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Monday, October 31, 2011

Ann Coulter calls SEX allegations against Cain ‘high-tech lynching’

Rush Limbaugh also jumped to Cain's defense

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter rushed to Herman Cain's defense, likening the sexual harassment allegations against him to similar claims targeting Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings two decades ago.

"This is a high-tech lynching," she said on Fox News Channel Sunday night, echoing the Supreme Court justice's words during his own hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991.

Coulter called the allegations a plant from liberals, who are "terrified" of the pizza magnate.

"He is a strong, conservative black man … They are terrified of strong, conservative black men," she said.

She also called the allegations of sexual harassment weak at best.

"It's not groping, it's not touching, it's not demanding sex, it's that he had remarks they found inappropriate," she said. "This isn't dropping your pants and saying, 'kiss it'. This is an outrageous attack on a black conservative who is doing extremely well and I think will be our vice president."

Coulter's allegations echoed that of Cain's spokesman, J.D. Gordon on Fox News last night.

"I can tell you that we've seen this played out before. It's just a prominent conservative leader targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics. Mr. Cain deserves better than this."

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the news a "racist hit job."

"What's next, folks? A cartoon on MSNBC showing Herman Cain with huge lips eating a watermelon? What are they gonna do next? No...I'm not kidding. The racial stereotypes that these people are using to go after Herman Cain, what is the one thing that it tells us? It tells us who the real racists are, yeah, but it tells us that Herman Cain is somebody."

Democrats, meanwhile, have remained silent on the report that he was accused of sexual harassment while at the National Restaurant Association, where he worked as a lobbyist.

"I have never sexually harassed anyone, let's say that," Cain told Fox News on Monday. "Secondly, I've never sexually harassed anyone."

"Yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association. I say falsely because it turned out after the investigation to be baseless."

FBI releases video, papers on Anna Chapman's Russian spy ring

The Anna Chapman that became a media darling, seen here after her bust, bears little resemblance to the redhead seen in the FBI files

WASHINGTON — The FBI on Monday released surveillance tapes, photos and hundreds of pages of documents that shed new light on operation “Ghost Stories,” the bureau’s investigation of a ring of Russian sleeper agents that ended after more than a decade in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.

Called illegals because they took civilian jobs instead of operating inside Russian embassies and military missions, the spies, including New York real estate agent Anna Chapman, mostly settled into quiet lives in middle-class neighborhoods.

Their long-range assignment from Moscow: burrow deep into U.S. society and cultivate contacts with academics, entrepreneurs and government policymakers on subjects from defense to finance.

The heavily-redacted files provide a glimpse into the intensive surveillance the deep cover agents were under, in some cases for almost a decade, showing the middle-class spies with their children, shopping or in one case attending a graduation ceremony.

The code name Ghost Stories appears to refer to the ring’s efforts to blend invisibly into the fabric of American society. An FBI spokesman said the decision to release the material on Halloween was coincidental.

FBI videos of the Russian agents show Anna Chapman, whose role in the spy saga turned her into an international celebrity, and the other illegals surreptitiously passing information and money as part of their operations, which included the use of spy tools as old as invisible ink and as modern as cryptographic software that hides messages in digital images posted on the internet.

The linchpin in the case was Col. Alexander Poteyev, a highly placed U.S. mole in Russian foreign intelligence, who betrayed the spy ring even as he ran it. He abruptly fled Moscow just days before the FBI rolled up the deep cover operation on June 27, 2010. Poteyev's role in exposing the illegals program only emerged last June when a Russian military court convicted him in absentia for high treason and desertion.

The U.S. swapped the 10 deep cover agents for four Russians imprisoned for spying for the West at a remote corner of a Vienna airport on July 9, in a scene reminiscent of the carefully-choreographed exchange of spies at Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge during the Cold War.

While freed Soviet spies typically kept a low profile after their return to Moscow, Chapman became a lingerie model, corporate spokeswoman and television personality. Donald Heathfield, whose real name is Andrey Bezrukov, lists himself as an adviser to the president of a major Russian oil company on his LinkedIn account. President Dmitry Medvedev awarded all 10 of the freed deep-cover operatives Russia’s highest honors at a Kremlin ceremony.

The swap was Washington’s idea, raised when U.S. law enforcement officials told President Obama it was time to start planning the arrests. Agents launched a series of raids across the northeast after a decade of intensive surveillance of the ring, which officials say never managed to steal any secrets.

The case was brought to a swift conclusion before it could complicate the president’s campaign to “reset” U.S. relations with Russia, strained by years of tensions over U.S. foreign policy and the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. All 10 of the captured spies were charged with failing to register as foreign agents.

An 11th defendant, Christopher Metsos, who claimed to be a Canadian citizen and delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents, vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the FBI decided to arrest the illegals because one of the spies was preparing to leave the U.S. and there was concern that “we would not be able to get him back.” Despite the ring’s failure to gather any intelligence, Holder said they still posed a potential threat to the U.S.

Former Soviet intelligence officials now living in the West scratched their heads over the “Ghost Stories” saga.

“In my view this whole operation was a waste of human resources, money and just put Russia in a ridiculous situation,” said Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB major general who spied against the U.S. during the Soviet era, in an interview earlier this year. He now lives near Washington.

Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist who has written extensively about Soviet spying in America, said the illegals were supposed to act as talent spotters and scouts, identifying Americans in positions of power who might be recruited to spill secrets for financial reasons or through blackmail. Spies with the protection of diplomatic credentials would handle the more delicate task of recruiting and handling the agents.

Moscow’s ultimate aim, Vassiliev said, was probably to cultivate a source who could provide day-by-day intelligence on what the president’s inner circle was thinking and planning in response to the latest international crisis. But he said there was no evidence the Kremlin made any progress toward that goal.

“How are you going to recruit someone like that, on what basis? That’s quite a successful person. Why should he spy for the Russians? I can’t see any reason.”

He said Russia’s intelligence services seem unable to shake their Soviet-era habits. “The current practice of the Russian espionage agency is based on the practices which existed before 1945,” said Vassiliev, who now lives in London. “It’s so outdated.”

The 10 Russian illegals included:

Chapman, the daughter of a Russian diplomat, who worked as a real estate agent in New York City. After she was caught, photos of the redhead’s social life and travels were splashed all over the tabloids. Following her return to Russia, Chapman worked as a model, became the celebrity face of a Moscow bank and joined the leadership of the youth wing of the main pro-Kremlin party.

Vicky Pelaez and Juan Lazaro, of Yonkers, N.Y. He briefly taught a class on Latin American and Caribbean politics at Baruch College. She wrote pieces highly critical of U.S. policy in Latin America as a columnist for one of the United States’ best-known Spanish-language newspapers, El Diario La Prensa.

Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills of Arlington, Va. He had worked at a telecommunications firm. The couple raised a young son and toddler in their high-rise apartment.

— Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, N.J. He mostly stayed home with their two pre-teen children while she worked for a lower Manhattan-based accounting firm that offered tax advice. As part of her job, she provided financial planning for a venture capitalist with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Cambridge, Mass. He worked in sales for an international management consulting firm and peddled strategic planning software to U.S. corporations. She was a real estate agent.

—Mikhail Semenko of Arlington, Va., who spoke Russian, English, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese. He worked at the Travel All Russia travel agency, where co-workers described him as “clumsy” and “quirky.”

In return for the return of the illegals, Moscow freed four Russians after they signed statements admitting to spying for the U.S. or Britain.

The U.S. spies included Alexander Zaporozhsky, a former colonel and deputy chief of Russian foreign intelligence’s American section, who had retired in 1997 and moved to suburban Baltimore in 2001. He was arrested after he returned to Moscow for what he thought was a reunion with KGB colleagues and was sentenced in 2003 to 18 years in prison for espionage.

Zaporozhsky may have provided information leading to the capture of Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, two of the most damaging spies ever caught in the U.S.

Gennady Vasilenko, a former KGB officer who worked in Washington and Latin America, was accused by Hansen of spying for the U.S. He was arrested in Havana in 1988, but released from Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison after six months for lack of evidence.

But suspicions lingered, and Vasilenko was arrested again in 2006 in Moscow and sentenced to three years in prison for illegal weapons possession and resistance to authorities.

Vasilenko now has a home in Leesburg, Va. He declined the Associated Press’ request for an interview.

