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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
December 17, 2012

Kerry and Hagel: Hardly Israelís Preferred Choices

If, as widely expected, US President Barack Obama later this week nominates Sen. John Kerry as secretary of state and former senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, then those already worrying about US-Israeli ties under a second Obama term will have even more to worry about.

Less because of Kerry, even though he is considered a man of independent ideas on the Middle East who feels – thanks to his many years in the Senate working on foreign policy – that he knows perhaps better than Israelis themselves what is good for them, and more because of Hagel.

Hagel, a former Nebraska senator, is a Republican. But he is what some described as a Brent Scowcroft Republican, a so-called “country club” Republican not endowed with the pro-Israel reflexes that so many officeholders in the Republican party have come to possess since the days of Ronald Reagan.

Rather, Hagel is a Republican with a problematic voting record on Israel.

One sign that worries about Hagel may be well-founded is that one of those backing his appointment is Stephen Walt, co-author with John Mearsheimer of a book bashing both Israel and AIPAC, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.



December 17, 2012

NRA Fades To Black On Social Media After Conn. Shooting

The National Rifle Association took down its Facebook page the day of the bloody shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School -- one day after the NRA promoted a milestone of 1.7 million "likes."

The NRA's last Twitter update about "10 Days of NRA Giveaways" was posted Friday morning. The first 911 calls went out from Connecticut school at around 9:30 a.m. Friday.


Removing a Facebook page is an unusual step for an organization, though the NRA can bring the page back within 30 days without losing any data, archived posts or page "likes."

Josh Constine, a writer for Techcrunch, theorizes that the NRA took down its Facebook page because "pro- and anti-gun citizens likely would have gone to war on its wall," adding that "discussions could have taken an ugly turn, with those on either side leaving inappropriate posts and comments."



December 17, 2012

Michigan: Gov. Snyder Pledges To Reconsider Gun Legislation, Recalls U-M Shooting

LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder pledged Monday to take a close look at legislation that could allow concealed weapons in schools and churches following the Connecticut school shooting that evoked painful memories of a fatal shooting at his college dormitory more than three decades ago.

Snyder told The Associated Press during an interview that his public safety concerns have been heightened and "deserve extra consideration" following a mass shooting that left 26 people — including 20 children — dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"We're looking at the whole situation due to Connecticut, not just the fact that there's a bill out there," the Republican governor said. "One of the things I've asked our team to look at is what's going with school policies, with mental-health-related issues, because in many respects it appears this was a mentally ill person. ... What that legislation says will be looked at through the lens of all that's happened."

Snyder said the Good Friday 1981 shooting at the University of Michigan also plays into his decision-making regarding the legislation. He was a law school student and resident adviser when a student set fires by throwing Molotov cocktails onto the floor and fired a shotgun, killing another resident adviser and a student who was trying to help get people off the floor.



December 17, 2012

New Zealand Government Fund Divests From Israeli Firms Over Settlement Construction

A New Zealand government fund divested from three Israeli companies because of their involvement in the construction of West Bank settlements.

Elbit, Lev Leviev's Africa Israel and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus, and Shikun & Binui were excluded from the 23.5 billion dollars New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the New Zealand Herald reported last week.


In a statement, Anne-Maree O'Connor, the fund's manager for responsible investment, said, "Findings by the United Nations that the separation barrier and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the fund's decision to exclude the companies. The fund also factored in votes by New Zealand for U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding the cessation and dismantling of the separation barrier, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."



December 17, 2012

Israel Pushes On With East Jerusalem Building Plan That Angered Americans In 2010

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, December 17, 11:20 AM

JERUSALEM — Israel says it is pushing forward with plans to build hundreds of homes in a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.

An Interior Ministry committee on Monday gave intermediate approval to the construction of 1,500 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, a part of the city Palestinians claim for a future capital.

The ministry says the project still must go through additional planning stages, and it could be years before construction begins.

The announcement is nonetheless expected to anger the Palestinians and even Israeli allies who oppose settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.



December 17, 2012

Both Parties in Congress May Have Reason for January Deal

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress are starting to talk about the benefits of waiting until January to reach a budget deal, even as House Speaker John Boehner signals openness to allowing tax rates to rise for millionaires.

President Barack Obama rejected a Dec. 14 offer by Boehner to raise rates on household income above $1 million a year and lift the federal debt ceiling in exchange for containing entitlement program costs. While Obama wants higher rates for income above $250,000, Boehner’s offer marked movement because he has opposed increased rates for any income level.


