Three men face charges of terrorism in an alleged plot to attack New York City during the summer of 2016, the acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney announced Friday.
Abdulrahaman El Bahnasawy, 19, Talha Haroon, 19, and Russell Salic, 37, are accused of plotting bombings and shootings in parts of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan last year, according to a release from the Department of Justice. The men allegedly plotted the attacks in the name of ISIS. They planned to bomb Times Square and the subway system, and to shoot civilians at specific concert venues.
According to the DOJ, law enforcement thwarted the plot when an undercover FBI agent acted as an ISIS supporter and communicated with the men with an intent to help them carry out the attacks. Through the undercover agent, authorities determined that the men intended to carry out terror attacks in the style of the attacks in Paris and Brussels.
El Bahnasawy, who was arrested in May 2016, has pled guilty to terrorism offenses. Haroon was arrested in Pakistan last September and Salic was arrested in the Philippines. Authorities said they hope the two men will be extradited the U.S.
A high-stakes gamble: How Jared Kushner reacted to previous crises
Jared Kushner, shown with his wife Ivanka Trump during the presidential inauguration in January, has emerged as a central figure in the federal investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Saul Loeb/Pool photo by AFP)
NEW YORK — Jared Kushner had barely survived a fight to save his family’s real estate empire.Taking charge of the business after his father went to prison, Kushner, 25 at the time, paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the nation’s most expensive office building. Then the market went south, the debts piled up, and Kushner spent years pushing banks to renegotiate the loans.
But afterone disgruntled lender hadtried to block him, Kushner had an unusual weapon at his disposal: He owned anewspaper.
Kushner, who had purchased the New York Observer in 2006, walked into his editor’s office and suggested a story exposing potentially embarrassing details about the uncooperative lender.
“I could tell he was angry at the guy,” said the editor, Elizabeth Spiers, who resigned in 2012. Only after months of dead-end reporting did Kushner finally stop asking for the story, she said. That followed a separate incident in which Kushner wanted a “hit job” on another foe, a second Observer editor told The Washington Post.
Kushner’s career in the cutthroat world of New York real estate shows how he dealt with his worst business crisis, averting catastrophe through connections, savvy negotiation and hardball tactics that left enemies in his wake. Kushner was not reticent to strike back against those he said had crossed him.
Now, as a powerful senior White House adviser, Kushner faces a new crisis that risks not only his own reputation but ultimately, the success of his father-in-law President Trump, who has entrusted him with responsibilities ranging from Middle East diplomacy to reinventing the federal government.
A federal investigation has focused on Kushner’s secret meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Post reported Friday that Kushner discussed with the Russian ambassador the possibility of establishing back-channel communications with the Kremlin, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
Kushner’s attorneys have said he will cooperate with the federal investigation and answer questions from a special counsel examining allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, a probe that could also examine financial connections Trump advisers may have had with Russia. Kushner declined comment.
Kushner’s allies said his experience in New York’s aggressive business culture prepared him to manage crises and tackle any problem Trump gives him to solve.
But running a real estate company, where business deals and corporate rivalries stem from the singular goal of turning the biggest profits, is far different from navigating the vast federal government or mastering the tricky politics of Washington and complexities of overseas diplomacy.
Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret channel with Kremlin
Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in December that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, asked him about setting up a communications channel between the transition team and the Kremlin using Russian facilities in the United States. (Video: Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump has relied on Kushner as the president makes his own transition from the business world. And just as Trump has struggled to adapt, Kushner is adjusting with the lessons of the past decade in mind, saying privately that he sees a parallel between his old and new careers, believing both are blood sports.
Kushner’s real estate career began with a family trauma. His father, Charles, a major Democratic Party donor whose company then focused on modest apartment buildings in New Jersey, was convicted in 2005 of federal tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations, including some in Jared Kushner’s name.
The prosecutor was then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who said the elder Kushner had not taken responsibility for his “vile and heinous acts.” (Christie’s prosecution scarred the family, Kushner associates told The Post. The wound reopened during the Trump campaign, when White House officials said the younger Kushner helped quash consideration of Christie for an administration role). Christie did not respond to a request for comment.
Jared Kushner was studying law at New York University as the case generated wide attention because of its scandalous details. Charles Kushner had arranged to secretly videotape his brother-in-law meeting with a prostitute, allegedly hoping to coerce relatives to stop cooperating with federal authorities. The judge called it an act of vengeance.
Kushner told New York magazine in 2009 that his father arranged for the sex tape as a warning to warring family members who he said were trying to hurt him.
