jewish people. For you, for future generations, and so that you will never have to endure the terrible suffering, we appeal to you, begging, pleading, praying: Don't date them, don't work where they work and don't perform National Service with them."

'Not Racism'

Bentzi Gopstein, a senior member of Lehava and a student of Rabbi Kahane, told Ynet: "It is important to explain that the problem is religious, not racist. If my son were to decide to marry an Arab woman who converted, I wouldn't have a problem with that. My problem is the assimilation that the phenomenon causes."

The Lehava organization was established a year ago and works as a parent organization for many groups operating against inter-marriage between Jews and Arabs. Its roots can be found in Rabbi Kahane's organization 'Yad LeAchayot'.

The organization's members classify it as an a-political organization and say that its activities are mainly informative: "Our focus is information and prevention. We hold conventions where we show films and present lectures about the phenomenon that has been gathering momentum and is extremely problematic mainly in places like Jerusalem, Safed, Bat Yam and Beersheba

NYT : Some Israelis Question Benefits for Ultra-Religious

The ultra-Orthodox make up 10 percent of Israel’s population of 7.5 million, but are increasing rapidly amid a growing backlash to the privileges and subsidies long granted to the ultra-religious.

JERUSALEM — Chaim Amsellem was certainly not the first Israeli Parliament member to suggest that most ultra-Orthodox men should work rather than receive welfare subsidies for full-time Torah study. But when he did so last month, the nation took notice: He is a rabbi, ultra-Orthodox himself, whose outspokenness ignited a fresh, and fierce, debate about the rapid growth of the ultra-religious in Israel.

“Torah is the most important thing in the world,” Rabbi Amsellem said in an interview. But now more than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men in Israel do not work, and he argued that full-time, state-financed study should be reserved for great scholars destined to become rabbis or religious judges.

“Those who are not that way inclined,” he said, “should go out and earn a living.”

In reaction, he was ousted from his own ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, whose leaders vilified him with such venom that he was assigned a bodyguard. The party newspaper printed a special supplement describing Rabbi Amsellem as “Amalek,” the biblical embodiment of all evil.

The intensity of the attacks from his own ranks appeared to underscore their own fears about a growing backlash to the privileges and subsidies long granted to the ultra-religious. The issue is not just the hundreds of millions of dollars doled out annually for seminaries and child allowances. Worry — and anger — is deepening about whether Israel can survive economically if it continues to encourage a culture of not working.

Already, there are an increasing number of programs to prod the ultra-Orthodox to join the work force and to serve out the military duties required of all other Jewish Israelis . But critics say these are not enough: Rabbi Amsellem says what is needed is nothing less than “revolution.”

The ultra-Orthodox, known in Hebrew as haredim, or those in awe of God, make up 10 percent of Israel’s population of 7.5 million, but are increasing rapidly. In addition to the men, more than 50 percent of haredi women do not work, compared with 21 percent among mainstream Jewish women. About 75 percent of Arab women do not work.

But while the Arab fertility rate has been dropping, the haredim still marry young and favor large families with eight children or more. Enrollment in ultra-Orthodox primary schools has increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade. In the haredi system, secular subjects like math and English are barely taught. Many see this situation as unsustainable.

“We have a few years to get our act together,” warned Dan Ben-David, an economist and director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, an independent research institute.

“If not, there will be a point of no return.”

Several months ago the center issued a report that caused widespread alarm: If current trends continue, it said, 78 percent of primary school children in Israel by 2040 will be either ultra-Orthodox or Arab.

There are also signs of growing anger among mainstream Israelis: University students, normally a placid bunch, over the last weeks have blocked roads in protest against stipends amounting to $30 million a year for the eternal students of the kollels, seminaries for married men. They argued that they should receive similar benefits. The government agreed to limit the stipends, but only in five years.

Officials say that about 56 percent of ultra-Orthodox live below the poverty line. Most are dependent on welfare payments like income support, child allowances or married student stipends.

There are historical reasons most haredim in the modern state of Israel have chosen to remain in the seminaries, unlike their counterparts abroad, who combine Torah study with regular work. When the state was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, granted full-time yeshiva students state financing and exemption from army service to refill the ranks of Torah scholarship destroyed in the Holocaust.

Then, there were 400 students, 18 and older, of draftable age. Today, there are about 60,000. To qualify for exemption, the students must be enrolled in full-time study and not do paid work.

About 1,000 haredim have served in Shahar, a special army program set up in late 2007 for ultra-Orthodox married men 22 to 27 years old, in which they are trained as technical staff members for the air force, navy, intelligence and other branches of the military. Shahar soldiers are able to go home every night and receive a family income from the government. Their two-year army stint then eases their way into the work force.

Such programs are intended to allow haredim to serve in the army without abandoning their way of life. The military provides strictly kosher food, allows the haredi soldiers to stay in groups, largely segregated from female soldiers, and allots them time for religious study and prayer.

At a recent Hanukkah concert for Shahar soldiers, held in a cultural center near Tel Aviv, men filled the main hall of the auditorium; their wives and crying babies were in the balcony above.

Chaim Dikman, 27, an officer who leads a haredi computer team in the air force and is one of 11 siblings, said he was the first in his family to serve. He said he still did not visit his parents in uniform. His own three children, he added, probably would not be welcome at some schools in the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement where he lives.

But, he added, “They might not have accepted them anyway on grounds that I am too ‘modern,’ ” even though he has no television or Internet access at home.

Treading carefully, in coordination with the rabbis, JDC-Israel, the Israel branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has pioneered programs like Shahar, provided professional training and set up employment centers for haredim with separate days for men and women, and workshops on how to write a résumé or handle an interview.

Arnon Mantver, the group’s Israel director, said the haredim had gotten used to living frugally, often with help from charity. But then, he said, the expenses increase: “The kids grow up and marry and need housing.”

Seeking a way out of poverty, about 10,000 haredim have passed through the group’s programs over the last decade, and a few thousand are engaged in adult secular studies at special campuses.

The government is discussing prodding haredim to perform a year of community service as ambulance drivers, firefighters and the like, in lieu of military service, after which they would be free to join the work force.

“The government is putting a major emphasis on getting the haredim to go to work,” said Isaac Herzog, Israel’s minister of welfare and social services. “I see them as a major engine of the economy for the future, and we are seeing more and more change.”

Out of control city tow truck destroys parked SUV on Brooklyn street video shows

A dramatic YouTube video showing a city tow truck crunching a parked SUV in snowbound Brooklyn Heights went viral Tuesday with more than 200,000 people watching the clip in a few hours.

The caught-on-tape slam-a-thon shows a stuck front-end loader bashing into the parked vehicle as a tow truck tries to yank the loader out of a snowy parking spot.

The yellow snow-mover careens into the city-owned Ford Expedition, then strikes it several more times as it lurches out of the spot.

On the way out, the plow crashes into the window of the SUV, and also sideswipes another parked car.

"It could had been completely avoided," said the wife of Eugene McArdle, 53, whose city-owned SUV was crushed. "It was a poor decision."

