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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Case of the Missing iPad

NYPD Lindsay Lohan Assaulted Inside Manhattan Hotel

Lindsay Lohan was assaulted in her Manhattan hotel room early Sunday morning by a man she met at a night club, police sources said.

According to law enforcement officials, Lohan told police she got into an argument with a 25-year-old man she brought to her room after meeting him 1 Oak in Chelsea.

The argument was allegedly over photos the man took of Lohan on his cell phone while they were in her 15th floor room at the W Hotel near Union Square with some of Lohan's friends.

Police have identified the man as Christian LaBella, of California.

Lohan told detectives that at around 4:30 a.m. she saw photos of her on LaBella's phone, confronted him about the them and took his phone. LaBella then threw her on the bed causing scratches on her hands, police sources said.

Lohan ran out of the room and down the stairs of the hotel, but at some point decided to head back upstairs to her room.

When LaBella saw her again, Lohan told police he attacked her, choking her, throwing her to the ground, and climbing on top of her.

A friend Lohan's who was with her at the time was able to pull LaBella off her, and Lohan then pulled the fire alarm for help. LaBella took off down the stairs, but police arrived before he was able to leave the hotel and took him into custody.

Lohan refused medical attention and did not go to a hospital.

LaBella was charged Sunday afternoon with assault and harassment.

 NBC News 4

Tzvi Stolzenberg Case: NYPD Shomrim Continue To Search for Missing Flatbush Orthodox Teenager

Brooklyn, NY - The NYPD, Shomrim are asking for the public’s help to find a teenager who went missing Wednesday night.

Tzvi Stolzenberg, who lives in Midwood E 9th St, was last seen near Marlborough Road and Foster Avenue Wednesday Sept 26 about 10:50 p.m.

Stolzenberg who has serious mental health issues and left his necessary medication behind, is standing 5-feet-5-inches tall and weighing 140 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white and brown T-shirt and blue jeans.

A reward for information leading to his whereabouts will be announced later this afternoon by NYC Councilman David Greenfield and community leaders.

Police are asking anyone with information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. Information can be submitted at or by text at 274637 (CRIMES), then TIP577.

Then call Flatbush Shomrim at 718-338-9797, and also Hatzolah at 718-230-1000.

Burglars Strike The Home of The Dushinsky Rebbe Shlita

Thieves on Friday night broke into the Yerushalayim home of the Dushinsky Rebbe Shlita at 19 Ezras Torah Street and made off with valuables worth a handsome sum along with “cleaning out the home” according to a Kikar Shabbat report.

The rebbe was in another apartment for shabbos so the thieves were able to help themselves. The report states that items of significant value were stolen, amounting to hundreds of thousands of NIS, including a quantity of silver klei kodesh and jewelry.

According to another report, from Chadrei Chareidim, the stolen items are valued at a half million dollars.

The stolen items include valuable inherited by the rebbe from his ancestors.

גניבה בבית האדמו"ר מדושינסקי: חצי מיליון דולר

רמה בליל שבת בשכונת עזרת תורה בירושלים: גנבים פרצו לשתי דירות בבניין ברחוב עזרת תורה 19 ורוקנו אותן מתכולתן.

אחת הדירות היא של מרן האדמו"ר מדושינסקי, ששהה השבת בדירה אחרת. הגנבים לקחו חפצים יקרי ערך שאומדנם מוערך במאות אלפי דולרים. גם כלי כסף ותכשיטים רבים נגנבו.

גורמים בחסידות אמרו כי במוצאי שבת נפתחה חקירת משטרה במטרה ולנסות לעלות על זהות הגנבים.

הם הביעו תקווה שהגנבים ייתפסו במהירות, שכן ערך החפצים שנגנבו "רב מאוד

Terrorism scare as fishermen spotted near JFK when PM Netanyahu arrived for flight home

A terrorism scare gripped JFK Airport last night when intruders were spotted near airport grounds just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived for his flight back home — but the trespassers turned out to be fishermen, law-enforcement sources said.

The alert was sounded at around 9 p.m., causing a massive air and water search of the airport perimeter by the NYPD, the Port Authority and other agencies.

At one point in the confusion, a message was broadcast that a Secret Service member was missing. The report proved to be false

By 10 p.m. it was determined that four fishermen had taken a boat into an area on the west side of JFK called Hamilton Beach, a restricted part of the airport’s property, sources said.

The quartet had gotten to within half a mile of Netanyahu’s plane, the sources said.

Had they been terrorists, they were in position to do real damage, the sources said.

“It’s another major breach of security,” said one law-enforcement source. “Luckily they were only fishermen and not terrorists.”

The men, whose identities were not released, were charged with trespassing.

In August, a stranded jet-skier got through the airport’s $100 million security net when his watercraft broke down.

He hopped a fence, walked across two runways and flagged down some workers in a building inside the airport.

