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Monday, April 30, 2012

MLB to suspend Delmon Young for anti-Semitic incident

Yer out!

Major League Baseball has decided to suspend Detroit Tigers slugger Delmon Young because of his drunken anti-Semitic rant and arrest.

The announcement could come as early as this afternoon.

The tourist was chatting with a panhandler who was wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David before the star outfielder’s outburst.

Young, 26, was released on $5,000 bail on Friday night and benched by the Tigers on Saturday ahead of its three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx.

The team also said he would undergo alcohol and anger evaluation today.

It wasn’t clear how long the suspension would last, sources said.

Last May, MLB announced a two-week suspension and an undisclosed fine for Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell.

He was slapped with the suspension and fine after he allegedly made gay slurs and used foul language to fans before al game with the San Francisco Giants.

This is just the latest trouble for the hot-tempered Young, an outfielder who was suspended for 50 games in 2006 in the minors for chucking a bat at an umpire.

Young joined the Tigers last season. This year, the Tigers signed him to a one-year, $6.725 million contract.

Columbia, SC - South Carolina Teacher Facing Charges Over 'Jew' Comment

Patricia Mulholland

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A middle school teacher in South Carolina has been accused of dragging a student under a table during class, telling the boy “this is what the Nazis do to Jews,” police said Monday.

The 12-year-old student said he got up to sharpen a pencil at Bluffton Middle School on Wednesday when Patricia Mulholland grabbed him by his collar and said, “come here, Jew,” police said. The teacher then dragged him 10 feet under a table and made the comment about Nazis, according to police.

The seventh-grade teacher claims she was trying to teach the students a lesson about the Holocaust. The social studies teacher had a lesson on the Holocaust the day before.

“What was a demonstrative attempt to teach about World War II and the Holocaust has been taken to mean an anti-Semitic rant and it was nothing like that,” said her attorney, Robert Ferguson.

Mulholland was arrested and faces charges of assault and battery and public disorderly conduct, Bluffton Police spokesman Lt. Joe Babkiewicz said.

Ferguson said Mulholland is a well-regarded teacher and hasn’t had any problems during her 23-year career with Beaufort County schools.

“This is such a sensitive topic. But what do you determine is instructive teaching? Where is that line?” Ferguson said.

School district officials said Mulholland was placed on administrative leave Thursday. The district is sharing any information it has with police and will conduct its own investigation once the criminal probe is finished.

Police would not identify the student and refused to say whether he was Jewish.

Bluffton is located along the coast in the southeastern part of the state.

Samuel "Mouli" Cohen, Tech Exec Gets 22 Years Prison for $30M Fraud

Samuel ‘Mouli’ Cohen

SAN FRANCISCO  — A former high-tech executive convicted of defrauding investors of at least $30 million on Monday was given one of the harshest sentences meted out in a white-collar criminal case.

A federal judge in San Francisco sentenced Samuel "Mouli" Cohen to 22 years in prison. Judge Charles Breyer also set a Thursday hearing to consider fines against Cohen that could total $60 million.

Prosecutors argued for the lengthy prison term, calling Cohen a "congenital liar and serial fraudster."

Cohen was convicted of soliciting investments in his digital jukebox company by lying about its success. Prosecutors say his fraud caused the collapse of the Vanguard Public Foundation, a nonprofit tied to actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte.

Cohen's lawyers were planning to appeal his conviction on wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges.

Cohen was convicted of falsely telling investors beginning in 2002 that a company he launched called Ecast that made electronic jukeboxes for bars was about to be acquired by Microsoft Corp.

Prosecutors said Cohen kept the scheme going by soliciting more money from victims with complaints that U.S. and then European regulators were holding up the deal, which required additional investments to pay nonexistent fees and bonds needed to push the deal to approval.

Prosecutors say none of that was true. Instead, they said Cohen used the millions to fund an "absurd lifestyle" that included helping his wife publish a cookbook called "The Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe."

Prosecutors say that Cohen rented a mansion in the wealthy enclave of Belvedere just north of San Francisco and decorated the house with copies of famous paintings from Picasso, Miro and Matisse and other noted artists.

But prosecutors said he solicited investments during parties at his house, which he told victims he owned while showing them the artwork he deemed were originals. Prosecutors said that was all part of a ruse to portray himself as a wealthy and savvy businessman.

Haredi kids' paper shuns Israeli flag

US flag in, Israeli flag out

On eve of Independence Day, article in ultra-Orthodox children's paper features flags of US, Soviet Union and even the lifeguard's banner – but avoids mentioning Israel

On the eve of Independence Day, the Israeli flag seemed to adorn virtually every home and car across the country; but it was hardly mentioned in an article published that day in an ultra-Orthodox children's paper, which featured a thorough review of the flags of the world.

Last week's edition of the paper, Haverim ("Friends"), which accompanies the haredi weekly Bakehila (In the Community), included a feature focusing on the appearance, history and traditional use of flags from across the globe. The edge of the Israeli flag is shown on the article's first page, buried in a pile of banners from dozens of countries.

The feature explained that the 13 stripes on the American flag represent the original 13 colonies that settled the country and eventually declared independence from Britain, and that the stars represents the number of states in the union. The green background of the Brazilian flag, the author wrote, represents the rain forests; the gold represents the the South American country's precious metal and the 27 stars represent its number of states.

Soviet Union flag mentioned

The article even displayed the Soviet Union's flag, explaining that the hammer and sickle stand for the working class. Libya, Cyprus, Japan and the United Nations got special attention as well.

