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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Judge Judy "Feeling Much Better" After Health Scare


LOS ANGELES - Judge Judy is reportedly "feeling better" Wednesday afternoon after being rushed from the set of her television show to the hospital for a medical emergency.

"I just spoke to the judge who says she is feeling much better," her publicist Gary Rosen told KTLA. "She says all of the tests are negative and she's going home tomorrow."

"She will be back taping her show on April 12, as scheduled."

City fire spokesperson Erik Scott confirmed to KTLA that a female was taken by ambulance to an undisclosed hospital after they received a 911 call about a medical emergency.

Scott confirmed the ambulance was dispatched to the Sunset Bronson Studios at 5800 Sunset Boulevard at 9:12 a.m. Wednesday.

KTLA is located on the same lot. Witnesses at KTLA confirmed seeing the ambulance leave the studio lot shortly after 9 a.m..

A receptionist at the Judge Judy show, Vanessa Pineda, confirmed that 68-year-old judge Judith Sheindlin left the studios, but described the incident as a "family emergency."

"The judge was feeling nauseous and had some intestinal discomfort and decided to go to the hospital to get it checked out," Rosen, told

Judge Judy is an American court show featuring former family court judge Judith Sheindlin arbitrating over small claims cases

Turkey to UN: We seized illegal Iran arms shipment en route to Syria

Ankara tells Security Council search of Iranian cargo airliner revealed, among other items, 560 60mm mortar shells and 1,288 120mm mortar shells.

Turkey has informed a UN Security Council panel that it seized a cache of weapons Iran was attempting to export in breach of a UN arms embargo, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

Security Council diplomats said the report of the seizure from an Iranian cargo plane reflected positively on Turkey, which some U.S. and European officials say has taken a lax approach to implementing international sanctions against Iranian financial institutio

The report to the council's Iran sanctions committee, which oversees compliance with the four rounds of punitive steps the 15-nation body has imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, said a March 21 inspection turned up the weapons, which were listed as "auto spare parts" on the plane's documents.

The plane was bound for Aleppo, Syria, and was given permission to pass through Turkish airspace provided it made a "technical stop" at Diyarbakir airport, the report said.

It said a search of the Iranian "YasAir Cargo Airlines" Ilyushin-76 revealed a number of "prohibited military items" -- 60 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, 14 BKC/Bixi machine guns, nearly 8,000 rounds of BKC/AK-47 ammunition, 560 60mm mortar shells, and 1,288 120mm mortar shells.

"The above-mentioned items were seized and have been stored in a military warehouse in Diyarbakir," said the report, which was sent to the Iran sanctions committee on March 29.

The Turkish seizure was the latest in a string of reported Iranian violations of the sanctions imposed on Iran for refusing to halt a nuclear enrichment program that the United States, European Union and their allies suspect is part of a weapons program. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

'Kudos for Turkey'

Colombia's UN Ambassador Nestor Osorio, who chairs the Iran sanctions committee, told the Security Council last week that "the increase in the number of reported sanctions violations is a matter of serious concern."

Security Council diplomats said it was not clear whether Iran had stepped up its efforts to skirt the sanctions or countries have become more vigilant in enforcing them.

"Kudos for Turkey," a council diplomat told Reuters.

It was not clear whether Syria was the intended final destination of the weapons. There were no indications on the weapons crates of who the recipient was or where the shipment would have gone had it not been intercepted by the Turks.

"The crew were detained and interrogated by the Diyarbakir State Prosecutor," the report said. "They denied any knowledge about the prohibited items on board, as well as the identity of the consignor or consignee."

The crew were released and allowed to return to Tehran on March 22, but the case is still being investigated, it said.

The United States and Israel have said they suspect Iran uses Syria as a conduit for weapons transfers to militant groups in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Iran and Syria deny the charges.

Last week, UN diplomats said authorities in Singapore and South Korea had seized items banned under the sanctions against Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

One of the items -- aluminum powder seized in Singapore -- was originally thought to be from North Korea, though investigators now believe that the powder came from a Chinese firm, diplomats told Reuters. The other item -- phosphor bronze discovered in South Korea -- also came from a Chinese company.

There was no evidence that the Chinese government was involved, though diplomats said the incidents raised questions about Chinese export controls and concerns about the readiness of some Chinese companies to defy the sanctions regime.

Britain has complained publicly about a shipment of Iranian weapons allegedly bound for Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

On March 15, Israeli naval commandos seized a cargo ship in the Mediterranean carrying what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Nigerian authorities complained to the sanctions committee about an Iranian arms shipment it seized last year that Tehran said was a legitimate trade deal with Gambia. Nigeria is prosecuting one of two Iranians allegedly involved in the deal.

Israeli traveler humiliated in Germany, Canada

Yohannes Damka

German, Canadian authorities falsely arrest, humiliate Israeli traveler, accusing him of being terrorist, carrying fake passport. 'They didn't want to let me into Canada because I'm black,' he says

Ever since he was a little boy growing up in Ethiopia, Yohannes Damka dreamt of traveling the world. He never thought that the dream would soon turn into a humiliating nightmare.

My biggest wish was to see the Niagara Falls, and travel around Canada," he told Ynet. "Not every immigrant from Ethiopia can afford to travel to faraway places, but I set a goal for myself and decided that it's a dream that I have to make come true."

Damka made aliyah in 2000. He worked at a restaurant in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion and saved for the coveted trip. A few weeks ago he was finally able to buy a $1,500 ticket for a Lufthansa flight to Vancouver, with a layover in Frankfurt, Germany.

Excited and full of expectations, he left for Canada on march 21. When he reached Frankfurt, however, things started to go wrong. Before he could board his connecting flight, he was picked up by the German border police on suspicion that he was carrying a fake passport, and was not, in fact, an Israeli citizen.

Damka said that an officer stopped him and started asking him questions in an accent that he did not understand. After being questioned for 30 minutes, he was allowed to board the flight to Canada. The officer took Damka's passport and gave it to the flight crew, warning him that the document was thought to be fake.

Damka thought that the abusive experience was behind him, and that his passport will be returned to him once they land. But the trouble was not over yet. Upon arriving in Vancouver, he was greeted by four security guards who cuffed his hands and feet and took him in for questioning.

"They caught me like a common criminal and cuffed me in front of everyone," he said. "They lead me to a tiny, empty room, and did a full-body strip search. After that, they questioned me for eight hours."

Damka noted that he demanded to speak with the Israeli consulate, but his pleas went unanswered. "No matter what I said, nothing helped," he said.

He did not reach Niagara Falls; on the next day, he was put on a plane back to Frankfurt. The Canadian authorities confiscated his passport and all other identification.

'She called out Juden, Juden'

When he returned to Germany, he was cuffed once again, and escorted into a questioning room - this time on suspicion that he was a member of a terrorist organization.

"They strip-searched me again," Damka recounted the horror. "The whole time they told me that I better tell them what terrorist organization I belong to, otherwise it will get worse."

At one point, one of the investigators called out "Juden, Juden" and then made a noise of disgust. "I was furious," Damka said. "Four cops had to hold me back from hurting her."

Once again, he demanded the investigators to get in touch with the Israeli consulate, but no avail. After five hours, they brought in a translator, who decided to call Damka's boss, retrieving the phone number from the cell phone that the cops confiscated earlier.

It appeared that the conversation helped, because the investigators toned down their behavior. Eight hours later, he was allowed to board a plane back to Israel.

"I arrived without any documents, but the Interior Ministry officials told me that there must have been a mistake, and that once my passport arrives back from Canada, it will be sent back to me," Damka said. "I have yet to receive it."

'I will never set foot in Germany'

Now that he is back, humiliated and disappointed, Damka is suing the Canadian and German authorities for damages.

"All I wanted was to travel and see the world," he said. "If they didn't want to let me into Canada because I'm black, they should have just said so. But to say that I'm not Jewish and not Israeli, that my passport is fake? And the Germans… I will never again set foot in Germany. It was horrible. I am still in shock.

"They treated me in a very humiliating way," he added. "Even if my identification card was fake, and I wasn't Israeli, they cannot treat a human being like that. I will prove that they were wrong."

Responding to the accusations, the Canadian Embassy said that Damka's account did not match the information put forth by the Canadian Border Service Agency. It was also noted that anyone who wishes to enter Canada must fit a certain criteria

Missing Bronx Zoo Cobra Captured

Bronx Zoo Cobra Found:

Snakes alive! - the cobra has been found

The Bronx Zoo's escaped snake was snared in the House of Reptiles on Thursday, six days after she slithered out of her enclosure.

"We found our snake and we're very happy," Jim Breheny, the zoo's director, told the Daily News.

The fanged fugitive was spotted coiled in a corner around 9 a.m., during one of three daily sweeps by a half-dozen zoo workers.

Using special tongs and hooks, they easily apprehended the deadly Egyptian cobra, which is now under observation.

"We knew it was going to be a game of patience. We set the place up to make it easier to search," Breheny said.

Contrary to one report, the zoo did not set any traps with mice for the snake. It simply kept the Reptile House dark and quiet.

"We wanted to just let her feel comfortable," he said. "We did everything we could to help her feel secure."

The snake escaped from a fiberglass box with a sliding glass front while no one was around.

"Clearly she finagled her way out of the enclosure," Breheny said of the cold-blooded Houdini.

Zoo officials are now reviewing the safety of the enclosures and plan to reopen the Reptile House soon.

The cobra will eventually go on exhibit - which should be a big draw, given its notoriety.

The hunt for the missing adolescent made headlines across the globe and prompted either anxiety or amusement from New Yorkers.

An anonymous wit even created a Twitter feed chronicling the reptile's made-up misadventures - and picked up nearly 200,000 followers, from Mayor Bloomberg to Ellen DeGeneres.

All along, zoo officials said they were confident the pencil-thin 20-inch-long reptile was still somewhere in the House of Reptiles, not roaming the city.

