Monday, October 14, 2019

Researchers Find That E-Cigarettes Cause Increased Levels Of Cancer In Mice

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In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, a woman using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Only two years ago e-cigarettes were viewed as holding great potential for public health: offering a way to wean smokers off traditional cigarettes. But now Juul and other vaping companies face an escalating backlash that threatens to sweep their products off the market. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

BROOKLYN (VosIzNeias) — Health officials have long debated whether vaping leaves any deleterious health effects , but a new study using mice suggests that long-term exposure to vaping liquids that contain nicotine greatly increases the risk of cancer.

The study revealed that for the mice which breathed in the vapor for 20 hours a week for more than a year, 22.5% had cancerous tumors in the lining of the lungs, and 57.5% developed growths in their bladder tissue that can be precursors to cancer.

On the other hand only 5.6% of the mice in a control group that breathed only filtered air wound up with lung tumors, and none had growths in their bladders. In addition, a group of mice exposed to aerosolized vaping chemicals without nicotine developed no lung tumors, and just 6.3% of them had precancerous bladder growths.

The scientists who conducted the study stressed that much more research is needed to know whether vaping leads to cancer in humans. But they hope their findings, which were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will make people think twice before trying e-cigarettes, which are widely perceived by teenagers and young adults as a safe alternative to smoking.

“Right or wrong, millions of young people are using these right now, and the long-term, population-wide studies won’t be able to report out results for another decade,” said study leader Moon-Shong Tang, an environmental health expert at NYU School of Medicine.

“We needed credible evidence to guide people in their choices, and it is unambiguous that nicotine alone will cause damage to the cells that make up organs, including lungs,” said Tang, who has studied how tobacco smoke promotes cancers of the lung and bladder. “Now, we can try to find measures to prevent incidents of e-cigarettes causing cancer.”

Even though some health authorities have encouraged vaping as a way for people to quit potentially deadly levels of smoking, vaping itself has been linked to heart attacks, seizures and burns from exploding devices. And a growing mysterious outbreak of at least 1,080 vaping-related lung injuries demonstrates that it’s still too soon to know whether e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking.

 

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In Hate Crime Scare, Swastika Prop Discovered In Boro Park

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BORO PARK (VosIzNeias) — A swastika was discovered on Monday, in what first appeared to be yet another New York Anti-Semitic incident.

The swastika was discovered in the heart of Boro Park, on 14th Ave and 39th Street.

The hateful symbol was painted in bright red, on a wooden board.

The NYPD was called, and immediately launched an investigation into the incident.

However later in the afternoon it was reported that the offending symbol was in fact just a prop from a school play.

While the prop turned out to be harmless, the incident caused much stress to the New York community, due to the recent rise of worrying Anti-Semitism and hate driven attacks.

Police Release Knife-Wielding Man Who Crossed Security Barrier At Berlin Synagogue

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The historic Neue Synagogue iis located in central Berlin. (Wikimedia Commons)

BERLIN (JTA) — Police have released a knife-wielding Syrian refugee who had to be subdued by pepper spray by security guards outside a Berlin synagogue after he crossed its security barrier.

Investigators said they had to release the man, a 23-year-old from Damascus, because they did not have enough evidence to charge him with a crime at this point. The investigation is ongoing, according to the state Prosecutor’s Office.

The response was woefully inadequate and even dangerous, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Monday. He said the violent nature of Friday’s incident prior to Shabbat services at the historic Neue Synagogue should have merited a tougher response.

A “dangerous man” is now at large, he said.

According to a statement from the Prosecutor’s Office, two security guards drew guns on the man, identified by police as Murad M., after he crossed the security barrier, but he did not respond to their order to drop his knife and continued mumbling in Arabic. Local media reported that he said “God is great” in Arabic, a phrase often used by Arab terrorists.

Police subdued the man using pepper spray. He dropped the knife and was arrested.

The man has a residency permit ending in December 2020 and did not have a prior police record.

On Saturday morning, the man was released after a search of his apartment initially failed to turn up any evidence for a motive.

Democrats Issue Subpoenas To Esper, White House Budget Chief

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President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine issued subpoenas Monday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought.

Three Democratic committee chairmen demanded that Esper and Vought produce documents requested by Democrats by Oct. 15.

The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are investigating Trump’s actions pressing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, potentially interfering in the 2020 election. Trump also withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine.