Arms control researcher Igor Sutyagin worked for what may have been a British-based CIA front, and he denies being a spy, saying he didn’t pass along any information that wasn’t available through open sources. He told reporters he signed a confession out of concern he would otherwise ruin the swap for the others — and for fear of abuse and misery in the three years remaining in his prison term.

The fourth was Sergei Skripal, a former colonel for Russian military intelligence, the GRU. He was sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in prison for passing the names of other Russian agents to British intelligence.

Skripal, now about 60, is said to be suffering from diabetes. Both Skripal and Sutyagin went to Britain following their release.

U.S. officials have not commented on the Poteyev case.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was a KGB foreign intelligence officer during the Soviet era, lashed out at Poteyev last December.

“Those people sacrificed their lives to serve the Motherland, and there happened to be an animal who betrayed them,” he said. “How will he live with it all his life, how will he look his children in the eye? Swine!”

‘Bank-fraud’ case jolts Satmar schools

A massive federal bankruptcy case threatens to cripple the school system of Brooklyn’s Satmar community, whose operator is accused of a huge money-laundering scam, court records show.

The United Talmudical Academy is being sued for $200 million by a bankruptcy trustee who claims the UTA helped a big donor conceal bank fraud at the contributor’s company -- and the case is expected to go to trial early next year.

The trustee claims in Brooklyn federal bankruptcy court records that as far back as 1997, the UTA was helping the family of Victor Jacobs hide the fact that his Allou Distributors was cooking its books to boost its line of credit from a lender.

Allou, a pharmaceutical- and health- and beauty-supply wholesaler, later went bust.

An observer of the legal situation told The Post that the UTA could be forced to shut its doors if the trustee wins the case.

“This organization has substantial amounts of real estate in Brooklyn and Queens. The trustee would have an obligation to collect,” the observer noted.

The UTA’s lawyer, Thomas Kissane, said, “[The] UTA had no knowledge of the misconduct at Allou.”

Jerusalem's new smash hit: Maccabi Mea Shearim b-ball team

Maccabi Mea Shearim basketball team

They don't have a budget or a seal of approval from rabbis – but they are well-equipped when it comes to faith and one of their players is the grandson of Shas' Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

They play in black uniforms, hide their 'peyes' behind their ears. They don't have a budget or a seal of approval from rabbis – but they are well-equipped when it comes to faith. Meet Jerusalem's new smash hit: the Maccabi Mea Shearim basketball team.

This week, the team, whose members all live in or around the famous Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox neighborhood - faced a team of Zionist religious bachelors from the neighborhood of Rehavia, Yedioth Aharonoth reported.

One by one they come on court: Yitzhak Pinksi, 19, guard, a student in the well-known haredi yeshiva Mir, who came to Israel from Milwaukee. "I wake up very early to run, and one night a week I allow myself to leave the yeshiva early so I can play basketball," he says.

He is followed by Natan Frenkel, 22, married with two children who is known for playing in a wedding band.

The grandson of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Yonatan Yosef, aged 31, is next, followed by Ari Gelhar, 24, a haredi working in the filed of communication.

The other two players did not wish to expose themselves: "It is not really accustomed in the haredi world. Some would look at us differently if we would come out with this hobby." It appears a basketball player does not rank high for a shidduch.

"We have decided to prove once and for all that haredi also know how to play basketball," says Gelhar.

And it appears he is right as the Mea Shearim team defeats the Rehavia team 24-17"How are they in such good shape?" wonders Roi from the opposing team. "Aren't they supposed to be studying torah all day?"

The haredi team points to Yonatan's relation to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. "Maybe the good luck came from there."

Maccabi Mea Shearim is now seeking to join the city-sponsored synagogues league and take their hobby to the next level.

Crackdown on Child Sex Abuse Unravels

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Freed on Bail as Brooklyn Case Crumbles

One of the most high-profile convictions of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi for sexual abuse in recent times may be in danger of reversal, according to new disclosures in court records obtained by the Forward.

When Baruch Lebovits was sentenced last year to up to 32 years in jail, victims’ rights advocates hailed it as a turning point in the battle against sexual abuse in the insular Orthodox community.

“From now on,” Joseph Diangello, an abuse victim turned advocate, told The Jewish Star at the time, “victims of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community that have no voice with the people that are supposed to protect them will have a voice in the court of law.”

There was a sense that the wall of silence that had protected abusers in the ultra-Orthodox community for so long was finally crumbling.

But Lebovits’s 2010 conviction is now unraveling amid allegations of perjury, conspiracy and extortion.

Lebovits was destined to spend, at minimum, 10 years in prison. Instead, he was released on bail in April and placed under house arrest pending an appeal.

Lebovits’s release was prompted by revelations suggesting that some of the witnesses whose grand jury testimony helped indict him were actually engaged in a plot to extort him. Since then, prosecutors have insisted that the testimony offered by a key witness who testified at Lebovits’s trial remains untainted.

But new evidence submitted by Lebovits’s defense team — which awaits a response from the prosecution — suggests that this may not be the case.

Lebovits, a travel agent who once taught at a yeshiva in the Munkatch synagogue in Brooklyn’s Boro Park, was arrested in 2008 on charges of abusing two boys. Later, a third victim came forward.

Rather than prosecuting the cases as a group, a state judge ordered that each be tried separately.

The case involving the third victim was the first to go to trial. Lebovits appeared in court in March 2010 on charges of sexually abusing the boy over a period of 10 months.

The four-day trial heard how the boy — now a 22-year-old man — stole money from synagogue charity boxes to fund a drug addiction fueled by his abuse.

The prosecutor alleged that on numerous occasions during 2004 and 2005, Lebovits invited the boy into his car, where he abused him while parked in various public spots around Boro Park, a largely Orthodox neighborhood. The jury found Lebovits guilty on eight counts of sexual assault.

During sentencing in April, the courtroom was packed. Lebovits’s supporters, dressed in black suits, lined the benches on one side of the room. On the other side, an array of abuse victims and their advocates waited anxiously to see the outcome. A long pattern of suppression was seen as hanging in the balance.

For years, advocates have railed against leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community whom they blame for covering up for molesters.

Leading rabbis invoke Judaic religious laws such as mesirah — a prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities — and the prohibition against lashon hara, evil gossip, as justification for not reporting abuse to secular law enforcement authorities.

But advocates for sex abuse victims say there are myriad reasons that the Orthodox leadership wants to suppress abuse claims. Their motives are said to include fear of litigation, a desire to shield the community from unfavorable attention and the protection of individual reputations.

Even defenders of the ultra-Orthodox acknowledge that sometimes, concern for a child’s safety is overridden by fear that Child Protective Services will place an Orthodox child in a nonkosher home.

For years, rabbis have acted as a firewall against the secular world. Victims and their families have heeded religious courts and rabbinic leaders who warned them against reporting incidents to the police. Even today, Agudath Israel of America, the largest American ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, insists that Jews should consult a rabbi before reporting abuse to the police.

In Brooklyn, home to an estimated 180,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews, District Attorney Charles Hynes has vowed to crack down on abuse in the community, even launching a special hotline for Orthodox victims. But advocates have scorned Hynes, charging that he has dragged his heels on some investigations and allowed other abusers to get away with generous plea deals.

Hynes, they say, avoids aggressive prosecutions for fear of the political influence that Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox rabbinic leaders wield over their bloc-voting followers. Hynes has heatedly denied this criticism. And the severe sentence he obtained against Lebovits in this case at least seemed to reflect a genuinely aggressive stance.

Speaking after the sentence was handed down, Joel Engelman, an abuse survivor turned advocate, said the case sent a message to the Orthodox community that protecting abusers was no longer possible.

But today, Engelman warns that if Lebovits is acquitted, it will be “disastrous” not only for those who claim they were abused by Lebovits, but also for the way the entire community perceives the issue of abuse.

“It would basically tell anyone and everyone, abusers and abuser protectors, ‘You can go on doing what you’ve been doing,’” Engelman said.

When Lebovits was released on bail in April, Engelman called a community hotline, Kol Mevaser, to hear how the news was reported.

“They said that today is a very special day and a very happy day,” Engelman said, “because a member in our community convicted of very heinous crimes… was released and shown to be not guilty.”

The hotline reported that Lebovits’s release illustrated that even if members of the community are convicted in a secular court, “the system isn’t trustworthy.”

Lebovits’s conviction was thrown into doubt when another Brooklyn rabbi, Samuel Kellner, was arrested in April on charges related to the first two victims who reported Lebovits to the police.