Charedi Jew money launderer sent to prison for 41 months

NEWARK — A New York man who pleaded guilty to laundering more than $668,000 for government informant Solomon Dwek was sentenced today to serve 41 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Moshe "Michael" Altman, 41, of Monsey, N.Y., had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of extortion conspiracy and one count of money-laundering conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares imposed the sentence today in federal court.

The extortion charge came from a $20,000 bribe that Altman arranged for former Ocean Township real estate developer Dwek to pay John Guarini, 61, who was a property improvement field representative for the Jersey City Housing Authority, Fishman said. Dwek was working as an undercover informant for the FBI at the time.

Altman also used supposed charitable, nonprofit entities to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars for Dwek. Dwek began working for the FBI shortly after he was arrested in May 2006 on $50 million in bank fraud charges.

He wore a wire and a tiny video camera and traveled throughout New Jersey and into New York to nab corrupt politicians and money-laundering rings. His efforts led to the arrests of 46 people in 2009, in the largest corruption bust in the state's history.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in federal court: In July 2007, Altman arranged for Dwek to pay Guarini a bribe, so that Guarini would ensure official approvals on properties Dwek was supposedly trying to develop in Jersey City. The projects were sham developments proposed by Dwek when he was posing as "David Esenbach," a wealthy developer.

Altman, whose real estate business was based in Union City, admitted that he arranged to meet Dwek and Guarini at a Jersey City building, where Altman led Dwek to a boiler room to make the payment.

Altman also admitted he met with Dwek in March 2007, when Dwek told him he had money from his ongoing bankruptcy proceeding that he wanted to hide. In later meetings, Dwek told Altman that he needed to launder money he had obtained from fraudulent bank deals and a business that made counterfeit designer handbags.

Altman admitted that he engaged in about 15 money-laundering transactions for Dwek between May 2007 and July 2009. Altman would accept checks from Dwek and return cash to Dwek after taking a fee for laundering the money.

Altman told Dwek to write checks to purported charitable organizations, including Gmach Shefa Chaim. Fishman said Altman collected about $109,300 in fees from his transactions with Dwek.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Altman to two years of supervised release. In sentencing Altman, Linares said, "clearly he made a willful decision to engage in a criminal enterprise for quite some time."

Two of Altman's co-conspirators, Shimon Haber, 35, of Brooklyn, and Itzhak Friedlander, 43, of Jersey City, have also pleaded guilty. Haber pleaded guilty in January 2010, was sentenced by Judge Linares to five months in prison and five months of home confinement in May 2010.

Friedlander pleaded guilty in April 2010. His sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2011.

Guarini's case is scheduled to go to trial in June

Sexual abuse case sheds light on Emmanuel’s ethnic tensions

Reports suggest principal of settlement's Ashkenazi school currently on trial on suspicion of sexually abusing 3 boys from Sephardi families

A sexual abuse case recently made public is shedding some new light on the development of the ethnic tensions that exploded in Emmanuel last year.

Channel 2 reported on Monday that the principal of Emmanuel’s Ashkenazi elementary school for boys, Rabbi Moshe Nussboim, is currently on trial behind closed doors in the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court on suspicion of sexually abusing three boys from Sephardi families in his school between the years 2002-2008.

The Emmanuel affair took off in 2007, when a partition was erected in the middle of the local Beit Ya’acov girls’ school building to separate between girls in a “hassidic track,” composed of primarily Slonimer Hassidim, and the rest of the girls.

A High Court petition by Yoav Laloum and his Noar Kahalacha NGO charging ethnic discrimination led to the court ordering that the wall be taken down, and the Independent Education Center, which runs the school, obeyed.

Parents of the primarily Ashkenazi girls in the hassidic track then refused to send their daughters to the reunited school, on the grounds that the spiritual level of the other girls, primarily of Sephardi background, was inadequate.

The High Court sent some 30 fathers to prison for a short while for holding it in contempt, and over 100,000 haredim took to the streets in a massive demonstration against what was perceived as a secular court meddling in internal matters of haredi education and values.

The final solution was that the Slonimer Hassidim opened their own school, which – unlike the Beit Ya’acov one – receives no state funding.

After allegations were raised by a group of parents against Nussboim in 2007, he was removed from his position as principal but remained in the school as a supervisor.

The families of the boys turned in their despair to a psychologist for professional help, after their demand that Nussboim leave the country was not met, and the psychologist filed a police complaint, as her duty required, she told Channel 2.

Police launched an investigation, and in 2008 Nussboim was indicted. His trial has been taking place with him remaining under house arrest.

Nussboim’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, said in response to the television report that the complaints were from families that belong to a certain Bratslav sect that does not agree with the school on many educational issues.

The fact that the Slonim community of Emmanuel supported Nussboim when the affair erupted, including helping finance his legal representation, had apparently contributed to the tension and polarization between the members of that hassidic court and the baalei tshuva (newly religious) and Sephardi families, who later faced off against each other about the girls’ school.

While Nussboim allegedly did not prey solely on Sephardi boys, the fact that it was those families who dared complain catalyzed the ethnic tensions.

Nussboim himself flatly denied all the charges in an interview to the Galei Israel radio station Tuesday night, and stressed the importance of preventing sexual harassment in educational institutions.

Laloum explained that his silence on the Nussboim case was a result of his rabbis’ ruling that he not raise it, in an attempt to reduce the desecration of God’s name.

“Many asked how we could contain these things and not release them to the public, especially when such information would have led to a deeper understanding of the [Emmanuel Beit Ya’acov] affair, including from an internal-haredi perspective,” he wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“There is no doubt that from a public-political perspective, this would have been the effective move, but the question was whether this was the right, kosher and worthy move. There was a desire to use these materials, especially in the face of the personal attacks of Slonimer Hassidim against me, my family, my children, including their use of what they knew were lies regarding my wife’s attire; violence, threats, intimidations, breaking into my e-mail and much more.

“Despite all of that, and in contrast to the other side’s conduct, common sense required not tipping the scales with this volatile material,” the statement continued.

“Members of the Noar Kahalacha leadership unanimously submitted the question to the rabbinic committee headed by our teacher Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, which weighed in on the issue and decided not to make use of the topic in public,” he continued.

“The struggle undertaken by Noar Kahalacha is to bring about clear and egalitarian religious criteria for accepting pupils to educational institutions that belong to all of us and are publicly funded. If a person wants to discriminate, he will have to do it at his own private expense,” he wrote.

“Our struggle bore partial success in Emmanuel, and today every principal is more than careful about discriminating against pupils based on their ethnic background, out of fear of the budgets [they could lose], as was the fate of those who built the wall in the middle of the Emmanuel school.”

Laloum also told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the Noar Kahalacha rabbis backed the parents in the police complaint and the legal procedures against Nussboim.

He didn’t attempt to draw a direct line between Nussboim’s actions in the boys’ school and the wall in the girls’ school, but said that “there is no doubt that this was part of the background and the rift.”

The Kfar Saba court is expected to rule on Nussboim’s case in a month.

Glenn Beck: “I stand with Israel”

Glenn gave a passionate condemnation of US foreign policy on tonight’s TV show. As the Middle East continues to burn, the United States – and most of the world for that matter – have not taken a firm stance in alliance with Israel. Instead, the administration has been silent as groups like the Muslim Brotherhood start to work their way into power in Egypt and other countries.

Glenn makes a compelling argument, noting that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that shares American values. They are constantly provoked and attacked, yet despite having a heavy nuclear arsenal they have not launched a single one. In Israel, unlike most other Middle Eastern countries, women are treated equally and people aren’t stoned for their sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the United States has – at it’s best – remained silent.

But as Glenn also noted, there are those high up in the administration that would stand against Israel, such as Samantha Power (Mrs. Cass Sunstein), who has argued that the United States should shift their support from Israel and focus on the creation of a Palestinian State. They use the doctrine of a “Responsibility to Protect” to say the US and its allies should move against Israel in support of the Palestinian State, the same doctrine that President Obama used to move against Libya without congressional approval. You can see her make the argument in this video:

Some Rabbinical Students to Get State Tuition Aid

The state budget plan that moved toward enactment on Wednesday calls for 10 percent cuts in aid to public colleges and universities, but it would add about $18 million a year in tuition assistance for students attending some private religious schools.

The added money would be available to any theological student who met a new set of criteria for the state’s so-called Tuition Assistance Program grants. The major potential beneficiaries would be an estimated 5,000 men who attend dozens of Orthodox rabbinical schools in New York, state officials and religious leaders said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat whose Brooklyn district includes a large Orthodox population, called the additional financing “a matter of equity, to rectify the fact that New York State has denied rabbinical college students tuition assistance for all these years.”

Mr. Hikind and other lawmakers have sought unsuccessfully for about 10 years to adopt the new criteria by amending the Tuition Assistance Program rules, eliminating a long-established ban on state tuition assistance for undergraduate students who attend religious schools, like yeshivas, that are not chartered by the state Board of Regents.

In negotiations this month, Republican leaders in the Senate asked that the new rules be included as part of the 2011-12 budget agreement. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Democratic leaders in the Assembly have agreed, said Jeffrey Gordon, a spokesman for the State Division of the Budget.

Some opponents of the rule changes have said they violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution.

Joseph Conn, a spokesman for the Washington-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said his group had tracked legislative efforts to extend state tuition aid to religious students in New York.

“By burying this measure in a budget bill, we were caught off guard,” he said.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat who is the chairwoman of the state Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, said last year that she opposed expanding eligibility to students attending private institutions while the state was cutting spending and reducing access to public institutions. Ms. Glick did not return phone calls on Wednesday about whether she backed the change this year. David Zweibel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish advocacy group that has lobbied for the new rules in tuition aid, said the new regulations did not violate church-state separation because the aid would go directly to the student, not to the religious institution.