McArdle is the emergency liaison for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and needs the vehicle for his job, a spokeswoman said.

The SUV is a 1995 Expedition with 95,000 miles on it that the agency inherited from the city Department of Environmental Protection.

"We're happy no one was hurt," the spokeswoman said. "It's just a car."

The video was shot from an apartment window around 9:15 a.m. Monday, after the snow had stopped and the blizzard moved away from the city.

A crowd of neighbors gathered outside near the corner of Joralemon and Hicks streets as the city tow truck started trying to pull out the snow-mover.

The onlookers warned the tow truck driver to be careful squeezing out of the snowbound street. Instead he blasted his way out, the video shows.

Along with the city-owned SUV, which has "Official" plates, the front-end loader also clipped the McArdles' personal Toyota sedan.

"There were about 30 people out, yelling to stop," the wife said. "They chose to disregard what we were saying."

The clip started going viral after it was aired on CNN Tuesday morning and quickly attracted 219,000 views within a couple of hours.

Asked about the incident at a press conference, Mayor Bloomberg said anyone who suffered property damage should file a claim with the city.

Baby it's cold outside! At least three snowbound expectant moms go into labor during blizzard

Maya Gelfand and her husband Vlad rest after the harrowing birth of their twin sons during Sunday's storm

It's a pregnant woman's nightmare - going into labor during a blizzard.

For at least three expectant mothers, that was reality.

Maya Gelfand, 32, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, planned to give birth to twins Jan. 4 via Caesarean section at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. But contractions Sunday morning changed her due date, and an intrepid volunteer ambulance crew saved the day.

"Now I can say it was fun," Gelfand said Monday at Maimonides Medical Center as her newborn sons gurgled softly beside her. "But going through it? I was kind of freaking out."

When she went into labor at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, she and her husband, Vlad, ventured outside to find nothing but stranded cars - and even a snowplow stuck - in growing drifts.

They bundled up and walked three blocks to an N train station, where the station agent informed her the trains were not running.

She and her husband called the Hatzoloh ambulance service, which arrived in 10 minutes. As the two-man crew got her into the rig, Gelfand told them she was due to have a C-section.

"They smiled and said, 'Don't worry! You're in good hands!'" she said, adding she ended up having a problem-free C-section at Maimonides.

Jovanka Aponte of Brooklyn had a similar scare when her water broke at 3 a.m. Monday.

Her frantic mother ran out into the street and flagged down a street-cleaning crew, which fetched the FDNY. When firefighters reached her Rogers Ave. home, there was no time to wait for an ambulance. They carried Aponte through the snow in a wheelchair and put her in their fire engine cab.

"I was sitting in a seat behind a firefighter who was coaching me," said Aponte, 26. "Even the fire truck could barely get through the streets it was so bad."

The Bravest from Engine 249 and Ladder 132 got her to Kings County Hospital by 5 a.m., and her baby, Nayalee, was born at 1:39 p.m. "Twice, guys had to get out and push vehicles out of the way," said FDNY Lt. Eric Schroeder.

When Tami Ahmed's water broke at 9 p.m. on Sunday, the family car was buried and its engine was blown. An ambulance never came, even though 911 was called. A cousin delivered the baby at 1 a.m. Monday in Ahmed's Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, apartment, with help on the telephone from an EMT and the pediatrician. Firefighters from Engine 330 arrived on foot after their rig got stuck and carried the mother and newborn on a stretcher four blocks to the nearest ambulance.

"It was like being in a Third World country," Ahmed said of the ordeal as she cradled her baby, Yasmine, at Maimonides.

London - Islamist Terrorists Targetted Rabbis and Synagogues

London - Nine terror suspects plotted a Christmas bomb blitz in London, a court has heard.

Potential targets included the London Eye tourist attraction, the Stock Exchange and Mayor Boris Johnson, it was claimed.

The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, two rabbis and the U.S. Embassy were also said to have been listed for possible attack.

Big Ben was allegedly visited, while the Palace of Westminster was among other key landmarks said to have received their attention. The Church of Scientology headquarters in London was also ‘observed’, it was claimed.

Targets for bombings had been agreed by the cell’s members before police swooped, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told.

The suspects had also conducted live tests on explosives as part of their ‘unlawful and malicious conspiracy’.

Anti-terror police arrested the men, aged between 19 and 28, during a series of dawn raids in London, Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent five days before Christmas.

The suspects sat in the glass-panelled dock as the court was given details of atrocities they were accused of planning for the festive season.

Some of the men were described as being of Bangladeshi origin who were either born in the UK or had arrived when they were young, attending school and working in Britain.

One is a married father of three and another’s wife is five months pregnant.

A covert surveillance operation was carried out by police and MI5 which involved following suspects and recording conversations, the court heard.

Prosecutor Piers Arnold said Trafalgar Square was visited and then Westminster, where a mobile phone was allegedly held up and pointed at Big Ben.

Surveillance teams then followed their quarries to the South Bank and the London Eye giant ferris wheel, which was being ‘observed intently’.

The men are aged between 19 and 28. Some of them were described as being of Bangladeshi origin who were either born in the UK or had arrived when they were young, attending school and working in Britain

They moved on to look at the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street near Blackfriars, before visiting a branch of McDonald’s.

After the arrests on December 20, searches at one of the addresses uncovered a handwritten note containing the contact details of six individuals, Mr Arnold said.

It had the full addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s and the Chapter House, two rabbis and their synagogues, the U.S. Embassy, London Stock Exchange and the work address of Boris Johnson.

All nine suspects face the same two charges. The first is conspiring to cause an explosion or explosions ‘of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the UK’ between October 1 and December 20.

The second charge is ‘engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism’ between the same dates.

This includes downloading information from the internet, researching materials and methods, and obtaining materials and methods. The charge said the men had discussed and carried out reconnaissance on potential targets, and agreed their targets.

Finally, it said they had experimented with explosives by ‘igniting and testing incendiary material’.

The men were charged on Sunday night and Monday morning after the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the evidence gathered by police.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, announced: ‘I have reviewed the evidence provided to me by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and I am satisfied there is sufficient for a realistic prospect of conviction, and it is in the public interest that these men should be charged with these offences.’

In court, the Crown opened the 105-minute hearing by spending half an hour outlining the allegations against the men. For legal reasons, further details cannot be reported.

The nine suspects appeared in court in three groups, two from East London going first, followed by three from Cardiff and finally four from the Midlands.

Flanked by police and court security guards, each spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, 20, of Stanliff House, Tower Hamlets, had a wispy beard and wore a white hooded top.

He sat with his arms folded next to Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman, 28, of St Bernard’s Road, Newham, who had a bushy beard and a black coat.

The Cardiff suspects were Gurukanth Desai, 28, of Albert Street; Omar Sharif Latif, 26, of Neville Street; and Abdul Malik Miah, 24, of Ninian Park Road.

Bearded Miah and clean-shaven Desai are brothers, the court heard. Miah’s wife is five months pregnant, and Desai is a father of three young children.

