Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Miami's Federal Detention Center Barely Paralegal

Strip joint: Lawyers claim Miami's Federal Detention Center' has been taken over by South American pole dancers

Stripteases, sexual favors, booze, porn mags, and fat stacks of cash would be run-of-the-mill in many Miami strip clubs. But at downtown's maximum security Federal Detention Center?

Multiple attorneys interviewed by Riptide say the FDC visitor rooms have been taken over by South American pole dancers posing as paralegals for wealthy drug lords inside. Lawyers hired by the accused narco dons allegedly list the scantily clad women as "legal assistants," and the FDC lets them in.

"They take off their tops and let the guys touch them," veteran defense attorney Hugo Rodriguez says. "Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant. There is no way of verifying it. The process is being abused."

The accusations are difficult to prove. An FDC spokeswoman declined to comment, and prison officials refused Riptide's requests for any incident reports on faux paralegals being tossed from the facility.

But attorneys swear the scam is ongoing. One "discovery room" normally used to discuss trial strategy was recently closed, they say, after guards caught an inmate and a paralegal "discovering" more than legal documents.

"Everyone knows about it," says a private investigator who asked not to be named. "We call them the 'little hoochie mamas'... They are making a mockery out of the prison system here."

Among the offenses allegedly committed by so-called paralegals: smuggling in a Playboy, feeding alcohol to an inmate by slipping a straw through a grate, and sneaking in $3,000 inside a purse. In a scene straight out of a porno, one woman was caught on video stripping for an inmate in the jail's Special Housing Unit, attorneys say. The stripper was banned from the FDC.

Female lawyers say the phony paralegals are an embarrassment. "I find it offensive," says an attorney who asked to remain anonymous. "This is still kind of a male-dominated profession. We try to be taken seriously, but these women aren't helping."

Not every lawyer is up in arms over the FDC fiasco, however. "If you want some good people-watching, try the FDC," attorney Marc Seitles says. "It certainly beats paying a cover and waiting on lines to get into LIV."

Germany - Jewish Group Applauds Arrest of Former KKK Leader David Duke

Germany - An American Jewish group is applauding German police for taking former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke into custody before he could address a far-right gathering.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said Wednesday the move “sends an important signal that firm action against those who advocate hate must remain central to Germany’s moral and legal agenda.”

Cologne police say Duke, 61, was taken into custody Friday before his speech for breaking a travel-ban to many European nations including Germany.

They say the U.S. resident was released and forced to leave the country and that they do not know where he is now.

Duke’s website called the incident “thuggish communist-style oppression to suppress the right-wing

IDF inaugurates first military mikveh

Ritual bath for women living on-base

After women living in Ovda base complain of need to travel 60 kilometers for ritual bath, army builds first mikveh in its history thanks to $100,000 donation

The Israel Defense Forces will inaugurate the first military mikveh in history on Thursday, at the southern Air Force base in Ovda.

The ceremony will be attended by the donor who transferred some $100,000 for the ritual bath's construction, as well as senior Military Rabbinate and base officers.

According to Military Rabbinate sources, the project was launched after women living on-base complained about having to travel 60 kilometers (37 miles) to Eilat every time they wish to immerse in a mikveh.

According to the officials, religious women living in other bases visit ritual baths in nearby cities and communities, but the Ovda base is isolated and far from any other community with a mikveh.

Sources in the army say the new mikveh has nothing to do with religion and army issues which have sparked several rows over the past few months, claiming that the plan was initiated over a decade ago, during the term of the former military chief rabbi, Brigadier-General (Res.) Avichai Ronsky.

Strictly kosher kitchens

Last week, the Military Rabbinate decided that most IDF kitchens would become "mehadrin" (strictly kosher) in the next few years.

Most products offered in IDF kitchens are already strictly kosher – excluding beef, which is just "kosher".

According to the Rabbinate's decision, which was published in the IDF's Bamahane newspaper, military kashrut supervisors will take the same course the Chief Rabbinate's supervisors undergo, which will allow them to define kitchens as "strictly kosher" as long as they are supervised on a daily basis and only include strictly kosher products.

Another issue which made headlines in recent months was the performance of women in the army, following the dismissal of religious cadets from an officers' course after they walked out of a military ceremony as a female soldier began singing.

As first reported by Yedioth Ahronoth, religious soldiers will likely be forced to attend official ceremonies even if they include women performers, but their presence in unofficial unit events will be subject to their commander's discretion.

Major-General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, addressed the issue in the Knesset last week, saying that "women should sing on any stage and in any every ceremony."

She stressed that "the commander is the one who determines his unit's reality and uses discretion in cases of specific sensitivity."

We are talking about a worldview of a service which will suit both sexes," she said. "We have increased the enlistment of haredim out of the same perception."

Generals against radicalization

A large group of retired generals sent a letter to the IDF chief of staff recently, expressing their concern over the religious radicalization in the army in general, and the attempt to put an end to women's performances in particular.

Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz responded in his own letter: "I share your belief in the importance of the IDF being the people's army and the importance of integrating men and women into the same units.

"However, I must stress that there is no exclusion of women in the IDF in general, and no prohibition on the singing of women. As always, IDF commanders have the supreme authority when it comes to their subordinates' conduct.

"All the people in charge of this issue in the IDF, including myself, are working to advance the issue and deal with its complications through intensive work within the military ranks rather than in newspaper headlines. We will continue to do so for the sake of the soldiers serving in the IDF."

Feds: New York Mafia and Russian mob joined to lure women as strippers

The Mafia teamed up with the Russian mob to lure Eastern European beauties to work as strippers in New York — and even arranged sham marriages for them, the feds say.

Twenty suspects, including seven reputed Gambino and Bonanno mobsters, were slated to appear in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday to face charges of extortion, visa fraud, marriage fraud and racketeering.

The schemers allegedly recruited women in Russia and neighboring countries through Facebook and newspaper ads to work at flesh palaces like Cheetah’s in Manhattan and Perfection in Queens.

Visa rules would have barred them from adult entertainment, though, so the suspects arranged bogus offers for summer waitressing jobs and then had the women apply for seasonal visas, prosecutors said.

“Some members of the organization, recruiters for the organization, would actually solicit women as they got off the plane at JFK airport with their visas in hand, ready to go off to work at summer camps or as nannies for a couple months," said Immigration aNnd Customs Enforcement Special Agent-in-Charge James Hayes.

In the most audacious part of the scheme, the mobsters sent female emissaries to upstate New York to find single men willing to marry strippers in exchange $5,000.

The sham nuptials gave some dancers legal status to stay in the U.S. and work in the clubs.

Although some of the women didn’t realize they would be giving lap dances for a living when they signed up for the visas, they were not forced to work in the clubs, officials said.

However, they did give the suspects money for housing, transportation to and from work, and an employment fee, authorities said.

“The defendants themselves had one thing in common: the desire to turn the women they allegedly helped enter this country illegally into their personal profit centers,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The indictment identifie seven of the suspects as made members or associates of the mob — including reputed Gambino captain Alphonse Trucchio and alleged Bonanno captain Anthony (Perry Como) Frascone.

Prosecutors say they controlled strip clubs in Manhattan, Queens and Long Island with iron fists, shaking down protection money from the club owners and overseeing disputes about how the women were parceled out to the clubs.

Hartford, CT - Trial Begins In Wesleyan University Jewish Student Killing

Wesleyan College Jewish student Johanna Justin-Jinich was working at a cafe inside a bookstore near the Middletown, Conn., campus May 6, 2009, when police said Stephen Morgan, 29, approached the counter, raised his gun and shot her at close range

Hartford, CT - Two and a half years after a Wesleyan University student was gunned down at an off-campus bookstore café, the man charged in her murder is going on trial before three state judges who will be hearing testimony about the defendant’s mental health problems.