“Was it the right thing to do? At the end of the day, it was a function of saying, ‘You’re trying to make my life miserable. Well, I’m doing the same,’ ” Kushner said.
With his father incarcerated in Alabama, barred from making business deals, Jared Kushner, the eldest son, took over the empire. It had 1,000 employees and owned more than 25,000 apartments. The family’s reputation was in tatters.
“A lot of their friends and business colleagues just disappeared,” said Arthur J. Mirante II, a business consultant who advised the Kushners.
Kushner went to Alabama every week to consult his father. He came up with two risky moves. In 2006, he bought an unprofitable newspaper, the New York Observer, for a reported $10 million. The newspaper, a broadsheet printed on pink paper, aggressively covered New York business and politics. It had been especially hard on real estate titan Donald Trump, calling him the “prince of swine,” according to former columnist Michael Thomas.
Kushner’s newspaper ownership gave him entree to the city’s powerful. Kushner by then had relocated the company to Manhattan, and he added to his allure by announcing in January 2007 a deal that shocked many real estate analysts.
He agreed to pay $1.8 billion for a 41-story office building at 666 Fifth Ave., only blocks from Trump Tower, the highest price paid at the time for a U.S. office building. Kushner called it “a great acquisition,” but some real estate veterans saw it as an act of hubris. Income projections suggested that Kushner had vastly overpaid — and that was months before the Great Recession further softened the market.
Within three years, Kushner’s project was drowning. A 2010 appraisal placed its value at $820 million, about half of what he paid, and well below his debt to banks, according to financial records. As the recession set in, office rents plunged, and his building’s occupancy rate dropped from nearly full to 77 percent in 2011, according to lending documents.
Bankers turned to LNR, a Florida firm that handles distressed real estate debt as a precursor to possible foreclosure. LNR represented the banks in their effort to collect Kushner’s obligations.
That created extraordinary pressure on Kushner to negotiate with LNR to reduce his debt burden. But that, in turn, meant some banks and investors might be paid less than expected. A battle began between Kushner and the companies that helped finance his risky purchase. LNR declined comment.
One of the biggest debt holders was Colony Capital, which owned $72.2 million, according to analysts’ estimates. The company was run by Thomas J. Barrack Jr., aTrump friend. Barrack had worked for an oil baron who sold the iconic Plaza Hotel to Trump for $410 million, which Trump later acknowledged was too high, eventually forcing him to put the property into bankruptcy. The two men nonetheless remained close; Barrack had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention and headed Trump’s inaugural committee.
Kushner mentioned to his wife, Ivanka Trump — whom he married in 2009 — that Barrack was going after him on the debt. She told him that her father was close to Barrack, and so Donald Trump introduced Kushner to Barrack, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Barrack was concerned, but Kushner argued that lowering his obligation was better than foreclosure. “I’m asking you to make more money for yourself than you’ll make otherwise,” Kushner told Barrack, according to the person familiar with the conversation. Barrack did not respond to a request for comment.
A company run by another Trump associate, Steven Roth, chief executive and chairman of office giant Vornado Realty Trust, bought 49.5 percent of the project and helped run it. Roth is partners with Trump on other buildings and was chosen by the president to run a committee that will recommend how to spend federal money on infrastructure projects. Both Vornado and Roth declined comment.
At the same time, one of Kushner’s most severe challenges was dealing with a New York company called AREA Property Partners, which held $105.4 million of Kushner’s debt, according to industry estimates based on lending documents. Its chief executive, Richard Mack, objected to Kushner’s debt-relief requests. Mack declined comment.
Ultimately, Kushner made a deal with LNR to ease his debt burden and allow him to retain majority control. The agreement allowed Kushner to pay off some loans immediately, lowered his payment rate and extended the deadline on the bulk of the debt for two years, to February 2019. The initial $1.2 billion mortgage was split in two, with $115 million of what he owed subjugated by Kushner’s position so that banks may ultimately have to write it off, according to financial filings.
Such restructurings are not unusual for owners facing extensive real estate debt. But Kushner’s negotiations to protect his family’s investment left some hard feelings. A lender involved in the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing private conversations, told The Post he was upset because Kushner did little to protect his lenders. The lender said the various renegotiations could cost banks and investors hundreds of millions of dollars compared with what was originally expected.
“They could have taken steps to mitigate the damage,” the lender said.
But Kushner viewed it as a hardball business deal and showed that he was a tough negotiator, according to an individual familiar with his perspective.
Sources familiar with the arrangement said the Kushner family got back most of its $500 million investment.