They all looked relaxed, and Latif even winked and gave a thumbs-up as he was led from the dock.

The four suspects from the Midlands were Nazam Hussain, 25, of Grove Street, Stoke-on-Trent; Usman Khan, 19, of Persia Walk, Stoke; Mohibur Rahman, 26, of North Road, Stoke; and Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan, 26, of Green Lane, Birmingham.

At the time of the police raids, Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of counter-terrorism powers, described the alleged plot as ‘significant’, while Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates said it was ‘absolutely vital’ for the public to remain vigilant.

The operation was the most high-profile anti-terror raid in Britain since April 2009.

Miah and Desai both applied to be freed on bail – the only two suspects to do so – but chief magistrate Howard Riddle remanded all nine men in custody to the Old Bailey on January 14

Haredi Football League in Israel - השם ישמור

The 'missing minutes' following discovery of dead model at Budweiser tycoon's mansion

Staff who found a young woman dead at the home of a former Budweiser beer chief took more than 40 minutes to call emergency services, it has emerged.

Adrienne Martin, 27, was found dead at August Busch's gated suburban St. Louis mansion on December 19.

Police were told Ms Martin, a former waitress and aspiring model, was last seen alive more than nine hours earlier.

Staff at the home said her body was discovered at 12.30pm but it is alleged that no-one called 911 until 1.12pm.

Police were only called in after paramedics confirmed the woman was dead and details of the incident were only made public four days later.

An initial post mortem showed there were no signs of trauma to the body and no obvious causes of death.

The results of toxicology tests will take up to six weeks, but Ms Martin's body has already been cremated - before a memorial service this Thursday.

The woman's former husband has claimed she suffered from a rare heart condition.

Dr. Kevin Martin, a doctor of osteopathy who practices in Cape Girardeau, said he diagnosed his then-wife with a heart rhythm disorder in 2002, just after they married.

Dr Martin said his wife didn't tell others about her condition, called Long QT syndrome, and he hadn't talked to authorities about it.

'She refused to see a cardiologist about it,' Dr Martin said.

'I've always suspected she thought I was overreacting.'

Friends told the Post-Dispatch that Martin and Busch had been dating for several months.

Busch, 46, hasn't commented publicly about Martin's death. Frontenac police, who responded to the scene, did not disclose her death until four days later — after the newspaper reported it on its website,

Busch's lawyer, Art Margulis, said Busch and others were at the mansion when Martin's body was discovered. The attorney confirmed that Martin was Busch's girlfriend and there was 'absolutely nothing suspicious about her passing, and it's a tragic and untimely death of a young person'.

Officials said an initial autopsy was inconclusive and didn't reveal signs of trauma to her body or obvious natural causes of death. A ruling stating the cause of death is expected after results of toxicology tests come back. That could take up to six weeks.

St. Louis County forensic administrator Suzanne McCune had said there were no signs of trauma or illness, and an overdose was among the possible causes of death.
'She was against drugs,' said Timothy Carlson, who until earlier this month employed Martin as his assistant.
Carlson, president of the local MTO Clean franchise, said one of the last tasks she performed before leaving the job was selecting a company to administer drug testing for Carlson's staff at the home and commercial cleaning company.

Martin was a former Hooters waitress and aspiring beer advertising model who was working on her master's degree in art therapy counselling.

She and Kevin Martin, who divorced earlier this year, have an eight-year-old son who was with relatives in Springfield on the day she died.

Kevin Martin said he met Busch 'months ago', and that Busch called him on December 19 to tell him about the death.

'We also both think the world of August,' Martin said. 'He is a good man.'
When Busch took over as chief executive of the family business in 2006, Anheuser-Busch Cos. owned roughly half the U.S. beer market thanks to its Budweiser and Bud Light brands.

Two years later, the business was sold to Belgian company InBev in a $52billion deal that created the world's largest brewer.

Busch is the great-great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch and is nicknamed 'The Fourth'. He is a member of the InBev board but has no role in day-to-day operations.

In 1983, Busch, then a 20-year-old University of Arizona student, left a bar near Tucson, Ariz., with a 22-year-old woman. His black Corvette crashed, and the woman, Michele Frederick, was killed. Busch was found hours later at his home. He suffered a fractured skull and claimed he had amnesia. After a seven-month investigation, authorities declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence.

Two years later, Busch was acquitted on assault charges resulting from a police chase that ended with an officer shooting out a tire on his Mercedes-Benz.

Suspect confesses in gruesome murder of Betty Williams, stuffing her body in a suitcase: sources

Hassan Malik is taken out of the 23rd Precinct stationhouse late Monday night.

An East Harlem man was charged Monday night with the gruesome murder of a woman whose body was found last week stuffed in a suitcase and left on the street.

Cops arrested Hassan Malik, 55, who lives on Pleasant Ave., just a few blocks from where the suitcase was found, police said.

Malik, a military veteran, was brought into the 23rd Precinct stationhouse for questioning after cops got a tip, sources said, and he confessed to the murder.

The bloodied remains of Betty Williams, 28, of Harlem, were dumped on E. 114th St. in East Harlem, near the famed Rao's restaurant, on Dec. 22.

Williams, who was strangled, did brief stints on Rikers Island for 12 different arrests since 2007, half of them drug-related.

Her body was discovered after a passerby found the suitcase minutes after it was dumped - and was terrified when a leg popped out after she opened it.

Cops released a video shortly after the body was found showing a man abandoning the suitcase about midnight.

Malik's neighbors said he was the man in that video. They said he bragged about bringing women to hotels and robbing them of their credit cards.

"He had a lot of girls," said one neighbor, who declined to give his name. "He could talk. Sometimes it's not the looks. He's a people person."

Neighbors said that police told them they found Malik's fingerprints on the suitcase. Police removed many of his possessions from his apartment Saturday, neighbors said.

Police had released a second video last week showing a man smiling and buying groceries at a nearby supermarket. That man was located and questioned by cops. They now believe he had nothing to do with the killing.

צו לכינוס נכסי בוימלגרין; אלשיך: "לא יעלה על הדעת שאיש עסקים ייטול אשראי ויזמין את כולם לארה"ב"

הצו ניתן במסגרת בקשה שהגיש בנק דיסקונט להכרזתו של בוימלגרין כפושט רגל ולכינוס נכסיו, בשל חוב של למעלה מ-75 מיליון שקל לבנק ■ השופטת ורדה אלשיך בביקורת חריפה כלפי בוימלגרין: "נוטל אשראי מהבנקים בישראל ומזמין את כולם לטוס לארה"ב להתדיין עימו"

סגנית נשיאת בית המשפט המחוזי בת"א, השופטת ורדה אלשיך, הוציאה היום (ג') צו מותלה לכינוס נכסיו של איש העסקים, ישעיהו (שעיה) בוימלגרין, שייכנס לתוקפו בתחילת אפריל 2011. כמנהל המיוחד על נכסי בוימלגרין מונה עו"ד עופר ארגוב. כניסת צו הכינוס לתוקף נדחתה לאפריל, כדי לאפשר לצדדים לנהל משא ומתן אינטנסיבי שייתר את כניסתו לתוקף.