The trial of Stephen Morgan, 32, from Marblehead, Mass., is scheduled to begin Wednesday in state court in Middletown, home of the small liberal arts university. He’s charged with killing 21-year-old Wesleyan junior Johanna Justin-Jinich of Timnath, Colo., on May 6, 2009.

The killing stunned and frightened the Wesleyan community over two days and caused a campus lockdown. After the shooting but before Morgan’s arrest the next day, police found journals in Morgan’s car and announced that he had written about killing Justin-Jinich, going on a shooting spree on campus and targeting Jews. Justin-Jinich’s family is Jewish, and her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.

The two apparently met in 2007 while attending a summer class at New York University. Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint with police that summer claiming she was getting unwanted phone calls and insulting emails from Morgan, but she didn’t pursue criminal charges.

Morgan chose the three-judge panel over a jury for his trial, and his lawyer is pursuing an insanity defense. If convicted of murder, he could face up to 60 years in prison or be committed to a high-security state psychiatric hospital, depending on the judges’ ruling on the insanity claim. He was also charged with two other felonies — intimidation due to bias and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Prosecutors have indicated that their first witnesses will include students, employees of the café where Justin-Jinich was working when she was killed and police officers. Both the prosecution and defense are expected to put psychiatrists on the witness stand to testify about Morgan’s mental health.

On Tuesday, Judge Susan Handy, who will lead the panel, decided to allow one television camera and one newspaper camera in the courtroom. Both the prosecution and defense opposed the media’s camera requests.

The case is being tried by prosecutor Timothy Liston and defense lawyer Richard Brown. Judges Julia Aurigemma and James Bentivegna will join Handy on the bench, Brown said.

“I think both sides are ready and the court’s anxious to get this case ... in the rearview mirror,” Brown said Tuesday.

Liston didn’t return a message Tuesday. Justin-Jinich’s mother, Ingrid Justin, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

Justin-Jinich was working at The Red and Black Café inside Broad Street Books when Morgan allegedly walked in wearing a wig and shot her several times. An arrest warrant affidavit says a police officer questioned Morgan outside the bookstore shortly after the shooting but let him go. Morgan surrendered the next night about 10 miles away in Meriden.

In a journal entry before the killing, Morgan wrote, “I think it okay to kill Jews and go on a killing spree at this school,” police said.

Police also said they found an infamous anti-Semitic book, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” in Morgan’s hotel room.

The announcement of Morgan’s writings prompted Wesleyan officials to lock buildings on campus, tell students to stay indoors and tell staff members to stay home. A synagogue across the street from the bookstore closed its doors temporarily, and congregants considered canceling Sabbath services.

Montreal - Fight to Close Munkatch Synagogue Has City Accused of Persecution

MONTREAL — The City of Montreal was in court this week to shut a 30-year-old Hasidic synagogue in the central-Montreal borough of Outremont because it's operating in a residential zone — a move that is fomenting divisions between Jews and non-Jews in the area.

Members of Congregation Munchas Elozer Munkas say they have never had problems with their neighbours until recently and wonder why the city is suddenly taking legal action to shut them down.

"I've been praying there for 18 years and no one's ever complained," said Meyer Pollak, a father of five, originally from New York.

He said the small congregation, comprised of about 35 families, has several elderly and handicapped members who appreciate the synagogue's ground-level entrance.

The first of three days of hearings in Quebec Superior Court no sooner got under way Monday than the case was postponed to next spring after the lawyer representing the congregation raised the question of freedom of religion.

"The application of the bylaw prevents someone from practising his religion," said Marvin Segal. "It affects certain people, a certain group."

But the city says it has nothing to do with rights and freedoms, but boils down rather to a simple case of applying a bylaw that doesn't allow a commercial or religious building at that address.

Lawyers representing the city said they were ready to proceed but were taken aback by the portion of Segal's defence that raised Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues.

"That was never considered or discussed prior to the start of the judicial process that resurfaced in 2009," city spokesman Gonzalo Nunez said in a statement.

The legal action began with a resolution passed by Outremont borough council in October 2008 to have the synagogue shut down.

The congregation says a few residents — not all of whom live in Outremont — are stirring the pot.

It's not the first time there have been tensions between Jews and non-Jews in the Mile End and Outremont.

In June, some residents from those neighbourhoods rejected in a referendum the planned expansion of Gate David, a small Hasidic synagogue.

In this most recent squabble, Pinchos Freund was fined in 1982 for having transformed his building from residential, to a place of prayer, according to the motion filed in court in 2009 by the city. Freund won on appeal in 1983.

The following year, Congregation Munchas Elozer Munkas acquired the building from Freund.

The next date mentioned in the city's motion is 2002 — almost 30 years later — when an inspector noticed that a sign had been erected on the front of the building, and a study and prayer room had been built in the basement.

In 2008 and again in 2009, city officials concluded the building was being used for religious activities.

The motion says the city has received numerous complaints since 2002 about the congregation's activities.

Jewish Businesses Vandalized in Highland Park, N.J.

Damaged window, Jack's Hardware (Jewish-owned store), Nov. 30, 2011 — at Highland Park, New Jersey. Photo: Mason Resnick

Highland Park, NJ - Highland Park’s Jewish residents are both nervous and angry after waking up this morning to discover broken windows at five Jewish owned businesses in the area, including two eateries and two Judaica stores, which had been vandalized sometime last night.

The five businesses, Park Place, Trio Gifts, Judaica Gallery, Jerusalem Pizza and Jack’s Hardware and Plumbing are all located on a one-third of a mile stretch of Raritan Avenue, Highland Park’s shopping district.

One of the two big storefront windows was completely shattered at Trio Gifts. Owner Avi Reiss told the News that he was notified of the damage by police at 1:30 AM and described Highland Park as “a quiet town.”

Paul Goldman, owner of Park Place, said that while the physical damages to his restaurant were minimal, the ramifications were far more disturbing.

“They threw a cinderblock through a window and damaged a small part of the window and a portion of the floor,” said Goldman. “The damage itself is not really that significant, but the intent is much more so and a serious cause for concern.”

Police are actively investigating the matter which has been forwarded to the county prosecutor according to Highland Park mayor Stephen Nolan.

“Vandalism itself is highly unusual in this area and I personally cannot remember any expressions of anti-Semitism in Highland Park,” Mayor Nolan told the News. “We are a very diverse community here but I can assure you that if any bias crimes were to be committed in the borough, they would be dealt with very severely.

The cost of the damage was not immediately available.

Police distributed fliers to the community today advising residents to remain calm and assured them that an intensive investigation has been launched.

If you have any information about this incident you can contact the Highland Park Police Department at 732-572-3800.

The vandalism follows a string of swastika paintings in Brooklyn and Queens and the arson of several vehicles in Brooklyn accompanied by anti-Semitic graffiti.

Israeli Ambassador: Anti-Jewish 'Sickness' in British Press

Israel Ambassador to Britain Daniel Taub

Ambassador Daniel Taub decries anti-Semitism and "a sign of a great sickness inside British journalism

Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub, condemned on Sunday what he called an anti-Semitic "sickness" inside some parts of the British media.

"When a leading newspaper publishes anti-Semitic words, such as we heard on the release of Gilad Shalit alleging that this deal shows that Zionists values the lives of the 'chosen' more than it values the lives of anyone else – as if we wouldn't have begged to reduce the number of terrorists that should have been released – yes, that's insulting to Israel, but more than that, it's a sign of a great sickness inside media and inside British journalism," he said.

His speech was delivered to the Big Tent Israel advocacy conference in Manchester, and reported by the Jewish Chronicle.

Taub advised people who doubt that there is a delegitimization campaign against Israel: "Don't listen to Israel's enemies, but listen to its friends or at least those people who call themselves its friends.

