Nursing Home Abuse – Woman, 91, Terrorized [VIDEO] – Conditions at Nursing Homes and Oversight

 

The following is a review of the Abington of Glenview Nursing Facility:

abington of Glenview reviews

Family sues Glenview nursing home over video of aides taunting woman, 91, with dementia; aides charged and fired

GLENVIEW, Ill. (WLS) — Two nursing home aides in north suburban Glenview have been fired and charged after a Snapchat video showed them taunting a 91-year-old woman with dementia.

Margaret Collins’ family is outraged, and taking legal action. The family’s lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages and alleges the nursing home, despite that video, turned a blind eye.

In the video Collins appears to be in distress, arms flailing as she pushes away a hospital gown.

“She’s waving her arms because of one reason. She doesn’t have mobility to get away. That’s the only option she has to protect herself,” said Tom Collins, her son.

Collins’ family said the great grandmother has dementia, and was known by workers at the Abington nursing home of Glenview to dislike hospital gowns.

The video of the encounter, four days before Christmas, was posted to Snapchat with the caption “Margaret hates gowns” and two laughing face emojis.

“You’re just like, this is somebody’s sick idea of entertainment?” said Joan Biebel, daughter.

The family is now suing the Abington and the two nursing assistants, Brayan Cortez and Jamie Montesa. Cortez and Montesa are also charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

“Margaret’s privacy was clearly violated,” said John Perconti, attorney for the family. “They had no right to have cell phones in there.”

To continue reading click here.

Rabbi in Brazil Sentenced to 15 Years for Abusing his 4 Year-Old Child

Loosely Translated:

Commotion in Brasil as a Rabbi is Sentenced to 15 Years of Incarceration for Abusing His 4-Year Old Son

The justice tribunal in the state of São Paulo, Brasil sentenced a Rabbi to 14 Years, 4 Months and 26 Days of Prison in the Carcel Federal. The Rabbi is Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Avraham Uderman.

In the action for arrest, and the prospects of  sexual abuse of the father against his child, on the 16 of August of 2016, the Brasilian legal tribunal requested the delegate of the 23 Police District to send a copy of the police investigation and prosecution from where there was a presumption of sexual assault by the defendant against the boy. It has been established that the behavior of those involved represents a deliberate omission and a violation of the functional obligations to investigate.

The article goes on to say that the moral damage experienced by the victim at a fundamental constitutional level makes it impossible for the damage to be outweighed by the reparations, which is explained at the end of the article, but is the equivalent of 5,000 Reals owed to the victim and hopes to mediate the restorative value and nature of compensation which considers the consequences of conduct, the social repercussions and the financial capacity of loved ones.

To continue reading the article click here.

Conmoción en Brasil por rabino sentenciado a 14 años de cárcel por abusar de su hijo de 4 años

JAI – El tribunal de justicia del estado de San Pablo, Brasil, sentenció a 14 años, 4 meses y 26 días de reclusión en una cárcel federal, al Rabino de Jabad Lubavitch Avraham Uderman.

En una acción de custodia con sospecha de abuso sexual por parte del padre contra el niño, el 16 de agosto de 2016 , el tribunal brasileño solicitó al delegado del Distrito 23 de la Policía que enviara una copia de la investigación policial y proceso judicial donde la presunta práctica de delito sexual por parte del solicitante
contra el niño. Allí, se estableció que, el comportamiento de los involucrados, aparentemente representa una omisión deliberada y el incumplimiento de las obligaciones funcionales.
El daño moral experimentado por la víctima reconoce a nivel constitucional del derecho a la reparación de daños de valor mínimo establecido en los términos del artículo correspondiente, el cual es equivalente a 5 mil reales debido a la naturaleza reparadora y la indemnización que considera las consecuencias de la conducta y su repercusión social considerando también la capacidad financiera de los involucrados.

To continue reading the original article click here.

Kol V’Oz – Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in the Global Jewish Community

Special Thanks to the Contributor of this Newsletter

 

Dear Lost Messiah,
I’m delighted to announce that Kol v’Oz has been granted Core Participant status in the forthcoming investigation into the UK Jewish community by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). This means that Kol v’Oz and I will be an active part of the Inquiry and will be able to testify, ask questions of witnesses, make submissions, among other benefits. A public hearing will be held in March 2020.

Those of you who followed the monumental Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse would be aware of the significant positive impact this continues to have both in the broader Australian society and more specifically in the Jewish community. We hope and expect this to also be the case in the UK.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who has been sexually abused within a Jewish institution in the UK to contact IICSA to share your story. Please feel free to contact me as well (or alternatively, if contacting IICSA is an issue). Please also contact me if you have any information regarding cover-ups and/or intimidation within any UK Jewish institution.

Our colleagues at Migdal Emunah have also received Core Participant status – please feel free to contact them as well. We will continue to work together with Migdal Emunah to ensure the Inquiry is well-equipped to investigate the Jewish community properly and to ultimately make appropriate recommendations to ensure justice is achieved for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and to ensure the safety of our children today and into the future.

Please share the above information with anyone you think may be interested.

Obviously there are costs to participate in the Inquiry – and for our work more broadly – so if you’re in a position to support us financially, please do so by clicking here. There are tax deductible options available in the US and in Israel. We’re currently working on an Australian option as well. Thank you in advance!

As always, I’ve shared below a range of relevant material.

On this Tisha b’Av, I’d like to share a Kinah from a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Warmest,

Manny Waks
Chief Executive Officer

Debbie Wiener is the former Chair of the now-defunct The Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence. This organisation has caused damage to many in the Jewish community. It has recently come to my attention that Debbie is on the board of a new Jewish organisation that deals with another vulnerable group of people. I feel compelled to protect this group by sharing publicly relevant information.
Israel Police has recommended to charge Deputy Health Minister, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, in the Malka Leifer case. Click: i24YnetThe Jerusalem PostThe Sydney Morning HeraldThe Jewish ChronicleJ-WireThe Australian Jewish News
In response to the latest sexual scandal involving Chabad, I wrote an oped titled Chabad – a law unto itself. Subsequently, there was a further allegation in the same case, which ultimately prompted the Chabad rabbi to resign from his Rabbinic post (but not as director).
Support our work
Some quotes from a 2008 article, soon after Adass purchased plane tickets for Malka Leifer to evade justice immediately after allegations of child sexual abuse were made against her:

[Adass spokesperson Norman] Rosenbaum said it was “categorically just not true” that the school purchased Leifer’s ticket to Israel after she resigned amid still unconfirmed rumours that she behaved inappropriately toward students.

He denied the school had tried to cover up allegations, and said “the school has not yet received any complaints”.

And a quote from a 2017 article:

The group then told Leifer she would be stood down as the head of the Adass school. But then, in a fateful decision, it was agreed that rather than report Leifer to the police, the principal should be spirited out of the country.

Rosenbaum was reportedly a part of the decision-making group.

All those at Adass who were involved in the cover-up in any way must be held to full account – for justice and to ensure the safety of children today.

The one-year look-back window for New York victims and survivors to sue their abusers or the institutions where the abuse took place commences on 14 August 2019. This was part of the New York Child Victims’ Act, which recently came into effect. We are proud to have been part of a broad coalition, over many years, who successfully lobbied for the archaic laws to change – in spite of fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, the ultra-Orthodox community and others. We encourage everyone who feels they can pursue some semblance of justice to do so. Please ensure to obtain proper legal advice. Click here for additional information.
More hypocrisy from David Werdiger…

Werdiger’s ‘thought of the week’ to members of JBD – Jews of the (Melbourne) CBD tells readers of Hasidic teachings about the power of words which can be used to ‘hurt and to deceive’. Werdiger is especially concerned about ’choos(ing) our words even more carefully’ when it comes to social media.

Yet an independent IT report has found that Werdiger, through Objectivewear Pty Ltd, a Company of which he was a Director and Shareholder, was behind the infamous anonymous blog site ‘The Fifth Chelek’ which was highlighted at the Australian Royal Commission for its anonymous attacks against victims of child sexual abuse, their families and supporters. This blog played a key role in the demonisation of victims/survivors and creating the culture that inspired it.

To date, Werdiger has failed to accept responsibility for his involvement with this blog. Nevertheless, he has continued to preach on the Jewish perspective of using words carefully, decried the fact that because of social media ‘things people have written years or decades ago (privately or publicly) are hauled out to haunt them’ and the closest he has come to an apology is ‘acknowledging that there are things that I have said or done in the past that I would not say or do now’. He has also sought to play a leadership role in reshaping the Constitution of the Yeshivah Centre, notwithstanding his role in the events which led to the Royal Commission and the restructuring of the Yeshivah Centre.

And to be clear, this was not Werdiger’s only infraction.

It’s important for victims/survivors to hold to account those who have wronged them, especially when they continue to preach shamelessly. It’s important to us for the public to know that Werdiger, among others, is a hypocrite.

The Sexual Assault of 45 Underage Girls, Uriah Assis of Emmanuel, Israel and a Fake Schizophrenia Claim

HAREDI SETTLEMENT RESIDENT INDICTED FOR SEXUAL ABUSE OF 45 UNDERAGE GIRLS

JERUSALEM  — A resident of a Haredi Orthodox West Bank settlement was arrested and indicted for sexual abuse of 45 underage girls.

Uriah Assis, 26, of Emmanuel was indicted Sunday in Tel Aviv District Court. He allegedly used pseudonyms – including a swimming coach, a wealthy businessman and a woman, and contacted the girls on the internet over the last four years, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The charges against Assis include rape or sodomy of a minor, indecent assault, sexual harassment, making threats, obstruction of justice and the possession and production of child pornography.

He is alleged to have asked the girls to send him nude or semi-nude photos which he then threatened to post online if they went to the authorities. In some cases he asked them to sodomize themselves. He also met with several of the girls in person, forcing himself on them, Ynet reported.

Assis’ attorney claimed that he suffered from schizophrenia. A psychiatric examination found that he was faking the mental illness and is fit to stand trial, the Times of Israel reported.

The prosecutor’s office asked that Assis be held in jail until trial.

To continue reading click here.

 

ADDITIONAL SOURCES ONLINE:

 

Israeli indicted for sexual abuse of 45 underage girls

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-indicted-for-sexual-abuse-of-45-underage-girls/

The charges against Assis include rape or sodomy of a minor, indecent assault, sexual harassment, making threats, obstruction of justice and the possession and production of child pornography.

West Bank man indicted in sexual abuse of 45 underage girls

He is alleged to have asked the girls to send him nude or semi-nude photos, which he then threatened to post online if they went to the authorities. In some cases he asked them to sodomize themselves. He also met several of the girls in person, forcing himself on them, Ynet reported.

Assis’ attorney claimed that he suffered from schizophrenia. A psychiatric examination found that he was faking the mental illness and is fit to stand trial, The Times of Israel reported.

The prosecutor’s office asked that Assis remain in jail until trial.

 

Second Tacoma, Wa Woman Has Alleged Harassment Against Chabad Rabbi

Second woman comes forward with allegations of harassment against Tacoma rabbi

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: Rabbi Zalman Heber has resigned his position as rabbi of the Chabad of Pierce County, according to a statement released by Heber through his attorney. It was unclear if he is also resigning his position as director. “That will be determined,” said Heber’s attorney, Barry Wallis.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Another woman says she is the victim of harassment from Tacoma Rabbi Zalman Heber.

Kim Shomer, 50, a Tacoma attorney, said she suffered a year of harassing text messages from Heber, the leader of the Chabad of Pierce County. The harassment culminated in the rabbi requesting a hug, which was a violation of the tenets of her faith, she said.

Kim Shomer, 50, a Tacoma attorney, said she suffered a year of harassing text messages from Heber, the leader of the Chabad of Pierce County. The harassment culminated in the rabbi requesting a hug, which was a violation of the tenets of her faith, she said.

Shomer and her husband, Spencer Freeman, 49, were both members of the Chabad until they formally split from the Orthodox Jewish center in December when they learned of similar behavior Heber allegedly inflicted upon the Jewish wife of a soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Traci Moran.

Shomer’s story was known to members of the Chabad and The News Tribune, but she was reluctant to come forward until now.

Moran’s allegations against Heber came to light during an Army investigation into JBLM chaplain Capt. Michael Harari. The Morans allege Harari breached their confidentiality after they asked him for advice about Heber’s alleged sexually overt messaging. Harari banned them from the base synagogue and Heber filed a restraining order against them.

Heber has denied the allegations made by Moran. He and his attorney also declined requests to comment for this story.

In an interview with The News Tribune on July 29, which mostly focused on the Morans, Heber said he asked Shomer if he could express his emotions with her during a meeting in 2017 and confirmed that he asked Shomer for a hug and that she declined.

“She said, ‘Rabbi, you should know better,’” Heber told The News Tribune.

Shomer said no such conversation took place.

“I didn’t say, ‘You know better.’ I couldn’t get out of there fast enough,” Shomer told The News Tribune on Tuesday.

_DSC2869.JPG
Rabbi Zalman Heber in the sanctuary of the Chabad Jewish Center of Pierce County in Tacoma on May 25, 2012. Heber is currently at the center of allegations he acted inappropriately with at least two women at the Chabad. Joe BarrentineTHE NEWS TRIBUNE FILE

The body that oversees the Tacoma Chabad, the Chabad Lubavitch of Seattle and its leader, Rabbi Sholom Ber Levitin, have not responded to repeated requests for an interview.

Shomer was motivated to go public, she told The News Tribune on Tuesday, after recent news stories about Moran and Heber.

“I’ve turned the other way. I’ve forgiven. I’ve done all the right things,” Shomer said. “This is the last part that I think is right. The truth told from my point of view.”

Shomer said she had to work through shame and self-blame.

“He manipulated me, and I allowed it,” Shomer said. “I tried to make OK with it, and it’s not OK. And now he’s telling lies and I just wanted the record to be set straight.”

LAW COUPLE

Shomer, originally from Philadelphia, and Freeman, a Colorado native, met at the University of Puget Sound law school. They’ve been married 17 years.

Shomer is Jewish; Freeman is not. The couple chose to raise their two sons in the Jewish faith.

“Spencer and I decided, before they were born, that would be something we’d be doing as a family,” Shomer said.

rabbi victim_shomer and freeman_4.jpg
Tacoma attorneys Kim Shomer, 50, originally from Philadelphia and Spencer Freeman, 49, a Colorado native, met at the University of Puget Sound law school. They’ve been married 17 years. Although only Shomer is Jewish, they decided to raise their two sons in the faith. “Spencer and I decided, before they were born, that would be something we’d be doing as a family,” Shomer said. Drew Perine DREW.PERINE@THENEWSTRIBUNE.COM

The couple met Heber at their youngest son’s bris in 2007.

When her sons were about five and seven, they began attending Hebrew school at the Chabad. Later, the family started going to the synagogue for special events and Jewish holidays.

Shomer’s oldest son revered Heber, even dressing like him on occasion, Shomer said.

“He held him in high regard,” she said of her son.

The family found themselves increasingly drawn to the Chabad, located on North Mildred Street in Tacoma.

“We were very charmed by what we perceived as the spiritual nature,” Shomer said. They were particularly interested in Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism.

The couple began having weekly Kabbalah study sessions with Heber in March 2015.

“I feel like that was his door into me,” Shomer said Tuesday.

At first, the texts from Heber to Shomer were routine: changes in schedules, children’s activities. But, as in Moran’s case, they allegedly became incessant and personal.

NO TOUCHING

Segregation of the genders at Chabads is strict. During Shabbot (Jewish sabbath) services, the men worship on one side of the synagogue and the women on the other. A partition separates the two sides, Freeman said.