The author also described the ceremonial uses of the flags, saying that they are "displayed on top of state institutions, like courts, parliamentary buildings and police stations. Occasionally, we hear that a country has lowered its flag to half-mast." Eluding the symbolism of being published on Memorial Day, the Israeli flag got no mention.

Bakehila is not affiliated with any haredi movement. Like other media outlets in the ultra-Orthodox community, a committee of religious experts oversees its content; it appears as though Israel's white-and-blue banner raised a red flag among the editors.

"A supposedly moderate newspaper's exclusion of the flag is disgraceful and parallels some haredim's habit of dishonoring the Memorial Day siren," said Rabbi Uri Regev, who heads Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom.

"Especially on the eve of Independence Day, the editors chose to thoroughly review the significance of every possible flag – including the lifeguard's banner – but to ignore the white and blue flag.

"This is another proof that the core educational program, which includes civics and history studies, must be imposed on the ultra-Orthodox educational system, in order to make sure that haredi children also learn the real story behind the foundation of the state and its symbols, instead of growing up in a reality that boycotts the state."

Swiss banks allegedly destroyed records of Jews' bank accounts

Switzerland - Swiss banks systematically hid and destroyed records of bank accounts from the Holocaust period, thus preventing their owners from claiming their money and assets, according to a lawsuit set to be filed next week.

During the Nazi regime in 1933-1945 some 7 million bank accounts were created in Switzerland. An estimated 60,000 of them were opened by Jews in a bid to salvage their property from the Nazis, with the intention of reclaiming it after World War II.

“They all disappeared and were burned. They destroyed the evidence,” says attorney Roland Roth, an expert in international law, who is preparing to file a massive suit against the Swiss banks on behalf of two Israeli clients.

The wholesale destruction of records was first uncovered by Swiss whistle-blower Christoph Meili. While working as a night guard in UBS 15 years ago, Meili reportedly discovered that bank officials were shredding documents related to the accounts of deceased clients whose heirs' whereabouts were unknown.

In Roth's estimate, the banks owe Jewish heirs $6 billion, based on what their accounts would have been worth if they had survived to this day. "I believe before the Holocaust there were at least 30 more people - apart from the two I represent - who held a great deal of property in Switzerland. But they probably didn't leave evidence to enable claiming their assets," he said.

London Olympics: Jerusalem Capital of 'Palestine,' not Israel

Screenshot from the London Olympics

On official website, Israel had no capital; capital of "Palestine" was Jerusalem. Israelis protested, error was fixed.

Until Monday morning, the official website of the 2012 London Olympics portrayed Israel as a country without a capital, while Jerusalem was listed as the capital of "Palestine."

The website appears to have been fixed to show Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well.

The fix may have been the result of a request by online advocacy group My Israel to its members, to demand that Jerusalem be listed as Israel's capital.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a request from the families of the Israeli athletes who were murdered by Arab terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games to organize an official commemoration on their behalf.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, was one of the 11 Israelis killed, said the IOC did not want to enrage Arab countries by mentioning the tragedy at high profile events.

“They tell us that the Arab delegations will get up and leave, to which I said: ‘It’s okay; if they don’t understand what the Olympics are all about, let them leave,’” Spitzer said.

Alan Dershowitz: SC Should Hear Sholom Rubashkin Appeal

Professor Alan Dershowitz, one of the world's most famous criminal defense lawyers, wrote the following op-ed in the prestigious National Law Journal together with his colleague Ronald Rotunda explaining why Sholom Rubashkin deserves to have his appeal heard before the United States Supreme Court. Dershowitz says an overzealous Department of Justice and a judge who was essentially on prosecution team lead to Rubashkin's 27-year sentence in Federal prison:

Lawyers for Sholom RubashkinPaul Clement and Nathan Lewin — filed last month a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. Rubashkin is seeking relief from the Supreme Court because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit refused to consider evidence that Rubashkin first discovered after the trial that made the trial fundamentally unfair.

Indeed, during the past few years, a series of federal judges have criticized the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecutorial misconduct. Judge Emmet Sullivan of D.C. district court, who ordered a criminal investigation into the actions of prosecutors in the trial of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, suggested that the case reflected deeper problems at the Justice Department. Chief Judge Mark Wolf of the District of Massachusetts found that he regularly presided over cases where federal prosecutors withheld important evidence, about every other year for the past two decades.

It's happened again, but this time the judge herself is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. When Agriprocessors, an Iowa kosher processing plant, learned that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) was concerned about its hiring practices and planned a raid, it hired a law firm to contact ICE and offered to cooperate with the authorities in terminating undocumented workers. ICE did not reply. Instead, on May 12, 2008, it launched a highly publicized raid, with about 600 agents in riot gear, accompanied by a Blackhawk helicopter. Agents arrested 389 workers.

Five months later, the government arrested the plant's manager, Sholom Rubashkin, on charges of harboring illegal immigrants, but ICE's case had problems. For example, it turned out that an undercover ICE agent had twice tried to secure employment at this plant, but he was turned away because he did not have the proper papers.

It would not do to have such a dramatic raid and nothing to show for it. The Justice Department filed seven superseding indictments charging bank fraud. The indictments included a creative theory — that Rubashkin falsely certified to the bank that Agriprocessors was complying with all the laws even though it was employing undocumented aliens. The federal jury did convict on the bank fraud charges, and the federal government dropped all immigration charges. In the meantime, Iowa indicted Rubashkin for employing child labor. The state initially alleged 9,311 offenses and went to trial on only 83; the trial judge limited that number to 67, and the jury acquitted on everything.

