Day: August 6, 2017

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Israel to ban Al-Jazeera


Israel said Sunday it plans to ban Qatar’s flagship Al-Jazeera network from operating in the country over allegations it incites violence, joining Arab nations that have shut down the broadcaster amid a separate political dispute. The news organization, in turn, said it will take legal action.

Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al-Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel.

Kara said he has asked cable and satellite networks to block Al-Jazeera transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether.

The minister, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, gave no timetable for such measures.

Doha-based Al-Jazeera on its English language website condemned the measures as “undemocratic” and said that it will take legal action. It said it will continue operating in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Walid al-Omari, the broadcaster’s bureau chief in Jerusalem, said on air that his office has not been informed by Israeli officials of any possible measures the government might take.

Al-Jazeera, a pan-Arab satellite network funded by the Qatari government, already has been targeted by Arab nations now isolating Qatar as part of a months-long political dispute over Doha’s politics and alleged support for extremists.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al-Jazeera’s local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

“Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,” Kara said. “And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al-Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State (group), Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that then something delusional is happening here.”

Israeli officials have long accused Al-Jazeera of bias against the Jewish state. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to “Nazi Germany-style” propaganda.

Nitzan Chen, director of the Government Press Office, said press credentials are not issued if security officials deem the cards would be “liable to endanger the security of the state.” He said “Therefore, I have contacted the security echelon and have requested a professional opinion regarding the Al-Jazeera network.”

A decision will be made after receiving that opinion, he said.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for international news organizations, said the move “is certainly a cause for concern.” It said it will study the issue and decide how to proceed.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group, criticized the Israeli proposal.

“Censoring Al-Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region’s worst enemies of press freedom,” said Sherif Mansour, the committee’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Israel should abandon these undemocratic plans and allow Al-Jazeera and all journalists to report freely from the country and areas it occupies.”

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, condemned the move. “Al-Jazeera had a big role conveying the Palestinian narrative with a high professionalism,” said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman.

American viewers became familiar with Al-Jazeera after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when its golden-hued Arabic logo became synonymous with video messages by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. That sparked frequent complaints by then-President George W. Bush’s administration. The station defended its policy, saying the messages were newsworthy.

Al-Jazeera was the first Arab satellite news channel to offer a range of views outside of heavily censored state media across the region and extensively covered the 2011 Arab Spring. It also was the first Arab-owned news outlet to host Israeli officials and commentators, which some analysts note coincided with Qatar’s ties with Israel at the time.



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Minnesota mosque explosion 'deeper and scarier' than threats


The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in suburban Minneapolis, like other U.S. mosques, occasionally receives threatening calls and emails. But leaders say they’re more frightened after a weekend attack in which an explosive shattered windows and damaged a room as worshippers prepared for morning prayers.

“We feel like it’s much deeper and scarier than like something random,” Mohamed Omar, the center’s executive director, said Sunday. “It’s so scary.”

No one was hurt in the blast, which happened around 5 a.m. Saturday. Windows of the imam’s office were shattered, either by the blast or by an object thrown through them. The FBI is seeking suspects and trying to determine whether the incident was a hate crime.

Gov. Mark Dayton, who joined other public officials and community leaders for a meeting inside the building Sunday, described the bombing as “so wretched” and “not Minnesota.”

“This is an act of terrorism. This is against the law in America,” Dayton said at a news conference afterward, the Star Tribune reported .

Besides serving as a place of worship and community center, the mosque in Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis, has a fitness center, gymnasiums for boys and girls, a football field and adjoins a city park, Omar said. He estimates the mosque holds up to 300 worshippers for Friday prayers. The community center also hosts computer classes, a basketball league, religious classes, lectures and other events.

“It’s a place that a family can come and get everything they need,” Omar said.

The mosque opened in 2011 at the site of a former elementary school in the suburb of about 85,000 and serves people primarily from the area’s large Somali community. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the U.S., roughly 57,000 people, according to the latest census figures.

Some residents opposed the center’s opening, and complaints have been made about parking, noise and traffic, the Star Tribune reported. Omar said the center gets along with “92, 93 percent” of its neighbors.

And while the mosque has received threatening calls and messages, Deputy Bloomington Police Chief Mike Hartley said Sunday he was unware of any hate crimes reported at the center.

Saturday’s bombing comes amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren. Just recently in Minnesota, an Islamic cemetery in Castle Rock Township reported it had been vandalized with spray painted profanities and swastikas.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a Saturday statement on the Bloomington explosion that the department “fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution.”

The reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction has grown to $24,000, said Asad Zaman, director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said its national office is urging Islamic centers and mosques to step up security.

“If a bias motive is proven, this attack would represent another in a long list of hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions nationwide in recent months,” said Amir Malik, the local chapter’s civil rights director.



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Ship in California leaks unknown 'flammable liquid'


Twelve people were reported hurt Sunday after a ship leaked a “flammable liquid” near the Port of Long Beach in California.

A 6,000-gallon container aboard a ship left eleven vessel workers and a firefighter injured when it began leaking an unidentified flammable substance, Long Beach Fire Department Public Information Officer Brian Fisk told KNBC.

The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m., according to the department’s Twitter account.

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Ten of the ship’s employees were treated on scene and one was transported to a hospital with “mild injuries,” KNBC reported.

The firefighter’s injuries were not due to the substance leak, Fisk told the news station.

The fire department tweeted that “precautionary measures” were being taken to protect the environment, with crews setting up a perimeter around the ship.



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Camp Pendleton Marine killed in car crash on base, officials say


A U.S. Marine from Iowa died in a car crash at Camp Pendleton in California on Friday, officials said.

Lance Cpl. Cody J. Haley, 20, was severely injured and died at the scene of the accident, according to Marine officials.

A Marine spokesman told the San Diego Union-Tribune he could not release additional details about the crash.

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Haley was assigned to the 1st Marine Division. He deployed with the 11st Marine Expeditionary Unit in March 2016.

In a statement, the Corps said, “We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of a member of the Marine Corps family, and we will do all we can to comfort the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.”

Haley’s awards included the National Defense Service medal, Global War on Terrorism Service medal, and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Dem activist vows Maxine Waters will be next House speaker – Progressives clash with Washington Dems over candidates' abortion stance


Democrats have “no reason” to try to make bipartisan legislative deals with President Trump and should instead wait until next year when outspoken Democrat Maxine Waters leads the House and Chuck Schumer leads the Senate, Democratic activist Robert Patillo said Saturday.

“Democrats looking at a president hovering around a 30 percent approval rating have no reason to run into a burning building and try to put it out, when they should instead just wait for 2018 when they have Speaker of the House Maxine Waters and Senate leader Chuck Schumer,” Patillo, an attorney, civil rights activist and Atlanta radio host, told Fox News’ “America’s News Headquarters.”

Waters, a California congresswoman, has been one of Trump’s most outspoken Democratic critics, with her calls to impeach him creating buzz about a possible 2020 presidential bid.

Patillo’s comment presumes Democrats next year would retake control of the House and Senate and that Waters would unseat now-House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of California, who has been the chamber’s top Democrat for roughly the past 11 years.

Schumer, of New York, is now the Senate minority leader.

Democrats next year would have to win a net total of about 35 House seats.

Republicans how hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, but Democrats next year must defend 25 seats, compared to just eight for Republicans.

 

 

 



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Police stop man with knife at Eiffel Tower defying security


A young French man who recently was discharged from a psychiatric hospital is under investigation for glorifying terrorism after he brandished a knife and tried to breach security at the Eiffel Tower, authorities said Sunday.

No one was hurt in the incident late Saturday, though the tower was briefly evacuated, according to a statement Sunday from the company that manages the monument. The tower reopened as usual Sunday morning.

A judicial official said the man tried to force his way into the secure zone, held out a knife and said “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” He was quickly surrounded by security forces and surrendered, the official said. A Paris police official said no shots were fired. Both officials weren’t authorized to be publicly named.

While the man is accused of glorifying terrorism, the incident is being investigated as a common crime and not by anti-terrorism investigators, the judicial official said, because of his history of psychiatric problems and because authorities have no reason to believe he was part of a network or planning an attack.

The suspect was born in Mauritania in 1998, but has French citizenship, the official said. His name wasn’t released.

Monuments in the French capital are occasionally evacuated for security reasons, as the country remains on alert after deadly attacks since 2015.



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Fox attacks NY woman, chases her into home, police say


A New York woman got a much bigger scare than she anticipated Saturday evening when a gray fox attacked her, then chased her inside her home, police said. 

The fox emerged from the woods as the woman stood in the yard of her Mahopac home about 5:45 p.m. and came charging toward her, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department said. 

The fox bit the woman on her left ankle and clawed her right ankle and foot, causing her to bleed. 

The woman then ran into her home in an attempt to escape the fox, but the animal “pursued her” indoors. She and her children fled the house in fear of the sly fox and called 911, according to police. 