Men and women do not touch each other, not even a handshake, according to the Chabad organization’s website. Women wear wigs and non-revealing clothing, Shomer said.

Freeman said he needed to learn etiquette when he became more involved in the Chabad. He recalled meeting Heber’s wife, Miriam, for the first time and attempting to shake her hand.

“There was this awkward moment when she put her baby’s hand in my hand,” Freeman recalled.

Shomer found the gender segregation and strict contact protocols appealing.

“It’s a rule you live by,” she said. “You just come to understand it. You don’t have to give it a second thought.”

LIGHTING MENORAH.JPG
Rabbi Zalman Heber lights a menorah during a Hanukkah celebration at South 9th Street and Broadway in Tacoma on Dec. 9, 2012. Lui Kit Wong THE NEWS TRIBUNE FILE

Epstein Suicide? Nonsense… He Knew Too Much, He Represented an Existential Threat to too Many People [VIDEO]

There Is a Long List of People for Whom Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Represents What Might be a Narrow Escape, We do not Believe it was Suicide

We do not necessarily ascribe to Joe Scarborough’s conclusions that “The Russians” are responsible for Jeffrey Epstein’s death but we do believe he was murdered. In fact, in our opinion, he lacked the moral compass he would have needed to end his own life. He was a narcissist. He always lived in an illusion, a universe wherein he was the sun around which all others circulated – his planets – so-to-speak. Epstein was too much of an arrogant, cavalier, “holier than thou” type to take his own life. And suicide requires guts, something he lacked. Epstein believed, wholeheartedly it would seem, that he had done nothing wrong or that his friends in the highest echelons of our government, those who had provided him an extraction plan in escapades prior, would save him this time as well.

He would not have killed himself. For people like Epstein that would have been seen as a weakness, an admission. He pleaded innocent. He was prepared to brandish any weapon at his disposal to escape unscathed and it was that threat that we believe got him killed. 

Whether or not an honest, transparent and complete inquiry into his death will be completed remains to be seen. The FBI and the Justice Department have threatened to do such an inquiry. But in our view those agencies are shadowed by Trump’s orbit, tainted by his influences; and perhaps those of Epstein himself even in death. We therefore have our doubts. We are certain, however, that the lack of oversight at the jail was too easy, almost worthy of a novel. If you start with the conclusion that he was murdered, you will find what you are looking for. It’s all there.   

THE CLINTON THEORY? TRUMP?

Our President’s decision to use this episode as an opportunity to create a sordid conspiracy theory surrounding the Clintons we see as equally suspect, ill-advised or just plain childish. Donald Trump would have been better suited to remain silent about the Epstein death than to begin a campaign against the Clintons, who are not at this juncture politically relevant. In so doing, he who hath protest too much has shined a bright light in the wrong direction, upon himself.

President Trump lives in a world where the personification of Nietzsche’s “Ubermensch” is the essence of his being. Demoralizing others to make yourself all the grander is his modus operandi; and he had as much reason to want Epstein dead as many, many others. It is suspect, indeed; but speaks more to Trump’s opportunism and ability to manipulate the basest of human conditions than anything else.

By spending the weekend using Twitter to raise serious questions about Epstein’s death and at the same time draw blood from a former political rival, President Trump drew attention not away from himself as a possible conspirator in the death of Clinton’s (and Trump’s) once sexual predator buddy but by our estimation, towards his own potential involvement. That is not to say that we believe that our President murdered someone, quite the contrary. 

But, would he have nixed the idea had one of his wealthy financier, sexually depraved friends suggested it to him? We think not. Would President Trump have directed anyone looking to take out Epstein toward those better suited to do the job right? Well… perhaps. Is President Trump likely relieved that Epstein is dead? Most definitely. The Clintons likely share in that relief and they too are not alone. There are so many others for whom Epstein’s death is a possible gift, we could go on for pages through the annuls of decades of Epstein’s history.

Suffice it to say, the more Trump points to Clinton, the more we think people should be directing their attention at Trump’s history, his financial encounters with Epstein. We don’t think it is an implication of guilt; but rather a red flag to tempt the bulls to run. We would guess that President Trump and his associates past and present have substantial records of the Mar-a-Lago connection to Epstein’s sexual enslavement of young girls. We suspect even more, that the man in Trump’s administration upon whose watch Epstein died, Attorney General Barr, may well be someone who deserves scrutiny. It was all too easy.   

And this time last week, we could have seen this coming. If Barr moves forward with a deep and unabashed scrutiny of the Epstein death, then his former legal involvement with Epstein, however far removed, diminishes in relevance. If he pays it only lip service than we should all be very skeptical of his involvement.

We have our doubts either way. 

THE PONZI SCHEME, EPSTEIN’S EARLY YEARS AND INFLUENTIAL CONNECTIONS

Epstein has a long history of escaping conviction, each with a similar pattern and conclusion. He defrauds or debases, winds up on the long list of possible suspects but somehow doesn’t find himself on the short list. In the 90’s he defrauded elderly, disabled and trusting people out of millions in an elaborate Ponzi Scheme. It may have been the first major Ponzi scheme in US history. Yet, in the end, his partner Stephen Hoffenberg went to jail for 18 years while Epstein’s name disappeared from any judicial or investigative inquiries linked to the case. Those with the power to explain why have either died or remain forever silent.

Hoffenberg has said that he will tell his story. We would be curious to hear it.  We wonder now if he is short for this world like his former partner. There were a lot of people involved in those early years; and it would seem that Epstein kept his associates close and his enemies closer. How he was unnamed in multiple judicial inquiries into fraud, Ponzi schemes, illicit sexual activity, tax evasion and the list goes on is where the US justice system should start looking. But this could be a collision course with an outcome far too explosive, much like Jack Nicolson’s tirade in “A Few Good Men”. Can we actually handle the truth?

We will continue to update this story.  For now, we are subdividing areas of relevance, as we view it, with collections of articles related to the subject matter.

We would like to provide a little history as the architectural underpinning of our theory.

CONTINUE READING AND VIEWING

Continue reading

The Satmar and the Value of their Money – De Blasio’s Presidency Bid and the Money in His Coffers…

Orthodox Jews stroll in Borough Park | Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

Satmar Chassidim Helping DeBlasio Presidential Campaign Stay Alive

The following is via Politico:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is turning to reliable allies in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community as he scrambles for debate-qualifying donations to his presidential bid.

A fundraising request for 10,000 donors giving just $1 each is circulating online and on WhatsApp — an encrypted messaging app — among those in the Orthodox Satmar sect, which is prominent in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The message, written in Yiddish and translated for POLITICO by three different people fluent or conversant in the language, acknowledges the mayor’s long-shot chances. It says it is not a request to support his White House bid, but rather to help him qualify for the September debate.

Failing to secure a spot on the national stage would be a blow to his struggling campaign.

The pitch also implies the donations would yield favorable treatment in the future.

It opens with a donation request on behalf of those “who work together with the faithful askanim [loosely translated to influential people] who are in constant contact with the government to lobby on a number of issues on behalf of our holy institutions and communities and for individuals who need help and to represent your interests,” according to one translation from a fluent Yiddish speaker.

It says the mayor “personally asked” for the support and then asks donors to extend the request to their wives and adult children.

“By donating the dollar you support your needs, the entire ultra-Orthodox public and our rights and needs by answering the call of askanim who need to show that the public recognizes those who understand our interests,” it reads.

Finally, it notes, “with the dollar you do not support his candidacy but you can help get him to the debate.”

De Blasio needs to show the Democratic National Committee he has raised money from 130,000 individuals in order to qualify, and as of his campaign filing this month, he only had about 6,700.

The message, shared with POLITICO by two people involved in Jewish politics who declined to be named, was signed by people they identified as Satmars.

The sect is divided into two factions, based upon loyalty to brothers locked in a succession feud following the death in 2006 of their father, prominent rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum.

To continue reading via YWN click here.

 

In search for debate-qualifying donors, de Blasio finds help among Orthodox Jews

From Politico.

Israel’s Complicated Politics and the United Right – a Nationalist Conservative, Zionist, Radical Woman-Lead Faction

Ayelet Shaked

How Ayelet Shaked, a secular woman, came to dominate the right-wing religious camp in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Late last month, as Israel prepared for yet another round of elections, Ayelet Shaked ascended to the leadership of the United Right, a joint list comprising the primary factions representing the nation’s religious Zionist community.

While women have led Israeli political parties, none has ever risen to the pinnacle of political power in a bloc representing the traditionally patriarchal Orthodox community.

And even more remarkable, the 43-year-old mother of two is a secular Jew from Tel Aviv.

So who is Ayelet Shaked and how did she overcome decades of political tradition?

Growing up as a middle-class child in the Tel Aviv of the 1980s, Shaked could have been expected to develop into a left-leaning Labor or Meretz voter, a proponent of two states and liberal policies. But as Shaked told The New York Times in 2015, she experienced a personal revelation at the age of 8 when she watched Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir debate an opponent on television: She was swayed by his nationalistic perspective.

During their mandatory military service, some Israelis tend to shift to the right, at least for a while, and a stint as an instructor in the storied Golani infantry brigade helped Shaked strengthen her conservative political outlook.

“I just realized there will not be a solution right now,” she told The Times.

Like the coalition she represents, Shaked is staunchly pro-settlement and hawkish on defense.

Although she studied computer engineering and began her career working for Texas Instruments, Shaked pivoted to politics in 2006, going to work for then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu as his bureau chief. She brought along with her the future Jewish Home party head and frequent collaborator Naftali Bennett, helping him make a similar transition from high tech to the dog-eat-dog world of Israeli parliamentary politics.

The two worked for Netanyahu for four years but left following a reported falling-out with his wife, Sara. In 2012, Bennett and Shaked entered the world of right-wing, pro-settlement politics. That was the year that Jewish Home — a party composed of the old National Religious Party and several smaller right-wing factions — held its first open primaries. Bennett, religiously modern Orthodox and politically hawkish, entered the Knesset in 2013 at the top of its list. Shaked took its fifth seat. 

By the 2015 primary Shaked, having only finished her first term in the Knesset, was popular enough with the party base that she came in second behind Bennett, establishing her position as a leader of the nationalist camp. In a party traditionally led by older, gray-haired men, Shaked at 39 not only was an ideological torchbearer but literally a fresh face: a young, stylish woman.

A stint as the country’s justice minister under Netanyahu further cemented her popularity. With mixed success, Shaked sought to overhaul an activist judiciary that in her view handcuffed the military and undermined the right-wing elected government. She also helped pass a controversial bill that defined Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Supporters said it made an obvious reality into law, while opponents attacked it for prioritizing an ethnic identity over democracy.

Her critics say she is a threat to that democracy.

“While Shaked was ‘polite,’ she was also a bulldozer that would run roughshod over liberal democracy,” Tamar Zandberg, a lawmaker representing the liberal Meretz party, said in a Facebook post. Her attempt to remake the judiciary is “not a misunderstanding of what democracy is, it is a desire to destroy it and establish the Jewish state, the settlements, and Jewish supremacy instead of the state of equality.”

In March, Shaked’s team produced a mock perfume ad featuring “Fascism by Ayelet Shaked” in which she posed like a model while a narrator taunted her liberal critics.

Whatever it takes to win

Both her effectiveness as a politician and Jewish Home’s move toward open primaries helped Shaked advance in the religious sector, according to Yair Sheleg, who researches the religious Zionist sector at the Israel Democracy Institute.

In many ways, he said, its followers consider the nationalist aspect of religious Zionism — settling all of biblical Israel, asserting Israel’s Jewish character — as more fundamental than the religious aspect. Many leaders in the community “can live with Shaked as the leader because she brings many more voters” than other politicians.

To continue reading click here.

Oded Forer – Creating a Civil Law Free of Radical Influences, the Draft, an Israel for All Jews [Video]

 

Parliamentarian Oded Forer: ‘Make Israel Normal Again’ (with VIDEO)

The number two on Yisrael Beitenu’s list wants to end power of Israel’s religious parties

In a TLV Internationals event moderated by The Media Line, parliamentarian Oded Forer, number two on the list for the Yisrael Beitenu party, spoke to a crowd of largely new immigrants about why they should support his party in the September 17 national elections. The gathering was the first in a weekly “Sunset Series” taking place in August, with different parties represented each week.

TLV Internationals serves as an advocate for new immigrants to Israel with the national government. With a following of over 60,000 young men and women from a multitude of nations, backgrounds and professional fields, the group has built the largest expat community in Israel.

he September vote is the second to take place this year, after Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party failed to garner enough support to form a government after the April 9 vote.

Forer highlighted three major components of Beitenu’s platform: Creating a government free of religious influence, allowing public transportation on Shabbat and requiring Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews to be subject to the military draft.

“What we want to do is make Israel normal again,” Forer said. “We want to allow people to live the way they want.”

Forer expressed his belief that his party can double the number of seats it received in the first election to 10 or 11 this time by focusing on the increasing discontent of secular Israelis over the demands of the religious parties.

If Beitenu wins enough seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, he said it would advocate for forming a center-right unity government together with two other parties, Likud and the Benny-Gantz-led Blue and White faction. Such an alliance would almost undoubtedly garner the minimum 61 seats in the 120-member parliament needed to form a coalition.

“It doesn’t matter who the prime minister is, but what kind of government we have,” Forer said.

One of those attending the event was Brian Shaposhnik, who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from Toronto in 2013. He did not vote for Yisrael Beitenu in the April election but believes the party is pro-LGBT rights.

To continue reading click here.

Justice for the Abused, Holding Israeli Minister Accountable for his Complicity and His Complacence

Police call for Israeli minister to stand trial over paedophile case intervention

UTJ head Yaakov Litzman accused of attempting to prevent the extradition of teacher wanted over child molestation charges in Australia

Police in Israel have recommended indicting the country’s deputy health minister for bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust, with the politician accused of using his influence in the government to prevent the extradition of a child molester.

Yaakov Litzman, who is also chair of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, is suspected of – among other accusations – standing in the way of former Jewish religious school headteacher Malka Leifer being sent to Australia.

Leifer is wanted on charges of 74 accounts of rape and sexual assault in Melbourne. However, despite being arrested in 2014, attempts to extradite her have been blocked and delayed for multiple reasons.

In a statement, the police said the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit and the National Fraud Investigation Unit said they had gathered enough evidence to put Litzman on trial over his involvement with Leifer, as well as for intervening to improve the conditions for a number of other imprisoned sex offenders.

Litzman was originally questioned by police in February over allegations that he had intervened in a medical assessment over whether Leifer was mentally fit to be deported.

Both Leifer and Litzman belong to the same ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious denomination.

Litzman’s office has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Since the scandal first erupted, the Jewish school that hired Leifer has been ordered to pay more than $1.1m in compensatory damages to the alleged victims.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 shortly after the allegations against her were first reported – prior to her arrest she lived in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. She is currently being held in Neve Tirza prison.

Jerusalem District Court is set to hand down a final decision on Leifer’s mental fitness for an extradition hearing on 23 September, according to the Times of Israel.

A report on Israel’s Channel 13 news in May reported that Litzman had helped at least 10 serious sex offenders improve their prison conditions – including securing home visits and other benefits- and applying pressure on state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.

To continue reading click here.

 

Jewish Law Does not Address How a State Should be Run… A “Halachic State” is Unworkable, Ben Gurion’s Misjudgment

Bezalel Smotrich.

WHY IS RELIGIOUS-ZIONIST SMOTRICH DREAMING OF A HALACHIC STATE? – ANALYSIS

For the second time in the course of the current election campaign, senior United Right MK and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich has talked openly about his desire for the State of Israel to be run by Jewish law.

In June, he said he wanted to “restore our judges as of old,” “restore” Torah law to the Jewish state and for the country to be governed “as it was governed in the days of King David and King Solomon – by Torah law.”

