Archive for the ‘Headlines & Breaking Stories’ Category

VIDEO: Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Praise Outgoing Press Secretary

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

ob[VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

President Barack Obama has made a surprise visit to the final daily press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Obama praised Earnest Tuesday for “his smarts and his maturity,” but added that one of his best qualities has been his integrity.

Obama says Earnest is “tough and didn’t always give you guys what you wanted,” but that he tried to make sure to share as much of the administration’s vision and policy as possible.

Earnest praised the journalists attending the briefing, saying that they serve a role that is a “uniquely American feature of our government.

He said, “it’s made President Obama a better president and a better civil servant.”

(AP)

GM to Add Or Keep 7,000 Jobs, Make $1B Factory Investment

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

gmGeneral Motors plans to invest $1 billion in U.S. factories and add thousands of new white-collar jobs, measures that have been in the works for years but announced Tuesday after criticism from President-elect Donald Trump.

In all, the Detroit automaker said it will create or keep 7,000 jobs in the next few years, including about 2,000 at its factories. Another 5,000 new positions will be created at its auto financing arm and to develop advanced technology, electric and autonomous vehicles and information technology.

The company wouldn’t release details on where the jobs will go, saying that will be revealed during the year. But most of the new positions would be in Michigan, spokesman Patrick Morrissey said. The long-planned new white-collar jobs will come in the next two or three years.

GM said the factory investment has been in the works for years and will create or keep around 1,500 jobs at unspecified factories. Included in that figure are 450 new pickup truck axle-making jobs that will be moved to Michigan from Mexico, a decision made well before the presidential election campaign, the company said.

The company also confirmed that a supplier will make components for GM’s next-generation full size pick-up trucks in Michigan, moving 100 supplier jobs from Mexico to the U.S.
GM emphasized that the jobs are good business decisions that have been under discussion for months or even years, but Morrissey said it was a good time to make the announcement.

“There’s no question there is an emphasis on job creation in the U.S. right now,” he said. “This is good timing for us to share what we are doing, including our ongoing commitment and track record for U.S. investments over the last several years.”

Trump attacked GM and other automakers for building vehicles in Mexico and shipping them to the U.S. Earlier this month, he threatened on Twitter to tax GM for importing the compact Chevrolet Cruze. While GM builds hatchback Cruzes in Mexico, most Cruze sales are Ohio-built sedans.

On the eve of the Detroit auto show last week, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company has no plans to change where it produces small cars in light of Trump’s threats.

Barra said the auto business has long lead times in regard to where it produces vehicles, and decisions are made two to four years ahead.

Barra, who is part of a Trump economic advisory group, said it’s too early to talk about a possible tariff. She said the company has more in common with Trump’s goals on trade and jobs than differences.

(AP)

VIDEO: Hagaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Grinding Wheat To Be Used In Matzos For Pesach 5777

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

In the accompanying video, we see HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita grinding wheat to be used to bake matzos for Pesach.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Yehuda Eisenberg)

Will Action Follow Report Of Alleged Ties between Health Minister Litzman And Tobacco Companies?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

1Following the comprehensive Channel 2 News report alleging Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has ties with tobacco industry giants, ties that prevent him from legislating tougher anti-tobacco laws, the Health Ministry if launching a probe. The report cites the minister has opposed stricter legislation against smoking, allegedly due to Litzman’s ties with tobacco giants including Philip Morris.

The two part report also shows how ‘macherim’ working for the Hamodia newspaper, with is connected to Litzman, take cash envelopes to arrange meetings with Litzman and senior ministry officials to advance tobacco interests.

Many are now asking what actions, if any, are being taken to determine if Litzman has been paid off by tobacco lobbyists and if corruption among senior ministry officials is compromising Israel’s efforts to curtail smoking.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

WATCH: The Inside Look At The Yeshiva Of Rochester

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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Photo Essay: Dinner In Boro Park For Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim (Photos by JDN)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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States Can Offer a Lesson as GOP Proposes Deep Cut Taxes

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

taxPresident-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans who have pledged to cut federal taxes to boost the economy might consider looking first at lessons learned in GOP-controlled states that adopted similar strategies, only to see growth falter and budget gaps widen.

The situation is worrisome enough in Kansas, Oklahoma and Indiana that lawmakers are now debating whether to reverse course and raise taxes. And political leaders in states that have seen expanded Republican control, such as Arkansas and Iowa, are signaling caution about any new tax-cut proposals.

“It does not take a Ph.D. in economics to know that we can’t say yes to every spending need, and we should also not say yes to every tax-cut idea,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson warned late last year.

