US Investigators Blame Gas, Sewer Lines In Deadly NYC Blast

June 10th, 2015

mexA poorly crafted joint in a plastic Con Edison gas line and an 8-year-old break in an old city sewer line were the likely causes of an explosion that killed eight people in New York City last year, federal investigators said Tuesday.

The weakness of the plastic pipe joint was exposed because the soil that supported it was washed away by groundwater flowing into a gaping hole in the brick sewer line, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Both Con Ed and the city took issue with the conclusion, each claiming the other was fully responsible for the March 12, 2014, blast. The morning explosion also injured 50 people, left more than 100 families homeless and disrupted train travel by throwing debris onto the Metro-North Railroad tracks above the street.

Con Ed blamed the sewer breach entirely, saying, “Not all of the participants involved in this investigation reached the same conclusion concerning the sequence of infrastructure failures.”

City spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said blaming the sewer line “appears unsupported by the facts,” noting that the breach was 43 feet from the gas pipe connection.

“The full investigation reveals that a properly fused fusion joint would not have failed,” she said.

The NTSB said the worker who made the saddle joint in the plastic gas line in 2011 — so a new building could get gas from the main — failed to ensure that the two surfaces were clean. That contaminated the joint, which was made by melting the plastic, the agency said.

The defective joint “was the only credible source of natural gas that could have provided a large enough flow rate” to fuel the explosion, the NTSB said. But the joint opened up because the gas line was sagging as a result of the erosion beneath it, the board said.

If the break in the sewer main had been repaired after it was detected in 2006, the explosion might have been prevented, the board said.

It said that when a report of a gas odor was called in to Con Ed on the day of the explosion, a dispatcher notified the city fire department, but when the department called back for an address, the dispatcher said, “Hold up. No, sorry. Hold up one second. Hold on. I will call you back. I will call you right back,” but did not follow up.

The NTSB’s staff analysis said the fire department could have reached the scene 15 minutes before the explosion and perhaps would have begun an evacuation. During a discussion, however, NTSB members cautioned that it’s not clear any lives would have been saved.

Other findings included:

—Several people reported after the explosion that they had smelled gas the day before, but none called it in.

—Con Ed’s public education program did not effectively tell customers what to do when detecting a gas odor.

—If Con Ed had installed appropriate valves on the gas line, the leaking main could have been isolated and turned off more quickly after the explosion.

—The gas line installer’s qualification credentials were not up to date.

The board recommended that Con Ed revise its plastic welding procedures; provide guidelines and training on how to notify the fire department of an emergency; and install more isolation valves.

Con Ed said — and the NTSB agreed — that it has already implemented several remedies.

“We agree with many of the NTSB’s recommendations, and many new gas safety and quality control measures are already underway,” the company said.

The NTSB also recommended that New York City implement new procedures to ensure the integrity of sewer lines and make timely repairs.


Airline Group Suggests Smaller Carry-On Bags To Free Up Bins

June 10th, 2015

planeMillions of fliers might soon want to buy new carry-on suitcases.

Global airlines announced Tuesday a new guideline that recommends shrinking carry-on bags, in an effort to free up space in packed overhead bins.

The guideline, which is not binding, means that many existing bags currently in compliance with airline rules would not be given preferential treatment in the boarding process. While details of how the guideline will be implemented are murky, and could vary from airline to airline, it raises the possibility that many fliers would be forced to check their favorite carry-on bag.

Fliers might ultimately need to buy smaller suitcases or pay a fee to check their bags, typically $25 each way.

The recommendation by the International Air Transport Association suggests an “optimal” carry-on size at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep. That’s smaller than the current maximum size allowed by many airlines. For instance, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all currently allow bags up to 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches — although gate agents don’t always enforce those more-generous measurements.

“Once again, the airlines find a way to make their problem the passenger’s problem — and an expensive problem at that,” said travel industry consultant Henry Harteveldt. The lack of overhead space is due to airlines cramming too many seats on planes and charging passengers to check their suitcases, he said.

Airlines around the globe have varying standards — different enough that a carry-on bag that is acceptable to one airline isn’t allowed in the cabin of another. The airline trade group says the new guideline will not necessarily replace each airline’s rules on bag size, but gives them a uniform measurement that “will help iron out inconsistencies.”