Deal: No segregation in Mea Shearim

End to exclusion of women on Mea Shearim sidewalks? The Toldot Aharon Hasidic dynasty has pledged not to send ushers to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood's streets to impose modesty rules during the holiday of Sukkot, and not to enforce gender segregation as it has done in previous years.

In discussions held between senior haredi community members and representatives of the police and Jerusalem Municipality, the parties agreed that a safety fence would be set up to maintain order during the Simchat Beit Hashoeivah celebrations held in the area on the intermediate days of Sukkot – but not to impose segregation.  

The Jerusalem Police updated Jerusalem Council Member Rachel Azaria on the developments, following her petition to the High Court of Justice against the gender segregation on the neighborhood's main street in past years and the judges' ruling that authorities must prevent this situation.

"There will be no separation between men and women," the police stated in a letter to Azaria's lawyer, Attorney Dr. Aviad Hacohen. "The Israel Police and Jerusalem Municipality will have representatives in the area to guarantee that the details of the agreement are being upheld."

The parties agreed on the following outline, according to the police: "The road and sidewalks will be open to the entire public (apart from an 8-meter section at the exit from a yeshiva); there will be no ushers during the event; a 2.2-meter (7.2 feet) fence will be set up on the southern side of the road.

"The fence will be built for safety purposes only. It will not be covered with jute cloth or any other cover preventing or blocking the view from both sides of the fence…

"The event will be held between 9 pm-12:30 am. At the end of the event the fence will be dismantled, and reinstalled starting 8 pm the next day."

Attorney Hacohen welcomed the decision. "We hope the police keep their promise to enforce the law, so that Jerusalem can restore its role as the capital of all its residents, both men and women, allowing them to rejoice together in the city streets during the Sukkot holiday."

4 Reasons Not To Hate Israel's Big Business Tycoons

Ofra Strauss

If being a tycoon were a race or a religion, it would get some respect, or at least some patronizing sympathy. But, alas, tycoons are left to their own devices, abandoned by all to defend themselves against malicious attacks with little more than a financially troubled daily newspaper or a prime minister more preoccupied with attacking Iran.

Imagine looking down at the city from the wide window of your penthouse office suite at a Lilliput of sanctimonious social activists, pandering politicians, bothersome bondholders and nattering newspaper columnists, helpless as Gulliver to stop them.

It’s shame that when one tycoon misbehaves, the entire group is tarred.

When one big shot imposes a haircut on his bondholders, well, of course, everyone says they all do that.

If another is seen boarding his private jet after sending dismissal notices to employees, well, that’s typical, we say. Almost one of us can refute the charge of prejudice by saying, yes, but some of my friends are tycoons.

Let’s face it, our tycoons are not all that bad. Some of them are better than others.

Not a few are exemplary examples of the kind of innovative, job-creating entrepreneurs so beloved of American Republicans.

When they’re lined up against their peers in America, Europe, Russia or China, Israeli tycoons actually compare favorably.

Here are four good reasons not to loathe them:

There are good tycoons: In this age of overextended capitalists − the ones who went on merry romps around the world picking up overpriced real estate and trophy assets to come home and impose debt resettlements on the pension funds of widows and orphans − let’s not forget the other kind of tycoon.

There are those like the Wertheimers ‏(Iscar‏) and the Strausses ‏(Strauss-Elite‏) who built and continue to build real businesses that create products and services in competitive markets while generating jobs.

Even high-tech entrepreneurs, who have lately come in for a scolding for failing to develop big and sustainable businesses, make their money by innovation and drive.

A few of them, like Gil Schwed ‏(Check Point‏), Eyal Waldman ‏(Mellanox‏) and Ronen Shilo ‏(Conduit‏) have in fact shunned the quick buck of an M&A deal and stayed the course.

These tycoons are the ones who are a credit to their class.

They are self-made: Our tycoons constitute a class, not a caste. For every Idan Ofer and Shari Arison, there is a Yitzhak Tshuva, Lev Leviev and Ilan Ben-Dov, all of whom worked their way into tycoon-dom.

None of them − as is typical in America these days − made their fortunes trading their own or other people’s money in the financial markets.

The tycoon class is not closed and the tycoons themselves exhibit little sense of entitlement, except vis-a-vis bondholders looking to be repaid.

That doesn’t necessarily make our tycoons the kind of people whom you’d want to spend a quiet evening with, and a lot of them used the fortunes they made from their early industriousness to find a pyramid and milk it, but they have to be given credit where it’s due.

For all the anti-competitiveness in the Israeli economy, there are opportunities to do honest, socially useful business and make money.

Their personal behavior: By international standards, our tycoons are gentlemen ‏(and in a very few instance, ladies‏). Unlike their Russian counterparts, they don’t go in for teams of rough bodyguards or become entangled with paid assassins.

Unlike their American peers, they do not spend fortunes buying public opinion for bizarro political causes a la the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson.

They have their private jets, yachts and big homes, but as conspicuous consumers go, Israeli tycoons are relatively modest compared with big shots overseas.