Federal prosecutors recommended life imprisonment. After widespread criticism of such a harsh sentence by many people (including six former U.S. attorneys general), the government asked for a 25-year sentence. Judge Linda Reade, the trial judge, imposed 27 years instead.

But Reade did more than impose a disproportionate sentence. After Rubashkin's conviction and sentence, defense lawyers learned that Reade, over a six-month period, had been actively engaged in planning the Agriprocessors raid. E-mails and affidavits showed that, long before the raid occurred, Reade met with ICE agents to discuss “charging strategies, numbers of anticipated arrests and prosecutions, logistics, the movement of detainees, and other issues related” to the investigation and operation. At one meeting, which law-enforcement personnel attended at the judge's request, the judge stated that she was “willing to support the operation in any way possible, to include staffing and scheduling.” She was essentially part of the prosecution team.

A March 20, 2008, e-mail states: “The Chief Judge has indicated she wants a final game plan in two weeks (April 4).” Eleven days later, another e-mail discloses that the assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) would meet with Reade on April 4, and the judge wanted “a briefing on how the operation will be conducted.”

The AUSA wanted a document “for his presentation to the judge,” because of the “requirement to brief the judge.” The actual raid was planned “[i]n coordination” with “the United States District Court in the Northern District of Iowa.” The trial judge, ICE and the AUSA had “a weekly operations/planning meeting” about this upcoming case.

The judge and the prosecutors should have notified Rubashkin's lawyers that she had participated in planning the raid so that they could move to recuse her. Failure to do so was prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

The judge made herself a witness involving the events of the disqualification issue and then said — unsurprisingly — that she would rule in favor of her version of events, rather than the version suggested by the documents and the affidavits. She judged her own credibility even though the federal statute provides that, when a litigant alleges prejudice by a judge, “another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.” Case law provides that “the court must accept all facts included in the affidavit as true.” But she did not do that, either.

On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the conviction and refused to disqualify the judge because, it said (applying a rule unique to the Eighth Circuit) the defendant should have filed his motion earlier, and it was not convinced that the newly discovered evidence “probably will result in an acquittal upon retrial.”

The Supreme Court should decide to hear this case and use it as a vehicle to examine cozy relations between a prosecution that was too zealous and a judge who was too involved in pretrial prosecution strategies. The Iowa legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that filed an amicus brief on behalf of Rubashkin, warned that the judge's involvement with the prosecution “immediately gave the appearance of unfairness.” It was more than appearance. It was actual unfairness.

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard University. Ronald Rotunda is a professor of law at Chapman University. Rotunda filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which various professors and practitioners, including Dershowitz, joined.

Michael Jackson’s Rabbi Shmuley Boteach runs for Congress in NJ

Michael Jackson’s rabbi is throwing his hat into the ring — in what could turn out to be a Thriller of a congressional election in New Jersey.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a onetime spiritual adviser to Jacko and a popular author and TV personality, is seeking the GOP nomination in the Ninth District, covering parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties.

Why does Boteach, who has penned best sellers like “Kosher Jesus’’ and “Kosher Sex’’ and whose celebrity pals include Dr. Phil, Rosie O’Donnell and Elie Wiesel, want to get into politics?

“It’s highly unorthodox — no pun intended — for a rabbi to run for Congress,” Boteach said. “But who else is to bring values to the public arena?”

The man who calls himself “America’s Rabbi” was raised in Los Angeles and Miami and spent time in Oxford, Israel and Australia before settling in Englewood, NJ, a decade ago.

He said the death of the Gloved One provides the most vivid example of why he is seeking public office. He said he tried to steer Jackson away from drugs.

“Michael is the all-American tragedy. Michael was perceived as one of the most wholesome celebrities until he was perceived as the most damaged celebrity. It’s unbelievable you could have a change of that caliber,” Boteach told The Post.

“Michael lost his values. He no longer had the faith-support structure that kept him humble,” added Boteach, a father of nine.

“The problems we face as a nation are the erosion of values. We need a spiritual revival.”

Boteach, 45, is heavily favored to win the GOP primary. He’s a charismatic speaker with a sense of humor who may have cross-over appeal in the heavily Democratic district.

Speaking at a recent GOP event, he joked, “The bad news is that you have to endure me for two or three minutes. The worse news is it’s a Jewish two or three minutes.”

He also has powerful Democratic friends, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who attended Oxford with him.

Boteach, who is Orthodox, travels to Washington regularly to study Torah with GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is also Jewish.

Boteach generally supports lower taxes and smaller government.

“The larger the government, the smaller we become,’’ he said. “What people want is dignity. Dignity comes from self-reliance and self-sufficiency. People do not want to become wards of the state.”


Brooklyn D.A. "Plays Sex Abuse Politics" With The Lives Of Jewish Kids

If anyone had dared to suggest that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office has an official policy giving preferential treatment to Orthodox Jewish sex criminals, the critic would probably be knee-deep in editorials charging him with anti-Semitism.

Alas, what’s an Orthodox Jewish lawyer like me to say when the DA’s lieutenants themselves announce just such a policy?