The general perception is that it is ultra-Orthodox (haredi) lawmakers who are more stringent on matters of religion and state issues and more willing to wield their political power on such issues.

So why is it that the most prominent politician speaking about a halachic state, a state of Jewish law, is actually from the religious-Zionist community and not the ultra-Orthodox?

“The haredi belief is that we are still in exile,” said Avrimi Kroizer, a haredi political strategist and former adviser to former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. “On the ideological level, they do not believe that it is the path of God to bring the redemption through a secular state.

“Any participation and recognition in the haredi world with the state and with its institutions is a post-facto, flawed recognition with no ideological basis,” said Kroizer.

Eli Paley, chairman of the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs and publisher of Mishpacha Magazine, puts it even more starkly.

“The haredi community is dedicated to Jewish law but doesn’t see a state, in its modern concept, as the right vehicle for promoting Jewish law,” he said.

“Jewish law is something the ultra-Orthodox want to implement in their daily lives, but it is not relevant to how a state should function.”

In short, the haredi community does not view the State of Israel differently from any other country where Jews might live, be in the US, Australia or anywhere in between, and see no religious significance in it or its establishment.

Therefore there is no grand vision of running the country in accordance with Jewish law.

The ultra-Orthodox parties do intervene on matters pertaining to the so-called status quo on religion and state, arrangements involving Jewish personal status issues such as marriage, Shabbat, independent education systems and kashrut.

But these issues were part of a set of guarantees made by David Ben-Gurion to the ultra-Orthodox community in pre-state Mandatory Palestine over such matters, and the haredi parties state, frequently, that they simply seek to preserve these arrangements.

THAT IS NOT the case when it comes to the religious-Zionist community, and specifically the hardline wing of the sector.

Rabbi Ronen Lubich, president of the religious-Zionist activist organization, points out that the founding principles of the religious-Zionist movement hold the State of Israel as something holy, the “foundation of the throne of God in the world,” as Rabbi A.Y. Kook, the founding father of religious-Zionism, expressed it.

“The State of Israel isn’t just an ordinary state for Jews or a refuge to protect them from antisemitism for religious-Zionism, it is meant to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” said Lubich.

Indeed, the religious-Zionist movement refers to Israel as the first sprouting of the redemption, an idea which anathema to the ultra-Orthodox community.

The rabbi also observed that in the early years of the state senior religious-Zionist rabbis such as Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah, a student of Kook, and former Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog openly talked of the application of Jewish law in the state because of the belief that the Jewish people needed to be redeemed not only physically through the establishment of a state but spiritually too.

These and other rabbis eventually stopped discussion such ideas in the 1950s when it became clear that they could not be implemented and would also frighten the secular public.

But in recent years, the hardline wing of the religious-Zionist community has grown in numbers and influence, and now leads the traditional religious-Zionist parties, as well as many yeshivas and educational institutions in the sector.

Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz, for example, is a student of Rabbi Tzvi Tau, president of the Har Hamor yeshiva in Jerusalem and one of the most senior and influential leaders of the hardline community, while Smotrich too belongs to this wing of the religious-Zionist movement.

To continue reading click here.

Israel and the Most Radical of Its Ultra-Orthodox – In Pictures, Those who will be in their Pursuits Israel’s Undoing

Pit an Ultra-Radical Jew Against an Ultra-Radical Muslim and the Muslim Wins… Why?

Because while Muslims are learning the Koran (the sacred book of Islam), which Muslims believe is the “actual word of G-d”, they are also learning to be soldiers, to speak other languages, the importance of education and how to function within their own society.

Fundamentalist Muslims, in contrast to radical Jews, understand the importance of education. To even the most religious, there is a power to knowing the languages of one’s neighbors and his laws.

To even the most educated of Koran scholars, there is a strength in learning to fight in an army, to learning to defend one’s land.  Moreover, unlike the most fundamentalist Jewish Israelis, who have the audacity to live in Israel, accept Israeli social services and social healthcare, but would be more than happy to hand over the land to Israel’s many enemies, the most fundamentalist Muslims in the surrounding countries are nationalistic as much as they are religious.

The governmental authorities in Islamic countries would not be tolerant of the behavior that the government of Israel permits. And there is a wisdom in that for Israel’s surrounding Arab neighbors.

When Israel’s fundamentalist Jews gain a majority in Israel, parliamentary control and a religious rule of law, which the numbers tell is an inevitability, Israel will be wholly unable to defend itself and its destruction will be imminent. On the one hand, Israel’s most radical want all Israelis to be radicalized. On the other, were that to happen, who would defend Israel against its neighbors? While Israel’s most radical are burning flags and soldiers in effigy, they are doing no more and no less than playing into the hands of Israel’s far wiser neighbors. When Israel’s government permits the most religious to occupy its land without participating in Israel’s army, Israel is making itself vulnerable, at the expense of the secular society that at some point will be powerless to defend against its neighbors.

The following is a photo-essay of Israel in pictures. In our view it is emblematic of  the greatest danger to Israel, the danger of the radical forces within Israel proper.

Out of respect for those photographed, we have not posted the article below in its entirety. We only took pieces. Some of the pictures are not with the captions in the original article. We therefore encourage you to click on the link and view the photo essay as it was intended. We believe it is extraordinary.

We have posted without permissions and our posting the below should not be viewed as an endorsement of this site by the authors of that article or their blog.  It should also not be presumed that they would have come to the same conclusions we have. They may feel quite differently.

We ask that you draw your own conclusions.

In pictures: The ultra-Orthodox Jews who back Palestine

The community in Jerusalem neighbourhood of Mea She’arim are rarely photographed

Continue reading

500,000 Cell Phones – Kosher, of course, and the Rabbinical Committee for Communications

Members of the ultra-Orthodox community speaking on their cellphones.

How One ultra-Orthodox Man Got Full Control of 500,000 Israelis’ Cellphones

While most ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel adhere to the rabbinic ban on using the internet, they do make use of a more primitive technology — phone services that provide updates on the news, traffic, finance and even family events or funerals supplied by small firms over a dedicated phone line.

“I have a 10-year-old son with diabetes. They fitted him with a sensor and a pump, and I can’t manage with it,” begins one message to Hakav Hamatok, a diabetes hotline, a typical example of the kinds of services available. “The readings keep jumping. Can someone help me?”

Hakav Hamatok offers ultra-Orthodox diabetes patients updates, lectures and recipes, along with the chance to confer with other patients and even the recitation of Psalms for very ill patients. There’s nothing obviously problematic from a religious point of view about Hakav Hamtaok, but the hotline’s number has been blocked for people with so-called kosher telephones – devices that also don’t have internet capability, which some ultra-Orthodox rabbis prohibit. A member of the Rabbinical Committee for Communications apparently found content on Hakav Hamatok objectionable as well.

Hakav Hamatok isn’t the only such case. The committee decides which content the ultra-Orthodox – or Haredi community, as it is known in Hebrew – has access to and has the power to enforce its decisions: The cellphone companies have given the committee access to an interface enabling it to block any telephone line it wishes.

A group of Haredi rabbis founded the committee 15 years ago to defend the community from the onslaught of the internet and the risk that Haredim would gain access to inappropriate content. A “kosher” phone not only lacks internet access. It also has no camera or music features. Even text messages are out of bounds because they can be used by dating services.

The new committee is a rare case of Haredi unity and extending into the religious Zionist community. Rabbis across the spectrum designated representatives for the project after which the committee opened negotiations with the cellular operators. Any company that refused to offer a kosher phone was boycotted.

The Haredi press came on board in an unprecedented campaign against “the hazards of technology” and in favor of kosher phones. Haredi streets were plastered with posters with polemics against anyone daring to carry an “impure” phone.

Today nearly all of Israel’s cellular operators offer subscribers accounts without access to the internet or text messages. Cellcom’s kosher numbers start with 052-76 while Pelephone uses 050-41. You can’t unblock the internet from these numbers or transfer them to other companies for “unkosher” services.

Kosher numbers are also used to virtually shame Haredim who don’t have one. If your line isn’t kosher, your children won’t be accepted into Haredi educational institutions, and your local synagogue may sometimes even be out-of-bounds to you.

Even the more moderate ultra-Orthodox factions have embraced kosher phones, which now are estimated to number 500,000 devices. Their use has recently also penetrated ultra-Orthodox communities abroad.

But, as TheMarker discovered through internal documents, unpublished reports and conversations with dozens of people, the committee is no longer the broad-based undertaking it once was. Today, Yehuda Dweck, a resident of Bnei Brak, has exclusive control of the flow of information to hundreds of thousands of Haredim – which he sometimes exercises arbitrarily and without any explanation, raising questions about his motivations.

At the same time, Dweck has leveraged his work with kosher phones into a thriving business owned by his wife. And he is now trying to gain exclusive control through the power that he has received from the rabbinic committee over the sale and distribution of kosher phones.

Who’s making money?

Dweck, who is in his 40s, looks like a typical Haredi yeshiva student. He is short and gaunt and sports a large, black kippa and a tightly curled beard. But he is actually a determined man who is ruthless in his pursuit of his goals. From his home on a side street in the center of his ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb, he controls the Haredi telecom market with the help of a laptop and cellphone – a kosher one, of course.

To continue reading click here.

Anti-Semitism and Pollsters – Not Understanding the Nuances – Social Hostilities of Religious Norms

What the Pew report got wrong about religious restrictions

NEW YORK (JTA)—A recently released Pew Research Center report about global restrictions on religion focuses mostly on discrimination against, and the persecution of, various religious groups in different countries. Jews are prominent targets as always, “harassed in 87 countries… the third-highest figure for any religion.”

But the report also turns a spotlight on Israel, yielding headlines like the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s “Israel has almost as many religious restrictions as Iran.” The headline and the report beneath it were picked up by myriad media.

But the Pew report, by not differentiating between the types of “religious restrictions” or “hostilities,” might lead readers to false conclusions.

The report ranks Israel’s “social hostilities related to religious norms” as “very high,” following more than two dozen countries in the “very high” category like China and Iran, and its “governmental restrictions” on religion as “high,” behind countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Pew also cites Israel as having the sixth highest level of “interreligious tension and violence,” presumably referring to Arab Muslim attacks on Jews and vice-versa.

When Israel is placed in the company of such countries, an uninformed reader might be led to imagine Israel as a violent Jewish theocracy, with rival religious groups shooting it out on the streets of Jerusalem, the mass repression of non-Jewish citizens and the jailing of people for practicing their faiths. But no such things were cited, of course, since no such things actually happen.

The only specific description of religious restrictions that happen in Israel contained in the 126-page report was a single sentence: “In Israel, drivers who operated cars near ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods on the Sabbath reported incidents of harassment, including name-calling and spitting, by ultra-Orthodox residents.”

Such rude behavior should be beneath any Jew, certainly any Jew claiming to be religious. But such behavior, not sanctioned in any way by the state or the rabbinate, does not merit Israel’s inclusion among a list of countries where religious minorities are interned, as in China, or where police have raided religious minorities’ homes and places of worship, as in Iran, or where the Islamic State is currently active.

Decades ago, when I was studying in a yeshiva in such a neighborhood, Israelis who were not Sabbath observant would sometimes purposely drive through the main street, where people were enjoying peaceful Sabbath strolls, seeking to goad the locals. No one was spat upon, but angry calls of “Shabbos!” were indeed shouted at the visitors. The late Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, once told a writer that “Shabbos” was not a word ever meant to be shouted.

But even ill-mannered reactions to provocations are hardly the stuff of “religious hostility.”

As to “governmental restrictions on religion,” the report makes reference to the fact that “all countries in [the Middle East] defer in some way to religious authorities or doctrines on legal issues.”

In Israel, this refers to the fact that the haredi Orthodox Chief Rabbinate sets the terms of official religious life and Jewish personal status, from determining whether or not a certain restaurant is kosher to whether or not two individuals can marry there. Marriages of any sort that take place outside the country, though, are legally recognized, leading some Israelis to take quick trips to Cyprus to obtain marriage licenses.

There is indeed opposition among some Israelis to the power afforded the country’s official Rabbinate in matters of Jewish personal status. But many Jewish Israelis—a majority of whom are either haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”), dati (nationalist religious) or “traditional” Jews—accept the need for a single, central standard-bearer regarding conversion, marriage and divorce.

The Chief Rabbinate’s fealty to traditional norms of halacha (Jewish religious law) effectively rejects the legitimacy of conversions and divorces overseen by non-Orthodox rabbis, which is seen by non-Orthodox Jews in the U.S. as outrageous.

“Why,” they ask, “should Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or Humanistic Jewish rituals not enjoy the same respect in Israel as Orthodox ones?”

From a non-Orthodox perspective, it’s an entirely valid question. And we Orthodox Jews need to understand why fellow Jews are so hurt by the Chief Rabbinate’s approach to personal status issues.

But there’s something non-Orthodox Jews also need to understand: The Chief Rabbinate’s position doesn’t stem from any animus (despite some uncouth comments by Israeli politicians and rabbis who seem to have never met a Jewishly committed non-Orthodox Jew). It stems from a commitment to the religious laws that have preserved the Jewish nation for millennia.

In Israel, the existence of the Chief Rabbinate helps ensure that conversions and divorces meet standards that all Jews can accept, preventing the sort of schism that, tragically but undeniably, has developed here in the United States as a result of the dire sociological upshot of non-halachic conversions and divorces.

To continue reading click here.

De Blasio’s Donors Are Largely Big Money Interested Parties and their Law Firms, Where Will the Money Go, He Can’t Win.

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during an interview at Buzzfeed's Internet Live event at Webster Hall.

De Blasio begs for $1 donations to make September debates

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio resorted to begging for $1 donations during an interview Friday in a desperate attempt to meet the 130,000 contributor threshold to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debates in September.

“I want to make an appeal to your listeners,” de Blasio said on the Laura Coates Show on Sirius XM.

“If you believe in things like a bill of rights for workers please help me. Donate at least $1 online at BilldeBlasio.com. Help me stay on that debate stage,” he pleaded.

On Tuesday the term-limited pol unveiled his Workers Bill of Rights — a part of his 2020 platform that includes raising the national minimum wage to $15 and providing two paid vacation time.

De Blasio has just a few weeks to qualify for the September 12 and 13 debates in Houston. Candidates must attract 130,000 individual supporters and poll at 2 percent. De Blasio hit the 2 percent mark for the first time in a July 2019 Quinnipiac University poll.

As of July 1 he only had 6,700 unique donors. A campaign spokeswoman said she could not provide updated information.

At least seven contenders have met the requirements.

To continue reading click here.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

The Washington Free Beacon

De Blasio Rakes in Cash From Donors With City Interests

New York Post:

De Blasio presidential campaign raises just $1.1M for 2020 bid

Actor Steve Buscemi among de Blasio’s top 2020 donors

Pete Buttigieg has raised more money from NYC residents than de Blasio got nationwide

 

WBBM NewsRadio

De Blasio Struggles to Gain Momentum Heading Into 2nd Round of Debates

 

 

Imagine Israel if the Rabbinical Courts Decided Civil Matters… What an Iran it Would Be…

Rabbinical court officials tried to promote beneficial legislation in coalition talks

Despite regulations, the court’s legal advisor sends religious party leaders’ recommendations for legislation that would expand the rabbinical system’s powers, including allowing Jewish law to be used in civil cases, constructing new building to match that of Supreme Court

Senior officials in Israel’s rabbinical courts prepared a document suggesting legislation for ultra-Orthodox parties to use during coalition negotiations after the April 2019 elections.

The document, which goes against existing regulations on the separation of the rabbinical courts and the political echelon, was obtained by Ynet’s sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth.