Charlie Leocha, a consumer advocate and co-founder of Travelers United, said if enough airlines adopt these guidelines it will be great for travelers to at least know what size bag is acceptable on multiple airlines. However, Leocha measured his own carry-on bag Tuesday— one that he has traveled with for more than a decade and never struggled to fit into an overhead bin — to find out that it doesn’t comply with the new suggested size.

“Are the airlines are cahoots with the baggage manufactures? It just seems crazy,” he said.

Many bags already marketed as carry-on compliant actually aren’t.

For instance, for $56.99 Walmart sells the Rockland Luggage Sonic 20″ ABS Spinner Carry On. The big is the right height and width but is one inch too deep for current U.S. airline rules. Macy’s sells a Samsonite Silhouette Sphere bag for $460 that is marketed as meeting “carry-on requirements for most major airlines” but the bag is 15 inches wide, one inch too large.

Theoretically, if airlines follow this guideline “everyone should have a chance to store their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger,” the trade group said. Today, it’s typical for the last 20 or so passengers to board to be forced to check their bags at the gate because the bins are already full.

Nine major international airlines will soon introduce the guideline into their operations. Chris Goater, a spokesman for the transport association, said they are: Avianca, Azul, Caribbean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar.

“It’s certainly not mandatory,” Goater said.

No U.S. airlines have yet signed on, but Goater expects more carriers to quickly do so. The suggested size was just unveiled publicly Tuesday at a meeting of global airline CEOs in Miami.

The airlines said they are working with several large luggage manufacturers including Samsonite, Delsey and Tumi but none have yet signed on. Bags with new labels, designating them as “Cabin OK,” are expected to be in stores by the end of the year.

Airline consultant Robert Mann said that if airlines did a better job of handling checked luggage, passengers wouldn’t bring so many on the plane and fight for overhead bin space. Those $25 bag fees don’t help either.

“They literally create a disincentive to play their game,” Mann said.

In the end, Mann said airlines will do very little — regardless of bag size — to separate frequent business travelers who account for the bulk of their revenue from their suitcases.


PHOTOS: Fire Burning Out of Control in Dimona Chemical Plant [UPDATED 14:05 IL]

June 10th, 2015

2015061003472813:49 IL: A fire is burning out of control in the southern city of Dimona, in the Rotem chemical plant. There are no reports of injuries at this time.

Firemen are trying to determine if there are people trapped inside. It is unclear at this time.

14:01: Firefighters now believe no one is trapped inside the burning plant.

14:05: There are no fears that the burning structure is going to collapse.

20150610034022 20150610034030 20150610034036 20150610034045 20150610034728 20150610034734

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos/Video: Negev Fire Service)


Ministry of the Economy: Addition Benefits for Industry in Sderot And Gaza Border Communities

June 10th, 2015

sderot.jpgContinuing the plan for strengthening the economy and civilian resilience in Sderot and the Gaza border communities, the Knesset Constitution Committee discussed the amendment to the Mandatory Tenders (Preference for Israeli Products) Law, so that manufacturers producing Israeli-made goods in Sderot and the Gaza border communities will be given greater preference, beyond that determined by the regulations, when competing against overseas suppliers in government tenders.

The amendment to the Law joins with other elements of the Ministry of Economy’s plan, which includes benefits to production plants from the Investment Center, increased grants from the Chief Scientist, fortifying daycare centers, giving increased subsidies for families, improving industrial infrastructure, and more.

According to the amendment, which is intended to help manufacturers in the Sderot and Gaza border regions cope with the security and economic difficulties they face, Israeli-made goods that are manufactured in the Sderot and Gaza border region will be entitled to a 20% preference in the price criterion when competing in a government tender against an overseas supplier, as opposed to a 15% rate as currently determined by the regulations. The amendment brought to the Committee’s approval also includes additional definitions regarding the location and production source in the Sderot and Gaza envelope communities.

According to the government resolution, the proposed amendment will be enacted as an emergency measure for a 5-year period, from the day the amendments are applied.