The reforms show that tax changes always carry an element of uncertainty — about the economy, government needs and even the prices of commodities such as oil. Although the federal and state tax systems are significantly different, both are subject to forces beyond lawmakers’ control.

A recent Associated Press survey found that more than half of the states — 33 — are currently dealing with a budget shortfall or expect to confront one in the coming fiscal year. Experts say state economic growth has been slower than expected, with revenue in some places failing to meet projections or keep up with rising spending needs.

Hutchinson, who took office vowing to slash income taxes, has proposed a much more modest cut of $50 million annually for low-income taxpayers. Meanwhile, a top Arkansas GOP lawmaker has said any tax-cut ideas may have to be set aside for a few years until the state’s financial picture improves. State revenue is running $8.8 million behind projections for the fiscal year.

After Indiana Republicans cut income, corporate and property taxes, the state developed a $300 million budget gap. GOP lawmakers are now pushing a plan to raise gasoline taxes and adopt a new registration fee for motorists to help pay for road improvements. Critics say the effort is simply shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to everyone else.

“This is going to be the first session I remember coming into that the Republicans are advocating for tax increases,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, a Democrat. “At the same time, we’re continuing to give tax breaks to corporations and businesses. How are they going to explain that?”

In Kansas, lawmakers have struggled to balance the budget since they slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at the urging of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. The state has faced economic pressures related to a decline in agriculture and oil prices, but the broad-based tax cuts are viewed largely as an unsuccessful effort to stimulate the economy.

Lawmakers are now debating their third tax increase since the cuts were passed, with the state facing projected shortfalls of $1.1 billion through June 2019. The Brownback administration has proposed higher taxes on certain business owners, cigarettes, beer and liquor. Other plans include diverting highway money to general government programs, scaling back contributions to the pension program for public employees and liquidating a $317 million investment fund.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, warned of dire consequences if the proposals are not approved.

“You’re left with huge tax increases or huge (budget) cuts,” Sullivan said. “Even the mix between the two is huge.”

Whatever happens in Washington is likely to affect state budgets in some way. That gives lawmakers another reason to move cautiously.

A congressional tax overhaul could eliminate key exemptions benefiting state and local governments. At the same time, the promise by Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act would probably reduce the amount of federal money sent to states. In New York alone, repealing the health care law would cost the state an estimated $3.7 billion in federal funding, or roughly 2.5 percent of the state budget.

A House tax plan would reduce federal revenue by $3 trillion in the first 10 years, while Trump’s plan would cut revenue by $9.5 trillion over the same period, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Trump has disputed the analysis.

Previous tax cuts are not the only reason for downbeat budget forecasts.

In Democrat-dominated California, where voters approved tax increases and state revenue has soared in recent years, Gov. Jerry Brown is warning of a possible $1.6 billion shortfall.

Medicaid costs are contributing to budget gaps in Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New York and Rhode Island. Other states are dealing with increasing spending demands in education and health care.

Energy-producing states such as Oklahoma, Alaska and New Mexico have struggled in part because of a decline in oil and natural gas prices.

Oklahoma’s budget woes were deepened by a reduction in the top individual income tax rate that took effect just as the state’s economy began to contract amid lower oil and natural gas prices. Three straight years of budget shortfalls were closed largely with cuts to state agencies. Now the Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature are considering raising taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and some services to help fill an $870 million budget hole.

The state Department of Human Services has slashed about 1,200 non-child welfare positions to deal with the falling revenue.

“Every time the government wants to cut,” said Marcellius Bell of Oklahoma City, who serves as legal guardian for three adults with severe developmental disabilities, “it seems like they cut services to the disabled, the veterans and the nursing homes.”

(AP)

Airport Shooting Suspect Ordered Held Without Bond; Says He Was Inspired By ISIS

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

flaThe man suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding six others at a Florida airport was ordered held without bond until his trial at a hearing Tuesday that also revealed some new details about the investigation.

During the hearing, FBI Agent Michael Ferlazzo confirmed that the 9mm Walther handgun used in the Jan. 6 shooting rampage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is the same weapon Anchorage, Alaska, police seized and later returned to 26-year-old Esteban Santiago last year.

Ferlazzo also testified that Santiago mentioned after the shooting that he was under government mind control. Later in the interview he claimed to have been inspired by Islamic State-related chatrooms and websites, although it is not clear if the FBI has been able to corroborate any terror-related claims.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow set a Jan. 30 arraignment hearing for Santiago to enter a formal plea. Snow ordered Santiago kept in custody as a risk of flight and a danger to the community, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Del Toro said was clear from his actions at the airport.

