Yeshiva World News

Rochester Officers Who Pepper-sprayed 9-year-old Suspended

The city of Rochester has suspended police officers seen in body-camera videos spraying a chemical “irritant” in the face of a distraught and handcuffed 9-year-old girl, officials announced Monday. The city did not specify how many officers were suspended. The suspensions will last at least until an internal police investigation is completed. The action was announced as community outrage swelled following the release of footage Sunday showing officers restraining and scolding the girl, who was screaming for her father. At one point, an officer is heard telling her to “stop acting like a child,” to which she cried, “I am a child.” Police said officers were responding to a report of “family trouble” Friday. The police body camera video shows numerous police cars and officers on the snowy scene. After being restrained on the ground, the girl, wearing flowered leggings and a black sweatshirt, asks, “Can you please get the snow off of me? It’s cold.” “You had your chance,” one officer tells her, while another shouts, “Get in the car now!” Mayor Lovely Warren met with the interim police chief, Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, before announcing the disciplinary action. “What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged all of our community,” Warren said in a statement. “Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday her office was “looking into” what happened. She called the incident “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable.” James last year empaneled a grand jury to investigate the actions of several Rochester police officers following the death of Daniel Prude. Prude died after officers responding to a call for help from his brother put a hood over the naked man’s head and pressed his face into the pavement. Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the officers’ actions in a statement issued Monday. “As a human, this incident is disturbing and as a father, it’s heartbreaking—this isn’t how the police should treat anyone, let alone a 9-year-old girl,” the statement said. “Rochester needs to reckon with a real police accountability problem, and this alarming incident demands a full investigation that sends a message this behavior won’t be tolerated,” he added. The New York Civil Liberties Union said Rochester police should no longer be involved in mental health crises. “There is no conceivable justification for the Rochester police to subject a 9-year-old to pepper spray, period,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said Monday. Also Monday, two Rochester state lawmakers, Sen. Samra Brouk and Assemblyman Demond Meeks, both Democrats, announced legislation to prohibit use of chemical agents against minors by police officers. “To see such horrific footage of the mistreatment of a little girl, no less, was simply unreal. We have to remember who we’re talking about here,” Brouk said during a video news conference. “This is a child. She’s in elementary school.” At a news conference Sunday, Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson described the girl as suicidal. She was eventually taken to Rochester General Hospital and later released to her family. The day after the incident, the police said the girl disobeyed commands to put her feet in the car. An officer was then “required” to spray an “irritant” in the handcuffed girl’s face, the department said. (AP)

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TEHILLIM: Israeli Toddler Born After 17 Yrs. Seriously Ill With COVID

A 15-month-old born to Chabad residents of Tzfat after 17 years of waiting is hospitalized in serious condition and has been sedated and ventilated after contracting the coronavirus. The toddler tested positive for the coronavirus last week and after her condition deteriorated, she was hospitalized on Friday in serious condition. On Sunday, she suffered a further deterioration in her condition and she was sedated and ventilated. The public is asked to urgently daven for the refuah of Ayala bas Chana Natalie Chantelle b’toch sha’ar cholei Yisrael. On Motzei Shabbos, a two-month-old baby from a family in Beitar that was born with medical issues and subsequently contracted the coronavirus passed away. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Biden Meets Republicans As Democrats Push On For Virus Aid