I’ll say this: Hynes’ refusal to disclose almost any information about the arrest or prosecution of alleged sex offenders from the politically powerful Orthodox community is not only discriminatory; it’s also a cynical insult to the victims his office is pledged to support.

Mind you, the discrimination is no mere allegation; it’s a matter of record. In letters this month to reporters Paul Berger, of Forward, and Hella Winston, of The Jewish Week, Assistant DA Morgan Dennehy explicitly affirmed that his boss’ policy for suppressing information about sex abuse is “unique” to the “Hasidic” community.

Yes, the letter gave a “reason” for singling out Orthodox Jews — but the reason made no sense. According to Dennehy, if the DA were to release any information about alleged perpetrators from the “tight-knit and insular” (his words) Orthodox community, there would be “a significant danger that the disclosure . . . would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims,” which could violate state law.

Hmm. When the DA’s office announced the sentencing of child abuser Gerald Hatcher last December, it gave enough information about his 11-year-old victim to lead those familiar with the assailant to guess her name. Surely many other Brooklyn communities are as “tight-knit” as the Orthodox Jews — yet Hynes is evidently willing to name perpetrators among them.

This double standard doesn’t just discriminate against non-Orthodox defendants. From my own work on behalf of abuse survivors, I know that Hynes’ secrecy-first approach also discriminates against Orthodox Jewish victims.

For instance, my legal efforts to uncover the record of the official failure to extradite (from Israel) one notorious indicted child abuser, Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, enjoy the support of Survivors for Justice, a prominent advocacy group for Orthodox abuse victims. Yet in that case, too, the DA’s spokesman insists he’s protecting “the identity of [the] victims and their families from harassment” — even though I’ve told three courts that I don’t want any information that identifies the victims.

The split between victims’ real desires and Hynes’ ostensible concern for them is all too typical. The Orthodox sex-abuse survivors I know want their attackers identified publicly, both for their own vindication and because an open criminal process is less likely to be manipulated by community power politics.

Along that line, it’s no surprise that the only unqualified endorsement I’ve seen of the DA’s information lockdown has come from Ami Magazine, a weekly with close ties to ultra-Orthodox leadership.

That’s really the point. The preferential treatment for Orthodox abusers isn’t about the victims; it’s about the extent to which Orthodox leadership controls the way the DA treats these cases. Hynes yoked himself to that leadership when he announced a special program for handling sex-abuse complaints from the Orthodox community, called “Kol Tzedek,” in April 2009.

Orthodox influence on Hynes’ office is nothing new. Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services — the whip hand of the Kol Tzedek partnership — has had its own problems in the secrecy-about-abuse department.

A chapter I co-wrote with Amy Neustein for a new online book, “Sexual Abuse — Breaking the Silence” (based on extensive reporting by The Jewish Week and other publications) details Ohel’s shabby history of dodging mandatory-reporting statutes and federal privacy regulations in child-abuse cases.

The only new thing here, I’m afraid, is the spectacle of the DA’s office serving as PR agency for institutions that have done much more to obscure crimes in the Orthodox community than to fight them.

In presenting the all-too-familiar “under the carpet” policy as a form of victims’ rights, Hynes has showed his true priorities. Equal justice for sex-abuse victims isn’t one of them.

Michael Lesher, a lawyer, is writing a book on sex abuse in Orthodox Jewish communities.

Israel - Chevra Kadisha Presents Alternative Mass Burial Plan

Israel - The Chevra Kadisha forum has presented its own plan for mass burial in the case of a multi-casualty incident.

Under the government plans, the bodies will be buried temporarily, in coffins, at temporary cemeteries. In the second stage, after identification, the bodies are to be transferred for final burial.

In a letter sent on Sunday to Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, the forum, which unites the 12 major Chevra Kadisha branches in Israel, claimed that the national plan for cemeteries, which includes temporary burial for the massive amount of victims or transfer to cooling facilities until final burial can be arranged in civilian cemeteries, is “problematic” from a halachic perspective as well as a humane perspective.

Chevra Kadisha claim that the problematic arrangements can be avoided by regulated preparation.

The alternative presented by the forum includes a few central points, including keeping “extra reserves” of burial sites at the ready – throughout the country – which will be maintained by Chevra Kadisha. The land will be in areas near or adjacent to existing cemeteries so that the necessary infrastructure is already in place if needed in an emergency.

Poughkeepsie, NY - Young Woman R”L Killed on Hiking Trip in Mohonk Mountains

Tragedy has struck the frum community once again, with the tragic death of a young woman. According to initial reports, the single, 22-year-old girl was on a hiking trip at Mohonk Mountain House, near New Paltz, when the accident happened, Sunday afternoon.

She was rushed to St Francis Hospital, where she was R”L pronounced dead.

Rabbi Joel Gold, Chaplain at Ulster County Sheriff Dept is working to ensure that proper Kavod is given to the Nifteres.

Misaskim is enroute to the hospital as well.

Further details will be published pending proper family notification.

Boruch Dayan Emmes…

Benzion Netanyahu, father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dies at 102

PM Netanyahu and his father

Renowned historian, Revisionist activist dies in Jerusalem at age of 102. Netanyahu senior was born in Warsaw and came to Israel in 1920

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's father, Benzion Netanyahu, died Monday. He was 102 years old.

The prime minister was able to visit his father in his Jerusalem home for the last time on Sunday.

Netanyahu senior was a renowned historian, specializing in the golden age of Jewish history in Spain, and a professor emeritus at Cornell University.