“To those who have said, ‘How can you ask for this in these tough economic times?’ ” he added, “My answer is, yes, it’s a tough time. But it’s about time.” Students attending religious colleges are no less in need of tuition assistance than any others, he added.

Students who meet the financial eligibility and other requirements for Tuition Assistance Program grants may receive up to $5,000 a year for four years.

Under the new rules, students can apply for grants from the program as long as the school they attend is a tax-exempt institution, headquartered in New York, offering a program of instruction of at least three years, and eligible under federal law for Pell grants for undergraduate study. The federal tuition assistance program does not exclude students studying for the clergy.

The new New York criteria would, however, continue to exclude students of most seminaries, which accept only students who have completed college.

“The way the rules were written, they were pretty much designed” for the undergraduate yeshivas, said Mr. Gordon, of the governor’s budget office.

Mr. Zweibel, of Agudath Israel, said he was confident that others besides rabbinical students would benefit from the expansion of the eligibility rules. He said the state had been inconsistent in its policies until now.

“In a state that has been so hospitable to the growth of its Orthodox minority,” he said, “and with the largest group of rabbinical colleges in the country right here in New York, how could the state say to our students that no, you are not eligible for what everyone is eligible to receive?”

Judge hears arguments on potential witness in camp counselor sex case

Yosef Kolko

Rift is widening in Orthodox community

TOMS RIVER — A former yeshiva teacher and camp counselor spoke in detail about sexual abuse accusations against him to a social worker hired by a rabbinical council months before the case was brought to law enforcement, according to testimony in Superior Court Wednesday.

Now, an assistant prosecutor wants the social worker to be able to testify against the teacher, Yosef Kolko, at upcoming criminal proceedings regarding accusations that he molested a boy he met while a camp counselor.

Kolko's attorney, Michael E. Wilbert, argues that his client, as a patient, is entitled to confidentiality.

Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson told both attorneys he would hear further arguments from them on May 6.

The criminal case against Kolko has widened a rift in the Orthodox Jewish community regarding where religious rights end and the secular justice system takes over.

The victim's father has been chastised by the Orthodox community in Lakewood for bringing the case to secular authorities instead of allowing religious leaders to handle it.

But according to papers filed in court by Senior Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Laura N. Pierro, the victim's father first brought the accusations against Kolko to the Beis Din in Lakewood, a council comprised of three rabbis, shortly after his son came forward to him with the allegations in February 2009.

The Beis Din hired Brooklyn, N.Y., social worker Gavriel Fagin to interview Kolko and determine the legitimacy of the allegations, according to the papers filed by Pierro.

Kolko later entered counseling but discontinued his treatment shortly afterward, prompting the victim's father to bring the allegations to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office in July 2009, according to the court papers.

As a result of the prosecutor's investigation, Kolko, 37, of Lakewood, was charged in an indictment last year with molesting the boy, whom he met at Yachad, a summer camp at the Yeshiva Bais Hatorah School on Swarthmore Avenue in Lakewood.

The alleged molestation occurred between September 2007 and February 2009 when the boy was between 11 and 12 years old, according to the indictment.

Kolko at the time was working as a counselor at Yachad, and previously taught at the Yeshiva Orchos Chaim on Oberlin Avenue in Lakewood, officials have said.

At a hearing Wednesday to determine whether Fagin will be able to testify to a jury about what Kolko told him, the social worker said that he was hired by the Beis Din in Lakewood in February 2009 to evaluate Kolko to determine his risk to the community and what, if any, were his treatment options.

Fagin told the judge that he administered a number of tests to Kolko during a series of office visits in March 2009. When Fagin was discussing the results with Kolko during another visit on April 3, 2009, "he began to open up about the allegations," Fagin said.

"There were a lot of specifics," Fagin said, responding to a question posed by Pierro.

Wilbert insisted the contents of the conversation be kept confidential unless the judge rules that Kolko waived his right to confidentiality.

Pierro is asking Hodgson to rule that Kolko waived his right to confidentiality, based on documents he signed approving the release of information by Fagin to the Beis Din as well as to others. Fagin testified that Kolko signed forms approving of the release of information to the Beis Din, two other rabbis and another social worker.

Fagin said he never forwarded his evaluation report to Beis Din because the rabbinical council had disbanded, nor did he share it with anyone else.

The social worker Wednesday provided the judge with his report to review privately prior to the lawyers returning to court May 6. Fagin said Kolko's conversation about the allegations is contained in the report.

Ex-MI6 chief: We kept intel from Israel

Britain's former spy chief makes rare appearance, gives account of agency's relations with State

Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove recounted Wednesday in a rare appearance the British spy agency's tenuous relations with Israel, saying that it had had to keep information from the Jewish state a number of times.

Speaking at a conference marking the 60th anniversary of British-Israeli diplomatic relations, at which President Shimon Peres was also present, Sir Richard added that Hezbollah and Hamas were Iranian satellites.

"There is no doubt that Israel plays by a different set of rules than the rules that we observe in the UK. I'm not going to expand on that, but I will just have to leave it to the imagination," Dearlove told the conference.

The man who headed MI6 during the previous decade added that at times his agency preferred not to share information with Israel.

"I was quite frequently in discussion with Robin Cook as foreign secretary about what should or shouldn't be passed to our Israeli colleagues – and there are obvious reasons for that, because we could never guarantee how the intelligence might or would be used by the state of Israel," he said.

But Dearlove added that although relations with Israel were difficult, "that doesn't mean it's not important and that it's not given close attention professionally and politically".

The former spy chief also discussed Egypt's future following the successful deposing of Hosni Mubarak's regime and the subsequent rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I, for one, have absolutely no illusions about what the Muslim Brotherhood is, or can be. It can be a social organization. It can be a political organization. But it is at heart, in my view, a terrorist organization," he explained.
סר ריצ'רד דירלאב, לשעבר ראש ה-MI6, ארגון הביון הבריטי, חשף טפח מהיחסים בין ארגוני הביון הבריטיים וממשלתם לעמיתיהם בישראל. לדבריו, בריטניה נמנעה לא אחת מלהעביר לישראל מידע מודיעיני שהיה ברשותה בשל החשש שישראל תעשה בו שימוש שלא מתיישב עם המדיניות והתפישות של בריטניה.

דירלאב דיבר באירוע לציון 60 שנה ליחסים הדיפלומטיים בין ישראל לבריטניה בכנס של מכון המחקר צ'טהאם האוס. בכנס נאם גם נשיא המדינה שמעון פרס, וראש המועצה לביטחון לאומי, עוזי ארד.

למרות ההתייחסות לבעייתיות המובנית ביחסים עם ישראל, דירלאב הבהיר שתמונת האיומים של שתי המדינות לא כל כך שונה. דירלאב הזהיר בין היתר מארגון האחים המוסלמים במצרים ומפעילותה של איראן, והתייחס לחיזבאללה ולחמאס כסוכני ארצו של מחמוד אחמדינג'אד. "לי לפחות אין שום אשליות לגבי מה הם האחים המוסלמים, או מה הוא יכול להיות. הוא יכול להיות ארגון פוליטי, אבל בסופו של דבר, לדעתי, הוא ארגון טרור".

בנוסף הזהיר דירלאב כי יש מקום לדאגה גם מהמורדים בלוב. לדבריו, מעוז המורדים בבנגאזי, הוא "די פונדמנטליסטי באופיו".

דירלאב הוסיף כי שיתוף הפעולה בין בריטניה לישראל בנושא איראן הוא חשוב מאין כמוהו. לדבריו, שיתוף הפעולה "גולש להתייחסות לתפקידם של החמאס וחיזבאללה. שניהם במידה רבה, לפחות ביחסם לישראל, הם שלוחות איראניות".

למרות זאת, הבהיר דירלאב כי גם לשיתוף הפעולה בין המדינות יש מגבלות. "היחסים עם ישראל מסובכים. אבל זה לא אומר שהם לא חשובים, או שהם לא זוכים לתשומת לב פוליטית ומקצועית".

"אין ספק שישראל משחקת לפי חוקים אחרים מהחוקים שאנו שומרים בבריטניה. אני לא ארחיב על כך ואותיר זאת לדמיון שלכם", אמר והוסיף כי הדבר הוביל לכך שהוא ושר החוץ הבריטי לשעבר רובין קוק, קיימו לא מעט דיונים בשאלה איזה מידע להעביר לעמיתיהם בישראל. "לא יכולנו להבטיח אם ואיזה שימוש ישראל יעשה במודיעין המועבר".

Rabbi: Tsunami result of haredi arrests

Rabbi David Twersky

Leader of Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty says Japan punished for imprisonment of two yeshiva students convicted of drug smuggling

Rabbi David Twersky, leader of the Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty, says the recent tsunami in Japan, which has left thousands of people dead, was the result of the arrest of two yeshiva students by Japanese authorities after being convicted of smuggling drugs.

"The Japanese don’t understand why they keep on receiving blow after blow, and it never ends. If they want it to stop, they must release the two guys jailed in their prison immediately, and then experience salvation," the rabbi told his followers last week during a Purim celebration in Jerusalem.

Haredi website Ladaat reported that the Rebbe asked for the names of the two jailed men and said a prayer for their immediate release. "Amen," the audience responded.
The yeshiva students were arrested in an airport in Japan in April 2008, in possession of a suitcase with some 90,000 Ecstasy tablets.

The detainees' lawyers claimed at the time that the young men were victims of a 'sting' and were tempted with money, but the two were convicted the following year.

One of the detainees, a minor, was sentenced to eight years in prison, and Israel submitted a request to have him transferred back to the country.

The Rachmastrivka Hasidic dynasty is one of the biggest and most famous Hasidisms, with thousands of followers and many affiliates. It has two centers – one in Jerusalem and one in Borough Park, New York.