Hynes accused Kellner of paying one of the victims $10,000 to falsely testify that he had been abused.

Hynes also accused Kellner of trying to extort $400,000 from Lebovits’s family in return for the two boys dropping their cases and preventing the third victim from coming forward. After Lebovits refused to pay, the third victim reported to the police.

Kellner pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted grand larceny, perjury and conspiracy and was released on bail.

At a press conference held soon afterward, Hynes said he was confident that Lebovits’s conviction, based on the testimony of the third victim at trial, would stand. That testimony was untainted by Kellner’s alleged extortion scandal, he said.

But court papers submitted in April, May and August by Lebovits’s defense team seem to show that the third victim — referred to in court papers as Y.R. — was very familiar with the alleged extortion scheme.

In the papers, the Brooklyn D.A. admitted that it was Kellner who brought the third young man to law enforcement authorities. Jerry Schmetterer, the D.A.’s spokesman, declined to comment because the case remains open.

In an affidavit, an individual referred to as “Witness B” told Lebovits’s lawyers: “[Y.R.] said he had a ‘guilty conscience’ about making a case against Baruch Lebovits. Community pressure from ‘powerful people’ was forcing Y.R. to go forward with the complaint.”

Witness B continued: “Y.R. asked me to contact the Lebovits family to ask them to pay him not to proceed. He asked me to get involved because he did not trust Kellner and was afraid Kellner would keep all the money.”

Another witness, one of the first two alleged victims who admitted he was given $10,000 by Kellner, said in an affidavit, “I saw [Y.R.] last night, July 21, 2010, and he said, ‘Kellner gave money to everyone and he [Kellner] is going to get in trouble.’”

In a tape recording also entered as evidence by Lebovits’s attorneys, Y.R. is heard telling a friend, “A man is sitting in jail because somebody [Kellner] had a premeditated plan not to put him away but to make money, and manipulate me to back off.”

In an interview with the Forward, Y.R. refuted the defense team’s allegations.

“My whole life has been ruined because of this,” he said. “I put myself out there and I went out and told them what happened.”

Y.R. said he was confident the D.A. had enough evidence to support the conviction. That evidence, he said, includes a recording of a conversation he had with Lebovits during the abuse investigation.

Y.R. said that he wore a New York Police Department wire during a meeting with Lebovits. “I told him, ‘What should I do because the NYPD are questioning me about what’s happened,” Y.R. said.

“He [Lebovits] answered me, ‘Just tell them leykenen shteyn un beyn’ ” or deny completely.

Nathan Dershowitz, a lawyer for Lebovits, said he had never heard of such a recording.

“If that were on tape, don’t you think it would have been introduced in evidence?” he said.

“I can only tell you that in the trial, as far as I know, nothing was ever introduced that suggested there was an admission here, ever,” Dershowitz said.

Although Lebovits’s conviction rested almost entirely on Y.R.’s testimony, the prosecution was aided by a court appearance by the sole defense witness, Rabbi Beryl Ashkenazi. But here, too, Lebovits’s defense team argues, the court was misled.

Ashkenazi was called by the defense to testify that Y.R. had offered to drop his sex abuse allegations against Lebovits in exchange for money. But Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory dropped a pre-emptive bombshell when she turned on Ashkenazi in the courtroom, accusing him of sexually abusing two boys during the 1990s.

Gregory said that the statute of limitations was the only thing that prevented charges against Ashkenazi.

But in court papers, Lebovits’s defense team — which was joined by high-profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz last year — argues that those abuse claims should never have been made. They present an affidavit from one of Ashkenazi’s alleged victims, referred to as “Y.E.,” who denied having been abused.

Y.E. stated that Detective Steve Litwin of the New York City Police Department came to his home, accompanied by Kellner, at 2 a.m. a few nights before Ashkenazi took the stand.

“I advised Detective Litwin that Mr. Ashkenazi had not molested me,” Y.E. stated.

Lebovits’s defense team singles out Litwin for particular criticism.

“Why Detective Litwin would visit a potential witness at 2 a.m., and why he would take a civilian, Kellner, with him to speak to Y.E. is beyond understanding,” Lebovits’s lawyers say in court papers.

Some of Litwin’s case notes, which came to light only midway through the trial, showed that Litwin was aware of Y.R.’s links with Kellner during the police investigation into Lebovits.

According to his notes from two interviews conducted in January 2009, now entered as evidence in Lebovits’s appeal, Y.R. told Litwin that Kellner instructed him to hold out for $200,000 in exchange for dropping the charges. Y.R. also told Litwin that Kellner was working to raise a $50,000 payment.

“Detective Litwin’s notes of his conversations with Y.R. establish that Y.R. told him about Kellner’s efforts to get him money,” Lebovits’s defense team argues in the court papers.“But Detective Litwin did nothing with this information.”

Litwin declined to comment because the case is still being litigated.

In its motion for a new trial, Lebovits’s defense team argues that it is “fundamentally wrong for convictions to stand when the jury that convicted the defendant did not know the defendant was himself the victim of an extortion plot in connection with the very charges that the jury is considering.”

“Worse still,” it continues, “the complainant was ‘recruited’ as part of that extortion plot, received money to testify against Lebovits and denied it.”

Engelman said the claims and counterclaims are indicative of an insular community where insider dealing is the most common method of resolving disputes.

Financial payoffs or threats of throwing people’s children out of school — rather than recourse to secular law enforcement officials — are often used to coerce people into settling disputes within the community.

“It’s a part of the sad phenomenon that’s going on,” Engelman said. “Whatever you see in court papers is a smidgen of the tip of the iceberg.”

Dershowitz said his colleagues have filed an appeal and a motion for a new trial, based on the “newly discovered evidence.”

He said Lebovits would remain out of prison and under house arrest, on bail, as long as he continues to file his papers on time.

This fall, Lebovits applied for permission to leave his house arrest to attend synagogue during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

The request was granted.

police gunned down cows because officers believed they were 'threatening' and 'dangerous'

Police officers who gunned down two cows that escaped on their way to the slaughterhouse have claimed that they thought the animals were 'threatening' and 'dangerous'.

The animals were shot repeatedly and killed as they evaded capture running amok on a rural road in Gatineau, Quebec on Thursday afternoon.

A visitor who captured the moment on video watched in horror as the officers surrounded one of the cows with their cars, sirens blaring, before shooting it dead.

The cops, at one point they have to decide, is it threatening for the population? Is it too dangerous?' a police spokesman told CTV.

So they did realise, and they did decide at one point that they had no choice to shoot the animal and kill the animal.'

The video of the shooting, which has been viewed over 58,000 times on YouTube, has caused anger from animal rights groups.

Esther Klein of the Animal Defence League of Canada said that officers should be better prepared to deal with animals.

One way or another, there has to be responsibility taken for these situations,' she told CTV

'If it's going to end up being the police, then police need the training and the tranquilizer guns and everything that is required to deal with this situation.'

Lucille Cloutier, who took the video while on vacation from Ontario, said that she would have expected the officers to have used tranquilizers rather than shooting the cows dead.

'This would've been the most appropriate thing to do,' she told CTV.

Police said that they are investigating the shooting but have no plans to use tranquilizer guns.

Officers in Ottawa last year shot dead several moose after they roamed into the city.

Kabbalah gal in suit

A Brooklyn follower of Judaism offshoot Kabbalah is suing her former bosses, saying they reserved Jewish holidays for Jews only.

Shayla Sweatt went to work at Astucci US, a Garment District firm selling eyeglass cases, because she expected its Jewish owners would respect her wishes to take off the holidays, according to her lawyer, Matthew Blit.

Dan Ben Moshe, Astucci’s owner, said Sweatt’s claims were “bulls--t.”

Segregation of the sexes spreads among Orthodox Jews

Ultra-Orthodox couple walks together down the street.

Buses, public sidewalks and streets split between men and women.

When a recent online exposé revealed that women on a city-franchised bus were required to sit in the back, those who seemed to be least outraged were the women who actually ride the bus and live in the two heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods it connects.

“It never bothered me,” said Rachel Freier, a lawyer from Boro Park who rides another segregated bus to Manhattan from her summer home in the Orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel. “It is not that I feel I am being segregated. As a woman, it is my own sphere of privacy.”

“What is special about this isn’t the segregation of sexes, but the segregation in the public domain,” said Samuel Heilman, a sociologist at Queens College who has written extensively on the ultra-Orthodox. “That didn’t happen before. They separated men and women, but they would have never thought to do it on turf that isn’t completely theirs. They are saying, ‘We own the street, we own the bus, we own the public square.’”