He was secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and was a Revisionist leader of the Zionist Movement in the United States.

He also served as the science editor for the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, published between 1944 and 2005.

Prof. Netanyahu was known to hold political views that were often more to the Right than his son's, and was often publicly critical of the prime minister's policies.

In 2004 he signed a petition of academicians who opposed the Gaza disengagements.

Benzion Netanyahu was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1910. His family immigrated to then-Palestine in 1920 and eventually settled in Jerusalem.

In 1944, Netanyahu married Tzila Segal and the couple had three sons: Yonatan, born in 1946, a former commander of Sayeret Matkal, who was killed in 1976 during Operation Entebbe; Benjamin, born 1949 and Ido, born 1952, a physician, author and playwright.

When marking his father's 100th birthday, Netanyahu said that "It was my father who taught me that those who are unfamiliar with the past cannot understand the present and those who cannot understand present cannot see what lies ahead."

President Shimon Peres conveyed his condolences to the Netanyahu family, saying their patriarch was "a great historian and a great Jew."

Political rivals show deference

Despite the heated predictions for the opening plenum of the Knesset's summer session, set for noon Monday, the prime minister's political rivals announced that they will pull the various nonconfidence motions out of respect for the family's mourning.

Kadima, Meretz, Labor and the National Union, all informed Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that they wish to remove their motions from the plenum's agenda.

Opposition Chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) issued an official statement following the announcement of Prof. Netanyahu's death: "I have had the honor of knowing Benzion Netanyahu. He was a humble, bright and dear man.

"Benzion Netanyahu was cut above the rest, a Zionist who believed in Israel and its right to exist – a belief for which he paid dearly when he lost his son. I am deeply saddened by his passing and offer the family my condolences."

Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich also issued a statement, posted on her Facebook page, saying: "Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the PM's father, passed away today, at the age of 102.

"He was an important historian, an intellectual and a right-wing ideologist. I have the deepest appreciation for ideologists, even when they belong to the other side of the political spectrum.

"I sent the prime minister my condolences and told him that, while you only have one father, his father was also very unique in the mark he left on Israeli society. May he rest in peace."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gadhafi funding claim weighs on French campaign

Socialist presidential candidate for the upcoming French presidential election Francois Hollande, right, looks at some of the 2,500 photographs of young Jews deported from France during WWII, as he visits the Shoah Memorial in Paris,

PARIS  — French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday fiercely denied that he was offered campaign funding from late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as new challenges piled up against him a week ahead of the country's presidential runoff.

Sarkozy also rebuffed leftist critics who compared his campaign rhetoric to that of France's Nazi collaborators, reviving ugly wartime memories in what has been a particularly bitter presidential race.

Polls predict Sarkozy will lose the May 6 runoff to Socialist Francois Hollande, who promises government-funded jobs programs and higher taxes on the rich — pledges that resonate with a recession-weary electorate.

Both men staged rousing rallies Sunday on opposite ends of the country, with Hollande sounding victorious already and Sarkozy calling for Europe to protect its civilization.

The campaign funding allegation originates from a year-old claim by Gadhafi's second son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, that Libya financed Sarkozy's 2007 presidential bid. The allegation came as Sarkozy was campaigning for international airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces to stop his crackdown on Libyan rebels.

Although no evidence has emerged that the funding ever took place, French website Mediapart reported Saturday that it had obtained a 2006 Libyan document signed by Gadhafi's then-intelligence chief Moussa Koussa with an offer by the regime to spend €50 million ($66 million) on Sarkozy's campaign.

"It's a setup, it's a slanderous remark," Sarkozy said on Canal Plus television Sunday, accusing Mediapart of being a mouthpiece of the left.

Hollande's campaign team urged judicial authorities to investigate, as did Segolene Royal, the runner-up in the 2007 race.

Supporters of the Socialist leader gathered Sunday for a rally in Paris where Hollande said his presidency would be a "refusal of austerity."

He wants to renegotiate a hard-fought European treaty on budget tightening, saying economies need more government stimulus. Critics say his plans will dig France deeper into unsustainable debt.

"We have to change the orientation of Europe. Things are starting to move," Hollande said.

Earlier in the day, Hollande honored Jews deported during World War II, visiting a memorial and museum to the Holocaust in Paris and praising the museum's work as crucial "for Jews and for humanity."

Some 76,000 Jews, but also thousands of gypsies and others, were deported from Nazi-occupied France to concentration camps during World War II, and the overwhelming majority never returned. Since the 1950s, the last Sunday of April has been a special day when France honors those deported.

Sarkozy paid tribute to French Jews during a rally in the southern city of Toulouse, where a gunman killed three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi last month in a rampage that horrified the country.

"You saw what monstrosity the hate of the other can bring," he said. "When a Jewish child feels threatened, it's not the Jewish community's problem. It's the national community's problem."

Sarkozy has come under criticism during the presidential campaign for his tough language toward immigrants — language that some have compared to that of France's Nazi collaborators. Sarkozy called the comparisons "so insulting and excessive that they demean those who pronounce them," in an interview with the daily Le Parisien.

At his rally Sunday, he kept up his calls for Europe to "protect European people and European civilization." He insisted that racism shouldn't be lumped together with "those who love France and who want to keep it the way they received it from their parents."

Sarkozy supporter Roseline Ailloud praised his handling of economic crises and said France shouldn't be so generous with welfare benefits to immigrants. "We cannot take in all the misery of the world," she said in Toulouse.