President Joe Biden met late Monday with a group of Republican senators who have proposed a slimmed down $618 billion coronavirus aid package — a fraction of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking — as congressional Democrats vowed to push ahead with or without GOP support. Biden greeted the lawmakers in the Oval Office, joking that he felt like he was “back in the Senate” as they started the private session. He and Vice President Kamala Harris were hearing the Republicans’ pitch for a smaller, more targeted COVID relief package that would do away with Democratic priorities but could win GOP support and appeal to his effort to unify the country. MOMENTS AGO: President Biden, Vice President Harris meet with Republican Senators at The White House. "I'm anxious to talk," Biden says. "I feel like I'm back in the Senate…" pic.twitter.com/OuV5u9DszG — Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 1, 2021 The Republican group’s proposal taps into bipartisan urgency to shore up the nation’s vaccine distribution and vastly expand virus testing with $160 billion in aid, similar to what Biden has proposed. But from there, the two plans drastically diverge. Less focused on economic aid, the GOP’s $1,000 direct payments would go to fewer households than the $1,400 Biden has proposed, and the Republicans offer only a fraction of what he wants to re-open schools. They also would give nothing to states, money that Democrats argue is just as important, with $350 billion in Biden’s plan to keep police, fire and other workers on the job. Gone are Democratic priorities such as a gradual lifting of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Engaging the White House in high-profile bipartisan talks comes House and Senate Democrats announced they would push ahead, laying the groundwork for approving Biden’s package with a process that won’t depend on Republican support for passage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that history is filled with “the costs of small thinking.” “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now,” he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement. The goal is for approval of COVID relief by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. The overture from the coalition of 10 GOP senators, mostly centrists, is an attempt to show that at least some in the Republican ranks want to work with Biden’s new administration, rather than simply operating as the opposition in the minority in Congress. But Democrats are wary of using too much time courting GOP support that may not materialize or delivering too meager a package as they believe happened during the 2009 recovery. The accelerating talks came as the Congressional Budget Office delivered mixed economic forecasts Monday with robust growth expected at a 4.5% annual rate but employment rates not to return to pre-pandemic levels for several years. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there is “obviously a big gap” between the $1.9 trillion package Biden has proposed and the $618 billion counteroffer. Psaki said Monday that the meeting with Republican lawmakers would be an “exchange of ideas” but Biden would reiterate his stance that “the risk is not that it is too big, this package, the risk is that it is too small.” An invitation to the GOP senators to meet […]

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From Sorrow to Joy, Misaskim and Hatzolah Air Join Forces to Brave the Snow

(By: Sandy Eller) A crippling Nor’easter that blanketed the greater New York City area in snow and had states of emergency declared in both New York and New Jersey was no match for the chesed of Klal Yisroel, as Misaskim and Hatzolah Air worked together to deal with some rather unusual circumstances as the mammoth winter storm raged on. The events began Sunday night in tragedy, when 70 year old Shulem Friedman of Boro Park passed away unexpectedly while vacationing in South Florida with his wife and grandchildren. With a punishing two day storm just beginning to wreak havoc in New York and New Jersey, and the majority of flights coming in and out of JFK, Newark and LaGuardia cancelled, arranging kevurah in Kiryas Joel was far from simple. The Jewish community’s well oiled chesed machine swung into action, with Eli Rowe of Hatzolah Air volunteering to fly the niftar home from Fort Lauderdale. It took hours to find an airport that could accommodate the flight and was also within driving distance of New York, and after considering locations in both Washington D.C. and Virginia, a plan was finally put in place to land in Atlantic City Airport late Monday morning, where the slightly warmer temperatures had the precipitation hitting the ground as rain, not snow. Arrangements coordinated by Misaskim had volunteers from Lakewood picking up the niftar and several accompanying family members at the Atlantic City airport and bringing them to a Misaskim team from Brooklyn who were waiting for them at the Eatontown exit on the Garden State Parkway. From there, the family members and the niftar were taken to the Cheesequake Service Area where a small levayah was held before the entire group was driven by Misaskim volunteers from Kiryas Joel to Orange County for kevurah. The trip in treacherous weather didn’t go exactly as planned. Icy conditions on the Garden State Parkway had the Lakewood Misaskim team transporting the niftar skidding across four lanes of the highway, while a Misaskim vehicle from Brooklyn traveling to the meeting point slid off the road and went down an embankment. Thankfully, no one was hurt in either of the two incidents and Mr. Friedman was brought to kever yisroel without any further incident. And yet the tragedy brought with it an opportunity for true simcha. When word got out that Misaskim volunteers from Lakewood and Brooklyn would be meeting on the Garden State Parkway, a request came in for several Flatbush boys to be driven to Deal so that they could attend their brother’s wedding, taking place just hours later. Ironically, the chosson and his siblings were no strangers to Misaskim, becoming part of Misaskim’s Project Yedid this past year after losing their father to COVID. Misaskim founder and CEO Yanky Meyer noted that the idea that Mr. Friedman was brought from Florida to kever yisroel in Kiryas Joel within 24 hours, during a massive snowstorm, while a chosson and kallah were able to start building their bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel with their siblings present was truly remarkable and a testament to the dedication of everyone involved. “Whatever it is and whenever it happens, we are all here to help,” said Meyer. “Seeing volunteers coming out in this kind of weather on behalf of people they never even met to […]