They don’t buy foreign sports teams or marquee properties ‏(except for an occasional Plaza Hotel‏) to massage their egos. Few of then have trophy wives.

Some engage in eccentric behavior, such as consulting x-ray rabbis or showing an odd affinity for oriental religions, but these are mild personal eccentricities.

In spite of all the many accusations of conflicts of interest and of frittering away the public’s savings, none of the tycoons have been accused of criminal acts.

Money has evaporated, but the public knows where it went − in bad investments, not into Swiss bank accounts.

Indeed, our tycoons’ personal behavior is so modest that they almost never present good press except when they are negotiating debt settlements.

Their businesses’ structure: Pyramids, the business organization of choice for many of our most infamous tycoons, have been unfairly maligned by the press and by government committees.

Yes, they do create a conflicts of interest between the various operating companies and the tycoons’ insatiable appetite for dividends and control. Minority shareholders are often short-changed and creditors take on added risk by exposing themselves to a murky network of interconnected businesses.

But the economy’s real problem is monopolies and near-monopolies. Tycoons exploit those, but the monopolies would exist with or without them.

Super-Sol and Blue Square would still have a lock hold on food retailing if they were controlled by the public rather than by Nochi Dankner or David Wiessman. In any case, the most egregious monopolies − the ports, electricity and land − aren’t owned by tycoons at all but by the government and for all intents and purposes their unions.

A stout defense of tycoons is one thing, but the bigger question is whether we really need them at all.  
Not being so bad is not quite the same thing as being socially and economically useful − and that’s where the tycoons have their problem.
True entrepreneurs create and operate businesses in competitive markets and succeed because they have deep understandings and insights into their industries and know how to manage companies.
Too many of our tycoons are people who may have started that way but decided to spend the second half of their life perched on pyramids of cash cows.
While they don’t detract from the economy as much as they are accused of, they also contribute very little.
The businesses inside their pyramids do indeed contribute, but those businesses rarely need the expertise or cash of the tycoon. They could do perfectly fine without him. And so could we.

Peter King calls for U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice resignation over Libya story

A top Republican called Friday for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to resign over her "misleading" statements on the Libya terror attack -- escalating a brewing battle between lawmakers and the administration over the changing narrative.

Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, told National Review that he thinks Rice should resign over the controversy. He was referring to her repeated claims during interviews on the Sunday after the attack that the strike was a “spontaneous” reaction to protests in Cairo over an anti-Islam film -- though officials now acknowledge it was a coordinated terror attack.

"She is America's foreign policy spokesman to the world," King said. "The fact is she gave out information which was either intentionally or unintentionally misleading and wrong, and there should be consequences for that. And I don’t see how she didn’t know how … that information was wrong.”

He called for a “full investigation.”

King’s statement, the first call by a top-ranking lawmaker for a resignation in connection with the controversy, triggered a swift response from Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who leapt to Rice’s defense. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “deeply disturbed by efforts to find the politics instead of finding the facts in this debate.”

“Everyone who cares about the four fallen Americans in Benghazi would do well to take a deep breath about what happened and allow Secretary Clinton's proactive, independent investigation to proceed,” he said in a statement. “I’m particularly troubled by calls for Ambassador Rice’s resignation. She is a remarkable public servant for whom the liberation of the Libyan people has been a personal issue and a public mission. She's an enormously capable person who has represented us at the United Nations with strength and character.”

The State Department and the White House's National Security Council also have come to Rice's defense.

"During her appearances on the Sunday talk shows September 16, 2012, Ambassador Rice's comments were prefaced at every turn with a clear statement that an FBI investigation was underway that would provide the definitive accounting of the events that took place in Benghazi," State Department spokeswoman Erin Pelton said late Friday. "At every turn Ambassador Rice provided -- and said she was providing -- the best information and the best assessment that the administration had at the time, based on what was provided to (her) and other senior U.S. officials by the U.S. intelligence community."

King’s statement, though, was a sign he perhaps wasn’t satisfied by the claim by the nation's top intelligence official Friday that administration officials who initially said the attack was spontaneous did so based on intelligence officials' guidance.

The statement by Shawn Turner, spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was put out late Friday -- the statement appeared to take the blame for the confusion, and also marked a complete reversal from the administration’s initial claims about the origin of the strike.

"As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists," Turner said. "It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with or sympathetic to Al Qaeda."

Turner, though, sought to explain that officials who discussed the attack as spontaneous did so based on intelligence community assessments.

"In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo," he said. "We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving."

However, sources have told Fox News that intelligence officials knew within 24 hours the attack that left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead was terrorism, and that they suspected it was tied to Al Qaeda.

It's unclear, then, why the intelligence community told Executive Branch officials it was spontaneous. In the midst of the changing story, King and other Republicans have complained that they were misled by the administration. They pointed to briefings as well as Rice’s Sunday show comments.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are raising questions about security at the compound in Benghazi. All members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to the State Department on Thursday asking for additional details about security at U.S. diplomatic posts and for a fuller explanation of the attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "Rice has done extraordinary work at the United Nations and for the American people. The president appreciates the work she does every day, and he is looking forward to her continued work.”