“He has admitted to all of the facts with respect to the terrible and tragic events of Jan. 6,” Del Toro said. “These were vulnerable victims who he shot down methodically.”

Santiago could get the death penalty if convicted of federal airport violence and firearms charges that resulted in death. His public defender, Robert Berube, said Santiago would not contest the pretrial detention order.

“Mr. Santiago is prepared to remain in custody,” Berube said.

Investigators say Santiago legally checked a gun box containing his weapon and ammunition as luggage for his flight, then retrieved it at the Florida airport and went into a bathroom. After loading the gun, authorities say he came out firing randomly and then laid down on the floor after using all 15 bullets.

Much of the hearing focused on Ferlazzo’s testimony about what Santiago said after the shooting and what records from Alaska reveal about him.

Ferlazzo said Santiago, an Iraq war veteran who was a member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard, visited a gun range late last year before booking the one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale. It was previously reported that Santiago visited the FBI office in Anchorage last year complaining about hearing voices and supposed CIA mind control, which led to Anchorage police temporarily seizing his gun and Santiago’s brief stay in a mental hospital.

At the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Ferlazzo said, records show Santiago was given anti-anxiety medications but no prescriptions for drugs that would treat serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia. He was released after a five-day stay with no restrictions that might prevent him from possessing a gun, and his weapon was returned by police.

“He was deemed to be stable,” the agent testified.

In the post-shooting interviews, Santiago at first repeated claims that he did it because of government mind control but later told investigators he had been visiting chatrooms and internet sites frequented by the Islamic State terror group or those inspired by it.

“It was a group of like-minded individuals who were all planning attacks,” Ferlazzo said.

The FBI is examining Santiago’s computers and other devices as well as those of family members, but so far agents have not confirmed any terrorism ties.

Other evidence collected so far includes video from 20 different airport camera angles that show the entire shooting episode, Ferlazzo testified. In addition, the roughly six-hour interview in which Santiago supposedly confessed was audio and video recorded.

(AP)

PHOTOS: Violent Chareidi Protests Continue In Yerushalayim Throughout The Night

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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[PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

Violent protests that were sparked by the arrest of chareidi females by IDF authorities continues on Monday afternoon, evening and according to a Jerusalem police spokesman, throughout the night.

Police on Tuesday morning 19 Teves report that there were violent protests at Kikar Shabbos, Bar Ilan Junction and nearby streets throughout the night involving hundreds of chareidim.

Protestors hurled rocks and other objects at police, set garbage receptacles ablaze and tried blocking streets. Three policemen were lightly injured, treated on the scene. Three protestors, including a minor, were arrested and arraigned on Tuesday.

Some of the photos are from the early evening (Monday) as clearly they are taken before sundown.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: הערשי פרלמוטר – חדשות 24 )

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Agudah Yarchei Kallah Off To Exhilarating Start In Bnei Brak

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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[VIDEO AND PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

It was a breathtaking day filled with inspiration and energy as over 200 people gathered at the Lederman shul in Bnei Brak in a prelude to the Agudath Israel of America’s 17th Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah.

The participants traveled directly from Ben Gurion airport to Malon Vizhnitz where they were hosted by the Municipality of Bnei Brak for a reception. They were warmly greeted by Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Chanoch Zeibert and Deputy Mayor Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein.

From there they traveled to the Lederman shul to have the incredible zchus of participating in an event graced by the presence of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita.

HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Rosh Kollel, Bais Dovid, Cholon and Rav, Ramat Elchanan, Bnei Brak, addressed the assembled with words of chizuk. He spoke movingly about the privilege to receive a bracha from a Gadol Hador upon whom the shechina rests, and concluded with a call for heartfelt tefilla and vitur bein adam l’chaveiro as a segulah for hatzlocho in life.

HaRav Kanievsky’s warm bracha for Hatzlocho and the chashivus of limud haTorah in Eretz Yisroel was delivered by HaRav Eliyahu Mann, M’Roshei Yeshiva, Yeshiva Ohr Yisroel.

The Agudah’s Yarchei Kallah has evolved significantly from its humble beginnings when fewer than 50 participants took part in the inaugural program. Each year more and more men from all over the world flock to Eretz Yisroel, eager to immerse themselves in four solid days of limud Torah. 2017 is already proving to be a historic year with the largest attendance ever.