Sarkozy has stepped up his rhetoric since anti-immigrant far right leader Marine Le Pen scored a strong third-place showing in the first round of the presidential election April 22.

Le Pen's voters could be crucial to deciding who wins the runoff. Her father and the founder of her National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been convicted of racism and anti-Semitism. Marine Le Pen has focused her ire on what she calls the "Islamization" of France.

Sarkozy also dismissed suggestions that his conservative party UMP helped discredit former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn was considered the leading presidential hopeful a year ago but was then arrested and charged with assaulting a New York hotel maid. The charges were later dropped. A report in the London-based Guardian newspaper says Strauss-Kahn believes his political opponents sabotaged him.

By ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press

What if Yuval Diskin Was a Rabbi?

Former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin

Israeli leaders in Judea and Samaria expressed outrage Sunday as former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin appeared to call for violent protests against the Israeli government.

Head of the Binyamin Region Residents Council Itzik Shadmi criticized the State Prosecutors Office. “What is this if not incitement?” Shadmi asked, adding, “If [Diskin] were a rabbi, he would have been taken in for questioning already.”

Diskin had said, “What’s the difference between the ‘revolutionaries’ on Sderot Rothschild and those in Tahrir Square? There is a small but significant difference – the folks in Tahrir Square were willing to pay a price, the folks in Sderot Rothschild – not so much.”

“Diskin is calling on the public that gathered last summer during the social protests to do what the Egyptian mobs did in Tahrir Square,” said members of the Binyamin Region Residents’ Council. “In other words – violence. To destroy, burn, beat, and spill blood.”

Shadmi called on Diskin to apologize to the “hilltop youth” of Judea and Samaria. “What you are preaching is far more extreme and severe than what you accused them of, than the accusations over which you forbid fathers from being at home with their families,” he accused.

Isabel Celis search: Hunt for 6-year-old girl moves into Mexico

Arizona investigators hunting for missing tot Isabel Celis spoke with a man captured on surveillance camera near the girl's house on the night she disappeared, police said.

The unidentified man was one of five people filmed walking near the Celi's home at 1:30 a.m. after leaving a club on April 21.

Authorities didn't reveal what the potential witness told them or whether he had any information that put them closer to finding the 6-year-old, ABC News reported.

News of the video came as authorities announced the desperate hunt had crossed into Mexico.

Tucson police spokesman Lt. Fabian Pacheco told reporters on Saturday that Mexican officials in the northern state of Sonora were searching hotels, bus terminals and businesses, and circulating the girl's photo.

Pacheco also called for patience, saying that investigators were looking "at all possible scenarios" — though they have ruled out Isabel leaving on her own.

"We understand that some folks might feel frustration. Eight days, believe me, we feel it as well," he said, according to The Associated Press.

"This isn't 'CSI Tucson' where we're going to solve this in an hour. It's going to take us a while and we need that patience," he said.

Former FBI agent Brad Garrett told ABC News it was "a good idea" to get Mexican police involved.

"The idea that somebody crossed and picked up Isabel and then went back into Mexico is actually realistic," Garrett said.

Isabel was reported missing by her father, Sergio, at around 8 a.m. on April 21 after he went to wake her up and found her bedroom empty.

A window to the room was open and a screen was removed, police said.

Last week, search dogs picked up on something suspicious in the home and the family was evacuated from the house.

Investigators later searched several homes in the Celis neighborhood and interviewed around 15 people who are on the state's sex offender registry.

Sergio and Becky Celis have offered $6,000 for any information about her whereabouts.

"Just please, please, to the person or persons who have Isabel, tell us what you want. We will do anything for her," Sergio Celis said in a tearful plea last week. "We're looking for you, Isa."

Nicole Houde Former Miss USA Arrested For Assault

She's a savage beauty.

A former Miss New Hampshire USA punched, kicked and bit her boyfriend last week during a vicious attack after he accused her of sleeping around, CBS Boston reported.

Manchester cops said ex-pageant queen Nicole Houde, 26, flew into a rage on Wednesday morning when Scott Nickerson, 33, took her phone and wouldn't give it back.

The brunette stunner was arrested later at work and charged with simple assault.

Houde was crowned Miss New Hampshire USA in 2010 and later competed in the Miss USA pageant.

She now works as a make-up artist, personal trainer and pageant coach, according to her website.

She's not the first Miss USA contender to run into trouble with the law.

Earlier this month, Rima Fakih, 26, who won the crown in 2010, pleaded no contest to drunken driving charges stemming from a bust in December.

In May 2011, Miss Wisconsin USA Shaletta Porterfield dropped her bid to become Miss USA just a month before the contest after she was charged with identity theft.

Florida pastor Terry Jones burns copies of Koran outside church

An Islamophobic pastor in Florida is playing with fire once again.

Terry Jones, who sparked international outrage in 2010 when he vowed to burn copies of the Koran, ignited copies of the Islamic holy book outside his Dove World Outreach Center Saturday night, according to the Gainsville Sun.

The pastor — who once promised he would "not ever" burn a Koran — also burned an image depicting the prophet Muhammad, the newspaper reported.

Jones carried out the incendiary act along with about 20 others to protest the imprisonment of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian jailed in Iran since 2009 for his religious beliefs, according to the Christian Post.

“Our end result is we would like to have these things brought in front of the United Nations,” Jones told the newspaper.