L-R: United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union head Bezalel Smotrich (Photos: EPA and Yair Sagi)

L-R: United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union head Bezalel Smotrich (Photos: EPA and Yair Sagi)

It was sent out from the personal account of the rabbinical courts’ legal advisor Rabbi Shimon Yaacovi two weeks after the elections, in an email entitled “Clauses for the government’s basic guidelines.” It was sent to several members of the ultra-Orthodox parties’ negotiators as well as Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the National Union party.

The document contained suggested legislation that the ultra-Orthodox parties should demanded from the government during the coalition talks.

The most noteworthy item was proposed legislation that states that, “the rabbinical courts will have the authority to decide financial cases according to Jewish law, if all sides in the dispute agree.”

Similar legislative attempts meant to increase the power and scope of the rabbinical courts beyond divorce and conversion, have previously been stopped in the past by the Supreme Court.

Other items in the document dealt directly with employment conditions for rabbinical court staff, demanding they be equal to those of workers in the civil court system.

Yaacovi also recommends that the government commit to assigning a budget for a new rabbinical court building and the chief rabbinate that is of equal standard to the Supreme Court building.

The rabbincal court for the Jerusalem area (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

The rabbincal court for the Jerusalem area (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

The legal adviser also sought to increase his own jurisdiction, recommending that he be authorized to appear before the Supreme Court for any injunction involving rabbinical courts without receiving permission from the attorney general.

To continue reading, click here.

A Changing of the Guard in Israel Necessary for Accountability – Keeping Israel from Radicalization

Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Yisrael Beytenu in conversation with the Jerusalem Post

LIBERMAN TO DEMAND HEALTH, INTERIOR MINISTRIES

Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman declared Tuesday night that his party would seek the interior and health ministries in the next government, two portfolios currently held by leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties.

He took direct aim at current head of the health minister Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman by describing Israel’s health system as “very sick” and said that the interior ministry must be wrested from the hands of current minister and Shas chairman Arye Deri to restore “normalcy” to matters of religion and state in the country. 

Liberman also vowed not recommend any candidate to form a coalition after the next election if they do not promise to establish a national unity government without the ultra-Orthodox, Arab parties, and left wing and right wing parties. 

Speaking at Yisrael Beytenu’s convention of central committee members in Tel Aviv, Liberman took fierce aim at the haredi political parties, in particular Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman promising to replace him with a respected professor of medicine. 

He also promised to cut child subsidy payments for a fifth child and upwards, saying that large proportions of the ultra-Orthodox and Arab population do not work because child subsidies make it too financially viable not to seek employment. 

“The occupation of the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs is basically to have children and for their children to have more children, and it is bringing us to the point of collapse,” said Liberman. 

The Yisrael Beytenu chairman made sweeping promises about what his party would demand in the coming government, including a a raft of measures “to restore Israel to normalcy” on matters of religion and state. 

Liberman said that after the elections he would demand the interior ministry for Yisrael Beytenu so as to dismantle local religious councils which currently provide religious services such as marriage registration, kashrut supervision and many others, and replace them with a department for religious services in local government authorities instead.

He also said that obtaining the interior ministry was crucial to allowing local municipal authorities the right to decide if they want more grocery stores and other commercial activities available in their jurisdictions and vowed to overturn the so called “mini-mart law” advocated by the haredi parties which stops local authorities from making such a decision. 

And Liberman said he would demand his party get the health ministry and would appoint Prof. Leonid Eidelman, currently president of the World Medical Association as minister, saying Israel’s health system needed “a professional” to deal with its challenges. 

Liberman’s comments seemed designed to provoke Litzman who is fiercely defensive of his record as minister and has spoken proudly of his achievements there. 

In promises which will further antagonize the ultra-Orthodox parties, the Yisrael Beytenu chairman promised he would demand that haredi schools teach core curriculum subjects such as English and Maths, as part of his conditions of entering a new government. 

To continue reading click here.

An Observant US Army Family Targeted by the Chabad Rabbi They Trusted and the Army Chaplain Ordained to Protect

A U.S. Army investigation found that Captain Michael Harari, a chaplain at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (pictured), “aligned” his actions with Tacoma Rabbi Zalman Heber to ostracize Traci Moran after she alleged that Heber sent her explicit messages.  (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

| A U.S. Army investigation found that Captain Michael Harari, a chaplain at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (pictured), “aligned”… (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times) More 

After a rabbi sent her explicit messages, JBLM soldier’s wife says she was targeted and betrayed

When Traci Moran, an observant Jewish woman living at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with her enlisted husband, came to Army Chaplain Capt. Michael Harari in August 2018, she was looking for spiritual guidance, she said.

A Tacoma rabbi, Zalman Heber, had been sending her sexually explicit text and voice messages for almost a month despite Moran asking more than once that he stop, the messages showed.

Harari was her husband’s unit chaplain — meaning he was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the unit’s families — and the only rabbi on base. And he and Heber were part of the same Hasidic organization, Chabad, that runs synagogues and cultural centers around the world.

All that meant, Moran said, that Harari was “in an incredibly unique position to take my report and tailor counseling to my specific religious views.”

Instead, an Army investigation obtained by The Seattle Times found that Harari violated her confidence by sharing her allegations with Heber. Then, Heber and Harari worked in parallel to “harass and attempt to intimidate and ostracize the Morans from the civilian communities surrounding JBLM [Joint Base Lewis-McChord],” according to the investigation, which examined whether Harari violated the Army’s Equal Opportunity policy.

Heber confirmed sending Moran sexually explicit messages last summer. But, he said, the messages did not constitute sexual harassment.

Harari did not respond to a request for comment, but in a memo submitted to the investigation said the Morans “verbally assaulted” and “slandered” him and his wife. A representative of Harari’s endorsement agency, the organization that confirms he is capable of carrying out his religious duties on base, denied “any linkage between Harari and Heber.”

Meanwhile, Moran said she has lost faith in both Jewish and military institutions.

“I have been victimized twice,” Moran wrote this month in an official complaint to the Army about what she says is the base command’s inadequate response to Harari’s actions. “First, by the rabbi [Heber] who sexually harassed me, and then by the chaplaincy of JBLM.”

“Too much information”

When Moran, who had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, went to pick up a shipment of kosher food at Rabbi Heber’s house in July 2018, she said she sought to make a connection by telling him about the community activities she’d previously led.

Heber then began messaging her, and she messaged back. Almost immediately, though, the exchange became full of what Moran, in one plea to Heber to stop messaging her, called “TMI — too much information.”

The explicit messages, a selection of which The Seattle Times reviewed, included Heber describing sexual acts with his wife.

“I really don’t want to know about your personal life with [your wife],” Moran replied at one point.

On Aug. 12, 2018, Moran and her husband, Staff Sgt. Jared Moran, sought rabbinical guidance by taking the messages to Harari, according to the Army investigation.

“CPT Harari assured us he would not repeat the information to anyone as he was bound as a chaplain not to,” Moran testified in her sworn statement.

To continue reading click here.

If a School Takes Public Money it Should Be Required to Pass Public Education Standards, at Least

Learn your lesson: Every school needs to pass muster from the government experts

Let the state in to check. (Roca, John)

Learn your lesson: Every school needs to pass muster from the government experts

Some of the toniest private schools in New York, places that deliver an exemplary secular education to their kids, are going to war against new state regulations arm in arm with a small subset of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that are failing to teach their kids English, math, science and other core subjects. For shame.

Back in May, the state Education Department issued new proposed rules to ensure that non-public schools live up to the legal obligation to deliver a “substantially equivalent” education to their students. That’s long been the guarantee under law; where the rubber meets the reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, there’s been virtually no enforcement.

And for years, a small sliver of religious schools in the Hasidic community — not all Jewish schools by any stretch, and not all Hasidic ones either — have been neglecting to teach kids the basics, despite pocketing millions in public money.

This must end. The only way to make it end is to step up state oversight, which means starting periodic and unobtrusive visits to all non-public schools. It’s just not constitutional for the state to single out Jewish K-12 institutions for scrutiny .

To continue reading click here.

 

A Right-Wing Israel, Not so Different Than Any Other Fundamentalist Regime

Ayelet Shaked talks to the press in Jerusalem, July 28, 2019.

Olivier Fitoussi

Analysis 

Netanyahu Followed His Wife’s Edicts. Now He Will Pay the Price

Sunday night was probably unsettling for the prime ministerial residence on Balfour Street, a night of taking stock, of frayed nerves. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not have yielded to the caprices and whims of his wife, he could have had a restrained, downsized and loyal Ayelet Shaked on the list of top ten Likud Knesset candidates, even without promising her a ministerial post (or in any case, without promising to keep his promise).

Instead of acting according to his and his party’s best political interests, as suggested to him privately and publicly by lawmakers in his party, Netanyahu was dragged by emotions and vengefulness. Last night he got his comeuppance: Shaked, who begged to be incorporated into Likud and was turned down, and who was fired by Netanyahu from her post as Justice Minister, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is back, and in a big way.

The writing was on the wall as far as her placement at the head of the Union of Right-Wing Parties from the moment Bennett had swallowed his pride and renounced his leadership of the New Right party. According to multiple surveys conducted to test voters’ inclinations, the right, still traumatized by its loss of five to six Knesset seats in April’s election due to its fissures, saw the numbers and urged a union of forces.

Union of Right-Wing Parties Chairman Rafi Peretz (his rabbinical title should be dropped since it’s irrelevant to his political endeavors) has been a dead man walking for some time. Recent polls have given the coup de grace to his pretentious ambitions. With his party hovering over the electoral threshold while the New Right is becoming twice as strong since Shaked assumed leadership last Sunday, there was no doubt as to who should ultimately head the union.

Peretz began the negotiations over the leadership as Tarzan and ended them like Popeye. What he won’t learn by the end of his Knesset term, Shaked, a brilliant politician, has already forgotten. Quietly, discreetly, effectively, she wove the web that brought her to where she is now. Legitimize Kahanists? She won’t bat an eyelid. Her excuse will be that it’s only “a technical bloc,” because nothing describes Shaked better than a cool-headed technocrat.

On September 18, Netanyahu, who tried to eliminate her, will find himself facing the head of a party with 12-13 seats (according to the last polls). If a Likud-right-wing-ultra-Orthodox government is at all possible, he might offer Shaked the Foreign Ministry portfolio even before she asks for it, just so the Justice Ministry stays in Likud hands this time.

Meanwhile, he’s far from reaching that goal. His aim of garnering 61 seats without Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party now looks virtually impossible to attain. Barring an extraordinary development in the next 50 days, the chances a unity government without the ultra-Orthodox, the religious-Zionists and the Kahanists seem quite realistic.

Some insights on the unifying right 

As soon as he recovered from the shock, Netanyahu rushed to contact Peretz, urging him to predicate the team-up on Shaked and Bennett’s committment to recommend that President Reuven Rivlin task only him with forming the government. This is a baseless demand. They’ll do what serves them best under the post-election circumstances. This only highlights his failure. If he’d agreed to her joining Likud, he would have been saved this worry, which in 60 days will turn into panic in the best Balfour style.

To continue reading click here.

To Serve or Not to Serve – the IDF, Haredim one Enlisted Now Do not Want to Be Associated With Enlistment…

A photo of Rabbi Elisha Levi, an ultra-Orthodox who fought in the Six Day War, is shown in a Yisrael Beytenu campaign ad calling on ultra-Orthodox to enlist. (Screenshot: Twitter)

A photo of Rabbi Elisha Levi, an ultra-Orthodox who fought in the Six Day War, is shown in a Yisrael Beytenu campaign ad calling on ultra-Orthodox to enlist. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Liberman pulls clip calling for Haredi enlistment but featuring Six Day War vet

Granddaughter of Rabbi Elisha Levi outraged to see a photo of him illustrating Yisrael Beytenu campaign spot; ultra-Orthodox MK blasts ‘incitement’

Avigdor Liberman was forced Friday to remove a campaign ad by his Yisrael Beytenu party calling on ultra-Orthodox Israelis to enlist to the military, after coming under fire for including footage of a rabbi who had fought in the Six Day War in 1967.

Yisrael Beytenu has been focusing its campaign on criticizing the ultra-Orthodox community and presenting his party as right-wing and secular, after a disagreement over a law regulating the drafting of seminary students into the IDF prevented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a coalition in the wake of the April elections. This led to another round of Israeli elections scheduled for September 17.

In the campaign spot published Friday morning, various photos of ultra-Orthodox men are seen with slogans such as: “We’re not demanding that you enlist to [elite commando unit] Sayeret Matkal, only that you enlist,” and “We’re not demanding that you work extra hours, only that you work.”

However, Facebook user Michaela Levi was outraged when she recognized one of the people in the clip as her grandfather Rabbi Elisha Levi, who served in the IDF in the 1960s and took part in the Six Day War against invading Arab armies.

“How ugly can this election cycle be?” she asked in a post. “This morning I saw the video Avigdor Liberman published. Probably without thinking too much about the people behind the photos, he allowed himself to drag my grandfather’s name through the mud… How do you allow yourselves to generalize like this?!

“My grandfather, who served and fought in the Six Day War, worked all his life in education and dedicated every free moment he had to volunteer work, and thousands of graduates of kindergartens and schools around Jerusalem can testify to that,” Levi added.

To continue reading click here.

 

College Scandal Tied to Massive Medicare Fraud Case and the Key Worldwide Foundation – Esformes and Singer

William “Rick” Singer

FBI found clues to college admissions scandal years earlier in massive Medicare fraud case

Federal authorities were combing through the finances and phone records of a Miami businessman suspected of Medicare fraud when they came across a curious name: Rick Singer.

Philip Esformes, who was accused of farming out patients from his nursing homes to steal millions in bogus insurance claims, had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to a foundation Singer controlled. And in text messages discovered on Esformes’ phone, the men discussed how one of Esformes’ sons had performed on his college entrance exams.

Only years later would authorities learn what Esformes had paid Singer to do: Slip his daughter into USC as a fake soccer player and fix his youngest son’s college entrance exam, according to statements a prosecutor made in court and sources familiar with the case.

Singer has said he struck similar deals with dozens more parents, an admission that has roiled higher education and implicated elites from Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the Newport coast.

But in 2016, when agents seized the iPhone Esformes used to text Singer and obtained their messages, Singer was a peripheral, if curious, player in an enormous healthcare fraud investigation. The Esformes case marks the first time Singer is known to have crossed the radar of law enforcement.

Singer would run his admissions scam undisturbed until another team of investigators, working in Boston on an altogether different case, caught a second glimpse of his operation in 2018 and unraveled it.

Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts, unveiled that investigation in March. Fifty people were charged, including dozens of parents and coaches at such elite schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC, who were accused of selling spots that their schools reserved for recruited athletes.

Esformes has not been charged in the college admissions case. Convicted in April of paying and receiving kickbacks in connection with a federal healthcare program and other crimes, he faces decades in prison when a judge sentences him in September. His attorneys declined to comment.

Spokespeople for federal prosecutors in Boston and Miami declined to comment.

It is unclear how much federal authorities uncovered of Esformes’ dealings with Singer while investigating his case. But at his trial in March, a fraud expert used by the government to make sense of his finances testified that Esformes had made $400,000 in payments over several years to Singer’s foundation. At least some of the money was traced to Medicaid and Medicare funds, the expert testified.

Singer has since admitted that his Key Worldwide Foundation was little more than a sham used to launder money from clients and parcel out bribes to coaches, test proctors and bagmen.

Esformes check to The Key.jpg

To continue reading click here.

The Accomplishments of 26 Students, the First to Graduate Yeshiva University with an Associates of Science in Management

Jacob Finkelstein speaks with Dr. Paul Russo about the program.