Democrats say the documents are needed to examine the sequence of events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold aid appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression. The aid was later released.

The subpoenas come as a new whistleblower stepped forward with what the person’s lawyer said was firsthand knowledge of key events.

With Congress out for another week and many Republicans reticent to speak out, a text from attorney Mark Zaid that a second individual had emerged and could corroborate the original whistleblower’s complaint gripped Washington and potentially heightened the stakes for Trump.

Zaid, who represents both whistleblowers, told The Associated Press that the new whistleblower works in the intelligence field and has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog.

The original whistleblower, a CIA officer, filed a formal complaint with the inspector general in August that triggered the impeachment inquiry. The document alleged that Trump had used a July telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, prompting a White House cover-up.

The push came even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response.

A second whistleblower with direct knowledge could undermine efforts by Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.

A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine on the investigation.

Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and a Ukrainian gas company tied to Biden’s son — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.

“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,'” Himes said.

Democrats have zeroed in on the State Department in the opening phase of their impeachment investigation. The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have already interviewed Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine who provided the text messages, and at least two other witnesses are set for depositions this week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly ousted as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s most vocal backers, provided perhaps the strongest defense of the Republican president. He said that there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July conversation with Zelenskiy and that the accusations look like a “political setup.”

As for Trump, rather than visiting his nearby golf course in Sterling, Virginia, on Sunday for a second day, he stayed at the White House, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens a main target.

“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.

Aside from Trump’s attempt to pressure Zelenskiy, the July call has raised questions about whether Trump held back nearly $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage for an investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”

Additional details about the origins of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy emerged over the weekend.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had encouraged Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader, but on energy and economic issues, according to spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. She said Perry’s interest in Ukraine is part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.

Trump, who has repeatedly described his conversation with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” told House Republicans on Friday night that it was Perry who teed up the July call, according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.

Himes appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while Graham spoke on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Hundreds Of Esrogim Held Up At Airport In England Over New Import Regulations

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LONDON (JTA) — Hundreds of Esrogim, the citron fruit used for the holiday of Sukkot, were seized at an airport in England.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency held up the shipment at the Manchester Airport under new and stricter regulations on the import of citrus fruit. Esrog importers were unaware of the new rules, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews worked with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to have the 600 esrogim taken to a Manchester synagogue, where the stalks could be trimmed to meet the stricter rules, the Board of Deputies reported. The fruits also must be destroyed immediately after the holiday.

Some 10,000 etrogs were due to be imported to Britain for Sukkot this year.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said the board’s “timely intervention” has “potentially saved Sukkot.”

“The waving of the lulav (palm branch) and esrog with hadas (myrtle) and arava (willow) is an essential and iconic part of the festival and it was vital to ensure the supply of etrogs for this year,” she said in a statement.

Van der Zyl called on suppliers to “ensure that etrogs are imported in full compliance with regulations in the years ahead.”

The shipmen was seized at the end of last month.

German Jews Blast Decision To Give Herzl Award To Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hall of Names during her visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Oct. 4, 2018 (Photo Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

BERLIN (JNS) — Members of Germany’s Jewish community are speaking out against the World Zionist Organization’s decision to honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel with its prestigious Herzl Award.

Every year, the organizations bestows the award upon figures who act to promote Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl’s “ideas for the creation of a safer and more tolerant world for Jews.”

Along with Merkel, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has also been selected for the award, which the two women are set to receive in separate ceremonies.

However, the announcement of WZO’s plan to honor Merkel has been met with fierce criticism by members of Germany’s Jewish community, who note the change in Merkel’s stance towards Israel in recent years, her support for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the increasing sense among the country’s Jews that Berlin is not doing an adequate job of contending with the growing threat to Jews as a result of the anti-Semitic views of Arab and Muslim migrants to the country.

Among the points of contention raised by the local Jewish community: Germany’s continued pattern of voting against Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies; Berlin’s continued funding for organizations that support the BDS movement; its refusal to ban Hezbollah activities in the country; and its increased financial support for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, without conditioning those funds on the cessation of incitement against Israel.

There are also those who cite Merkel’s vocal opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Popular German Jewish publicist and author Henryk M. Broder questioning the move in an article published in the German media: “What is Merkel getting the prize for? For her representative at the U.N. and the Security Council abstaining from anti-Israel votes, and thereby, in effect, supporting them? For that same official equating Hamas missile attacks on Israeli citizens to Israel’s demolitions of homes?”

Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, deputy chair of the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism, sarcastically remarked that the decision to give Merkel the award was “justified.”

“To her credit and the credit of the people around her,” he said, “it should be said they are contributing to German Jews making aliyah to Israel. Chances are that thanks to current policy, Germany will be Judenrein [‘free of Jews’].”

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Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Announcement Draws GOP Condemnation

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FILE - In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they arrive together for a family photo at a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The White House says Turkey will soon invade Northern Syria, casting uncertainty on the fate of the Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. against in a campaign against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria drew quick, strong criticism Monday from some of his closest allies in Congress. It was condemned, too, by Kurdish fighters who would be abandoned to face a likely Turkish assault after fighting alongside Americans for years against the Islamic State.

The announcement threw the military situation in Syria into fresh chaos and injected deeper uncertainty into U.S. relations with European allies. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called it “a disaster,” while Syria’s Kurds accused the U.S. of turning its back on allies and risking gains made in the yearslong fight against ISIS.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

If the Turks go too far, he tweeted later, “I in my great and unmatched wisdom” will destroy their economy.

Hours after the White House announcement, two senior State Department officials minimized the effects of the U.S. action, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, not all the U.S. forces in the northeast of the country. They also said Turkey may not go through with a large-scale invasion and the U.S. was still trying to discourage it.

Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss what led to the internal White House decision.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened for months to launch a military operation across the Syrian border. He views the Kurdish forces as a threat to his country. Both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

U.S. troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.

There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria, and a senior U.S. official said they will pull back from the area — and could depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces. For the moment, the U.S. troops are not leaving Syria, officials said.

A U.S. official confirmed that American troops were already moving out of the security zone area, which includes the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That official was not authorized to speak for the record and was granted anonymity to comment.

Republican Sen. Graham of South Carolina said he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.

“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham wrote in a tweet.

Trump’s move appeared to take even his closest allies by surprise during a pivotal moment of his presidency. House Democrats are marching forward with their impeachment inquiry into whether he compromised national security or abused his office by seeking negative information on former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, from foreign countries.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did say Monday in an appearance on “Fox & Friends” that he had been briefed by the president about the decision. But he also said he had concerns.

“I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us,” he said, adding that, “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”

Former Trump administration officials also expressed alarm.

Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.S. “must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. … Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”

And Brett McGurk, a former senior diplomat who was the special envoy for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition until he resigned in protest, accused Trump of leaving “our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”

Sunday’s announcement followed a call between Trump and Erdogan, the White House said Sunday.

The decision is an illustration of Trump’s focus on ending American overseas entanglements — one of his key campaign promises. His goals of swift withdrawals in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have been stymied.

As he faces the impeachment inquiry at home, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

In December, Trump announced he would withdraw American troops from Syria but was met with widespread condemnation for abandoning Kurdish allies. That announcement prompted the resignations in protest of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and McGurk, and an effort by then-national security adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds.

Since January, U.S. officials have tried to broker the creation of a “safe zone” in northern Syria to provide a security buffer between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces, but Turkey has repeatedly objected to its slow implementation.

Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces threatened to respond forcefully to any Turkish incursion.

A Kurdish official speaking on condition of anonymity said Monday the Kurds expected a limited Turkish operation and were still working to ascertain what will happen with American forces in the region.

The White House said Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group who have been held by the Kurdish forces supported by the U.S.

The Kurds have custody of thousands of captured Islamic State militants. They include about 2,500 highly dangerous foreign fighters from Europe and elsewhere whose native countries have been reluctant to take them back and another 10,000 or so captured fighters from Syria and Iraq.

Trump has repeatedly demanded that European countries, particularly France and Germany, take back their citizens who joined the militant organization. He wrote Monday that it will now be up to countries in the region to decide what to do with captured fighters, and warned of retribution in response to any future attacks.

“We are 7,000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!” he wrote.

IS was defeated in Iraq in 2017. In Syria it lost its last territory in March, marking the end of the extremists’ self-declared caliphate. Despite these battlefield defeats, IS sleeper cells have continued to launch attacks in Iraq and Syria.

Israeli Interior Minister Announces Effort To Strip BDS Leader Of Residency

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BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti (Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot)

JERUSALEM (JNS) — Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday that he has asked the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in an effort to deport BDS founder Omar Barghouti from Israel.