בנוסף, הוציאה אלשיך צו עיכוב יציאה מהארץ כנגד בוימלגרין וקבעה כי עליו להגיש, תוך 7 ימים דו"ח לכונס הנכסים על מצב הכנסותיו והוצאותיו.

הצו ניתן במסגרת בקשה שהגיש בנק דיסקונט להכרזתו של בוימלגרין כפושט רגל ולכינוס נכסיו, בשל חוב של למעלה מ-75 מיליון שקל לבנק.

במסגרת החלטתה מתחה אלשיך ביקורת חריפה על התנהלותו של בוימלגרין וציינה כי "לא יעלה על הדעת שאדם ינהל עסקים בישראל, ייטול אשראים במדינת ישראל, מהבנקים במדינת ישראל, ולאחר מכן יזמין את כולם לטוס לארצות הברית על מנת להידיין עימו".

עוד ביקרה השופטת את הסתירות שהתגלעו בין גרסת בוימלגרין, שטען, באמצעות עורכי דינו, כי הוא מצוי "ערב אישור הסדרים", לבין גרסת הבנק, שטען כי כלל לא מתנהל משא ומתן בין הצדדים. במהלך הדיון בהליך פשיטת הרגל, ביקשו באי כוחו של בוימלגרין לדחות את הוצאת צו הכינוס, הסבירו שדרוש להם עוד זמן עד שימוצו המגעים עם הבנק וטענו כי נכון יהיה לדחות את ההחלטה ולאפשר לבוימלגרין להגיש תגובה מסודרת לבקשת דיסקונט. "בוימלגרין עומד בראש קבוצה של חברות ציבוריות והמשמעות של מתן צו הכינוס נגד בעל שליטה בשלב זה, שבו החברות מצויות ערב הסדר נושים היא שגם אם הוא יהיה מותנה, בסופו של יום הוא יעמוד בתוקפו", הסבירו עוה"ד.

מנגד, טענו באי כוחו של הבנק, כי בוימלגרין ובאי כוחו "עשו מהם צחוק", בין היתר בכך שהם ביקשו מביהמ"ש לבטל היתר המצאה מחוץ לארץ של הבקשה נגד בוימלגרין. "הבנק לא ניסה להקשות שלא לצורך, לא ניסה לפגוע בבוימלגרין ולא בהסדרים בשום צורה. שום דבר לא מנע מבוימלגרין ולא מהחברות שלו, לבוא איתנו בדברים, אך לא היו שום מגעים איתם", טענו במהלך הדיון באי כוחו של הבנק, שלא התנגדו להוצאת צו כינוס מותלה נגד החייב.

את בנק דיסקונט ייצגו עו"ד עופר ארגוב ואסף שובינסקי ממשרד וינשטוק-זקלר ושות', את בוימלגרין ייצגו עו"ד יורם בונן, ישראל מרקוביץ ואלעד אופק ממשרד פישר-בכר-חן.