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Israel Extends Lockdown Until Friday, Skies To Remain Closed For Another Week

Israel’s cabinet voted shortly before midnight on Sunday night to extend the nationwide lockdown until Friday morning at 7 a.m. and extend the closure of Ben-Gurion Airport until Sunday. The decision comes as Israel continues to grapple with a still-high morbidity and mortality rate from the UK coronavirus variant. Also at the meeting, a committee was established to facilitate the operation of rescue flights for Israeli stranded abroad. The committee will be responsible for evaluating exemption requests from Israelis seeking to return home for humanitarian reasons. Finally, the cabinet voted to reimpose mandatory quarantine in state-run hotels for those allowed to enter the country during the closure. The cabinet is scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday to discuss whether the restrictions should be further extended. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Pandemic’s Deadliest Month In US Ends With Signs Of Progress

The deadliest month yet of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. drew to a close with certain signs of progress: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are plummeting, while vaccinations are picking up speed. The question is whether the nation can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus. The U.S. death toll has climbed past 440,000, with over 95,000 lives lost in January alone. Deaths are running at about 3,150 per day on average, down slightly by about 200 from their peak in mid-January. But as the calendar turned to February on Monday, the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 fell below 100,000 for the first time in two months. New cases of infection are averaging about 148,000 day, falling from almost a quarter-million in mid-January. And cases are trending downward in all 50 states. “While the recent decline in cases and hospital admissions are encouraging, they are counterbalanced by the stark reality that in January we recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in any month since the pandemic began,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths do not move in perfect lockstep up or down with the infection curve. They are a lagging indicator, because it can take a few weeks for people to get sick and die from COVID-19. Dr. Philip Landrigan, an epidemiologist at Boston College, said vaccines are a factor in the sharp drop in cases but are not the primary cause. Instead, he said, the crisis has become increasingly “depoliticized” in recent weeks as more people come to grips with the threat and how they can help slow the spread of the virus. “I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of this culture change. I think it’s critically important,” he said. After a slow start, the vaccination drive that began in mid-December is picking up the pace. More than 32.2 million doses have been administered in the U.S., according to the CDC. That is up from 16.5 million on the day President Joe Biden took office, Jan. 20. The number of shots dispensed in the week and a half since Biden’s inauguration has been running at around 1.3 million per day on average, well over the president’s oft-stated goal of 1 million per day. More than 5.9 million Americans have received the required two doses, the CDC said. However, the CDC reported Monday that many nursing home workers are not getting their shots when doses are first offered. Researchers looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and other such facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between mid-December and mid-January. While 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did. Surveys suggest some nursing home workers are skeptical of the shots’ effectiveness and don’t think viruses spread easily from them to the people they care for. Three mutated variants of the virus from Britain, South Africa and Brazil have been detected in the U.S. The British one spreads more easily and is believed to be deadlier, but the South Africa one is prompting even more concern because of early indications that vaccines may not be as protective against it. The more the virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate. Walensky urged Americans to get vaccinated as […]

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Republican Tenney Leads In Last Undecided US House Race

