Yeshiva World News

Video Of Pelosi Brings Renewed Attention To ‘Cheapfakes’

The issue of misleading political messages on social media has arisen again, as President Donald Trump tweeted an edited video showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly tearing up his State of the Union speech as he honored audience members and showed a military family reuniting. Pelosi did tear the pages of her copy of the speech — but only after it was finished, and not throughout the address, as the video depicts. Pelosi’s office asked Twitter and Facebook to take down the video. Both services refused, saying it does not violate their policies intended to prohibit intentionally deceptive videos. Researchers worry the video’s “selective editing” could mislead people if social media companies don’t step in and properly label or regulate similar videos. And with the proliferation of smartphones equipped with easy-to-use editing tools, the altered videos are simple to make and could multiply as the election approaches. HOW LONG HAS DOCTORED CONTENT BEEN AN ISSUE? Political campaign ads and candidate messages showing opponents in a negative light have long been a staple of American politics. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams attacked each other in newspaper ads. John F. Kennedy’s campaign debuted an ad showing different videos edited together of Richard Nixon sweating and looking weak. So, to some extent, the video of Pelosi, which appears to be created by a group affiliated with conservative organization Turning Point USA, is not novel. What’s different now, said Clifford Lampe, a professor of information at the University of Michigan, is how widely such content can spread in a matter of minutes. “The difference now is that the campaigns themselves, the president of U.S. himself, is able to disseminate these pieces of media to the public,” he said. “They no longer have to collaborate with media outlets.” The Pelosi team has pushed back against doctored online content in the past. A video released last year was slowed down to make it seem the speaker was slurring her words. WHAT POLICIES FROM SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES GOVERN THESE VIDEOS? Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been emphasizing their efforts to cut down on disinformation on their services, hoping to avoid some of the backlash generated by rampant misinformation on social media during the 2016 election. But the video of Pelosi does not violate existing policies, both Twitter and Facebook said. Facebook has rules that prohibit so-called “deepfake” videos, which the company says are both misleading and use artificial intelligence technology to make it seem like someone authentically “said words that they did not actually say.” Researchers say the Pelosi video is an example of a “cheapfake” video, one that has been altered but not with sophisticated AI like in a deepfake. Cheapfakes are much easier to create and are more prevalent than deepfakes, which have yet to really take off, said Samuel Woolley, director of propaganda research at the Center for Media Engagement at University of Texas. That editing is “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people,” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted on Friday. He condemned Facebook and Twitter for allowing the video to stay up on the social media services. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone replied to Hammill on Twitter saying, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?” In an […]

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BDE: Renowned Teimani Rav Who Fell Ill From Mosquito Bite In Paraguay Passes Away In Israel

Mourning engulfed the city of Afula as news was heard of the death of Rav Uziel Yitzchaki, z’tl, a Teimani Rav in the city who served as a mohel and a shochet. Rav Yitzchaki, 66, who served as one of the leading shochtim in Paraguay for the Israeli Rabbanut for many years, fell ill after being bitten by a mosquito in the South American country about two weeks ago. According to his family, the mosquito carried a disease that caused the Rav to develop a lung infection which eventually killed him. He was hospitalized in Paraguay and his family flew there to sit by his bedside, communicating with the medical staff through an interpreter. The Rav was flown to Israel in very serious condition and was hospitalized in the ICU of Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva. Unfortunately, he passed away on Sunday as he was undergoing emergency surgery. Rav Yitzchaki served as the gabbai of the Beis Yisrael Etz Chaim shul in Afula and was known as a man of chessed, who was marbitz Torah and established many talmidim. He also was zocheh to be the mohel for thousands of children. He was respected by everyone who knew him as someone who greeted everyone with sever panim yafos. Those who knew describe him a noble man who lived all his life with such a strong sense of emunah and bitachon in Hakadosh Baruch that he radiated that sense to everyone who knew him, in some cases causing people to do teshuvah. One of his talmidim told B’Chadrei Chareidim: “He was an adam gadol in chizuk and dikduk and halacha. Many praised him for establishing the minhagim of the Teimanim precisely according to Teimani mesorah.” The levaya will be held in Afula on Tuesday at 4 p.m. since some of his family members who were with him at his bedside in Paraguay have not yet returned to Israel. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Trump’s $4.8 Trillion Budget Proposal Revisits Rejected Cuts