יחסי מין בתלמוד תורה מצמרר לבעלי לב מאבן

הרבי שכב לי על הגב

לאה שלחה את ילדיה ללמוד בחדר ולא דאגה לרגע. עד שגילתה כי אחד הבנים עבר התעללות מינית קשה בידי הרב שלו. וגם בן נוסף. ועוד אחד. ועוד. איש לא עזר לה בתוך החברה החרדית, אז היא התיישבה באומץ מול הרב והקליטה אותו מתוודה בפניה על מה שעשה לילדים בני חמש. עכשיו, בגילוי לב נדיר, היא מספרת כאן על הזוועה שעברה ואיך בזכות תמיכת מרכז ההגנה למען הילד, הרבי עומד בפני גזר דין, והילדים שלה לומדים לחייך מחדש
טיפין טיפין התחוור ללאה גודל הזוועה שרבצה על חמישה מ-12 ילדיה. זוועה שהתחוללה מתחת לאפה, אפילו נגעה בה פעמים אחדות, אבל הצליחה לחמוק ממנה. בכל פעם שגילתה טפח נוסף של הסיוט הבינה באיזה גיהנום אפל חיו ילדיה משך שנים, וכל אימת שחשפה עוד פיסת מציאות נחרדה להסתכל לה בפנים. ואולי טוב כך קרה, שלא בבת אחת נגלה בפניה הסוד, כי אין אמא שמסוגלת להכיל כל כך הרבה כאב בתוך ביתה שלה.
שמונה שנים הלך בנה יונתן (שם בדוי, כמו יתר השמות בכתבה) לחדר. הוא החל ללמוד שם כשהיה בן חמש וסיים בן 13. שמונה שנים שבהן הפך מ"בן יקיר לי", גאון המשפחה, לנער קשה ומרדן שמנבל את פיו, מתעמת עם הוריו ומתרחק מדרך התורה.
"היה לי כעס גדול מאוד כלפיו", אומרת לאה, בת 40 מבני ברק. "החינוך אצלנו בחברה החרדית לא משלים עם יוצאי דופן כמו הבן שלי. אבל מעבר לכעס, היתה בי פליאה. עשר פעמים ביום שאלתי את עצמי 'מה קרה לגאון שלי? לאן נעלם הילד המקסים שהיה לנו?'. בשלב מסוים לא היתה ברירה ושלחנו אותו לביתם של אחותי ובעלה. אי אפשר היה לשאת את ההתנהגות שלו בבית. הוא הפך לילד אלים שלא מחזיק מעמד בשום מסגרת".
מספר שבועות לאחר שעזב לבית דודיו, קיבלה טלפון מגיסה: "את כועסת על יונתן, אבל הילד לא אשם. תעלו על האוטו ובואו הנה מהר". לאה היתה משוכנעת שמדובר בסמים. כל משך הנסיעה ישבה במתח, מכינה את עצמה למכה.
כשהגיעו התיישבו מול הדוד שחיכה להם, מעשן סיגריה אחר סיגריה. יונתן הסתגר בחדר הסמוך, ניגן באורגן, אפילו לא בירך את הוריו לשלום. "הגיס שלי התחיל לספר איזה ילד מקסים יש לנו,
כמה הוא מוצלח ומוכשר, עד שהפסקתי אותו וביקשתי שייגש לעניין. היה ברור שזה קשה לו. הוא סיפר לנו על שיחה שניהל עם יונתן שבה שאל אותו 'למה אתה מדבר בצורה כזו? למה אתה מנבל את הפה?'. יונתן ענה: 'כי לקחו ממני את התמימות כשהייתי בן חמש'. הגיס שאל: 'מי לקח?'. ויונתן, משלח החוצה את הסוד רב השנים, השיב בהקלה:'המלמד שלי בחדר. רבי דוד'".
ואז, בפעם הראשונה, התוודעו ההורים לעולמו הנורא של בנם, לדרך שבה צעד לגמרי לבדו, לחלום הביעותים שהיו חייו. הם למדו כיצד פיתה הרבי את בנם ללכת אחריו אל השירותים, שמעו איך היה אומר לו "אמא שלך אמרה שאתה חולה ואני צריך לבדוק אותך שמה", נחרדו לגלות שסחט לו את איבר המין "כדי לראות אם כל הפיפי כבר יצא".
אבל הם לא ידעו שיונתן סיפר רק חלק. הוא התבייש, כמו שרק ילד יכול להתבייש בכך ששמונה שנים, יום-יום, מובילים אותו לשירותים, למחסן בית הספר, לספה המאובקת במחסן, מבצעים בגופו מעשים רעים והוא לא יכול לומר מילה. יונתן סיפר לגיס כי גם שנתיים אחר כך, והוא כבר תלמיד בישיבה, היה מגיע רבה דוד לבקר אותו שם, לדרוש בשלומו ולראות כיצד הוא מתקדם בלימודים.
‫"בשניה אחת נפל לי האסימון"
לאה החלה לצעוק ולבכות. "חטפתי את שוק חיי", היא נזכרת. "אין דבר נורא מזה בשביל הורים. צעקתי:'למשטרה! בואו נלך למשטרה!'. בעלי מיד אמר שאי אפשר בשום אופן ללכת למשטרה, וחייבים קודם לשאול את האדמו"ר. ניגשתי לחדר השני, ליונתן. פתחתי את הדלת, והילד שלי עמד שם וחיכה לי. חיבקתי אותו ואמרתי לו שאני אוהבת אותו. ואז הוא אמר: 'נכון שאת רוצה שנלך למשטרה, ואבא לא רוצה? ידעתי שזה מה שיהיה'. שאלתי אותו:'יונתן, מה אתה רוצה?'. והוא ענה: 'אמא, בואי נלך למשטרה ונספר להם הכל. אני רוצה שיענישו אותו'".
בלחץ בעלה הסכימה לאה להתקשר לאדמו"ר, שהורה להם חד-משמעית לא לעשות שום צעד אלא לפנות לראש "טוהר מחננו", או בשמם העממי, "משמרות הצניעות". האדמו"ר הרגיע את בני הזוג, הבטיח להם שהעניין יטופל, שהאיש יוכה מכות קשות, יפסיק לעבוד ויישלח לטיפול פסיכיאטרי, אבל שלא ילכו למשטרה ושלא ידווחו על העניין לאף אחד.
לאה השתוללה. "כעסתי נורא על בעלי. חזרנו הביתה בשתיקה. לא יכולתי להשלים עם ההוראה הזאת. בעדה החרדית יש המון דברים טובים, אבל שאלתי את עצמי אז, וגם היום, איך קורה שהרבנים שלנו נותנים הוראה שמאפשרת לקן צרעות להמשיך ולהתקיים בתוכנו. הם הרי מספקים קרקע פורייה לסוטים, לאנסים ולפדופילים שיודעים שהרבנים לא ייתנו למסור אותם לידי המשטרה. זה אור ירוק בשבילם להמשיך ולעשות את זה, למה שיפסיקו?".
לאה לא ישנה באותו לילה. היא ייסרה את עצמה בשאלות כמו איך לא ראתה, איך לא שמה לב שכל הכעסים, התפרצויות הזעם ואובדן ההבטחה שהיתה בילד, צועקים שמשהו לא בסדר. "בארבע לפנות בוקר, אחרי שעות ללא שינה, קלטתי בבת אחת משהו נורא", היא משחזרת. "בשנייה אחת נפל לי האסימון. ידעתי שגם אורי למד אצל רבי דוד, והלב שלי אמר שגם בו הוא פגע. משכתי את בעלי בשתי ידיים, הערתי אותו מהשינה ואמרתי: 'הוא עשה את זה גם לאורי!'. עוד לא דיברתי איתו, הוא ישן, אבל לא היה לי ספק בעניין".
