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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New York, NY - Inside the Spy Unit That NYPD Says Doesn't Exist

New York, NY - Working with the CIA, the New York Police Department maintained a list of “ancestries of interest” and dispatched undercover officers to monitor Muslim businesses and social groups, according to new documents that offer a rare glimpse inside an intelligence program the NYPD insists doesn’t exist.

The documents add new details to an Associated Press investigation that explained how undercover NYPD officers singled out Muslim communities for surveillance and infiltration.

The Demographics Unit, a squad of 16 officers fluent in a total of at least five languages, was told to map ethnic communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and identify where people socialize, shop and pray.

Once that analysis was complete, according to documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD would “deploy officers in civilian clothes throughout the ethnic communities.”

The architect of this and other programs was a veteran CIA officer who oversaw the program while working with the NYPD on the CIA payroll. It was an unusual arrangement for the CIA, which is prohibited from spying inside the U.S.

After the AP report, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NYPD has kept the city safe and does not take religion into account in its policing. The NYPD denied the Demographics Unit exists.

“There is no such unit,” police spokesman Paul Browne said before the first AP story ran. “There is nothing called the Demographics Unit.”

Internal police documents show otherwise. An NYPD presentation, delivered inside the department, described the mission and makeup of the Demographics Unit. Undercover officers were told to look not only for evidence of terrorism and crimes but also to determine the ethnicity of business owners and eavesdrop on conversations inside cafes.

A police memorandum from 2006 described an NYPD supervisor rebuking an undercover detective for not doing a good enough job reporting on community events and “rhetoric heard in cafes and hotspot locations.”

How law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, can stay ahead of Islamic terrorists without using racial profiling techniques has been hotly debated since 9/11. Singling out minorities for extra scrutiny without evidence of wrongdoing has been criticized as discriminatory. Not focusing on Muslim neighborhoods has been equally criticized as political correctness run amok. The documents describe how the nation’s largest police force has come down on that issue.

Working out of the police department’s offices at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the Demographics Unit maintained a list of 28 countries that, along with “American Black Muslim,” it considered “ancestries of interest.” Nearly all are Muslim countries.

Police used census data and government databases to map areas it considered “hot spots” as well as the ethnic neighborhoods of New York’s tri-state area, the documents show.

Undercover officers known as “rakers” — a term the NYPD also denied existed — were then told to participate in social activities such as cricket matches and visit cafes and clubs, the documents show.

Police had a list of “key indicators” of problems. It included obvious signs of trouble such as criminal activity and extremist rhetoric by imams. But it also included things commonly seen in neighborhoods, such as community centers, religious schools and “community bulletin boards (located in houses of worship).”

At least one lawyer inside the police department has raised concerns about the Demographics Unit, current and former officials told the AP. Because of those concerns, the officials said, the information gathered from the unit is kept on a computer at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, not in the department’s normal intelligence database. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence programs.

The AP independently authenticated the NYPD presentation through an interview with one official who saw it and by reviewing electronic data embedded in the file. A former official who had not seen the presentation said the content of the presentation was correct. For the internal memo, the AP verified the names and locations mentioned in the document, and the content is consistent with a program described by numerous current and former officials.

In an email Tuesday night, Browne disputed the AP’s original story, saying the NYPD only follows leads and does not simply trawl communities.

“We do not employ undercovers or confidential informants unless there is information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity,” Browne wrote.

That issue has legal significance. The NYPD says it follows the same guidelines as the FBI, which cannot use undercover agents to monitor communities without first receiving an allegation or indication of criminal activity.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the CIA sent a respected veteran officer, Lawrence Sanchez, to New York, where he worked closely with the NYPD. Officials said he was instrumental in creating programs such as the Demographics Unit and met regularly with unit supervisors to guide the effort. After a two-year rotation in New York, Sanchez took a leave of absence, came off the agency’s payroll and became the NYPD’s second-ranking intelligence official. He formally left the agency in 2007 and stayed with the NYPD until last year.

The CIA recently dispatched another officer to work in the Intelligence Division for what officials described as a management sabbatical. A U.S. official familiar with the NYPD-CIA partnership said Sanchez’s time in New York was a unique assignment created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But the official said the current officer’s job was much different and was an opportunity for him to learn from an organization outside the CIA.

Both the CIA said and the NYPD have said the agency is not involved in domestic spying and said the partnership is the kind of counterterrorism collaboration Americans expect.

The NYPD Intelligence Division has unquestionably been essential to the city’s best counterterrorism successes, including the thwarted plot to bomb the subway system in 2004. Undercover officers also helped lead to the guilty plea of two men arrested on their way to receive terrorism training in Somalia.

“We throw 1,200 police officers into the fight every day to make sure the same people or similarly inspired people who killed 3,000 New Yorkers a decade ago don’t come back and do it again,” Browne said earlier this month when asked about the NYPD’s intelligence tactics.

The Demographics Unit had officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, according to the police presentation. The undercover officers were divided into teams based on ethnicity. Arab officers could blend into Arab neighborhoods and Southwest Asian officers, those from Pakistan and Afghanistan, could more easily blend into those neighborhoods.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Democrat who represents much of Brooklyn and sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the NYPD can protect the city without singling out specific ethnic and religious groups. She joined Muslim organizations in calling for a Justice Department investigation into the NYPD Intelligence Division. The department said it would review the request for an investigation.

Clarke acknowledged that the 2001 terrorist attacks made Americans more willing to accept aggressive tactics, particularly involving Muslims. But she said Americans would be outraged if police infiltrated Baptist churches looking for evangelical Christian extremists.

“There were those who, during World War II, said, ‘Good, I’m glad they’re interning all the Japanese-Americans who are living here,’” Clarke said. “But we look back on that period with disdain.”

Michele kibitzes with key NY Jews

SHALOM: Michele Bachmann leaves a meeting with Jewish leaders yesterday after The Post reported she's been mistaken for being Jewish

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann may not be Jewish -- despite a misperception among some political donors -- but that didn't stop her from making a campaign stop in the Big Apple yesterday to talk up her pro-Israel positions.

The same day The Post reported that some Jewish donors are holding back their contributions to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney under the mistaken impression that Bachmann is one of their own, the Minnesota congresswoman was addressing a Jewish group here.

"We're meeting with people all across New York who are interested in my candidacy," Bachmann said as she ducked into a Broadway office building for a small, private sit-down with Orthodox Jewish leaders.

Bachmann spent about an hour at a private office discussing issues ranging from same-sex marriage to security for the Jewish state. She reminded the group she worked on a kibbutz in Israel 40 years ago.

"She introduced herself," said Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel. "A similar group has gotten together with Governor Romney and will get together with other candidates as well."

The rabbis have met previously with President Obama, who owned the Jewish vote in the 2008 election but is having trouble because of his administration's stance on future borders for Israel.

Bachmann, an evangelical Christian, offered brief opening remarks yesterday and then took questions. She portrayed herself as "a person of faith," Zwiebel said, but he added that "cuts both ways" for Jewish voters because of his community's strong belief in the need for religion and government to be separate.

When it was over, Bachmann made a quick exit.

"We're not answering questions now," Bachmann said as aides blocked a reporter.

Neither Bachmann nor her campaign would disclose details about her day in New York and she had no public schedule. She is set to be in Iowa today for a Tea Party event.

The timing of yesterday's session had nothing to do with the latest headlines about fund-raising or last weekend's controversy over Bachmann's comments on the earthquake and hurricane that hit the East Coast in the last week, Zwiebel

During events in Florida, Bachmann suggested God was issuing a wakeup call for the federal government to curtail spending. Following some controversy, Bachmann's campaign said the remarks were made in "jest."

Bachmann again downplayed the seriousness of those comments during yesterday's meeting and scored high marks among many in the room.

"She's really a very interesting person, very personable," said Leon Goldenberg of Goldmont Realty Corp. in Brooklyn. "She comes across more shrill on TV. She's certainly making a lot of waves. She has to be taken seriously."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Framingham, MA - Obama Uncle Held in Mass. By Immigration Officials

Framingham, MA - President Barack Obama’s uncle was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving, told police he planned to arrange bail through the White House and was being held without bail on an immigration detainer, authorities said Monday.