Ahead of the Hasidic celebration last week, huge screens were placed near the Torah study house in Jerusalem, and the tish was broadcast live due to the density inside the building.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sholom Rubashkin Profile On CNBC

By many accounts Sholom Rubashkin, was a pillar of the community, but underneath the facade lies a massive $26 million dollar fraud

Police officer slams music festival woman to sand in wrestling-style move

Police chiefs in Florida have defended an officer who was filmed slamming a woman into the sand during an arrest.

Video footage of Sara Greenback's arrest became an internet sensation after it was posted on YouTube.

The 25-year-old was slammed to the ground in a wrestling-style move by Lt Douglas Simon after she was thrown out of a music festival on Miami Beach
An angry crowd surrounded the officer as he struggled to place handcuffs on Greenback, who was arrested for disorderly conduct.

The confrontation took place after Greenback ran from police who raced after her along the popular tourist beach on an ATV vehicle.

When Simon caught up with Greenback she fought back against handcuffs being placed on her, holding on to the ATV and struggling out of the officer's grip.

As Simon attempts to move Greenback away from the vehicle he picks her up and slams her down into the sand.

One of the eye-witnesses can he heard on the tape saying 'take down' as Greenback looks stunned as she gets up from the sand using her hands to show a 'peace' symbol.

Abelardo Soto, 29, who is seen on the tape grappling with officers as he tries to reach Greenback, was also arrested during the volatile incident.

Detective Juan Sanchez, a Miami police spokesman said they had reviewed the videos and found Simon acted appropriately.

'The department has concluded that the officer acted appropriately while affecting the arrests and dealing with the volatile situation at hand,' he said.

'When assessing the officer’s response to this situation, it’s imperative to consider the totality of the circumstances.

'In doing so, there was a large crowd becoming increasingly hostile closing in on one officer, a civilian rendering aid to the officer, two subjects actively resisting arrest, and another inciting the crowd.'

Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower said the situation was getting out of control.
'Here is this one policeman, and the crowd is getting bigger and bigger,' Bower said.

'He had to be in control. There was no doubt that a policeman needs to be in control. It was very rude and heavy how he got her down.'

Bower said the beach on Saturday was full of angry party-goers who had been denied entry to a Funkshion Fashion Week concert.

Safety officials had been forced to shut down a concert by Swedish House Mafia due to overcrowding.

Greenback, from Maryland, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Soto, 29, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence and affray.

Judge Accuses NY Mets Of Ignoring Court Order Over Kosher Hot-Dog Vendor

The Kosher Grill in section 430 at Citi Field

Brooklyn, NY - A federal judge accused the Mets of ignoring a court order in a dispute with a vendor who sells kosher hot dogs at their ballpark.

The Mets don’t want to disclose how many dogs they sell, saying that’s “highly confidential” and that releasing such details to the vendor “would cause a tremendous amount of harm.”

Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann said the team was barking up the wrong tree and ordered it to give up the figure.

Police Make Terror Arrest At Toronto Airport‎

TORONTO— Police arrested a man at Toronto's Pearson airport who they said was planning to travel to Somalia to join an al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Sgt. Marc LaPorte said Wednesday the man was arrested as he was about to board a plane Tuesday night. Sgt. LaPorte said the man was planning to join al-Shabaab, and he has been charged with attempting to participate in terrorist activities.

Al-Shabaab is an al Qaeda-linked militia trying to overthrow Somalia's transitional government.

Sgt. LaPorte said several Somalian youths from the Toronto area are suspected to have traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. This is the first arrest in Canada.

The U.S. government charged 14 people last year with being participants in "a deadly pipeline" to Somalia that routed money and fighters from the U.S. to the militant group al-Shabaab. Of the 14 charged, 10 are people from Minnesota who allegedly left to join al-Shabaab. The FBI has said al-Shabaab tries to radicalize and recruit U.S. citizens and others to train and fight with them.

Roughly 20 men from the U.S.—all but one were of Somali descent—left Minnesota from December 2007 through October 2009 to join al-Shabaab, officials have said.

Police said the suspect in Toronto was arrested without incident as he was about to board a plane bound for Cairo, transiting through London, to then go to Somalia.

The man has a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday. His name hasn't been released pending the hearing.

'Israel releases map detailing hundreds of Hezbollah sites in Lebanon'

Map detailing Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, provided by the Washington Post on March 30. 2011

Map obtained by the Washington Post reveals that Israeli intelligence officials believe that the 550 underground bunkers identified have been stocked with weapons transferred from Syria since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Israeli military officials have provided a map detailing nearly 1,000 sites and facilities monitored by the Hezbollah militant group in southern Lebanon, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday

Israeli intelligence officials believe that the 550 underground bunkers identified have been stocked with weapons transferred from Syria since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, according to the report. The map obtained by the Washington Post also details 300 surveillance sites and 100 other facilities Israel believes belong to Hezbollah militants.

The map indicates Israel's deep concern regarding relations between Syria and Hezbollah, according to the Washington Post, which cites Israeli officials as having said in interviews that most of Hezbollah’s weapons are secretly transferred from arms depots near Damascus to facilities in southern Lebanon.

The Washington Post surmised that in releasing the map, the Israel Defense Forces was making a preemptive bid to dispel condemnation of any future Israeli attacks on civilian areas marked in the map.

A senior Israeli commander told the Washington Post that Israel's interest in providing those details was "to show the world that the Hezbollah organization has turned these villages into fighting zones."

In response to the report, the U.S. State Department said: "Our concern about Hezbollah’s activities, including in south Lebanon, is well known. It is logical that Israel shares this concern."

The White House recently denied a report that the U.S. is mulling a dialogue with Hezbollah. The U.S. has made clear that it does not see Hezbollah as an autonomous player, separate from ambitions of Iran and Syria, or their assistance.

The topic of the weapons transfers from Syria to Hezbollah has been raised in Congress on several occasions over the past year. Since the anti-government protests began in Syria, U.S. officials have officials sent an ambiguous message to Damascus, condemning the violence.

The U.S. has stressed, however, that it does not view Syrian President Bashar Assad in the same light as Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi and has said it was not planning to intervene in the unrest just yet.

The U.S. administration is at crossroads now with regard to its engagement with Syria and the possibility that Assad will change his policies and deepen his alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.

Rabbinic courts: Lift the anchor!

Rabbinic judges claim women who refuse to compromise on their financial rights 'anchor themselves' to unwanted marriages, or turn themselves into agunot. Meanwhile, family courts have ruled that husbands should be held financially accountable for their recalcitrance. Let public decide

A man who refused to give his wife a get for 10 years asked a rabbinic court to determine if he is should be considered a “recalcitrant husband” or not. He hoped to present the determination to the Family Courts where his wife was suing him for damages that had ensued as a result of his behavior.

However, the Rabbinic Court surprisingly turned matters on their head by ruling that the wife was “anchoring herself” to the marriage.

The judges even suggested that “perhaps the woman will wake up from her coma and from her stubbornness and understand that she is the recalcitrant one"—since she refuses to compromise with her husband on division of property.

In the 14-page decision, the judges "forgot" to mention that the parties are waiting for a judgment from the family courts regarding division of property, and instead determined that “the husband is not anchoring his wife”.

The text of the ruling reveals that there is nothing less than a "world war" going on between the Rabbinic Courts and the Family Courts regarding the definition of recalcitrance. Rabbi Yanai, for example, writes: “Unfortunately, as damage claims become more widespread, we are reverting to the ‘dark ages’ of power struggles over jurisdiction, only this time, the battle takes a particularly harsh form…”

“We are dealing here with a struggle over who is the ruling authority and over the very force and legitimacy of any decision that was given, or will be given, by the Rabbinic Court on the issue of divorce. To our great dismay, this is not just a little battle but a real world war.

"From the perspective of pure Halacha, we are dealing with some of the most essential and important issues in the laws of personal status – the validity of the get and the threat of mamzer (bastards). If this difficult phenomenon of damage claims spreads without clear boundaries, in the end, who knows what will happen?”

Rabbi Pardes has called on the courts to stop damage claims: “In this context, the Rabbinic Court urges, in all sincerity, that those in position of authority in the Israeli legal system to refrain from dealing with damage claims. Though their objective is to benefit the parties who bring these suits, in practice it causes them direct harm and immeasurable grief. These claims will bring divorce cases to a dead end, and it is these cases that are the cause of years of recalcitrance.”

And what do family courts say?

On the other side is the ruling recently handed down by the Tel Aviv District Court that upheld the verdict of a Family Court awarding NIS 700,000 (about $198,000) in damages from a man who anchored his wife for over 10 years.

In this ruling, the judges wrote: “We are looking at a woman who was held captive by the appellant, a man who has no good reason to give for the prison that he has built for his wife except for the fact that she once agreed to marry him…

"The appellant deprives and continues to deprive his wife of her happiness, deprives and continues to deprive her of establishing a new family, and, more specifically, he deprives and continues to deprive her of having children….This situation described is immoral and offends goes against the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Freedom.”

In other words, the Rabbinic Court believes that women anchor themselves (because they do not agree to the “compromise” proposed by the husbands), and that the process of suing for damages exacerbates this “anchoring.”

We believe that the husband who refuses to give his wife a get is the one anchoring his wife, and that the Rabbinc Courts who legitimize the husband’s recalcitrance are the ones causing women to remain imprisoned.

Let the public decide.

NY: Cops arrest 16 people in $10M marijuana ring

A pot-selling ring that included over a dozen people was broken up after cops discovered 8,000 marijuana plants that would yield a street value of $8 million, authorities said today.

The NYPD, with help from DEA agents, pulled over a car in upstate Sullivan County that smelled of marijuana.

After receiving consent, the officers searched seven houses and uncovered the 8,000 marijuana plants, sources told The Post.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said the plants were found in seven fields in and around the town of Wurstboro.