“We would like Islam-dominated countries to adapt at least some form of human rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion rights; individual rights [and] civil rights. That would be the outcome that we would desire.”

Seven dead after van plummets into rail yard bordering Bronx Zoo

Seven people - including three little girls - were killed Sunday when their van vaulted off an overpass and fell 100 feet onto wooded Bronx Zoo property, police said.

All the victims were found inside their crushed, overturned van, a white Honda Pilot, and were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said the victims were an 84-year-old man; three women, aged 80, 45 and 30; and three girls, aged 12, 10 and 7.

"I've been in the fire department for 30 years. Sometimes you come up on events that are horrific," said FDNY deputy chief Ronald Werner. “This was horrific.”

The van was driving in the southbound left lane of the Bronx River Parkway around 12:30 p.m. when it glanced off the median

near exit 5, careened across three lanes of traffic and went off the edge, police said.

“It launches - airborne - over the guardrail,” a police source said.

One police source said the 45-year-old woman was driving.

A zoo employee who declined to be named said the van fell onto the southeast portion of the 265-acre zoo property.

"It's in a non-public area," she said. "No visitors, no animals and no exhibits are affected."

The Parkway was closed as officials tried to determine what caused the accident.

No other cars were believed to be involved.

Delmon Young will undergo evaluation following 'anti-Semetic rant'

Detroit Tigers slugger Delmon Young has been benched by his ball club — and will undergo alcohol and anger evaluation tomorrow following his arrest for a drunken, anti-Semitic rant outside the team’s Midtown hotel.

“This was a person that was not in a very good state, as far as his sobriety,” team general manager Dave Dombrowski said before last night’s game. “If the allegations are true, that is also concerning and not something you’d like to see happen.”

Young, who planned to return to Detroit immediately as his team finished its series in The Bronx against the Yankees, has been placed on the rarified “restricted list” but will not lose any pay. He will meet tomorrow with an independent evaluator and could be back on the field that night.

The star outfielder was arrested around 2:40 a.m. Friday after he spewed anti-Semitic slurs and allegedly shoved to the ground a tourist who was chatting with a panhandler wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David outside the Hilton Hotel.

Young, 26, was so drunk he had to be hospitalized — and the NYPD is investigating it as a possible hate crime.

He was released on $5,000 bail Friday night and told a family friend “I’m too tired to go into it. I’m just tired.”

His arrest was a shock to neighbors in the mostly white LA suburb where he grew up — especially since his family was once the victim of a suspected bias crime.

Married Secret Service agent who 'refused to pay Colombian prostitute' puts his house up for sale

Home: This is the house in Maryland where Secret Service agent Arthur Huntington is believed to live - he put it up for sale last week

The wife of the cheapskate Secret Service agent — whose refusal to fully pay a Colombian hooker rocked the Obama White House — has vowed to stay with her straying husband.

Her seemingly All-American life in tatters, Jolie Huntington has told relatives that she won’t abandon her disgraced spouse Arthur.

“Jolie has said she’s going to make the marriage work,” said Pastor Jose Rodriguez, a Rochester, N.Y., minister whose son is married to the woman’s sister.

Arthur Huntington has reportedly left the Secret Service in the wake of the sordid scandal.

He never seemed like the type of man to inflict suffering on his wife of nearly two decades, according to those who thought they knew him.

“He wouldn’t do that,” said a female relative who asked that her name not be used. “Not the Arthur that I know. He wouldn’t. They go to church every week.”

“It’s out of character — the Arthur I know, he’s very dedicated to the family, very loyal,” said Teresita Rodriguez, 65, who along with her husband Jose has known Huntington since he was a child.

Relatives said Huntington, 41, never used to date around. And he only had three passions: his wife, their two sons and his job.

While growing up in upstate New York, Huntington went to North Star Christian Academy and attended Roberts Wesleyan College to study criminal justice. He started out working as a security guard at Greater Rochester International Airport, relatives said, until he landed a job as a cop near Tampa, Fla.

Then he climbed even higher — by joining the Secret Service. His devotion to the agency was so great that he turned down a cushy job on former President George H.W. Bush’s private security team in order to keep his high-pressure position protecting the occupants of the White House.

“You could tell he loved it,” said Jose Rodriguez, 60. “There was a real commitment.”

Nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and U.S. military personnel were implicated in the humiliating scandal that erupted days before world leaders met in the sinful seaside city of Cartagena.

After a booze-filled night, the men brought more than 20 prostitutes back to their rooms. The following morning, Huntington allegedly paid hooker Dania Suarez only $28 of his $800 tab.

The embarrassing scandal prompted the Secret Service to issue hard new regulations, including a ban on visiting with foreigners and a crackdown on heavy drinking.

The fiasco has seemingly sent Huntington and his wife into hiding — they have put their two-story red brick home in Severna Park, Md., on the market.

The colonial tri-level house, which is listed for $465,000, features a neatly-manicured front lawn and an American flag hanging from the front porch. It sits in a tidy neighborhood that is home to many other government employees, including members of the Secret Service and CIA.

Jolie Huntington, 41, home-schooled the couple’s two sons, aged 12 and 15. She and her husband were active in their local parish, Granite Baptist Church, neighbors said.

“We hurt for them,” said Richard Lejeune, an assistant pastor. “We hope the best for them and that they are able to weather the storm.”

The dedicated mother hen also is a contributor to the crafting websites Creative Memories and Etsy. The latter site displays her favorite scrapbook pages, featuring soccer and patriotic designs.