Onyango Obama was arrested last week in Framingham, about 20 miles west of Boston, after police said he made a rolling stop through a stop sign and nearly caused a cruiser to strike his sport utility vehicle.

Police said that after being booked at the police station, Obama was asked whether he wanted to make a telephone call to arrange for bail.

“I think I will call the White House,” he stated, according to a police report filed in Framingham District Court.

Police said Obama, who’s originally from Kenya and is the half-brother of the president’s late father, pleaded not guilty Friday and was being held without bail on a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a court document, ICE said he had an earlier deportation or removal order.

His immigration status couldn’t immediately be confirmed, but such orders are generally reserved for people living in the country illegally.

An immigration detainer, used by ICE to identify people in jail or prison who could be deported, is a request to another law enforcement agency to notify ICE before releasing the person from custody so ICE can arrange to take over custody.

A spokesman for ICE declined to comment on Obama’s immigration case, and the White House had no comment.

Obama, 67, was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to yield the right of way.

Michael Rogers, a spokesman for Cleveland immigration attorney Margaret Wong, said Wong will represent Obama. He confirmed that Obama is the half-brother of the president’s father and the brother of another relative, Zeituni Onyango, of Boston.

Onyango made headlines last year when she won the right to stay in the United States after an earlier deportation order. She came to the U.S. from Kenya in 2000 and was denied asylum by an immigration judge in 2004.

She stayed in the country illegally and was granted asylum last year by a judge who found she could be a target in Kenya not only for those who oppose the United States and the president but also for members of the Kenyan government.

Framingham police said Obama was arrested Wednesday after he failed to stop completely at a stop sign and a police officer had to quickly apply his brakes to avoid hitting Obama’s SUV.

Officer Val Krishtal said in a written report that Obama slurred his speech and became argumentative after he was told that he was being stopped because he had failed to fully stop and yield to traffic.

“I explained to him that I narrowly avoided striking his vehicle, and he told me that he did not hear my tires screeching so I was not being accurate,” Krishtal said in the report.

Obama originally told Krishtal he had nothing to drink but later said he had had two beers, Krishtal wrote in the report.

Krishtal said Obama failed several sobriety tests and blew a reading of 0.14 percent on a blood-alcohol breath test, which is above the state’s legal driving limit of 0.08 percent.

The president’s administration announced this month that it would allow many illegal immigrants facing deportation the chance to stay in the U.S. and apply for work permits and would focus on removing convicted criminals and people who might be national security or public safety threats.

Video: Family Mourns Hero Killed While Saving Others

Rabbi David Reichenberg lost his life this weekend trying to save a father and his son amid the winds and rain of Hurricane Irene on Sunday.

Ex-Laker Javaris Crittenton faces murder charge in Georgia

ATLANTA – With Atlanta native and former Georgia Tech basketball star Javaris Crittenton arrested late on Monday night in California in connection with a murder in Atlanta, focus on the case will now turn to legal maneuverings.

Manny Arora, a veteran of high-profile cases, described to how the case might proceed. Arora worked on the defense teams of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, former Atlanta Thrasher Dany Heatley and also defended NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones. Prior to becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor.

Crittenton is accused in the Aug. 19 shooting death of a 22-year-old mother of four, Jullian Jones. Witnesses have said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that shots came from a black Chevy Tahoe and police believe Crittenton was retaliating for a robbery and hit the wrong person. Crittenton’s lawyer Brian Steel has said that his client is not guilty.

In terms of procedure, the state of Georgia will have to ask for extradition on Crittenton from California. Arora said it is difficult to stop extradition, as the only way to avoid it is to prove a case of mistaken identity – that the person arrested is not in fact Crittenton.

“I would imagine they’ll go get him in the next 30 days and when he gets here if he hasn’t already been indicted, he’ll get a preliminary hearing right away,” Arora said. “And that would probably give us a lot of information. If the (district attorney) wants to keep a lid on it all, they’ll do a quick grand jury indictment and that, by law, doesn’t allow you to get a prelim anymore.

“The only thing you can do at that point is file for a bail hearing and the chances of getting bail in a murder case is very slim.”

So much of the case against Crittenton depends on the facts and for now those remain sketchy. Arora said among the first things to challenge would be eyewitness testimony. He said pertinent questions a defense lawyer would ask of those witnesses would concern the time of day, the lighting and how far away they were.

“Generally, when someone starts shooting, you’re not looking at the shooter,” Arora said. “You’re ducking for cover. There’s a lot of things you can cover with that. There’s a lot of good science behind misidentification in a high-pressure situation.”

Arora cited the work of the nonprofit group The Innocence Project, which was co-founded by prominent defense attorney Barry Scheck, a part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team. The group, which specializes in DNA testing, has exonerated 273 wrongly convicted individuals since it was founded in 1992.

The Website of the Innocence Project states that 75 percent of wrongful convictions that end up overturned relied on “eyewitness misidentification.”

Arora said that more troubling facts for Crittenton would be if a red light camera has a photo of the alleged vehicle and shooter, if an eyewitness saw him from a distance of about five feet or less and if the vehicle and the suspect meet the police’s description.

“That’s some good stuff,” Arora said. “I’m just saying, this far, by itself (an identification of the car) doesn’t really carry a whole ton of weight. It doesn’t help, but certainly it’s not ‘the end all be all.’”

Arora said many of the cases he has worked do not involve the police’s identification of a murder weapon. He said if the police can match bullet fragments or shells from the scene to a legally registered weapon owned by the accused – even if they do not have the weapon at trial – then it can create problems for the defendant.

“Then it starts getting to be more problematic if things like that start happening,” he said.

In terms of impaneling a jury, Arora said that could be tricky because of the high-profile nature of the case.

“It depends on how long before the trial gets there,” he said. “This thing’s going to be all over the press. You’ve got a local person that’s successful, wealthy, NBA. You may have to do questionnaires to get through a couple of hundred people.”

Right now, the legal process seems headed in the direction of a trial for Crittenton. It’s a sad story for a player who, as a high school student, was a member of the Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America but whose life seems to have gone astray. In a high-profile incident, NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended him 38 games during the 2009-10 season for a gun-toting incident involving teammate Gilbert Arena in the Washington Wizards locker room.

As a sophomore in high school, he won a state basketball championship at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy while playing alongside NBA star Dwight Howard.

Howard’s father, also named Dwight, was athletics director at the school while Crittenton was enrolled there and worked in law enforcement. Dwight Howard Sr.’s brother is Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office will be in charge of prosecuting the case.

Paul Howard often attends Dwight’s Orlando Magic games in Atlanta and has been seen around the camp that Dwight runs each summer at a local school. It would not be surprising if Paul Howard knows Crittenton personally – though that would not be cause for him having to recuse himself from overseeing the case, Arora said.

Southwest Atlanta Christian is affiliated with the Fellowship of Faith Church in south Atlanta. A 1998 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about Dwight Howard Sr.’s involvement in athletics read that “A main purpose of his coaching is to keep youngsters from having to deal with his brother, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. He has successfully met this aim.”

“’We have a good track record with all of the children in our program,’ Dwight Howard said. ‘We’ve only had one child who’s ever been arrested. We want to keep children on the right side of the law.’”

ATF chief who oversaw Operation Fast and Furious to step down

Kenneth E. Melson, who has faced heavy criticism in connection with the controversial Fast and Furious gun-trafficking investigation, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Melson shared the news in a conference call at 11:30 a.m. EDT with supervisors at the bureau's field offices, telling them that he will be moving back to the Department of Justice to serve as a senior advisor with the Office of Legal Programs. His resignation will take effect at 5 p.m. EDT.

Attorney Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis, will replace Melson as acting director, effective Wednesday.

Despite all the problems with Fast and Furious under Melson's tenure, Holder praised the out-going acting director and his new responsibilities.

"Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues," Holder said. "As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades."

But simply transferring Melson within the Justice Department organization did not immediately sit well with some critics, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has asked Justice officials for an accounting of all Fast and Furious cases in Texas.

"Instead of reassigning those responsible for Fast and Furious within the Department of Justice," Cornyn said, "Atty. Gen. Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme."

Under Melson's leadership, ATF launched Operation Fast and Furious, through which agents were to watch -- and in some cases record on video -- illegal gun sales and then use surveillance teams and electronic eavesdropping to follow the guns and learn how the weapons were moved. The goal was to arrest cartel leaders overseeing gun smuggling on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.