"I can't count the number of times I've heard somebody say, 'I'm a friend of Israel and I support its right to exist'.

And I wonder, can you image anyone saying that in relation to any other country? 'I support Australia's right to exist' or 'Guatemala's right to exist' - as though that somehow makes me a friend of Guatemala. In relation to what other country does a discussion or policy descend into a question mark over the very existence of that state?

Speaking to a 700-strong audience in Manchester, the ambassador said that anti-Israel campaigns that delegitimize Israel opened a "new front for Israel" in the UK and were "a serious problem for those institutions and organizations which allow it to fester."

Mea She'arim - Bookstore Accedes to Charedi Vandalist Demands

Security camera footage of a Sicarii member wearing a hood shattering the front door of Manny's/Ohr HaChaim Bookstore earlier this year

Manny’s suffered NIS 250,000 in property damage after refusing to adhere to ‘modesty standards.

After 20 months of attacks and a quarter million shekels in damage, a religious bookstore in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem decided on Monday to accede to the demands of extremists responsible for the violence.

Under the terms of the compromise, Ohr Hachaim/Manny’s put up a large sign requesting that all customers dress modestly. A mashgiach, who checks the store’s inventory to make sure there are no controversial books, will go over the books in the coming week and require that some books be removed from the shelves, though they will not be permitted to remove any English books, said Marlene Samuels, one of the store’s managers.

A haredi group called Sikrikim deemed the store as “promoting immodesty,” and since Manny’s opened in March 2010, the group has smashed its windows more than a dozen times, glued its locks shut, thrown tar and fish oil at the store and dumped bags of human excrement inside. The owners were also personally threatened multiple times.

At the end of September, police arrested one of the central figures responsible for the attacks. Since the arrest, and with the construction of steel shutters to protect the store at night, violence against the store has decreased. However, a large demonstration outside the store on Sunday night convinced the owners of the bookstore to meet with the Sikrikim to come to a compromise.

“Even though it looks like things have quieted down there were still problems looming,” said Samuels. “The truth is it’s very hard to get the better of these people… you can never beat them.”

Samuels said the damage caused by the attacks, including hiring security guards to watch the store, has cost more than NIS 250,000 over the past year-and-a-half.

The store is popular with Anglo residents and tourists and carries many English-language holy books and Judaica items in addition to Hebrew books. The harassment stems from the bookstore’s past refusal to accept demands made by the neighborhood extremist group, which would require all businesses to observe specific “modesty standards.”

The Sikrikim, a small, violent group that numbers less than 100 families, had previously demanded that all English books be removed because the store attracted many tourists who were not properly dressed. They also condemned the store for carrying Zionist books and demanded the store shut down its website to avoid attracting foreigners.

Other store owners in the area have called the Sikrikim the “Mea She’arim mafia,” and said it was pointless to try to beat them. Almost all of the stores in the area have the same sign requiring customers to wear modest dress, and other bookstores said they allow Sikrikim mashgiachs to check their inventory to remove “non-kosher” books.

Manny’s provoked the ire of the Sikrikim by refusing to acquiesce until this week.

“In the beginning, the owners thought it would stop, that it was temporary, but it didn’t stop, it got worse and worse,” said Samuels. In September, after multiple complaints to the police, the bookstore appealed to the media, including The Jerusalem Post. Samuels said pressure from the media spurred the police to arrest one of the central figures responsible, which frightened the extremist group.

“[When] the police started to make arrests and became more active, it quieted them down, but it didn’t stop them, and it’s never going to end 100 percent,” said Samuels.

However, the arrest and police pressure gave them “bargaining power,” said Samuels, frightening the group into accepting a compromise rather than the extremists dictating the terms.

“It’s such a losing battle… So much money was lost in the damages, they realized they needed to come to a compromise,” she said of the owners. “It’s not going to be that terrible,” she added.

“They might continue demonstrations, but the demonstrations will be mild.”

The name “Sikrikim” comes from the Latin “Sicarii,” a term applied – in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE – to an extremist splinter group of the Zealots who tried to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea using concealed daggers.

Among graves, Dutch teens build bridges

Dutch Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Lody van de Kamp looks at a grave during the restoration of the old Jewish cemetery of 'Zeeburg' in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM - On a chilly Sunday morning, a group of Dutch teenagers gather in an overgrown patch of land in east Amsterdam to work on a unique project: cleaning up a 300-year-old graveyard.

But the volunteers involved in restoring the Zeeburg Jewish cemetery are more than just beautifying: drawn from the city's Jewish and Moroccan Muslim residents, they are building bridges between two divided communities.

"Come on guys, lets get going!" volunteer Alfie de Vries, 13, urges his friends Jonas Poolman and Max Zegerius as they grab garden rakes and a spade to join some 30 other teenagers hacking away in a nearby clearing.

With help from Ahmed Bularoez, 21, they pull down branches and clean up strands of dead grass to reveal a grey stone slab with an inscription in Hebrew and the Star of David on it.

"Another tombstone," one teenager excitedly points out as dirt and leaves are wiped away before being carted off in a wheelbarrow. De Vries, Poolman, Zegerius and Bularoez lean on their garden tools, grinning broadly.

De Vries, Poolman and Zegerius are Jewish. Bularoez, the son of Moroccan migrant labourers who came to the Netherlands in the 1970s, is Muslim.

"The idea to get Jewish and Muslim teenagers working side-by-side to clean the old cemetery was sparked last year after we filmed incidents of anti-Semitism on a hidden camera and broadcast it," one of the project's organisers, Rabbi Lody van de Kamp tells AFP.

Shown on Dutch television, Moroccan youngsters are seen baiting two Jewish teenagers wearing skullcaps, as they walk around a Moroccan neighbourhood in Amsterdam, while in another clip, the boys are flashed a Hitler salute.

The broadcast sent out shockwaves which reverberated all the way to the lower house of the Dutch parliament.

It was mooted as a sign of growing anti-Semitism in the Netherlands and an MP, himself of Moroccan parentage, even suggested police don kippas and walk the streets as "decoy Jews" to catch offenders in the act.

But the images also touched a raw nerve within the Moroccan community, whose members also complain of being singled out.

"You know, when you do something good, you're called a Dutchman of Moroccan descent, when you do something bad, you're just a Moroccan," said Bularoez.

Said Bensellam, a key figure among Amsterdam's Moroccans, says he decided to contact Van de Kamp shortly after the programme aired -- and so the idea of a combined project to clean up the Zeeburg cemetery was born.

"We want to show solidarity with the Jewish community," he says.

Jewish teenager Jonas Poolman says "together we can achieve a lot. Besides, we really like these guys."

Around him, teenagers mix and laugh together, all wearing the same blue overalls. The only real difference, some of the youngsters are wearing kippas.

Says Bularoez: "This is a fantastic project with a lot of history here."

Opened in 1714, the Zeeburg Jewish cemetery is spread over two acres (0.8 hectares) and with thousands of graves, it's one of Amsterdam's oldest Jewish graveyards.

It's also one of the largest in western Europe, according to Van de Kamp.

It was well maintained until 1944, when most of the city's Jews including its most famous wartime figure, Anne Frank, and her family were carted off to Nazi death camps like Auschwitz, Sobibor and Bergen-Belsen.

"They did not come back so there was no-one to tend to the graves," says Van de Kamp.

Its existence was rediscovered about two years ago, when police arrested two youngsters playing a paintball game among the gravestones, which borders Zeeburg's multi-ethnic Indies Neighbourhood.

Now, the plan is to clear a part of the cemetery and restore it to its former glory. For five Sundays, the teenagers will lead the way.

"In a sense, it's the dead from the past showing the living of today the way of the future," says Van de Kamp.

Barbra Streisand to sing for Israeli soldiers

Barbra Streisand is to entertain Israeli soldiers for an evening next week.