Economy Minister Aryeh Deri stated “The industrialists in the Sderot and Gaza envelope region are struggling with a complex, difficult daily reality. The benefits are aimed, among other things, at aiding manufacturers in Sderot and the Gaza envelope communities cope with the difficulties resulting from the security situation in the region, in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. It is both important and urgent to quickly implement the amendments, so as to provide tools for manufacturers to participate in the tenders and help them rehabilitate their businesses from the damage caused by the security situation in the region.”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

NYC Officials Want High-Sodium Warning On Menus

June 10th, 2015

saltNew York could become the first U.S. city. to require warning labels on high-salt dishes at chain restaurants, taking campaigns to cut down on salt into new territory, health officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The city’s Department of Health will propose Wednesday that all chain restaurants add a salt-shaker-like symbol on menus next to products that contain more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Public health advocates hailed the proposal as a pioneering step to tackle a major problem. Salt producers called it off-base, and some restaurateurs said it would needlessly mire already burdened eateries in more bureaucracy. But city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett said it simply would give customers important information.

There’s a wide variety of food items that would require the warning label under the proposed guidelines. At Panera Bread, for example, the Italian combo sandwich — which includes seared steak, smoked turkey, ham, salami and onions — has 2,830 mg of sodium, while the sesame jack chicken strips at TGI Friday’s contain 2,700 mg of sodium.

“This doesn’t change the food,” Bassett said. “It enables people to identify single items that have a level of salt that is extremely high.”

If the city Board of Health votes Wednesday to consider the proposal, a final vote could come as soon as September and the warnings by December.

Overconsumption of sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day; only about one in 10 Americans meets the 1 teaspoon guideline.

“High sodium levels are probably the biggest health problem related to our food supply,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group.

While he hailed New York’s proposal as “showing true leadership,” he also called it a conservative approach, given that items would get special labels only if they have a full day’s worth of sodium. A meal with even half that amount would still have too much salt, he said.

The head of the Salt Institute, a trade association for salt producers, called the proposal “misguided” and based on “faulty, incorrect government targets” discredited by recent research.

“They’re too low … and, if followed, could actually harm people,” said the group’s president, Lori Roman.

Last year, a large international study questioned the conventional wisdom that most people should cut back on salt, suggesting that the amount most folks consume is OK for heart health. The study followed 100,000 people in 17 countries and found that very high levels of salt were a problem, especially for people with high blood pressure, but too little salt also can do harm.

Other scientists fault the study and say most people still consume way too much salt.

Federal law already requires restaurants to provide sodium content information on request, and the proposed menu labels will wrap restaurants in the nation’s biggest city in more red tape, said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association.

“The composition of menus may soon have more warning labels than food products,” she said.

But Panera Bread expressed support for the city’s plan. Panera advocates providing nutritional information with menus, and the New York proposal is “aligned with that same goal,” CEO Ron Shaich said in a statement. He said he hoped such initiatives would prompt national and industrywide labeling requirements.

“These are necessary to create real change,” he said.

Some other chains, including Burger King and Wendy’s, declined to comment.

Studies have found that the vast majority of dietary salt comes from processed and restaurant foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been pressing the food industry to reduce sodium content voluntarily and is working on new sodium guidelines.

Under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York led development of salt-reduction targets for various table staples and got companies to start committing to them voluntarily, starting in 2010.

Many companies said they were able to shrink the salt without customers complaining, but that wasn’t always the case. Two years after the Campbell Soup Co. announced in 2009 that it was lowering salt in half its soups, it brought back some higher-sodium soups, citing concern about the taste.

New York City made a series of groundbreaking healthy-eating moves during Bloomberg’s tenure: banning trans fats from restaurant meals, forcing chain eateries to post calorie counts on menus and trying, unsuccessfully, to limit the size of some sugary drinks. While city officials and health experts applauded the initiatives, some critics saw them as nannyish.


Amazing Even for the UN: Both Israel And Hamas Remain Off Blacklist

June 10th, 2015

hamArguably, as Israel fights a growing international effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, one might say the United Nations plays a significant role in the delegitimization effort.

The United Nations on Monday, 21 Sivan decided to leave both Israel and Hamas off of its blacklist of nations and armed organizations that violate children’s rights during conflict. This decision was made despite recommendations from both sides against the other. Amazingly, despite endless documentation of Hamas using children as human shields and training children in hand-to-hand combat, the UN sees fit to address Israel and Hamas as equals.

UN Special Envoy for Children & Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui included Israel and Hamas in a draft of the report sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The UN leader had final say regarding the blacklist. The UN leader did however sharply criticize Israel over Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. The UN leader spoke of the IDF’s “excessive use of force” during the operation.