According to Gershom Gorenberg, author of the upcoming book “The Unmaking of Israel,” pressure for sex segregation in public spaces is part of a ramped-up religious vigilance in the Haredi world, caused in part by a lack of passed-down direct knowledge of how traditional Jews in earlier generations actually lived day to day.

Many such religious and cultural practices were obliterated during the Holocaust, he said, and in their absence, Haredi communities in Israel and beyond have adopted a “stricter is better” approach to Jewish, or halachic, law.

Driver's license prompts mass yeshiva expulsion

Some 30 young men expelled from prestigious yeshiva after violating ban on driving

The head of the prestigious Be'er Torah yeshiva has announced that he will expel 30 students from the institution after discovering that they hold driver's licenses.

The "expulsion letters" were issued a month ago, yet the yeshiva students refuse to comply with the demand.

A letter issued by yeshiva head, Rabbi Gavriel Yosef Levy, informed the students that as they breached the yeshiva's rules, they should find an alternate place to study in the winter term.

According to the yeshiva charter, holding a valid driver's license is forbidden. The charter's third chapter asserts: "A yeshiva boy shall not drive a vehicle and must not hold a driver's license."

According to the students, the institution's staff looked into the driver's license issue in cooperation with the Transportation Ministry. One of the expelled students told Ynet he was furious that his personal details in a government database were compromised.

The ministry issued the following response: "Entering the Transportation Ministry's database while pretending to be the owner of a license is an offence. The ministry is aware of the problem and seeks solutions that would prevent unauthorized parties from eliciting information about driver's license holders."

In addition, the students are upset that some members of the yeshiva were granted permission to hold a driver's license after all. "It caused plenty of bitterness, as if only the well connected can hold a license," one student said.

Most of the dismissed students are among the yeshiva's older members and almost all of them are 22-years-old and above. They are also angry that their names were published, thereby making it difficult for them to find an alternate yeshiva to attend.

Hareidi Women in the Service of Israeli Hi-Tech

Yehudit Suissa

A Bnei Brak Firm offers in-country computer outsourcing services - with a staff of Hareidi women doing the programming.

For the past decade or so, outsourcing has become sort of a holy grail for business. The more work you could export abroad to low-cost work environment (read: India or Eastern Europe), the more money your company could save.

While this strategy may make sense for manufacturers of say, widgets, it's not a good strategy for companies or entrepreneurs who need help developing computer programs.

Not that many haven't tried; but more often than not, individuals who have tried to outsource programming work to save money have found that they “paid” for those savings in extra frustration, with programmers whose work leaves much to be desired, to say the least.

But there is an “outsourcing” alternative for the entrepreneur seeking to save money - “exporting” work to, of all places, Bnei Brak, where a staff of Hareidi woman – courtesy of a company called i-Rox – will happily develop and build projects in almost any area of computer programming, from internet applications to commercial database projects.

I-rox is run by two women – Ruti Margalit, a Hareidi woman from Bnei Brak, and Yehudit Suissa, a secular woman from Shoham, who started the company about five years ago, I-Rox now has about 80 employees, all of them Hareidi women with families who preferred to go into programming as a method of earning money, instead of the usual career options available in their communities, such as teaching or secretarial work. All of the women have gone through training courses sponsored by colleges and universities, while several have advanced degrees.

“Many of the women who work here are the chief breadwinners for their house, with their husbands in many cases learning or teaching in Yeshiva,” says Suissa. “It's a perfect solution for members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who would not feel comfortable working in a secular environment. A few years ago, you had maybe 20 women a year who graduated from programming training course. But today, because of i-Rox and a few other companies who employ Hareidi women, over 160 women will get degrees in programming this year.”

Besides helping out the Hareidi community, i-Rox benefits clients as well. “Many companies that had hoped to save money by outsourcing their work to India or Eastern Europe were bitterly disappointed when they found out that they actually hadn't saved any money – and had all sorts of difficulties communicating with staff because of time and culture differences. We offer an elegant and professional solution to companies that want to save money on programming costs, but don't want the hassle that comes with outsourcing abroad,” Suissa says.

Youth group advisor sues O.U. over unpaid overtime

SAN FRANCISCO - A youth group adviser from California has brought a class action suit against her employer, the Orthodox Union.

Devorah Lunger, a National Conference of Synagogue Youth chapter adviser, filed her suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Oct. 25 seeking restitution for unpaid overtime, rest breaks and lunch breaks, as well as for the O.U.’s failure to provide proper itemized wage statements.

The plaintiff, who has been an NCSY advisor in the San Fernando Valley since 2002, claims that she regularly worked between 50 and 70 hours per week, but was paid only for a 40-hour workweek.

Her complaint states that in addition to her “nine-to-five” duties of teaching classes, meeting with students and co-workers, cooking for holiday meals and running programs, she also had students at her house on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays.

She had to make herself constantly available to students and their parents by phone and email, and she worked around the clock while chaperoning Shabbatons and trips.

“In terms of the legal merits, it is a straightforward Fair Labor Act case, a failure to pay overtime,” Lunger’s attorney, Arnold Pedowitz, said. “But this is a case involving a very religious organization. They should be operating at the highest standards, and our client is upset that they are not.”

Rabbi Steven Burg, NCSY’s international director, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jewish Woman charged in Holocaust-reparations scam

HIGHLAND PARK — A Highland Park woman is among 30 people charged in connection with a Holocaust reparations scam that allegedly defrauded programs that aid survivors of Nazi persecution out of more than $57 million.

Anna Zinger, 65, of the 600 block of Walnut Street, allegedly submitted altered applications to obtain money intended for Holocaust survivors in a nine-year conspiracy that began in 2000.

The Oct. 4 complaint, just unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, states that Zinger “obtained copies of identification documents that were used to prepare fraudulent applications, submitted in Manhattan, to obtain funds intended for Holocaust survivors.”

In government documents, Zinger was described as a lawyer and recruiter from the Chicago area, who prepared and sent about 20 reparation applications through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Inc.

A Claims Conference caseworker in New York, who has since pleaded guilty in exchange for leniency, is now providing information to the prosecution, according to the complaint.

The caseworker reported 16 phone conversations with Zinger in preparation of claims that have been determined to be fraudulent.

In at least one case, a false reparations recipient paid Zinger $4,000 for her services, the government charges.

For her alleged role, Zinger, who also went by Anya or Anna Zack, could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Zinger appeared in court Oct. 21 in New York where she was released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.

Zinger also must surrender her passport and she may not apply for any new travel documents. Moreover, Pitman ordered her to limit her travels to the Southern and Eastern districts of New York, the Northern District of Illinois and intervening districts “as necessary for travel,” according to court records.

Zinger said Friday she worked to help Holocaust survivors obtain deserved reparations, and did not act fraudulently. She referred additional questions to her attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, who was not immediately available for comment.

The FBI began investigating the alleged scheme in December 2009, when the nonprofit Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Inc.

reported its Hardship and Article 2 funds were victimized by fraud. The organization was created to provide justice and reparations to people who were persecuted by Nazi rule.

The Hardship Fund provides a one-time $3,500 payment to Jewish survivors who were forced to leave their homes and become refugees after fleeing the Nazis.

The Article 2 Fund was created to support those who were forced into hiding or imprisoned in labor or concentration camps for at least 18 months. Those survivors were eligible to receive $400 monthly payments.

The German government funds the program, but the payments are distributed by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Those charged in the case, predominantly residents of Brooklyn, N.Y., allegedly submitted the fraudulent claims in exchange for a percentage of the payouts.

“Many of the recipients of fraudulent funds were born after World War II, and at least one person was not even Jewish,” according to a Department of Justice.

“Some conspirators recruited other individuals to provide identification documents, such as passports and birth certificates, which were then fraudulently altered and submitted to corrupt insiders at the Claims Conference, who then processed those applications. When the applicants received their compensation checks, they kept a portion of the money and passed the rest back up the chain.”

Madonna's homeless brother continues to bash his mega-famous sister.

Just a week after it was reported that Anthony Ciccone had been living on the street, he's lashing out at the Material Girl

Madonna's homeless brother continues to bash his mega-famous sister.

Just a week after it was reported that Anthony Ciccone had been living on the lonely streets of Travese City, Mich., for the past 18 months, he's lashing out at the Material Girl for not helping him in his time of need.