But the chase for guns and cartel leaders soon hit a dead end. The ATF was attempting to follow each of the weapons as they were moved from the straw men who bought them illegally at gun shops to what officials expected would be cartel higher-ups in the U.S., who would move them to Mexico.

The agency, which didn't have the resources to follow so many weapons, soon lost track of many of them. When officials did follow them to the next level, the buyers of the guns often turned out to be Mexicans living legally in the U.S. and not cartel honchos.

An investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), uncovered emails that showed Melson was regularly briefed on the botched operation.

New York, NY - 'Jewish' Bachmann is Costing Mitt Romney

New York, NY - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing a new challenge: He’s having trouble raising money from some Jewish donors who mistakenly believe one of his opponents, Michele Bachmann, is Jewish.

Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they’d rather open their wallets for the “Jewish candidate,” who they don’t realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned.

“It’s a real problem,” one Romney fund-raiser said. “We’re working very hard in the Jewish community because of Obama’s Israel problem. This was surprising.”

Romney moved to quickly position himself as an alternative to Obama among well-heeled Jewish contributors in places like New York, New Jersey, Florida and California—a group Obama locked down in 2008.

Some in Romney’s camp have been wondering whether Bachmann and her allies are pushing the “Jewish” rumor to help their own fund-raising, sources said.

She has enjoyed strong popularity among Jewish voters and often talks about her stay on a kibbutz during the summer of 1974, when she was a teenager.

In a speech to the American Israel Political Action Committee last year, Bachmann recalled being guarded by soldiers while working on the kibbutz.

“While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines,” she said. “I really learned a lot in Israel.”

She went on to say, “I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foundation, the roots of my faith as a Christian.”

Bachmann also told an AIPAC gathering earlier this year that she and her family make sure each year to attend at least one Jewish-theme play or movie.

Leiby Kletzky's family sues Levi Aron, admitted killer of 8-year-old Brooklyn boy, for $100 million

The family of Leiby Kletzky wants his admitted butcher to fork over $100 million for kidnapping, killing and dismembering the 8-year-old Brooklyn boy.

And they're also suing the killer's father because the slaying to took place in an attic apartment inside the father's Kensington home.

Leiby's father, Nachman Kletzky, is seeking the massive haul in punitive damages from Levi Aron, who has been charged with killing the boy after abducting him as he walked home from camp last month, a lawsuit disclosed Monday shows.

"Obviously, the acts are horrific and horrendous and the level of damages should reflect what those acts were," said the Kletzkys lawyer, Mark Goldsmith. "This is as horrific an event as a family can go through."

The civil suit, filed last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court, says that Leiby "was terrorized, physically and psychologically assaulted and injured, and was murdered and his body dismembered, with parts of his body hidden in a refrigerator."

The suit was filed on behalf of Nachman Kletzky, who only learned in recent weeks of the gruesome details of his son's death, a source said.

The lawsuit makes an argument for damages based on wrongful death and potential loss of income that Leiby would have earned had he reached working age.

Paul Oliveri, a lawyer who is not involved in the case, said the suit's wrongful death argument is a strong one.

"It boggles the mind to imagine the pain and suffering this little boy went through," said Oliveri, a senior partner in a law firm specializing in personal injury and wrongful death suits.

He added, however, that determining loss of potential income will be much more difficult. It is normally calculated in New York cases based on a victim's past wages, but that "will present a challenge" here because Leiby was only a child, Oliveri said.

In a separate lawsuit, Nachman Kletzky is taking on Aron's father Jack Aron, who owns the Kensington home where the boy was held against his will and later killed.

The dad is being blamed for "causing, allowing and permitting tools of terror to be and remain at said premises, knowing of the vicious, assaultive and murderous propensities of his son, Levi Aron," the court document says.

The suit also accuses Jack Aron of failing to monitor his son or discover that he had held the boy hostage in the small apartment for more than a day.

"We find it hard to believe he was unaware the boy was in the house all that time when he failed to protect him," said Goldsmith.

Both court actions will likely be consolidated into one suit down the road, Oliveri said.

Aron, 35, confessed to killing Leiby, whom he met by chance July 11 as the boy wandered the streets of Borough Park.

Aron told authorities he smothered him with a towel after panicking when he realized an extensive search was underway, court documents show.

A toxicology report later concluded the boy was also poisoned with a fatal mix of Levi Aron's medications.

Aron has told authorities he hears voices in his head, but he was deemed fit to stand trial. His lawyers have said they'll seek an insanity defense.

Jennifer McCann, one of Aron's defense lawyers, declined to answer questions about the lawsuits.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ezat Delijani, L.A. Jewish developer, philanthropist dies

Ezat Delijani

Ezat Delijani, who fled his native Iran during the revolution and became a prominent Los Angeles real estate investor, philanthropist and savior of landmark theaters, has died.

His death was confirmed Sunday by the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar. Huizar said that Delijani, former president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, passed away Saturday.

In 1979, Delijani fled Iran’s Islamic Revolution and arrived in Los Angeles, where he quickly became a real estate magnate, notably in the fashion and textile district.

In 1982, then-Mayor Tom Bradley asked Delijani to buy the Los Angeles Theatre, one of the historic but timeworn movie palaces that lined Broadway. The theater was scheduled to be demolished.

Delijani went on to buy three more Broadway theaters,the Palace, State and Tower theaters. Several years ago, he began working with Huizar and business leaders on a campaign to revitalize the Broadway corridor. In June, the Palace Theatre reopened with a showing of “Sunset Boulevard” after a $1-million restoration.

Delijani’s son, Shahram Delijani, once described the theaters as his father’s gift to Los Angeles – a way to thank the region for taking in the family.

The intersection of 7th Street and Broadway was formally dedicated as Ezat Delijani square in 2009.

Delijani was also instrumental in the creation, in 1999, of an Iranian American Jewish center in Hollywood.

Delijani’s political ties raised eyebrows in 2008. Delijani, who had long donated campaign money and gifts to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, found himself in a lease dispute with one of his tenants in Beverly Hills, a pharmacist. When Beverly Hills police declined to investigate because the case appeared to be a civil matter, the Delijani family contacted Baca.

According to a Times investigation, Baca launched a criminal investigation, which was assigned “rush” status,typically reserved for high-priority cases. When prosecutors declined to file charges, citing a lack of evidence, Baca met with L.A. Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley to learn how to appeal that decision.

Late in 2010, prosecutors reversed their decision and filed a forgery charge against Delijani’s tenant. Baca denied that he’d given Delijani special treatment, and Cooley said he was not involved in the decision to pursue charges

Brooklyn's posh Hotel Le Bleu squeezed Irene shelter seekers for $999 per room

Would you pay $1,000 for a room at Hotel Le Bleu?

A trendy Brooklyn hotel generated a flood of cash from Irene, jacking up the price of a room to $999 a night on Saturday as the powerful storm zeroed in on New York, employees said.

Hotel Le Bleu on Fourth Ave. in Park Slope upped the rates from its typical $250 a night as people poured in looking for a dry place to rest.

"It was just because of high demand," said an employee, who would not give her name. "A lot of hotels did that."

But about 10 blocks away, at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Third Ave., the rates remained unchanged from the usual $240 a night.

An employee at the Fairfield Inn said about 30% of the guests who arrived there Saturday night were people seeking shelter from Irene's torrential rains, but none of them was charged a premium rate.

A Hotel Le Bleu employee reached by phone, who would not give her name, said the high prices didn't slow business at the hotel with the distinctive exterior bathed in blue light.

"If you can pay, then it's on you," she said.

"There was a lady that booked two nights at that rate."

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Time for the Jewish Community to End the Sharpton Wars

Twenty years ago, race riots erupted in Crown Heights and an innocent Jewish student was murdered in response to the accidental killing of an African-American child. After the murder, the Rev. Al Sharpton came to Crown Heights and further whipped up an already incensed crowd, leaving some in the Jewish community to demand twenty years later that Sharpton be forever shunned by Jewry and criticizing my friend Rabbi Marc Schneier for inviting him to the Hampton Synagogue.