Former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney appeared on the verge of recapturing her old seat in Congress as election officials finished counting ballots Monday in the nation’s last undecided U.S. House race. Tenney, a central New York Republican, began the day with a 122-vote lead over U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, according to unofficial vote totals from both campaigns. Brindisi was the Democrat who ousted Tenney from office in 2018. The official final tally was not due to be reported until Tuesday, and Brindisi still has legal challenges pending, but a last round of ballot counting done before a state judge Monday didn’t involve enough votes to shake Tenney’s lead. County elections officials and campaign lawyers huddled around a square table in the Oswego County Courthouse as 54 ballots were counted. Mask-wearing lawyers for the candidates peered at the ballots and took notes as an official opened up ballots and held them up for all to see. Public access to the courtroom was restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. While the proceedings were streamed to computer terminals in other courtrooms around the state, it was often unclear which votes went to which candidates. Election officials and lawyers muffled by masks discussed some results and not others. In a brief tweet, Tenney said her lead had expanded by four more votes. Brindisi’s campaign said it would fight on. “The margin in this case has been a moving target for nearly three months, but even now, with the margin as large as it has ever been, it is still infinitesimally small,” Brindisi’s campaign said in a court filing Monday. The campaign asked Monday for an audit to help determine whether there should be a recount of all 325,000 ballots, though it wasn’t clear whether there were legal grounds for such a motion to be granted. Oswego County Supreme Court Judge Scott DelConte, who has been overseeing litigation in the race, said Friday the court can’t order a new election or direct a recount. Such recounts, even when granted, rarely change election results. The seat representing New York’s 22nd Congressional District is empty for now, leaving residents without representation. Tenney has maintained a small lead in the race even as months of litigation revealed problems with ballots that either weren’t counted properly, or were improperly rejected. The race is the nation’s most drawn out federal contest this year and is among the closest Congressional races in the past two decades. In December, Iowa Democrat Rita Hart asked the U.S. House to investigate and overturn the race that Iowa says she lost to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by six votes. Brindisi’s attorneys are now challenging the accuracy of machine counts of votes in the election, pointing to what they said were small discrepancies between hand counts of ballots done by election officials’ and counts done by automated scanners. “In this case, there is reason to believe that voting tabulation machines misread hundreds if not thousands of valid votes as undervotes, and that these tabulation machine errors disproportionately affected Brindisi,” the candidate’s lawyers said in Monday filings. Leo Glickman, an election lawyer who isn’t involved in the dispute, said ballot scanners are accurate in general. “It’s rare to see a major discrepancy,” he said. “Every now and then you might see one just because of the way a […]

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7:30PM NEWS: NYC Area To Get Another Few Inches, Strong Winds; See How To Track The Plows

Central Park has seen more than 18 inches accumulate by 7 p.m. (including 8 inches in just six hours), making this nor’easter one of the top 10 snowstorms in New York City history. But WCBS Chief Meteorologist Craig Allen says even though it looks like the storm is over, more snow is actually on the way. Allen says the heaviest pounding of snow is winding down, but it will continue through Tuesday. Several areas will still get a couple of more inches. Strong 40-50MPH winds are expected through the night, and power outages can be expected in various locations. Snow drifts of 2-4′ can be expected. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 snowplows were out in full force Monday, trying to keep New York City roads clear. New Yorkers can track the progress of the city’s snowplows, and even see when the last time their street was cleared via an interactive map. See when your street was last plowed and salted by visiting, plownyc.cityofnewyork.us/plownyc/. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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“A Race Against Death:” 1,433 Israelis Died In Jan., 1/3 Of All Virus Deaths

Israel confirmed 5,140 new coronavirus cases on Monday morning, with tests showing a still alarmingly high positivity rate of 9.7%. There are currently 68,331 active virus cases, with 1,839 virus patients hospitalized, of whom 1,140 are seriously ill, 390 are critically ill, and 315 are ventilated. The death rate has risen to 4,796, with 1,433 deaths confirmed in the past month alone – one-third of all virus fatalities since the start of the pandemic. There are 167 seriously ill patients in their 50s, 99 patients in their 40s, 50 patients in their 30s, and 20 seriously ill patients in their 20s. Additionally, there are two teenagers and four children who are seriously ill from the virus. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at Israel’s cabinet meeting on Sunday night, during which the lockdown was extended for four more days, that “Israel is in a race against the death” and extending the lockdown is vital in order to allow more Israelis to get vaccinated. Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of the Health Ministry’s Public Health division, told ministers at the cabinet meeting on Sunday evening that about 40% of Israel’s current coronavirus cases are among children and teenagers. Alroy-Preis added that the number of patients aged 40 to 60 on ventilators has increased six-fold in recent days and that 25 Israelis under the age of 40 are attached to ECMO machines and 17 are attached to ventilators. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Secretary Of State Blinken: “Iran Could Be Weeks Away From A Nuclear Bomb”

Iran could be weeks away from amassing enough material to develop nuclear weapons if it continues to violate the 2015 nuclear deal, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in an interview with NBC News broadcast on Monday. The television interview, Blinken’s first since being confirmed by the Senate, followed confirmation from the White House that former Obama national security aide Rob Malley was appointed as the US envoy to Iran, a move that angered Israel supporters due to Malley’s reputation as being tough on Israel and soft on Iran. Iran said over the weekend that it would not agree to any changes in the conditions or parties of the 2015 deal following remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron that new talks should include Saudi Arabia. “The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that is non-negotiable, and parties to it are clear and unchangeable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Iranian state media. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Report: Hate Groups In Decline, Migrate To Online Networks