President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.8 trillion election year budget plan on Monday that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs like food stamps and Medicaid to promise a balanced budget in 15 years — all while leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched. Trump’s fiscal 2021 plan promises the government’s deficit will crest above $1 trillion only for the current budget year before steadily decreasing to more manageable levels, relying on optimistic economic projections, lower interest costs, scaled-back overseas military operations and proposed cuts to agency budgets that run counter to two previous budget deals signed by Trump. The budget “sets the course for a future of continued American dominance and prosperity,” Trump said in a message accompanying the document. “There is optimism that was not here before 63 million Americans asked me to work for them and drain the swamp,” Trump said. “For decades, Washington elites told us that Americans had no choice but to accept stagnation, decay, and decline. We proved them wrong. Our economy is strong once more.” The plan had no chance even before Trump’s impeachment scorched Washington. Its cuts to food stamps, farm subsidies, Medicaid and student loans couldn’t pass when Republicans controlled Congress, much less now with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., setting the agenda. Pelosi said Sunday night that “once again the president is showing just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families.” Trump’s budget follows a familiar formula that exempts seniors from cuts to Medicare and Social Security while targeting benefit safety net programs for the poor, domestic programs like clean energy and student loan subsidies. It again proposes to dramatically slash funding for overseas military operations to save $567 billion over 10 years but adds $1.5 trillion over the same time frame to make his 2017 tax cuts permanent law. Trump’s proposal would cut $465 billion from Medicare providers such as hospitals, which prompted howls from Democrats such as former Vice President Joe Biden, who said it “eviscerates Medicare,” while top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York said Trump is planning to ”rip away health care from millions of Americans” with cuts to Medicare and the Medicaid health program for the poor. Trump’s budget would also shred last year’s hard-won budget deal between the White House and Pelosi by imposing an immediate 5% cut to non-defense agency budgets passed by Congress. Slashing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and taking $700 billion out of Medicaid over a decade are also nonstarters on Capitol Hill, but both the White House and Democrats are hopeful of progress this spring on prescription drug prices. The Trump budget is a blueprint written under Washington rules as if he could enact it without congressional approval. It relies on rosy economic projections of 2.8% economic growth this year and 3% over the long term — in addition to fanciful claims of future cuts to domestic programs — to show that it is possible to bend the deficit curve in the right direction. The economy grew by 2.1% last year. That sleight of hand enables Trump to promise to whittle down a $1.08 trillion budget deficit for the ongoing budget year and a $966 billion deficit gap in the 2021 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 to $261 […]

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We ❤ To Give

Currently, in its 32nd year, Yad Batya L’Kallah has worked tirelessly to assist brides in need in the most dignified manner.  With your continued support, you allow us to continue this holy work.  We want to be able to keep on giving… giving kallahs, but also giving back to all our supporters and donors. 32= לב ❤  We put our whole heart into this event in order to give all of you the most enjoyable evening!  Join us at our 32nd Annual Benefit Auction… Tonight in the Five Towns Or  Tomorrow in Brooklyn!  Monday, February 10th  Moradi Residence:  72 Muriel Avenue, Lawrence Dessert Buffet Program begins at 7:00pm Speaker: Rabbi Moshe Majeski  Tomorrow, February 11th, 2020 Featuring Shulem Lemmer (live!) and a delectable buffet of soups, salads, sushi, pastas, and desserts catered by BK Events.  Kingsway Jewish Center  2902 Kings Highway, Brooklyn.  Auction viewing begins at 7pm. For more information or to purchase auction tickets for our selection of 57 incredible prizes, please visit www.yadbatya.org

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Drugs Fail To Slow Decline In Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease

Two experimental drugs failed to prevent or slow mental decline in a study of people who are virtually destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease at a relatively young age because they inherited rare gene flaws. The results announced Monday are another disappointment for the approach that scientists have focused on for years — trying to remove a harmful protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia. “We actually don’t even know yet what the drugs did” in term of removing that protein because those results are still being analyzed, said study leader Dr. Randall Bateman at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. But after five years on average, the main goal of the study was not met — people on either of the drugs scored about the same on thinking and memory tests as others given placebo treatments. More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide have Alzheimer’s. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms and do not alter the course of the disease. The study tested solanezumab by Eli Lilly & Co., and gantenerumab by Swiss drugmaker Roche and its U.S. subsidiary, Genentech. Both drugs gave disappointing results in some earlier studies, but the doses in this one ranged up to four to five times higher and researchers had hoped that would prove more effective. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association and some foundations. It involved about 200 people in the United States, Europe and elsewhere with flaws in one of three genes. “If you get one of these genetic mutations you’re almost guaranteed to get Alzheimer’s,” typically in your 30s, 40s or 50s, said Dr. Eric McDade, another study leader at Washington University. People like this account for only about 1% of Alzheimer’s cases, but their brain changes and symptoms are similar to those who develop the disease at a later age. That gives a unique chance to test potential treatments. “We know everyone will get sick and we know about what time that is” in their lives, Bateman said. Most study participants already had signs of the harmful protein in their brain even if they were showing no symptoms when the study started. The were given either a gantenerumab shot, an IV of solanezumab or fake versions of these treatments every four weeks. The drugs made no difference in a combination score of four memory and thinking tests compared to placebo treatments. Side effects were not disclosed, but “there’s no evidence of any drug-related deaths in the trial,” McDade said. Details will be given at a medical meeting in April. Solanezumab is being tested in another study to see if it can slow memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s. Gantenerumab also is being tested in two other large experiments that are expected to give results in two to three years. It’s unclear whether the results will affect views on aducanumab, another experimental drug whose makers say it can remove the harmful protein and slow mental decline. Results on it have been mixed, and the companies have said they will seek federal approval for it soon. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen is developing it with a Japanese company, Eisai Co. Ltd. (AP)

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Elizabeth Warren’s Challenge: Breaking Out Of Murky Middle

Elizabeth Warren isn’t struggling like Joe Biden. But she isn’t soaring, like Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Instead, the Massachusetts senator enters a critical stretch of the campaign relegated to the murky middle. She has to convince voters she has a viable path to the nomination, even if that path is unclear. Her campaign has spent millions of dollars flexing organizational muscle throughout the country, but she’s lagging in her own backyard ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. “I think it’s going to be tough if she doesn’t do well,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Warren’s standing has frustrated her supporters and advisers, who have watched last summer’s surge stagnate as she has struggled to kick the campaign into a new political gear. They are also aware of the realities of her situation, including the fact that her fundraising has fallen off since she pulled in an impressive $24.6 million last summer. Warren placed a respectable third in Iowa, behind Buttigieg and Sanders. But a similar finish in New Hampshire could put her candidacy in peril. Expectations for her here had been high. Although Sanders won New Hampshire by more than 20 points during the Democratic primary campaign in 2016, Warren is also a familiar figure for the state’s voters. Her team has been touting the endorsements of nearly 700 New Hampshire elected officials, party elders, political activists and community leaders. And if Warren doesn’t win in New Hampshire, it’s unclear where she might. Nevada goes next, then South Carolina and a slate of Southern states with high concentrations of African American Democrats, a demographic that polls suggest the senator has struggled to connect with. Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications for Emily’s List, said much of the political world is willing to make concessions for Warren’s male counterparts that she herself doesn’t get. “We’re willing to give Biden the benefit of the doubt. We’re willing to argue it’s OK for him not to win,” Reynolds said of Biden’s lackluster fourth-place finish in Iowa. “What is frustrating to me is there’s a special case here, there’s a special case there. How come the special case never applies to the women?” The footnotes of presidential primary history are filled with candidates who rose, then fizzled, whose potential never translated into votes and victories. Some came back in later elections and found more success, like John McCain after his 2000 primary defeat and Hillary Clinton after her 2008 primary defeat. Others shelve their White House ambitions and move on to other endeavors. Warren is hoping to avoid that fate. She rose in the polls last summer by pitching herself as a relatable policy wonk, a candidate with a plan for everything. But she hit a roadblock when she rolled out a “Medicare for All” plan that pushed off implementation for three years, angering some liberals. Warren’s campaign has tweaked its message in recent weeks, with the senator stressing her ability to unite the Democratic Party. She has also leaned into gender, noting that women have done better in elections since President Donald Trump won the White House in 2016. Warren struggled, though, to push those messages before a national audience during Friday’s debate, her highest-profile opportunity to reach New Hampshire voters […]

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2020 Watch: On Eve Of New Hampshire, Is Mayor Pete For Real?