Still, making a deal in early January that extends income tax cuts for all except top earners could be easier for Boehner to sell to House Republicans because all rates will have risen as of Jan. 1. At that point, Obama will have made good on his campaign pledge to raise rates for top earners, giving him political cover to accept cuts to entitlement programs that Republicans are seeking.

Republican ‘Incentive’

“One could make the argument that Republicans would have incentive to do it so they don’t have to vote for tax increases” and can vote for a tax cut in 2013, said Representative Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat.



December 16, 2012

Pro-Gun America Quiet, Contemplative In Wake Of Sandy Hook Massacre


Pro-gun organizations and politicians usually quick to counter calls for gun control in the wake of massacres involving assault-style weaponry have remained largely silent after Friday's Sandy Hook massacre, for the moment at least ceding their role in a vigorous gun control debate raging across the country.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized gun control proponents as early as Friday for trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain, a tack that struck an awkward note in a country where even pro-gun rights Americans paused to consider the implications of America's long-running affinity for guns.

When David Gregory, host of NBC’s "Meet the Press," sent out 31 invitations to pro-gun Senators in the new Congress to talk about the issue on Sunday, no takers emerged. The Shooting Sports Foundation, a pro-gun rights group headquartered just a few miles from where the shootings took place, also remained silent, as did the National Rifle Association.

With the national gun lobbying voices quiet, some conservative bloggers reminded readers of several instances in recent years when legal gun carriers thwarted gunmen intent on killing many people. In Portland, Ore., one concealed weapons owner claims he brandished his gun after alleged mall shooter Jacob Roberts opened fire. According to the man, Roberts, whose rifle was jamming, fled the scene after seeing the gun and minutes later shot himself.



December 16, 2012

Lacking Money, Experience, Rebels Try To Run Syrian Town Plagued By Water, Power Shortages

Associated Press
5:30 p.m. EST, December 16, 2012

MAARET MISREEN, Syria (AP) — The anti-regime locals who have thrown together a ramshackle administration to run this northern Syrian town have one main struggle: Finding money to keep their community alive. Like other nearby rebel-held towns, Maaret Misreen is broke.

Many of the town's 45,000 residents are out of work. There's no cash to keep water or electricity running, so they come on only sporadically. Prices have skyrocketed. Long lines form at the only working bakery for miles around, creating vulnerable potential targets for airstrikes.

This week, the town's main mosque preacher, Abdel Rahim Attoun — who now doubles as the town judge — appealed to worshippers to chip in to buy fuel for communal water pumps. He asked each family to donate 200 Syrian pounds, a little under $3, the cost of a large bunch of bananas.

But even that's too much for many residents, so no one is being forced to donate, said 29-year-old Amer Ahmado, who is an electronics engineer but was picked by the newly formed local council for the job of managing the town's meager finances.



December 16, 2012

Illinois Concealed Carry Ruling Sets Stage For High Court Fight Over Right To Carry A Gun

WASHINGTON — The next big issue in the national debate over guns – whether people have a right to be armed in public – is moving closer to Supreme Court review.

A provocative ruling by a panel of federal appeals court judges in Chicago struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois. The ruling is somewhat at odds with those of other federal courts that have largely upheld state and local gun laws, including restrictions on concealed weapons, since the Supreme Court's landmark ruling declaring that people have a right to have a gun for self-defense.

In, 2008, the court voted 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller to strike down Washington's ban on handgun ownership and focused mainly on the right to defend one's own home. The court left for another day how broadly the Second Amendment may protect gun rights in other settings.

Legal scholars say the competing appellate rulings mean that day is drawing near for a new high court case on gun rights.



December 16, 2012

Yeshiva U. President Apologizes for '70s, '80s Molest Allegations, Stops Short Of Confirming Crime

THE PRESIDENT of Yeshiva University apologized Thursday over allegations two rabbis at the college’s high school campus abused boys in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Yeshiva was repeatedly notified that a Talmud teacher, Rabbi Macy Gordon, and a former principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, abused students, alums of the High School for Boys told the Jewish newspaper the Forward.

University President Richard Joel stopped short of confirming the allegations but called the abuse described in published reports “heinous and inexcusable.”

“The thought that such behavior could have occurred at our boys’ high school, or anywhere at this institution, at any time in its past, is more than sufficient reason to express on behalf of the University, my deepest, most profound apology,” he wrote in a letter posted on the Yeshiva website.

But the apology did not placate Mordechai Twerksy, who attended the upper Manhattan school from 1977 to 1981 and said he was moved to write about the abuse after the Penn State scandal broke.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/yeshiva-university-president-apologizes-1970s-80s-molestations-article-1.1219938#ixzz2FFn80WfO

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