Jacob Finkelstein speaks with Dr. Paul Russo (left) about the program while his grandmother Barbara Vogel and father Stephen Finkelstein listen.

History Made by First Graduating Class

Twenty-six Students Earn the Katz School’s Associate Degree

Even though the skies were overcast, the Sky Café radiated warmth and pride as friends, family and staff gathered on July 18, 2019, to honor the first graduating class of the Associate of Science in Management at the Katz School of Science and Health.

Dr. Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School, reflected the enthusiasm and deep satisfaction in the room when he said that “over the last two years, I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by these enterprising students—the young men and women who built YU’s associate program. They are smart and hardworking and bring to life the best of Yeshiva University. In addition to a full load of academic and Jewish studies courses, they integrated into campus life and found time for community service.”

The AS in Management is a full-time, residential program completed over two full years, including two fall semesters, two spring semesters, and two mandatory summer semesters. This first cohort of 26 students started in Fall 2017, and their achievements two years later are quite impressive: over 75 percent of them maintained a cumulative grade point average above 3.0; 19 students plan to transfer to Yeshiva University bachelor’s programs, while five students will attend bachelor’s programs outside the University.

This cohort was also active outside the class. Several student leaders founded the Katz Undergraduate Student Government (KUSG) and held their first elections and hosted their first on-campus event in Spring 2019. Eight men and two women played on the YU basketball, baseball, soccer and volleyball teams.

Students also availed themselves of the opportunities to speak with key entrepreneurs as well as cultural, business and government leaders in places like the New York Federal Reserve, Hudson Yards, Saks Fifth Avenue and The Jewish Museum as well as with judges in their chambers.

More important than their educational and cultural achievements, however, was the personal transformation the program brought to each of them. Jacob Finkelstein, who is vice president of KUSG, said it well: “This program made us all better people, and I am ready for the ride. It will be incredible.”

Kyle Harris agreed. Surrounded by his mother, Joanne, and his rabbi, Rabbi Avi Utler, both of whom flew in from Las Vegas to be at this ceremony, Harris spoke with emotion about how completing this program “made me feel accomplished and ready to move forward with my life.” He plans on pursuing his studies in education and history, with the goal of becoming a teacher of American history.

To continue reading click here.

Skwere Congregation Declares Bankruptcy in the Eastern District, $10M -$50M in Assets and Liabilities

718249_0_Page_01718249_0_Page_02718249_0_Page_03718249_0_Page_04

Skwere Congregation with a Number of DBA’s and $10M-$50M in Assets and Liabilities Files for Chapter 11 Protection – For the Second Time..

 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Cong. Khal Chasidei Skwere, which does business under the names Tomer Devora School, Yeshiva Bais Yitzchok, Skwere Mosdos, Mesivta Bais Yitchok, Camp Skwere and Camp Bnos Skwere, filed for chapter 11 protection today in the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. The company reports $10 million to $50 million in both assets and liabilities. The debtor is represented by Backenroth Frankel & Krinsky in New York. The case number is 19-44540. The case has yet to be assigned to a judge.

 

The debtor’s list of largest unsecured creditors includes Wexal Investors, which holds a $3.7 million claim that is subject to a $1 million collateral deduction or setoff. The majority of the remaining unsecured claims are held by individuals.

 

The company previously filed for chapter 11 relief in the Eastern District of New York on July 20, 2011 (case no. 1-11-46263 (CEC)).

How Many Accounts Can One Epstein Have and Alerting US Authorities to Movement of Money Overseas

Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein has been another black eye for the financial institution, which is laying off thousands of employees as it struggles to return to profitability.

Jeffrey Epstein Moved Money Overseas in Transactions His Bank Flagged to U.S.

As Deutsche Bank officials this year scrambled to extricate themselves from a yearslong relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier charged this month with sex trafficking, they uncovered suspicious transactions in which Mr. Epstein had moved money out of the United States.

Deutsche Bank reported the transactions to a federal agency in charge of policing financial crimes, according to three people familiar with the bank’s internal processes. The report came as the bank started looking for signs that Mr. Epstein was using his financial resources for the purposes of sex trafficking.

Mr. Epstein, who has been accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring involving dozens of victims, some as young as 14, is being held in a Manhattan jail cell after federal prosecutors argued he was a flight risk, citing his vast financial resources. He has a byzantine network of businesses and personal holdings, which include real estate, an island and private planes valued at more than $500 million. Mr. Epstein’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Deutsche Bank has been contacted by prosecutors and other government authorities investigating Mr. Epstein. Joerg Eigendorf, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, said the bank was “absolutely committed to cooperating with all relevant authorities.”

Deutsche Bank executives are still trying to understand the depth and scope of the bank’s relationship with Mr. Epstein, who has been a client of its private-banking division since at least 2013 — years after his conduct became public in a prostitution case involving a teenage girl. Mr. Epstein struck a lenient plea deal that included a non-prosecution agreement from federal authorities, and the case has been held up as a glaring example of how the wealthy and well-connected can evade consequences.

At least one bank dropped Mr. Epstein as a client in the years after his guilty plea. But it wasn’t until late last year, after The Miami Herald published an investigation into the earlier sexual abuse allegations, that Deutsche Bank decided to sever ties with him. The process proved more complicated and time-consuming than executives had initially anticipated because Deutsche Bank’s private-banking division had opened several dozen accounts for Mr. Epstein and his businesses.

To continue reading click here.

 

Opiate Connected Family and the Lucrative Ski Resort Acquisition, the Irony of Painkillers and Ski Resorts

A sign with the Sackler name is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

OxyContin’s Sackler Family Will Get Millions From A Ski Resort Operator’s Sale

Vail Resorts, a publicly traded operator of ski resorts, announced on Monday it would acquire Peak Resorts for $11 per share, all cash, which is more than double its $5.10 per share closing price, one day prior to the announcement. Peak Resorts operates 17 ski resorts, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, including Alpine Valley in Ohio and Hunter Mountain in upstate New York.

One major beneficiary of the acquisition: the Sacklers, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of pain drug OxyContin. According to Peak Resorts’ latest annual proxy from October 2018, its largest shareholder is CAP 1 LLC, a company wholly owned by Sackler brothers Richard and Jonathan. The Sacklers’ nearly 40% ownership stake, which includes preferred stock and stock warrants, is worth about  $87 million based on the transaction. Some of the shares are owned by the charitable Sackler Foundation. The Sacklers became investors in Peak Resorts as early as August 2015.

Richard is the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma. His brother, Jonathan, is a former board member. Nearly every state has filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners, including eight Sackler family members, alleging the company caused a nationwide public health crisis around opioid addiction and opioid overdose deaths. One lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma had brought in more than $35 billion in revenues since 1995.

The Sacklers, worth an estimated $13 billion based largely on the value of Purdue Pharma, built their fortune primarily through sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller that has been called by the medical establishment one of the root causes for the nationwide opioid addiction epidemic. Purdue Pharma owns the patent for OxyContin, and is the only manufacturer of the drug. According to Symphony Health Solutions, a healthcare and pharmaceutical data analytics company, roughly 80% of Purdue Pharma’s sales come from OxyContin. Due to the widespread rise in use of prescription and nonprescription opioids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017.

To continue reading click here.

Only When Beneficiaries Take a Stand Against Dark Money Will Decency be Touted over Wealth, the Louvre

Louvre, Paris

Click to enlarge

Louvre removes Sackler family from museum walls

France’s Louvre Museum has erased the Sackler name from its walls, removing any physical trace of its ties to the billionaire family that owns opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

The art philanthropist family’s name was quietly removed from a wing dedicated to eastern antiquities over the last few weeks, The New York Times reported.

The wing has been known as the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities since 1997.

A plaque honouring the family’s donations to the museum was also removed from the gallery’s entrance and any mentions of the “Sackler Wing” on the museum’s website have also been deleted.

A representative of the museum said the Sackler’s name was erased because it had exceeded a time limit.

“On 10 October, 2003, the museum board decided to limit the duration period named room to 20 years. [The Sackler] donation is more than 20 years old, the name-period is therefore legally closed and these rooms no longer carry the Sackler name,” the statement said.

The removal follows major museums in Europe and New York announcing they will no longer accept donations from the family.

The family behind Purdue Pharma has been the subject of multiple lawsuits from different states in the US for its alleged role in the country’s opioid epidemic. The transatlantic family are decedents of three Sackler brothers—Raymond, Arthur and Mortimer—who turned their small pharmaceutical firm into a family-controlled enterprise, which eventually became the $3 billion revenue-making Purdue Pharma. The company introduced OxyContin in 1996.

Jeffrey Epstein, a Case of the Difference Between Justice for the Wealthy and Poor or Something More Nefarious…

Jeffrey Epstein and A Theory We Have Been Running:

Epstein was an Asset of the US Government, His Retreat a Stomping Ground for Diplomats and Wealthy and His Acosta-Negotiated Deal a Reward and… A Prisoner’s Dilemma 

The following is the full text of an article published by Matthew Taylor on 10 December 2018. We have not obtained permissions from the World Socialist Website www.wsws.org, or from Matthew Taylor, the author of the article; so we state in no uncertain terms that this is not intended to act as an endorsement by LM for WSW nor is it intended to allege that they have endorsed this site. 

In his article Taylor speaks of fundamental truths of the US justice system: there is one set of laws for the wealthy and a wholly different set for everyone else. We do not think he is wrong. His entire hypothesis is correct.

The US is a class system, the wealthy live by a wholly different set of rules, standards and judicial systems. Judges can be paid. Ethics, justice, humanity and fundamental fairness be damned when wealth is involved. Lawyers need not know how to navigate the law when they have money to play with and a judicial system for hire. We saw it with Platinum Partners (on a financial crimes basis), we will see it with Weinstein (another sexual predator) and we are seeing it with Epstein. 

Where Taylor falters, however, in our hypothesis is that we maintain there are intervening circumstances in the Epstein case. We don’t believe that he was just a “wealthy person” absent some unique talents and gifts. We do not necessarily attribute his wealth to his great escape from prosecution, at least not exclusively. Epstein, we contend, was a government asset. He is a science nut, a brilliant saboteur, extremely savvy and knows how to manipulate people and situations. He became very valuable, in our analysis, to the US government and with that came the enormity of his wealth, one begetting another.

Epstein’s Lolita Express was a person’s greatest fantasy and the island destination a place to entice negotiations. It is no coincidence that he owned a townhouse that once belonged the US State Department and it is no mere numbers game that the tail numbers of his planes were associated with the tail numbers of US government planes (or so we are told). The same Florida not-for-profit (for-profit) non-existent Florida Science Foundation entity paid for his legal fees and was financed by some of Wall Street’s finest and that, too, is not a game of chance.

Continue reading

Epstein and His Wall Street Connections, Interesting Visits While Serving Time, “One Connection Often Begets Another”…

Jeffrey Epstein at a court hearing in 2008.
CreditCreditUma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post, via Associated Press

Jeffrey Epstein’s Deep Ties to Top Wall Street Figures

When Jeffrey Epstein was serving time in Florida for soliciting prostitution from a minor, he got a surprising visitor: James E. Staley, a top JPMorgan Chase executive and one of the highest-ranking figures on Wall Street.

Mr. Staley had good reason to maintain his relationship with Mr. Epstein, who received him at his Palm Beach office, where he had been permitted to serve some of his 13-month sentence in 2008 and 2009. Over the years, Mr. Epstein had funneled dozens of wealthy clients to Mr. Staley and his bank.

Mr. Epstein, who was charged this month with sex trafficking of teenage girls, liked to portray himself as a financial wizard, someone whose business and investing acumen made him indispensable to corporate executives and other leaders. But there is little evidence to support that notion. The financial services that Mr. Epstein dispensed appear to have been mostly pedestrian, and his list of clients small.

Mr. Epstein nonetheless managed to affix himself to a handful of prominent Wall Street veterans, including Mr. Staley, who is now chief executive of the British bank Barclays.

Mr. Epstein provided personal tax services to Leon D. Black, whose Apollo Global Management is one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. He discussed a major investment idea with and entrusted millions of dollars to Glenn Dubin, who ran the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management. And, with Mr. Staley, he laid some of the early groundwork for JPMorgan to make a major acquisition — one that would vault Mr. Staley’s career to a higher plane.

Mr. Black, Mr. Dubin and Mr. Staley were not Mr. Epstein’s biggest business relationships: That distinction belongs to Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of the L Brands retail empire, which included Victoria’s Secret and The Limited. He gave Mr. Epstein broad powers to invest his fortune for nearly two decades.

In the weeks after Mr. Epstein’s arrest, it has become clear that he lied about the identities of some of his clients and the services he was providing, part of a successful effort to create the illusion of a sophisticated investor and management guru advising a who’s who of corporate America.

Mr. Epstein boasted of having advised Elon Musk after the Tesla founder’s impulsive Twitter posts sent shares plummeting last summer. He has claimed to have worked closely with Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president. He has told others he was a tax consultant to the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Representatives for the three men told The New York Times that there was no truth to Mr. Epstein’s statements.

A decade ago, he tried to woo Nicholas and Thomas Pritzker, two scions of the family that created the Hyatt Hotel chain, by inviting a top scientist in the field of virtual reality to meet them in New York, according to a person who attended. He contended that billionaires like the Pritzker family needed his advice because he had special insights that could translate the ideas of mathematicians into workable financial strategies. The Pritzkers never considered working with him, according to a person close to the family.

Some of the investment ideas he trumpeted to would-be clients appeared far-fetched. One supposed strategy was to constantly make overnight loans to banks around the world. (There is no sign of Mr. Epstein having actually made any such loans, and it is hard to imagine such a strategy generating substantial profits, since overnight loans generate minuscule interest rates and last for only a matter of hours.)

Yet starting in the 1990s, Mr. Epstein — whose Wall Street experience consisted of a five-year stint at the investment bank Bear Stearns — managed to build a small but powerful finance network.

Mr. Black, the Apollo founder, was a widely respected figure on Wall Street when he met Mr. Epstein in the late 1990s. Before long, Mr. Black had entrusted Mr. Epstein with periodically providing a variety of tax and estate-planning services, according to a person close to Mr. Black. It was an unlikely assignment: Armies of lawyers and accountants have expertise in those fields; Mr. Epstein did not.

Over the next 15 or so years, including after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in 2008, Mr. Black met with Mr. Epstein at his palatial townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to people who were there

To continue reading click here.

 

The Toppling of a Nursing Home Empire and the Elderly and Disabled Residents Who Suffer, Where’s the Oversight?

Image: Terri Thompson

Terri Thompson’s mother has dementia and wandered out of a locked unit through two broken doors and was found in ice and snow at 4:30 in the morning with severe frostbite.Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

A nursing home chain grows too fast and collapses, and elderly and disabled residents pay the price

By Laura Strickler, Stephanie Gosk and Shelby Hanssen

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Once a week for two years, police Lt. Jeannine Pettiford had visited the nearby nursing home where her 52-year-old cousin with cerebral palsy lived. But on their daily phone call in early May, her cousin had bad news.

“I’m getting kicked out,” he told her.

In disbelief, Pettiford asked to speak with a nurse, who told her there were rumors of closure. Her alarm rose when she visited the facility and saw nurses crying. The nursing home’s owner, Skyline Healthcare, had told its staff there was no more money.

Skyline’s four other nursing homes in Massachusetts were facing the same crisis. Funds were so short, staff had begun buying toilet paper with money from their own pockets, according to former employees. Residents and their families discovered from local newscasts they had just 30 days to find somewhere else to live.

“Nobody from the nursing home ever called me to tell me,” Pettiford said. She was angry. And, she later learned, so were many others.