"You'd think there'd be some more family loyalty, and that's not the case," Ciccone told the UK's Mail on Sunday. "Just to communicate would be nice."

Growing up, his younger sister "was a b---h, just like she is now," he added bitterly. "She remains true to form."

But it seems Madonna's reluctance to help her brother could just be some tough love.

According to Ciccone, she did foot the bill for him to go to rehab for drugs and alcohol six years ago - but it was unsuccessful.

"My family seems to think rehab is some kind of magic panacea for life's ills."

He had been working at the Ciccone's winery selling "Madonna Wine" until last year when he was let go.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rabbi Fraud Of "Biblical Proportions" Sparks Extradition

TORONTO - Considering his claims to be able to decode the Bible to predict the future, Rabbi Avraham David should have seen his arrest coming.

Instead the rabbi, aka suspended New York lawyer Earl S. David, sits in the Toronto West detention centre denied bail and awaiting extradition to the United States, where he’s wanted as the ringleader of the one of the largest immigration fraud scams in the nation’s history.

American authorities allege David, 47, fled to Toronto in 2006 after a federal investigation began into whether a massive immigration fraud mill was being run through his Manhattan-based law practice.

Taking up to $30,000 a pop, David and 26 others are accused of securing green cards for 25,000 clients by filing phony tax receipts and fake pay stubs to show bogus U.S. employers had “sponsored” them.

“As alleged, Earl David and his many cohorts corrupted the immigration process through a carefully orchestrated scheme that was stunning in its scope and audacity,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“They allegedly reaped millions of dollars for filing tens of thousands of fraudulent applications.”

The accusations are hard to mesh with the self-described rabbi and fifth generation “scion” of a Chassidic dynasty who wrote “Code of the Heart”, a treatise on how Hebrew numerology in the Old Testament can decode everything from the tsunami to 9/11.

“He has shown in his writings that the Torah controls, predicts and influences current events,” his website claims. “The Torah is a blueprint for events ...he has been able to decipher this blue print.”

Yet with amazing chutzpah, this is the same rabbi accused of using a bank account in the name of his religious book to funnel illicit profits from the fraud scheme even after he fled to Canada.

But then this is a Bible scholar with a checkered past and a dual nature.

New York prosecutors granted the lawyer immunity in return for his testimony about a scheme involving securities fraud, bribery, and money laundering in 1992. For his role, the Canadian-born David was suspended from the New York bar in 2004.

He’s alleged to have fled to Toronto two years later and operated his immigration fraud from here.

David told his bail hearing he was still practising as a New Jersey lawyer via long distance but only doing “foreclosure defence”.

Continuing his dichotomous nature, court also heard the divorced rabbi moved in with his Mexican lover several months before they wed in December 2010 and she’s now seven months pregnant. When not posting biblical essays on the website of his downtown synagogue, David was Twittering his numerological predictions.

So did he see this one coming? In a harsh rebuke, Ontario Superior Court Justice Maureen Forestell denied David’s request to be released from jail pending his extradition hearing.

“I am of the view that Mr. David is a very significant flight risk in light of his flight to Canada to avoid prosecution, his tenuous connection to this country and the likelihood that he could access false documents and hidden assets,” the judge said in her written decision.

“Mr. David has shown himself to be willing to mislead the court and I do not believe that he would feel bound to comply with terms of a release imposed by this Court any more than he has felt bound to tell the truth to the Court.”

The judge rejected his wife’s offer to post a $200,000 bond.

“The amount available for bail is not sufficient to compel the compliance of Mr. David,” she said. “Nor am I of the view that the presence of his pregnant wife would keep him in the jurisdiction. Mr. David fled the United States and did not see his 10-year old son for two years on his evidence. He has shown himself to be willing to abandon family members to avoid prosecution.”

If only David had decoded the clues. Or maybe he did.

Scanning his Tweets, we find one from just a month before his arrest - his numerological explanation for the Hebrew letters spelling “thief.”

“The thief goes up because he has the merchandise,” David explained. “However when he gets caught, he loses the loot and ends up behind bars so he ends up down.”

Bernie Madoff's daughter-in-law was planning to divorce his son before he committed suicide

Bernie Madoff's daughter-in-law was planning to divorce his son Mark before he committed suicide in their Manhattan home last year, a new book claims.

Mark's brother Andrew alleges that Stephanie Madoff Mack had met with lawyers about a separation, blaming his sister-in-law for 'taking a bad situation and making it worse'.
She has said her late husband despaired at the continual news coverage about his father and in a failed 2009 suicide attempt had left a note saying his life was 'destroyed' and telling his dad: 'F**k you'.

However, Andrew says in a new book that the that thought of another divorce weighed heavily on his mind, too.

'For Mark, the prospect of a second divorce was unthinkable. He'd done it once before and couldn't bear to live apart from his children again, especially without his immediate family to fall back on,' Andrew says in 'Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family', the latest tell-all on the infamous saga due out tomorrow.

The account is written by author Laurie Sandell, who says she was approached by Andrew Madoff and his fiancee, Catherine Hooper, to write about the family's painful experience, according to the Washington Post. Ruth Madoff also cooperated, Ms Sandell writes.

Andrew's claims in the book shed new light on the day his brother committed suicide aged 46 in the living room of his $6million Soho loft.

He was found hanging from a black dog leash while his two-year-old son slept nearby.

It was the second anniversary of his father's arrest and people close to him said he was despondent over press coverage of his father's case, an ongoing criminal investigation of Madoff family members in the multibillion-dollar scheme and his struggle to rebuild his life.

But Andrew alleges that just days before he died, Mark had confided to his first wife Susan Elkin, that Stephanie 'is about to leave me,' according to the New York Post.

He also says that she had changed her name as part of the process.

Stephanie's efforts to have her surname, and those of their two infant children, Aubrey and Nicholas, switched to Morgan were reported at the time as being part of an attempt to avoid the media glare.

And in her book, 'The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life', which was released earlier this month, she made no mention of the alleged divorce proceedings.

Andrew says in the book that divorcing Susan in 1999, and missing out on time with his two children from that marriage, was something Mark did not want to repeat.

Stephanie lays the blame for her husband's death firmly with his father, stating in a recent interview that she holds him 'fully responsible for killing my husband' and she would 'spit in his face'.

In the new book, Andrew also has some stinging words for his dead brother, whom he describes as a 'mama's boy' because he spoke to their mother Ruth everyday while in college, the New York Post reported.

In the book Andrew complains about occasions when Mark 'rattled him out' for drinking beer and kissing girls when they were teens.

He also slams his sibling's math skills, saying, 'People would watch him fall apart and roll their eyes.'

The accusation somewhat jars with previous statements from trading executives which painted Mark as 'among the best in understanding market structure'.

Andrew tells of how their father Bernie would pit the brothers against each other and his belief that he only kept them at his firm for cover.

On one occasion when Andrew announced he wanted to leave the business, according to the New York Post, Bernie shouted: 'You can't do this.

You're abandoning you're brother. This is unacceptable. After everything I've done for you!'

In hindsight,' Andrew tells, 'it's obvious that the fact that we were there provided cover. he used us as a shield. Maybe the people at the firm who were in on it would have panicked if they'd seen us jumping ship.

Miami - police officer was caught at 120mph on his way to SECOND job as security guard

Handcuffed: Lopez was arrested at gunpoint and charged with reckless driving

A Miami police officer is accused of driving 120 mph on a highway because he was late for his off-duty job working security at a school.

The Florida Highway Patrol says officer Fausto Lopez was arrested at gunpoint after leading police on a brief high-speed chase.

She drew her gun for her own safety based on the actions of the driver,' said spokesman Sargent Mark Wysocky of the highway police trooper D.J. Watts approached the driver.

According to a police report, a trooper spotted a patrol car changing lanes in a dangerous manner earlier this month.

The incident occurred at 6.33am on October 11, when Lopez had just finished his police shift.

Lopez, 35, was driving in the southbound lane in his police car while wearing his police uniform.

The police report says the patrol car ignored warnings to pull over and led a brief high-speed chase before stopping near Hollywood.

Lopez was charged with the crime of reckless driving, which is categorized as a second degree misdemeanor.

Miami police spokesman Delrish Moss told The Associated Press on Saturday that any administrative action against Lopez will be taken after the outcome of the criminal case.

We immediately launched an administrative investigation,' Mr Moss said.