“I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel,” Deri said in a statement. “This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel.”

Barghouti is not an Israeli citizen, but holds Israeli permanent residency status due to his marriage to an Israeli-Arab woman in Akko.

However, a 2018 amendment to Israel’s residency laws enables the interior minister to strip individuals of their residency status if they perform a serious breach of trust.

Deri will attempt to show that Barghouti’s leadership in BDS constitutes such an offense.

Joint Arab List Party chairman Ayman Odeh railed against Deri’s announcement, asking “Who are you to deny the residency of this native or any other citizen? Denial of residency or citizenship is an anti-democratic act.”

He added that “we will defend our rights by whatever means available to us.”

Judge Rejects Trump Challenge To Release Of His Tax Returns

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FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in Washington. On Monday, Oct. 7 Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump’s challenge to the release of his tax returns for a New York state criminal probe. The returns had been sought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. His office is investigating the Trump Organization’s involvement in buying the silence of two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge Monday emphatically rejected President Donald Trump’s challenge to the release of his tax returns to New York prosecutors, saying the president’s broad claim of immunity from all criminal investigations is at odds with the Constitution. But an appeals court blocked the handover of the documents for now.

At issue is a request from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. that Trump’s accounting firm turn over eight years’ worth of his business and personal tax returns for an investigation into the payment of hush money to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero turned down Trump’s challenge, saying he could not grant the president a “categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity.”

Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and it granted a temporary stay of the judge’s ruling “pending expedited review” by the court.

“The Radical Left Democrats have failed on all fronts,” Trump fumed on Twitter, “so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”

Trump’s lawyers have said that the investigation led by Vance, a Democrat, is politically motivated and that the request for his tax records should be stopped because he is immune from any criminal probe as long as he is president.

Marrero called Trump’s claim of a broad immunity “extraordinary” and “an overreach of executive power.”

“As the court reads it, presidential immunity would stretch to cover every phase of criminal proceedings, including investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration,” the judge wrote. “That constitutional protection presumably would encompass any conduct, at any time, in any forum, whether federal or state, and whether the President acted alone or in concert with other individuals.”

The judge said couldn’t accept that legal view, “especially in the light of the fundamental concerns over excessive arrogation of power” that led the founding fathers to create a balance of power among the three branches of government.

Trump’s lawyers and the district attorney’s office did not immediately comment in response to the ruling. Justice Department attorneys in Washington, who had urged Marrero to delay deciding the issue, declined to comment.

Vance began his probe after federal prosecutors in New York completed their investigation into payments that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to be paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them silent during the presidential race. The Trump Organization later reimbursed Cohen.

Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence for crimes that included campaign finance violations in connection with the hush money.

Trump was never charged, though prosecutors said publicly that he was aware of and directed the illegal payments. Justice Department policy has long been that sitting presidents cannot be charged criminally.

Trump has steadfastly refused to make his tax returns public, breaking from a tradition set by presidents and presidential candidates decades ago.

Grand jury proceedings and records in New York are secret. If Vance gains access to Trump’s returns through a grand jury investigation, that doesn’t mean that their contents will be disclosed publicly.

It is unclear what Trump’s returns might have to do with the criminal investigation.

Arabs Hurl Firebombs, Burn Tires As Jews Pray At Joseph’s Tomb

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A Palestinian demonstrator burns tires near Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus on July 2, 2019, as thousands of Jews make their way to visit the grave. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

JERUSALEM (JNS) — Dozens of Palestinians rioted on Sunday night following the pilgrimage of some 1,000 Jews, under Israeli security escort, to the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem/Nablus to pray. The rioters threw firebombs and burning tires at security personnel.

Israeli security forces responded with riot dispersal methods.

There were no Israeli reports of casualties during the incident, however the P.A.’s Wafa news agency reported that seven rioters had been wounded after “Israeli forces escorted a convoy of buses packed with over a thousand fanatic Jewish settlers to the site, located in the Palestinian-controlled area, sparking confrontations with Palestinian residents.”

Wafa stated that the injured Palestinians had been “protesting” the “raid” and “attempting to block settlers’ access to the site”.

“Among the settlers who raided the site were Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, leader of the council of settlers in the occupied West Bank Yossi Dagan, and Knesset member Moshe Arbel,” Wafa reported.

