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Israel on Sunday 1 Tammuz retaliated to Syrian rocket fire into the Golan Heights for a second consecutive day. The rocket fire is attributed to spillover from the ongoing civil war in that country. While there were no reported causalities from Sunday’s retaliatory strike, Syrian media outlets did report a number of people were killed in Saturday’s air force strike. The IDF on Sunday announced two Syrian artillery positions were targeted along with an ammunitions truck. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the start of the Sunday cabinet meeting announced “…We are not prepared to accept any spillover or trickle of fire from any front whatsoever. We will respond strongly to any firing at our territory”. After Sunday’s attacks the Syrian army issued a statement, warning the “Israeli enemy” of the consequences of continued attacks. (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
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Perhaps HaGaon HaRav Meir Mazuz Shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Kisei Rachamim, has signaled he is not going to continue running his Yachad party in Knesset elections. Remarks made by the rav during a recent shiur have some wondering. Rabbi Mazuz stated “political machlokes must be put aside and there must be achdus ahead of the next election”. The rav stated “We daven that these days, the Three Weeks, disappear from the world. Enough! Israel has suffered from the galus but we have to do something for this [to occur]. “We must unite. There is news and no one knows when the next elections ca be. If we remain battling one another- we must unit and we must show the non-religious that the Torah unites. “Even when there are different opinions there is the possibility of speaking, but respectfully”. When former Shas leader Eli Yishai was replaced by Aryeh Deri as party leader, together with Rabbi Mazuz, they started the Yachad party, which failed to pass the minimum threshold and enter Knesset in the last general elections. (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
The father of a 12-year-old boy from the Kochav neighborhood of Tel Aviv was worried on Friday when he son failed to return home. It was already after midnight, and when he parents phoned his cellphone, there was no response. They decided to involve police, calling the emergency ‘100’ number to report him missing. Police arrived at the home in a timely fashion and they were given a description of the missing youth as well as a photo. As they were preparing to begin the search for him, the door opened and in came the missing son. According to the father, he was frightened and surprised. It was almost 2:00AM and to the dad’s amazement, he learned his son had been detained by police close to their neighborhood. Speaking to the media, the dad said “This is Chelm. One hand is looking for the child while another hand is detaining him and one is unaware of the other”. The dad explained to Ynet his son asked police to phone his home to notify his dad but police shut off his phone and prevented him from making contact with his parents. It was further explained police threatened a group of youths, telling them if one did not volunteer to accept a summons for disturbing the peace, they would all receive one and taken to the police station. The children were afraid of police, as well as their parents. The youth decided to step forward and take the summons for all of them. When he was given it, the summons, he was shocked to learn it was 350 shekels, far more than he expected or could afford. After giving him the summons, he was finally permitted by police to head home. The dad was angry that police did not permit his son to phone or at the very least, to notify him themselves. (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
Mayors are warning President Donald Trump that toughening immigration enforcement meddles with U.S. cities’ affairs. More than 250 mayors are meeting at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach to take a stance on issues from climate change to the federal budget and health care. They are reviewing resolutions that would strongly oppose Trump’s crack down on illegal immigration. Mayors were struck a blow in January, when Trump ordered to cut funding to jurisdictions that deny in some way cooperation with federal immigration agents. Most cities have defied the order, and a federal judge blocked it in April, at least temporarily. “Some of us are proud to be places of sanctuary, to protect immigrants, but this idea that we’re in violation of something, I think is a big charade,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garcetti argued that all he wants from immigration officials is that they conduct enforcement in a “lawful, constitutional, court-ordered way,” referring to policies where sanctuary cities demand warrants to turn over suspects to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Police officers in Los Angeles do 20,000 to 30,000 requests for warrants from judges every year in the middle of the night when the judges are probably in their pajamas,” Garcetti said. “The idea that ICE can’t do the same thing seems ridiculous.” Mayors from big cities say they fear the increased enforcement will push immigrant communities into the shadows, deterring them to report crimes or cooperate as witnesses. The police chief of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, said in March that sexual assaults and domestic violence reports by Latinos had dropped. Miami-Dade County, which houses 34 municipalities including the conference host of Miami Beach, heeded Trump’s January order and changed its policy so the corrections department honors all requests by ICE. Authorities have turned over 124 people to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since Jan. 27. But GOP-identified mayors from states such as Indiana and Florida disagreed this weekend on targeting non-criminal immigrants solely for being in the country illegally. Kent Guinn, mayor of