However, we’re taking a back seat, and watching the criminal process as it takes place. At the conclusion of the criminal process we will take whatever administrative action we deem necessary.'

In the meantime, Lopez is still assigned to regular duty as a Miami police officer 'because at this point it's a traffic offence,' Mr Moss added

U.S. Airways flight attendant found dead in Mexico City hotel room during layover

Nick Aaronson, a US Airways flight attendant was found strangled to death in his hotel room in Mexico City during a layover

Mexican authorities suspect that a young Phoenix flight attendant who was found strangled in a luggage-strewn Mexico City hotel room during a layover on Saturday morning may have been murdered, according to reports.

Nick Aaronson, who worked for U.S. Airways, was discovered lying naked on the ground next to a bed in his Hilton Hotel room with his hands bound and a belt around his neck, Phoenix's ABC affiliate reported, citing local reports.

There was also evidence that the 27-year-old had been hit several times, the station said.

The U.S. Airways’ flight attendant union said in a statement that it didn't appear that Aaron's hotel room had been broken into, but crew members who were staying at the Hilton had been moved to other hotels as a precaution.

Deborah Volpe, president of the Association of Flight Attendants Council 66, said the young Phoenix native was loved by his fellow flight attendants.

"Tragic, tragic loss," Volpe told ABC.

"He had a smile that could light up the room 20 minutes before he walked into it," she said.

Aaronson had been working with U.S. Air since 2006

Sam Friedlander case spurs look at 'live-in divorces'

In the wake of the Lewisboro family slaying, divorcing couples have become increasingly apprehensive of their own relationships, clinicians say.

"This has stirred up people in a lot of different ways," said Dr. Grant Mitchell, commissioner of Westchester's Department of Community Mental Health. "People involved in divorce, particularly where it's contentious, are asking 'Do I have to be concerned for my safety?' "

In today's economic climate, it is not uncommon for divorcing partners to live together as their case winds its way through the courts, a process that can take months or even years. Legal strategies related to custodial and property rights are also behind warring spouses who co-habitate.

Some couples, experts say, can manage the situation. But, more often, it can be problematic and even dangerous.

Sam Friedlander had filed for a divorce in April 2010. He and his wife, Amy Friedlander, continued to live in the same house in separate bedrooms even after a custodial agreement had been reached in April. Their $799,000 Cross River home had been on the market for five months.

Their divorce proceedings, described by some as contentious, took a deadly turn when, according to police, Sam Friedlander bludgeoned his wife to death then fatally shot their two children before turning the gun on himself.

It will never be known whether the Friedlander tragedy could have been avoided had they lived apart.

It is clear though that opting to live together, particularly in acrimony, can prove deleterious to the entire family.

"In most cases, it's something that we find causes a lot of difficulty and stress for parents and kids," Mitchell said.

He and other clinicians are beginning to question whether living apart during a divorce action is a legitimate cause for concern in the court, he said.

"We often hear 'I can't leave because I've been told it's not going to look good in court,' " Mitchell said. "But is that a reality or a misperception? There needs to be a dialogue."

Dr. Mark Banschick, a child psychiatrist in Katonah and author of the book series, "The Intelligent Divorce," said couples often feel financial and legal pressures to live together while going through a divorce. Banschick said he consulted with attorneys who explained that what's driving parents to stay together is mainly the issue of custody and the idea that judges will see the person who moved out as less responsible.

"This is a patronizing, 19th-century version of marriage and divorce where the notion of male judges is that any man who leaves his wife and family should be punished," he said. "We must stick to the 21st-century, evaluate every family based on its own merits ... We should not create a situation that compels people to stay together when they shouldn't."

Jane Aoyama-Martin, an attorney and executive director of the Pace Women's Justice Center at Pace Law School, said "live-in divorce" cases are often the result of finance and/or custody and property issues. Sometimes people don't want to leave because they think it could hurt their ability to get custody of the children, she said, or it's a control struggle over who has rights to the house.

Those can be factors in court, she said, depending on the case. She cited the example of a spouse leaving and then returning for the kids in a week having a better chance of getting custody than if they came back for them in a year.

She doesn't doubt, she said, that attorneys may encourage their clients to stay in the house as a strategy to help their case.

"The thing that I hope lawyers remember is that when it is a hostile situation for a live-in divorce, especially when there's a history of domestic violence, safety is paramount," she said.

The Pace Women's Justice Center handles about 2,800 domestic violence and elder abuse cases in Westchester and Putnam counties each year. Oftentimes, their cases involve "vacate" orders, Aoyama-Martin said.

Tamara Mitchel, a matrimonial and family attorney in White Plains, said that child custody agreements are often reached before a parent leaves the house. If not, she said, it could be considered a "de facto agreement" by the spouse who moved out to give up custody to the spouse left with the children.

In cases where a person can prove there is violence or threats that reach a certain "legal standard," there is recourse, Mitchel said. The courts, she explained, can award a spouse "temporary exclusive occupancy" of the marital residence while the divorce is pending. Orders of protection, she said, can also be granted and range from no contact whatsoever to simply not "harass, assault, threaten or intimidate" a person.

The latter can be issued to parties living together, she said.

Dr. Grant Mitchell said he heard of one recent case in which a divorcing couple had their lawyers draft up an agreement, saying they would be living separately but that they were not abandoning their kids.

"We think that's a healthier approach rather than forcing yourself to stay in an unpleasant situation," he said.

Banschick said "birdnesting" or keeping the house and renting an apartment so that the parents rotate among residences during the divorce action is an innovative way to maintain stability for the children and economic feasibility.

"You're taking the burden off the children and putting it on parents where it belongs," he said.

Banschick cautioned that if parents must co-habitate during a divorce, it is vital they do not put the children in the middle and do not use them as messengers. He recommended therapy for the family during that time in order to make "communication less toxic."

"In a hostile divorce, with people living together, it can be untenable to the children because the emotional tensions seep into their souls," he said.

Last year, New York became the last U.S. state to pass a no-fault divorce law, allowing couples to part ways without having to place blame on one party for the marriage's failure. Before, they could not end their union without proving one of six grounds including cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery or abandonment for a continuous period of a year or more.

It remains to be seen how this new law will affect divorce proceedings. However, no-fault divorces, Mitchel said, will allow clients to save money on lawyers and also remove one area of contention in terms of assigning blame.

In 2009, there were 49,816 divorces in New York, including 2,307 in Westchester, 540 in Rockland and 201 in Putnam, according to the state Department of Health. Of those 49,816 cases, 34,091 cited abandonment as grounds for the divorce, including 1,742 in Westchester, 413 in Rockland and 138 in Putnam.

Icy Bx. accident turns deadly when pair struck, knocked off overpass

Emergency workers beneath the Cross Bronx Expressway where a woman plummeted to her death and her brother was injured during an icy fender

A young woman was killed and her brother left clinging to life after they were hit by a car amid a horrific string of weather-related accidents on a Bronx highway, authorities said.

The 20-year-old victim and her 19-year-old brother had been traveling westbound on the Cross Bronx Expressway in a 2002 Chevy Venture, along with six other occupants, when their vehicle was involved in a crash at 5:49 a.m. near Bruckner Boulevard, cops said.

The smash-up was the result of icy roads and vehicles’ rubbernecking to catch a glimpse of a previous accident in the eastbound direction, police said.

The siblings exited their vehicle to inspect the damage when they were slammed into by a 1999 Toyota Corolla, cops said.

The pair was thrown over a concrete barrier and plummeted 75 feet below, onto Bruckner Boulevard and Brush Avenue, police said.

The woman was pronounced dead at Jacobi, and her brother is listed in critical condition there.

Former IDF soldier sentenced to 4.5 years for leaking documents to Haaretz

Anat Kamm at the Tel Aviv District Court, October 30, 2011

Anat Kamm was originally charged with espionage for collecting documents from the IDF and handing them writer Uri Blau in Israeli 'wikileaks' scandal; her final conviction was reached in a plea bargain.

The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday sentenced former Israel Defense Forces soldier Anat Kamm to 54 months in jail and another year-and-a-half suspended sentence, after she was convicted in February of collecting, holding and passing on classified information without authorization.

The conviction was obtained under a plea bargain that reduced the charges. Originally, Kamm had been charged with espionage.

The two years that Kamm spent under house arrest will not be configured into the sentence issued on Sunday.

Kamm stole some 2,000 documents from the office of then-GOC Central Command Yair Naveh, where she worked during her army service.