Ten years after the Crown Heights riots, I challenged Sharpton to a public debate, which he accepted, and following our take-no-prisoners, very volatile exchange, I invited him to a kosher restaurant for dinner. He surprised me by accepting and a budding relationship ensued. After the September 11th attacks, I called Sharpton and suggested we travel together to Israel to visit victims of Islamic terror as a means of healing our two communities. Again, he surprised me by agreeing. The trip was moving, as Rev. Sharpton offered genuine comfort to Israelis with their arms and legs blown off. But it was all undone when he decided, without informing any of the organizers of the trip, that he had arranged to visit the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat in Gaza. The trip thereafter became a fiasco and Sharpton and I returned barely speaking to each other.

But just as I wished to write him off, again he surprised me when he invited me to the Hyatt Hotel and essentially apologized for putting me in such an awkward position.

Sharpton can do that. Just when you think he's only interested in himself, he will behave in a kindly manner that will move you.

Fast forward to New Year's Eve of this year, a Friday afternoon, with the Jewish Sabbath coming in at 4:30pm. I received a call from the truly outstanding Aleph Institute seeking to help a Jewish doctor imprisoned for many years on a charge of manslaughter and who was gravely ill. Activists were seeking a pardon from outgoing New York Governor David Patterson. They connected me with Sharpton to ask that he intercede with the governor in his last few hours in office. Though all of New York was shut down, Sharpton graciously got on the line. I said, “Reverend Al, you and I have had our ups and downs. But we have essentially always respected each other and I know you have a good heart. There is a Jewish doctor who has served more than 17 years for the death of a patient. He is extremely ill and has recently buried a child. Would you speak to Governor Patterson on his behalf?” Sharpton instantly agreed and asked that the case details be sent to him as time was of the essence. I later heard that the doctor was not pardoned but was moved to a more comfortable living facility.

There can be no doubt that many of Sharpton's actions at the beginning of his career were dishonorable and incendiary, from Tawana Brawley to Crown Heights. But there can likewise be little doubt that he has shown immense personal and professional growth over the past few years. Indeed, in his recent letter to Rabbi Schneier, Sharpton wrote, “I have made mistakes in my career,” a mea culpa of sorts. Sadly, he quickly followed by saying, “But the allegations around Crown Heights... was not one of them.”

It is to his discredit that he has never accepted responsibility and apologized for the rabble-rousing role he played in Crown Heights, even though he was not responsible for the death of Yankel Rosenbaum. But at the risk of angering many in my community, including the Rosenbaum family who are the real bearers of the Crown Heights pain, it's time to move on and not allow that glaring omission to undermine our new relationship with Reverend Al. Since our trip together to the Jewish State, he has never uttered a word against Jewry or Israel and I have even been told by officials in the Israeli Consulate in New York that they share a warm relationship with Sharpton and consider him a friend.

The great black-Jewish conflicts of recent memory are largely behind us and highlighting a decades-old argument with Sharpton removes the focus from how black-Jewish relations have been redefined by outstanding new leaders like Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, who served as president of my Jewish student organization while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. Sharpton and other African-American leaders are seeking to thwart a perceived diminished relevance in an age where America has elected an African-American president and black-Jewish animosities are the last thing on their agenda. Should we allow obsessive Jew-haters like Louis Farrakhan — who publicly supported Kaddafi to the bitter end and has yet to explain his own role in the murder of Malcolm X — to trap us in the past?

As a community, our posture must always be to offer praise where it is earned, criticism where it is warranted, and encouragement when a former antagonist leans toward becoming an ally.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founding the Global Institute for Values Education. The author of 26 books, he will shortly publish 'Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself.'

Team DSK on the 'attack'

Former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair try to catch a cab in New York last week, appearing much happier with life

Seriously, drop the suit.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyers strengthened their legal threats against the hotel maid who accused the former IMF chief of attempted rape, saying they'll file a counter lawsuit if her reps don't tone down attacks against the frisky Frenchman, a Paris newspaper reported yesterday.

Strauss-Kahn's mouthpiece, Ben Brafman, ruled out any civil action against New York authorities but put Nafissatou Diallo's lawyers on notice.

DSK could file a countersuit against Diallo "if the attacks of her lawyers become too bad," he told Le Journal du Dimanche.

Diallo accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his suite at the Sofitel hotel in May. Prosecutors dropped the case, saying Diallo's past lies would make her an unreliable witness. The maid is pursuing Strauss-Kahn in a Bronx civil suit.

Even if Diallo wins her lawsuit, Brafman said his client is virtually judgment-proof, because he has no real wealth.

"DSK [is not] a rich man," Brafman said. "It's his wife who has an important fortune."

A rep for Diallo couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

Terrorists’ Worst Enemy Is Man’s Best Friend

Man’s best friend – the friendly dog – also is terrorists' worst enemy when trained to defend Jews against attacks throughout Israel.

Man’s best friend – the friendly dog – also is terrorists' worst enemy when trained to defend Jews against Arab attacks throughout Israel.

The NGO “Israel’s Best Friend” is run by Queens, New York native Yekutiel Ben Yaakov, a resident of Kfar Tapuach in Samaria.

“The dogs really are friendly to their masters, but they are dangerous if you are a terrorist," according to Ben Yaakov. “We train these dogs to bite and detect terrorists.

They have prevented many terrorist attacks and could have prevented the Fogel murders” in Itamar earlier this year, when Rabbi Udi Fogel, his wife and thereof their six young children were brutally attacked by two Arab knife-wielding teenagers.

Ben Yaakov explains that using dogs against terror complements other defense measures, such as patrols, and implements the concept of preventing attacks instead of simply responding to them.

He adds that the IDF and police work often with his teams and that there never has been even one incident of wrongful use of the dogs.

His NGO also trains dogs for search and rescue missions by firefighters, police and rescue teams.

Israeli Bochur Found Innocent in Japan

The notorious Japanese Chiba prison, where Yoel Zev Goldstein is being held.

It is with shevach vehodaah to the Ribono Shel Olam that we report that the final verdict of Yoel Goldstein, Yoel Zev ben Mirel Risa Chava, was rendered just moments ago at the Chiba District Court in Japan and he has been found innocent.

Tireless askanim, led by Reb Aron Nezri and Reb Meilich Bindiger, have worked behind the scenes to ensure that all was done on behalf of Yoel Zev’s defense.

The closing arguments and the final hearing for Yoel Zev took place back in May at the Chiba District Court in Japan. At the time, the presiding judge announced that the court rejected the evidence by a graphologist that showed the the evidence presented by Ms. Reiko Suzuki - who had administered the polygraph tests to the three boys - had been forged. On the judge’s bench at the time in the courtroom were a new minor judge and a new prosecutor. The new minor judge, who had never worked as a justice before and is very young, replaced the last minor judge of the three previous judges, led by presiding judge Hiroshi Furuta, a hardliner who never acquitted anyone before.

Yoel Zev had been facing a serious sentence if the court had ruled otherwise. The prosecutor had said that because Yoel was older in age and not a minor when he entered Japan, he deserved a longer punishment and a heavier fine - a 15-year prison sentence and a 5 million yen fine ($62,000).

When the judge set the verdict day for August 29 - over three months after the final hearing - he actually apologized to Yoel Zev for having to keep him in detention for a longer period of time. Boruch Hashem, however, Yoel was found innocent a short while ago, and work is now underway to obtain a visa for him.

Rabbi Electrocuted while Trying to Save Child in Hurricane

The pavement was left scorched where downed electrical wires claimed the life of David Reichenberg, who saved a father and son.and As 6 year old Chaim Reuven David Herbst was rushed to the hospital, his yarmulkah with burn marks in it remained on the ground where he was burned by live wires.

A good Samaritan was electrocuted Sunday when he rushed to rescue a father and son from a power line felled by Hurricane Irene, cops said.

About 20 firefighters and police helplessly stood by on a flooded Rockland County street, unable to get near David Reichenberg because of the live wire electrifying a puddle of water he had fallen into, a witness said.

Rescuers had to wait until Orange and Rockland Electric Co. workers cut the power to reach Reichenberg, 50, who died at the scene in Spring Valley, said witness Moishe Lichtenstein.

"When I got there the victim was on the ground and he was touching the wire, which was in the water," Lichtenstein said.