The globally celebrated star will perform at a gala dinner organised by friends of the IDF in Los Angeles on December 8.

Among the more than 1,000 guests will be the former IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander.

Although Ms Streisand, 69, is known for her support of Israeli and Jewish causes.

In 2008 she pulled out of a Jerusalem concert celebrating Israel's 60th birthday where she was due to sing the Avinu Malkeinu prayer, citing personal reasons, although there was speculation that it was because President George W Bush was on the guest list.

Oy vey! Jewish group's boss told Marshall Garvin where to pray, lawsuit says

Marshall Garvin was fired by Na'amat USA and is suing Jewish women's group for religious discrimination

A 65-YEAR-OLD “ mensch ” who worked for a major Jewish women’s group says his supervisor harassed him for leaving work to pray when his mom died — and fired him when he kvetched to the boss.

Marshall Garvin, a religious Jew from Riverdale, the Bronx, says he was canned an hour after he complained to Na’amat USA President Elizabeth Raider about supervisor Susan Schwartz.

He filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the organization and Schwartz in the Bronx Tuesday, saying she “dictated” to him which nearby synagogues he could attend to say Kaddish — the traditional mourner’s prayer.

“No person of any religion should have to go through this,” Garvin told the Daily News. “It’s unconscionable for a religious Jewish woman to behave this way.”

Garvin said his religious duties required him to pray three times a day after his mother, Clara, died of cancer in January.

But instead of showing compassion, Schwartz phoned several local synagogues and told Garvin which ones he could attend, the suit alleges.

She harassed him for daily reports on his whereabouts, kept him from attending at least 15 services and had him fired in March, Garvin claims.

Na’amat, a social service organization that helps women in need, denies any discrimination.

“This gentleman was laid off in a reduction of force,” said Robert Schanzer, a lawyer for Na’amat.

Garvin, who worked as a mailman for more than 30 years, won two prior settlements for religious discrimination lawsuits against the U.S. Postal Service, records show.

“He’s a mensch , and he fights discrimination wherever he sees it,”said one of Garvin’s old post office colleagues.

Gary Giordano is released from Aruba jail

Freed: Gary Giordano, right, is pictured with attorney Jose Baez, left, after release from Correctional Institute of Aruba in Santo di Patia,

Missing: Ms Gardner is said to have met Giordano on a swingers' website and they travelled together to Aruba on July 31

Gary Giordano, a Gaithersburg man detained in Aruba since August, was released from jail late Tuesday, the AP said, as authorities there continued to pursue charges against him in connection with the disappearance of his traveling partner, Robyn Gardner.

“As of today, when he’s released, he is a free man,” Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said earlier Tuesday.

Giordano made no statements as he drove off in an SUV with his lawyers, the AP said, though one of his attorneys said he was happy, but “very uneasy.” Many expected him to leave the Caribbean island, but his immediate plans were not known, the news agency said.

Stein said he will go to court Wednesday to appeal a judge’s decision to release Giordano. He said he will also try to obtain a warrant for Giordano’s arrest. But the solicitor general acknowledged that by then, Giordano may have returned to Maryland.

Gardner’s family expressed frustration Tuesday.

“Needless to say, our family is very disappointed that even after all this time, we are no closer to finding out what happened to our Robyn,” her cousin Kelly Reed said in a statement. “We trust that the FBI and the Aruban authorities will continue their fervent efforts to investigate her disappearance.”

Giordano’s attorneys have said there is no evidence linking him to a crime.

Giordano, 50, was detained Aug. 5, three days after he told authorities that Gardner, a 35-year-old Frederick County woman, disappeared while they were snorkeling. Her body has not been found despite the efforts of scuba divers, underwater robots, helicopters and land searches, Stein said.

Authorities have said that Giordano was in a position to collect on a $1.5 million travel insurance policy on Gardner and that there were discrepancies in his story.

Stein said Giordano told authorities that the water suddenly turned rough while they were snorkeling and that he feared for his life. Stein said authorities confronted Giordano with their belief that the sea was calm that day.

“He has yet to come up with a different or better story,” Stein said.

Man smoking pot at College of Staten Island dies after confrontation with NYPD cop

A photograph taken Tuesday of police subduing a person at the College of Staten Island campus

A College of Staten Island employee who was smoking pot on the campus died of a heart attack Tuesday after wrestling with a cop trying to arrest him, police said.

The unidentified suspect was smoking marijuana inside a bathroom shortly after 12 p.m., when an NYPD officer caught a whiff of the smoke and confronted him, police said.

The man — an off-duty member of the school’s auxiliary service — darted out of the restroom and the cop chased him to a nearby parking lot, where a struggle ensued, police said.

As the pair wrestled, the suspect tried to swipe a gun from the officer’s holster, a police source said. During the struggle, the pistol’s slide pulled back and a bullet popped out of the chamber, the source said.

Two civilians joined in the fracas and helped to subdue the man, sources said. After the suspect was handcuffed, he suddenly went into cardiac arrest and was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he died, police said.

Cops said the gun involved in the struggle never discharged. The officer was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

New York - Police: Serial Killer Responsible For 10 Deaths In Long Island

A member of the Suffolk County police search team looks through a brush area for remains of bodies slain by a possible serial killer near the beach area of Oak Beach, New York, April 7, 2011.

NEW YORK - Suffolk County Police say that instead of multiple killers, they believe the Gilgo Beach murders are the work of one serial killer.

"The theory is now that we're dealing with one serial killer," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said.

Nearly a year to the day since the first gruesome discovery along the Ocean Parkway, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer tells Eyewitness News the theories of the complicated case have changed.

Namely, that the 10 bodies dumped there, from 1996 to 2010, were all the victims of just one person.

"Serial killers evolve. They change their MO's. They don't necessarily do the same thing all the time. What's common here is the dumping ground, and the people who are victims. Sex workers," Dormer said.

All but one of them, are believed to be prostitutes, dumped in a variety of ways over the past 15 years.

The first four to be found were the last to be killed, uncovered last December on this windswept stretch of sand, all of them, had advertised as escorts on Craigslist before they vanished.

And all, reportedly wrapped in burlap before they were dumped on the side of the road.

The spring thaw yielded six more bodies, some of them dismembered more than a decade ago.

Investigators thought they might have uncovered the work of separate killers.

But now, Dormer says that theory has changed.

"Our theory is the serial killer is working alone. The girls that he contacted with met him alone," Dormer said.

Which brings us to the other development, involving another Craigslist escort named Shannan Gilbert.

It was the search for Gilbert that yielded these discoveries in the first place.

She'd disappeared the previous May after meeting a client in nearby Oak Beach.

But they never matched her against any of the remains.

And now, they think her case is completely unrelated to the other ten.

"Our theory is that this is a coincidence. She went missing in Oak Beach. And this has nothing to do with the serial killer," Dormer said.

For starters, Gilbert had a driver take her to her client's house, the other girls came alone.

Gilbert was seen running away into the reeds.

The other girls never got away.

And if Gilbert was murdered and dumped, police say her body just isn't here.

Police say that's also inconsistent with the rituals of this killer.

So what happened to Shannan Gilbert?

Authorities admit that they have no idea.

"That's a mystery. It certainly is we have 10 bodies now. 10 bodies and no Shannan Gilbert. And it's a mystery," Dormer said.

U.S. Marshals Arrest Fugitive New Jersey Father in California

Arthur Morgan III captured in San Diego, California

Members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force arrested Arthur Morgan III in San Diego on Tuesday.

Morgan was wanted in New Jersey in connection with the death of his 2-year-old daughter, whose body was found still strapped in her car seat in a creek in Shark River Park in Monmouth County.

Police believe Morgan threw Tierra Morgan-Glover from a bridge while he had her during a court-approved visit on November 21.