Kushner divested himself of his interest in 666 Fifth Ave. when he joined the administration, although he kept stakes in about 90 percent of his real estate holdings, valued between $132 million and $407 million. He resigned from the family business and pledged a clear ethical divide. But ethics experts say his remaining business ties — many in partnerships and LLCs that cannot be easily traced — call for fuller disclosure.
His admirers in real estate say Kushner has never made deals in traditional ways, although he is quick to seek counsel.
Sandeep Mathrani, the chief executive of shopping mall giant General Growth Properties, said he has been periodically offering Kushner advice since the young developer asked to meet with him almost a decade ago.
“I think Jared got into the real estate business to redeem the reputation of the Kushner family, and I think he has definitely done that in the New York circles,” Mathrani said.
“Jared was always hungry for creative new ideas and not saying ‘This is the way we’ve done things for generations.’ Which is cool because a lot of people in real estate families, that’s how they behave,” said Asher Abehsera, a Kushner partner in a high-end project under development in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn.
Kushner had never shied away from hardball tactics, and as a newspaper owner, he had a media vehicle to spread negative information.
One editor of the Observer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing a private conversation, said Kushner wanted a negative story on a banker who was at odds with the family business. The editor recalled Kushner saying: “We have to do a hit job on this guy. He is a bad guy.”
“I said, ‘Jared, first off, never use the phrase ‘hit job.’ We can’t use that term. And second, there’s no story here,” the editor said.
A similar episode occurred with Spiers, the former editor who said Kushner offered a tip that cast Mack, the lender from AREA Property Partners, in a bad light.
Mainstream media organizations generally try to maintain editorial independence from their owners, so Spiers was concerned that Kushner was hoping to use the paper to punish an antagonist.
Spiers said Kushner urged her to pursue the tip, which included information about Mack’s business affairs. Spiers, who previously had founded the website Gawker, told The Post she had already determined that Kushner seemed to want to use the paper to advance his business interests.
“Jared didn’t buy the paper because he was interested in journalism. He bought the paper because it was a mechanism to gain influence in New York,” Spiers said. “He was angry at the media because he thought the media was partly responsible for his father going to jail.”
She said she told Kushner that “you realize if we did this story, if anything is wrong, even by accident, he has a malice precondition, and Jared didn’t know what I was talking about.” A public official who sues for libel must show that the publication had “actual malice” against the subject of the story.
Spiers gave the tip to two reporters, but they could not substantiate it. Kushner insisted on meeting with the reporters twice and brought in a source to speak with them, according to Foster Kamer, one of the reporters. Still, it could not be confirmed.
Kamer said that Kushner had put him in an improper position.
“To Jared, it was such a benign thing, and to myself, it was just one of the most deeply offensive . . . things that had ever happened to me professionally,” Kamer said.
In the end, the reporters and Spiers convinced Kushner that the tip did not check out, and no story was published.
“I think it took a year off my life to pursue that story,” Spiers said. “Every meeting I had with him, he asked, ‘So how’s that story coming?’ ”
Kushner was asked in March 2016 at a forum how he managed conflicts between his real estate business and the Observer. He brushed off the question.
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“If you don’t want conflicts, just go into your apartment and lock the door, don’t go to work, don’t do anything,” he said. “But as it comes up, you trust people to do the right things, and we found that we really haven’t had any issues.”
An associate defended Kushner by saying the newspaper owner spent less than 1 percent of his time on the Observer and was not involved in daily operations. As Kushner gave less attention to his newspaper, he hired a close friend, Ken Kurson, to become editor in 2013.
Kurson, who announced this past week that he was stepping down from his Observer job, said in an interview that those “who poke fun at the enormous portfolio” Kushner has at the White House fail to appreciate what he has gone through during the past decade — and what he means to Trump.
“It overlooks, first of all, the complexity and depth of what he has achieved in his business career,” Kurson said of Kushner. “It overlooks the major factor of how leaders select their teams. It is trust.”
NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 25: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 25, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world’s major problems. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)(Credit: Getty/Ramin Talaie)
It is difficult to tally how many conversations I have had with someone making extreme, paranoid and hateful remarks about Hillary Clinton. Often the accuser’s eyes open wide, spittle begins to form at the corner of his lips, and he declares that the world’s greatest monster is the former senator and secretary of state.
Once in a bar, two acquaintances rambled at torturous length about the email “scandal.” They had no clue what the then-presidential candidate had plotted with her private server, but they knew it was diabolical. No evidence is necessary if the suspect is Hillary Clinton — a villain who rivals Professor Moriarty and Saddam Hussein.