Responding to the decision, Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor said the UN leader “was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organizations and the Arab states” as they called to include Israel on the blacklist.

In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry released the following statement:

The State of Israel should never have been included in the UN Secretary General’s List of Shame, and it is therefore only natural and logical that it is not included in it.

The State of Israel acted to protect its citizens from attacks by a murderous terror organization, which has no qualms about placing Palestinian civilians, including children, in the firing line. This organization, Hamas, did not hesitate to use children as human shields and to sacrifice their lives on the altar of hatred against Israel.

On the other hand, Israel did everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties. This is our moral duty, and that is how we operate, out of a sense of deep commitment.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Glitch Shifts Position Of International Space Station

June 10th, 2015

issA glitch at the International Space Station on Tuesday caused its position in orbit to change, but the crew was not in danger, the Russian space agency said.

Roscosmos said the engines of a Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station unexpectedly started during testing of the radio system that controls the docking procedure.

Steps were taken to stabilize the station and specialists were now working to determine what caused the engines to start, the agency said.

Two Soyuz spacecraft are docked at the station, and one of them is scheduled to return three of the six crew members to Earth this week. Roscosmos did not specify which capsule had the malfunction, but said the landing would go ahead as planned.

Tuesday’s problem follows the failure of a Soyuz booster rocket, which in addition to launching the manned Soyuz spacecraft also is used to send Progress cargo ships to the space station.

A Soyuz rocket carrying a Progress suffered a breakdown after a launch in April, prompting Russia to delay the landing of the three crew members and the launch of a new three-person crew. The landing, originally planned for last month, was rescheduled to Thursday.


US Finds Peeling Back The Iran Sanctions Onion No Easy Task

June 10th, 2015

iraThe Obama administration may have to backtrack on its promise that it will suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran as part of an emerging nuclear agreement, officials and others involved in the process tell The Associated Press.

The problem derives from what was once a strong point of the broad U.S. sanctions effort that many credit with bringing Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

Administration officials vehemently reject that any backtracking is taking place, but they are lumping sanctions together differently from the way members of Congress and critics of the negotiations separate them.

Under the sanctions developed over decades, hundreds of companies and individuals have been penalized not only for their role in the country’s nuclear program but also for ballistic missile research, terrorism, human rights violations and money laundering.

Now the administration is wending its way through that briar patch of interwoven economic sanctions.

The penalties are significant. Sanctioned foreign governments, companies or individuals are generally barred from doing business with U.S. citizens and businesses, or with foreign entities operating in the American financial system. The restrictions are usually accompanied by asset and property freezes as well as visa bans.

Negotiators hope to conclude a final nuclear deal by June 30. According to a framework reached in April, the U.S. will be required to lift sanctions that are related to Iran’s nuclear program but could leave others in place. President Barack Obama can suspend almost all U.S. measures against Iran, though only Congress can revoke them permanently.

“Iran knows that our array of sanctions focused on its efforts to support terrorism and destabilize the region will continue after any nuclear agreement,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told a gathering of American Jews in a weekend speech. U.S. officials will “aggressively target the finances of Iranian-backed terrorist groups and the Iranian entities that support them,” he said, including the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force.

But that’s easier said than done.

The Treasury Department’s sanctions point man, Adam Szubin, has been tasked with sorting out the mess, according to U.S. officials, though no clear plan has yet been finalized.

Officials say the administration can meet its obligations because of how it interprets nuclear sanctions.

For example, they say measures designed to stop Iran from acquiring ballistic missiles are nuclear-related because they were imposed to push Iran into the negotiations. Also, they say sanctions that may appear non-nuclear are often undergirded by previous actions conceived as efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

The officials who provided information for this story spoke only on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the private discussions.

After years of negotiations, U.S. officials believe a deal is within reach that for a decade would keep Iran at least a year from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

In return the U.S. would grant billions of dollars in relief from sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. But the whole package risks unraveling if the U.S. cannot provide the relief without scrapping sanctions unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program.

Administration officials say they’re examining a range of options that include suspending both nuclear and some non-nuclear sanctions, a step that would face substantial opposition in Congress and elsewhere. Under one scenario, the U.S. could end non-nuclear restrictions on some entities, then slap them back on for another reason. But Iran could then plausibly accuse the U.S. of cheating on its commitments.