Climate Protests Block Roads Across Europe To Demand Action

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Climate protestors block a road leading to Britain's Parliament in central London Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in an attempt to disrupt the heart of government. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

BERLIN (AP) — Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement blocked major roads across major European cities Monday, kicking off a wide-ranging series of protests demanding much more urgent action against climate change.

In Berlin, around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column. That protest began before dawn.

At Monday lunchtime, another 300 people blocked Berlin’s central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road. Police said the protests were peaceful.

Members of Extinction Rebellion over the weekend set up a tent camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office to prepare for the protests, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government.

Demonstrators playing steel drums marched through central London as they kicked off two weeks of activities designed to disrupt the city.

London police said some 135 climate activists had been arrested. Extinction Rebellion said protesters from the XR Peace group were arrested as they blocked Victoria Embankment, outside the Ministry of Defense.

Among those arrested was 81-year-old Sarah Lasenby, a retired social worker from Oxford.

“It is imperative the government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and global powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels,” she said.

In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and set up tents. The protest went ahead despite a city ban on activists gathering on the road. The protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.

In Spain, a few dozen activists briefly chained themselves to each other and to an elevated road over a major artery in the Madrid, snarling traffic during the morning rush hour. The National Police said 33 activists were taken to their premises and three were arrested for resisting orders by anti-riot officers.

A few hundred other protesters camped out in 40 tents at the gates of Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Those at the Berlin protests included activist Carola Rackete, best known as the German captain of a humanitarian rescue ship who was arrested for docking in an Italian port without authorization this year to disembark migrants rescued at sea.

“We must stay here and rebel until the government proclaims an ecological emergency and acts accordingly,” Rackete said.

Founded in Britain last year, Extinction Rebellion, also known as XR, now has chapters in some 50 countries. The group said the protests Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.

Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, criticized its tactics.

“We all share an interest in climate protection, and the Paris climate targets are our standard in this,” he told ZDF television. “If you demonstrate against or for that, that is OK. But if you announce dangerous interventions in road traffic or things like this, of course that is just not on.”

He dismissed the idea of declaring a “climate emergency,” saying that the German constitution doesn’t provide for such a thing and it doesn’t translate into “concrete action.”

Supreme Court Begins Election Year Term Full Of Big Cases

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FILE - In this June 17, 2019 file photo, The Supreme Court is seen in Washington. Abortion rights, and protections for young immigrants and LGBT people top an election-year agenda for the Supreme Court. Its conservative majority will have ample opportunity to flex its muscle, testing Chief Justice John Roberts’ attempts to keep the court clear of Washington partisan politics. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The justices are returning to the Supreme Court bench for the start of an election year term that includes high-profile cases about abortions, protections for young immigrants and LGBT rights.

The court meets Monday morning for its first public session since late June. First up is a death penalty case from Kansas about whether states can abolish an insanity defense for criminal defendants.

The justices also will hear arguments Monday in a challenge to a murder conviction by a non-unanimous jury in Louisiana.

The term could reveal how far to the right and how fast the court’s conservative majority will move, even as Chief Justice John Roberts has made clear he wants to keep the court clear of Washington partisan politics. The court is beginning its second term with both of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, on board.

The justices could be asked to intervene in disputes between congressional Democrats and the White House that might also involve the possible impeachment of the Republican president.

Roberts would preside over a Senate trial of Trump if the House were to impeach him.

Its biggest decisions are likely to be handed down in late June, four months before the election.

The court also could be front and center in the presidential election campaign itself, especially with health concerns surrounding 86-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

For now, though, the court has plenty of significant cases to deal with, including whether federal civil rights law that bars workplace discrimination on the basis of sex covers LGBT people. The justices will hear arguments Tuesday in two cases on that topic, their first foray into LGBT rights since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote all the court’s major gay-rights rulings.

Next month, the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is in front of the justices. Lower courts have blocked Trump from ending the Obama-era program, which has shielded roughly 700,000 people from deportation and provided them with permits to work.

During the winter, the justices will take up a challenge to a Louisiana law that would force abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. It’s another test of whether the change in the court’s composition will result in a different outcome. With Kennedy in the majority, the court in 2016 struck down a virtually identical Texas law.

New Whistleblower May Give House Democrats Fresh Information

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President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine may have fresh information to work with after a new whistleblower stepped forward with what the person’s lawyer said were firsthand knowledge of key events.