$735K lottery prizewinner found dead of possible drug overdose

ECORSE, Mich. – Police say a Detroit-area woman who collected welfare benefits despite winning a $735,000 lottery prize has died of a possible drug overdose.

Ecorse police Sgt. Cornelius Herring confirmed that 25-year-old Amanda Clayton was found dead about 9 a.m. Saturday at a home in the community southwest of Detroit.

Relatives of Clayton did not immediately return a phone message for comment.

Clayton of Lincoln Park pleaded no contest to fraud in June and was sentenced to nine months' probation in July. Her attorney has said Clayton repaid about $5,500 in food aid and medical benefits.

Michigan's Department of Human Services says Clayton didn't inform the state about her pre-tax lottery windfall last year.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law in April requiring lottery officials to tell Human Services about new winners.

NY - Paramedic partners busted in wife’s blaze death

Was it the Emergency “Murder” Service?

Two paramedic partners who worked together for years on an ambulance out of Jamaica Hospital have been busted in the mysterious 2008 death of the estranged wife of one of the men.

Instead of saving lives, Paul Novak and Scott Sherwood are now locked up awaiting their next court date on charges of second-degree murder.

The arrests Thursday seemed to confirm suspicions that first arose four years ago when a predawn fire killed Catherine Novak, 41, in her home in upstate Narrowsburg.

“There were members of the community who thought Paul was involved from the beginning,” said the Rev. Phyllis Haynes, the Novaks’ pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
On Dec. 2, 2008, Paul Novak, who was in the middle of divorcing his wife, picked up his two young children from the family home in the small Catskills town and took them back to his residence on Long Island.

The next day, a blaze consumed the Narrowsburg house.

Catherine Novak, a former local school-board member, was found dead in the basement, lying face up. Investigators at the time said they didn’t know how Novak ended up there since it didn’t appear she fell through a floor.

An autopsy found the mother of two died because debris on her chest had left her unable to breathe. But the level of carbon monoxide found in her blood was not enough to kill her.

Two months after the blaze, and after more than 100 people were interviewed, investigators said there was no evidence of arson or murder.

But doubts remained.

“This case has been very bothersome because there are questions that we cannot answer,” then-Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen said in February 2009.

Paul Novak, 45, worked at Jamaica Hospital in Queens from 1991 to 2010, a résumé on his LinkedIn Web page shows.

Sherwood, 40, who joined the ambulance service in 1998, still works for the hospital but is now suspended.

He also endured marital and financial woes. He was divorced and filed for bankruptcy in 2006, listing debts of $343,460.

Police released few details on the case and would not explain each man’s alleged role in the death.

“There was always some underlying issues that had taken place there where we never really closed the case,” State Police Capt. Joseph Tripodo told a local cable station.

Novak, who was also charged with arson, was arrested in Flagler County, Fla., where he bought a house in 2009. He was living there with his two children and had apparently remarried.

But he was not exactly running from the law.

According to his online résumé, he worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for five months dispensing medication to prisoners. He was also a volunteer firefighter.

Sherwood lives in a two-family house in Lindenhurst, LI. His landlord told The Post that he felt comfortable renting to Sherwood because he thought his work as a paramedic indicated he had integrity.

The landlord said Sherwood, who has a 10-year-old son, had remarried just two weeks ago.    


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ofer Biton Former Aide To A Rabbi, Linked To Investigation Of Illegal Drug Dealing

The Israeli national at the center of a probe into a Staten Island congressman’s 2010 election bid was a suspect in a sprawling ecstasy drug investigation, prosecutors said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday.

Prosecutors are trying to flip Ofer Biton into ratting on Rep. Michael Grimm (R-SI), and are using a decade-old search warrant to convince a judge to keep him behind bars on a visa-fraud charge so he doesn’t flee to Israel, sources said.

Federal agents in 2002 found a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol while searching his apartment complex during a drug probe, prosecutors said.
Investigators searching the Southern California apartment complex where Biton then lived also discovered a California driver's license, a Social Security card, and other documents in the name of "Haim Morziane," which prosecutors said was an alias used at the time by Biton.

Despite having the alias printed on it, that California driver's license clearly bore Biton's photograph, Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Anthony Capozzolo told a judge yesterday.

Defense attorney John Meringolo countered that Biton is a businessman who owns several restaurants in Manhattan and insisted that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Officials said that Biton was never charged in that 2002 ecstasy probe.

“The only issue here is risk of flight,” said Brooklyn federal Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go.

The judge said she was "concerned," because Biton's past use of identification cards issued in the name of an alias suggests he has skills that could be used in an effort to flee the United States if he makes bail.

Biton remains in custody, but the judge said she will reconsider Meringolo's request to allow him out on bail at a future court date.

Biton raised thousands of dollars for Grimm during his 2010 campaign, which the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating for financial irregularities, a source said.