During one of the most politically divisive years in recent memory, the number of active hate groups in the U.S. actually declined as far-right extremists migrated further to online networks, reflecting a splintering of white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that are more difficult to track. In its annual report, to be released Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it identified 838 active hate groups operating across the U.S. in 2020. That’s a decrease from the 940 documented in 2019 and the record-high of 1,020 in 2018, said the law center, which tracks racism, xenophobia and anti-government militias. “It is important to understand that the number of hate groups is merely one metric for measuring the level of hate and racism in America, and that the decline in groups should not be interpreted as a reduction in bigoted beliefs and actions motivated by hate,” said the report, first shared exclusively with The Associated Press. The Montgomery, Alabama-based law center said many hate groups have moved to social media platforms and use of encrypted apps, while others have been banned altogether from mainstream social media networks. Still, the law center said, online platforms allow individuals to interact with hate and anti-government groups without becoming members, maintain connections with likeminded people, and take part in real-world actions, such as last month’s siege on the U.S. Capitol. White nationalist organizations, a subset of the hate groups listed in the report, declined last year by more than 100. Those groups had seen huge growth the previous two years after being energized by Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency, the report said. The number of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ hate groups remained largely stable, while their in-person organizing was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Bottom line, the levels of hate and bigotry in America have not diminished, said SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang. “What’s important is that we start to reckon with all the reasons why those groups have persisted for so long and been able to get so much influence in the last White House, that they actually feel emboldened,” Huang told the AP. Last month, as President Joe Biden’s administration began settling in, the Department of Homeland Security issued an early national terrorism bulletin in response to a growing threat from home-grown extremists, including anti-government militias and white supremacists. The extremists are coalescing under a broader, more loosely affiliated movement of people who reject democratic institutions and multiculturalism, Huang said. The SPLC’s report comes out nearly a month after a mostly white mob of Trump supporters and members of far-right groups violently breached the U.S. Capitol building. At least five deaths have been linked to the assault, including a Capitol police officer. Some in the mob waved Confederate battle flags and wore clothing with neo-Nazi symbolism. Federal authorities have made more than 160 arrests and sought hundreds more for criminal charges related to the deadly Jan. 6 assault. Authorities have also linked roughly 30 defendants to a group or movement, according to an AP review of court records. That includes seven defendants linked to QAnon, a once-fringe internet conspiracy movement that recently grew into a powerful force in mainstream conservative politics; six linked to the Proud Boys, a misogynistic, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic group with ties to white supremacism; four linked to the Oath […]

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Alan Dershowitz Nominates Kushner, Berkowitz, Friedman For Nobel Prize

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, former Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and former Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer were nominated on Sunday for a Nobel Prize by famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Reuters reported. The four were nominated for their roles in negotiating the Abraham Accords peace deals between Israel and four Muslim countries: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. Dershowitz, who is eligible to make the nominations in his capacity as a professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, wrote in his nomination letter: “These Accords, which have brought about normalization between Israel and several Sunni Arab nations, fulfill all the criteria for the prize.” “They hold the promise of an even broader peace in the Middle East between Israel, the Palestinians and other Arab nations. They are a giant step forward in bringing peace and stability to the region, and even to the world.” Dershowitz continued that he wants to “emphasize the enormous contributions to peace made by Jared Kushner, Avrahm Berkowitz, David Friedman and Ron Dermer…these men played especially important roles. Kushner and Berkowitz traveled all over the region, meeting with leaders and their associates, advocating for peace and nailing down all the details.” Former US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were also nominated for a Nobel Prize for their role in fostering the Abraham Accords. In November, an article in The New York Times questioned the worthiness of past Nobel Peace Prize recipients, including former President Barack Obama and Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzchak Rabin. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Kosovo, Israel Establish Diplomatic Ties