This year’s Yarchei Kallah will delve into the third Perek of Maseches Sukkah, addressing the topics of lulav hagazul and hilchos arba minim. It will include daily Daf Yomi, lomdus shiurim, limud b’chavrusa and divrei machshava from more than two dozen prominent roshei yeshiva and magidei shiur. A truly international event, the Agudah Yarchei Kallah attracts participants from all over, including the greater New York area, as well as Lakewood, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto Montreal, England, Switzerland, Australia and Eretz Yisroel. While some are businessmen and professionals and others involved in klei kodesh, all are united in their quest to spend four days delving deeply into limud HaTorah. The group also includes fathers and sons who have come to learn together and several tri-generational groups of grandfathers, fathers and sons!

As in previous years, the Yarchei Kallah includes a parallel track offering shiurim and Daf Yomi in English. A sold out women’s program will take more than 100 participants on tours of Yerushalayim, Kever Rochel, Har Hamenuchos, Gush Etzion and Northern Israel and will feature shiurim by inspiring speakers including Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller, Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi and Rebbetzin Rina Tarshish.

“It was very gratifying to see so many new faces at this Agudah Yarchei Kallah and the obvious excitement that they bring to the table. Passing the 300 mark creates a Bais Medrash where the intensity of learning is greater than ever. We are confident that both seasoned and newcomers will spend a week that will resonate for a long time,” said Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl, director of Torah Projects for Agudath Israel, and one of the organizers of the event. The Yarchei Kallah is a project of Agudath Israel of America’s Torah Projects Commission.

 

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Turkey: New Year’s Eve Terrorist Captured After More Than 2 Weeks On Run

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

nyetTurkish police captured the gunman who carried out the deadly New Year’s nightclub attack in Istanbul, with officials saying Tuesday that he’s an Uzbekistan national who trained in Afghanistan and confessed to the massacre.

The man was being questioned by police, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara. Yildirim expressed hope that the interrogation would unveil the “forces” behind the attack, which killed 39 people and has already been claimed by the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of people were gathered at the swanky Reina nightclub to celebrate the end of a tumultuous 2016 only to become the first victims of 2017. The gunman shot a police officer and a civilian outside the club, before storming the club.

Most of the dead in the attack were foreign nationals, mainly from the Middle East.

“The vile terrorist who attacked the place of entertainment on New Year’s Eve and led to the loss of so many lives has been captured,” Yildirim said.

He added: “What is important is for the suspect to be captured and for the forces behind it to be revealed.”

The premier wouldn’t provide further details on the arrest or the investigation, saying authorities would provide specifics “in time.”

Moments later in separate remarks, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said that the suspect is an Uzbekistan national who trained in Afghanistan. He is believed to have entered Turkey in January 2016. Sahin identified him as Abdulkadir Masharipov, saying he was born in 1983 without giving an exact birthday. Turkish media have reported the suspect’s first name as Abdulgadir.

Sahin said that the man, captured late Monday, confessed to carrying out the massacre and that his fingerprints matched those of the attacker. He can be held for up to 30 days under Turkey’s state of emergency, which was introduced after a failed coup attempt in July, before he is charged and formally arrested. It could take prosecutors several months to prepare for a trial.

The suspect, according to Sahin, was a well-educated terrorist who speaks four languages and had clearly carried out the attack in the name of IS. He was operating under the alias “Ebu Muhammed Horasani.”

The police operation to apprehend him drew on the review of 7,200 hours of security camera footage and about 2,200 tipoffs from the public. Police searched 152 addresses and 50 people were taken into custody.

Authorities seized nearly $200,000, two guns and two drones during the suspect’s arrest.

“Together with the terrorist, an Iraqi man was detained as well as three women from various countries — from Egypt and from Africa,” Sahin said. “There is a high chance that they may be connected (to IS) because they were staying in the same house.”

The governor said it was believed that they arrived three days earlier at Esenyurt, an overall low-income neighborhood of Istanbul that has witnessed a construction boom.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said that the gunman’s 4-year-old son was taken into protective custody.

Hurriyet newspaper earlier reported that the suspect’s wife and 1-year-old daughter were caught in a police operation in the neighborhood of Zeytinburnu, a working class district of Istanbul, on Jan. 12.

In another report citing police officials, the newspaper said the gunman had picked up his son from the working-class neighborhood of Zeytinburnu after attacking the nightclub.

Sahin said the boy wasn’t with the gunman on the night of the police operation, although he had taken the child with him and left his daughter with his wife.

IS has claimed responsibility for the nightclub massacre, saying the attack in the first hours of Jan. 1 was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in northern Syria. The man identified as the suspect had been on the run since the attack.

Days after the attack, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said an intelligence agency may have been involved, an assertion he reiterated Monday. But Sahin, when asked about it, declined to comment saying: “It is too soon to say anything about such connections.”