With Congress out for another week and many Republicans reticent to speak out, a text from attorney Mark Zaid stating that a second individual had emerged and could corroborate the original whistleblower’s complaint gripped Washington and potentially heightened the stakes for Trump.

Zaid, who represents both whistleblowers, told The Associated Press that the new whistleblower works in the intelligence field and has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog.

The original whistleblower, a CIA officer, filed a formal complaint with the inspector general in August that triggered the impeachment inquiry. The document alleged that Trump had used a July telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, prompting a White House cover-up.

The push came even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response.

A second whistleblower with direct knowledge could undermine efforts by Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.

A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine on the investigation.

Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and a Ukrainian gas company tied to Biden’s son — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.

“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,'” Himes said.

Democrats have zeroed in on the State Department in the opening phase of their impeachment investigation. The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have already interviewed Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine who provided the text messages, and least two other witnesses are set for depositions this week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly ousted as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s most vocal backers, provided perhaps the strongest defense of the Republican president. He said there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July conversation with Zelenskiy and said the accusations look like a “political setup.”

As for Trump, rather than visiting his nearby golf course in Sterling, Virginia, for a second day, he stayed at the White House on Sunday, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens a main target.

“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote at one point, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.

Aside from Trump’s attempt to pressure Zelenskiy, the July call has raised questions about whether Trump held back near $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage for an investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”

Additional details about the origins of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy have emerged over the weekend.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had encouraged Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader, but on energy and economic issues, according to spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. She said Perry’s interest in Ukraine is part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.

Trump, who has repeatedly described his conversation with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” told House Republicans on Friday night that it was Perry who teed up the July call, according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.

 

3 Get Nobel Medicine Prize For Learning How Cells Use Oxygen

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Thomas Perlmann, far right, Secretary-General of the Nobel Committee announces the 2019 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine during a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday Oct. 7, 2019. The prize has been awarded to scientists, from left on the screen, Gregg L. Semenza, Peter J. Ratcliffe and William G. Kaelin Jr. receiving the award jointly for their discoveries of "how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability". (Pontus Lundahl/TT via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded Monday to two Americans and a British scientist for their discoveries in how the body’s cells sense and react to oxygen levels.

Their work has paved the way for new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and other diseases, the Nobel Committee of the Karolinska Institute said in awarding the prize.

The winners are Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. of Harvard University, Dr. Gregg L. Semenza of Johns Hopkins University and Peter J. Ratcliffe at the Francis Crick Institute in Britain.

They will share equally the 9 million kronor ($918,000) cash award. It is the 110th prize in the category that has been awarded since 1901.

In announcing the prize, the Nobel Committee said the work by the three laureates has “greatly expanded our knowledge of how physiological response makes life possible.” It said Semenza, Ratcliffe and Kaelin found “the molecular switch for how to adapt” when oxygen levels in the body vary, noting that the most fundamental job for cells is to convert oxygen to food and that cells and tissues constantly experience changes in oxygen availability.

Thomas Perlmann, the secretary of the Nobel Committee at the Karolinska Institute, said he was able to reach all three laureates by phone Monday. But he only got Kaelin via his sister, who gave him two phone numbers, and the first one was a wrong number.

“He was really happy,” Perlmann told a news conference.

The announcement kicked off Nobel week. The Nobel Physics prize is handed out Tuesday and the following day is the chemistry prize.

This year’s double-header Literature Prizes — one each for 2018 and 2019 — will be awarded Thursday and the Peace Prize will be announced on Friday.

The economics prize will be awarded on Oct. 14.

The 2018 literature prize was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy. The body plans to award it this year, along with announcing the 2019 laureate.

Prize founder Alfred Nobel — a Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite — decided the physics, chemistry, medicine and literature prizes should be awarded in Stockholm, and the peace prize in Oslo.

He specifically designated the institutions responsible for the prizes: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry; the Karolinska Institute is responsible for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy picks the Nobel Prize in Literature; and a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament decides who wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

The economics prize — officially known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel — wasn’t created by Nobel, but by Riksbanken, Sweden’s central bank, in 1968. It is the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that was tasked with selecting the winner.

Nobel glory this year comes with a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. The laureates receive them at elegant ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on Dec. 10 — the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.