Kosovo and Israel formally established diplomatic ties on Monday in a ceremony held digitally due to the pandemic lockdown. Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla and her Israeli counterpart, Gabriel Ashkenazi, held a virtual ceremony to sign the documents in their respective capitals. “Today we are making history. We are establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Kosovo,” said Ashkenazi. 1/3Minister @MelizaHaradinaj and I just signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Kosovo and Israel and we unveiled the sign that will hang at the entrance to the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. pic.twitter.com/cj2F4TAb2r — גבי אשכנזי – Gabi Ashkenazi (@Gabi_Ashkenazi) February 1, 2021 3/3care for Jewish cemeteries and the opening of a Jewish cultural center this year. I thank the United States for its efforts to promote peace, and Israel's relations with countries with which we have not had diplomatic relations until recently. pic.twitter.com/CslmdbkiVn — גבי אשכנזי – Gabi Ashkenazi (@Gabi_Ashkenazi) February 1, 2021 “We mark a new chapter in the historical bond between our countries,” Haradinaj-Stublla responded in her speech. The decision on mutual recognition between Kosovo and Israel was achieved last September as part of a summit at the White House when Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic agreed to normalize economic ties in the presence of then-President Donald Trump. Both Pristina and Jerusalem thanked Washington for its efforts to bridge the establishment of diplomatic ties. At the summit, Belgrade also agreed to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, something it hasn’t done so far. Ashkenazi said “Israel wants a stable Balkans,” adding that, “I consider Serbia as a close and significant partner in the Balkans.” The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the U.S. embassy there in May 2018. Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after a U.S.-led 78-day NATO airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not. Israel becomes the 117th country to recognize Kosovo, according to Haradinaj-Stublla. (AP)

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Nintendo Profits Soar As People Play Games During Pandemic

Nintendo Co. reported Monday that its profit for the first three fiscal quarters nearly doubled as people around the world stayed home for the pandemic and turned to playing games. The Japanese video-game maker behind the Super Mario and Pokemon franchises said its April-December profit surged to 376.6 billion yen ($3.6 billion) from 196 billion yen the previous year. Its nine-month sales jumped 37% to 1.4 trillion yen ($13 billion). Kyoto-based Nintendo’s success has come on the back of the popularity of its Switch console, as well as game software like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” Other Switch software enjoying healthy demand included “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Super Mario 3D All-Stars,” according to the company. The October-December quarter is always crucial for Nintendo because of year-end holiday shopping. Nintendo sold 24 million Switch consoles during the three quarters through December. It had sold 12.5 million Switch devices during the first two quarters of the fiscal year, and so sales nearly doubled in the latest quarter. The total numbers include the smaller Switch Lite console, as well as the regular Switch. The latest numbers show Switch sales are still going strong, compared to the same period a year earlier, at 17.7 million units. After this fourth year of holiday season Switch sales, cumulative sales total 74 million consoles, Nintendo said. Nintendo expects a 400 billion yen ($3.8 billion) profit for the fiscal year through March 2021, up from 258.6 billion yen the previous fiscal year. It had earlier forecast a profit of 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion). One COVID-19-related setback for Nintendo has been the delayed opening of its theme park in Japan called Super Nintendo World, built with Universal Studios. It had been set to open Feb. 4, but Osaka, where it is located, is one of the urban areas under a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge in Japan this year. Although the spread of COVID-19 infections has slammed many businesses, the game sector has, from the start, been a beneficiary, offering home entertainment and ways for people to connect remotely through online games. (AP)

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Kashrus Conundrums: A Potpourri of Other Kashrus Shailos You Always Wanted to Know About

Steamers, ovens, and hotel breakfasts…In this sixth and final episode of Ben Yomo, Rabbi Holland and his Star-K colleagues address these topics plus a few more, answering common questions and dispelling myths.  Can I avoid covering my countertops for Pesach by kashering them with a steamer? Is it possible to use one oven for both milchigs and fleishigs? What can I eat at a non-kosher hotel’s breakfast buffet? Listen up to find out the answers to these queries you always wondered about, with a full discussion of the whys and hows of all these topics:  Watch a fascinating demo of how Star-K have tested countless steamers to determine whether or not they can be used for kashering.Learn how to handle common dilemmas that you’ll be faced with at a non-kosher hotel buffet- including waffles, cereal, and fresh fruit. This info is sure to come in handy! With Rabbi Holland and Rabbi Tendler’s guidance, next time you find yourself at a tantalizing breakfast buffet, you’ll know just what to do to ascertain what you can eat. Hear from Rabbi Moshe Heineman, shlita, about the issues of steam in ovens- from the brick oven the Shulchan Aruch refers to, to the ovens of our modern-day kitchens. Don’t miss this last episode of the Ben Yomo series- packed with information, answers and tips that are sure to come in handy….Watch it with your wife, show it to your kids and share it with your friends.  Let your learning come to life with the help of Ki Heim Chayeinu; enjoy Torah and halacha as the highlight of your day! E6: Kashrus Conundrums:  Click Here to WATCH NOW! For the rest of the series, click here Ben Yomo is a project of Ki Heim Chayeinu, one of the Agudah initiative spearheaded by the Novominsker Rebbe zt’’l, to assist and encourage Daf learners and many others across the globe to bring their learning to life and make it the center of their day.   Enjoyed the Ben Yomo series? Share this with a friend and let them enjoy it too!