Presidential politics move fast. What we’re watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign: ___ Days to New Hampshire primary: 1 Days to general election: 267 ___ THE NARRATIVE Chaos in Iowa has sparked a deep sense of anxiety among Democrats, who hoped the kickoff contest would provide clarity and evidence of excitement at the official starting line of the 2020 primary season. Results were unclear, and turnout disappointed. Instead, New Hampshire voters on Tuesday are under the weight of deepening concerns about Democratic enthusiasm and glaring flaws in their leading presidential candidates. The stakes are greatest for longtime front-runner Joe Biden and progressive powerhouse Elizabeth Warren, who cannot afford to fall out of the top two in a second consecutive contest as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg aim to tighten their grip on front-runner status. At the same time, Amy Klobuchar threatens to break into the top tier at another candidate’s expense. Not in New Hampshire, but very much part of the race, Mike Bloomberg waits for Super Tuesday. And President Donald Trump is loving it. ___ THE BIG QUESTIONS Is Mayor Pete for real? A former two-term vice president, a three-term Minnesota senator and a 38-year-old former small-city mayor walk into New Hampshire. Don’t tell us you predicted that the former municipal official would be a top candidate on the eve of the state’s primary. But that’s exactly what’s happening as Buttigieg appears to be cruising in the so-called moderate lane of voters seeking a more “electable” center-left candidate. The energy around Buttigieg’s candidacy is real. So, too, is the lack of it around Biden, who entered the race as the establishment favorite. At the same time, a strong debate performance on Friday has prompted a second look at Sen. Amy Klobuchar. This could end up being a dream scenario for Buttigieg and a nightmare for Biden. Is the neighbors’ primary already over? For much of the last year, Democrats in New Hampshire were expecting two tracks in their presidential primary: a competition between the two neighboring senators, Sanders and Warren, and a competition among everybody else. Now, polling suggests that Sanders is dominating the neighbors’ primary as Warren struggles. She insists she’s in it for the long haul, but it’s difficult to imagine her generating the kind of financial support she needs to stay in the race much longer without a stronger-than-expected finish on Tuesday. Will turnout rebound? Perhaps as much as the muddled mess connected to Iowa’s reporting failures, Democrats are nervous about the turnout in last week’s kickoff caucuses, which is an important marker of enthusiasm for the party. Iowa officials predicted turnout would rival 2008, when a record 238,000 people showed up for the Democratic contest. The final 2020 tally: 176,000. That hurts. In New Hampshire, longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner has projected Democratic turnout will hit 292,000, which would be slightly higher than the 289,000 Democrats who voted in the 2008 primary. Should Democrats fail to meet projections in a second consecutive contest that will call into question the conventional wisdom about Democratic enthusiasm in the Trump era. Can Trump stay out of his own way? Trump enters the week at a new high point in his turbulent presidency. He took a vitriolic victory lap after his Senate acquittal, celebrated […]

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Schumer Wants To Protect Whistleblowers Amid Trump Payback

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the nation’s 74 inspectors general to protect government whistleblowers amid President Donald Trump’s ouster of key government officials in the impeachment probe. In a letter Monday to the Defense Department inspector general, Schumer said Army Lt. Col. Alex Vindman has been “viciously attacked” by the Republican president after “bravely stepping forward to tell the truth.” Vindman, a White House national security council official when he testified before the House impeachment inquiry, was removed Friday and reassigned. Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, also was asked to leave his job as a White House lawyer. Also out Friday was Gordon Sondland, who had been Trump’s ambassador to the European Union. Sondland was among 17 people who provided public and private testimony in the impeachment proceedings. The firings, alongside efforts to name the still anonymous government whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s call with Ukraine sparked the impeachment probe, demand attention, Schumer said. Similar letters are being sent to all 74 IGs calling on them to take immediate steps to investigate any “instances of retaliation against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of presidential misconduct to Congress or Inspectors General.” Federal employees have rights, including under the whistleblower law, that ensure they are protected through the inspector general offices and are able to provide information to Congress, as part of the legislative branch’s oversight role. The White House has stood by the dismissals. (AP)

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It’s Happening Now! Last Chance to Participate!