Cuban Jewish leader says Alan Gross fit, in good spirits

HAVANA - Imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross told visitors Friday morning that he is feeling well, although his weight is down to 146 pounds, and that he fasted on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Adela Dworin, head of Cuba's Jewish Community, and David Prinstein, president of the Patronato Synagogue, spent nearly two hours with Gross in an air-conditioned visitors' room at Havana's military hospital. Gross is serving a 15-year sentence for attempting to create a network of Internet users - outside of the control of the government - whose aim was regime change.

Dworin, who last saw the 63-year-old Maryland native exactly four months ago, said that his mood was optimistic, unlike back in May when, she said, he displayed "anger and frustration."

During the nearly two-hour meeting, Dworin said Gross acted as host offering them coffee or tea that was set out on a small table on one side of the room.

She described their conversation as wide-ranging, covering his health, the U.S. presidential election, and Cuban baseball, describing himself as a fan of the Havana team, the Industriales.

Gross, who has already been jailed for two-and-a-half years, said he hoped the U.S. would end its embargo of the island and establish normal relations, reports Dworin, who added, "He said he is enchanted with Cuba and once freed he could return to Cuba along with his wife."

Dworin and Prinstein have been allowed to regularly visit Gross on Jewish holidays.

Gross reportedly told his two visitors that he lifts weights and walks within the hospital grounds daily. He indicated a lump under his shirt on the right side of his back and said a "scan" had been taken and the results sent to his wife. Dworin understood from what he said that the growth was not malignant.

She said that Gross told them he had recently been visited by his wife, Judy. He also said that his daughter, who had breast cancer, is now doing well.

According to Dworin, Gross is extremely concerned about his mother, who has lung cancer. He told his visitors that he speaks with her by phone but fears he might not get to see her alive. Gross said he has asked Cuban authorities for permission to visit her, promising to return to Cuba to finish serving out his sentence. He has not received a response to his request.

After a visit with her husband at the beginning of this month, Gross' wife Judy expressed concern for what she described as his deteriorating health. In subsequent days a top Cuban Foreign Ministry official said Havana was ready to sit down with the U.S. to discuss a solution to his case, but that Washington has not responded to their offer.

The Gross family lawyer fired back quickly with a statement sent to the media saying U.S. officials have told him that the Cubans have not put any offer for Gross' release on the table.

Cuba has indicated it would like swap Gross for five Cuban intelligence agents sentenced to long prison terms in the U.S., but Washington has rejected such a trade.   

CBS News

Chaim Shaulson Ex-Jerusalemite Behind New York's 'Haredi National Enquirer'

After setting another "fire" in New York's ultra-Orthodox community that put him at odds with yet another Hasidic sect, posters went up in the city's Haredi neighborhoods communities in 1996 against Chaim Shaulson, publisher of the independent Hebrew-Yiddish tabloid Panim Hadashot ("A New Face" ).

Next to a photo of Shaulson, who was publisher, editor, writer and photographer for the controversial publication, the poster referred to Shaulson and his paper as "a cancer that it's permitted to eradicate." In typical Shaulson fashion, he photographed the display and published it in Panim Hadashot - which some have dubbed "the Haredi National Enquirer" - and enjoyed every minute.

It was not the first nor the last time that Haredi leaders and activists have tried to bury Shaulson as a journalist; he claims he was forced to flee Jerusalem to his current home in a New York suburb due to threats to his life.

Over the years, Shaulson, now in his 60s, has made a career out of bringing readers "the inside scoop" on what's going on in Haredi communities, both Hasidic and Lithuanian: the feuds, health issues, legal confrontations, inheritance battles and, of course, the gossip - all the dirty linen that the mainstream Haredi press would never dare print. Nor does Shaulson hesitate to call the most revered rabbinic figures "stupid" or "hypocrite," which naturally puts him way outside the pale as far as the Haredi leadership is concerned.

Last November, Shaulson went online with a Hebrew-Yiddish blog he calls Ba'olamam Shel Haharedim, (In the World of the Haredim ), which has given him and his mission the type of exposure he previously could only dream of in 35 years of journalism.

He claims to get some 250,000 hits a day - though that can't be independently verified since Ba'olamam Shel Haredim operates via a blog-publishing service that hosts numerous blogs.

"The biggest problem in the Haredi public is that for decades we've been sweeping things [under the carpet], not wanting to deal publicly with important public issues," Shaulson told his blog readers.

"It got to the point where individuals have been controling the public and bringing us to the state we're in. That's where I come in - to expose this reality so that the public can know what's really happening, and that there's no choice but to work to change things."

No major slip-ups

While even his biggest fans concede he isn't always 100 percent accurate and doesn't always present the responses of those he writes about, Shaulson apparently has excellent sources and to date has yet to have a major slip-up. His only legal entanglement occurred over 20 years ago, when he was tried in New York for allegedly trying to extort $50,000 from the Satmar Rebbe in return for not printing information about him. Shaulson was acquitted.