My simple questions regarding Clinton’s exoneration by the Justice Department, internal State Department review and FBI report made it painfully clear that if these two men were not obsessed with a minor email storage procedure, they would find another reason to cast Clinton into the fires of hell. First on the fringes of the right wing and eventually the general population, Americans since the early 1990s have condemned the woman for unprovable offense upon unverifiable innuendo. It is likely that no modern public figure has faced greater hostility, slander and scrutiny.
A close friend of mine, whom I immensely admire, enthusiastically supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary, but was reticent to vote for Clinton. “She is deceitful by default,” he said. The problem with adopting an absolute position is that it creates circular logic. If Hillary Clinton is incapable of telling the truth, then every statement she utters is a lie. The axiom eliminates the need for investigation of thoughtful evaluation. The case is closed before it opens.
Susan Bordo, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and feminist literary critic, interrogates the American media and political discourse in her new book, “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” with the hope of discovering how and why the flawed but largely noble political figure became the subject of such widespread scorn that survey respondents have consistently found her “less trustworthy” than her 2016 opponent, Donald Trump, a compulsive liar and snake oil-soaked con man.
The result is an important but incomplete examination of the strange political life of Hillary Clinton. Bordo has provided an interpretively annotated campaign narrative, re-creating the horror show of 2016 almost week by week. Due to no fault of Bordo, who writes in an accessible and enjoyable style, the reading experience is as sickening as ingesting medicine meant to induce vomiting because we know how awfully the story ends.
Bordo sharpens her focus most clearly and closely on sexism, exposing how gender stereotypes, misogynistic assumptions and chauvinistic typecasting have made it nearly impossible for Clinton or her supporters to influence, much less control, public perceptions about her ideology and candidacy.
In the 1990s, Bordo reminds readers, commentators objected to Clinton, calling her “Lady Macbeth of Little Rock” and an “aspiring philosopher queen.” Critics abhorred her radical feminism, believing she was an unsympathetic moralist. In 2016 she was cartoonishly amoral. For the far left or hard right, she didn’t seem to possess any redeeming virtues and appeared to be a self-serving elitist who counted “Clinton cash,” to quote the title of a best-selling book, while watching Americans die in Benghazi and her Wall Street friends liquidate middle class wealth.
Millions of Americans also believe without awareness of cognitive dissonance, Clinton is a master manipulator of the political pair of aces — the woman’s card and victim card — and simultaneously an enabler of her husband’s adulterous affairs.
The incoherence of Clinton hatred becomes more decipherable when Bordo cites polling data demonstrating that in 2015 Americans routinely ranked “least trustworthy” alongside Clinton, Carly Fiorina — an obscure Republican candidate with no prior experience in politics. A recent poll, not yet available when Bordo took to writing, has showed that any Democrat but Elizabeth Warren would currently defeat Donald Trump in an election. Can anyone guess what Clinton, Fiorina and Warren have in common?
Bordo explores familiar territory when she illustrates her feminist thesis with powerful examples about misperception. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both appeared as if their jugulars would explode mid-speech as they bellowed at rallies, their faces turning red, but only Clinton faced relentless mockery and criticism for her “shrill” and “loud” delivery.
Many Americans, committed to nothing but blindness, still insist that sexism played no role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential race. That’s even with the knowledge that 13 women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault, after leaked footage of his boasts of similar criminal behavior, failed to resonate with the same power as questions surrounding Clinton’s email decisions and habits as secretary of state.
Bordo deftly handles the email issue to cast her story with identifiable culprits responsible for the “destruction of Hillary Clinton.” James Comey, a chronic abuser of his power and the hideously perfect personification of the FBI’s right-wing culture, is the head snake, but there are other important characters slithering around the wreckage.
Bernie Sanders, the progressive revivalist and faith healer, began his campaign with the famous exhortation, “Enough with the damn emails,” but soon began castigating Clinton as a counterfeit progressive firmly resting underneath a manhole of Wall Street. With clever, roundabout phrasing, he would find a way to pair the word “integrity” with the email triviality and to reference the popular classification of Clinton as “lesser of two evils.” The Sanders doctrine, assigning authenticity to him alone, was not something his religiously fervent supporters would soon forget. It did not help that, for reasons of ego or something else as yet unexplained, Sanders stayed in the race long after it was all but impossible for him to win.
Various members of the media contributed to the destruction. Bordo makes the most of a Harvard University study of the primary showing that even aside from the email “scandal,” 84 percent of the television news coverage of the Clinton campaign was negative, compared with 43 percent for Trump’s and 17 percent for Sanders’.