This is your last chance! If you, or someone you know, is in search of a shidduch, sponsor a daf and be a part of this amazing mission!    Right now, hundreds of lomdim are at the Veitzener Cheder Yeshiva Ohr Boruch building on a 24-hour quest to complete Shas. Tu B’Shvat is a day of tremendous value and significance, but did you know that Tu B’Shvat is also a predetermined time for zivugim?   That’s why Chicago Chesed Fund created this yearly event, to help singles in our communities gain zchusim to find their bashert.    Help bring everyone closer to their perfect match! Sponsor a daf for $100, and you can submit the names of 5 singles who are looking for their bashert. Maaser money may be used! But hurry—the learning IS HAPPENING NOW! Take advantage of this auspicious day and get your sponsorships in before Tu B’Shvat ends!  All proceeds benefit Chicago Chesed Fund’s many services that help singles find their bashert.  Last Chance! Donate now before the learning ends! Visit Shas4Shidduchim.org to sign up.   Chicago Chesed Fund is a non-profit organization committed to helping families in crisis throughout the Chicagoland area. Through various programming and events, it provides critical assistance in the form of goods, services and financial support in an environment that maintains the dignity and integrity of each and every recipient.

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US Ambassador To Israel Warns Against West Bank Annexation

The U.S. ambassador to Israel has cautioned Israel against “unilateral action” in annexing West Bank settlements, warning that such a move could endanger the Trump administration’s recently unveiled Mideast plan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had initially sought to move quickly to annex large swathes of the West Bank containing Jewish settlements, following the U.S. plan’s announcement on Jan. 28. Netanyahu called for his Cabinet to vote on such a measure, only to call it off a day later. The move would have risked provoking a harsh backlash from the Palestinians and the international community. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman wrote Sunday on Twitter that “the application of Israeli law to the territory which the Plan provides to be part of Israel is subject to the completion of a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee.” “Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition,” he said. Last month, senior Trump aide Jared Kushner said days after the plan’s announcement that the administration would not support Israel taking any unilateral steps to annex parts of the West Bank before the country’s March 2 parliamentary elections. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem for an independent state. The Trump plan would allow Israel to annex all of its settlements along with the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet stringent conditions. While Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the plan as a “historic national mission,” the Palestinians have adamantly rejected it. In the face of U.S. criticism, Netanyahu has walked back his calls for immediate annexation of the West Bank. Addressing supporters on Saturday, Netanyahu said mapping of the region was underway, and rebuffed criticism from his nationalist allies over dragging his feet. “We have been waiting for this since ’67 and people are making a big deal over a few weeks,” Netanyahu said. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, Friedman said that “the president put out a plan for the next hundred years, not the next 30 days,” alluding to the upcoming Israeli elections on March 2. Netanyahu is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office. This will be Israel’s third parliamentary elections in under a year after the long-serving premier failed to form a government following April’s and September’s votes. He also faces trial on a series of corruption charges after the Israeli attorney general indicted him in November. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. “I would encourage everyone to take a step back and a deep breath because this is something that, if done right, can ensure Israel’s security and bring great prosperity and dignity to the Palestinians,” the ambassador said. (AP)

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Netanyahu Admits That Israel is Active in Foiling Iranian Operations

Iranian State Television reported on Sunday that the country launched an Iranian built satellite named Zafar 1 into space. The satellite, however, did not manage to make orbit and crashed back to earth without having enough speed to breach the earth’s atmosphere. “Stage-1 and stage-2 motors of the carrier functioned properly and the satellite was successfully detached from its carrier, but at the end of its path it did not reach the required speed for being put in the orbit,” a Defense Ministry space program spokesman by the name of Ahmad Hosseini told state TV. According to the Associated Press, “Sunday’s failure came after two failed launches of the Payam and Doosti satellites last year, as well as a launchpad rocket explosion in August. A separate fire at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in February 2019 also killed three researchers, authorities said at the time.” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the announcement of the failed attempt by Iran and said: “We were told today that Iran again failed in their attempt to launch a satellite into space. They have also failed in transferring weapons to Syria and Lebanon. That is because we are always operating there, including nowadays.” (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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The Painful Reason This Woman Isn’t Able to Raise Her Own Kids