Anadolu said police have also carried out raids on members of a suspected Uzbek IS cell in five Istanbul neighborhoods, and detained several people.

Photographs from raids, widely published in the Turkish media, showed a bruised, black-haired man in a gray, bloodied shirt being held by his neck. NTV television said the gunman had resisted arrest.

Turkish media also circulated a photograph of the Iraqi suspect lying on the floor facedown, hands bound behind his back with the boot of an unidentified man pressed to the back of his head.

Speaking in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation to apprehend the suspect was successful and thanked his country’s security and intelligence agencies for their efforts.

“In this country, no one will slip through the net, everyone will be held to account within the limits of the rule of law,” he said.

Turkey, a member of NATO and a partner in the U.S.-led coalition against IS, has endured multiple attacks attributed to the extremist group. IS said the assault on the nightclub was retaliation for Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria.

The country has also witnessed an uptick in violence linked to the resumption of conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants.

(AP)

Obama In Last Interview: Israeli Settlements Has ‘Gotten So Substantial’ That It’s Inhibiting Possibility For Palestinian State

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

obaThe increase of Israeli settlements has “gotten so substantial” that it is inhibiting the possibility for an “effective, contiguous Palestinian state,” President Barack Obama said Sunday, in his final interview as president.

Speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Obama dismissed the idea that there is a “major rupture” in the relationship between the United States and Israel after last month’s decision by the U.S. to abstain from a United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements.

“Because of our investment in the region, and because we care so deeply about Israel, I think (the U.S.) has a legitimate interest in saying to a friend, ‘This is a problem,’” Obama said. “It would have long-term consequences for peace and security in the region, and the United States.”

The outgoing president reflected on his legacy and his biggest challenges during his eight years in office during the hourlong interview. A number of his policies — from health care to his contentious relationship with Israel — could be short-lived as President-elect Donald Trump becomes the 45th president later this week and vows to reverse some of those policies.

Trump has been vocal about his disapproval of many of Obama’s policies, often voicing his disagreement or engaging in public disputes with the president on Twitter. Most recently, Trump lashed out over hypothetical comments Obama made that he would beat Trump if they ran against each other in a general election.

Over the holidays, Trump accused Obama of throwing up “inflammatory” roadblocks during the transition of power and his administration of treating Israel with “total disdain.”

Obama acknowledged it’s been an “unusual” transition, adding, “I suspect the president-elect would agree with that.”

“We are moving into an era where a lot of people get their information through tweets and soundbites and some headline that comes over their phone,” the president said.

“There’s a power in that. There’s also a danger — what generates a headline or stirs up a controversy and gets attention isn’t the same as the process required to actually solve the problem.”

He warned people not to “underestimate the guy” and urged congressional Republicans and Trump supporters around the country to be sure “that as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place.”

Obama said there needs to be a focus on “making sure that our democracy stays healthy, and making sure that we maintain that sense of solidarity.”

With that, he said he’s been “disturbed” about intelligence reports over Russia hacking the U.S. election.

“I have been concerned about the degree to which, in some circles, you’ve seen people suggest that Vladimir Putin has more credibility than the U.S. government,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to make good decisions without building some relationship of trust between yourself and that community.”

Obama also reflected on his approach to the civil war in Syria, as it approaches its sixth year with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced around the world.

The president acknowledged that his “red line” declaration about the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government wasn’t in his 2012 speech and that he didn’t have to use those words. They later prompted harsh criticism, since the U.S. did not follow through on the threat.

“I would have, I think, made a bigger mistake if I had said, ‘Eh, chemical weapons. That doesn’t really change my calculus,’” he said. “And regardless of how it ended up playing, I think, in the Beltway, what is true is Assad got rid of his chemical weapons.”

(AP)

Shulchan Aruch “Chelek Ha’Chamishi” – Part II

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

shimush-part-ii-b[COMMUNICATED CONTENT]