He denies refusing others the right of reply. "There has never been an instance in which I didn't bring the response of someone who wanted to respond," Shaulson told Haaretz. "I don't call back after someone slams the phone down on me. But anyone who spoke to me got a platform, and the biggest proof is that my blogs are open to all. There is no Haredi blog or website that gives more freedom of response than me."

Ba'olamam Shel Haharedim has benefited since the popular website Behadrei Haharedim, (Behind Closed Doors with the Haredim ), after years of provocative reporting, toned itself down in response to rabbinic dictates, and over the past few years has stopped publishing negative information about Haredi communities, particularly the stronger, more established ones such as the Gur Hasidim.

Shaulson, by contrast, has had no qualms about taking on the Gur, Vizhnitz and Satmar Hasidim, among other Haredi groups not known to take insults dispassionately.

He resolved early on not to make money from his publications; he made a living, among other ways, as a rabbi in Brooklyn and an editor of the U.S. edition of Maariv.

Shaulson decided early in his print days to stop accepting advertisements. That, he says, is how people who are made uncomfortable by the exposure have been able to pressure his rivals not to print things that the powerful don't like - by threatening advertisers or newsstands not to do business with papers that don't meet their "standards."

"Money is the weak point," Shaulson says. "Newspapers are afraid, they need money. There are sites that are dying to tell stories, but because they know they'll be closed down, they remain silent.

"I'm the opposite," he says. "At the start, Panim Hadashot had advertisements, but that was how they could fight me. So I declared: No more ads. I survived without ads all these years and that's how I finished them off, they didn't have anything to fight me with."

Shaulson was born to a long-established Jerusalem family affiliated with Chabad. His father, Shmuel Shaulson, was a deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a leader of Agudat Yisrael. Chaim Shaulson began his work in journalism in the 1970s, but also engaged in political activism with his father.

His first foray into publishing was called Tzofar ("Siren" ). It immediately set itself as an alternative to the Aguda paper, Hamodia, with articles that attacked senior rabbis, particularly that generation's leader, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, a determined opponent of Chabad who controlled the content of Hamodia in the days before Shas and Degel Hatorah split off from the movement and started their own newspapers.

Threats and flight

Tzofar evolved into Panim Hadashot. But in 1984, after threats by Shach supporters managed to do in some of his other businesses, Shaulson took his American-born wife and their children and bought one-way tickets to New York, where he put out his Hebrew-Yiddish paper and made his living from Maariv and his rabbinic position.

Last November he shut down the paper and started the blog. "I thought I'd do a post or two a day, that it would take me five minutes. Suddenly there was enormous interest, and what started as 50 posts a month became 200," he says.

"One day there were 12,000 actions on my page, just downloads and printing, not including regular surfing. I was shocked. There's no doubt that a blog is a thousand times more influential. A newspaper can't get everywhere, and this goes out immediately all over the world," he says.

Shaulson believes that the heavy media exposure the Haredi community has been getting has reduced all kinds of hidden abuses.

"Today there is a lot less terror and violence among the Haredim, a tenth of what it once was," he says. "It's over, they know everything's exposed. As long as it wasn't exposed, they were killing people. Today, they know you can't keep things quiet, they think a million times before they do anything."

Why is gossip about rabbinic families or rabbis' health issues legitimate material for publication?

"Ninety-five percent of the material I get goes into the garbage. You can't commit thuggery with information, but if there's a story about a fight between a rabbi's wife and her daughter-in-law, as a result of which there's a rift in a Hasidic sect, and from that people start a wider feud 'on principle' within the sect - people have to know that. People have to know the truth so that it won't happen again. If an admor [Hasidic leader] suddenly disappears, people have to know why. He's like a prime minister.

"I know that I have a deterrent power, in certain Hasidic courts they think twice before terrorizing individuals, lest something leak out to me. I have no interest in fomenting disrespect of rabbis, I have an interest in stopping terror and violence."

Are you under threat?

"First of all, the biggest threats relate to one's livelihood, and as I've already told you, I make a living as a rabbi. I'm set for life, thank God. I've married off all my children, so I don't need much money. That's why I sit quietly and write. That's why they have a serious problem. You can buy a man who's under pressure. I don't need anything.

"I get a lot of threats, and nothing in this world is ever certain. But I'm certain about what I do. My conscience is clear. I know my purpose in life. The more they curse me, the more successful I am. I know I'm doing the right thing. The truth hurts."


NY Ex-Gov. Paterson, wife split

Former Gov. David Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, have separated after 19 years of marriage, Page Six can exclusively reveal.

Paterson’s rep, Sean Darcy, confirmed to us yesterday that the couple — who both admitted to past affairs when he took office — have parted ways, adding that their decision is “mutual and amicable” but giving no further comment on the breakup.

A source close to the ex-pol told Page Six that the two had actually been “separated for some months” and that Paterson, 58, had moved out of the Harlem home he shared with Michelle, 51.   They have not formally filed for divorce.