וכך, בדיוק מצמית, אכן היה. אורי התעורר כמו בכל בוקר בשעה שש. עיניו נפקחו אל אמו שישבה מולו מארבע, מחכה בקוצר רוח לדבר איתו, להגיד לו שהוא לא לבד, רוצה-לא רוצה לצאת כבר למלחמה עם המפלצת. "שאלתי אותו אם יש לו קשר עם רבי דוד", מספרת לאה. "הוא הסתכל עלי במבט מפוחד. זה הילד הכי נעים ונוח מבין 12 הילדים שלי, לא הכרתי את המבט הזה בפניו. הוא ניענע בראשו ואמר לי'לא'. הבטתי לתוך עיניו ואמרתי לו: 'לאמא אומרים רק את האמת. יש לך קשר איתו?'. הוא הינהן.
שאלתי:'מה הוא עשה לך?'. הוא ענה: 'הרים לי את החולצה'. שאלתי: 'ומה עוד?' אז אורי אמר: 'הוא לקח אותי למחסן שליד החדר. יש בפנים מיטה. הוא הפשיט אותי ושכב עלי. הוריד את התחתונים שלו, שכב על הבטן שלי ואחר כך על הגב'. הרגשתי שאני מתפוצצת. הוא כל כך קטן, בן עשר, יושב לידי על המיטה בפיג'מה ומספר לי את הדברים הנוראים האלו.
חיבקתי אותו ואמרתי לו: 'אל תדאג, זה לא יקרה יותר'. וזה היה הרגע שהוא התחיל לבכות". עם הבכי השתחררו גם שאר הסודות והפחדים. אורי סיפר לאמו כי רבי דוד איים עליו שאם יגלה מה הוא עושה לו במחסן בית הספר יסלקו אותו מהחדר ויהרגו את הוריו. הוא אמר שניסה להתחמק מהרב, אך לא הצליח. יום אחרי יום בא אליו הרב בארוחת הצהריים, לקח אותו למחסן ועשה בו את המעשים האלה.
הרבי חייב להיות בעבודה, כדי לעזור
הידיים שלה לא רעדו באותו בוקר, אבל הלב היה מרוסק. יש בלאה עוצמה נדירה, נחישות של טיל מכוון מטרה. היא הכינה סנדוויצ'ים, עזרה לקטנים להתלבש, חיכתה איתם עד שההסעה תגיע ושיננה את המשפטים שתאמר לאדמו"ר בשיחת הטלפון שתעשה מיד כשהבית יתרוקן.
" צלצלתי לאדמו"ר וצרחתי עליו: 'אמרת לי לא לגשת למשטרה! אבל הוא פגע בעוד ילד שלי! אני הולכת למשטרה!'". אחר כך הרימה טלפון לבעלה שיצא לפני שאורי התעורר, וסיפרה לו. "הייתי במין אפאתיה עניינית. ידעתי שעכשיו צריך לעשות, לטפל, לקשור קצוות, שכל המאמצים צריכים להיות מכוונים למטרה אחת: להעיף מהחדר את רבי דוד, שיתרחק מהילדים שלי,מהילדים האחרים".
הטלפון הבא היה לתחנת המשטרה. סוף סוף. הם שמעו בתדהמה את הסיפור שגוללה באוזניהם, ביקשו שתמהר להגיע להגיש תלונה והבטיחו להגיש כל סיוע שתרצה. אבל היא, דקה אחרי הטלפון,לא מצאה כוח לקום וללכת לתחנה. השיחה לבדה היה צעד נועז וחריג במחוזות שבהם חיה. "ישבתי בבית,ובמקום לטפל בילדים שלי, במצוקה שלהם, הסתבכתי בתוך דילמה בלתי אפשרית: לשמוע בקול האדמו"ר כמו שעשיתי כל חיי, או לקום נגד כל מה שהכרתי וללכת למשטרה להגיש תלונה.
התקשרתי לאחיות שלי, התייעצתי עם מכרה פסיכולוגית, וכל הזמן הזה דיברתי עם יונתן, שלא הפסיק להתקשר ולשאול 'מתי הולכים למשטרה?'. הרגעתי אותו, הבטחתי לו שנלך בכל מקרה, גם אם אבא לא יסכים. הבנתי את הרצון להתפרק ולהשתחרר מהדבר הנורא שרדף אותו כל כך הרבה שנים, אבל חששתי מאוד לעשות משהו בניגוד להוראה של האדמו"ר".
בשש בערב הגיעו הילדים מהחדר. אורי סיפר שרבי דוד היה גם היה בעבודה, אבל הוא, אורי, לא הלך לחדר האוכל. לא רצה להסתכן בכך שיפגוש אותו וייאלץ שוב ללכת אחריו אל המחסן בחצר האחורית. לאה שוב הרימה טלפון לאדמו"ר, שוב התחננה שיטפלו באיש ושוב איימה לגשת למשטרה. האדמו"ר הפנה אותה לראש "טוהר מחננו" והורה לה לעשות כל מה שיבקש. כשלאה התקשרה אליו, כועסת ומיואשת, הרגיע אותה: "קראנו לו, הוא היה כאן היום אצלנו והודה שפגע ביונתן. אבל אל תלכי למשטרה, כי אחרת לא נוכל לעזור לך, לא נוכל להוציא ממנו הודאה גם לגבי אורי".
למחרת, יום שני, בשיחת טלפון נוספת עם משמרות הצניעות, כבר עידכנו אותה כי הוא הודה שפגע גם באורי ושהם שולחים אותו לטיפול פסיכיאטרי. אבל כל זה לא הרגיע את לאה. יונתן המשיך ללחוץ שילכו למשטרה, והיא לא יכלה לשאת את המחשבה שהאיש מסתובב חופשי. התחושות הללו התחדדו כאשר אורי חזר ביום שלישי מהחדר וסיפר שרבי דוד שוב הגיע לעבודה.
"התקשרתי למשמרות הצניעות ושאלתי אותם: 'מה הוא עושה שם? למה אתם לא מקיימים את ההבטחות שלכם?'. הם הסבירו לי שיש רישום לכיתה א', אז הוא חייב להיות בעבודה כדי לעזור". לאה ביקשה מגיסה שייגש לשם, שידרוש מהם להרחיק אותו מחברתם של ילדים, אבל כשזה הגיע לחדר ואמר למנהל שהוא מעסיק רב שאונס ילדים, הם זרקו אותו ואמרו לו שהוא מדבר שטויות.
פעם שלישית מול המציאות הנוראה
שום דבר לא הכין את לאה למכה הבאה. היא שוב הרימה טלפון לראש "טוהר מחננו", רצתה לברר איך מתקדם הטיפול באיש ולמה הוא עדיין מסתובב באזור החדר. אבל אז הוא אמר לה: "רבי דוד כאן, ועכשיו הוא הודה גם במעשים שעשה בעובדיה". לאה השתתקה. עובדיה היה בן שש.
"כל בוקר הוא היה בוכה שהוא לא רוצה ללכת לחדר", היא מספרת, "וכשהייתי שואלת אותו למה, הוא היה אומר: 'אני לא אוהב את רבי דוד, כי הוא חונקאותי בגרון'. התקשרתי בזמנו למנהל וביקשתי שיבדקו את העניין. אחרי יומיים צלצלתי שוב, אז הם אמרו שרבי דוד רק התלוצץ עם הילד ושהכל בסדר. עכשיו הבנתי ברגע אחד למה הכל לא היה בסדר". על הקו עדיין היה ראש משמרות הצניעות ובפיו הצעה ללאה: "רבי דוד נמצא כאן לידי והוא רוצה לבקש ממך סליחה". לאה חתכה אותו בכעס: "שלא יעז להתקרב אלי", אמרה וטרקה את הטלפון.
כשעובדיה חזר מהחדר באותו היום התיישבה לאה בפעם השלישית מול המציאות הנוראה. היא ידעה מה היא הולכת לשמוע והרגישה שכוחותיה כבר לא עומדים לה.
לאה: "מה רבי דוד עשה לך?".
עובדיה מחייך ושותק.
לאה: "תגיד לי מה הוא עשה לך!".
עובדיה: "אבל אני מתבייש".