Rav Mordechai Avromovsky has never missed a levaya in Zichron Yaakov since becoming the city’s Chief Rabbi decades ago. When an elderly, barely-frum member of his shul passed away a few years ago, as usual Rav Avromovsky attended the levaya and then was menachem the aveilim at the family’s home. Rabbi Avromovsky led the minyan there and even showed the niftar’s son, a secular man, how to put on tefillin and say Kaddish. At the end of the shiva, the secular son asked if he could come to shul the next day and continue saying Kaddish for his father there, and Rav Avromovsky said, “Of course! Yes!” The secular man joined the minyan for several days, and then one morning asked another member of the minyan if it would be okay if he davened from the amud. The secular man wanted to lead the minyan for the zechus of his deceased father. The member of the minyan pointed towards the shtender at the front of the shul, and the secular man led Shacharis for the first time in his life. Immediately after the last Kaddish, a visibly upset member of the shul approached the secular man and began rebuking him: “How can you be the shaliyach tzibur when you are mechallel Shabbos publicly! Do you think you can be motzei us in your brachos?!” The secular man stood aghast, feeling all eyes in the minyan were watching the public rebuke. He looked around, and he saw Rav Mordechai Avromovsky, his Rav, his friend, also watching. The secular man interrupted the shul member and said, “Let’s ask the Rav.” The shul member turned, saw Rav Avromovsky watching, and said, “Gladly!” And the two men approached the Rav. The shul member made his case, and Rav Avromovsky responded powerfully, “Of course he can daven from the amud! Of course he can be the shaliyach tzibur! He must be the shaliyach tzibur!” The shul member was completely confused. Unable to understand the reason for the Rav’s psak, but clear that the Rav permits this secular man to lead davening, the shul member just walked away. The secular man also shifted to depart, but Rav Avromovsky called him back and whispered, “Do you know why I poskined you can daven from the amud?” The secular man, who now realized that a mechallel Shabbos really can’t lead a minyan, responded, “No, Rav, I don’t understand.” Rav Avromovsky explained, “When that man rebuked you and told you that you couldn’t lead the minyan for the zechus of your father because you are a mechallel Shabbos, I saw your face change. I saw the regret you felt. I understood that for your father, you will never be mechallel Shabbos again. Since I knew that now you are a Shomer Shabbos, I poskined that you can and should lead our minyan.”

As he concluded recounting this story to the avreichim of the Center for Kehillah Development, Rav Avromovsky added: “He was never mechallel Shabbos again, and for years he has been a frum member of our kehillah. That hanhaga is found only in the fifth chelek of Shulchan Aruch.”

The CKD trip to Zichron Yaakov in December was part of the program’s shimush component, a component that brings the CKD avreichim into close, personal contact on a regular basis with some of the most influential rabbonim in Klal Yisroel.

Rav Avromovsky, who also serves as the acting Chief Rabbi of Haifa and is in charge of Rabbanut Kashrus, then took the avreichim on a daylong tour of Tishbi Winery, the Beit El industrial food manufacturing facility, and Eden Hotel – all of which are under his hashgacha and meet “B’datz” standards. The avreichim learned first- hand the subtle but significant differences between ordinary Rabbanut hashgacha, Rabbanut Mehadrin hashgacha, and the various “B’datz” hashgachos.

“Everyone knows from hearsay that their standards are different,” said Rav Leib Kelemen, Dean of the CKD, “but very few rabbonim really understand what those differences are and what the implications are for someone who is makpid on eating only mehadrin.” Rav Kelemen explained that kashrus is not a game, and genuine psak can’t be based on hearsay or politics. “You’ve got to know the facts on the ground,” he stressed, “and the only way to know those facts is real shimush, seeing what is actually happening in the field.”

After the tour, Rav Avromovsky sat with the avreichim for an hour, telling stories from his many years in rabbanus. He concluded with a story about one of the first drashos he ever gave on the Yamim Nora’im: “It was erev Yom Kippur, and the shul was packed. Secular Jews I had never seen before even filed in and filled up the back rows. I gave a mussar shmuess full of fire to try to wake them up from their slumber. When I was leaving the shul that night, a secular woman approached me. She was so upset. ‘Rabbi,’ she said, “We came. We are the ones who came. Why did you yell at us?’ I realized she was right. The next day I welcomed them all and tried to show them the beauty of teshuva. Everyone could hear that. I learned then that even with good intention, I make mistakes. Rabbis make mistakes.”

Rabbi Avromovsky looked out at the faces of the CKD avreichim, all of whom will soon be rabbinic leaders, and he concluded, “Don’t forget that even with the best of intentions, you can be wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong.”

The Center for Kehillah Development is a five-year, post-kollel program for English speaking avreichim between ages 25-30 who are committed to serving Klal Yisroel. They are now taking applications for a limited number of spots for this coming Elul. To find out more about the program, visit www.c4kd.org, or apply by emailing Form@c4kd.org.

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WATCH: Hespeidim In Mir Yerushalayim For Hagaon HaRav Moshe Shapiro ZATZAL (Video Powered By Midabrim Communications)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Putin Says US Administration Trying to Undermine Trump

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

putRussian President Vladimir Putin is accusing the outgoing U.S. administration of trying to undermine President-elect Donald Trump by spreading fake allegations.