Spies have recently noticed Paterson out and about at various social events around town. “He’s been charming and flirtatious” with the fairer sex, a source said, adding that the ex-gov has been spotted “passing along his private number” to a few ladies.

The news of the breakup comes just shy of what would have marked the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary in November. They have an 18-year-old son together, and Michelle has a daughter from a previous marriage.

Earlier this year, The Post revealed that Michelle was shopping a tell-all to publishers about her life in the public eye and that it would detail some of the couple’s past marital struggles.

Paterson has weathered accusations of extramarital affairs, which he’s strongly denied. A source close to the couple insists there’s no third party involved with their split.

The Post reported in 2010 that Paterson was spotted kissing the neck of a woman at a New Jersey steakhouse and that he was caught in an encounter with a woman in a closet at the Albany governor’s mansion. The reports were strongly shot down by Paterson’s reps at the time.

But Paterson and his wife admitted in 2008 to having had affairs, a day after Paterson took over office from disgraced Luv Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Paterson now hosts a weekday radio show on WOR-AM.


Convicted TSA agent who stole more than $800K from passengers says stealing from bags is ‘very’ common

TSA screener Pythias Brown

A former TSA agent who spent three years in prison for stealing from passengers' luggage says the practice is “commonplace.”

Pythias Brown admits to stealing more than $800,000 worth of cash, clothing and electronics over a four-year period at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was finally caught trying to sell a stolen CNN camera on eBay.

"It became so easy, I got complacent," Brown told ABC News.

Though Brown says he might have been one of the biggest thieves at the Transportation Security Administration, he believes the agency has a culture of entitlement — and of looking the other way.

“It was so easy. One day I walked out of there with the video game, the Nintendo Wii. I walked right out of the checkpoint with the Nintendo Wii in my hand,” he said.

TSA agents on the take justify their actions, he explained.

“They aren’t paying me, they’re treating me wrong. They’re doing this and they’re doing that. And they just don’t care,” he said of some of his former colleagues.

Nearly 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing since 2003, according to the agency, which is charged with providing security for passengers and freight.

But Brown says the fired TSA officers might be the tip of the iceberg.

Theft “was very commonplace. Very,” he said.

Lax oversight only adds to the problem.

“They [TSA managers] never searched our bags, they never searched us. Nothing.”

He said most of the valuable items are taken out of carry-on bags that pass through screenings and X-ray machines while their owners make their way through security checkpoints and metal detectors.

Two former TSA agents at New York's Kennedy Airport, Persad Coumar, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were sentenced to six months in jail this year for blatantly making off with a bag full of cash.

Persad was working an airport X-ray machine when he spotted the $40,000, which belonged to a drug mule.

Critics of the TSA say the alleged culture of theft comes as little surprise.

"TSA is probably the worst personnel manager that we have in the entire federal government," Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told ABC.

"It is an outrage to the public and, actually, to our aviation security system.”

Brown, who was convicted in 2009 and just released from prison, said he’s coming forward to help make up for his crimes.

“I want to give back. To help ... help people understand you have to be very careful when you have your items in your bag.”

NYPD 16 Rolexes stolen in Madison Avenue gunpoint robbery

Cops are looking for a pair of thieves who robbed a midtown jewelry store at gunpoint before pepper-spraying the owner and fleeing with a dozen Rolexes Friday afternoon, police and witnesses said.

One of the audacious duo donned a business suit, the other a casual get-up of jeans and a hoodie, cops said.

The 49-year-old man who owns Madison Jewelers and a 52-year-old female employee at the Madison Ave. and E. 47th St. store were sprayed and refused medical attention but were shaken up by the ordeal, police and witnesses said.

Miguel Rivera, the fire safety director the store’s building said the female victim was “still in pain” and red-eyed 15 minutes after the robbery.

Both suspects are described as black men in their 30s.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cecil Chao, Offers $65M dowry to the man who can woo his gay daughter

HONG KONG – The daughter of a flamboyant Hong Kong tycoon who has offered $65 million to any man who can woo her away from her lesbian partner said she's not upset with her father. Still, it's unlikely she will be accepting any of the marriage proposals flooding in.

Cecil Chao made world headlines this week when he offered the 500 million Hong Kong dollar marriage bounty after learning that his daughter, Gigi Chao, had eloped with her partner to France.

"I'm actually on very, very loving terms with my father. We speak on a daily basis. He just has a very interesting way of expressing his fatherly love," the 33-year-old told The Associated Press.

She said her father offered the reward because he was upset after learning she had "a church blessing in Paris" with her girlfriend of the past several years.

"What this whole episode really highlights is that perhaps still, the Chinese -- or in fact the Hong Kong mentality -- can perhaps tolerate the `don't ask, don't tell' view of sexuality," she said. "But as a social statement, it's still very much a sensitive issue."

Hong Kong decriminalized homosexuality in 1991, but it does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Cecil Chao is the chairman of Hong Kong property developer Cheuk Nang Holdings and has a reputation for being a playboy. He once claimed to have had 10,000 girlfriends but has never married.