At its peak, Skyline Healthcare owned or ran more than 100 facilities in 11 states, overseeing the care of more than 7,000 elderly Americans. But during the past two years, the chain has collapsed, and more than a dozen Skyline-operated nursing homes have shut their doors, throwing residents, vendors, employees and state regulators into chaos.

For more watch Stephanie Gosk tonight on “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt” at 6:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. CT (or check your local NBC station).

Many homes ran out of money. Others were shut down over neglect documented in government records. Fourteen homes were forced to close permanently, displacing more than 900 residents to new facilities, sometimes hours away.

The story of Joseph Schwartz and Skyline Healthcare is one of swift expansion, alleged mismanagement and catastrophic failure. An NBC News investigation reveals the scale of the Skyline debacle, in which one man built an empire that quickly crumbled, with painful consequences for vulnerable people.

It also shows the failure of state and federal authorities to keep up with just who owns and runs America’s nursing home facilities, which house 1.3 million elderly and disabled Americans — about three-quarters of them in beds paid for by taxpayers via Medicare and Medicaid. The states are responsible for tracking ownership and conditions at nursing homes within their borders, but only the federal government can monitor the performance of firms that own or operate facilities across the nation. The allegations of negligence at a major nursing-home chain come as the Trump administration is moving to ease, not increase, accountability for the industry, reducing penalties and terminating fewer contracts with problem owners.

Schwartz, meanwhile, still has ownership stakes in 53 nursing homes, according to federal records. He has not returned multiple messages and emails requesting comment from NBC News.

“I just don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” said Stephen Monroe, an industry analyst of three decades who is the managing editor for the nursing home trade magazine Senior Investor. “I have no idea what that family was thinking. To go from 10 to 100 in two years with no real back office? I looked at that and said from day one, ‘Impossible.”

‘The Home Life You Crave’

A Brooklyn, N.Y.-based insurance broker and landlord, Joseph Schwartz entered the nursing home business more than 10 years ago after he sold a Florida-based insurance company.

In a 2017 deposition for a malpractice lawsuit filed by a family alleging neglect at one of his homes in Pennsylvania, Schwartz explained why he’d gotten into the industry. “”Basically, I used to do a lot of servicing in selling insurance policies to long-term care industry,” he said, “and I felt that I could, that I understand the quality care … and I will do a very good job in doing the quality care for residents.”

Image: Joseph Schwartz listed a tiny office above this New Jersey pizzeria in Wood Ridge, NJ as the location where he ran over 100 nursing homes nationwide.Joseph Schwartz listed a tiny office above this New Jersey pizzeria in Wood Ridge, New Jersey, as the location where he ran over 100 nursing homes nationwide.NBC News

He started with a half dozen homes, but after creating Skyline Healthcare he began expanding rapidly in November 2015 with the purchase of 17 homes.

Schwartz ran Skyline out of a tiny office above a New Jersey pizzeria. He was CEO, his wife Rosie co-owned most of the properties and his two sons, Michael and Louis, served as vice presidents. The company had a bare-bones website and a slogan, “Skyline: The Home Life You Crave.”

During the 2017 deposition, he said, “Skyline is an entity that is me.”

His net worth is hard to compute but real estate records show he owns over $9 million worth of real estate in the New York metropolitan area, including a gated house in Suffern, N.Y.

Within a year of his purchase of 17 nursing homes, Schwartz had taken on another 64, and by 2017 was operating more than 100.

Schwartz wouldn’t provide a number when the plaintiff’s attorney asked him repeatedly in June 2017 how many homes he ran. He confirmed it was more than five, but asked if it was more than 100, he said several times that he couldn’t recall.

 

Continue reading

Jeffrey Epstein Denied Bail, But He or His Mansion and Lolita Guests, Likely Still Pose a Threat…

Jeffrey Epstein Is Denied Bail in Sex Crimes Case

Prosecutors had opposed Mr. Epstein’s proposal to stay in his mansion under guard until trial, saying the financier was seeking “special treatment.”

 

A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges, rejecting his request to await trial under home detention at his Upper East Side mansion.

The judge, Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said Mr. Epstein, who owns property in Paris and has a private plane, would be detained in jail until his trial on charges that he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s.

Judge Berman emphasized Mr. Epstein’s danger to others, particularly his accusers and “prospective victims as well.” The judge cited what he called “compelling testimony” by two of the accusers — Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild — who said at a hearing on Monday that they feared for their safety and the safety of others if Mr. Epstein were to be released.

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers had proposed allowing him to post a substantial bond and remain in his mansion guarded around the clock by private security guards, whom he would pay. Prosecutors vigorously opposed that proposal, saying he was seeking “special treatment” and trying to build his own private jail — a “gilded cage.”

Judge Berman said that Mr. Epstein’s proposed bail package was “irretrievably inadequate,” and that he would not entertain any other bail proposals from the financier’s legal team.

“I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” the judge said.

Jeffrey EpsteinCreditReuters

Prosecutors had also argued that Mr. Epstein’s fortune, said to be more than $500 million, would make it possible for him to flee the country if he were not detained.

The judge agreed, pointing to Mr. Epstein’s “great wealth and his vast resources,” including private planes and a residence in Paris.

Ever since his July 6 arrest at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after a flight from Paris, Mr. Epstein, 66, has been detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a highly secure jail in Manhattan that has housed accused terrorists, mobsters and even the Mexican cartel leader known as El Chapo.

A federal indictment charged that between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Epstein and his employees paid dozens of underage girls to engage in sex acts with him at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.

The indictment also accused Mr. Epstein of using some of his victims to recruit additional girls for him to abuse. He paid his “victim-recruiters” hundreds of dollars for each girl they brought to him, prosecutors said.

He has pleaded not guilty and has vowed to fight the charges, his lawyers said. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in Florida as part of a secret, lenient deal he negotiated with the United States attorney in Miami to avoid federal prosecution. He served 13 months in jail.

Jeffrey Epstein Was a Sex Offender. The Powerful Welcomed Him Anyway.

In seeking Mr. Epstein’s detention, prosecutors also sharply disputed his lawyers’ argument that for more than a decade he had lived a law-abiding life. They noted, for example, that he had tried to influence possible witnesses against him as recently as last year.

The prosecutors said Mr. Epstein had wired $350,000 to two people close to him who were potential witnesses just days after The Miami Herald revealed details last November about his deal to avoid federal prosecution in Florida.

 

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Jeffrey Epstein, His $80M Fleet of Planes, Capt. Big Dawg, Instagram and What Does he Know?

EXCLUSIVE: Jeffrey Epstein’s personal pilot poses in one of the $80M fleet of planes pedophile used to seduce underage girls as never-before-seen photos of the updated interior of Lolita Express jet are revealed

  • Jeffrey Epstein’s chief pilot Larry Visoski has flown the billionaire around the world for the past 20 years

  • Visoski flew Epstein’s infamous Lolita Express, which has carried President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker and Naomi Campbell

  •  The 59-year-old – nicknamed Capt Big Dawg on his Instagram page – isn’t afraid of showing off his boss’ aircraft fleet – worth $80M

  • In one shot from July 2014, Visoski shows the Lolita Express taking off from Seattle 

  • DailyMailTV can reveal a series of new photos taken of the upgraded jet’s interior – as it’s alleged Epstein used the plane to shuttle underage girls between his homes

  • The luxury aircraft, which was built in 1969, has been modernized  around 2014 and now has a circular shaped lounge with comfy chairs and a spacious bedroom

  • The luxury commercial jet has once again come into prominence following the arrest of Epstein on two charges of child sex trafficking

  • Visoski has not been accused of any role in Epstein’s crimes. 

Posing with his employer’s $80 million fleet of aircraft, this is Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time personal pilot and the man many believe could hold the key to the billionaire’s sordid lifestyle.

Chief pilot Larry Visoski runs Epstein’s fleet of private jets and helicopters and has flown the hedge fund mogul around the world for 20 years.

Notably Visoski flew Epstein’s larger 727 jet – the infamous Lolita Express – which carried prominent passengers including President Bill Clinton, British royal Prince Andrew as well as Hollywood stars Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

And the 59-year-old pilot – nicknamed Capt Big Dawg on his Instagram page – isn’t shy about  showing off his billionaire boss’ expensive toys on his personal social media page.

In one shot, taken in July 2014, he shows the Lolita Express taking off for Seattle.

This comes as DailyMailTV can reveal a series of new photos taken of the upgraded interior of the 50-year-old 727 jetliner.

Posing with his employer's $80 million fleet of aircraft, this is Jeffrey Epstein's long-time personal pilot Larry Visoski and the man many believe could hold the key to the billionaire's sordid lifestyle

 

Posing with his employer’s $80 million fleet of aircraft, this is Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time personal pilot Larry Visoski and the man many believe could hold the key to the billionaire’s sordid lifestyle. The 59-year-old pilot has worked for the wealthy pedophile billionaire for 20 years

The pilot - nicknamed Capt Big Dawg on his Instagram page - isn't afraid of showing off his billionaire boss' expensive toys on his personal social media page, posting this photo posed up in front of Epstein's Bell 430 executive helicopter, which are sold for $6m new

The pilot – nicknamed Capt Big Dawg on his Instagram page – isn’t afraid of showing off his billionaire boss’ expensive toys on his personal social media page, posting this photo posed up in front of Epstein’s Bell 430 executive helicopter, which are sold for $6m new

To continue reading click here.

Your Money is No Good Here! Disassociating a Name – Sackler and the Louvre

 

Louvre Removes Sackler Family Name From Its Walls

Protesters from the activist group PAIN in front of the Louvre on July 1. Members of the Sackler family own the company that makes the opioid OxyContin.

The Louvre in Paris has removed the name of the Sackler family from its walls, becoming the first major museum to erase its public association with the philanthropist family linked with the opioid crisis in the United States.

The Louvre’s collection of Persian and Levantine artifacts is housed in a wing that has been known as the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities since 1997.

But on Wednesday, a plaque acknowledging the Sacklers’ donations had been removed from the gallery’s entrance, and references to “the Sackler Wing” on other signs in the museum had been covered with gray tape.

Members of the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, an enormously profitable and frequently abused painkiller that is the subject of numerous lawsuits in the United States.

In March, Britain’s National Portrait Gallery turned down a $1.3 million donation from a charitable arm of the family. That prompted a host of cultural institutions across Europe and the United States, including the Tate group of museums in Britain and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, to announce that they would not accept further donations from the family. The Sackler Trust and the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, two foundations based in Britain, suspended further philanthropy.

But many museums also said they would respect past philanthropy and would not be changing the name of any wing or gallery named after the family.

Sophie Aguirre, 50, a guard at the Louvre, said on Wednesday that the plaque at the wing was taken down on either July 8 or 9, when the wing was closed to visitors.

Nine other signs in the building that referenced the wing had been taped over. Ms. Aguirre said another large sign that acknowledged the Sackler donation had also been removed.References to “the Sackler Wing” have also been removed from the Louvre’s website.

On Tuesday, Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum’s president, told RTL, a French radio station, that the Sackler name had been taken down because the Louvre’s policy on naming rights is that they last for 20 years.

To continue reading click here.

Epstein Did His Community Service for His Own Non-Profit, The Florida Science Foundation

Jeffrey Epstein paid Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office $128,000 during incarceration for prostitution charges

Jeffrey Epstein paid PBSO from his ‘non-profit’, Florida Science Foundation

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A recently released financial record shows a money trail between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office.

The record, released to Contact 5 through a records request, shows Epstein’s company, Florida Science Foundation paid PBSO $128,136 during his incarceration between 2008 and 2009.

MORE: Complete coverage of the Jeffrey Epstein case

Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges in 2008, including solicitation of a minor. The guilty plea was part of the secret non-prosecution agreement which kept Epstein out of federal prison on numerous accusations that the part-time Palm Beacher allegedly ran a sex-trafficking ring out of his Palm Beach mansion.

The agreement also kept Epstein out of prison, and instead, allowed him to serve his sentence out at the local county jail, run by PBSO Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.

While there, the convicted sex offender was granted work-release benefits, and allowed to leave his cell six days a week, 12 hours a day to work at his Florida Science Foundation, located in a high-rise off Australian Ave. in West Palm Beach.

That foundation appears to be the same Epstein foundation which paid PBSO nearly $130,000 between October 2008 and May 2009. It’s unclear if Epstein wrote off the payments, as financial records for the so-called non-profit were not immediately available.

However, the Florida Science Foundation played another role in the Epstein saga. Once Epstein received probation, a Palm Beach County judge allowed him to serve out his community service requirements “at his own non-profit, the Florida Science Foundation,” according to former WPTV reports.

Records which show exactly how PBSO spent the nearly $130,000 or why Epstein paid them in the first place were not immediately available.

Contact 5 has requested receipts from PBSO and are waiting on a response.

Meanwhile, a Fort Lauderdale attorney claims “more than one woman” was propositioned by Epstein at his Florida Science Foundation office, while visiting him during work release hours.

“He was not sitting there conducting some scientific research for the betterment of the community,” attorney Brad Edwards told reporters at a press conference in New York City on Tuesday. “[The women] believed that they were going there for something other than a sexual purpose, and while there, surprisingly to them, the situation turned sexual.”

Edwards says the women were between the ages of 18 and 20 at the time. He currently represents other victims involved in the South Florida investigation which resulted in the secret, non-prosecution agreement.

Contact 5 asked PBSO why a convicted sex offender like Epstein was given work release benefits. Spokeswoman Teri Barbera wrote in an email, “Sex offenders are not allowed to go on work release. Epstein registered as a sex offender after he was released from jail.”

While Epstein did not register as a sex offender until 2009, he was a convicted sex-offender at the time of his sentencing. Barbera did not respond to follow-up questions about the matter.

To continue reading click here.

Epstein’s Alleged “Conjugal Visits” – State Sponsored (and Funded) Sexual Assault?

Financier Jeffrey Epstein allegedly had ‘improper sexual contact’ with young women while in ‘jail’: Lawyer

Wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein continued to have visits from young women that allegedly resulted in sexual liaisons while he was in ‘jail’ in Florida, a lawyer for one of his accusers said Tuesday.

Attorney Brad Edwards, who represents Epstein accuser Courtney Wild and several other alleged victims, claims that Epstein’s 13-month jail sentence — the result of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors in Florida — failed to prevent the money manager accused of sexually assaulting numerous underage girls from having “improper sexual contact” with young women.

At a Tuesday press conference in New York, Edwards said that a recent newspaper article — citing a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy — described Epstein as a “model prisoner” during his jail term in West Palm Beach in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution in a deal with federal prosecutors that was kept hidden from Epstein’s alleged victims.

PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services sex offender registry, March 28, 2017, and obtained by Reuters, July 10, 2019.New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services via Reuters
U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry, March 28, 2017, and obtained by Reuters, July 10, 2019.more +

Despite being a registered sex offender, Epstein was allowed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to participate in a work-release program that permitted him to spend up to 16 hours a day, six days a week at an office in West Palm Beach that housed his non-profit organization, the Florida Science Foundation.

“Most of the time was spent in an office, a private office that was adjacent to his lawyer’s office all day every day,” Edwards contended at the press conference. “And what you’re going to learn is he was not sitting there conducting some scientific research for the betterment of the community, but he was having office visitors, some who were flown to him from New York and continuing to engage in similar conduct, literally while he was in ‘jail.'”

Edwards said he does not know the exact ages of the visitors, but that he knows of none that were under the age of 18.

“I do know that he was able to have visitors that were under the age of 21…,” Edwards said.

He said he had interviewed one young woman who “personally visited” Epstein at his work-release office.

“It was not for some business arrangement and it was for, if you’re in jail, improper sexual contact,” said Edwards, who declined to identify the woman.