Putin, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, described a dossier on Trump as part of efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to “undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect” despite his “convincing” victory.

He said some now want to “stage a Maidan in Washington,” in reference to the alleged U.S. role in organizing protests in the main square of the Ukrainian capital, which chased the nation’s Russia-friendly president from power in 2014.

Asked about a dossier alleging Trump’s activities at a Moscow hotel, Putin dismissed it as “fake”. Trump has rejected the allegations as “fake news” and “phony stuff.”

(AP)

PHOTOS: Protests Against Arrest Of Frum Girls By IDF Continue In Jerusalem

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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[PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

Protests against the arrests of frum girls by IDF authorities continued on Tuesday, 19 Teves as protestors resumed blocking roads and setting garbage on fire during the early afternoon hours on Yechezkel Street (corner of Rabbeinu Gershon), on Shmuel HaNavi Street and Kikar Shabbos in Jerusalem.

Similar protests took place on Sunday and Monday and throughout the night (Monday to Tuesday) resulting in a number of arrests and light injuries to three policemen.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos: Media Resource Group)

Orlando Nightclub Gunman’s Wife Arrested – Faces Charges Tied to Attack

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

orlThe wife of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen faces a court hearing in California after being arrested there in connection with his Florida shooting rampage that left 49 people dead.

Noor Salman, 30, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday morning in Oakland, following her arrest a day earlier on Florida charges that authorities said include obstruction of justice and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. They gave no further details on her alleged role or what specific actions led to the charges.

Salman is from the San Francisco Bay Area and in the aftermath of the Orlando attack that also left her husband dead she returned here with their son, whose name she has since sought to change.

She had been repeatedly questioned by FBI investigators over whether she had any knowledge of her husband’s plans.

Her attorney Linda Moreno said after her arrest that she “had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night.”

Salman knew her husband had watched jihadist videos but was “unaware of everything” regarding his intent to shoot up the club, Salman said in a New York Times interview published in November.

Salman also said he had physically abused her, which her attorney reiterated Monday.

“Noor has told her story of abuse at his hands,” Moreno said. “We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person.”

The San Francisco office of the FBI said Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in Rodeo, which is the small Bay Area community where she grew up and where her family lives. Jail records, however, say she was arrested about 30 miles away in Dublin. The reason for the discrepancy wasn’t clear.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a Monday interview with MSNBC that “from the beginning, we were going to look at every aspect of this, of every aspect of this shooter’s life to determine not just why did he take these actions — but who else knew about them? Was anyone else involved?”

Salman met Mateen online and the two married in 2011.

They lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, at the time of the shooting.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call during the three-hour standoff that ended in his death. Forty nine patrons were killed and another 53 were hospitalized.

“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Monday. “But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”

(AP)

MH370 Hunt Ends, Maybe Forever, After Nearly 3 Years, $160M

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

malThe nearly three-year search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended Tuesday, possibly forever — not because investigators have run out of leads, but because the countries involved in the expensive and vast deep-sea hunt have shown no appetite for opening another big phase.

Late last year, as ships with high-tech search equipment covered the last strips of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone, experts concluded they should have been searching a smaller area immediately to the north. But by then, $160 million had already been spent by Malaysia, Australia and China, who had agreed over the summer not to search elsewhere without pinpoint evidence.

The transport ministers of those countries reiterated that decision Tuesday in the joint communique issued by the Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia that announced the search for Flight 370 — and the 239 people aboard the aircraft — had been suspended.

“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” said the agency, which helped lead the hunt for the Boeing 777 in remote waters west of Australia.

“Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended. The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.”

Relatives of those lost on the plane, which vanished during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, responded largely with outrage. A support group, Voice 370, issued a statement saying that extending the search is “an inescapable duty owed to the flying public.”

Without understanding what happened to the plane, there’s a “good chance that this could happen in the future,” said K.S. Narendran, a member of the group.

But last year, Australia, Malaysia and China agreed that the hunt would be suspended once the search zone was exhausted unless new evidence emerged that indicated the plane’s specific location. More than half of those aboard the plane were Chinese.

Since no technology currently exists that can tell investigators exactly where the plane is, that means the most expensive, complex search in aviation history is over, barring a change of heart from the three countries.

There is the possibility that a private donor could offer to bankroll a new search, or that Malaysia will kick in fresh funds. But no one has stepped up yet, raising the bleak possibility that the world’s greatest aviation mystery may never be solved.

For the families of the aircraft’s 227 passengers and 12 crew members, that’s a particularly bitter prospect given the recent acknowledgment by officials that they had been looking for the plane in the wrong place all along.