Many have been in the same position: Sick, and without answers. When young mother of 5 Chaya Marian went to doctors earlier this year complaining of weakness, she was told that she was fine. Relieved, she returned to her regular routines. Everything changed when massive bloating sent her to the ER, and she was diagnosed with cancer. “It was like an earthquake for our entire family,” says Chaya, in a touchingly personal video. One might expect to hear or see the usual chaotic signs of young children in the footage, but her home is soberly silent. Most of her days now consist of treatments and hospital trips, and her husband left his job as well to accompany her during her weakest moments. Her beloved children have been split up to live amongst family. The couple can’t afford the babysitters, food, and clothing necessary to keep them at home. To change that, she will need help. Chaya Marian has opened a crowdfunding page, with a simple and deeply important goal in mind: To reunite her family. With some financial assistance, she would be able to afford her treatments, prolong her life, and bring her children home. CLICK HERE TO HELP CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL CAMPAIGN

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‘QAnon’ Conspiracy Theory Creeps Into Mainstream Politics

President Donald Trump was more than halfway through his speech at a rally in Milwaukee when one of his hand gestures caught the eye of a supporter standing in the packed arena. The 51-year-old woman believed the president had traced the shape of the letter “Q” with his fingers as a covert signal to followers of QAnon, a right-wing, pro-Trump conspiracy theory. She turned to the couple on her right and excitedly asked, “Did you see the ‘Q’?” “He just did it?” asked Diane Jacobson, 63, of Racine, Wisconsin. “Was that a ‘Q’?” added Jacobson’s husband, Randy, 64. “I think it was,” replied their new friend, Chrisy. The Geneva, Illinois, resident declined to give her last name in part because she said she wanted to avoid negative “attention.” The Jacobsons met Chrisy and her husband, Paul, hours earlier in the line to get into the Jan 14 rally. The couples bonded over their shared interest in QAnon, which centers on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. What started as an online obsession for the far-right fringe has grown beyond its origins in a dark corner of the internet. QAnon has been creeping into the mainstream political arena for more than a year. The trend shows no sign of abating as Trump fires up his reelection campaign operation, attracting a loyal audience of conspiracy theorists and other fringe groups to his raucous rallies. Trump has retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts. Followers flock to Trump’s rallies wearing clothes and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans. At least 23 current or former congressional candidates in the 2020 election cycle have endorsed or promoted QAnon, according to the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America, which compiled online evidence to support its running tally. Conspiracy theorists aren’t the only fringe characters drawn to Trump rallies. The Oath Keepers, an anti-government group formed in 2009 after President Barack Obama’s election, has been sending “security volunteers” to escort Trump supporters at rallies across the country. University of California, Davis history professor Kathryn Olmsted, author of a book called “Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11,” said it’s unclear whether QAnon has attracted more believers than other conspiracy theories that have intersected with U.S. politics. “What’s different now is that there are people in power who are spreading this conspiracy theory,” she said, adding that Trump’s conspiracy-minded rhetoric seems to fire up part of his base. “Finally, there is someone saying they’re not crazy.” Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but experts fear the powerful engine of social media and a volatile political climate have ramped up the threat of violence. An FBI bulletin in May warned that conspiracy theory-driven extremists have become a domestic terrorism threat. The bulletin specifically mentions QAnon. A Trump campaign spokeswoman and a White House spokesman didn’t respond to emails seeking comment. Asked about QAnon in 2018, then-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump “condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual.” Some major Trump supporters, including former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, have denounced QAnon. For more than two years, followers have pored over a tangled set of clues purportedly posted online […]

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TRAGEDY: Chareidi R”L Man Falls To is Death in Yerushalayim

A Chareidi man was R”L killed after he fell to his death on Ma’aglei HaRim Levin Street in Yerushalayim on Sunday. Sanhedria residents found the young man at the bottom of a high-rise apartment building on the street. He had no vital signs. United Hatzalah volunteers and ambulance team rushed to the scene and performed CPR on the young man, and he was transported to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital while still undergoing CPR. Sadly, doctors at the hospital were forced to pronounce his death after a lengthy attempt to save his life. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Where Did They Go? Millions Left City Before Quarantine