"When emergency officials got there, they couldn't touch him. We were standing there for like five or 10 minutes. We were just praying, 'God help this man,'" said Lichtenstein, 22, who monitors emergency scanner frequencies for

Reichenberg, who lived near the scene, was apparently driving home just after 11a.m. when he saw Reuven Herbst, 6, and his 43-year-old father in peril.

The courageous Reichenberg pulled the father, whose name was not immediately released, and the boy away , police said.

A relative said the father and son were looking for storm damage outside their house on Merrick Drive and Union Road when the boy touched a metal fence the live wire had fallen onto and a pool of water in the street next to it.

Reuven suffered severe burns to his hands and was being treated last night at Westchester Medical Center. The father was treated for minor burns caused when he tried to save his son, police said.

Melinda Miranda, 40, said the wire came down about 2 a.m. Sunday. She said she called 911 twice. "They came, but they didn't do anything."

She said she was awakened Sunday by a woman screaming. "I looked out the window, and saw the man on the floor," Miranda said, adding that smoke was rising off Reichenberg's body.

10-foot python found coiled up in Brooklyn apartment sink

A 10-foot python found some shelter from the storm Sunday in the bathroom sink of a Brooklyn apartment, cops said.

A tenant on the seventh floor of the Howard Houses on Mother Gaston Blvd. in Brownsville complained to NYCHA employees that water was seeping through the ceiling about 9:50 a.m., cops said.

Workers showed up to check on the leak and found the water was coming from an apartment above on the eighth floor, but no one was home, police said.

The NYCHA workers got inside and found a pool of water in the bathroom, but retreated from the overflowing sink when they spotted the colossal reptile coiled in the porcelain basin, police said.

The shaken workers called the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit to remove the python, which is illegal to own as a pet in the city, cops said.

The 2-year-old snake was taken to a city Animal Care & Control shelter in Brooklyn, a spokesman and police said.

Staff at the AC&C were still taking in animals in response to Tropical Storm Irene, which left many homes underwater in parts of Queens and Staten Island, said spokesman Richard Gentles.

"There were animals rescued by AC&C and police during the storm and immediately after," Gentles said.

"We were responsible for the search and rescue of displaced pets."

Though there were more than 1,000 animals total in the Brooklyn and Manhattan shelters Sunday, most of them weren't there as a result of the the storm.

"We really didn't see a lot of lost pets," Gentles said, adding that the city provided apt warning for those living in areas prone to flooding.

"There was a lot of good messaging out there," Gentles said.

It was still not clear why the snake had been left in the apartment or if its owners faced any charges.

The building was not in an evacuation zone and did not experience any major flooding.

Hurricane Irene is gone, but headaches remain: Mass transit still shaky and big cleanup lies ahead

The worst of hit-and-run Hurricane Irene comes Monday as millions of commuters face a morning disaster, blackouts stretch into a third day and the cleanup kicks into high gear.

"It will be annoying, and people will scream," Mayor Bloomberg predicted.

Subways will begin service this morning with fewer trains and longer waits. It was unclear when Metro-North and NJTransit would begin regular service. The Long Island Rail Road restores partial service Monday morning.

Buses were the first to get going Sunday, while Metro-North had a variety of problems: flooding, power failures and track bed erosion. "This is a difficult process," Metropolitan Transportation Authority boss Jay Walder said.

At the same time, utility companies scrambled to deal with widespread power failures. At its peak, Irene knocked out power to 174,000 customers in the city and Westchester County. About 131,500 remained without power Sunday night. Con Ed warned the power might not come back until midnight tomorrow as high winds hampered repair efforts

Statewide, more than 936,000 customers lost power, including 460,000 on Long Island. In New Jersey, 650,000 people were without electricity.

Many of the power failures were due to downed trees. The hurricane uprooted or split 719 trees - 336 in Queens and 219 in Brooklyn. Cops chased people out of Central Park Sunday amid fears of falling branches.

Highway officials said most roads closed because of flooding should be cleared by Monday morning.

There was flooding in Howard Beach, Queens; in Hudson River Park on the West Side; on a pair of East Side piers, and in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

While Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the city, it saved its last savage blows for Coney Island, which suffered flooding in spots.

Still, despite days of dire predictions, the city avoided the doomsday scenario of widespread blackouts, massive flooding and shattered skyscraper glass.

The hurricane was history by late morning, leaving behind a gray sky and a few final raindrops for a total of nearly 7 inches in Central Park, wrapping up the wettest August in city history.

"Whether we dodged a bullet or look up and say God smiled on us, I'm happy to report that there were no deaths due to the storm," Bloomberg said.

There were five New York State deaths, including that of a Spring Valley, Rockland County, man electrocuted while coming to the aid of a child on a flooded street with downed wires.

Another man died after an inflatable boat he was in with four friends capsized on the Croton River in Westchester Sunday night, cops said.

Suffolk County cops were investigating the drowning of a 68-year-old man who went windsurfing in Bellport Bay near East Islip Sunday afternoon. He was one at least 21 people in eight states killed by the hurricane - including a New Jersey woman who drowned in her car.

It was not clear if the death of a man found in the water at a City Island marina was weather-related.

There was at least one dramatic rescue: The FDNY grabbed 61 adults and three children after an overflowing lake in Staten Island's Willowbrook Park trapped them in 5 feet of water. No one was hurt as 50 firefighters in boats safely removed the residents, said FDNY spokesman Paul Iannizzotto.

Most New Yorkers were grateful the city's closest brush with a hurricane since the Reagan administration was more disruption than disaster. "We were really blessed," said Eddie Acosta, 65, of Red Hook, Brooklyn, who got 2 feet of water from his basement.

The 370,000 people evacuated from low-lying flood zones in the five boroughs were cleared to return home Sunday at 3 p.m.

For a second straight day, the typically tourist-packed streets of Manhattan were largely empty.

Broadway shows were shuttered - they reopen Monday night - and most stores in Times Square were closed, including a Starbucks on 43rd St., where a pair of British tourists tapped into the free Wi-Fi from outside.

"We're emailing," said Gail Carey, 46, of Manchester, leaning against the window. "We've left the kids at home."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rabbi wedding invitation, Jerusalem is Palestine

A Chasidic Rabbi marrying off his dauther in Jerusalem this week, wrote on the wedding invitation that Jerusalem is part of Palestine.

The Rabbi is one of the Rabbis of the Neturie Karta movement an extreme offshoot of Satmer.
החופה במאה שערים, מדינת פלשתינא
מרדכי יהושע הירש, בנו של משה הירש ז"ל ואיש 'נטורי קרתא' ממאה שערים, מזמין אתכם לחתונת בתו • החופה בבית הורי הכלה, פעיה"ק ירושלים, פלשתינא

בעוד ימים ספורים יחגגו אנשי 'נטורי קרתא' בירושלים את בתו של מרדכי יהושע הירש בנו של משה הירש ז"ל, מראשי 'נטורי קרתא' שכיהן בתפקיד ברשות הפלסטינית.

ההזמנה לחתונה הצליחה להפתיע רבים וגם אותנו.

החתונה, על פי ההזמנה: "תתקיים ביום שבת קודש פרשת שופטים, אור לד' אלול תשע"א, בבית הורי הכלה, פעיה"ק (פה עיר הקודש) ירושלים תובב"א, פלשתינא".

בהמשך ההזמנה מעדיפים בני המשפחה להתייחס לשעון אירופה ולא לשעון ישראל. "החופה אי"ה בשעה 7:00 לשעון ארץ ישראל (2:00 לשעון אירופית)", נכתב.

האם דגלי פלסטין יונפו בחתונה? נחכה ונראה.

HURRICANE TRAGEDY IN FLEISCHMANNS, NY: Frum Woman Killed In Flooding From Hurricane

Massive flooding swept through the village of Fleishmann’s New York, (located in Delaware County), after a lake and streams turned a local street into a river.

The Valkyrian Motel was caught in the flood, and everyone ran to safety. Unfortunately, one elderly woman, Leah Stern, was unable to escape the fast moving waters, and has gone missing.

Rabbi Joel Gold a chaplain with the Delaware Sheriff Department tells YWN that rescue crews from fire departments in Broome County have been called to assist with searching for her. Rescue boats are currently in the water and searching.