The avalanche of attacks on Clinton followed the mass media’s fixation on, what Daniel Boorstin, called “pseudo-events.” “A pseudo-event,” Bordo writes, “is something that acquires authority not because it is accurate, but simply because the media has reported it, repeated, exaggerated it, replayed it, and made a mantra of it.”
The most absurd pseudo-event, among many possibilities, was the “serious” discussion regarding Clinton’s health after she almost collapsed during a spell with pneumonia. Speculation that Clinton was near death dominated social media, while media outlets asked what Clinton was hiding. As of the time of this writing, Hillary Clinton is still alive.
The existence of Hillary Clinton is objectionable to many Americans. In a strange and self-serving review of “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” Sarah Jones, the social media editor at the New Republic, accuses Susan Borno of “canonizing and infantilizing” Clinton before mawkishly defending millennials who refused to support the Democratic nominee for president.
Jones is correct that Bordo undermines her credibility by entirely ignoring the failures, errors and injurious decisions of the Clinton campaign, but the crucial choice is one of emphasis. In telling the story of Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, and in attempting to explain an outspoken buffoon and bigot’s rise to the office of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy, is it really best to focus on how Clinton should have spent more time in Wisconsin? Jones actually devotes attention to how Clinton supported raising the minimum wage to $12, while Sanders went for the full $15. The $3 difference will surely comfort elderly people, who may no longer receive Meal on Wheels services, and the poor teenagers who, thanks to Trump, may not be able to apply for Pell grants for college.
It is on the matter of accountability for the suicidal populism of the American people that Bordo also fails. The entire time I spent reading “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” I kept asking, but why? Why did so many people — especially men — believe all the smears and fall for all the tricks against Clinton? The power of propaganda is awe-inspiring, and the influence of the mediocre mass media is immeasurable, but there are flaws of character and intelligence among large swaths of the general public rendering people susceptible to the allure of pseudo-event reporting.
Gore Vidal recalled a private conversation he had with Hillary Clinton when he asked her why so many people, “especially the most ignorant of the population,” to use his words, “straight white men,” hate her. She laughed, and with a jocular delivery answered, “I remind them of their ex-wives.” Vidal added that Clinton has a sardonic sense of humor much too witty and sharp for the American people.
Bordo approaches Vidal’s depth of insight when she wonders if the young women who despise Clinton do so because she reminds them of their mothers. Bordo tosses out this gem and pulls it back after only a paragraph, like a rock band playing a few seconds of a classic riff only to abandon the song altogether.
It is easy to undress Comey for his obvious and odious misdeeds, just as it is straightforward business to ridicule the mainstream television media for sexist reportage. The real task awaiting the bold writer is to inspect a large percentage of the American people for the deformities and defects of intellect that would allow them to select Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. In this same population, large numbers disbelieve evolutionary biology but support the torture of terrorism suspects.
During one of my conversations with a rabid opponent of Lucifer — I mean, Hillary — I noticed that he used the exact same language to bash and brand the politician as he did to insult his wife. I told him I was appalled by the language he used to describe his spouse, but never followed up on the Clinton connection.
I have a feeling that the real story behind the “destruction of Hillary Clinton” is visible at that intersection.
David Masciotra is the author of “Mellencamp: American Troubadour” (University of Kentucky Press), and is currently at work on a collection of personal essays for Agate Publishing.
Teens from around the world, accompanied by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, will pour into New York to participate in the ninth annual CTeen International Shabbaton. The official program starts Friday and lasts through Sunday. Pictured from last year is Samuel Tibi from Ra’anana, Israel; this year, his younger brother, Victor Tibi, is attending. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
“How many people can show up in Times Square and have a mad Jewish party there?” asks Koby Lerner, rhetorically.
The 16-year-old from San Diego will be one of more than 2,000 Jewish teenagers from countries around the world to share in a Havdalah ceremony and spend Saturday night in New York’s iconic neighborhood at Broadway and Seventh Avenue as part of the ninth annual CTeen International Shabbaton, to take place Feb. 24-26. And that’s only a part of a weekend of spirited (and spiritual) celebrations, learning, touring, socializing and more.
Koby recalls the first time he attended the Shabbaton two years ago and his first impression of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, N.Y. “At first, it seemed like we didn’t fit in there because we didn’t have black hats and white shirts,” he says. “But it didn’t matter at all to anybody there: They loved us unconditionally. You could feel the love from these random strangers.”
What began nine years ago with 40 teens has expanded to more than 2,000 set to arrive this year. Along with hundreds chaperones and staff, this will be the largest Shabbaton to date.