Obama has spoken about Iran potentially recouping up to $150 billion in assets trapped overseas. The process for how that would take place is still being worked through, said officials.

The Iranian Central Bank may prove the most glaring example of the administration’s dilemma, and officials acknowledge there is no way to give Iran the sanctions relief justified by its compliance without significantly easing restrictions on the institution.

The bank underpins Iran’s entire economy, and for years the U.S. avoided hitting it with sanctions, fearing such action would spread financial instability and spike oil prices. By late 2011, with Iran’s nuclear program advancing rapidly, Obama and Congress did order penalties, declaring the bank a “primary money laundering concern” and linking its activity to ballistic missile research, terror financing and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The effects were far-reaching. Petroleum exports fell by 60 percent, Iran suffered runaway inflation, cash reserves dried up and industrial output in several sectors plummeted. And Iran agreed to talk about its nuclear program with the United States and five other world powers.

Now that the nuclear agreement is so close, Iran wants these sanctions lifted. The administration officials say all sanctions on the bank are nuclear-related.

Lew told the Jewish conference in New York that a nuclear accord would include the suspension of all “secondary” oil, trade and banking restrictions — those that apply to U.S. and non-U.S. banks, as well as foreign governments.

Many of these measures overlap with American sanctions tied to Iran’s nuclear program, and that has officials considering new sanctions to keep certain Iranian institutions under pressure.

Eliminating the secondary sanctions across the board could have wide-ranging implications, making it easier for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its police, intelligence services and paramilitary groups to do business.

That possibility has Iran’s rivals in the region, including Israel and the Sunni monarchies of the Middle East, gravely worried.

“I share their concern,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said Tuesday in Jerusalem.

“If the deal is reached and results in sanctions relief, which results in more economic power and more purchasing power for the Iranian regime, it’s my expectation that it’s not all going to flow into the economy to improve the lot of the average Iranian citizen,” he said. “I think they will invest in their surrogates. I think they will invest in additional military capability.”

The Revolutionary Guard is under U.S. sanctions because of its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But because the U.S. views the Corps as so pernicious, the administration is considering new measures to help block it from meddling in the internal conflicts of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Of the 24 Iranian banks currently under U.S. sanctions, only one — Bank Saderat, cited for terrorism links — is subject to clear non-nuclear sanctions. The rest are designated because of nuclear and ballistic missile related financing, while several are believed to be controlled by the Revolutionary Guard.

Will they be cleared for business with the world? U.S. officials still can’t say one way or another. Congress, too, hasn’t received a list of banks and institutions that would be released from sanctions under the deal.

If the United States cannot deliver on its promises, it could take the blame for a collapse of the yearslong negotiations toward a nuclear deal, putting the world — in the words of Obama and other U.S. officials — on a path toward military confrontation. At the same time, an Iran unburdened by sanctions could redouble efforts toward nuclear weapons capacity, while international unity and the global sanctions architecture on Tehran frayed.


President Rivlin Accused of Discriminating Against Non-Orthodox Jews

June 9th, 2015

rivA bar mitzvah celebration for disabled boys that was to be held in the President’s Residence, sponsored by the Conservative Movement, was ultimately canceled. There was a dispute between the organizers and the president’s office as to the details of the event and now, each blames the other for the cancellation. The Conservative Movement blames Mr. Rivlin of discriminating against non-Orthodox Jews.

Yisrael Hayom quotes a letter sent to Rivlin this month by Israeli and American leaders of the Conservative Judaism movement which states “the sole reason for this denial is the contempt of Israel’s leaders for the sponsors of this program.” The letter went on to state that canceling the ceremony for the boys was “an act of cruelty”.

Yisrael Hayom quotes Naomi Toledano-Kandel, Rivlin’s spokeswoman, stating it wasn’t the role of the President’s Office to intervene in such a contentious political topic. “We are not the place that will decide the religious war,” she said.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

TSA Seeking to Close Security Gap Over Workers at Airports

June 9th, 2015

tsaThe Transportation Security Administration is still working to close what it described as a security gap that allowed 73 people to obtain federal approval to work in secure areas at airports despite having unspecified connections to terrorism, the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general assured Congress on Tuesday.

“To the extent that there was a vulnerability, I believe it has been closed,” Inspector General John Roth told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. But Roth didn’t say whether those workers have been fired or whether their access to secure areas has been revoked. The workers would have been employed by airlines, airport authorities or airport vendors.