According to eyewitnesses, the motel literally floated away in the raging waters.

Please say Tehillim for Leah Rivka bas Faiga.
According to eyewitnesses, the motel literally floated away in the raging waters.

Unfortunately, her body was located a short while ago by rescue personnel.

NY - FEMA: Residents Should ‘Stay Inside’ Dangers Power-lines Can Kill You

New York - The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged residents of the U.S. East Coast to “stay inside, stay safe,” speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

We still will have trees coming down, heavy rain, strong winds,” FEMA’s Craig Fugate said on CNN. “It’s critical to stay off the roads” because of downed power lines, Fugate, who made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

The storm, which made landfall in North Carolina yesterday and in the New York City area today, has killed at least nine people and flooded the Outer Banks. It left more than 4 million homes and businesses without power as it churned up the East Coast, according to the Associated Press.

The damage from the hurricane has “not been as great as we had feared,” though flooding along the East Coast remains a danger, Fugate said on “Fox News Sunday.

We’ve got flooding everywhere and flash floods in all different parts of the state,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “Do not leave your homes.”

It’s still not safe,” Christie said on CNN.

Speaking from the New Jersey emergency command center, Christie said that there are 15,000 people in emergency shelters in the state and that 500,000 are without power.
Jersey Shore Evacuations

He said that 1 million people were evacuated from the New Jersey shore in less than 24 hours, significantly reducing the impact of the storm. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, appearing on “Meet the Press,” said there were about 10 water rescues.

Fugate said on NBC he wouldn’t yet “hazard a guess” on how much damages from Hurricane Irene will cost the government and taxpayers.

The agency is “starting assessments” in North Carolina, Fugate said on “Meet the Press.” He said the U.S. government plans to work with the private sector in the rebuilding effort.

FEMA has mobilized six search and rescue squads specializing in urban areas and they are standing by in staging areas, according to Fugate on ABC’s “This Week.” None of the squads had yet been deployed, he said. State search and rescue teams performed 67 swift-water rescues in North Carolina, Fugate said on ABC.

SWAT teams searching Army captain suspected in deaths of four people; considered armed and dangerous

Leonard John Egland is suspected in the deaths of four people

Cops in Pennsylvania are hunting for an Army captain suspected of killing four people and wounding two cops in a late-night shootout.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that SWAT teams had joined the search for Leonard John Egland, 37, after he was last seen early this morning on foot in Warwick Township, Pa.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told The Associated Press on Sunday that he is being sought in the deaths of his ex-wife, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's young son in Virginia.

He is also being sought for the death of his mother-in-law in Buckingham.

The Inquirer said Heckler had returned from his third tour of duty overseas last week.

After the killings, Heckler drove his young daughter to a Quakertown, Pa. hospital where he tried to leave her and a note that hinted at suicide.

"Presumably he had grabbed his daughter from his ex-wife when he killed her," Heckler told the paper. At the hospital, "he asks to have her looked at, leaves a note and starts walking out."

The girl then reportedly told hospital workers that "grandmom went to heaven." Heckler took off after a hospital orderly confronted him. While on the run, he fired at police with a semi-automatic rifle, injuring two officers.

Officials are warning that he is armed and very dangerous.

"The question is, does he have other people on his list?" Heckler told the Inquirer. "If he drove up here to assassinate his mother-in-law, are there other targets?"

Monsey - Fatality after Hurricane Downs Live Wires

VIN News has confirmed that one victim has been pronounced dead, and the 5-year-old child is in critical condition.

Officials say the good Samaritan was electrocuted trying to help a child who had gone into a flooded street that had live wires embedded in it.

A spokesman for the Rockland County Emergency Operations Center says the child is in very serious condition at Westchester Medical Center’s burn unit.

Spokesman Ron Levine says the child’s father was treated for burns at another hospital and released.

Levine says the youngster got caught in wires obscured in a flooded Spring Valley street Sunday afternoon. The village is about 30 miles northwest of Manhattan.

He says the child had to be taken by land with a police escort to the hospital because helicopters were grounded. It took 20 minutes to get the child there.
Tragedy has struck the Monsey community, when a man was electrocuted by live wires from the hurricane.

According to initial reports, Hatzolah was dispatched to Merrick and Union for live wires which fell down from the strong winds – and struck a child. An adult (possibly his father) attempted to get him out safely, and was electrocuted as well.

Hatzolah paramedics transported the victims to Westchester Medical Center. One victim has R”L been pronounced dead. The child is reportedly in critical condition. Please be Mispallel for Reuven Dovid ben Chava Leah.

A man was killed today as he tried to help when a downed electrical wire in Spring Valley severely burned a man and his 5-year-old son, authorities said.

In the most serious incident likely linked to Hurricane Irene, now a tropical storm, the wire apparently came down on the child who was touching a metal fence on Union Road and Merrick Drive.

Emergency personnel were transporting the boy to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. His father was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern with burns.

אסון במונסי • קו מתח גבוה קרס - אברך נהרג וילד נפצע אנושות

קורבנות ההוריקן • כבל מתח גבוה קרס על הילד ראובן הרבסט, במונסי • אברך שניסה לחלץ את הילד התחשמל למוות • לאחר שאספקת החשמל לאזור הופסקה - חולץ הילד ופונה לבית החולים • בני המשפחה: "מצבו אנוש - אנא התפללו עבור ראובן דוד בן חווה לאה לרפו"ש"

אברך נהרג וילד נפצע קשה היום (א) ב'ספרינג וואלי' שבמונסי מכבל מתח גבוה שקרס, כך על פי דיווח של אנשי הצלה מקומיים.

את אנחת הרווחה שנשמעה בניו-יורק אחרי שסכנת הסופה חלפה - היה אפשר לשמוע מחוף לחוף. אבל מתברר שהשמחה הייתה מוקדמת מידי

לא מעט מבני מדינת ניו -יורק שחשו שהסערה חלפה החלו לצאת מבתיהם, אך התברר שאף שהסופה חלפה הסכנה נותרה בעינה. וזה בדיוק מה שקרה לבני משפחת הערבסט, משפחה חרדית המתגוררת באזור 'ספרינג וואלי'.

אחד מילדי בני המשפחה, יצא אל הרחוב והסתבך בכבל מתח גבוה שקרס. הילד התחשמל ואברך, עובר אורח, יעקב רוזנברג שחש להציל אותו, התחשמל למוות.

למקום הוזעקו צוותי הצלה, וצוות כיבוי אש. אך רק לאחר שאספקת החשמל לאזור הופסקה כליל הצליחו צוותי ההצלה לחלץ את הילד מהמקום.

הוא הובהל למרכז הרפואי ווצסטר, במצב קשה. בני המשפחה המצויים בבית החולים מדווחים כי מצב הילד קריטי ומבקשים להתפלל עבורו. נא התפללו עבור הילד ראובן דוד בן חווה לאה לרפו"ש.

NYPD Makes Arrest In Murder Of Steve Halfon A”H

Steve Halfon A”H

A man was arrested on Staten Island yesterday for the murder of a coin dealer in Brooklyn, cops said.

Cops caught Andrew Jackson, 26, by using fingerprints he left on the car where his victim was beaten to death, said a law enforcement source.

Jackson and two other violent crooks allegedly dragged numismatist Steve Halfon, 61, out of his car near his coin shop on Kings Highway in Gravesend at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday.

They threw Halfon into another vehicle, where they beat him savagely. The vicious gang later dumped an unconscious Halfon about a mile away on East 7th Street near Avenue N in Midwood, less than two blocks from Halfon’s home.

זוכה רב בית החולים בנהריה: תהיות קשות בעדות המתלוננת

ברוך ה' האמת יצאה לאור, והרב זוכה מכל אשמה הרב שמעון גורליק

פרסום ראשון: לפני כשנה וחצי הושעה רב בית החולים בנהריה, בגלל תביעה שהוגשה נגדו באשמת הטרדה מינית וניסיון למעשים מגונים בצעירה ששהתה בבית החולים לסייע לאחיינה התינוק שאושפז באותו הזמן. ביום חמישי האחרון זיכה בית הדין של נציבות שירות המדינה את הרב מהאשמות המיוחסות לו

לפני כשנה וחצי הושעה רב בית החולים בנהריה, הרב שמעון גורליק מתפקידו, עקב תלונה של צעירה כי הרב הטריד אותה מינית.