Ocala, Florida, says that although he is against offering a pathway to citizenship to the 11.5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, most immigrants he sees are “good.” “I don’t think people realize there are some bad people that are here that need to leave,” Guinn said. He referred to the 2015 shooting death of a San Francisco woman often highlighted by Trump when attacking sanctuary policies because the man charged with her death was in the country illegally and had been released by local law enforcement. “But the ones that we encounter on a day-to-day basis, they’re very hard-working individuals that do the things that they need to do and participate in the economy. They work on horse farms, in restaurants. We see them. They’re good people. We’re not going around looking for them.” The Republican Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, Jim Brainard, who is also bucking his party on the climate front, says he opposes Trump’s immigration views. “Punishing cities makes no sense,” Brainard said. “Everyone who has come to this country, regardless of whether it was illegal, ought to have a pathway to legalization and then we can move to issues that really can help make our country better.” Besides opposing the order on sanctuary cities, […]
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit to open a criminal investigation against “Bladna,” an Israeli-Arab non-profit organization that she says incites Druse youth against IDF enlistment. “Incitement against IDF enlistment is not only a violation of the law, but harms the cultural fabric and ethos of Israeli society,” said Shaked. “It is inconceivable that this illegal activity occurs under the noses and with the backing of elected officials.” Shaked’s statement came in response to a report released by the Im Tirtzu organization, which claimed that Bladna’s anti-enlistment activities were in violation of the law because they targeted Druse youth who are required to serve in the IDF. According to the report, Arab members of Knesset including Joint List head Ayman Odeh have publicly supported the organization and have participated in their events at recent as April 2017. The report also notes that Bladna’s donors include the US-based New Israel Fund and the European Union, which donated nearly 2,000,000 NIS to the group in 2015. Druse members of Knesset also responded to the report. “I am proud of the members of the Druse community who enlist in the IDF and sanctify the ‘blood covenant’ that exists between the Druse community and the State of Israel,” said Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara. “I will not allow for any organization, whether political or extra-parliamentary, to harm the unique and strong social fabric created over the years by inciting against IDF enlistment.” Yisrael Beitenu MK Hamad Amar, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, pointed to the high percentage of Druse enlistment, calling their loyalty to the state “unquestionable.” “Not Bladna nor any other organization will be able to uproot the deep and strong connection between the Druse community and the State of Israel,” said Amar. Kulanu MK Akram Hasson also responded to the report by requesting the non-profit registrar to disband Blanda. “They will not succeed in stoking the flames of quarrel between brothers,” said Hasson. Chairman of the Subcommittee for Personnel in the IDF, MK (Likud) Amir Ochana, announced his intention to convene an emergency committee session to discuss the findings of the report. “We cannot allow for the haters of Israel to harm the IDF and its soldiers,” said Ochana. “These despicable individuals are trying to discourage IDF enlistment of the Druse community, which includes the best of our warriors and heroes.” Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg emphasized how the New Israel Fund and European governments are trying to “brainwash” Arab youth against integrating in Israeli society. “It is inconceivable that anti-Israel incitement can penetrate unhindered into Israeli schools,” said Peleg. “It is important to note how the ones to suffer the most are the Arab youth who are being brainwashed to oppose the society in which they live.” “We are calling on the Attorney General to open an investigation against this foreign agent organization, for both inciting the Druse sector against IDF enlistment and for engaging in seditious activity by calling on an entire population of society to oppose the state.” (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
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One shirt, one pair of pants. Those are the basics for outfitting an Afghan soldier. But in that simple uniform combination are the threads of two troubling stories — one about the waste of millions in American taxpayer dollars, the other about the perils of propping up a partner army in a seemingly endless war. Together these tales help explain why some in Congress question the wisdom of investing even more resources in Afghanistan, nearly 16 years after the United States invaded the Taliban-ruled country in response to the al-Qaida attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Army general who runs the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan calls it a stalemate. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. is “not winning,” and he vows to “correct this as soon as possible.” The Trump administration is searching for an improved approach to achieving the goal it inherited from the Obama administration: to get the Afghan government to a point where it can defend itself and prevent its territory from being a haven for extremists. Mattis has said he expects to have that revised strategy ready for Congress by next month. This coming week he will be consulting with NATO allies in Brussels on troop contributions and other Afghan issues. The long war has generated repeated examples of wasted funds, which may be inevitable in a country such as Afghanistan, where the military has been built from scratch, is plagued with corruption and relies almost completely on U.S. money for even the most basic things, including salaries and uniforms. Among the costs rarely noted publicly: The Pentagon has spent $1 billion over the past three years to help recruit and retain Afghan soldiers. The money wasted on uniforms is small potatoes by comparison with other U.S. missteps in Afghanistan, but it is emblematic of broader problems. The Pentagon has not disputed the gist of findings by its special inspector general for Afghanistan, John Sopko, that the U.S. spent as much as $28 million more than necessary over 10 years on uniforms for Afghan soldiers with a camouflage “forest” pattern that may be inappropriate for the largely desert battlefield. In a report released this past week, Sopko’s office said the Pentagon paid to license a propriety camouflage pattern even though it owns patterns it could have used for free. The choice, it said, was based on the seemingly offhand fashion preference of a single Afghan official. “This is not an isolated event,” Sopko said in a telephone interview. The U.S., he said, has been “in a mad rush to spend money like a drunken sailor on a weekend furlough.” It reflects a pattern, he said, of spending too much money, too quickly, with too little oversight and too little accountability. Sopko’s office is still investigating the camouflage uniform contract process, which it found “questionable.” “This was more than just a bad fashion move,” he said. “It cost the taxpayer millions of dollars” more than might have been necessary. Money is rarely part of the debate over what the United States should do differently or better in Afghanistan, and thus the accumulating costs are often overlooked. Since 2002, the U.S. has spent $66 billion on Afghan security forces alone. In recent years this spending has grown, even though President Barack Obama’s stated goal was to […]
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Yesh Atid opposition party leader MK Yair Lapid announced his party is centrist and he will not join a left-wing block in Knesset. Speaking to Channel 2 News, Lapid explained he will not interfere with left-wing efforts to organize, but his party will not be a part of it. He added his reason for entering politics was not merely to oust Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but the party has an agenda. He cited that he was a cabinet member during the last IDF military operation in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge; explaining, “I looked at all of us in a very powerful decision-making position and determined who is cool, who can make decisions, who understands the full width of the situation and who is not, and I can manage it better.” He added he is in regular contact with former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and has learned they have a great deal in common and plan to remain in touch until the elections. Likud officials added, “In response to his statements pertaining to PM Netanyahu’s handling of Operation Protective Ede, his criticism is shattered compared to Lapid’s compliments made on August 7, 2014 regarding the management of the operation by PM Netanyahu when he said, ‘the cabinet acted responsibly and conducted the operation properly’ and who ran the cabinet?” (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
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The jihadis’ targets in Europe are depressingly repetitive: the Brussels metro, the Champs-Elysees in Paris (twice), tourist-filled bridges in London (twice) and a U.K. rock concert. And that’s just the past few months. The steady stream of attacks on centers of daily life have drawn pledges from Europeans not to let terrorists change how they live, but in ways large and small they already have. There is a heightened awareness and quicker reactions, especially in the hardest-hit countries of France, Britain and Belgium, that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. In Brussels on Tuesday, a 36-year-old Moroccan man shouting “Allahu akbar!” set off a bomb among subway commuters. The bomb didn’t detonate in full and a soldier shot him dead. It was another Muslim, Mohamed Charfih, who demanded that the subway’s doors be closed before the attacker could enter. “I heard people on the platform shouting for help,” he told the news site DH. He looked out and knew what he saw. “I screamed to close the doors immediately. I asked to get out of there as fast as possible and that everyone get down on the floor.” That reaction, blocking the door and fleeing, has become part of official instructions on what to do in case of an attack in France. Signs have been posted in public areas and even schools showing people running, ducking beneath a window, or using heavy furniture as a barricade. Tensions are high enough in central Paris that on Thursday the quick-response police unit reacted to a witness’ phone call about a man wearing a sidearm by tackling him on the street, only to learn that he was a ranking member of the anti-terrorism squad, according to French media. In Britain, decades of IRA attacks prompted the installation of country-wide TV surveillance cameras — one of the most expansive systems in the world. Paris is quickly ramping up its own camera system, to the point where authorities were able this week to track the minute-by-minute path of the man who tried to attack a Champs-Elysee gendarme patrol until the moment he rammed their vehicle. The man died of burns and smoke inhalation — the only casualty of his act — but left behind a substantial arsenal. Both Britain and France have installed barriers around airports, train stations and other public buildings in recent years. Since the Westminster bridge attack in March, however, talks are underway to install even more barriers on bridges and around crowded places such as London’s Borough Market, where three attackers this month went on a stabbing rampage after crashing their vehicle on a busy street not far from London Bridge. Echoing France, London’s security authorities have issued advice to pubs and restaurants since the attacks with the message of “Run, Tell and Hide.” The advice includes establishing whether the threat is inside or outside and not waiting for police to decide whether the venue should be locked down or evacuated. Few British commuters have changed their habits. After suicide bombers in 2005 struck trains and buses during a busy London morning rush-hour, scores of commuters started riding bicycles to work. That method of transport has its own problems in London — with the number of annual cyclist deaths a rising concern. Three of the four recent attacks, […]