DSK blames French president Sarkozy for bringing him down in sex scandal

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose high-flying political career crashed and burned amid sex scandals, says his longtime rival, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, choreographed his spectacular fall.

He made the charge in The Guardian yesterday after polls showed Socialist challenger Francois Hollande leading Sarkozy ahead of the May 6 election.

“I had no doubt I would be the [Socialist Party] candidate,” the former head of the International Monetary Fund told the British daily.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in Manhattan last May after allegedly attacking a hotel maid. The charges were later dropped, but he now claims the subsequent criminal investigation was “shaped by those with a political agenda.”

“Perhaps I was politically naive, but I simply did not believe they would go that far,” he said. “I didn’t think they could find anything that could stop me.”

Told of the accusation, Sarkozy said: “Well, that really is too much!”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Orthodox Jews to Rally Against the Internet at Citi Field

NEW YORK  — Haredi Orthodox leaders are planning what they say will be a massive rally in New York City to call attention to the dangers of modern digital technology.

Tens of thousands are expected to gather for a May 20 rally at Citi Field, the Mets’ baseball stadium in Queens. The Hebrew-language Jewish Daily News reported that $1.5 million has been raised so far from donors to pay for the event.

“This will be a mass rally never before seen in the history of Orthodox Jewry in the U.S.,” one of the organizers said, according to Jewish Daily News, as translated by The Jewish Press. “It will be a gathering of unity of all the Jews living in the U.S., a gathering to disseminate information and a prayer rally for the success of Klal Israel’s war on the technology which threatens the sanctity of the homes of Israel.”

A Citi Field representative reached by JTA confirmed that the stadium was booked for that date, when the Mets will be in Toronto, but would not confirm the nature of the event.

A statement has been published in Haredi Orthodox newspapers promoting the event, and ads promoting the rally have run in American haredi newspapers.

“It is well known that in recent times that through the Internet many serious family-related problems have been created, and it all happens because of it, and something must be done so they won’t be hurt,” the statement said, according to The Jewish Press. “And since this touches almost everyone, we must assemble together to protect and be protected, and we hope that through this gathering in search of ideas we will be helped from Heaven to save the many, and may it be that we will be successful in encouraging the public not to stumble over this obstacle, and the Lord will guide us in a truthful path.”

The letter is signed by a few leading Israeli haredi rabbis.

Escaped China activist now under U.S. protection

A Chinese activist who exposed forced abortions and other atrocities in his home country has escaped house arrest in his province and is under the protection of U.S. officials, a Christian human rights group said Saturday.

The announcement about blind activist Chen Guangcheng by the Texas- based ChinaAid group comes just days before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit Beijing.

The 40-year-old Chen exposed forced abortions and sterilizations in Chinese villages that are part of the country’s one-child policy.

He fled April 22 from his guarded home in Shandong province in eastern China. Activists said local supporters took Chen away by car, then delivered him to others who brought him to Beijing.

Chen had been held in his home since his release from prison in September 2010.

Neither the United States nor China has confirmed the reports of Chen’s fleeing or his whereabouts.

However, ChinaAid President Bob Fu told Fox News on Saturday he has confirmed reports that Chen is under diplomatic protection in Beijing and that officials are involved in “high-level negotiations about the next step.”

Fu hopes Chen’s departure will be a catalyst for large talks about human rights conditions in China, regardless what happens before Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner visit there Thursday and Friday for talks on global economics and topics including the violence in Sudan.

“Given Mrs. Clinton’s repeatedly telling China to release him, I’m optimistic this will help the diplomatic push,” Fu said.

He called the development a “pivotal moment” for U.S. human rights diplomacy.

“The Obama administration must stand firmly with (Chen) or risk losing credibility as a defender of freedom and the rule of law,” Fu added.“ If there is a reason why Chinese dissidents revere the U.S., it is for a moment like this."

He also said the case should be handled like that of professor Fang Lizhi.

In 1989, Lizhi, whose speeches inspired student protesters throughout the 1980s, fled with his wife to the U.S. Embassy after China's military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. He stayed there for 13 months while the countries discussed his fate.

Chen's case comes as the U.S. is looking for help from China on many worldwide issues, such as trying to restrain North Korea and Iran on their nuclear ambitions, and push Syria to observe a cease-fire in the fighting in that country.

Fu and Chinese-based activists said Chen's his wife and 6-year-old daughter are still at the family's home.

Chen recorded a video as a direct address to Premier Wen Jiabao, condemning the treatment of him and his family and accusing local Communist Party officials by name. Activists sent the video Friday to the overseas Chinese news site, which posted part of it on YouTube.

Activist Hu Jia met with Chen after his escape and said people with Chen later called him.

If Chen is in the U.S. Embassy or with U.S. officials at another location, it is not known how he would be able to leave or where he could go without Chinese permission. There was no extra security outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan, posted a photo Friday on Twitter of Chen and Hu together. Chen is wearing the same clothes he wore in the video. Both men are smiling.

China's media have been silent on the case, and most words related to Chen and his village have been blocked online. Chinese political analysts have declined to comment.

A self-taught lawyer blinded by fever in infancy, Chen served four years in prison for revealing the abortions and sterilizations in his and surrounding villages. Since his release, local officials confined him to his home, beating him up on several occasions.

Chen is widely admired. Even Hollywood actor Christian Bale tried to visit, but was roughed up by locals.