Roth said his investigators found that 73 job applicants for airport jobs had terrorism-related activity codes associated with their names in a government terrorism database maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Roth said TSA still does not have access to that information but asked for it last year.

“It’s a process that apparently is taking some time,” Roth told Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “So it isn’t quite there yet, but I think they’re moving quickly on it.”

Roth said TSA was provided the 73 names and he believed the agency was “following up on each of those.”

The security gap was disclosed in a report Roth released last week. In an unclassified version of that report, TSA acknowledged that would-be employees whose backgrounds included some undisclosed terrorism-related category codes would be considered “a potential transportation security threat.”

TSA has been under fire from lawmakers since last week when it was revealed that auditors from Roth’s office were able to sneak mock explosives, weapons and other prohibited items past security screeners in 67 out of 70 attempts at airport checkpoints.

In the wake of that disclosure, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson re-assigned the acting TSA administrator, Melvin Carraway, to another job within the department. Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield was selected to lead the agency on an interim basis.

Roth told lawmakers that details of that undercover effort were classified and could not be discussed in an open hearing. He said his office is investigating how the information was leaked to the media.


52 Percent of Israeli Favor Segregation between Israelis and PA Residents on Buses

June 9th, 2015

egednDefense Minister Moshe Ya’alon decided to prohibit PA (Palestinian Authority) residents from riding the same buses as residents of Yishuvim when they return to Yehuda and Shomron after working in Green Line Israel. That policy was met by objections from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. The segregation became a political hot potato and ultimately, Ya’alon and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu backed down on the segregation issue.

A Peace Index poll released by Tel Aviv University shows that 52% of Israelis back segregated buses in Yehuda and Shomron. 42% are opposed to segregation, citing they feel PA laborers should be permitted to travel home on the same buses with Jewish residents of those areas. 600 persons participated in the poll.

It is most interesting if one analyzes the results of the peace index poll based on how respondents voted in Knesset elections. Among Shas supporters, 93% favor segregation, 73% (Bayit Yehudi & Likud), 19% (Labor) and 70% of the Joint Arab List opposes segregation as one would expect.

If a boycott against goods originating in settlements is launched in Israel, will you honor the boycott?

75.7% would not honor such a boycott

10.5% would honor the boycott

8.3% are uncertain but feel they would honor the boycott.

If the response is analyzed by political affiliated, one sees that 71% of Meretz supporters would honor such a boycott. 59% of Arabs would honor it as well and among other parties, only an insignificant number would comply with the boycott.

Would you live in a community in Yehuda and Shomron?

75% of respondents explain that even if they could receive an apartment that is significantly better than the one they live in, they would not move to a community in Yehuda or Shomron.

Interestingly, if the respondents are broken down into age groups, among the young and mid age respondents, who are more likely to be concerned with finding an apartment, only a quarter would move to Yehuda and Shomron even if they would receive an improved apartment.

66.4% of the respondents feel relations with nations around the world and Israel are not too good-to-not good, 3.2% feel relations are very good, and 30.5% feel relations are good enough.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

NYPD Witness Shooting In E. Harlem And Shoot Suspect

June 9th, 2015

1The following is via

At 7:57PM on Tuesday evening, NYPD Officers from the “Special Victims Unit” were driving an unmarked vehicle and wearing plain clothes when they observed a male shoot another male and 102nd Street and 1st Avenue.

The officers reportedly exited their vehicle and confronted the suspect.

Highly credible sources tell that the suspect turned his gun on one of the officers – leading to the oficer firing his weapon, striking the suspect in the chest.

At the scene a .22 gun and 3 shell casings were recovered.

The victim was identified as 21-year-old Rajeev S. Gobia. He had walked into Metropolitan Hospital. Doctors report that he has a bullet entry to the right thigh and a flesh wound to the left side of the groin. He is being treated at Harlem Hospital.

The suspect is 26-year-old Wilvinson A. Diaz – who was shot in the chest by the officer.

Both are expected to survive.

The Officer who fired his weapon was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, it’s unclear the extent of his/her injuries.


DM Ya’alon is Not Optimistic About Peace in His Lifetime

June 9th, 2015

yaalIn his address to the 15th annual Herzliya Conference, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon explained he is not optimistic regarding a peace agreement between Israel and the PA (Palestinian Authority). He went as far as to say that based on his experience he does not believe an agreement will be achieved in his lifetime.