New Jersey authorities told U.S. Marshals in San Diego that Morgan might be staying with friends in that area.

Tierra was buried Monday.

U.S. Marshals Arrest Fugitive New Jersey Father in California:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brooklyn, NY - Tire-Slashing Spree Leaves Bay Ridge Drivers Stranded

Police are investigating after the tires of at least 25 cars were slashed in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn overnight.

Most of the vehicles were parked along 71st and 72nd Streets, between Third Ave and Ridge Boulevard.

Police say a few calls were made to 911 about possible criminal mischief in the area and they are encouraging others to come forward if their cars were vandalized.

Residents said they had never seen anything like it before in the neighborhood.

"I had a couple of neighbors that actually heard air coming out from the tires. They would hear a popping noise and it continued down the block," said one local. "I think by the time anybody really came out and saw it the person was gone already."

"I've seen broken glass occasionally on cars, a tire or two, but not the whole block," said another.

Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit

Daily News Delivery Truck Crashes Into Delancey Street Diner

A newspaper delivery truck slammed into a diner at a busy Lower East Side intersection early Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Two people inside the New York Daily News truck were injured in the crash shortly before 1:30 a.m. at the Olympic Restaurant at the corner of Delancey and Essex streets, the FDNY said.

They were taken to Bellevue Hospital with unknown injuries, fire officials added.

The diner’s owner said he got a call about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday alerting him to the smash-up, which caved in the restaurant’s roll-down security gate and caused extensive damage inside.

He said police told him the vehicle veered off Delancey Street while heading eastbound toward the Williamsburg Bridge before crashing into the small corner eatery’s Essex Street side.

“Thank God no one got hurt,” said Olympic’s owner, Charlie, who declined to provide his last name. “We don’t open till 5 in the morning.”

He estimated the broken glass alone will cost about $4,000 to $5,000 to repair, but noted his insurance provider had not yet given him an estimate of the damage.

Nonetheless, the incident didn’t keep patrons from stopping in to pick up their breakfast on Tuesday morning.

They were all like me,” Charlie said of the customers who came into the restaurant Tuesday morning. “Surprised.

The intersection of Delancey and Essex streets — where a pedestrian was struck and killed by a truck in May — has been called a "death trap" by advocates pressing for more safety measures at the high-traffic corner.

New York - Child Poverty on Rise, Kiryas Joel One of the Poorest in America

New York - The percentage of school-age children living in poverty has grown in Orange and Ulster counties and leaped ahead in Sullivan County since the recession took hold, according to figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The numbers, broken down by counties and school districts nationwide, show a wide disparity in poverty among children ages 5 to 17 within the three local counties, ranging from a low of 4.4 percent in Tuxedo School District to nearly 52 percent in Kiryas Joel.

Out of 34 school districts in the three counties, seven of the 10 poorest were in Sullivan County. At least one in five school-age children in each of those districts was living below the poverty line, with numbers as high as 31.5 percent in Monticello, 25.8 percent in Fallsburg and 23.5 percent in Liberty.

The recession clearly worsened Sullivan's longstanding economic troubles. In 2007, 18.5 percent of children ages 5 to 17 in the county were considered poor; by 2010, the number had grown to 25.4 percent — about one in every four kids.

One of Sullivan's poorest districts, Monticello, now serves free or reduced-price lunches to 61 percent of its students — up from 51 percent only a year earlier.

"For some students, it's the only warm meal that they may have that day," said Daniel Teplesky, who took over as Monticello superintendent in August.

"There is a need in our area, and we address it each and every day," Teplesky said.

The federal poverty threshold varies by household size. In 2010, for example, a couple with two children was considered poor if their gross income, including unemployment payments but excluding food stamps and housing subsidies, was $22,113 or less.

Despite the concentration of poverty in Sullivan, the two school districts with the highest percentages of poor children — Kiryas Joel in Orange County and Ellenville in Ulster — were outside its borders.

Kiryas Joel, ranked as one of the poorest places in America, is a fast-growing community of about 21,000 Hasidic Jews, who prize religious study over secular education and tend to have low incomes as a result. Many families are large — with six or more children — and rely on Medicaid, food stamps and other government programs.

Across the region, median household incomes have risen 20 percent or more since the 2000 census, reaching $65,512 in Orange County, $43,882 in Sullivan County and $51,194 in Ulster County in 2010, according to the new data.

While that advance appears to run counter to the growing child poverty rates, earnings have stagnated or dropped since 2007, when the median household incomes were $64,799 in Orange, $45,555 in Sullivan and $55,589 in Ulster.

Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. busted on bribery charges

State Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. is accused of soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes from undercover federal agents in exchange for his influence in securing state funding

A Brooklyn state assemblyman who just beat a corruption rap was busted Tuesday on new charges of soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents, authorities said.

William Boyland Jr. sought bribes from undercovers who posed as associates of a carnival operator seeking locations in his Brownsville-Bedford Stuyvesant district and a real estate investor looking to break into the Brooklyn market, a newly unsealed federal complaint says.

The timing of the alleged shakedown makes Boyland’s actions more brazen. The complaint says he and a member of his staff asked an undercover agent for $7,000 in March — shortly after Manhattan federal prosecutors charged him with soliciting bribes from a health care organization.

Boyland told the undercover that he needed money "to solidify some attorneys."

In a meeting secretly recorded in the assemblyman's office on March 25, the undercover agent passed the cash to Boyland in exchange for state funding to finance development projects, the complaint says.

Boyland said his support was a "no brainer" and gave the undercover agent the thumb's up sign.

Last April Boyland allegedly solicited a $250,000 bribe from the undercover agents in which they would purchase a former hospital in his district and obtain state funding to renovate the site, then re-sell it to a non-profit that Boyland claimed he controlled.

"I got a middle guy by the way. ... I gotta stay clean ... I got a bag man," Boyland told them, according to the complaint.

Boyland was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn Federal Court.

"The extent of the charged corruption is staggering," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. "The defendant had a strong political legacy, the trust of his community, and the privilege of serving it.

"Not content with these many benefits, the defendant is alleged to have auctioned the power of his seat in the Assembly to the highest bidder for his own personal gain and the potential detriment of the voters who elected him to office."

Earlier this month Boyland was acquitted of peddling his influence over a non-profit running hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn in exchange for $175,000 in bribes.

Jerusalem - NY Doctor Slams Yad Vashem For Failing To Accurately Memorialize Charedim From WWII Era

A Charedi couple walks around the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem

Jerusalem - Yad Vashem just doesn’t get it. After my fourth visit to the New Wing at the Holocaust memorial since it opened in ’05, I am convinced that the administration simply does not understand why we Haredim are so upset with the museum. Despite all the negative coverage Yad Vashem has received in Haredi publications in Israel and the Diaspora, they still don’t get it.

Basically, there are three things that bother us about the New Wing. Firstly, we are severely underrepresented among the videotaped testimonies of survivors displayed throughout the exhibit. Some 50 to 60 monitors continuously play eyewitness accounts of the Shoah. But only one portrays a Haredi survivor. The percentage of Orthodox survivors is certainly open to debate, but even Yad Vashem would concede that Haredim represented far more than two percent of the total number of survivors.

Secondly, the presentation of the few Haredi personalities that are included in the New Wing is grossly distorted. Rabbi Michoel Dov Weissmandl and his heroic Working Group are a prime illustration. The following text appears alongside Rabbi Weissmandl’s photo in the museum: “In the course of negotiations over the summer of 1942, the Group paid ransom money to Dieter Wisliceny, Eichman’s delegate in Slovakia. For various considerations, the deportations were halted in the autumn of 1942 but the Working Group believed this was a result of their bribes, and encouraged them further.”