For weeks after the first reports of a mysterious new virus in Wuhan, millions of people poured out of the central Chinese city, cramming onto buses, trains and planes as the first wave of China’s great Lunar New Year migration broke across the nation. Some carried with them the new virus that has since claimed over 800 lives and sickened more than 37,000 people. Officials finally began to seal the borders on Jan. 23. But it was too late. Speaking to reporters a few days after the city was put under quarantine, the mayor estimated that 5 million people had already left. Where did they go? An Associated Press analysis of domestic travel patterns using map location data from Chinese tech giant Baidu shows that in the two weeks before Wuhan’s lockdown, nearly 70% of trips out of the central Chinese city were within Hubei province. Baidu has a map app that is similar to Google Maps, which is blocked in China. Another 14% of the trips went to the neighboring provinces of Henan, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi. Nearly 2% slipped down to Guangdong province, the coastal manufacturing powerhouse across from Hong Kong, and the rest fanned out across China. The cities outside Hubei province that were top destinations for trips from Wuhan between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 were Chongqing, a municipality next to Hubei province, Beijing and Shanghai. The travel patterns broadly track with the early spread of the virus. The majority of confirmed cases and deaths have occurred in China, within Hubei province, followed by high numbers of cases in central China, with pockets of infections in Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing as well. “It’s definitely too late,” said Jin Dong-Yan, a molecular virologist at Hong Kong University’s School of Biomedical Sciences. “Five million out. That’s a big challenge. Many of them may not come back to Wuhan but hang around somewhere else. To control this outbreak, we have to deal with this. On one hand, we need to identify them. On the other hand, we need to address the issue of stigma and discrimination.” He added that the initial spread of travelers to provinces in central China with large pools of migrant workers and relatively weaker health care systems “puts a big burden on the hospitals … of these resource-limited provinces.” Baidu gathers travel data based on more than 120 billion daily location requests from its map app and other apps that use Baidu’s location services. Only data from users who agree to share their location is recorded and the company says data is masked to protect privacy. Baidu’s publicly available data shows proportional travel, not absolute numbers of recorded trips, and does not include trips by people who don’t use mobile phones or apps that rely on Baidu’s popular location services. Public health officials and academics have been using this kind of mapping data for years to track the potential spread of disease. A group of researchers from Southampton University’s WorldPop research group, which studies population dynamics, used 2013-2015 data from Baidu’s location services and international flight itineraries to make a predictive global risk map for the likely spread of the virus from Wuhan. It’s important to understand the population movements out of Wuhan before the city’s lock down, said Lai Shengjie, a WorldPop researcher who […]

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Police Investigate Suspicion That Rabbi Berland’s Followers Were Involved In Disappearance Of Teenager 30 Years Ago

Israeli Police are currently investigating suspicions that followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim movement, were involved in the disappearance of a 17-year-old boy some 30 years ago. The missing teenager in question was Nissim Shitrit, who disappeared in Jerusalem in 1986. Shitrit was a student in a Yeshiva in Ashdod and a few weeks before he disappeared, he complained to the police that he had been attacked by “Tzniayus Police”. The police received information from Khan 11 reporter Shani Haziza, information that apparently links followers of Rabbi Berland’s to the mysterious disappearance. Police have begun to question numerous affiliates of Rabbi Berland’s with regards to the disappearance. On Sunday, Rabbi Berland and his wife were arrested and taken into police custody on the suspicion of exploiting ill people and their families, as well as financial crimes such as money laundering, and tax evasion on funds whose sum is in the hundreds of millions of shekels. During the arrest, which occurred at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, students of Rabbi Berland threw rocks at police officers in an attempt to prevent the arrest. Two officers were injured. According to his lawyer, neither Rabbi Berland nor his wife impeded the arrest in any way. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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NH Poses A Last Chance For Some Struggling 2020 Democrats