He's also known for his love of Rolls-Royces and for being a qualified helicopter pilot, a skill he shares with Gigi Chao, one of his three children by three different women.

Cecil Chao said Friday in a separate interview with the AP that reports that his daughter had married were just rumors. He added that he has received hundreds of offers from suitors since he made the offer and his daughter has probably had thousands.

"I was very surprised about the reaction from around the world," said the 76-year-old tycoon, sporting gold mirrored sunglasses and a sport jacket over an unbuttoned polo shirt. "Thousands of people writing to say they want to be my in-laws."

He said he's offering the money because he wants to make sure his daughter has a comfortable life in Hong Kong, which he believes will require a house worth $19 million. The rest of the money can be used for investments, he said.

"Living a comfortable life in Hong Kong, not super-luxury, takes HK$500 million," he said.

When asked whether she would accept an eligible suitor, Gigi Chao laughed off the question, saying, "We'll just worry about that when the time comes."

California police arrest two suspects in theft of $10M worth of art

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Two suspects were arrested and found with about $10 million worth of art stolen from the home of a Southern California financier, Santa Monica police said Thursday.

The theft of the paintings made waves in both the art world and on Wall Street, where the victim, star bond trader Jeffrey Gundlach, does business. They were the priciest part of the major burglary where the thieves also took expensive watches, wine and a Porsche Carrera 4S, which were not recovered.

"The focus was on recovering the artwork, and it was all recovered," Gundlach told the Los Angeles Times. "The thieves had worked on moving the property, but we were able to get a good lead and apprehend them. It's a great day for the art world."

Most of the paintings were found when authorities, working on a tip from local police, served a search warrant on a car stereo store in Pasadena, Sgt. Richard Lewis said in a statement.

The store's manager, Jay Jeffrey Nieto, 45, was arrested Wednesday.

The investigation then led to a home in nearby San Gabriel, where police arrested Wilmer Cadiz, 40, and found him in possession of four more paintings.

One final painting was found at a home in Glendale, and police said the person found with it is cooperating in their investigation.

There is no known connection at this time between the victim and the suspected thieves, Lewis said. It was unknown whether the men had lawyers, he said.

Of the still-missing Porsche, Gundlach told the Times, "Maybe whoever has it will drive to a Ralphs Parking Lot and just drop it off and end this."

Gundlach returned home from a business trip Sept. 14 to find that more than a dozen paintings by the likes of Piet Mondrian and Jasper Johns, worth some $10 million, were missing.

He had offered a $1.7 million reward for the art's return, and $1 million for just the return of the collection's biggest prize, Mondrian's "Composition (A) En Rouge Et Blanc." It was not clear if anyone would be eligible to claim the reward.

Both suspects are due in court Friday.

Carjacking suspect shoots self during police pursuit

The horrifying moment a carjacking suspect shot himself after a high speed chase was broadcast to millions watching television Friday afternoon.

In the footage, the man exited his car, ran down into the sand and brush away from police, and shot himself in the head while standing in behind clump of grass.

The moment was broadcast on the Fox News network.

The network immediately went to a commercial after the shooting.

"That was wrong, and that won't happen again on my watch, and I'm sorry." Shepard Smith of Fox tweeted soon after the incident.

Police had been pursuing the carjacking suspect in Salome, a small town in the far western reaches of Arizona.

Crown Heights - NYC Buildings Department Forces Visiting Chassidim to Vacate Basement

Dozens of Hasidic Jews visiting from Israel were forced to vacate what officials say is an illegal transient hotel in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building Thursday. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

When NY1 approached 899 Montgomery Street, workers were replacing the lock on the basement door to enforce the city's vacate order.

Most legitimate residents we spoke with had no idea what the city says was illegally going on below them.

"I'm just surprised," said one. "I didn't even know that was there, that the door was there."

The door, building inspectors say, is the only way in or out of the basement. The New York City Department of Buildings says the owner illegally converted the cellar into a transient hotel with more than 100 beds.

"That's ridiculous and no one in here knows that," said one resident. "That's putting people at risk. And what kind of people they putting in there?"

The people staying there were dozens of Hasidic Jews from Israel, observing the High Holy days with a Lubavitch Rabbi.

They learned about the vacate order late Thursday and removed luggage, foam mattresses and even wooden beds from the basement.

Some neighbors say they knew something was suspicious.

"You see how things happen right in front of your face, you don't know what's going on," said one. "I knew something was fishy though."

Some say they've seen the visitors outside for a few weeks now. An employee of the building says the owner opens the basement door to visitors every year for the holidays.

"The guests were not worried that they only had one way to escape the basement if there was a fire.

"God should help," said one. "Once the Messiah will come, we'll have this whole building."

The pilgrims were confident they'd find another place to stay within the community but wouldn't say where.

The building's owner, Clean Realty, faces two building violations, for working without a permit and the illegal conversion. NY1 was unable to reach the company for comment.                   NY1