Among the documents were 700 marked classified or top secret. Kamm passed the documents to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau.

Some of the documents appeared to show that senior Israel Defense Forces officers had violated High Court of Justice rulings by approving the assassination of wanted men in the West Bank even when it would have been possible to arrest them.

In November 2008, Blau wrote an expose based on these documents.

While the report was approved by the military censor, it spurred a search for his source. Kamm was arrested in early 2010.

Passing on classified material without authorization carries a sentence of up to 15 years in jail. Holding such material is punishable by up to seven years.

Hard luck: Viagra gal keeps 400G 'error'

JANET RODRIGUEZ: Laid off from Pfizer

It’s every fired worker’s fantasy.

A Bronx woman laid off by the maker of Viagra received a severance check for more than a half-million dollars -- by mistake.

And now her former employer, drug giant Pfizer, is whining that she’s playing “finders keepers, losers weepers.”

Company VP Janet Rodriguez, 54, had worked for Pfizer for 16 years before being let go in December 2009 amid a round of layoffs.

On March 31, 2010, Pfizer issued Rodriguez a check for $517,140.24.

But 3 1/2 months later, the manufacturer -- with projected revenues this year of $66 billion -- claimed it was all a big misunderstanding.

The company fired off four letters and hired a collection agency as they sought to recoup $411,288.49, the amount it claims Rodriguez was overpaid.

But she ignored Pfizer -- so the company filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week.

“By virtue of the fact that they bring this claim so late in the game, so long after their alleged mistake, [it] is just a cheap bullying tactic that we expect the court to see right through,” said her lawyer, Saul Zabell.

Flyers stranded aboard Jet Blue plane for 7 hours after flight diverted to Conn.

Passengers spent seven hours without bathrooms or water on a plane which was grounded at Bradley Airport

Some 200 passengers aboard a Newark-bound Jet Blue flight were trapped on the plane for seven hours without food, water or working bathrooms after the freak snowstorm that socked the East Coast on Saturday forced the plane to land in Connecticut.

Passengers said they were told they'd be let off the plane shortly after it reached Bradley International Airport at around 1:30 p.m.

But hours later, Flight 504 from Fort Lauderdale was still sitting on the tarmac.

"We ran out of water," passenger Andrew Carter, a reporter planning to cover the Giants-Dolphins game, told The Hartford Courant from the plane.

"The bathrooms are all clogged up and disgusting. The power would go off every 45 minutes or so for five minutes or so, and that would freak people out.''

Flyer Todd Bailey told FOX Connecticut that a crying baby - and fried nerves - led to a spat among two passengers, while others were screaming at flight attendants to let them free.

"It's just crazy… Everybody is freaking out here. They're tired of it," he told FOX.

At one point, firefighters and cops came aboard to help a paraplegic man who was having circulation trouble, The Courant said.

More firefighters finally arrived at around 9 p.m. and began taking people off the plane with a ladder, according to local reports.

Jet Blue apologized for the incident in a statement on Saturday.

The rare October snowstorm forced 23 planes to land at Bradley on Saturday, causing a massive traffic jam, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy's office.

The pre-Halloween nightmare left some passengers in a foul mood.

"Next time I spend 11.5 hours on a plane, I sure as heck better wind up someplace better than Hartford, Conn.," Carter wrote on Twitter.

Madoff had 16 year affair with Jewish woman.

Bernard Madoff and wife Ruth at the golfing event in Mexico, when Madoff celebrated his 70th birthday

A glimpse inside the heartless, miserable, greedy & vain world of the Madoffs

Bernie and Ruth Madoff met in 1954 when they were teenagers, and from the beginning Bernie criticized Ruth, perpetually, pointing out every minor imperfection in his young bride.

As a result, she led a life in which fear was her overarching motivator: She was so afraid of Bernie cheating, she allowed him only 24 hours of travel alone.

Yet, cheat he did.

For 16 years, he regularly slept with Sheryl Weinstein, a top executive at the time for a women’s Jewish group, who eventually penned a Madoff tome, “Madoff’s Other Secret.”

Shockingly, it wasn’t her son’s death or the loss of her fortune or her husband’s vile plot and resulting imprisonment that unsettled Ruth the most.

It was the affair.

“It makes me sick to think about it,” she says in “Truth and Consequences,” the latest Madoff tell-all, which hits bookstores tomorrow. “It’s the most hurtful thing that ever happened to me.”

The new book, which The Post purchased Friday, was written by Brooklyn-based author Laurie Sandell with the cooperation of Ruth and her 45-year-old son, Andrew Madoff.

And it paints an ugly picture.

Taken side by side with another tell-all released earlier this month, “The End of Normal” by Bernie’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie, the family comes across as vain, greedy, dysfunctional, and deserving of their misery and each other.

No one comes off as sympathetic -- not Mark, the son who ended his life in shame, not his wounded widow, not Bernie’s slighted wife, no one. They’re quite possibly the most disliked family since the Mansons.

And it all starts with Bernie, the epicenter of the dysfunction.

Ruth summed up their relationship: “I always felt like I was going to be fired.”

She admits her hubby -- an imperial, obsessive-compulsive patriarch prone to wild mood swings -- “ruined our time.”

A neat freak, he insisted on only clean, bare feet on his $7 million yacht.

He would complain about his own grandchildren, who were not allowed in his penthouse for fear of sticky fingerprints and crumbs on the floor.

He particularly hated anything made with metal or that had metal edges, forbidding even a suitcase with a metal rim to be placed on a seat in his private jet.

At work in the Lipstick Building, he would make sure that all the vertical blinds that wrapped around his oval-shaped office were in line.

“Bernie would spend a certain amount of time each day crawling along the ledge at the edge of the windows, lining up the binds,” according to the book.

His obsession with the linear was such that he was known to drop his pants -- in full view of employees -- to check the alignment of his shirt buttons, according to a 2009 Vanity Fair profile.

Once, an employee found Bernie kneeling in the lobby on hands and knees, adjusting and readjusting the rugs until they were perfectly even.

As a family, the Madoffs were like a club, impenetrable and distrusting of outsiders.

When son Andrew’s future fiancée, Catherine Hooper, met his parents for the first time at his brother Mark’s 44th birthday party in 2008, she was greeted strangely by Bernie.

“I want you to know that he’s not from money, despite what you see. I know you think he’s a rich guy, but we’re from nothing. My father was broke. We’re humble people,” he said.

If you’re here for money -- think again.”

A few months later, when Hooper placed a leather Dior bag on a freshly polished side table on Madoff’s yacht, he blew up.

“The bottom of your bag has round metal feet on it!” he screamed. “If the boat moves, those feet are going to leave a mark on the table.”

She left the room sobbing.

Bernie bothered his son’s wives and partners in other ways.

He ogled Stephanie’s backside when she was pregnant, commenting on how big it was, her book recounts. Her husband, Mark, ignored the crack.

And one day, when Ruth, Andrew, Catherine and Bernie were lounging on the yacht, he complimented Catherine’s body, adding, “But she could have been heavier on top.”

Ruth and Andrew pretended not to hear.

Bernie’s infidelity fueled Ruth’s low self-esteem, and she was paralyzed by the thought of losing her looks, says Stephanie.

She underwent two face-lifts, regular injections of line fillers and Botox and was fitted with veneers for her teeth.

Terrified of putting on weight, she poured salt all over any food that might tempt her but would dig through the trash to retrieve chicken bones to gnaw on, according to Stephanie’s book.

She would also strip coleslaw of its mayo, yet stock the freezer of their Montauk home with her favorite treats, chocolate-covered bananas.

After the scandal broke, Ruth began to drink more, to the point where she’d deliberately slip into what she calls a “rose coma,” Ruth admitted in the new book.

The more she drank the meaner she got, barking commands at her housekeeper and mocking her accent, Stephanie reveals.

Ruth was subservient to Bernie. For 30 years, they regularly dined at Primola on the Upper East Side, the new book says.

Every time, they’d order the same thing (Bernie red wine and chicken, Ruth white wine and fish), leave a 20 percent tip, and be out in under an hour.

The only person who addressed wait staff was Bernie. Even when the owner would come to chat, Ruth’s eyes never left the table.

Bernie’s sons were also cowed by the Wall Street titan, who would end disagreements by reminding them, “In case you forgot, my name is on the door.”

The Ponzi schemer manipulated his sons, pitting brother against brother. At times, he’d lie, telling one the other was angry or upset and visa versa.