Each plant yields about one pound-worth of weed for an estimated total of $8 million, the sources said.

Authorities said the marijuana was sold throughout the city and as far south as Philadelphia.

Police sources believe the 16 people arrested had been running the largest indoor marijuana growing operation in the New York-area.

Sullivan County is located just two hours north of the city.

The 16 suspects are expected to be arraigned in White Plains Federal Court sometime this afternoon.

All of those arrested were said to be illegal aliens, sources said.

Personnel from the Sullivan County Sheriff's office and agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement also took part in the raids.

Air Traffic Controller Sends Plane To Look At Pilot

"Compromised the safety of everyone involved"

An air traffic supervisor has been suspended after sending a Southwest Airlines flight too close to a small private plane over Florida to check on the pilot.

It happened Sunday afternoon.

The National Transportation Safety Board says a Southwest Airlines airplane with 137 passengers onboard was requested to veer off course by Air Traffic Control to view into the cockpit of a plane that had been out of radio communication for an hour.

It happened on Sunday, March 27, 2011. Southwest Airlines flight 821 was requested by Central Florida Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) to check on a Cirrus SR22
The Cirrus was on course for Kissimmee, Fla. and maintaining altitude at 11,000 feet.

The air traffic control crews moved the Southwest plane close enough to the small plane that the pilots could look into the cockpit. The pilots reported seeing two people in the cockpit. The Southwest flight turned away and the air traffic controller then vectored the aircraft for its arrival at Orlando International Airport.

Approximately thirty seconds later the Cirrus contacted Jacksonville Center who gave them the current frequency. Both aircraft landed safely at their destinations.

A source at the airline called it an "unusual" request. An initial investigation by the FAA reported that there was a loss of required separation between the two aircraft.

“By placing this passenger aircraft in close proximity to another plane, the air traffic controller compromised the safety of everyone involved. This incident was totally inappropriate,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in a statement . “We are reviewing the air traffic procedures used here and making sure everyone understands the protocols for contacting unresponsive aircraft.”

Flight 821 was traveling between Phoenix's Sky Harbor International and Orlando International. The flight took about three and a half hours. The flight was scheduled to arrival 5:00 p.m. but it arrived about 21 minutes late.

Southwest Airlines released a statement to saying, "As always, Safety is the top priority at Southwest Airlines. We are fully cooperating with relevant authorities and will support all parties during the investigation process. Because it is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further at this time."

Ethiopia police injure 80 Jews during protest near Israel Embassy

Chairman of Beta Israel Association says 2,000 Ethiopian Jews gather to demand entry into Israel, Israeli citizenship.

A Jewish group says that Ethiopian police injured 80 Ethiopian Jewish protesters and arrested 80 more during a demonstration near the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Hamse Sutotow, chairman of the Beta Israel Association, said 2,000 Ethiopian Jews gathered Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy. The protesters were demanding the right to Israeli citizenship

Sutotow said he believes the police action was ordered directly or indirectly by the Israeli Embassy.

Ethiopian Jews in the past have mounted hunger strikes in the pursuit of being granted citizenship.

The members of a 2,000-strong community in Addis Ababa claim Jewish lineage, but their very origins are doubted by authorities in Israel who believe they are imposters seeking entry under the guise of religion.

Over 100,000 Ethiopian Jews already live in Israel and Jerusalem recently granted entry to 7,800 more from only the northern town of Gonder, where all Ethiopian Jews -- known as the Falash Mura -- originate from.

Those in the Ethiopian capital told Reuters earlier this year they were unfairly left out, dashing their hopes of reuniting with family members.

"All we want is to reunite with our families. Both my father and mother are in Israel along with my two sisters," said Fikirte Delele, a 33-year-old mother of two.

The group says its members moved from Gonder in the mid-1990s hoping to fast-track their aliyah after Israel resettled thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s.

But the dream of quick resettlement soon turned faded, and the new arrivals -- mostly poor farmers and manual laborers -- soon found themselves struggling to survive in Addis Ababa having sold all their meager belongings in rural Ethiopia.

Israeli officials had confirmed at the time that Jews in Addis Ababa will not be part of the 7,800.

US Run By “Anti-Jewish Elite”: Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, has said the United States under President Obama is “dominated by a secular, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish elite.”

“Until you replace this president and until you have the Congress and the new president replace large parts of our bureaucracies, we’re going to continue to be dominated by a secular, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish elite, which is seeking to impose on us rules that make zero sense,” Gingrich said at the American Family Association’s pastors’ policy briefing in Iowa on March 25.

The statement came from a question about confronting Sharia law in America, reports Politico. Gingrich said that American leadership was “so afraid to tell the truth” and “timid” that it did not prosecute the Pakistani Muslim who planted a bomb in Times Square last year.

“I simply suggest that every church in the country announce there is a new principle that visiting Bethlehem every year for three weeks is an important part of your devotion,” Gingrich said to applause.

“The whole thing collapses,” he added. “It’s an absurdity. It’s part of this desperation of our secular elites to do everything they can to prove they are not anti-Muslim.”

FBI, FDNY Probe Brooklyn Fire for Possible Domestic Terror Link

An arson fire in Bedford-Stuyvesant may have been the work of an anarchist with links to the Animal Liberation Front, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The Brooklyn Free Store was torched on March 19 after an arsonist had tried to burn it down on two previous occasions, investigators said. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force has been called in to assist FDNY arson investigators because of the possible ALF connections, officials briefed on the case said.

The Animal Liberation Front is considered a violent extremist group by the FBI and US Justice Department.

ALF followers have engaged in illegal actions and sabotage in pursuit of "animal liberation."

ALF activists in the past have tried to forcibly remove animals from research laboratories, even conducting sabotage and arson in the name of animal rights.

Law enforcement officials would not say why the Brooklyn Free Store may have been targeted by someone with alleged links to ALF.

Spokesmen for the FBI and FDNY declined to comment.

Nobody was hurt in the three separate arson attempts along Walworth Street and DeKalb Avenue.

No suspect has been arrested.

Report: Abducted Gazan may have info on Shalit

Der Spiegel says Ukrainian agents kidnapped Gaza power plant engineer at Israel's behest. Attorney denies report, claims client has no info on Shalit

Israel may have ordered Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi's abduction because he has information on kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday.

But Abu-Sisi's attorney, Smadar Ben-Natan, rejected the report Wednesday, claiming her client had no information on the IDF soldier.

The report says that the senior power plant official, who disappeared from the Ukraine and later surfaced at an Israeli prison, was actually kidnapped by Kiev intelligence agents at the Jewish state's behest.

"He has no information on Gilad Shalit. He was not involved in it in any way, and if Israel thought he had such information when it abducted him then it made a serious mistake, and it's time the state admitted that mistake and allowed him to return to Ukraine," Ben-Natan told Army Radio.

The attorney added that Shalit's name had never come up in court hearings on the remand of Abu-Sisi's arrest.

Entitled 'The Long Arm of the Mossad', the report recounts Abu Sisi's abduction during the night between February 18-19 as he was making his way by train to Kiev.

Abu Sisi and his wife, who is Ukrainian, were in the country in order to secure citizenship papers for the family, who wanted to leave the Gaza Strip. The report adds that Abu Sisi was planning to meet with his brother, who has been residing in Amsterdam.

Der Spiegel's report says two train employees saw two men dressed in civilian clothing board Abu Sisi's car at around 1 am, and escort him out. The men had told police what they saw during questioning, but later retracted their statements, the report adds.

The explanation to this, according to the German paper, may be that the two were persuaded to do so by Ukrainian intelligence, which kidnapped the engineer at Israel's demand. The claim was made despite the Ukrainian foreign ministry's denial of involvement.

"If the Mossad carries out such an operation and interrogates the man for six weeks he must know something Israel really wants to hear," an unnamed source told the paper. The source added that had Abu Sisi been merely a problematic figure, Israel would have killed him.

His wife, Veronika, was afraid he had been killed, Der Spiegel's report says, but after hearing he was being kept jailed in Ashkelon she left their six children with her mother in law and fled through a smuggling tunnel to Egypt, and from there to Ukraine. In an interview with a local paper she denied Abu Sisi had any connection to Hamas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

David Apelewicz, 43, Gunned Down in Brooklyn

The father of a 43-year-old Brooklyn man gunned down near the subway is convinced his son was killed trying to fight off muggers.

"He wouldn't hurt nobody. He was fighting for his life," said Michael Apelewicz, 74, whose son, David, was shot March 18 and died Monday night. "He was fighting for his life. He was a very strong, husky guy. Maybe one of them gave up and decided to shoot."

Cops have released surveillance video yesterday of three possible suspects who shot Apelewicz, 43, on East 15th Street near the Avenue H subway station in Midwood

Investigators said they think Apelewicz was robbed. Cops said his wallet and cell phone were missing.

Apelewicz’ grieving father said his son, an unemployed real estate salesman who was working part time as a waiter, "wouldn’t hurt nobody."

The victim was a divorced father with two sons, Eric, 19, and Alex, 6.

"It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how that little boy’s going to feel when he finds out he’s never going to see his father again," said Amela Kadric, 39, a family friend.

"David was one of those people you’d never be bored around. He always had a joke, always had a laugh, always had a positive side to him."

The grainy surveillance video shows two young men, one in a hooded sweatshirt walking calmly along the street. They are followed by another young man in a hooded sweatshirt who looks like he’s trying to catch up to the others.

Cops responded to a call about gunshots fired and found Apelewicz on the ground with a single gunshot wound to the head.

Cops have released a video of three suspects in the March 18 shooting death of David Apelewicz, 43, of Midwood, Brooklyn.

Responding to a call of shots fired at about 5:35 a.m. on the 18th, cops found Apelewicz, shot in the head, in front of 884 East 15th Street, a couple of blocks north of his residence. The video, released by cops last night, ain't much, but it's all we got.

Tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or submit tips at or text info to 274637 (CRIMES), entering TIP577.

חצר ה'באבא ברוך' במעצר • החשד: איומים על 'הרנטגן'

מלחמת החצרות בנתיבות נמשכת במלוא העוצמה • חוקרי יאח"ה עצרו את בנו, נהגו ועוזרו של הבאבא בחשד שהילכו אימים על 'הרנטגן' בנסיון לגרום לו לעזוב את העיר

המאבק המכוער בין חצרות הרבנים בנתיבות מסרב להירגע: חוקרי יאח"ה עצרו היום שלושה ממקורבי הרב אבוחצירה מנתיבות, בחשד שאיימו 'הרנטגן' בנסיון להרחיק אותו ואת בני משפחתו מהעיר.

המאבקים בין החצרות שכבר הולידו לא מעט חקירות משטרתיות, ולפני מספר חודשים עצרה המשטרה בכירים בחצרו של הרב אבוחצירה ('הבאבא ברוך') בחשד שניסו 'להפיל' את הרב איפרגן (הידוע בכינוי – 'הרנטגן'), באמצעות מעשים לא ראויים.

במסגרת החקירה המסועפת עצרה הבוקר (ג') המשטרה את ה'באבא' ועוד שלושה אנשים מחצרו, בינהם בנו - הרב יהודה אבוחצירא. מחקירת המשטרה עולה כי בחצרו של הרב איימו על חייו של הרנטגן.

ביחד עם אבוחצירא ובנו נעצרו גם נהגו ועוזרו.

כאמור, השלושה ניסו להלך אימים על 'הרנטגן' המתחרה בחצר ה'באבא ברוך', במטרה שזה יעזוב את העיר יחד עם בני משפחתו ומוסדותיו, וישאיר את העיר כולה בשליטת הרב אבחוצירה.

דובר יאח"ה מכחיש כי גם ה'באבא ברוך' נעצר. "הרב לא נעצר ולא נחקר".

החשודים הובאו לבית המשפט בראשון לציון, שם הוארך מעצרם של יצחק אביסרור - נהג החצר ועודד אדרי - עוזרו של הרב, בשלושה ימים.

בנו של הרב, יהודה אבוחצירה, שוחרר בתנאים מגבילים למעצר בית בן ארבעה ימים מחוץ לנתיבות
המאבק בין חצרות הרבנים בעיר הדרומית עולה שלב: בנו של הרב ברוך אבוחצירא, הידוע בכינויו "הבבא ברוך" נעצר יחד עם נהגו ועוזרו בחשד שאיימו על הרב רנטגן. הם נחקרים במטה היחידה לחקירות הונאה ובמשטרה מתכוונים לבקש את הארכת מעצרם

נמשכים הסכסוכים בין חצרות הרבנים בנתיבות: המשטרה עצרה היום (ג') את הרב יהודה אבוחצירא, בנו של ברוך אבוחצירא, אחד הרבנים הבכירים בנתיבות המכונה הבאבא ברוך, בחשד שאיים על הרב יעקב איפרגן המכונה "הרנטגן". ביחד עם אבוחצירא נעצרו גם נהגו ועוזרו. המשטרה תבקש להאריך את מעצרם של השלושה בבית משפט השלום בראשון לציון.

חוקרי היחידה הארצית לחקירות הונאה (יחא"ה) עצרו את השלושה, בעקבות חשד כי איימו על חייו של הרנטגן. השלושה נחקרים במשרדי היחידה.

לפני כחצי שנה עלה לכותרות שמו של הרנטגן, לאחר שמבקר עיריית נתיבות, שמעון אלון, נחשד כי ביקש לפגוע בשמו הטוב ועל כן ניסה לשלוח אליו נערת פיתוי. היחידה הארצית לחקירות הונאה שחקרה את המקרה, טענה כי עלה חשד לפיו פעלו כדי לפגוע בשמם של הרב איפרגן ושל הרב בנימין חן, כשניסו לשלוח אל השניים נשים שיפתו אותם למטרות מין.

מתיחות רבה בין חצרות הרבנים
במהלך החקירה הגיעו לידי חוקרי יאח"ה קלטות שתיעדו ניסיונות של אותם גורמים לעודד את הנשים לפעול נגד שני הרבנים. מבקר עיריית נתיבות שמעון אלון נעצר ועומת מול חלק מחומר החקירה שנאסף ובכלל זה הקלטות.

בין החצר של ה"רנטגן" לחצרו של הבבא ברוך שוררת מתיחות מתמשכת. לפני כמה שנים, עוזרו של הבבא ברוך, עודד אדרי, ואחיו בועז נעצרו בחשד ששידלו חמש נשים להתלונן במשטרה, שלכאורה הרב איפרגן ביצע בהן מעשים מגונים.

חוקרי משטרת מרחב הנגב חקרו את הפרשה וגילו כי

הנשים בדו את התלונות כדי לפגוע ברנטגן וכי נשלחו על ידי הרב אבוחצירא. החשודים בפרשה נעצרו ונשלחו לעבודות שירות.

בחודשים האחרונים הפיצו, על פי החשד, אנשי הבבא ברוך פליירים ברחבי נתיבות בהם נכתב בין השאר כי על הרנטגן ובני משפחתו לעזוב את היישוב מיד ולא יפיצו עליו פרשות שיביכו אותו מאוד.

הרב איפרגן סירב לעזוב את נתיבות והגיש תלונה ביחידת ההונאה של משטרת מחוז הדרום על כך שאיימו על חייו

Jewish Cemetery directors accused of misusing millions in cemetery assets

HAWTHORNE — The state attorney general is investigating allegations that Mount Eden Cemetery's directors misused millions of dollars in cemetery assets for personal gain.

The accusations against board members include $3 million in unpaid loans, no-show jobs and credit-card charges unrelated to cemetery business.

"The controlling certificate holders, directors and officers of Mount Eden have managed and operated Mount Eden for their personal benefit and personal gain," wrote New York State Cemetery Board Chairman Daniel Shapiro in an order he signed and forwarded to the attorney general. The board oversees the state's nonprofit cemeteries.

The order names Mount Eden directors Patrick O'Connell, Ruth Hogan, Heather Hogan Lospinoso, Stephanie Hogan Webb and Tara Hogan in its misconduct allegations.

O'Connell and Ruth Hogan both receive $75,000 annual salaries for 30 hours of weekly work, but the order alleges they are rarely at the cemetery and says Hogan is living in North Carolina. Neither O'Connell nor Ruth Hogan was available for comment at Mount Eden on Monday morning and they did not return messages seeking comment.

A spokesman said the Attorney General's Office would not comment on a continuing investigation.

Department of State spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden wrote in an email Monday that the Cemetery Board discovered the alleged misconduct through a routine audit. MacSpadden explained that if the attorney general could wrest control of Mount Eden from its current directors, Mount Eden's lot owners would be asked to select a new board.

The 26-acre Jewish cemetery at 20 Commerce St. has about 16 unsold acres and averages 72 burials a year, according to the state.

The Cemetery Board, which regulates nonprofit cemeteries, referred its order to the attorney general for action on April 27, 2010, but the matter did not become public until last week, when Mount Eden published a public notice for its annual members meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. April 11 in the offices of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz in Manhattan. The public notice stated that as of Feb. 20, Mount Eden had spent $115,000 on legal fees in connection with the attorney general's investigation.

The Cemetery Board sent a copy of its order to The Journal News after a reporter inquired about the attorney general's review. According to that document, O'Connell, Ruth Hogan and their relatives got control over Mount Eden's board because O'Connell's father, James O'Connell, purchased certificates issued by the cemetery in 1936, when it was incorporated. The voting rights associated with the certificate ownership gave the O'Connells a majority of votes because individual plot owners never attended annual meetings.

The certificates, a type of loan, were supposed to be repaid using 50 percent of gross proceeds from land sales. The Cemetery Board said that since Mount Eden never paid any interest or principal on the certificates and the owners never attempted to collect on them, they should be invalidated.

The order also says that all current Mount Eden board members were improperly elected and have no authority to conduct cemetery business.

Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle owns a large plot for its members at Mount Eden dating back decades. On Monday, Rabbi Melvin Sirner said he was unaware of misconduct allegations against Mount Eden's directors.

"From my finite experience, it seems to be well- kept," Sirner said of the grounds.
Amy Tietz has a family plot at Mount Eden that was bought by her grandparents and she pays an annual grounds maintenance fee for it.

Tietz, a New Rochelle resident, echoed Sirner's appraisal of the cemetery's upkeep.
"I'm assuming that whatever assets they are allegedly taking are not affecting any people who are already buried," Tietz said.

Four Palestinians arrested for rape of minor in central Israel

Police opened investigation into the case after the child's older brother filed a complaint following a change in the boy's behavior.

Four Palestinians who were working in Israel illegally were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting and raping a young boy in a central Israel city for over two months.

The child's school informed his older brother that his behavior had recently changed and that they had noticed marks on his body.

The brother filed a complaint with the police who opened an investigation, during which the child testified that during the past two months he had been abused by the four men who work in an events hall in central Israel.

The four allegedly encouraged him to go to their apartment in the city in return for sweets and money. The child also claimed that the four allegedly raped him and abused him repeatedly.

The four were brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court to extend their remand. The court has issued a gag order on further details.

SHOT: Bullet discovered inside passenger plane that had a hole in the fuselage after flying 600 miles

The hole was found above a passenger window. It is not known what caused the puncture

The FBI has recovered a bullet from the rear right fuselage of a grounded US Airways flight.

The U.S. passenger plane was found with a 'bullet-sized' hole near a passenger window, it was revealed earlier today.

The pilot of the US Airways 737, which had flown from Philadelphia to Charlotte, North Carolina, found the small hole during pre-flight checks, prompting an FBI investigation.