Netanyahu Condemns Violence In Arab Sector And Pledges More Police To Fight It

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Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a eremony Marking the 90th Anniversary of the 1929 Palestine riots, outside the cave of the patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, September 4, 2019 (Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned acts of violence and murder in the Arab sector and pledged to allocate additional police manpower to fight against the phenomenon.

The statement issued on Sunday came a day after hundreds of Arab-Israelis demonstrated throughout the country and announced plans for further protests throughout the month.

In the statement, Netanyahu also called on the Arab-Israeli public to refrain from violence of any kind in the context of protest action.

“All of us need to act responsibility and cooperate in order to fight violence,” the statement said.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab political parties, said now Netanyahu must advance a plan of action to deal with the violence.

“It cannot be that 20 percent of the population needs to make a ruckus and block roads for the government to start to deal with the problem that has taken the lives of innocents for so many years already,” Odeh said in a statement.

Arab-Israeli communities held a general strike on Thursday to protest the uptick in violent crime and the lack of an effective police response. On Friday, protesters blocked roads, including major highways in the north of the country.

At least 71 Arab citizens of Israel have been killed as a result of gun violence and criminal activity since the beginning of this year, The Jerusalem Post reported. The murder rate among the country’s Arab population has increased by 20 percent in 2019 over the same period last year, according to Haaretz.

Turkey Summons US Diplomat Over A Twitter ‘Like’

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talks to to supporters during an event in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Erdogan threatened Saturday to launch a solo military operation into northeastern Syria, where U.S. troops are deployed and have been trying to defuse tension between its NATO ally and Syrian Kurdish forces. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey summoned a top American diplomat Sunday after the U.S. Embassy’s official Twitter account “liked” a tweet that said the people of Turkey should prepare for a political era without the leader of Turkey’s national party, who is reportedly ill.

The Foreign Ministry said the U.S. charge d’affaires Jeffrey Hovenier was summoned despite an embassy statement that said its Twitter account had liked “an unrelated post in error,” and apologized.

Many interpreted the tweet as suggesting that the nationalist leader Devlet Bahceli could soon die. The tweet was posted by a journalist Turkey accuses of having links to a network led by a cleric who is blamed for a 2016 failed coup attempt. Turkish media reports say the journalist, Ergun Babahan, is wanted in Turkey.

The tweet drew ire from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and as well as Bahceli’s party, which are allies. Turkey’s main opposition party also said it regarded the embassy’s move as an insult to Turkey’s parliament.

The embassy issued a second apology after Hovenier was called to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“We do not associate ourselves with Ergun Babahan nor do we endorse or agree with the content of his tweet,” the embassy’s second apology read. “We reiterate our regret for this error.”

The incident occurred at a time when ties between Turkey and the U.S. are strained over Syria policies. Turkey is accusing Washington of not acting fast enough toward the creation of a so-called safe zone in northeast Syria that would keep U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters away from the Turkish-Syrian. Disagreements remain on the size of the zone.

Erdogan has threatened a unilateral intervention to drive away the Kurdish fighters.

Meanwhile, Erdogan and U.S President Donald Trump agreed to meet in Washington next month to discuss the proposed safe zone, Turkish officials said following a telephone call between the two leaders.

During the call late Sunday, the Turkish leader “shared with President Trump his frustration over the U.S. military and security bureaucracy’s failure to implement” an agreement toward the creation of the zone, according to a statement from Erdogan’s office.

Erdogan also told Trump that the creation of the safe zone was key to eliminating the threat posed to Turkey by the Kurdish fighters and would allow for the return of Syrian refugees, the statement said.

Hasidic Household Income Up 43% In 8 Years

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The Satmar Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel. (JTA/Uriel Heilman)

NEW YORK (VosIzNeias) — Census data reviewed by OJPAC shows that the average income for Hasidic Households jumped by 43.1% from 2009 through 2017. The data is based on the Village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, NY, whose population of 23,000 is Hasidic and is the largest Hasidic population quantified by the Census.

In 2009, the mean (average) household income in Kiryas Joel was $28,452 or $32,480 in 2017 inflation-adjusted dollars. The average household income in 2017 was $46,506; a jump of $14,026 or a rise of 43.1% in a mere eight years.