These numbers, according to Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302, “are a testament to the dedicated Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries who have worked tirelessly to bring Jewish teens closer to Yiddishkeit.”
In Germany, getting ready for going abroad. This year will see the largest international group to date, including chapters from Moscow, Monaco and Brazil. (CTeen Photo)
Rabbi Mendy Mottal, Chabad emissary of CTeen Paris, is accompanying 207 participants from throughout France to New York. “Each year, the energy and effort that is poured into making this event is incredible,” he says. “Our teens always have an uplifting and inspiring experience, much of which I attribute to the incredible community feeling that Crown Heights offers us.”
This year, for the first time, CTeen will welcome chapters from Moscow, Monaco and Brazil, making this the largest international group ever. And as many as 75 young Israelis are flying to New York.
Rabbi Aizik Rosenfeld of the Marina Roscha Synagogue and Jewish Community Center in Moscow will be accompanied by 22 teens to the Shabbaton, none of whom have ever been to the United States before. “They’re really pumped up,” says Rosenfeld. “New York is like a dream come true; it’s what America means to them.”
The students will be hosted by local families and experience a traditional Shabbat, similar to what it was like for many of their great-grandparents and forefathers, adds the rabbi.
Rabbi Zalman Marcus, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo, Calif., fields questions from participants and parents about what to expect at the three-day event. (CTeen Photo)
“It will be an interesting experience for them, keeping Shabbat from beginning to end,” says Rosenfeld, who moved to Moscow three years ago with his wife, Blumi. He remembers being amazed at “how much liberty there is now, how much openness there is as far as Yiddishkeit in general. Still, the density of Jewish life in Moscow, growing as it is, remains very different from Crown Heights.”
For these young people, he says, every small step—such as putting on tefillinonce a week or observing Shabbat to any extent—is a huge change.
Similar to the Russian students, Rabbi Chai Kohan, head of CTeen Español, adds that “the draw for many arriving from South and Central America is the chance to meet other Jewish teens from around the world. Most of them have never traveled to the United States.”
The worldwide growth of CTeen programs like the Shabbaton is thanks to the Meromim Foundation, spearheaded by Rabbi Bentzi Lipskier. To date, the foundation has sponsored more than 40 CTeen Chabad couples under the “New Shluchim Initiative.”
The Shabbaton comes just days after thousands of women filled Brooklyn as part of the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchos).
CTeen Côte S. Luc preps in Montreal, Canada (CTeen Photo)
‘Part of Your Journey’
In New York, teens will get to visit some of the city’s major attractions: the Statue of Liberty, the new One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, Midtown, Uptown, Downtown and more—and will spend Shabbat learning, eating, praying and getting to know one another.
Participants will also get a tour of Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, and the President Street home and the study of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. And they will visit the Ohel, the Rebbe’s resting place at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.
Teens get an update in Ashkelon, Israel, about the Shabbaton. As many as 75 young Israelis are flying to New York. (CTeen Photo)
Victoria Lamport, 17, from Tampa, Fla., sees the recreational parts of the Shabbaton as intrinsically connected to its more religious aspects. “It’s fun to see all your friends, to reconnect and to meet new people,” she says, “but the spiritual side to it is also the fact that you’re around so many people who are as motivated as you are . . . people who want to help, people who want to be a part of your journey, people doing certain mitzvahs for the first time and seeing how it affects them.”
She has seen that transformative energy work in her own family. “What is really awesome,” says the high school senior, “is that as I started to learn more, my family also got more involved. My dad started having the rabbi over every other week to learn. It’s been amazing to see the impact that Chabad has had on our lives.”
She hopes to spend the summer focusing on Jewish studies before starting a pre-med curriculum at college. “When I’m learning is when I really feel; I can almost feel my neshamah [‘soul’]. I don’t really know how to explain it. I just feel it—like I have a purpose in this world.”
Koby relates how exposure to the strong camaraderie that Victoria describes has been “life-changing.” Last summer, the California native went on the “CTeen Xtreme” summer travel camp out West, staying on afterwards for a yeshivah program. “I liked it so much I decided I didn’t want to go home, so I convinced my parents to let me stay.” Now, Koby lives and learns full-time at Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad in Los Angeles.
Koby Lerner of California will join the Shabbaton for a second time. The 16-year-old was also part of “CTeen Xtreme” summer travel camp last year, shown here having a blast. (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Youths Into Leaders
For many teens, the inspiration continues long after the Shabbaton is over.