This wording makes it appear as if the Working Group’s bribes had no bearing on the cessation of deportations in ’42 and the Working Group was duped by the Nazis. This is historically inaccurate and insulting to Haredim who revere and respect the rescue efforts of Rabbi Weissmandl and other Orthodox rabbinic leaders.

Finally, the entire issue of spiritual heroism during the Shoah is relegated to mere footnote status. The vast numbers of examples of Jews in the ghettos and concentration camps who risked their lives to study Torah and observe the mitzvot are almost completely ignored. No, not all martyrs were Orthodox, but many were. They should certainly be memorialized in the way they would want to be remembered. To do otherwise is nothing less than a slap in the face to their descendants and their community.

TO ANSWER some of the commmon questions I’ve been asked, perhaps it is appropriate to interview myself.

What is your ulterior motive in writing this article?

My purpose is to articulate the feelings of Haredim in order to prod Yad Vashem to set the record straight in the New Wing of their museum.

If you are so interested in having the Orthodox point of view presented, why don’t you set up your own museum under Orthodox auspices?

Haredi Jewry’s frustration with Yad Vashem has already spawned several initiatives to do just that, both in Israel and the Diaspora. The millions of tourists who come to Yad Vashem each year, however, are unlikely to visit those Orthodox museums. Distortions at Yad Vashem, therefore, must be corrected for them.

If you really want Yad Vashem to understand your complaints, why don’t you meet with them in person?

I did. At their request, the meeting was “off the record,” and subsequent requests for follow-up meetings with Yad Vashem representatives have been denied (in writing). The public arena, therefore, is the only forum available to me now.

What was the response of the Yad Vashem officials with whom you met? And have any changes been made to the museum since it opened?

Initially, I was told that everything was still too new. They said they would re-evaluate all aspects of the museum and make changes. During the past six years, perhaps in response to articles such as this one, minor changes have been made. Instead of zero videotaped testimonies by Haredi survivors, for example, now there is one. But much more needs to be done and at a much quicker pace before Haredi authors will change from adversaries to advocates of Yad Vashem.

Have Yad Vashem representatives responded to the negative critiques that have appeared in the Haredi press?

In some cases, the periodical editors were castigated for publishing articles which were critical of Yad Vashem. At other times, the Yad Vashem spokespersons attempted to obfuscate the issues. They cited, for example, the online services available to the Haredi community. They pointed to the special Orthodox division of their tour guide training school. And they emphasized how many Orthodox students make use of Yad Vashem archives for research purposes. Occasionally, they resorted to casting personal aspersions on the writers of the unflattering reviews.

The substantive objections to the museum cited above, however, were simply not addressed in their responses.

What do you hope to accomplish by writing in The Jerusalem Post?

I hope to impress upon Yad Vashem that the negative sentiments among Haredim toward Yad Vashem are not fleeting, fickle or fringe. Moreover, they are provoked by omissions and misrepresentations which can and must be corrected now to truly honor the memory of the victims and survivors of the Shoah. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to all future generations.

Dr. Meir Wikler is a psychotherapist and family counselor in private practice in Brooklyn, New York. He is also the author of, Partners With Hashem: Effective Guidelines for Successful Parenting (Artscroll/Mesorah, 2000).

AGAIN – Miracle In BP: Hatzolah Finds 2-Year-Old Child Wandering Streets At 4AM

The story is almost exactly identical to the previous incident which occurred on Motzei Yom Kippur. In that story a 2-year-old child was found wandering the streets by a Shomrim Volunteer. This time a child was found by a Hatzolah Volunteer at 3:30AM, early Tuesday morning.

Sources tell, that Boro Park Hatzolah has a vehicle staffed by two volunteers which drive the streets of Boro park during the night, and respond as a first response to any call – thus enabling Hatzolah to maintain their 2 minute response time.

The Hatzolah vehicle, known at “Truck 1″, was driving on 53rd Street and New Utrecht Avenue just after 3:30AM, when they noticed a 2-year-old child in pajamas walking down the street. They quickly stopped and held the child, and contacted Boro Park Shomrim and police to see if anyone reported a child missing. There wasn’t any such calls.

Shomrim quickly did what they had done in the previous incident, and had volunteers start knocking on doors to see if anyone was missing a child.

Man and woman charged in B'klyn 'sex kidnap' ordeal

A man and woman have been charged with kidnapping a woman in Brooklyn yesterday and allegedly trying to force her into prostitution, police sources said.

Steven Benoit, 25, and Jasmine Wilkins, 19, are accused of abducting the 28-year-old victim around 2 a.m. Monday as she was walking home on an undisclosed street in Brooklyn.

Benoit allegedly dragged the victim into his vehicle and then he and Wilkins drove her around for the next five to six hours to various locations, where Benoit attempted to force the woman to enter homes and perform sex acts on other men.

The victim repeatedly refused and was subsequently beaten, sources said.

She eventually escaped her kidnappers’ clutches and ran into a post office to seek help.

Postal police brought the woman to the 81st Precinct stationhouse in Bed-Stuy and detectives began to investigate her claims, sources continued.

Detectives eventually tracked Benoit and Wilkins to the Imperial Hotel on East New York Avenue, sources added.

At around 11 a.m. yesterday, they apprehended the duo three blocks away as they drove onto the on-ramp of the Jackie Robinson Expressway, near Pennsylvania Avenue, in Bushwick, sources said.

Benoit is charged with kidnapping, robbery, assault, criminal obstruction of breathing and menacing.

Wilkins has been hit with charges of kidnapping and robbery.

Cain Plans "Assessment" of Campaign

Standing by her man: Gloria Cain has been consistent in her support for her husband

*Fomer business partner of Ginger White filed defamation suit against her in June

*Ms White has been evicted numerous times, including this month

*She says her affair with Herman Cain ended only eight months ago

*Mr Cain pre-emptively denied her allegations before story fully emerged

*Ms White says she was whisked across the country to meet Mr Cain at his speaking engagements for their trysts

In the wake of another woman's allegation of inappropriate behavior, Herman Cain told key campaign officials and volunteers that he will be conducting an "assessment" of the state of his presidential candidacy.

Cain made the comments during a closed conference call Tuesday morning.

This comes less than 24 hours since Cain and senior aides insisted that he will not drop out of the race. It is unclear what the "assessment" will look in to, when it will begin, or how it will be conducted.

The assessment is clearly a reaction to comments, released Monday, by a woman who claimed she had a 13-year extramarital affair with Cain.

Ginger White made the claims in an interview with the Fox News affiliate in Atlanta.

"It was pretty simple," White told WAGA. "It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship."

In response to the news, Cain Iowa campaign chief Steve Grubbs issued an email to supporters Tuesday saying that during a conference call earlier in the day, Cain repeated that he had tried to help White "with her problems and tried to get her on her feet financially." He also said he was "moving ahead with the campaign" despite the emotional toll it was taking on his family.

Grubbs added that the campaign's assessment is no different than ones made after the Iowa Straw poll and the Florida straw polls.

In an attempt to reassure backers, Grubbs said that 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain and former President Bill Clinton both weathered similar accusations.

Grubbs said that The New York Times also learned that White is an unemployed single mother who had previously filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001 that was settled out of court, had filed for bankruptcy and faced multiple eviction threats.

"I believe in Herman Cain and his ideas. We need to get back on message and make it to the Iowa caucuses. My request is that you don't let anyone pick your candidate based on these allegations. We have a strong Iowa ground game and we are looking forward to making it to January 3rd with a strong team intact," he wrote.

White told the network that she and Cain met in the late 1990s when Cain, as president of the National Restaurant Association, was making a presentation in Louisville, Ky. He later would fly her to cities where he was speaking and give her gifts, she told the TV station.

"He made it very intriguing. It was fun," White said. "It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time, and it was exciting."