הצעירה, חוזרת בתשובה תושבת אחד מיישובי הצפון, שהתה בבית החולים בנהריה, כדי לסייע לאחיה שבנו התינוק אושפז במצב קשה. במהלך השהות בבית החולים, סייע הרב לצעירה, ואף סיפק תפילין עבור אחיה.

במהלך השיחות שקיים הרב עם הצעירה, במשרדו ובטלפון, היא האשימה את הרב כי ניסה לגעת בה והעיר לה הערות על יופיה. בנוסף טענה הצעירה כי הרב עמד מאחוריה וניסה להריח אותה. במקרים אחדים, האשימה הצעירה את הרב, כי ביקש לסגור את דלת משרדו בזמן שישבו ביחד.

עוד טענה המתלוננת כי הרב שלח לה מסרונים בעלי אופי מיני, אך היא לא יכולה הייתה להציגם לבית המשפט בגלל שהחליפה את מכשיר הטלפון שלה. בעדותה אמרה המתלוננת כי היא שלחה לרב את הפסוק "איילת חן בגלותי יסעדני" כדי שיבין מכך שהיא מבקשת לנתק איתו את הקשר.

הרב גורליק הכחיש את האשמות מכל וכל, ודרש לאסור על פרסום פרטיו בתקשורת, אך בית המשפט העליון אישר לפרסם את פרטי התביעה.

בית הדין מזכה את הרב

בית הדין המשמעתי של נציבות שירות המדינה, בהרכב של שלושה דיינים, בראשות יוסף תלרז ערך הליך חקירה במשך כשנתיים, בו נשמעו טענותיהם של שני הצדדים, כולל עדויותיהן של מקורבי המתלוננת, ותמלילי שיחה שהוקלטה במשרדו של הרב, בנוכחות אחיה של המתלוננת.

בסופו של דבר הכריע בית הדין ביום חמישי האחרון לזכות את הרב גורליק מהאשמות נגדו.

"זיכויו של הנאשם יסודו באותו ספק ממשי שקינן בלבנו לנוכח התהיות הממשיות שאפיינו את פני גרסתה, כאמור, של המתלוננת". כשבית הדין מציין בהכרעת הדין שורה של סתירות ותהיות לגבי עדותה של המתלוננת.

על הטענות כי הרב ביקש לסגור את הדלת, קיבל בית הדין, את גרסתו של הרב, כי עשה זאת בגלל שהוא והמתלוננת עישנו במשרד, ולא רצו שהעשן יצא אל מסדרון בית החולים. הרב טען בנוסף כי במשרדו נמצא חלון גדול דרכו ניתן לראות את המתרחש במשרד, טענה שהתקבלה גם היא בבית המשפט

בנוסף קבע בית המשפט, כי נראה שדווקא המתלוננת היא שפנתה אל הרב במסרים בעלי משמעות מינית, וכי מתמלילי השיחות שהקליט הרב במשרדו עולה כי דווקא המתלוננת היא זו שניסתה לפתות את הרב.

גם פורום תקנה בעניין

מקריאת פסק הדין, עולה כי המתלוננת ומקורבתה, פנו לפורום 'תקנה' כדי שזה יסייע בתלונה נגד הרב. בפסק הדין מותחים הדיינים ביקורת על התנהלותו של הפורום, בכך שכלל לא שמע את עמדתו של הרב לפני שהחליט לסייע למתלוננת.

"בית הדין לא יכול ליתן משקל לדבריה של המתלוננת ב"פורום תקנה" אותם מסרה טלפונית לפיה היה מגע כוחני מצד הנאשם במתלוננת, מעשים לגביהם לא הייתה כל התרשמות ישירה של פורום תקנה מהמתלוננת, שלא העביר כל רישום מסודר של בדיקתו את תלונת המתלוננת שלא הופיעה בפניו, כפי שעולה מעדותה המהימנה של עדת התביעה גב' ו', במיוחד עת לא פעל לקבל גרסת הנאשם לגבי הנטען בפני אותו הפורום".

Dominique Strauss-Kahn lawyers sharpen knives for civil case in Bronx court

Still glowing from a victory in criminal court, lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn have sharpened their focus on the civil case.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers filed court papers in the Bronx on Friday, asking a judge for more time to respond to a lawsuit filed by hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. The motion will be heard on Sept. 9 in the Bronx - the first court date in the civil case.

The maid said in the suit that the French politician "brutally and violently assaulted" her at the Sofitel hotel in May. The complaint called the alleged assault "violent and sadistic."

Diallo promises in the civil suit to present testimony from other women who say they were sexually attacked by Strauss-Kahn.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. decided last week to drop criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn, once a leading candidate for the French presidency.

Prosecutors said Diallo, 32, lied on an asylum application about being gang-raped by soldiers in her native Guinea. She could be deported, officials said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, left his rented Tribeca townhouse on Friday, hopping a plane to Washington. Friends said he wanted to thank supporters at the International Monetary Fund before returning to France. He resigned as IMF chief after his arrest.

No fueling! Pumps run dry

A Mobil in Kensington yesterday

The only dry places yesterday were gas stations.

Only one of the five stations in Rockaway Park, Queens, was open. Yellow tape blocked off all eight pumps at the Mobil station at Beach 99th Street and Rockaway Boulevard in the Rockaways.

Super was kaput and regular was low at a Getty station on Henry Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

No gas" signs were plastered on all 12 pumps at a Mobil station in Kensington

Jacqueline Musumeci, 25, a teacher, topped up her car on a pal's suggestion. "My friend in Florida gave me that advice -- he's been through many hurricanes," she said.

Con Ed Brings Crews From Across Nation To Repair Damage In NYC

ConEd operations chief John Miksad said the utility doesn’t expect to cut power before the storm hits, but flooding Sunday could bring a shutdown to areas including the southern tip of Manhattan. That would cut off power to major Wall Street institutions through parts of next week.

New York is regularly blasted by winter storms, but Miksad said this hurricane will be different. Irene’s wind will pack a stronger punch than a nor’easter last March that knocked out power to 175,000 customers, he said.

ConEd has called in crews from as far as Colorado to help repair damage from the storm.

Ghost town New York: video

Hurricane Irene slams New York with heavy winds and rain

New York governor Andrew Cuomo doubled the number of National Guard soldiers deployed to New York City to 1,900

Packing vicious winds and heavy rain, a furious Hurricane Irene continued its relentless path towards New York City this morning, pummeling the region with coastal flooding and power outages.

The Category 1 hurricane forced New Yorkers to hunker down in their homes and apartments, turning the city eerily quiet and desolate as the brunt of the storm hit overnight.

“Everything is still in effect,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “The last thing people should do is go outside. They need to get inside and stay in a safe place until this thing is over."

The center of the hurricane was just 40 miles from New York City. The storm, moving north-northeast and packing winds of 75 mph, was forecast to engulf the Big Apple by 8 a.m.

The National Weather Service had briefly issued a tornado warning for Brooklyn and Queens at 4 a.m., but the warning expired 15 minutes later following reports of toppled trees in the area. There was no immediate confirmation of any tornadoes.

Three inches of rain had fallen in Central Park as of this morning, wind gusts of 60 mph had been recorded overnight.

The National Hurricane Center said the center of the massive storm had reached land near Little Egg Inlet, about 85 miles southwest of Manhattan, at 5:35 a.m., officials said.

The eye of the hurricane had slammed into North Carolina on Saturday morning, before returning to the Atlantic Ocean, straddling the Jersey Shore as it set its sights on the five boroughs.

Along the way, the hurricane flooded coastal towns, killing at least eight people, officials said.

Hours before Hurricane Irene reached the Big Apple, a 58 mph wind gust was recorded at Kennedy Airport, bringing with it a 4-foot surge in New York Harbor.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ashley Sears said a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet was expected to rush in just before the eye crosses into New York City.

The city and parts of Long Island are expected to get as much as 12 inches of rain by the time the storm passes over the region by this afternoon.

Con Edison said 69,700 New York City customers, mostly in Brooklyn and Queens, were without power early today.