The senior minister spoke about ongoing and increasing efforts to delegitimize Israel today, referring to these efforts as the most used tool against Israel.

Ya’alon spoke on unrelenting and ongoing Iranian efforts that include backing Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza in Tehran’s war against Israel. He explained that as ISIS confront Hamas in Gaza, terrorists are firing rockets into Israel and Israel is not becoming involved in the conflict between ISIS and Hamas.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Ahead Of Court Ruling, Obama Says Health Law Now US Reality

June 9th, 2015

obPresident Barack Obama declared Tuesday that his 5-year-old health care law is firmly established as the “reality” of health care in America, even as he awaits a Supreme Court ruling that could undermine it.

“This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another,” he said.

Obama defended the health care overhaul during an address to the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, just days ahead of an anticipated decision by the Supreme Court that could eliminate health care for millions of people.

Obama poked fun at opponents who have issued “unending Chicken Little warnings” about what would happen if the law passed. None of those predictions have come true, Obama argued.

“The critics stubbornly ignore reality,” he said.

Anticipating his speech, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed Obama’s claims as “jousting with reality again.”

“I imagine the families threatened with double-digit premium increases would beg to differ, as would the millions of families who received cancellation notices for the plans they had and wanted to keep,” McConnell said.

Obama’s remarks amounted to a political argument for the law just ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether Congress authorized federal subsidy payments for health care coverage regardless of where people live, or only for residents of states that created their own insurance marketplaces. Nearly 6.4 million low- and moderate-income Americans could lose coverage if the court rules that people who enrolled through the federal site weren’t eligible for the subsidies.

The decision rests on the court’s interpretation of a short phrase in the voluminous law. But Obama, wielding statistics, anecdotes and state-by-state data, made a case that the law is so established that it has woven itself into the health care system.

“Five years in, what we are talking about is no longer just a law, it’s no longer just a theory. It isn’t even about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. This isn’t about myths or rumors that folks try to sustain,” he said.

“There is a reality that people on the ground day to day are experiencing.”


PA Illegal Smuggled in Vehicle Trunk to Get Married

June 9th, 2015

mishA 21-year-old resident of PA (Palestinian Authority) occupied Shechem was apprehended inside the trunk of a vehicle that was attempting to smuggle her into Green Line Israel. The car stop was made by border police at the entrance to Eilat. The incident occurred on Tuesday, 22 Sivan.

Three border policemen were conducting routine inspections at a checkpoint at the entrance to Eilat. They felt a particular vehicle was suspicious, instructing the driver to pull over for inspection.

When one of the border policemen opened the trunk he saw a thick rope and a human hand sticking out from underneath. The occupants of the vehicle was detained as border police feared they may have been on their way to an attack. A woman got out of the trunk and they learned she was on her way to get married.

The driver and bride were taken into custody and arraigned on Tuesday.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem) Camp Special: Buy Two T-Shirts, Get Two Free

June 9th, 2015
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NYC Demonstrators: Don’t Hire More NYPD Officers

June 9th, 2015

nypdrgA small group of demonstrators is protesting at New York City Hall against the possibility of hiring 1,000 new police officers.

More than a dozen folks chanted “No new cops!” Tuesday morning.

Several of them held signs that singled out individual city councilmembers, demanding that they not “betray” their communities by advocating for more police officers.

A council proposal to hire the new officers has become a sticking point in the new budget.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has not supported the move though his police commissioner has signaled some support for the idea.

The advocates believe that the additional officers will add strain to the at-times-tense relations between the police and communities of color.

Proponents of the plan say it will lead to more effective and equitable policing.


China Doesn’t Want its Workers Building in Yehuda and Shomron

June 9th, 2015

chisWhile the new administration has promised it will increase construction throughout Yehuda and Shomron, officials have encountered a stumbling block as China insists its citizens may not work on projects in Yehuda and Shomron.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu indicated that Israel will issue work permits to thousands of migrant workers, including Chinese nationals, but the Chinese government is now insisting that Israel make certain its workers are not employed in projects in Yehuda or Shomron. Haaretz reported Israel is negotiating a labor deal with the Chinese but the latest demand by China will make closing such a deal increasingly difficult.

China is among the nations supporting the establishment of the State of Palestine.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)