לאה: "למה אתה מתבייש? מאמא לא מתביישים. אתה יכול לספר לי, הוא עשה ככה גם לאורי".
עובדיה: "אז שאורי יספר".
לאה: "אתה היית בתוך הבטן של אמא, אתה הכי קרוב אלי, ספר לי".
עובדיה: "אפילו אם זה חזירי? ".
לאה: "כן".
האם ישבה על הספה בסלון. הילדון עמד מולה ופירט את הסיוט: "הוא לקח את מה שעושים איתו פיפי והכניס לי לפה עד לגרון, עמוק עמוק עד שנחנקתי". עובדיה התפרץ בבכי נוראי, ולאה איתו. ואז אמר לה: "אני סיפרתי לך ואת לא שמעת". לאה חיבקה אותו וביקשה ממנו סליחה. "אמרתי לו: 'אתה לא היית ברור. אמא לא הבינה אותך'. אחרי שהכל נגמר שנינו נרגענו והוא יצא מהסלון צוהל ושמח, צועק לאחיו: 'סיפרתי לאמא סוד גדול'".
רבי דוד הביא מתנת פיוס - קיגל
ההקלה הילדותית של עובדיה, האושר התמים לנוכח הגילוי, הם שהביאו את לאה למסקנה כי הפעם היא חייבת ללכת למשטרה. היא ביקשה מיונתן שיחזור הביתה כדי שיוכלו ללכת יחד. לבעלה לא סיפרה, ידעה שעדיף לו להיות משוחרר מהצורך להתמודד עם הדילמה הזו וכי בעניין הזה תהיה לגמרי לבדה. היא ויונתן ישבו מול קצין החקירות וסיפרו לו את כל השתלשלות האירועים. אחרי שסיימו שאל הקצין אם קיים ביניהם איזה סכסוך והיא השיבה בשלילה. ואז לאה הציעה: "הוא רוצה לבוא ולבקש ממני סליחה, כמובן שסירבתי. אבל אני יכולה לומר שחזרתי בי, הוא יבוא, אני אדבר איתו, ואתם תוכלו להקליט את השיחה ואז לעצור אותו".
החוקרים חשבו שזו הצעה מצוינת וביקשו ממנה להתקשר אליו מתחנת המשטרה. היא חייגה לראש "טוהר מחננו", והשוטרים שעמדו על ידה הקליטו את השיחה.
לאה: "שלום. אתה יכול לעדכן אותי במה שקורה עם רבי דוד?".
איש משמרות הצניעות: "כן. הוא עכשיו אצל הפסיכיאטר".
לאה: "באילו מעשים הוא הודה?".
איש משמרות הצניעות: "הוא הודה במה שעשה ליונתן, אורי ועובדיה. אבל תשאירי את עניין המשטרה תלוי ועומד. אל תפני אליהם".
לאה: "אתה אמרת שהוא רוצה לבקש ממני סליחה, נכון? שיבוא אלי בחמש אחר הצהריים לבית של משפחת ידידים".
זה היה יום חמישי. הקצין שאל את לאה: "מתי את רוצה שנעצור אותו?". היא ביקשה: "עד שבת אני רוצה שהאיש הזה יישב בכלא".
חמש שעות היו למשטרה להגיע לבית, לאייש אותו בשישה שוטרים, להתקין מצלמות ומכשירי האזנה, להעמיד בחוץ עוד שני בלשים ליד הניידת המוסווית ולשכנע את יונתן לא להיות בבית בזמן שזה קורה. "יונתן כל הזמן ביקש לראות במו עיניו את רגע המעצר, אבל המשטרה חששה מהסיטואציה הזו, שעלולה היתה להכשיל את המבצע כולו". הפשרה היתה שיונתן יחכה בקרבת מקום, ואחרי המעצר יביאו אותו כדי שיראה את הרבלה עצור.
בשעה חמש בדיוק הגיע רבי דוד אל בית הידידים, בידו מנחת פיוס: קיגל. הוא בירך את לאה ובעלה לשלום, הניח את הקיגל על השולחן והסביר שהביא אותו לכבוד יום השנה לזכרו של הרב אור החיים הקדוש שחל היום.
"את אורי פחות אהבתי"
לאה בלעה את הרוק. המשטרה נתנה לה הנחיות מפורשות להוציא ממנו כמה שיותר פרטים על מה שעשה לילדיה, ואם אפשר גם שיודה במה שעשה לילדים אחרים. הכי חשוב, אמרו לה, לא להפחיד אותו, לא ליצור אצלו אנטגוניזם שיכשיל את כל המבצע. היא התיישבה בדיוק היכן שהורו לה השוטרים, כך שהמצלמה תהיה בזווית נוחה לצילום ולהקלטה. בעלה התיישב לצדה, בשלב הזה הוא כבר היה מעודכן בכל מה שקורה.
הרב דוד: "מה נאמר ומה נדבר ומה נצטדק?".
לאה: "נו, מה יש לך לספר? ".
הרב דוד: "אני רוצה לבקש סליחה על שפגעתי בילדים שלכם".
לאה: "מה עשית ליונתן? ".
הרב דוד: "נגעתי בו במקומות הצנועים".
לאה: "סליחה, איפה בדיוק נגעת בו? ".
הרב דוד (מביט בהיסוס בבעלה של לאה): "לא נעים לי להגיד".
לאה: "היה לך נעים לעשות? עכשיו שיהיה לך נעים לדבר!".
הרב דוד: "כן, אבל לא חדרתי. לא שפכתי זרע לבטלה חס וחלילה".
לאה צוחקת צחוק מר. היא נזכרת בשיחה הזאת כמי שנזכר בכוס תרעלה שאולץ לשתות עד תומה. זיכרונות מהמעמד הזה מציפים אותה בשאט נפש, אבל היא מילאה את המשימה עד הסוף. כשהחל הרב לספר על כך שגם יונתן אהב אותו, רתחה: "אמרתי לו: 'אל תדבר אף מילה על הילדים שלי! דבר רק על עצמך!'". השוטר בחדר הסמוך, חבוש אוזניות, התכווץ בכיסא. הוא היה בטוח שהרב תכף קם ממקומו והולך. לתדהמתם הוא ישב וענה לכל שאלה שהציבה לאה בפניו.
לאה: "מה עשית לאורי? ".
הרב דוד: "את אורי פחות אהבתי".
לאה: "אז לכן כל כך פגעת בו?".
הרב דוד: "גם בהסעה הכנסתי את היד שלי למכנסיים שלו, ואת היד שלו למכנסיים שלי".
לאה: "ומה עשית לעובדיה?".
הרב דוד: "את עובדיה מאוד מאוד אהבתי. כי הוא דומה ליונתן".
לאה נזכרת שהוא סיפר להם על דברים איומים שעשה לעובדיה, דברים שהילד עצמו לא סיפר להם. היא שאלה אותו "מה עוד? מה הכנסת לו לפה?".
הרב דוד הודה בכל. באופן מפלצתי אף שאב הנאה מסוימת מעצם סיפור המעשה, ואפילו הגדיל לעשות כשהודה שהתעסק עם שניים מבניה הנשואים של לאה, כשהיו צעירים יותר, ובעוד שני ילדים אחרים מהחדר. שום דבר לא הפתיע אותה. היא רק רצתה שהכל ייגמר. בעלה ישב לצדה כל הזמן הזה קפוא ומשותק. לאורך כל השיחה לא הוציא הגה. רק כשלא יכול היה לשמוע יותר את התיאורים שאל בזעקה: "למה עשית את זה לילדים שלי?"