PHOTO: Courtney Wild looks on as attorney Brad Edwards speaks at a news conference regarding financier Jeffrey Epsteins sex trafficking case in New York, July 16, 2019. Mike Segar/Reuters
Courtney Wild looks on as attorney Brad Edwards speaks at a news conference regarding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking case in New York, July 16, 2019.more +

Federal prosecutors have yet to comment on the allegations alleged by Edwards.

Epstein, 66 — who at one time socialized with former President Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew, and President Donald Trump — was arrested on July 6 for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls in Florida and New York. Some of the charges date back to the early 2000s.

A team of law enforcement officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) took Epstein into custody at the Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, New Jersey, after he returned to the United States by private jet from France, sources told ABC News. Authorities also raided Epstein’s New York City mansion and seized evidence.

Since his arrest, Epstein has been held in custody without bail. Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to keep him in jail as his case proceeds because they suspect he is a flight risk. Epstein’s attorneys argue that he is entitled to bail.

Edwards’ client, Wild, and one other accuser, Annie Farmer, testified at Monday’s detention hearing in Manhattan federal court. Both women spoke in support of keeping Epstein locked up without bail.

Farmer said she was 16 when Epstein had her sent to New Mexico where he was “inappropriate” with her. Wild told the judge she was 14 when Epstein sexually abused her in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein appeared to watch them address the judge but his face showed no emotion.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman said he will decide on Thursday whether to grant Epstein’s release or, as pre-trial services recommended, keep him jailed.

During Tuesday’s news conference in New York, Wild read a statement asking other alleged victims to come forward.

To continue reading click here.

Justice Department, Individual States and Barr’s Recusal from the Case

1 Justice Department, 2 Views on Sex Charges Against Epstein

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — There is only one Justice Department, but two of its largest U.S. attorneys’ offices came to vastly different conclusions about what to do with financier Jeffrey Epstein over allegations he sexually molested dozens of underage girls.

Eleven years ago, Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta — now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary — approved an extraordinary secret agreement in which Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges rather than face much tougher federal prosecution on charges he sexually abused underage girls at his homes in Florida and New York from 2002 through 2005.

On Monday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced the indictment of Epstein, 66, on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges stemming from at least some of the same conduct that was covered in the agreement over a decade ago. Epstein, who served 13 months after his 2008 Florida plea deal, is now looking at 45 years behind bars if convicted in New York.

Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday to the new charges and is being held until a bail hearing next week. Prosecutors want him detained until the case is resolved, contending he is a flight risk because of his extraordinary wealth.

It’s highly unusual for one federal prosecutor to pass on an indictment only to have another located elsewhere to determine otherwise, defense attorneys say. And Epstein’s lawyers argued Monday that the previous deal more than covers the new charges brought, and therefore their client cannot be prosecuted. But federal prosecutors in New York said the deal made in Miami does not apply to them.

“A 10-year-old prosecution like this one by a different district is extremely rare and dangerous, even if the previous plea agreement is later viewed as a really bad one,” said David O. Markus, a prominent Miami defense attorney not involved in the case. “We have one federal government, and defendants and their lawyers should be able to trust that a deal is a deal.”

The allegations are that abuse occurred in both Palm Beach, Florida, and New York, but that has been publicly known for years, though authorities say there are some crimes specific to New York.

But at a Monday court hearing, Epstein attorney Reid Weingarten dismissed the idea that the new indictment would reveal anything new: “This is ancient stuff. This is essentially a redo. “

The non-prosecution agreement notes that Epstein “seeks to resolve globally” the entire case against him. There is some debate about that.

Berman credited what he called “investigative journalism” — certainly referring to a series last fall on the Epstein case by the Miami Herald — for providing his office with an avenue to take on the case. He also said the agreement signed by South Florida prosecutors and Epstein does not apply in New York.

“Too often adults in our society have turned a blind eye to the type of criminal behavior alleged here. We have seen the excuses,” said William Sweeney, head of the FBI’s New York field office.

The current head of the Justice Department, William Barr, declined to comment and said he has recused himself from the case because he once worked for a law firm that once represented Epstein. He didn’t name the firm.

Under the 2008 agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution-related charges and was allowed to go to his office during the day while he served his sentence. He also registered as a sex offender and agreed to pay millions of dollars to dozens of his victims.

But he didn’t have to face a federal indictment in Florida that would have meant a much longer prison sentence, possibly even life.

Acosta has defended the deal as appropriate under the circumstances. He also has noted how his prosecutors persisted in securing a conviction despite tremendous pressure from the defense, which included high-profile attorneys such as Kenneth Starr, Alan Dershowitz and Roy Black. They all have denied wrongdoing.

“One member of the defense team warned me that the office’s excess zeal in forcing a good man to serve time in jail might be the subject of a book if we continued,” Acosta wrote in a letter he made public after the non-prosecution agreement finally was revealed in a civil case. “Defense counsel investigated individual prosecutors and their families.”

To continue reading click here.

Jeffrey Epstein Country of Residence Saudi Arabia? And Art, Diamonds… The State Department….

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images.

Art Industry News: The Feds Are Investigating Jeffrey Epstein’s Hair-Raising Art Collection + Other Stories

Feds Investigate Jeffrey Epstein’s Art Collection – US prosecutors are fighting to keep the disgraced billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein behind bars while his lawyers argued in court that he should be able to stay at his Upper East Side mansion ahead of his trial for sex trafficking. Assistant US Attorney Alex Rossmiller cited the “art and diamonds” found in Epstein’s $77 million home, along with an expired passport listing his country of residence as Saudi Arabia, as reasons he should be denied bail. “Certainly, the first question for a defendant of this tremendous means is how much money does he have?” Rossmiller asked in court. “How much is in diamonds or art?” (Epstein, incidentally, is known to have a certain creepy taste in art, for instance decorating his home with a custom mural of himself standing in the middle of a prison tableau.) Two new accusers have also stepped forward alleging Epstein sexually abused them when they were underage, adding to a growing list of women that includes the artist Maria Farmer. (Courthouse News)

Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Courtney Wild Speaks Out – Abuse, Molestation, Mind Control, Urging Victims to Come Forward

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/jeffrey-epstein-accuser-courtney-wild-speaks-out-about-sex-abuse-charges/

Jeffrey Epstein accuser Courtney Wild: “He isn’t going to get away this time”

 

Courtney Wild, an alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein, spoke at a news conference with her attorneys in New York City on Tuesday. Wild was an unnamed victim in the 2008 lawsuit against the Department of Justice for the secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid criminal charges.

Wild said she was sexually abused by Epstein as a child. She said she “never had the chance for my voice to be heard” because of the secret plea deal and is now urging other victims to come forward.

courtney-wild.jpg
Courtney Wild appears with her attorney at a news conference in New York City on July 16, 2019.CBS NEWS

“As long as the victims speak up, he isn’t going to get away this time. If you have already made the decision to come forward, thank you,” Wild said. “If you have not, the time is now.”

Epstein was arrested in New York on July 6 and charged last week with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He is alleged to have abused dozens of underage girls as young as 14 over a number of years. Since his arrest, Epstein has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan, near City Hall.

On Monday, Wild attended a bail hearing as federal prosecutors asked a federal judge to reject a request by Epstein’s lawyers that he remain under house arrest in his $77 million Manhattan mansion until trial for his sex trafficking charges. She spoke inside the courtroom yesterday and read from a statement at the press conference on Tuesday, noting the similarities between the charges brought against Epstein in two states.

“This is no surprise Jeffrey Epstein was sexually abusing girls in New York,” Wild said on Tuesday. “He did it everywhere.”

Wild was joined by her attorneys, Stan Pottinger, Brittany Henderson, and Brad Edwards. Wild has been working with Edwards in bringing legal action against Epstein in Florida since 2008.

Sexual Misconduct Epstein
Courtney Wild, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers who spoke at his bail hearing, attends a news conference outside federal court, in New York, Monday, July 15, 2019. Wild said Monday in Manhattan federal court that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14.RICHARD DREW / AP

Edwards spoke extensively at the press conference and also took questions. He called Wild “an extraordinary person” and said Epstein’s recent arrest in New York has “no relationship” to the case he and Wild are prosecuting in Florida.

“The same conduct he was engaging in in Florida, he was engaging in New York,” Edwards said, speaking of Epstein’s charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking with minors. “We have taken so many depositions and spoken with countless witnesses that we know that information.”

Edwards called Epstein’s alleged actions, “sexual assault, mind manipulation, and child molestation.”

To continue reading and for video stream click here.

Why Would the State Department Rent a Townhouse out to Jeffrey Epstein? Is the Blackmail Story Even More Plausible?

The State Department Once Rented A Townhouse Seized From Iran To Jeffrey Epstein — Then Sued Him For Subletting It

The now-forgotten case — laid out in newspaper clips from the time and extensive court documents — offers a glimpse into a strange facet of Epstein’s life at the time, and constitutes an early example of Epstein popping up in the media as a rich and connected but mysterious New York figure.

Beginning in February 1992, Epstein rented a former Iranian government building that had been taken over by the State Department during the Iranian revolution, at 34 East 69th Street in one of Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhoods, and at a rate of $15,000 a month.

But things went sour when the government sued Epstein in the Southern District of New York, alleging that he had at one point failed to pay the rent on time and had violated the lease by moving out in early 1996 and subletting the place without the State Department’s permission. His subtenant was Ivan Fisher, a New York City criminal defense lawyer who had famously defended members of the French Connection and Pizza Connection drug rings. The government also sued Fisher.

A lawyer for Epstein did not respond to a request for comment, and attempts to reach Fisher were unsuccessful.

A New York Daily News article from the time, headlined “Lawyer Pays Not A Cent For Palatial East Side Digs,” said Fisher had stopped paying rent after learning that the State Department had terminated Epstein’s lease as a result of the conflict over Fisher’s subtenancy, and was thus living in the home for free.

“I’m the perfect tenant,” Fisher told the Daily News. The paper described the home’s opulence: “carved oak doors, a white marble foyer, three kitchens, three bedrooms, a library with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a steam room, 19th-century chandeliers, brass sconces, and a white marble central staircase.” “I pray to God I can stay,” Fisher told the Daily News.

Epstein is described in the story as a “Palm Beach, Fla., financial advisor.” The incident is also briefly mentioned in Vicky Ward’s 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein.

The government’s complaint rested on its assertion that Epstein had not received permission before installing Fisher as the subtenant, and its grievance with Epstein was only intensified by his charging Fisher $20,000 a month for the rent when State was charging $15,000 — netting Epstein a monthly profit.

The voluminous court documents in the case include a later-amended complaint by the government, which added more defendants to the suit — a clutch of other lawyers whom, the government alleged, were in turn subletting office space from Fisher. In a sworn statement, one of those lawyers, Lawrence Gerzog, told the court that he had given Fisher free legal services in exchange for office space, among several other lawyers.

The government eventually moved to evict Fisher, and the court ordered Fisher and Epstein — who in the course of the process were eventually involved in litigation against each other — to pay the back rent and to vacate the premises. An eviction order was served on July 16, 1998, and the marshal noted on the service receipt that the tenants had moved out.

Photo of a New York Daily News story

A story on the case in the New York Daily News, Dec. 23, 1997.

Getting there wasn’t an easy process for the State Department, which had begun by exchanging strongly worded letters with Epstein’s lawyer, Jeffrey Schantz. These were included in the court filings.

“As you are aware, Mr. Epstein’s apparent departure from the house and his failure to make timely rental payments in February and March of this year have been matters of serious concern to this office,” wrote Thomas E. Burns Jr., then the deputy director of the Office of Foreign Missions, in April 1996 in a letter attached to court filings. Burns wrote that the OFM had already found someone to take over the lease from Epstein, a developer named Xenophon Galinas, and that they would not approve the sublease to Fisher.

In June, Burns wrote again, this time directly to Epstein, to notify him that he had violated the lease by leaving the property and subletting it and give him 30 days to kick Fisher out and move in again himself. In August, Burns wrote again to tell Epstein that because Fisher was still there, the State Department was ending the lease. At the end of October, the government filed suit.

Epstein was accused of carrying out an effort to put someone else in the house in his stead without clearing it with the State Department. When Richard C. Massey, an OFM official who had been the point person for Epstein’s lease, was deposed in 1997 by the defendants’ lawyers, he told them Epstein had appeared to make a concerted effort to put someone else in the property without State knowing. “Mr. Epstein was shopping the property around town without our knowledge, all over town,” Massey said. “We had calls from real estate agents who asked us about it. I do not know how many people in the City of New York had a copy of Mr. Epstein’s lease.”

Massey was not able to be reached for comment.

What was Epstein up to? Why had he abandoned the decadent mansion so abruptly and moved out without getting permission to sublet? Epstein made it publicly known when he was moving out, telling the New York Times in January 1996 that the mansion on East 71st Street that would become famous in the context of his alleged crimes was now his. It belonged to Epstein’s client and mentor Les Wexner. It’s unclear how much Epstein paid for the house, if anything, as it was reportedly transferred without a purchase price from a trust linked to both him and Wexner to a company controlled by Epstein.

Fisher, who reportedly once counseled law students to look into a mirror and practice telling potential clients their retainer was $100,000, was banned from practicing in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2013 after a court grievance committee ruled that he had stolen money from a client.

 

To read the Buzzfeed article in its entirety click here.

Was Jeffrey Epstein Running a Blackmail Scheme Under Cover of a Hedge Fund? Who Were His Investors?

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photos: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Long before Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida more than a decade ago, his fellow Palm Beach resident and hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass was intrigued by the local gossip about his neighbor.

“I’m hearing about the parties, hearing about a guy who’s throwing money around,” says Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management. While stories about young girls swarming Epstein’s waterfront mansion and the sex parties he hosted for the rich and powerful were the talk of the town, Kass was more focused on how this obscure person, rumored to be managing billions of dollars, had become so wealthy without much of a track record.

Kass was well-connected on Wall Street, where he’d worked for decades, so he began to ask around. “I went to my institutional brokers, to their trading desks and asked if they ever traded with him. I did it a few times until the date when he was arrested,” he recalls. “Not one institutional trading desk, primary or secondary, had ever traded with Epstein’s firm.”

When a reporter came to interview Kass about Bernie Madoff shortly before that firm blew up in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, Kass told her, “There’s another guy who reminds me of Madoff that no one trades with.” That man was Jeffrey Epstein.

“How did he get the money?” Kass kept asking.

For decades, Epstein has been credulously described as a big-time hedge-fund manager and a billionaire, even though there’s not a lot of evidence that he is either. There appears little chance the public is going to get definitive answers anytime soon. In a July 11 letter to the New York federal judge overseeing Epstein’s sex-trafficking case, Epstein’s attorney offered to provide “sealed disclosures” about Epstein’s finances to determine the size of the bond he would need to post to secure his release from jail pending trial. His brother, Mark, and a friend even offered to chip in if necessary.

Naturally, this air of mystery has especially piqued the interest of real-life, non-pretend hedge-funders. If this guy wasn’t playing their game — and they seem pretty sure he was not — what game was he playing? Intelligencer spoke to several prominent hedge-fund managers to get a read on what their practiced eyes are detecting in all the new information that is coming to light about Epstein in the wake of his indictment by federal prosecutors in New York. Most saw signs of something unsavory at the heart of his business model.

To begin with, there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager. A fund manager who knows well how that kind of fortune is acquired notes, “It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly.” Epstein never made a peep in the financial world.

Epstein was also missing another key element of a typical thriving hedge fund: investors. Kass couldn’t find any beyond Epstein’s one well-publicized client, retail magnate Les Wexner — nor could other players in the hedge-fund world who undertook similar snooping. “I don’t know anyone who’s ever invested in him; he’s never talked about by any of the allocators,” says one billionaire hedge-fund manager, referring to firms that distribute large pools of money among various funds.