Con Ed and other utilities are reporting a total of more than 121,500 outages in Long Island and Westchester County.

More than 407,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey are also without power as winds and rain from Hurricane Irene lash the state.

Atlantic City Electric said about 104,000 customers had no power, including 40,000 in Atlantic County.

Meanwhile, rain swamped roadways and highways around New York City.

City officials said a portion of the Jackie Robinson Parkway in Queens was flooded.

The deluge of water also shut down a southbound segment of the FDR Drive in East Harlem.

Parts of the Grand Central Parkway in Queens and the Cross Bronx Expressway also are closed because of flooding.

City officials note that no big stretches of roadway have had to close yet.

There were also flooded roads along the Jersey Shore and in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

When divorce refused, haredi society acts

Religious communities often use coercive tactics to pressure recalcitrant husbands into granting wives a 'get'. Tactics run the gamut from denying social, religious privileges to using financial, legal leverage

Yisrael Briskman's wife in Israel wanted a divorce, and a rabbinical court decided she should be granted one. But Briskman refused and fled to the United States, where the FBI says an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and his wife lured him to their New Jersey home, kidnapped him and said they'd bury him alive in the Pocono Mountains if he didn't relent.

Briskman said he was kicked repeatedly in the ribs at the home in Lakewood, robbed and shown the dark body bag he'd soon inhabit if he didn't free his wife from their marital bonds.

"For you to get used to the size," Rabbi David Wax is quoted as saying in the criminal complaint leading to his surrender to the FBI this month.

If this Sopranos-style plot is true - which the Waxes deny - it is an anomaly. But it's not uncommon for religious communities to use coercive tactics to pressure recalcitrant husbands into granting their wives a "get," or religious divorce. Tactics run the gamut from denying social and religious privileges to using financial and legal leverage.

And while few cases involving unlawful methods have been reported to authorities, rumors abound in insular religious communities about what can happen to someone who keeps a spouse chained to a defunct marriage.

"They take the man to the water, to the Hudson River, and they put his head in and if you don't give the get, you're not coming out of the water," said Estelle Freilich, recounting a story passed back and forth in Brooklyn, home to some of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside Israel. Freilich directs the New York-based Agunah International, a group that aids women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get.

The issue grows from the intricacies of Jewish law governing marriage and divorce. In Orthodox Judaism, men and women cannot remarry without a proper rabbinical divorce. Other streams of Judaism in the United States, such as the Conservative and Reform movements, generally honor civil divorces and don't require a separate religious document.

'Women literally tied for years'

Orthodox rabbis are required to try to reconcile marriages to prevent divorce, but if that fails, rabbinical courts can issue a divorce decree, or a "get" in Hebrew. But the get isn't valid until both husband and wife consent. If one party refuses, the other cannot remarry or procreate without the children being considered illegitimate and prevented from ever marrying religious Jews.

The aggrieved spouse becomes "aguna" - Hebrew for "chained."

[This is, of course, completely false. Women become agunot (plural of aguna). Men can remarry using a heter mea rabbanim, and they can live with a woman without marriage. The children from that relationship are not tainted in any way, and the man has not committed adultry. But a woman who has been denied a get by her husband and who sleeps with another man after that has committed adultery. Any children born to her are mamzerim, bastards, who cannot marry regular Jews – and neither can their descendants for 10 full generations. Men have none of these restrictions. – FM editor.]

Religious officials say the vast majority of divorces in their communities are resolved amicably and rarely get to the aguna stage. But disgruntled spouses will occasionally flout the rabbinical courts, either out of spite or in an attempt to extort money or secure favorable divorce conditions. A husband might tell his wife he'll grant the get for $100,000, said Dov Hikind, a New York State assemblyman whose Brooklyn district includes many of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

"It's one of the most horrendous things I've ever had to witness," Hikind said. "Women who sometimes for a great number of years are literally tied, their hands are tied."

The situation in the United States and the modern Jewish Diaspora differs from that in Israel and the long-ago Orthodox communities of Eastern Europe because of the issue of jurisdiction. Israel's religious courts are official legal institutions, and can impose sanctions on recalcitrant spouses, ranging from driver's license suspension to imprisonment.

A few hundred years ago, rabbinical courts in isolated Jewish communities in Europe had relative autonomy, said Rabbi Michael Broyde, a law professor at Emory University in Atlanta and a member of the Beth Din of America, the country's largest rabbinical court. American rabbis operate within the realm of legal, protected behaviors to convince a spouse that a get is in order.

"In no way, shape or form does any rabbinical court ever direct conduct against the party that's a violation of secular law," Broyde said. "I've never encountered a story like (the one in New Jersey) in my sittings on a rabbinical court."

But the court can issue a "seruv" - the Jewish equivalent of a contempt of court citation. Such a move directs rabbis to keep the person from receiving certain honors in the synagogue, and can even block entry to the synagogue. In a society where the synagogue is at the center of daily life, often that threat can be enough.

And if that doesn't work, the community can take matters into its own hands. The group ORA, or the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, exists to do just that.

Rabbi Jeremy Stern of New York City, ORA's executive director, said communities can exert social pressure by persuading the spouse's friends and family to shun them and deny them financial support until they give the get. The group has also resolved cases by suing a husband in civil court for infliction of emotional distress, but promising to drop the tort as soon as the divorce is granted.

"From our perspective, the withholding of a get is a form of domestic abuse," Stern said. "The entire community says, 'We won't tolerate this kind of abuse in our community.'"

In Jewish neighborhoods across the country, protests have been organized outside the houses of recalcitrant spouses to embarrass them. Hikind, the Brooklyn assemblyman, said he's personally attended several such demonstrations. Other visible ostracism includes signs posted around the spouse's neighborhood and notices placed in Jewish religious publications.

In Briskman's case, an order by the Israeli rabbinate instructed the community not to do business with him or extend him any kindness. It also urged followers not to give him a place to stay and ordered he serve a year in prison - perhaps one reason he left the country.

Federal prosecutors say Wax, 49, and his wife, Judy Wax, 47, lured Briskman to their Lakewood home in October. He was handcuffed and blindfolded and forced to repeat in English and Hebrew that he would release his wife from the marriage. The couple surrendered to the FBI on kidnapping charges July 18 and are free on bail, pending indictment by a grand jury. They face life in prison if found guilty.

David Wax is also charged with making a telephone threat to Briskman's father in Israel, telling the father he'd get a bullet in the head if he didn't give the wife's family $100,000 within two hours.

Lawyers for David and Judy Wax say they will plead not guilty.

The 'get law'

Community-based sanctions are only effective so long as the individual is tied to that community. As societies have become more fluid and long-distance travel cheaper, it's become easier for a spiteful spouse to skip town and resettle in a place where they won't face repercussions, rabbis said.

"In Lakewood, a relative close-knit community, that would be effective," said Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a key leader in the enclave of Lakewood, home to about 10,000 Orthodox families and one the world's largest Jewish academies. "This is not done lightly. It's done extremely rarely, when the Beth Din (rabbinical court) has exhausted every other option."

In 2009, a divorce between two Israeli-born Florida residents broke down into extended litigation over the husband's refusal to grant a get unless the wife, Oranit Shaked, agreed to pay legal fees and alimony.

"He knows the impact of what a get would do to me," Shaked testified during the divorce trial. "I have no control over my future. If I want to get married, I can't get married."

The court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction over the religious aspect of the marriage and couldn't force him to give a get. That prompted Shaked's attorney, Martin Kofsky, to approach south Florida lawmakers about introducing a legal remedy for future divorces.

"The response I got was, we have some Orthodox male constituents, and we don't want to lose them," Kofsky said.

To this day, Oranit Shaked's husband, Eran Ben David, has not granted her the get, her attorney said. Shaked, an emergency-room pediatrician, is free to remarry in a civil court, but an Orthodox rabbi would not perform a marriage for her and any children she birthed would be considered "mamzers," or bastards.

In New York State, lawmakers have responded with what's colloquially referred to as the "get law." It requires anyone who was married in a religious ceremony to confirm that they have removed any impediments to their spouse's remarriage before being granted a civil divorce.

The get law is a good start, but doesn't help all couples, said Hikind, the state assemblyman.

"The rabbis, the leaders, they're concerned about this, but what's the solution?" he said. "I just don't know."