Bounding onto a stage at a conference center in New Hampshire, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang beamed a smile to a cheering crowd and launched into his pitch for votes heading into Tuesday’s first-in-the nation primary. Yang didn’t mention his poor showing in Iowa, his back-of-the-pack polling in New Hampshire or the fact his campaign recently laid off an undisclosed number of people. Instead, he recalled a conversation he had in Washington in which he was told that he needed to “create a wave in other parts of the country and bring that wave crashing down on our heads in D.C.” “I said challenge accepted,” Yang said of his decision to run for president. “Here we are Plymouth and you are that wave.” Yang is among a handful of candidates who are polling in the single digits as New Hampshire’s primary nears. He joins Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard near the bottom of most surveys. For most of them, a poor showing on Tuesday could force them to rethink their campaigns. Only Yang and Steyer qualified for Friday’s presidential debate. Rather than dwelling on potential disappointment, these candidates are soldiering on with scores of town halls, house parties as well as breakfasts and dinners with supporters. It’s all in service to the idea that New Hampshire voters might surprise the pundits. Speaking on the sidelines of a University of New Hampshire event on college costs, Bennet claimed that he had spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate and was hoping to finish third or fourth. He was in the midst of a tour that included 50 town halls and a rally Saturday in Manchester with Democratic operative James Carville. He also picked up an endorsement from Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, the first member of Congress to endorse Bennet in his campaign for president. “There is the opportunity in New Hampshire, especially after such a muddled result in Iowa, to sort of start the race anew.” Bennet told reporters. “It’s very important, very important to do well in New Hampshire. It’s vital for me.” Patrick, who entered the race late, said a six-day, 1,000 mile bus tour demonstrated there were plenty of undecided voters up for grabs. He reached a wider audience with a CNN town hall Thursday night, where he acknowledged he needed “to beat expectations here.” “Almost all the people I met are still undecided and I think what that means is that people aren’t satisfied with the rest of the field,” Patrick said. “I’m not surprised by that. When they hear someone who has actually delivered on an agenda that others are just talking about or that they have plans for, when they hear what it takes to deliver those progressive outcomes, we are winning support.” For Steyer, getting his message out meant braving snow and freezing rain to greet UPS workers arriving to a Manchester warehouse Thursday. He was asked how long he would remain in the race. “I’m going stay in the race, because I think I’m going to win,” he said. Asked what he was doing to stay competitive in New Hampshire when he barely registers in polls, Steyer didn’t mention New Hampshire in his answer, instead focusing […]

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New Lifesaving ATV to Aid Gush Shiloh Residents

United Hatzalah of Israel dedicated its newest all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to serve the residents of the Gush Shiloh area, which is the next step in fulfilling their promise to add more lifesaving vehicles and first responders to Judea and Samaria. The dedication ceremony took place last Monday in the town of Adei Ad, slightly northeast of Shiloh itself.  The ATV will provide first response emergency service to medical emergencies as well as search and rescue emergencies in the region known as Gush Shiloh. It is capable of transporting a patient through difficult terrain, particularly in mountainous and forested areas.  Regional Council Head of Binyamin Yisrael Gantz participated in the ceremony together with President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer. The two drove the vehicle across the region and spoke about continuing partnerships in providing lifesaving services to the residents of the area.  The dedication came just two weeks after dozens of new United Hatzalah volunteers graduated from their training course and became first responders, adding more emergency medical coverage to the region.   During the ceremony, Beer stated: “I am very proud to be here. There is an incredible amount of activity going on here that is being done by incredible people. Here, in Shiloh, the city where the Tabernacle resided, this is where everything began. It is a great pride to United Hatzalah that we have an incredible chapter in the Binyamin region, one which is strengthened by the Head of the Council Yisrael Gantz, who is one of our veteran volunteers in the region.”  Gantz told Beer: “I pray that the new vehicle and gear which we received this morning from United Hatzalah will be used for good things only, and will help save many lives. I wish to thank United Hatzalah for this significant donation of this new ATV to our region, and for continuing to assist all of the residents who live here. It is to our merit that we have people like you (Eli Beer) who give everything of themselves to protect the lives of others in Israel and around the world. I also want to thank the volunteers themselves who work tirelessly to ensure the safety of others, both in the Binyamin region and across the country. Anyone who gives of themselves to help others is a truly righteous person.”   United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Menachem Bakush who will be entrusted with the day-to-day operation of the vehicle. Bakush said: “For a long time we have dreamed of having an ATV such as this here in the region. This vehicle is capable of reaching patients in areas where regular cars and ambulances cannot go. It will help us save many lives. In fact, we already used it yesterday in responding to an emergency in the area and it proved incredibly useful. I have no doubt that we will help many people with this. I want to thank everyone involved who is working to help improve the emergency medical services in the Binyamin region.”    

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