On one occasion, when Andrew announced he wanted to leave his father’s firm, Bernie blasted him with a guilt trip: “You can’t do this. You’re abandoning your brother.

This is unacceptable. After everything I’ve done for you!”

“In hindsight,” Andrew says, “it’s obvious that the fact that we were there provided cover. He used us as a shield ... Maybe the people at the firm who were in on it would have panicked if they’d seen us jumping ship.”

Pettiness infused his sons’ relationships with each other, too. Both competed for the affections of their father.

Andrew describes Mark in the book as a “mama’s boy” who spoke to their mom every day in college and deeply feared their dad. He bitterly complains about Mark, “ratting him out” for drinking beer and making out with girls when they were teens

He even takes potshots at his brother’s math skills, which he claims didn’t live up to his own.

“People would watch him fall apart and roll their eyes,” he says.

Another break in the brothers’ relationship came after Mark’s first suicide attempt in 2009, when Andrew callously removed his brother as trustee and legal guardian of his children.

“I cannot risk having you in charge of my kids’ future. You’ve proven yourself untrustworthy in that regard,” Andrew told him.

The Madoffs blame one another for Mark’s suicide at the age 46.

The day he died, Dec. 10, 2010, he was alone with their 2-year-old son, Nicholas, while his wife and their daughter were at Disney World.

It was the second anniversary of Bernie’s arrest, and Mark was devastated by an article in The Wall Street Journal.

But Andrew claims that just days before he died, Mark admitted to his first wife that Stephanie “is about to leave me.”

According to Andrew, Stephanie had met with a divorce lawyer and changed her last name.

For Mark, the prospect of a second divorce was unthinkable. He’d done it once before and couldn’t bear to live apart from his children again, especially without his immediate family to fall back on.”

These days, Ruth spends her night reading library novels, watching Netflix movies and living in terror of chipping a tooth “because she can’t afford to go to a dentist,” the Sandell’s book says.

And even from his North Carolina jail cell, Bernie continues to undermine his wife.

Despite Ruth’s claim that she and Bernie attempted suicide together, he denied it to writer Steve Fishman last year in a New York magazine article.

“I never thought of taking my life,” Madoff reportedly told Fishman. “It’s just not the way I am.”

Jewish Israeli woman arrested in Mumbai.

A 23 year-old Israeli woman was arrested over the weekend at the Mumbai airport after she was found in possession of two rifle cartridges.

According to reports in the Indian media, the woman was arrested before getting on a flight to Katmandu in Nepal.

The court extended her remand and she was transferred into custody for questioning. The Israeli embassy in India was given the case details.

NY - Brooklyn DA Says NY Post Story That His Office Ignores Ticket-Fixing Scandal' Is Baseless

Members of the New York City Police Department gather outside the Bronx Supreme court where fellow officers faced corruption charges, in New York, Oct. 28, 2011

Their silence is deafening.

The district attorneys in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island are turning a blind eye to potential ticket-fixing scandals in their own back yards -- despite referrals from the Bronx DA and NYPD admissions that the practice was citywide, sources told The Post.

The Internal Affairs Bureau has questioned cops about ticket-fixing in all five boroughs, the sources said, but prosecutors either deny ever getting tipped off about any cases or simply dismissed those leads.

“No one else wanted to touch it,” a Bronx law-enforcement source said.

After 16 cops were indicted on a slew of felony charges related to the Bronx ticket-fixing probe, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly admitted that the practice “did spill into all four other counties in the city.”

But none of the DAs showed much interest.

* Law-enforcement sources in Manhattan claim Bronx DA Robert Johnson hasn’t referred any cases and prosecutors aren’t investigating any ticket-fixing.

* In Queens, a source said prosecutors haven’t had any referrals and that the DA’s Office is not looking into ticket-fixing.

* On Staten Island, sources said the DA’s Office has no ongoing ticket-fix probe -- nor any plans to launch one.

* And in Brooklyn, sources insisted any cases referred there were looked into but not worth prosecuting.

“Lots of cops serve as key prosecution witnesses, so prosecutors don’t want this probe to put all their criminal cases in jeopardy,” a Democratic insider told The Post.

“But they can’t make it look like they are condoning criminal behavior. They have to walk a very fine line, and it won’t be easy.”

No prosecutor is eager for the high-profile anxiety associated with such a probe, a law-enforcement source added.

“Ticket-fixing goes to the highest ranks of the NYPD,” said the source. “Potential embarrassment stopped other DAs from doing this.”

Another source noted that “the names of people whose tickets have disappeared would be a veritable Rolodex of New York’s rich and famous. You would basically have a who’s who.”

The elected DAs also have to worry about the political fallout of declaring war on the NYPD in cop-friendly boroughs.

“They don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot,” said a law-enforcement source. “[Bronx DA] Johnson shot himself in the foot. His already-abysmal conviction rate will get even lower.”

Some of the Bronx cases extended far beyond quashing summonses, and included serious felonies such as burglaries and corruption.

In one jaw-dropping case, Bronx cops were caught on wiretap discussing how to protect a Manhattan cop buddy from a DWI charge after he drunkenly left a path of destruction while driving down a Westchester street.

“I can’t say if the investigation will go off in other directions,” Johnson said after the Friday arraignments. “I can only say that whenever we get evidence in another county, it is turned over to that county.’’

Prosecutors also fear the investigation will create credibility issues for ticket-fix officers who testify in trials and before grand juries.

It could also lead to a raft of appeals.

“A big ripple effect is the trust factor -- the value of cops’ testimony in grand juries and trial juries,” said a Staten Island source.

The Manhattan and Staten Island DA offices declined to comment. A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA said that office has had no cases related to ticket fixing. There was no immediate comment from Queens.

Hudson Valley, NY - Over 126,000 Without Power In New York From October Snow

The streets of the Village of Kiryas Joel in New York on Oct 30 2011, after a rare October snows storm blanketed the northeast

Hudson Valley, NY - More than 126,000 customers throughout New York are without power after an unusually early snowfall brought down trees and power lines.

The counties in the Hudson Valley were the hardest hit. Orange and Rockland reported more than 36,000 customers without power in Rockland County, and just under 20,000 customers in the dark in Orange County.

New York State Electric and Gas had more than 32,000 customers out in Putnam County, along with more than 11,400 in Dutchess and 5,600 in Orange.

National Grid had 6,300 customers out in Rensselaer County, and 3,800 in Albany County.

The outages were among 2.7 million along the East Coast due to the October snow.

Borough Park, NY - Blaze Leaves Elderly Man Fighting for Life

Borough Park, NY - An elderly man was in critical condition last night after a fire tore through his Borough Park apartment, fire officials said.

It wasn’t clear what sparked the flames that left the unidentified man struggling to survive at Maimonides Medical Center with second-degree burns on his upper body and in his airways.

The blaze began at around 8:25 p.m. yesterday, in a fifth-floor apartment of the six-story building at 4800 14th Ave.

Officials were still investigating the cause of the blaze late last night but said they found the apartment in a collyers mansion condition.

Hatzolah responded to the scene, there were a total of three people injured but others were not life threatening.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saudi Prince offers $900,000 to kidnap a IDF soldier.

Al-Qarni's Facebook page

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud declared Saturday he would give $900,000 to whoever abducts an Israeli soldier in order to be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

In an interview with Saudi TV, bin Talal stressed that his offer was in response to a similar offer made by a Saudi cleric who earlier this week said he would give $100,000 to anyone who would kidnap an Israeli soldier.
"Al-Qarni offered $100,000 to whoever abducts (an Israeli soldier) and I say to

him – I sympathize with you and am offering $900,000 to put the figure at $1 million," he said.

Prince Khaled is the third son of Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi King's brother.

Deputy Hamas Politburo Chief, Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk declared Friday that the Shalit deal has strengthened the movement and that Gilad Shalit was an important pawn in Hamas hands.

"The pawn has served its purpose. There is no doubt that the high number of prisoners released has strengthened the movement's position in Palestinian society as well as future trust in Hamas," Marzouk said in an interview with the London-published al-Hayat newspaper.

And though he recognized that the prisoner swap deal with Israel increased Hamas' political prestige, Abu Marzouk noted that Hamas did not abduct Shalit in order to keep him as a pawn and stressed that Shalit's kidnapping was only meant to do one thing: Lead to the release of prisoners. "From the start Hamas separated the political aspect of the issue."