In December, officials investigating the plane’s disappearance recommended that search crews head north to a new 25,000-square kilometer (9,700-square mile) area identified in a new analysis as where the plane most likely crashed. But Australia’s government rejected that recommendation, saying the results of the experts’ analysis weren’t precise enough to justify continuing the hunt.

“Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft,” the transport ministers of the three countries said in their statement.

The lack of resolution has caused agony for relatives of the flight’s passengers, who have begged officials to continue the hunt for their loved ones.

“The whole series of events since the plane disappeared has been nothing but frustrating,” said Grace Nathan, a Malaysian whose mother was on board Flight 370. “It continues to be frustrating and we just hope they will continue to search. … They’ve already searched 120,000 square kilometers. What is another 25,000?”

Investigators have been stymied again and again in their efforts to find the aircraft. Hopes were repeatedly raised and smashed by false leads: Underwater signals wrongly thought to be emanating from the plane’s black boxes. Possible debris fields that turned out to be sea trash. Oil slicks that contained no jet fuel. A large object detected on the seafloor that was just an old shipwreck.

In the absence of solid leads, investigators relied largely on an analysis of transmissions between the plane and a satellite to narrow down where in the world the jet ended up — a technique never previously used to find an aircraft.

Based on the transmissions, they narrowed down the possible crash zone to a vast arc of ocean slicing across the Southern Hemisphere. Even then, the search zone was enormous and located in one of the most remote patches of water on Earth — 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off Australia’s west coast. Much of the seabed had never even been mapped.

For years, search crews painstakingly combed the search area in several ships, largely pinning their hopes on towfish, small vessels equipped with sonar that sent information back to the boats in real time. The ships slowly dragged the towfish through the ocean just above the seabed, hoping the equipment would detect some trace of the plane. Unmanned submarines were used to examine areas of rougher terrain and objects of interest picked up by sonar that required a closer look.

The search zone shifted multiple times as investigators refined their analysis, all to no avail. Some began to question whether the plane had gone down in the Southern Hemisphere at all.

Then, in July 2015, came the first proof that the plane was indeed in the Indian Ocean: A wing flap from the aircraft was found on Reunion Island, east of Madagascar. Since then, more than 20 objects either confirmed or believed to be from the plane have washed ashore on beaches throughout the Indian Ocean. But while the debris proved the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, the location of the main underwater wreckage — and its crucial black box data recorders — remains stubbornly elusive.

If the plane is never found, the reasons for its disappearance and crash will probably never be known, though Malaysia has said the plane’s erratic movements after takeoff were consistent with deliberate actions.

The sister of the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, slammed authorities for ending the search without settling the mystery, saying her brother will never be absolved of suspicions he deliberately crashed the plane.

“How can they end the search like that? There will be finger-pointing again,” Sakinab Shah said.

The transport ministers praised the efforts of the search crews and said the search had presented an “unprecedented challenge.”

“Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft. We again take this opportunity to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones,” the ministers wrote. “We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located.”

(AP)

Airport Shooting Suspect Back in Court for Bail Hearing

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

flaThe man suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding six others at a Florida airport is due back in federal court.

A hearing is set for Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale on whether 26-year-old Esteban Santiago could be released on bail. Prosecutors have said they want Santiago held in custody until trial.

Santiago could get the death penalty if convicted of federal airport violence and firearms charges that resulted in death. He’s accused of a Jan. 6 shooting rampage at a Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport baggage claim area.

The FBI says that after Santiago flew from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale, he took a 9mm handgun out of a checked gun box, loaded it in a bathroom and emerged firing.

Santiago has yet to enter a plea.

(AP)

EU Opposes Shift Of US Embassy Site In Israel

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

1European Union foreign ministers on Monday opposed any plan by President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warned that it could ratchet up tensions with the Arab world.

“It is very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially those that can have serious consequences in large sectors of public opinion in large parts of the world,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after chairing their talks in Brussels.

“We hope that there can be reflection on consequences of any move that is taken,” she said.

Mogherini declined to say what consequences could be considered as no formal decision has been made to move the embassy.

Trump hasn’t yet outlined a clear policy for the Middle East, but has signaled he will be more sympathetic to Israel’s hard-line right than previous administrations. He has vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, part of which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

“We will for sure not move our delegation. That is in Tel Aviv,” Mogherini said.

Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said he “would be concerned at any unilateral departure from what has been a long held position of the United Nations as far as the siting of embassies is concerned.”

Mogherini said that the EU would continue to respect the international consensus that embassies shouldn’t be based in Jerusalem, which is laid out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 478, dating from 1980.

(AP)