Epstein’s spotty professional history has also drawn a lot of attention in recent days, and Kass says it was one of the first things that raised his suspicions years ago. Now 66, Epstein didn’t come from money and never graduated from college, yet he landed a teaching job at a fancy private school (“unheard of,” says Kass) and rose through the ranks in the early 1980s at investment bank Bear Stearns. Within no time, Kass notes, Epstein was made a partner of the firm — and then was promptly and unceremoniously ousted. (Epstein reportedly left the firm following a minor securities violation.) Despite this “squishy work experience,” as Kass puts it, at some point after his quick exit, Epstein launched his own hedge fund, J. Epstein & Co., later renamed Financial Trust Co. Along the way, he began peddling the improbable narrative that he was so selective he would only work with billionaires.

Oddly, Epstein also claimed to do all the investing by himself while his 150 employees all worked in the back office — which Kass says reminds him of Madoff’s cover story. Though it now appears that Epstein had many fewer employees than he claimed, according to the New York Times:

Thomas Volscho, a sociology professor at the College of Staten Island who has been researching for a book on Mr. Epstein, recently obtained [a 2002 disclosure] form, which shows [Epstein’s] Financial Trust had $88 million in contributions from shareholders. In a court filing that year, Mr. Epstein said his firm had about 20 employees, far fewer than the 150 reported at the time by New York magazine.

Given this puzzling set of data points, the hedge-fund managers we spoke to leaned toward the theory that Epstein was running a blackmail scheme under the cover of a hedge fund.

How such a scheme could hypothetically work has been laid out in detail in a thread on the anonymous Twitter feed of @quantian1. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but in summary it is a rough blueprint for how a devious aspiring hedge-fund manager could blackmail rich people into investing with him without raising too many flags.

Kass and former hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson both emailed the thread around in investing circles and both quickly discovered that their colleagues found it quite convincing. “This actually sounds very plausible,” Tilson wrote in an email forwarding the thread to others.

“He somehow cajoled these guys to invest,” says Kass, speaking of hypothetical blackmailed investors who gave Epstein their money to invest, but managed to keep their names private.

The fact that Epstein’s fund is offshore in a tax haven — it is based in the U.S. Virgin Islands — and has a secret client list both add credence to the blackmail theory.

So what did Epstein do with the money he did have under his management, setting aside the questions of how he got it and how much he had? One hedge-fund manager speculates that Epstein could have just put the client money in an S&P 500 index fund, perhaps with a tax dodge thrown in. “I put in $100 million, I get the S&P 500 minus some fees,” he says, speaking of a theoretical client’s experience. Over the past few decades, the client would have “made a shitload” — as would Epstein. A structure like that wouldn’t have required trading desks or analysts or complex regulatory disclosures.

Kass has kicked around a similar idea: Maybe Epstein just put all the client money in U.S. treasuries — the simplest and safest investment there is, and the kind of thing one guy actually can do by himself.

If the blackmail theory sounds far-fetched, it’s worth keeping in mind that it was also floated by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. “Epstein … also got girls for Epstein’s friends and acquaintances. Epstein specifically told me that the reason for him doing this was so that they would ‘owe him,’ they would ‘be in his pocket,’ and he would ‘have something on them,’” she said in a court affidavit, according to the investigative series in the Miami Herald that brought the case back to the public’s attention late last year.

To continue reading click here.

Dealbreaker Nails It! The Platinum Partners’ Most Shocking Outcome

Least Shocking Hedge Fund Arrests Become Most Shocking Near-Exonerations

The Platinum Partners have beaten (most of) the rap.

Way back in the early days of the Platinum Partners scandal, a truly operatic adventure featuring alleged bribes paid via designer handbags, an FBI raid$1.17 billion in missing money, an alleged Ponzi scheme, and a succession of judges alternately bewildered and enraged, the latter due to some alleged witness and prosecutor intimidation, we mused: Wouldn’t it be funny if the thing that got Mark Nordlicht & co. in the end was the scuzzy if allegedly legitimate energy investments by which it made its name? Well, wouldn’t you know….

Mark Nordlicht, the founder of defunct hedge fund firm Platinum Partners, was found guilty on Tuesday of defrauding bondholders of an oil exploration company Platinum controlled, but cleared of charges he defrauded investors in Platinum’s hedge funds….

The three men were accused of lying to investors about the health and liquidity of the flagship Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage fund. Prosecutors said Platinum operated “like a Ponzi scheme” by using new money to fund redemptions by earlier investors, a practice referred to internally as “Hail Mary time.”

The jury, however, rejected those charges, finding all three men not guilty.

This is a truly shocking outcome, given the alleged bribe and all of that missing money and all of the things the Platinum execs did to avoid facing the music, from the aforementioned alleged witness intimidation to the alleged plan to spend the rest of their days safe from extradition in Israel, and also how relatively easy it is to win convictions on these sorts of things. And it could get yet more shocking still.

After the jury left, lawyers for Nordlicht and Levy moved to overturn the guilty verdicts. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan ordered them to file papers in support of their motions and said he might hold a hearing to consider them.

“It’s not over yet,” the judge said.

To continue on Dealbreaker click here.

Toxic Taxi Medallion Loans and Bribery Charges, Melrose Credit Union

CEO of credit union that made toxic taxi medallion loans charged with accepting bribes

The CEO of a now-shuttered credit union was charged Thursday with accepting bribes from a taxi mogul in exchange for refinancing over $60 million in loans — the latest sign of a crackdown on a predatory industry accused of driving some cabbies to suicide.

Alan Kaufman ran Melrose Credit Union, which was one of the largest lenders of taxi medallion loans until it was closed last year. Among its many clients was President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The new indictment appears to stem from charges brought by the watchdog National Credit Union Administration against Kaufman last year of unsafe business practices and “personal dishonesty.” Kaufman secretly took bribes from a taxi mogul, Tony Georgiton, as well as an unidentified media company, which sought more advertising from Melrose, according to the indictment.

The National Credit Union Administration’s charges identified the media company as CBS radio.

Both Kaufman and Georgiton face criminal charges for their alleged self-dealing,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Kaufman, 60, faces bribery charges that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He was released on $1 million bond. Georgiton, who has reportedly leased cabs to as many as 2,000 drivers through his company, Queens Medallion, also faces up to 30 years for alleged bribery of a financial institution officer. He was released on $500,000 bond.

The indictment claims that Kaufman lived rent-free for two years in Georgiton’s Long Island home starting in 2010. The following year he allegedly persuaded the credit union’s board to purchase the naming rights for a ballroom in Queens for $2 million. The “Melrose Ballroom” was owned by a company controlled by Georgiton, according to the indictment.

Meanwhile, Kaufman personally approved the refinancing of $60 million in loans to Georgiton’s company without disclosing its ties to Melrose’s board, according to the indictment.

To continue reading click here.

Epstein and Acosta… Acosta Resigns, Epstein’s Victims Still Entitled to Justice

Trump speaks after Labor Secretary Acosta resigns

Glencore, Human Rights, Gertler, Sanctions, the DRC and The Global Magnitsky Act’s Non-Enforcement

Where are Africa’s billions?

Photograph Credit: Transparency International

Who Oversees Enforcement of The Magnitsky Act and Dan Gertler’s Payments from Glencore Belie Enforcement

DISCLAIMER: The below Euractiv.com piece is an Opinion Post, republished in part without the permission of the author or the Euractiv.com Ltd. company and/or their website.

We are re-posting with links to the original.

This current interest comes at the heals of recent violence in the DRC: “The Congolese army has arrived at Glencore’s largest copper and cobalt mine following the deaths of over 40 informal miners on the site.” (The Financial Times) “The latest tragedy struck at a site owned by Kamoto Copper Company, a subsidiary of FTSE 100 giant Glencore. The company has reported incursions of up to 2,000 people a day on its giant mining concession, which, at 5,200 acres, is difficult to secure.” (The Telegraph)

For the purposes of the Global Magnitsky Act in the US, it is unclear within the context of the United States enforcement mechanisms who enforces the Global Magnitsky Act within the branches of US Government. The Sanctions against Dan Gertler, a former partner of Glencore, were issued by the Department of Treasury and Foreign Assets (OFAC); but Glencore’s announcements in 2018 that it would pay Gertler in a currency other than US Dollars to avoid triggering the sanctions or asset seizures was announced with a measure of glee in 2018. It would seem, therefore that even though the US has enacted the Global Magnitsky Act it lacks teeth or in the alternative, those with teeth are easily bought.

“Glencore said it believed payment of the royalties in a currency other than U.S. dollars to Africa Horizons Investments Limited and Ventora without the involvement of U.S. entities would address applicable sanctions obligations. It added it had discussed the matter “with the appropriate U.S. and Swiss government agencies”. [Reuters]

Based upon Glencore’s own comments, it would appear that they colluded with US and Swiss government agencies to avoid compliance, or rather to find loopholes in which payment would comply. Either way, this means that Gertler continues to get wealthier off the backs of the Congolese people and The Magnitsky Sanctions, intended to prevent exploitation of human rights are meaningless.

We believe that there is a connection to Gertler with high ranking officials in the United States government or with people who have the ear of US officials and with that, a means of guaranteeing that those who would be overseeing the sanctions simply look the other way.

We take the general position that the are no coincidences, everything is political and nearly everyone has a price. 

Continue reading

Jeffrey Epstein, Alex Acosta, Cutting the Budget for Trafficking Investigations and How Many Children at Risk?

Image result for ALEX ACOSTA AND EPSTEIN

VIDEO: https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2019-0711.mp4?start=3214.0

Alex Acosta Enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Crimes. Now He’s Gutting Funding for Trafficking Victims 

During a press conference Wednesday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta dismissed calls for his resignation and defended the 2008 plea deal given to the billionaire serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein while he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the office tasked with fighting child sex trafficking. Critics of the proposal argue it would effectively dismantle many programs aimed at preventing child sex trafficking and put large numbers of children at risk. We speak with Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is rejecting calls to resign and is defending his role in a 2008 plea deal given to the wealthy serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. At the time, Acosta was a U.S. prosecutor in Florida. The Miami Herald has described the plea deal as, quote, “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.”

AMY GOODMAN: Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for International Labor Affairs Bureau. Acosta was questioned when he held an almost hour news conference to justify the extremely lenient deal he made with Epstein back in 2008 when he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. But this is what he said when questioned about the budget around sex trafficking.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: As labor secretary, you’ve tried repeatedly to cut a program that deals with human trafficking in the Labor Department by up to 80%, going before Congress advocating for that. Why should people trust you to focus on human trafficking and protect victims, if you’ve done that? And I’d like a follow-up question.

LABOR SECRETARY ALEXANDER ACOSTA: So, you’re referring to grants that go to foreign countries, for foreign country labor-related work. As part of the budget every year, those grants have been removed, as have other grants for foreign countries. And let me just add, as part of the budget every year, those grants are put right back in by Congress. This is what happens in Washington. And I fully suspect that those grants will remain in this year.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Alex Acosta’s record, we’re joined now by Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

We’re not as much talking right now about the case of Jeffrey Epstein, which we talked about over the last few days, but this issue of his cutting of the budget. Can you explain what this means?

TAINA BIEN-AIMÉ: So, the Department of Labor has a bureau called ILAB, which is the International Labor Affairs Bureau. And their primary responsibility is to combat forced labor, child trafficking, both labor and sex trafficking, and human trafficking in general. So, what Secretary Acosta is saying, that it goes primarily—that this money goes primarily to international programs, is correct, but it also goes to domestic programs.

So, if he slashes—so, he has a budget of $68 million. What he is proposing is for the bureau, ILAB, to be reduced by 80%, to $18 million. Congress will fight him on that; the Appropriations Committee will fight him on that. But what it means is that we are faced with an administration that wants to reduce its efforts to this very complex human rights violation called human trafficking. So, it’s not just jeopardizing the work that we are doing to combat child sex trafficking, but also child labor trafficking. So, many of—the State Department also works on human trafficking and also provides services and programs to combat it, but they rely on DOL, on the Department of Labor, and specifically for child labor trafficking.

So, for instance, cocoa production, right? So, there are three major U.S. companies—Hershey, Mars and Nestlé—that cannot even—they committed to ensuring to the consumers that no child labor trafficking is involved in the production of cocoa. What will happen to those commitments? Right? We don’t even know whether they are fulfilling their commitments to ensure that whenever you buy a bag of M&M’s or Skittles, that that doesn’t involve child trafficking.

To continue reading click here.

The “Righteous” Rebbitzin, “Limitless Horrors”, “Where’s the Kid” – Yael’s Case and Human Trafficking

Baby Trafficking and Follow Up Commentary –

From the Times of Israel

2. Where’s the kid? And without stealing a baby, which is allegedly what a couple in New York did in a case that was cleared for publication on Wednesday.

  • According to court documents and media reports, the wife of a rabbi from northern Israel was under investigation for her suspected role in having a pregnant woman identified only as “Yael,” who because of an unspecified mental condition was placed under the woman’s care, fly to New York for what she was told was a medical procedure. Instead, she was taken to a local clinic with ties to the local ultra-Orthodox community, where her baby was delivered by C-section and given to a childless couple, who returned with it to Israel.

  • Police believe Yael’s case is not an isolated one, and is part of a human trafficking network that has been operating in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community for some time.

  • The case, called “where’s the kid,” was originally opened because of an expose in Yedioth, but gagged until the court responded to a request by the Walla news site to have the case files opened.

  • “I’ve seen a lot of bad cases and this is the worst. The worst of the worst,” an unnamed “professional” who is close to the case tells the news site.

  • Yedioth describes the case as “limitless horrors.”

  • Meanwhile, Maariv runs a headline quoting the lawyer for the rabbi’s wife calling her “righteous.” “There was no kidnapping,” the attorney is quoted saying.

Rebbetzin, Infant Trafficking, Child Abduction and Israel

REBBETZIN SUSPECTED OF INFANT TRAFFICKING

The affair of infant trafficking was revealed yesterday, after the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court partially lifted the gag order on the affair, which involved a rebbetzin from the northern region who served as guardian for a mentally ill Haredi girl who was at the time of advanced pregnancy.

Allegedly, the girl, with the assistance of the rebbetzin, was taken abroad and taken to a hiding place. After she gave birth to her baby, he was handed over to a foreign family.The main suspicion now is that the rebbetzin exceeded the “mandate” given to her by the court with regard to her guardianship, by smuggling her abroad and transferring her baby to strangers. Attorney Yali Shperling, who represents the suspected rabbi, was interviewed Thursday morning at the Army Radio and made it clear that his client denies any connection to the suspicions attributed to her.

“The Haredi girl was problematic. The rebbetzin was trying to help her and rehabilitate her. Bad people, and I say this gently, tried to get her to her nuclear family to take care of her. The rebbetzin, a virtuous and veritable woman, contacted the girl’s family in the United States, went with her there, and was with her at birth. It has nothing to do with adoption. In the United States, when there is someone who is mentally hurt, they take the child, she does not know about the adoption, and she has nothing to do with it.”

To continue reading click here.

“It has nothing to do with adoption and kidnapping. There was no kidnapping at all. There are things I can not talk about right now. The girl stayed in the US and returned only at a later stage. ” Yesterday it was reported that during the investigation it emerged that the adoptive parents were Israeli spouses from a well-to-do family, and the police believe that the rebbetzin reached them via intermediaries. The police and the State Prosecutor’s Office are still examining whether the case is being transferred to the criminal field, and this is also why in the last two years the affair was under a gag order.