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Court Fines Navalny’s Wife After Protests In Moscow

A Moscow court on Monday has ordered the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to pay a fine of 20,000 rubles (about $265) for violating protest regulations after she attended a demonstration in the Russian capital to demand his release. Tens of thousands took to the streets in dozens of Russian cities on Sunday, chanting slogans against Russian President Vladimir Putin and demanding that authorities free Navalny, who was jailed last month and faces a prison term. His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, joined a protest in Moscow that took place despite unprecedented security measures that city authorities took ahead of the rally. She was quickly detained and charged with participating in an unauthorized rally. A court on Monday ordered Navalnaya to pay a fine, her lawyer Svetlana Davydova told the Interfax news agency. Davydova said the defense plans to appeal the ruling. In the largest outpouring of discontent Russia had seen in years, mass protests engulfed dozens of Russian cities for the second weekend in a row despite efforts by Russian authorities to stifle the unrest triggered by the jailing of 44-year-old Navalny, the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. Navalny was arrested Jan. 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusations. He faces a prison term for alleged probation violations from a 2014 money-laundering conviction which has been widely seen as politically motivated. Russian authorities cracked down hard on the demonstrators Sunday, detaining over 5,400 people across the country, according to OVD-Info, a legal aid group that monitors arrests at protests. The group said it was the most in its nine-year history of keeping records in the Putin era. (AP)

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Biden Floods The Zone With Decrees Like An Ancient King

Modern American presidents have found that a good way to get off to a fast start in office is to issue decrees like an ancient king. With a pen as their scepter, they “hereby proclaim.” They “order,” “direct,” “revoke” and ”declare,” rendering commandments in regal language drawn from the deep past. President Joe Biden is flooding the zone with them, achieving head-snapping changes in national policy that he would have no hope of getting from Congress quickly, if at all. Easy come, though, can also mean easy go. As President Donald Trump discovered with his hard-charging and often ill-fated executive actions, courts can be quick to shoot them down. Congress can effectively override them and at most they’re only good until a contrarian president takes over and whipsaws off in another direction again. Can transgender troops have a life in the armed forces? Not openly under Trump. Under Biden, yes they can. Under who comes next, who knows? For now, though, the lumbering government is seeing change at light speed. In Biden’s opening days, he put the U.S. back into the Paris climate accord, ended Trump’s restrictions on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, froze further construction of Trump’s border wall, protected immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and reversed Trump’s rollback of energy efficiency and pollution standards. That’s just a sampling. Altogether, Biden has brought a transformation both in tone and substance in the earliest days of his presidency. Twitter is a dead zone now for seeing what’s on a president’s mind in the moment. Things are being heard from the Oval Office that are foreign to our ears in recent times: “Correct me if I’m wrong.” “How can I say it politely?” “I misspoke.” Wearing a mask is mandated on federal property and encouraged everywhere; meantime the gags have come off the government’s top public health scientists. But Biden’s expressions of humility and his common courtesies only go so far. When it comes to dismantling a predecessor’s legacy with the stroke of a pen and the words “I have hereunto set my hand,” Biden is off to a fierce start and, like many before him, testing the limits of what a president can do by decree. “A lot of what he has done has been unwinding what Trump had done,” said Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist and expert on presidential powers and executive actions. “Virtually all presidents push the envelope and do things that expand the scope of executive authority.” President Barack Obama struck a multinational nuclear deal with Iran and shaped and joined the Paris accord without Congress signing on, using the recognized authority of presidents to make international deals but leaving those moves vulnerable without the assent of lawmakers. Trump withdrew the U.S. from both. Unable to get Congress to pass immigration legislation, Obama unilaterally shielded young immigrants from deportation, leaving nothing in law to guarantee their protections would last. For most of his first year in office, until his tax cuts passed in late 2017, Trump chalked up no major legislative achievements despite having Republican control of Congress at the time. He did not score many big wins in law after, either, beyond budget agreements. But he was relentless with executive actions. “Every president looks for those opportunities,” Mayer […]