הרב עוד הספיק לומר להם שהוא מבקש סליחה, כשלאה נעמדה במקומה ואמרה לו: "על מעשים כאלו אין סליחה. אני לא רוצה את הסליחה שלך וקח מפה את מה שהבאת". הוא פתח את הדלת ויצא. רק אז, עוד לפני שזינקו עליו שני בלשים, הבין שדיבר יותר מדי, אחז את ראשו בין שתי ידיו ועמד כך בפתח הבית. אז הביאו השוטרים את יונתן כדי שיראה בעיניו את המעצר. והוא אכן ראה כיצד תופסים את האיש, אוזקים אותו, מעלים לניידת חרף זעקות "הצילו" שלו שהחרידו‬ את השכונה כולה, ולוקחים אותו לבית המעצר.
"כאן רק התחיל הסיוט שלי‭,"‬ נזכרת לאה. "בבית היתה צהלה ושמחה, השוטרים פירקו את הציוד ולא הפסיקו להגיד לי 'איזו גדולה את! איך חקרת אותו! אפילו בחקירת שב"כ לא היו מוציאים ממנו הודאה כזאת‭.'‬ ואני עניתי: 'מה אתם מבסוטים? אלה הילדים שלי שעשו להם את המעשים הנוראים הללו‭."'!‬
השבת הראשונה שבה היה הרב דוד עצור היתה קשה מאוד עבור לאה ובני משפחתה. הקטנים חגגו את השמחה וההקלה, אבל הגדולים ראו את החורבן וההרס שהשאיר אחריו האיש. "הילדים סיפרו לי, כל אחד בנפרד, על מה שהוא עשה להם. הם הרגישו שעכשיו כשהוא בכלא אפשר לדבר. אני בכיתי ובכיתי. התמלאתי פחדים ממה שיהיה ורגשות אשמה על מה שהיה. חששתי שלא אצליח לטפל בהם,שלא אדע לתפקד מול כל המצוקה הזאת. קיבלתי רגליים קרות. מהמשטרה הודיעו לי כבר בחמישי בלילה שהוא נתן הודאה מלאה על כל המעשים שעשה ושעכשיו אני חייבת להגיע עם הילדים כדי שימסרו עדות שרק לפיה ניתן להרשיע אותו. הדבר האחרון שרציתי זה לקחת את הילדים לתחנת משטרה. הם כל כך קטנים. דאגתי שמא ידברו איתם אנשים שאני לא סומכת עליהם, שמא ישמעו שם דברים לא ראויים, והכי גרוע, פחדתי שיחוו שוב טראומה. הודעתי להם שאני לא מגיעה ומבחינתי שלא יהיה משפט. פשוט נגמרו לי כל הכוחות‭."‬
המשטרה יצרה קשר עם הפרקליטות ששלחה אל לאה את עו"ד טל וייסמן. השתיים נפגשו לשיחה שבה הוסבר לאם כי אם הילדים לא ייחקרו האיש עלול לצאת לחופשי. לאה השבורה אמרה לוייסמן כי אינה יכולה להתרוצץ עכשיו עם שלושה ילדים שעברו התעללות מינית בין תחנת משטרה לפקידות סעד ועובדים סוציאלים. וייסמן, נציגת הפרקליטות ב"מרכז ההגנה למען הילד" בירושלים, הציעה ללאה להגיע למקום.
לאה כבר לא לבד
הסיפור של לאה וילדיה הוא אחד מרבים המגיעים לטיפול במרכז הייחודי להגנת הילד. אין עוד אחד כזה בארץ, אבל בשבוע שעבר אישר משרד העבודה והרווחה את הקמתו של מרכז נוסף בתוך בית החולים תל השומר, והכוונה היא לבנות עוד ארבעה. בתוך מבנה אחד יושבים כל הגורמים המטפלים בילד שעבר התעללות, מינית או פיזית, ובמשפחתו. בנקודת המשבר הקשה הזו, רגע אחרי הגילוי הנורא של ההורה כי ילדו חווה טראומת התעללות, בדיוק שם נפגשים אנשי המרכז עם המשפחה. במבנה יפהפה שהשכיר ושיפץ הג'וינט מתרומה של גב' לין שוסטר, יהודייה אמריקנית, יושבים כל אנשי המקצוע שאותם צריכה לפגוש משפחת הילד הקורבן. פקידות סעד, חוקרת נוער, חוקרת ילדים, שוטרת, פרקליטה ורופא ילדים.
את הדגם הביא הג'וינט לארץ מארצות הברית, שם קיימים 600 מרכזים כאלו למעלה מ‭25-‬ שנה. הרציונל שעומד בבסיס המרכז מדבר על כך שלא תמיד יש בין הגורמים השונים העברה מסודרת של מידע ותיאום. וגם כשיש, זה כרוך בסרבול ובאובדן זמן יקר, שבמהלכו קיימת סכנה כי ההתעללות בילד תימשך ותוחרף. ריבוי הגורמים המטפלים, על מיקומם המרוחק זה מזה וצורת הניהול השונה, אינו מאפשר קבלת החלטות משותפת והתערבות חד-משמעית. רויטל אלמוג, מנהלת הפרויקט מטעם הג'וינט ועמותת אשלים, אומרת כי למעשה לא מתקיים בין הגורמים דיון אפקטיבי ומסודר באשר לדרך החקירה והטיפול בילד: "זה מצב שלא מאפשר ראייה כוללנית של הילד והמשפחה, כפי שאמורה להיות כדי שיתקבלו החלטות בצוות רב מקצועי, ומכאן חשיבותו של מרכז כזה‭."‬
בשנה הנוכחית קיבל המרכז כ‭750-‬ פניות, מתוכן הגיעו פיזית למעלה מ‭400-‬ ילדים. יותר ממחציתם בגילאי חמש עד עשר. 42 אחוז מכלל הנפגעים הן בנות שהותקפו מינית ו‭26-‬ אחוז בנים, 12 אחוז הן בנות שנפגעו פיזית ו‭20-‬ אחוז בנים. הנתונים אינם כוללים ילדים שנחקרו במסגרות החינוך השונות, אלא רק את אלה שהגיעו למרכז ההגנה. שוש תורג'מן, מנהלת המרכז, מספרת על צוות מקצועי ומיומן שמונע על ידי תחושת שליחות וייעוד. "מגיעות הנה משפחות מרוסקות. הדבר האחרון שהן מסוגלות לחשוב עליו זה התרוצצְות בין חדרי חקירות לפקידות סעד. אין להן ראש לזה ולא תמיד יש להן מושג למי פונים בכלל. אבל הבעיה הגדולה ביותר היא שמשפחות רבות לא ניגשות בכלל להתלונן במשטרה ולקבל טיפול. במצב שלהן אי אפשר לצפות שיחזרו פעם שנייה ושלישית להשלמת החקירה או לכל פרוצדורה אחרת. בגלל זה תלונות רבות כלל לא נחקרו ותיקים פשוט נסגרו. פושעים הלכו הביתה כי לא היה מי שידאג לקורבנות‭."‬
בישיבת הבוקר של הצוות, מסבירה נגה לוי, פקידת סעד במרכז, מה משמעות תפקידה: "כשמגיעה אלינו אמא עם הילדים שלה,אנחנו מנסים ללמוד כבר מההתחלה איזו תקשורת יש לה איתם, איך מתנהלים הדברים בתוך המשפחה. מנהלים שיחה ראשונית עם ההורה, מבררים האם הילד משוטט באופן חופשי באינטרנט, האם הוא חשוף לתכנים מיניים בטלוויזיה ללא הגבלה, ואפילו דברים שנראים לכאורה טריוויאליים כמו מי מקלח את הילדים, האם יש מקלחות משותפות בבית, האם ההורים מסתובבים עירומים ליד הילדים, ולהפך. התשובות לשאלות האלו לא מהוות אינדיקציה לשום דבר, כי מה שנורמלי במשפחה אחת יוצא דופן לחלוטין במשפחה אחרת. אם מגיעה הנה אישה חרדית ומספרת שהבעל שלה מתקלח עם הילדה בת החמש, מיד נדלקת אצלי נורה אדומה, מה שלא קורה אם מדובר במשפחה שאינה חרדית"‭.