Cain never harassed her or treated her poorly, and their physical relationship ended eight months ago, just before Cain announced his candidacy for president, White said. She provided some text messages and phone bills as documentation of her contact with Cain, including as recently as September.

Cain's attorney, Lin Wood, issued a statement after the news broke that said the allegations are of "private, alleged consensual conduct between adults" and are "not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public."

The new allegations are only the latest setback for Cain, who has seen his popularity fade since reports surfaced one month ago of sexual harassment allegations dating back to his tenure with the National Restaurant Association.

Although the latest report involves an alleged consensual relationship, the claims may further weaken his support among conservative Republicans concerned about social issues, including the institution of marriage.

Dr. Conrad Murray Sentenced to Four Years Behind Bars in Death of Michael Jackson

Dr Conrad Murray turns to the courtroom audience after he was sentenced to four years in county jail for his involuntary manslaughter conviction in the death of pop star Michael Jackson on Tuesday

A Los Angeles judge sentenced Dr. Conrad Murray to four years in jail Tuesday for the involuntary manslaughter death of Michael Jackson.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said Tuesday that Jackson died because of Murray's criminal negligence, and denied the defense's request for probation.

Murray, 58, is to serve out the four years in Los Angeles County jail, according to Pastor's ruling. He could serve less than the four year sentence because of overcrowding in California jails.

Pastor said Murray "is and remains dangerous" due to his lack of remorse for the death of Jackson from a fatal dose of propofol on June 25, 2009. He called Murray's behavior "experimental medicine," and slammed Murray's participation in what he termed "money for medicine madness."

"Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine," the judge said. "The practice of propofol for medicine madness, which violated his sworn obligation, for money, fame prestige and whwatever else may have occurred."

Pastor said one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray's case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor's cell phone.

"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said. "It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient's most vulnerable point."

Murray listened to the verdict stone faced, and showed no reaction to the judge's decision.

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial that presented the most detailed account yet of Jackson's final hours but left many questions about Murray's treatment of the superstar with an operating-room anesthetic as he battled chronic insomnia.

Jackson's family told a judge Tuesday that they were not seeking revenge but want the doctor who killed the superstar to receive a stiff sentence that serves as a warning to opportunistic doctors.

"The Bible reminds us that men cannot do justice, they can only seek justice," the family said in a statement read by attorney Brian Panish. "That is all we can ask as a family, and that is all we ask for here."

The statement went on to say, "We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do today that will bring Michael back."

Panish did not specifically request the maximum term of four years in jail for Murray but said the cardiologist should be punished in a way that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder.

Several members of Jackson's family, including mother Katherine and siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Randy and Rebbie, attended the sentencing.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren also asked Pastor to consider statements Jackson's mother, Katherine, made to probation officials who prepared a report for the sentencing.

He said Katherine Jackson said she thinks about her son every morning and that his children also think about their father daily.

"`Their world collapsed when he left,"' Walgren quoted Katherine Jackson as telling probation officials.

Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff highlighted the accomplishments of Murray.

"I do wonder though to what extent the court considers the entirety of a man's book of life, as opposed to one chapter," he told the judge.

The doctor decided not to directly address the court.

Chernoff again attacked Michael Jackson, as he and his team frequently did during the doctor's trial.

"Michael Jackson was a drug seeker," Chernoff said.

Jackson's death in June 2009 stunned the world, as did the ensuing investigation that led to Murray being charged in February 2010.

Murray told detectives he had been giving the singer nightly doses of propofol to help him sleep as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts. Propofol is supposed to be used in hospital settings and has never been approved for sleep treatments, yet Murray acknowledged giving it to Jackson then leaving the room on the day the singer died.

Murray declined to testify during his trial but did opt to participate in a documentary in which he said he didn't consider himself guilty of any crime and blamed Jackson for entrapping him into administering the propofol doses. His attorneys contended throughout the case that Jackson must have given himself the fatal dose when Murray left the singer's bedside.

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray's statements to advocate that he receive the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer's three children -- Prince, Paris and Blanket.

It's unlikely that Murray can pay any sizable sum, including the $1.8 million cost of his funeral. He was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's personal physician for $150,000 a month, and the singer died before Murray received any money.

Two Corvettes plus one set of lights and two idiot drivers equals 1 nasty accident

Revving on red: The Corvettes prepare to do battle in a suburb of Houston

It's a familiar scene, two testosterone-fuelled drivers line up at a set of traffic lights and prepare to settle who is the best in a drag race.

As children and cyclists cross the road in The Woodlands, Houston, the drivers of the $40,000 C5 Corvette and $45,000 C6 Corvette revved their engines as they waited for the lights to change.

Both cars accelerate rapidly as the lights switch green, racing across the junction side by side.

But as the video footage shows, instead of one motorist emerging triumphant, both were left red-faced as one lost control, swerved into the other and sent both of them crashing into trees.

Gerod Rush, 29, who recorded the footage last Thursday, posted it on YouTube under the title 'Two Turkeys on Thanksgiving wrecking their Corvettes in The Woodlands'.

He told 'They were driving like idiots a mile before and then pulled up to a red light, revving their engines at each other.

I had a feeling that I knew what was going to happen next.

Mr Rush said he believed the two cars were travelling at nearly 60mph when the Corvette on the right lost traction, swerved and smashed into the other vehicle.

The impact sent both cars off the road before coming to an abrupt halt. No one was killed in the crash, but it is not known if the drivers were injured.

Mr Rush added: 'I noticed before, when they were going at it just earlier, that the right-side car's back tyre was losing traction.

So when he hard-accelerated at the light, he lost traction and then lost control.'
Authorities are now examining the footage to see whether any charges are brought on either driver.

If either was injured, they could face Class B misdemeanors or felonies

Trinidad, Tobago - Caribbean Country Says Couple Embroiled In Plot Against Trinidad PM Had Fake Israeli Passports

Robert Ochakovsky and Anastasia Kurakin

Trinidad, Tobago - A couple believed to be Israelis—who entered T&T soil with fraudulent passports—has escaped five months after they were put in a hotel under security watch at Caribbean Airline’s (CAL) expense. The five months the duo spent at the hotel, CAL paid for their accommodation and meals, racking up a hefty bill. The couple escaped on November 20, from Comfort Suite Hotel, Piarco, while being guarded by CAL’s security, days before Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that police thwarted a plot to assassinate her and four members of her Cabinet. Concerns have been raised by well placed national security personnel over the manner in which the matter was handled.

Though their passports were seized by Immigration Division, it is not sure if the wanted couple fled the country using false passports or are still hiding in T&T. The 28-year-old woman identified as Anastasia Kurakin along with her 34-year-old male counterpart Robert Ochakovsky, landed at the Piarco International Airport from St Maarten on June 6, with false Israeli passports. The passports were issued on January 26, 2004 in Rishon Lezion, Israel. The duo—pretending to be a husband and wife team—were destined for Canada, but was intercepted in St Maarten after being pre-checked. “St Maarten did not do anything with them so they came here (Trinidad),” a source said.

Put on alert by St Maarten’s Immigration, the couple were picked up by security officers after they attempted to board CAL flight No 600 to Toronto, Canada on June 7

That was after they had spent some time in Trinidad. Upon checking, security officers discovered that the photographs on the couple’s Israeli passports were totally different to their person. “They were handed over to immigration department who was a bit sceptical as to whether their passports were legitimate or not because the couple kept threatening to take legal action for detaining them. They had people claiming to be lawyers calling immigration for answers,” a well placed source told the Sunday Guardian.

Immigration then gave orders that they should be placed in CAL’s care under security watch, instead of taking them to the Ministry of National Security’s detention centre. The source said in order for CAL to intervene, a Rejection Order should have been issued by Immigration Division. However, this was not done. “Once a passenger overstays his/her time or is a threat to the country, you are put on the next available flight,” a source said. Without a Rejection Order, the source said, CAL cannot be held responsible, fined or placed on a bond for their actions. “All the airline was doing was following instructions by Immigration,” the source said. By then, information obtained from intelligence, the source said, suspected that the couple are Russians.