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Simpsons Jewelers Launches Yearly Mega Sales ‘Gardens of Versailles’ Event

In 1959, a modest jewelry store opened with just 350 square feet of retail space under the name Simpson Jewelers. Since then, this family-run business has grown by leaps and bounds, as they’ve built a much-deserved reputation for their honesty, patience, and personal care. Now, over 60 years from founding, Simpson Jewelers is known as the go-to jewelry store for those looking for great value, unique masterpieces, and outstanding craftsmanship. It’s a place where every piece is truly a treasure.   Simpson associates and the SImpson family themselves travel the world each season to manufacture and source the newest and finest jewelry and luxury watches available. As a result, clients and jewelers alike have come to expect a novel experience every time they visit. Their Brooklyn, New York-based storefront occupies an eye-popping 6,000 sq. feet and boasts an unmatched showroom of timeless classics, as well as exclusive one of a kind creations made in-house by their skilled artists. But the crown jewel (so to speak) is their yearly mega sales event. This year the theme is Gardens of Versailles. This mega 4-day event will be held with covid precautions and will run from February 6th to the 9th. Stop in to marvel at the gorgeous themed decor, enjoy the delicious food and drinks from Compliments catering, and meet guest designer Zydo. But most importantly, enjoy the year’s most significant reductions on their beautiful jewelry and watches.  As the team at Simpson Jewelers says, get ready to dress up for our markdowns. For more information, go to simpsonjewelers.com or Instagram.com/simpsonjewelers

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As California Virus Cases Fall, More People Than Ever Dying

As a hospice nurse, Antonio Espinoza worked to ease people’s passage into death. Just 36 years old, it seemed unlikely he soon would be on that journey. But when the unpredictable coronavirus hit Espinoza, he spiraled from fever to chills to labored breathing that sent him to a Southern California hospital, where he died Monday, a little more than a week after being admitted. Espinoza is among the latest to succumb in what has become California’s deadliest surge. An average of 544 people died every day in the last week, and on Saturday the state reached the grim milestone of 40,000 deaths overall, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In barely a year since the virus was first detected in the state, 1 in 1,000 Californians have died from it. Espinoza’s wife, Nancy, watched through a glass window in the hospital as her husband took his last breaths, then was allowed in the room to be with him. She’s now figuring out what to do next and how she’ll raise their 3-year-old son alone. “I just had so much faith,” said Nancy Espinoza, who by cruel coincidence lives in a city named Corona. “Never in my mind would it have crossed me that it would be this serious, even though we hear about it all the time.” The victims of COVID-19 have been young and old, though mostly older. Some were fit and healthy, many more had a medley of underlying medical conditions. California’s death toll has climbed rapidly since the worst surge of the pandemic started in mid-October. New cases and hospitalizations surged to record highs but have declined rapidly in the last two weeks. Deaths remain staggeringly high, however, with more than 3,800 in the last week. It took six months for California to record its first 10,000 deaths, then four months to double to 20,000. In just five more weeks the state reached 30,000. It then took only 20 days to get to 40,000. Now only New York has more deaths — fatalities there have topped 43,000 — but at this pace California will eclipse that too. For much of the year, California was a model for how to control the virus. It issued the first statewide shutdown last March and has imposed an ever-changing number of restrictions that have frustrated business owners but that state officials insist have saved lives. Cases fell after a peak in July, then started climbing again in the fall. Gov. Gavin Newsom activated what he called the “emergency brake” on Nov. 16 to halt reopening the state’s economy, keeping most public schools closed, barring indoor church services and limiting the number of customers in stores. But the coronavirus already was barreling along like a runaway train. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s looming, public health officials warned people not to gather with those outside their homes. Still, hospitalizations skyrocketed and on Dec. 3, Newsom issued a stay-home order that divided the state into five regions and required more businesses to close or reduce capacity if their region’s intensive care units fell to 15% capacity. Four regions with 98% of the state’s population reached that level. Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley regions were hardest hit, with some hospitals treating patients in hallways, cafeterias and gift shops. In Los […]

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