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Parents of children admitted to the hemo-oncology unit have sent a harshly-worded letter to President Reuven Rivlin informing the president they are launching a hunger strike, explaining that have changed their minds and are unwilling to abide by the comprise reached by him. “They are advancing politically on our backs” the parents accuse while Health Ministry officials announce a willingness to enter into direct talks. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday, 1 Tammuz, called on the doctors to return to their previous posts and use the interim period to reach an agreement “for the good of the children”. The children are admitted to the bone-marrow unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem. The dispute surrounds the hospital decision to close the pediatric unit and incorporate it into the adult unit. The doctors who resigned insist this is being done at the expense of the care to the children, citing the unit it too specialized to be a part of the adult unit. Hospital officials maintain the care is what it must be and they would never compromise the care of the children or any patient. The hospital enjoys the backing of the Health Ministry, with Minister Yaakov Litzman standing firmly behind Hadassah Director-General Prof. Ze’ev Rothstein. Shaare Zedek Hospital signaled it would open the pediatric unit, but Litzman was quick to announce he would not permit this to happen. The parents, who side with the doctors who resign, are now stepping up their battle by announcing the hunger strike, citing there is no justification for preventing the opening of the unit at Shaare Zedek, adding for if not, there is no pediatric unit in the capital. The parents add the area is extremely specialize, and there are only about 40 qualified physicians in the entire country today. Attorney Eliad Shraga, who represents the parents, has taken the case to the High Court on their behalf. The case is on the court’s docket for Wednesday, 4 Tammuz. (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
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Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. is expected to file for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S. on Monday, having been dragged into financial trouble by millions of faulty air bag inflators that can kill or injure people. The inflators, which fill up air bags in the event of a crash, can explode with too much force and spew metal shrapnel. At least 16 deaths worldwide and more than 180 injuries are blamed on the inflators. They also touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, that began in 2008, with up to 69 million inflators and 42 million vehicles affected. Worldwide, about 100 million inflators are being recalled. What car owners need to know about the massive recall: WILL THE RECALLS CONTINUE? Yes. Automakers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their vehicles, and they have been funding the recalls. Takata’s assets are expected to be sold for $1.6 billion to a rival company, Key Safety Systems, and part of Takata will remain under a different name to make replacement inflators for the recalls. Money from the sale will go to pay claims against Takata, including a court-ordered $850 million that will reimburse automakers for their expenses. Another $125 million will go to victims and Takata will pay a $25 million fine to the U.S. government. It’s not clear yet where the rest of the $1.6 billion will go. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE AIR BAGS? Three independent reports concluded that the chemical Takata uses to inflate its air bags — ammonium nitrate — can degrade after long-term exposure to environmental moisture and high temperatures. If the ammonium nitrate degrades substantially, it can cause the inflators to become over-pressurized and rupture during air bag deployment. In the air bags being recalled, Takata didn’t use a chemical desiccant, a drying agent that can counteract the effects of moisture. ——— HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF MY CAR HAS BEEN RECALLED? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a complete list of models covered by current and future Takata recalls. The full list can be found on the agency’s website . The government’s website also allows drivers search for open recalls . Owners should input the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, which can be found on the title or registration card, or on the driver’s side dash or door jamb. The VIN check page will be updated as automakers announce more recalls. Cars and trucks made by 19 companies are included in the recall. ——— WHICH CARS ARE MOST AT RISK? The government says vehicles younger than six years old aren’t currently at risk of an air bag inflator rupture even if they’re in a high humidity region, because it takes time for the ammonium nitrate to degrade. But the risk grows as the vehicle ages. ——— HOW LONG WILL I HAVE TO WAIT FOR A REPLACEMENT? That varies by model, age of the car and manufacturer. For many models, dealers have ample parts in stock. Yet only about 15.5 million of the 69 million inflators had been replaced as of the end of April. Parts are not yet available for some models, and other models haven’t been recalled yet. More recalls are coming as more parts are made. Some Takata replacement inflators will have to be replaced again […]
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