It has not yet been confirmed that the hole on the exterior was caused by the bullet found in the fuselage but this is thought to be the most probable cause.

Based on preliminary analysis, the bullet likely travelled about three-quarters of a mile and was losing velocity when it struck the plane in a downward and front-to-back trajectory.

This has prompted speculation that the jet may have been hit by a falling stray bullet.

There is no evidence at this point the flight was targeted, according to CBS.

According to US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder: 'During a pre-flight inspection, one of our captains noticed a small hole in the fuselage.

'Safety is paramount, so we took that aircraft out of service and our maintenance team is investigating.'

Bloomberg news reported Michelle Mohr, an airline spokesman, saying: 'To us, it looked like it could potentially be a bullet hole.

'That’s why we involved the authorities immediately.'

Amy Thoreson, an FBI spokeswoman in Charlotte, added: 'The hole extended from the jet’s skin into the cabin.

'We have a lot of physical territory to cover before we can find out how it happened, where it happened and when it happened.'

Fred Mirgle, retired chairman of the aviation maintenance department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, said: 'Shots have been fired at U.S.

airliners in the past. It would be unusual for the crew or passengers not to notice if the plane were hit in flight.'

'It almost sounds like it was shot on the ground or close to it, if it was shot.
'Any difficulty with the 737’s auxiliary power unit, which provides electricity when the plane is at the gate and is in the rear of the jet, would have been noticed by the pilots and it’s not likely any pieces from an engine would have hit that area.'

Flight 1161 from Philadelphia landed without incident at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at about 4 pm.

According to the US Airways the plane had 84 passengers on board and five crew members.

FBI Agents are now interviewing passengers and are talking to maintenance crews who serviced the plane Sunday.

'Holiday Bandit' Arrested in Queens

Marat Mikhaylich, known as the 'Holiday Bandit,' is in custody Tuesday afternoon after being arrested in Queens for a series of bank robberies

The man the FBI dubbed the holiday bandit was finally captured. The FBI and the NYPD arrested Marat Mikhaylich Tuesday morning in Queens at around 9:30 a.m.

He was wanted in connection with a string of nine bank robberies that started during the Christmas shopping season but continued into late March.

The FBI was tipped off to his location after a 2007 Gold Toyota Camry, which had been stolen yesterday, was found on 91st Avenue in Queens. The Feds claim Mikhaylich had stolen the car after allegedly robbing a Cathay Bank in Edison, N.J., on Monday.

That's bank robbery No. 9 since early December 2010. The 35-year-old Ukrainian is about 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs around 200 pounds. He speaks Russian but calls himself "Mark" with non-Russian speakers.

In addition to the latest robbery in New Jersey, he has hit four banks in Queens, two in Brooklyn, and one on Staten Island, authorities said.

The FBI said that Mikhaylich has also robbed these banks:

•Sovereign Bank, Rahway Ave, Woodbridge, N.J., Friday, February 25, 2011
•Investors Savings Bank, 35-02 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, Wednesday, February 16, 2011
•Capital One Bank, 4612 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, Sunday, February 13, 2011
•Capital One Bank, 1411 Forest Avenue, Staten Island, Friday, February 4, 2011
•Capital One Bank, 31-17 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, Wednesday, January 19, 2011
•Sovereign Bank, 24-29 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, Wednesday, December 30, 2010
•Ridgewood Savings Bank, 8522 Third Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Wednesday, December 23, 2010
•Sovereign Bank, 37-10 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, Thursday, December 9, 2010

הסוד האפל של פרשת עמנואל נחשף? Sexual Abuse Allegedly Behind Emmanuel Segregation Case That Rocked Israel

A rabbi from the Slonim hasidic sect who was affiliated with the haredi girl's school was allegedly accused of sexually molesting kids. In reaction, Slonim hasidim forced the accusers children and their friends out of the school proper and into segregated classes. The accusers were overwhelmingly Sefardi ba'al teshuvas.

תחקיר ששודר אתמול בערוץ 2, מציג באור שונה את פרשת עמנואל וטוען: לא מדובר במאבק בין אשכנזים לספרדים, אלא בפרשה מכוערת וקשה במיוחד. "אחרי הכישלון הספרדי במאבק, נערכה פגישה בין כמה רבנים ספרדים. מישהו לחש באוזניהם כי דבר אחר לחלוטין עומד מאחורי הפרשה המסעירה. סוד אפל", מתארים מגישי התוכנית

Turkey's photo of the year: Bleeding IDF soldier

Picture of bleeding Navy commando assaulted aboard Marmara wins Turkish photojournalism award; news website uses difficult image to create puzzle for readers

Photojournalism award, Turkish-style: The picture of a bleeding IDF soldier aboard the Marmara won Turkey's 2010 Photo of the Year Award in the News category; the contest was held by the Turkish photojournalism association.

Nine people were killed onboard the Gaza-bound Turkish ship after IDF troops who raided it encountered violent resistance by "peace activists" armed with an assortment of weapons.

One of Turkey's largest websites, Milliyet, used the difficult image to create a puzzle for its readers.

The photograph shows a beaten up IDF soldier with his face and head bloodied while three Marmara passengers grab him and twisting his arm. The picture was shot by a Turkish photographer who hid copies in a hidden pocket and managed to smuggle them out of Israel.

Turkish media outlets did not blur the blood stains or the Israeli soldier's face.

The winning pictures were chosen out of 1,632 photos in six different categories. Prizes were handed out in the beginning of the month with Turkey's parliament speaker, deputy prime minister and various parliamentarians among those in attendance.

Israel's Navy commandoes raided and took over the Marmara on May 31 of last year after it attempted to breach the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. Among its passengers, the vessel carried members of the IHH terror group who ambushed the soldiers. Several troops were assaulted and abducted into the ship. The unexpected violence forced commandoes to resort to live fire, killing nine passengers.

About a week after the incident, the Turkish media published photos of bleeding and beaten up IDF troops.

A jewish billionaire in stormy waters

Alexander Mashkevich & The 400ft Savarona yacht was seized by Turkish authorities in September

Alexander Mashkevich, one of Jewish world's biggest philanthropists, suspected of organizing sex party on luxurious yacht seized by Turkish police. His lawyer denies allegations, but Yedioth Ahronoth reveals what really happened on board

September 28, 2010. A huge yacht anchors in Budrum, Turkey. The Savarona, 136 meters (446 miles) long, once owned by the "Father of the Turks", Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and is currently rented for tens of thousands of dollars a day.

A helicopter flies above the yacht. Ropes are rolled down from it. Turkish policemen slide to deck. At the same time, in the luxurious yacht suites, there are Kazakh businessmen with nine young girls, two of them under aged. The policemen search the place and find a huge amount of contraceptives and a file with escort girls' pictures and hotel receipts. Ten suspects, among them two Turkish billionaires, are arrested immediately and investigated for solicitation and trafficking in women.

The police raid was the culminating point of a secret investigation conducted for months against a Turkish crime organization that trafficked women. According to the investigation, the organization heads brought young Ukrainian and Russian women in order to satisfy the whims of rich businessmen and their guests. Parties such as the one on the Savarona were a nice source of profit for them, and this specific one was especially profitable and luxurious.

But the investigation sheds light not only on the crime organization but on the identity of the man who chartered the yacht to have a good time wit his friends and business partners: the police suspects that he is no other than Alexander Mashkevich - a well known billionaire and philanthropist holding an Israeli citizenship and heading the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

Mashkevich quickly denied his involvement in the event. His spokesman, Roman Spector, told the British daily "Telegraph" that Mashkevich was indeed onboard the yacht when it was raided, but he was in no way connected to criminal or immoral acts on it.

When Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Eldad Beck wrote about Mashkevitc’s involvement in the story, the Jewish Oligarch denied he was even interrogated by the Turkish police. According to him, he never spoke to a Turkish policeman. His friends said that the Turkish press' articles that mentioned him were driven by anti-Semitism.

But secret investigation materials from the Attorney General in Anatalia that was obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, presents a completely different picture and revels the involvement of Mashkevitch in the affair.

The investigation began several months before the police raid on the yacht. The Turkish police received information about a crime organization that deals with human trafficking and solicitation. The organization was headed, according to the information, by Taufik Arif, a Turkish tycoon, Donald Trump's business partner and owner of a metal production factory in Kazakhstan and many other businesses in the US and Britain. Arif, dubbed "David" by his people, was born in Kazakhstan and lives in Turkey since 1994. The police followed his organization for two months, documented them with video cameras, tapped their phones and broke into their email and bank accounts.

Investigation materials show that Arif's organization provided escort services to businessmen. The young women, some of whom were underage (according to the investigation, one of the businessmen was especially fond of 13-14 year old, and the organization head supplied those girls) were brought from Russian and the Ukraine, through modeling agencies.

The investigation protocol includes transcripts of phone calls between Arif and his partners, describing the girls, their age, height and looks. Many women were documented leaving the airport in Anatalia and taken to hotels. The police investigators seem to have known it all: who these women were, where they came from, who they were intended for, and how much he had paid for them. And they knew that if one of the big bosses or the important customers was not satisfied with a girl, she would immediately be sent back to where she came from.

The police also knew that a big event was to take place on the Savarona, an exclusive event with only a few participants, but lots of money and passion.

In the last five years, the yacht was rented twice a year: one week to Arif and one week to Mashkevich. The investigation materials show that in September of last year, before the party, it was leased to Mashkevich for 9 days, for $300,000. The money was transferred from his bank account in Kazakhstan to Turkey, and there are bank statements to prove it. The Turkish police was tipped that Arif would also be at the party, and decided it would be a good opportunity to catch him red handed.

And so, on September 28, 2010, the third day of the party, the police raided the Savarona. And that's when Mashkevich enters the picture.