The woman was treated at the scene and then hospitalized for further treatment. 

New York State Environmental Conservation police captured the fox in the home. The fox will be euthanized and tested for rabies.



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Alfred Angelo says brides will not get their gowns, as seamstress swoops in to do free alterations


As Alfred Angelo announced it would not be able to deliver brides’ wedding gowns, a former seamstress for the company is swooping in with her needle and thread to offer customers free alterations. 

The nationwide bridal company announced it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 14, shuttering 60 bridal stores with no warning. Bridezillas rushed to locations and banged on doors in an effort to get a hold of their gowns, most of them without luck. 

Less than a month later, the future brides’ hopes were dashed when Alfred Angelo released another statement saying it will “no longer [be] possible” to fulfill the rest of the orders. 

“While we have been successful in obtaining customer records and delivering many dresses and accessories for customers all over the country, even after the bankruptcy filing date, it has now become apparent that the logistical and financial strain of fulfilling each and every open order makes continuing that course of action no longer possible,” the statement read. 

“Thus, to the extent any order has not been fully delivered to a customer, it shall have to remain unfilled,” it said.

Customers who were still owed money were prompted to fill out a form through a link, but they were still missing their dress. 

Former Alfred Angelo seamstress Rose Ellis, however, is looking at another way to help out — altering the dresses for women free of charge.

“Out of a job. No contract. No notice. And, I have people’s belongings, their gowns,” Ellis told KFOR. 

Ellis told KFOR she worked at the Tulsa and Oklahoma City stores for seven years and grabbed nearly 80 gowns before the company locked stores’ doors for good. 

“I just felt that, with my integrity, I had to do what I could do and, if I’m not getting paid for it, so what, you know? That’s par for the course,” Ellis said.

Stephanie Huey, who brought her bridesmaid dresses from Alfred Angelo, sought out Ellis’ help and paid for a hotel room in Oklahoma City so the seamstress can do the alterations for the next few months. 

“They’re going to get a gown that’s going to fit them perfectly even though they paid Alfred Angelo for the work, not the seamstress for the work, they still have a gown they can be happy with,” Ellis said.

Huey also created a GoFundMe page to help pay for the hotel and alterations’ costs. The campaign has raised more than $23,000 as of Sunday afternoon. 

Ellis joins scores of other women stepping in to help jilted brides. The hashtags #AlfredAngelo and #dressmatchmaker also began trending on social media days after the store closings, with women offering to send their old gowns to brides-to-be. 



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'Man tax' adds 18 percent to bill at Australian cafe


A vegan cafe in Brunswick, Australia, charges its male customers an 18 percent surcharge to represent the gender pay gap, Broadsheet reports.

The campaign at Handsome Her — which has been accused of being “sexist” by some in its reviews on Google — reportedly occurs one week each month. 

“There’s been nothing but positivity from everyone, males and females,” the cafe’s owner, Alex O’Brien, told Broadsheet. 

Handsome Her describes itself on Facebook as being focused “on female empowerment, social responsibility and environmental justice.”

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Its “House Rules” say the surcharge “is donated to a women’s service” and that women also get priority seating at the business.

“We are not imposing the surcharge, it’s voluntary,” O’Brien said. “Men are asked if they want to pay the charge before being charged.”

“If someone doesn’t want to pay the tax, we will just wipe it,” she said.



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Women’s reckless driving gets her locked up for ‘worst ever’ wild police chase


Dashcam video showing a U.K. woman leading police on a terrifying 120-mph chase prompted a judge to say it was the “worst case of dangerous driving” he had ever seen, The Sun reports.

The footage shows Megan Nolan, a 24-year-old mother of two young boys, weaving through traffic and running red lights.

“I have to tell you Megan Nolan that this was the worst piece of dangerous driving that I have ever witnessed in my 15 years on the bench,” Judge Martin Rudland said Friday, according to the Sun.

Nolan sobbed as she was sentenced to a year in jail.

The teaching assistant pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving without insurance, according to the paper.

Rudland told Nolan her erratic driving was “selfish and ludicrous” and to not sentence her to prison would be “wildly wrong,” the paper reported.

Nolan had been out drinking with friends June 4.

She led police on the wild chase on a motorway in Manchester after leaving the bar at 1 a.m., the paper reported.

“She admitted the quality of her driving was as shown on the footage,” prosecutor Andrew Mackintosh said in court, according to The Sun.

“She had no insurance and she said she was a stupid idiot who was lucky that no one had been hurt,” he said.

Click here for more from The Sun.



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