“My daughter, Sydney, was always deathly afraid of getting up to speak, even to our own family,” says Craig Winawer of Dix Hills, N.Y. “Recently, I watched her make a 10-minute speech in front of our of whole shul about CTeen and the Shabbaton. This is a kid who you can barely get to say three words at our Passoverseder.”
Ever since Sydney became involved four years ago, her father has watched his shy daughter transform into a real leader. Today, she is member of the CTeen International Board.
A little anxiety, however, isn’t just relegated to teenagers. Brochie Levin of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta in Calgary, Canada, acknowledges that “as a new shlucha to CTeen, I was nervous about bringing in a group for the Shabbaton. But the amount of advice, prep and work that was put into helping us was incredible. Our teens are so excited—and so are we.”
To learn more about CTeen International and the Shabbaton, click here.
The Havdalah ceremony and celebration in Times Square 2014 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2015 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
Times Square 2016 (Photo: Bentzi Sasson)
A group on the way from Kiryat Bialik, Israel, for the 2017 Shabbaton (CTeen Photo)
(TWO MONTHS AGO MY 33 YR OLD NEPHEW DIED FROM THIS IN SCRANTON SO THIS STORY HAS PERSONAL MEANING TO ME)
JAN 9 2017, 11:08 AM ET
Wilkes-Barre Faces Heroin Scourge Turning It Into ‘the Most Unhappy Place in America’
‘Dropping Like Flies’: Heroin Epidemic Takes Hold of PA County 7:36
For William Lisman, the longtime Luzerne County coroner, the first sign of the coming plague appeared in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania in November 2015.
A 27-year-old woman from one of the mountain towns surrounding Wilkes-Barre was found dead in her family home.
Lisman suspected a drug overdose. She was young. She had been healthy. There were no obvious signs of trauma. And heroin abuse had been on the rise in recent years.
“When a person dies of an overdose, the lungs fill with fluid,” he said. “The victims essentially drown in their own fluids.”
Because autopsies are expensive and time-consuming, many coroners faced with cases like these do toxicological tests designed to pick up traces of known drugs to determine the cause of death. But the first test Lisman administered came back negative. So did the second.
So Lisman listed the cause of death as undetermined.
Several days later, a 34-year-old man was found dead in a sleeping bag in the nearby city of Hazleton.
Once again, Lisman suspected a fatal drug overdose. Once again, the tox tests came back negative. And once again, he listed the cause of death as undetermined.
“I remember when it started because it was budget time and they were about to cut my budget,” he said, with a wry chuckle. “At that point the doctor I had been consulting with (about these two cases) told me, ‘Bill, there is something going on here’.”
Like many coroners in smaller counties, Lisman is not a doctor. But he knows about death. A third-generation Wilkes-Barre resident, he and his family ran a funeral home that buried several generations of city residents. He reached out to fellow coroners in neighboring counties to see if they had similar cases.
They had. And the answer was fentanyl, a powerful painkiller the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, packs 50 to 100 times more punch than morphine, and can be manufactured easily by illegal drug mills. This was the same drug that killed Prince last April.
“I started hearing about fentanyl and how drug dealers were cutting heroin with it,” he said.
Lisman said he had the toxicological tests “tweaked” to detect the presence of fentanyl and “after that, the drug overdoses here skyrocketed.”
Facing a crisis, Lisman called the local newspaper, The Times Leader, last May and sounded the alarm.
“I knew I wasn’t going to stop people from using, but I wanted people to know what they were using,” he said. “This stuff can kill them.”
And it has.
The deadly math in Wilkes-Barre
Last year there were 137 fatal drug overdoses — more than half of them the result of heroin laced with fentanyl — in a county of just 318,000 people.
That death rate is four times higher than New York City.
“Twenty years ago, we might have 12 deaths we determined to be drug deaths,” Lisman said. “This year we are on track for 150 deaths…By our standards, it’s off the charts.”
There have been so many fatal drug overdoses that Lisman, who uses an examination room in the basement of a local hospital to do autopsies, said he has had to “finagle space to put all the bodies.”
“I have only room for two in my cooler,” he said. “There’s room for just 10 more in the hospital’s other cooler.”
The victims reflect the demographics of the county — they’re mostly white, often lower to middle-income, Lisman said.
“Age wise, we are across the spectrum, from 20’s to the 70’s,” he said. “We see everyone from the guy in the flophouse to the hard-working guys or gals who find relief in drugs.”
Also, while heroin users in the past relied on needles, “the vast majority now is being snorted,” said Lisman. “A user doesn’t have to go through the process of injecting now. It makes it easier to use.”