Special Branch, Index and other agencies were notified of the couple’s fraudulent documents and detention, the source added. The impostors were handed over to CAL security, pending correspondents from the Israeli Government to determine their true identities. Posted on the wall at Immigration office were the couple’s true identity along with images of their fake passports. “This meant that Immigration had information of who the holders of the passports were. These people should have been locked up and prosecuted. You cannot have things like this pushed under the carpet.

One slip can put our country at risk because you don’t know who is who out there,” the angry source added. The source said they are still baffled as to how the couple escaped. “We don’t know how they absconded. Knowing that they have been under watch for this length of time and are well financed it would have been easy for them to corrupt someone. That is my suspicion.”

The source said the couple knew of the security’s operations and made a pretty clean escape. Nicholas to launch investigation. Contacted yesterday, CAL’s senior security Kurt Gould refused to comment. Efforts to reach National Security Minister John Sandy proved futile. Transport Minister Devant Maharaj said he could not comment as he had no facts on the matter. CAL’s chairman George Nicholas III said he was not aware of the matter. “That would be an Immigration issue.” Told that CAL were the ones that put the detainees at the hotel, he added: “I am not aware of that. I am not aware of the specifics. I do know that we are increasing our security.” Nicholas promised to launch a full-scale investigation into the matter.

Haredim step up war on 'Taliban women'

'Taliban mom' in Jerusalem court

Extreme Eda Haredit faction decides to denounce women wearing cloaks after learning they refuse to send their children to school, put their families in danger for modesty reasons

After years of intentional disregard, the past few weeks have seen a change in the ultra-Orthodox community's treatment of "Taliban women" – haredi women wearing cloaks for modesty reasons.

The extreme Eda Haredit faction in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood has launched a war on the "veiled women", as they are referred to on the haredi street, and is surprisingly slamming a radical-religious phenomenon from a more moderate position.

Until recently, the haredi society found no interest in launching a battle, but recent evidence on the actions of the "Taliban women" ignited a war. The Eda Haredit rabbis realized that those women had blown the modesty issue out of proportions.

According to some of the testimonies, the women refuse to have sex with their husbands (except in very special cases), won't let them see their own daughters and force their children into marriage at an early age against their will.

The haredim claim that the "Taliban women" have turned into a dangerous, anarchistic sect, which damages families in the name of religion.

A special meeting of the Badatz – the Eda Haredit's supreme religious-spiritual authority – concluded with a proclamation titled, "Holy call for the sanctity of Israel's homes." The rabbis warned Jewish women to stay away from the customs and ways of the "Taliban women", who "are doomed".

The proclamation led to a series of acts of protest against the extreme women, and even against rabbis suspected of collaborating with them.

Demonstrations attended by dozens and sometimes hundreds of people were held in Mea Shearim, with the protestors including relatives of the "Taliban women" who oppose their ways.

Modesty above all

The "veiled women" phenomenon began developing in recent years mainly in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. It involves dozens of women – either ultra-Orthodox affiliated with the Eda Haredit faction or former seculars.

These women have radicalized an old custom, which was accepted by parts of the haredi society for decades, to wrap the neck and chest with a thick scarf. Instead, they have chosen to dress in black and cover their faces completely, viewing Muslim women's modesty rules as a role model.

Over the years, the phenomenon began spreading, and the "sect" now has some unofficial leaders influencing their friends not to obey rabbis' instructions.

Some of the group members are imposing the strict dress code on their minor daughters as well, and are refusing to send their children to educational institutes whose staff does not follow their ways. They believe they are sacrificing themselves and their dignity for the Jewish people's redemption, and are therefore willing to absorb every insult directed at them.

The final straw in the haredi battle against the "veiled women" was the revelation of two troubling testimonies about their society. In the first incident, one of the women gave birth at home rather than in a hospital for "modesty reasons". She wouldn't change her mind even when the baby's life was in danger following complications during the delivery.

Eventually, a paramedic called in to attend to the newborn rushed the baby to a hospital against her will – and the hospital got the welfare services and rabbis involved.

In another incident, two of the group leaders decided to pair their children – a 16-year-old boy and 23-year-old girl – without informing the couple or their fathers. The women held the wedding ceremony against the minor groom's will, and as a result he asked to divorce his wife shortly afterwards.

When the wife refused to accept a divorce, the husband decided to marry another young woman in an act of bigamy which is illegal and considered controversial by the Halacha.

Protests in Mea Shearim

One of the figures involved in the affair is Rabbi Aharon Rompler, who has been accused on the haredi street of providing spiritual support to the extreme women.

Rompler has been required several times to declare that he opposes the phenomenon, so as not to give the public a reason to suspect that the Badatz was referring to him in its condemnation of "anyone who had a part in this" – but failed to do so, even after incriminating evidence was exposed about his relations with some of the women.

The rabbi's associates explained that he would not deny that the rabbis' proclamation referred to him, as there is no such implication, and if he would do so people would say he was guilty.

According to the associates, the fact that his wife and daughters do not cover their bodies with cloaks proves that he is not affiliated or identifies with the "Taliban sect".

The explanations did not satisfy the struggle's activists, who staged a protest outside his home and house of study. According to report, Rompler has even received death threats.

In the meantime the issue continues to engage haredi media, which are reporting of every development and every statement made by a rabbi on the matter. The big question remains: Will it end with an all-out war or modestly?

Hunt on for 'opera-singing' parrot missing in Brooklyn

Maybe he’s flying to Lincoln Center for his big chance.

A parrot with a “huge vocabulary” who “loves to sing opera” has flown the coop and his heartbroken owner is desperately searching the streets of Brooklyn looking for his 25-year-old pet.

The green and yellow Amazon parrot named “Captain” flew off the shoulder of his owner, Allen Kirson, as the two were biking along Ocean Parkway in Kensington the day after Thanksgiving.

“I was on my way to see my friend and he sat perched on my shoulder as usual,” Kirson said.

“After several blocks I realized that he was no longer on my shoulder. I retraced my steps, but he was gone.’’

He’s afraid Captain is hiding in someone’s back yard where he could be attacked by a cat.

Captain is no ordinary parrot.

The exotic bird is so talented he’s performed at senior citizens homes and children’s hospitals.

His wings are clipped, so he can’t fly very far.

But he can climb trees.

“He’s a part of the family,” said Kirson’s ex-wife, Roberta Klein, who shares custody of the bird.

“He talks, sings and dances. He has a huge vocabulary and loves to sing opera songs.’’

Anyone who finds the bird is asked to call (347) 350-5914.

Kobe Bryant Works Out at Jewish Center

You never know who’s going to show up at the JCC these days.

With the pro hoops season back on track, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant reportedly held a surprise workout at a Jewish Community Center in Irvine, Ca.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard brought a trainer to work on shooting drills and cardio training as spectators looked on, according to the TMZ website.

He shot it around for about an hour as amazed spectators watched, the web site said.

Bryant and the rest of the NBA players are scrambling to prepare for a shortened season that will start Dec. 25 after they reached a deal with team owners to end their lockout.

Bryant’s not the first NBA superstar to stop by a JCC. Last month, the Miami Heat’s LeBron James played a pickup game at the JCC in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the New York Knick’s Amar’re Stoudemire, who visited Israel last year to discover more about his Jewish heritage on his mother’s side, is interested in opening a Hebrew school, according to the New York Daily News.

An unnamed source told the newspaper that Stoudemire has discussed opening a school that would focus on teaching the Hebrew language and Jewish history, though no school is actually in the works.