Synagogues and matzah crates

Mashkevitc’s character is mysterious, intriguing. He is a cold, calculated businessman who managed to take over Kazakhstan's natural resources with his partners, and accumulate approximately 3.3 billion dollars of wealth, which puts him in the 287 place in the Forbes list of the world's richest. But he is also a traditional Jewish person, who donates significantly for synagogue construction in Russia, for deliveries of Matzo to faraway communities, and for Jewish studies.

"When Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, visited Kazakhstan, Mashkevich cried at the sound of the Tikva, the national hymn. He is an enthusiastic Jew and Zionist", say one of the people in his entourage.

Mashkevich, 54, was raised in Kirgizstan, bordering on Kazakhstan. He has a Ph.D. in Linguistics, and at the culmination of his academic career he served as the dean of the Kirgizstan University Faculty of Linguistics. But that was not enough for Mashkevich. He established the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and at the end of the eighties immigrated to Kazakhstan, where he made friends with the Republic's strong president, Nur Sultan Nezdabayev.

With his two Muslim partners, Alian Ibragimov and Phatuch Shudayev, Mashkevich got a franchise from the state and established Kazakhstan Aluminum. Their business expanded and they lay hands on other national resources such as the Chrome industry, iron and coal mines, electricity, trains, and more. Mashkevich took all these companies in under his corporation, ENRC. "I always wanted more. I believed in capitalism", he said in an interview.

In 1991, Mashkevich immigrated to Israel and received an Israeli nationality, but chose to return to Kazakhstan. He currently divides his time between Asian Russia, Belgium and London, where his wife and two daughters live. Among others, he has done business with Dan Gertler and Benny Steinmatz. So far, Mashkevich has avoided investing in the Israeli economy. "The market is limited and the bureaucracy cumbersome", he explained. However, he has recently announced, at the Herzliya convention, "I have made a strategic decision to invest in the local economy. It is the right time". He even purchased a penthouse for his daughter in the future project, Sea One, in Tel Aviv, and paid NIS 110 million ($31 million) for 1,000 square meters (10,765 square feet).

When it comes to charity, Mashkevich is very generous. Knesset Member Zeev Bielski, former head of the Jewish Agency, says: "In my very first days on the job, I heard of a Jewish man with a big heart who invests a lot in the Jewish life of Asian Russia. I made an effort to meet him, and when he came to Israel we were introduced.

"I met a warm man who respects his parents and builds synagogues in their memory. We recruited him to the lone soldiers' project. Every time we wanted to bring a soldier's parents to Israel, he financed it. He is one of the donators we enjoy working with. I'm not sure his identification with Israel is good for his business, but that doesn't matter to him".

In the haredi world, Mashkevich is called "Hanagid", a title used for the greatest philanthropists. The Braslev Jews dub him "Redeemer of the holy grave", since he redeemed the debts and foreclosure from the Ukrainian grave of the Rabi Nachman from Braslev. Recently, he donated a large sum of money for the establishment of "Zaka" branches throughout the world. Zaka Chair, Yehuda Meshi Zahav has only good words to say about him.

"I have been flying with him to the Rabbi Nachman of Uman's grave for two years now. If you see him there, you wouldn't believe how he can pray. When the fire broke out in the Carmel Mountains he arrived within a day to see how he can help. When he went to take a look, one of the policemen at the place told us that his daughter's Bat Mitzvah was supposed to take place in Beit Oren and they don't know what to do. Mashkevich immediately said he would pay for a new location. He donated $10,000. He also donated for the establishment of a special unit of ATVs that would help with future fires."

Does it not disturb you to take money from him, in light of the recent event he took part in?

"Saints are in heaven. Whoever is here is not a saint. Not me, not you, and apparently not him either. I see how he helps and gives charity. And that is above everything he may or may not have done".

22 escort girls

A former journalist, an Israeli who worked with Mashkevich, portrays a more complex character. "You have to understand, Oligarchs are a weird people, and Mashkevich is no different. For example, in one of our trips with president Peres, Mashkevich took us on a one day tour. We thought we would be visiting Jewish communities, or important Kazakh sites, but instead all we did was tour synagogues named after his mother.

At first we drove a few hours on the bus and got to one of the synagogues and then we flew to the other. That was extremely strange. Also, at the Herzliya conference he spoke about a "World Jewish Parliament" with great pathos and mentioned several other ambitious ideas. The audience was somewhat embarrassed.

"I'm not surprised with the yacht story. Business trips with “working women” are a well-known concept in Asian Russia. In one of my trips there I was with my wife, and one of Mashkevitc’s men was sure she is an escort, and asked for her rate. It's deep in their local culture. You don't go there with your legal wife. And once a man arrives alone, they see to all his needs. When a business man arrives and gets a woman for a night, he doesn’t say no."

Taufik Arif's organization supplied such women, according to the investigation. Two of his men would select the women from Russian and Ukrainian model agency websites. Afterwards Arif would look at the pictures and approve them, and his people would take care of all the necessary arrangements: settle the price with the agency, set the dates, purchase plane tickets.

When the women arrived in Turkey, they would be taken to one of the Riksos hotels (Arif owns one of the hotels that previously belonged to the chain). "When Taufik plans a vacation or holiday in Turkey, he usually calls me", says Gondoz Akerniz, one of the suspects, who worked for Arif. "If he wants to rent a yacht, I take care of it. He comes here to meet friends and talk about investments, and I order models for them. I don't know if they're underage or not. Taufik asks me to find them."

The organization members knew that Taufik was organizing an event by May 25. The following is a conversation between Gondoz and Arif, cited in the investigation materials:

Arif: "Mashkevich wants the Savarona. Find out what dates in September."

Gondoz: "Okay."

Arif: "Speak to him ASAP and ask him when he wants it and arrange it immediately."

Gondoz took care of renting the yacht for Mashkevich, from September 25 to October 3rd 2010. The owner of the yacht is billionaire Kakharman Sadikuglu, one of Turkey's richest people, and one of the people involved in this affair. In his investigation he said that when he bought the yacht from the state, the condition was that he would only use it for tourism.

He denies having known what was going on aboard it. He says he would have never approved such things aboard a yacht of historical significance to the Turkish people (since Ataturk used it).

"The team onboard is employed by you", said the police investigator, "did you receive any information from them about the suspects bringing escorts and sleeping with them?" Kharman replied, "no one reported such things to me. I didn't know Arif Taufik and Alexander Mashkevich used the yacht for these purposes." Arif's people started recruiting the girls, after having rented the yacht. They located 22 women, three of which were rejected and flown back to Russia.

The day before the party, one of the suspects received a text message with three names of girls who were supposed to arrive at Budrum. Later, six more girls were located and found suitable. The Turkish Attorney General determined according to recorded phone calls that the organization brought those nine women from Russia to Turkey for prostitution. As part of the deal, they were supposed to provide sex services on September 25- October 3, the dates of the Mashkevich cruise.

On September 25 at noon, nine carefully selected women arrived in the Budrum airport. They were put on a bus and a private car and driven to the Riksos Hotel.

On the same day, Mashkevich arrived in Turkey. He says he was never interrogated by the police, but one of the police documents includes an explanation provided by him, with his signature and a photocopy of his ID.

Mashkevich told the police after the raid, "I arrived in Budrum from Jordan on September 25. I came here to rest and hold a few meetings. The women were not with me. We met on the yacht. I had no intimate relations with them. My accountant paid for the event. I'm a businessman I don't know what he paid for and how much, my accountant takes care of everything.

Mashkevitc’s bodyguard also testified in the police. "I don't know anyone on the yacht", he said. "I don't know any of those women, or why they came here".

'Keep silent'

Arif said in his interrogation that the women weren't prostitutes. He said they were singers and dancers. "When the policemen came aboard they asked us what the girls were doing here", Arif said. I then turned to the girls and asked, "What are you here for?" and they replied that they came to entertain the guests by dancing and singing.

One of the policemen asked one of the girls to sing something, but she said she needed a microphone. He asked her to sing anyway. She sang in Russian and he stepped aside, he didn't expect her to sing so well".

But if those women indeed came to sing and dance, as Arif says, why were they not allowed to testify to the police? According to the investigation materials, when they were arrested the women were told by their "leaders" not to speak or testify. The Turkish police suggested they get help from the Russian embassy, contact a Russian speaking lawyer or their families, but they refused.

"Don't testify, any of you", said a text message they received. "Everything is falling apart, don't sign anything, they are out of control and have no power. You will soon be home", said a second text message. Three days after the arrest, one of the girls received another text message, "You don't know these people, don't worry about it, you were at the wrong place in the wrong time. See to it that all the girls stay silent, as if they were in their grave, don't say a thing". Everyone followed the rules and kept quiet.

Two of those nine women were 16-year-old minors. For both of them, this was not the first time in Turkey, and their last time there, in March 2010, was also at Arif's request.

We found pictures of one of them, Vasilisa, on the website of the model agency from which Arif ordered the girls. A thin girl with a baby face and sad blue eyes. In most pictures she appears half naked. On her Facebook page she says she loved horses and has just finished school. The other girls were 18-20 years old.

The police believe that the used contraceptives on board the yacht leave no room for doubt about what happened on the yacht. How is it possible that Mashkevich, who paid huge sums of money to charter the yacht, didn't know what was going on on it?

Another discussion will be held in Anatalia court in April. The accused in this case are those directly related to soliciting and trafficking women. Other businessmen who were on the yacht, including Mashkevich and his partners, Ibragimov and Shurayev, are not legally involved.

Attorney Ronel Fisher, Mashkevitc’s lawyer, said, "Mashkevich was never interrogated by the Turkish police for a criminal offence. The Turkish authorities had not and have no claims against him, not even an insinuated one. Obviously, irresponsible parties with various interests are making great efforts to slander Mr. Mashkevich, but the truth helps him ward off all those lies".

Taufik Arif denied all the accusations against him