The change in Household Income tracked very closely to the change in earnings for Male workers in the same period. This is so because income in most KJ households is generated by the males. The average earnings in 2009 for Full Time, Year Round Male Workers was $35,620 or $40,663 in inflation-adjusted 2017 dollars. The average income in 2017 for the same working group was $59,363; a jump of $18,700 or a rise of 45.9% in a mere eight years. (most male workers in Kiryas Joel are in the Full Time, Year Round category.)

By contrast, the average household income in New York State rose only 2.4% in those eight years and average male income was up less than one percent.

The amount of households in Kiryas Joel that earned more than $75,000 a year almost tripled from 6.8% households in 2009 to 19.9% households in 2017, and the amount of Full Time, Year Round, Male Workers who earned above $75,000 more than tripled from 9% in 2009 to 31% in 2017.

The massive change in household income and in male income for Kiryas Joel happened without any change in State-forced mandates at Yeshivas. Instead, KJ has now more households than a decade ago with earners who are above the age of 40 and this helped increase the income. However, Kiryas Joel has an elevated Poverty Rate due to the young age of the adult population which plays out in three forms.

First, the average income for male workers in their mid-20’s across New York is only half the average income of those who are in their mid-40’s. This matters because a majority adults in Kiryas Joel are in their 20s and low 30s so while many households earn well, there are many more who still earn less due to the young age of the earners.

Secondly, being young usually means that a household is more likely have only one breadwinner because the other parent is at home caring for the children so this reduces total household income in Kiryas Joel compared to New York overall.

Third, the Poverty Rate is derived by splitting total household income into the amount of people in the household. As such, having children at home can paint a family as poor despite having a reasonable income.

Pointing to the Poverty Rate among Hasidim as “proof” that Hasidic males can’t earn well is flawed because the Poverty Rate looks at overall Household Income relative to family size, and Hasidic Households tend to have less income and more children than the average New York household due to the young age makeup of KJ. The Poverty Rate does not measure poverty based on raw male earnings, and the poverty rate certainly does not adjust for the young age nature of Hasidic earners. Indeed, the Poverty Rate for seniors in Kiryas Joel in 2017 was 19.5% which was similar to the 18.4% Poverty Rate for seniors across New York City and 22.5% for seniors in Brooklyn.

Press release by OJPAC

The Women’s March Persistent Anti-Semitism Problem

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Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Av. during the women's march in Washington on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

NEW YORK (VosIzNeias) — After the Women’s March finally took action against their antisemitic board members, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland, by removing them, they added four more notorious antisemites. One of them, Zahra Billoo, perhaps the most vile and repugnant antisemite of them all, was immediately removed after a swift outcry to her being added ensued. However, three antisemites remain:

Charlene Carruthers – claimed in 2018 that she is “afraid…to speak out against Israeli occupation [because she] witnessed the consequences.”

Samia Assad – shared a video with the headline “Israel = worse than the devil” and declared that under Trump “I feel like I’m in Nazi Germany.”

Rinku Sen – wrote an op-ed decrying “supremacist aspects of Zionism” while arguing Zionism is a “movement that claims all of the land from Iraq to Egypt for Ashkenazi (white) Jews.”

In short, the Women’s March takes Jews for fools that will fall easily for their sleight of hand. But they remain corrupted to the core, and thus their antisemitism problem persists. They can change faces and names, but the antisemitism remains.

PA To Resume Taking Tax Revenues Collected For It By Israel

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority announced on Friday that it would once again accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel, after having rejected the funds for months.

According to a report by Reuters, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Finance Ministry said about $430 million would be transferred to the P.A. on Sunday, after understandings were reached between P.A. Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

In February, Israel said it would begin to deduct from the tax revenues it collects for the P.A. the amount the P.A. pays in monthly stipends to terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons, as well as to released terrorists and the families of “martyrs.”

When Israel went through with the deductions, the P.A. refused to accept any of the tax funds, with P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas insisting that the full tax payments belonged to the P.A. by right according to interim agreements. Israel argued that the “pay for slay” plan encouraged terrorism against Jews.

Last year, the United States drastically cut aid to the P.A., citing its disapproval of monthly salaries to paid to terrorists.

“The agreement was also on transferring a payment from the #PA’s financial dues,” al-Sheikh said on Twitter. “The dispute remains over the salaries of the families of #prisoners and #martyrs. We are determined to pay their dues at all costs.”

Tax transfers are said by the P.A. Finance Ministry to comprise approximately half of the P.A. budget.