A big part of the reason Wilkes-Barre is grappling with a drug problem, Lisman said, is because this city of 41,000 is just a two-hour drive from Philadelphia and from New York City. Interstates 80 and 81 converge just south of the city.
A packet of heroin that sells for $5 in the Bronx can fetch double that in Wilkes-Barre, Lisman said. And if it’s cut with fentanyl, the profit quadruples along with the danger to the users.
“Heroin definitely has its hold on this area,” said Cathy Ryzner, a certified recovery specialist at the Wyoming Valley Alcohol & Drug Services in Wilkes-Barre. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Every time you look in the newspaper and you see somebody died young and at home, you know. You know.”
Christopher Emmett buried his 23-year-old son, Christopher Jr., in August, although in his case it was due to a lethal mixture of morphine and codeine.
“Every time I hear of somebody dying it’s always with the fentanyl mixed with it, it’s never somebody that just did heroin and died from doing heroin,” he said.
From boom town to boarded-up storefronts
The plague hit Wilkes-Barre as the proud county seat on the Susquehanna River was struggling to reverse decades of decay.
Once a thriving city of 80,000, Wilkes-Barre was built by coal and manufacturing barons who erected stately homes and public edifices like the stunning Luzerne County Court House and the 14-story Luzerne National Bank Building in Public Square. Thousands of Italian, Polish and Irish immigrants poured into the city to work in the mines and toil in the garment factories.
But the city lost half its population when the anthracite coal mines died in the 1950s and the good manufacturing jobs began vanishing. And in 1972, Hurricane Agnes delivered a body blow to the local economy when it flooded downtown with nine feet of water.
After that, Wilkes-Barre became a city of abandoned buildings and boarded-up store fronts as the remaining residents struggled to find their footing in an economy where the main employers were now government agencies, the local colleges and hospitals.
The recession in 2008 hit Wilkes-Barre — long a Democratic bastion — hard. And when Barack Obama was running for president, hopeful residents voted for him in droves and did so again when he ran for reelection in 2012. But while the rest of the country rebounded, this Rust Belt city and the rest of the county, including Vice President Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton, were slow to recover.
Many jobs returned, but not many were the good-paying kind that could support a middle-class life. And those who opted to stay in Wilkes-Barre became disappointed and resentful.
“They want the jobs they had before, not the jobs that are available now,” said Kathy Bozinski , the marketing and communications chief at the United Way of Wyoming Valley. “A lot of good things happened during the Obama Administration, but a lot of the things the folks here were hoping for just didn’t happen.”
In November, Luzerne County voted for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, handing the Republican a narrow but shocking victory that helped propel him to the White House.
“I hate to use the cliché, but there are a lot of angry white guys in the region who 20 years ago were making decent money ,” Bozinski said. “Now they are struggling to pay the mortgage and have a good life. There is a lot of frustration.”
Mary Wallace, who is Lisman’s office administrator, said for many people leaving Wilkes-Barre for a better life somewhere else is not an option.
“It’s hard for people who have been here for generations, whose families are buried here, to pick up and move even if they might be better off somewhere else,” she said. “This is their home.”
The most unhappy place in the United States
Two years ago, a pair of researchers — one from Harvard, the other from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada — concluded that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area was the most unhappy place in the U.S.
They reached their conclusion after wading through the results of telephone polls conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2005 and 2009, including answers to the question, “How satisfied are you with your life?”
Lisman, whose four grown children did not return to the Wilkes-Barre after finishing college, agreed that they live in a depressed community.
“We have a lot of people who are unhappy with life,” he said. “People using drugs are looking to escape.”
For Lisman, the heroin plague “is a symptom of the way people here feel and have felt for years.”
“I don’t have an answer for opiate addiction,” he said, his smile fading fast. “The pain and suffering that it has caused is unbelievable. It is eating away at the core of society.”
Cathy Ryzner, a certified recovery specialist at Wyoming Valley Alcohol & Drug Services, said the people she sees are dealing with a host of demons beyond the economic, everything from sexual abuse and broken homes to being raised in households where drinking and drug-taking runs rampant. She’s seen people who get hooked on prescription drugs make the move to heroin.
“But I can’t just blame the doctors,” she said. “It’s a little bit of economics, little bit of hardship, little bit of being raised like that.”
Drugs like heroin, she said, “makes all your problems melt away.”
“It masks any kind of hurt, any kind of feeling…after three days of doing opiates you are addicted,” she said. “You don’t even know you’re getting caught up.”
And Ryzner would know. She was a drug addict for three decades and has been clean for 10 years.
Death by drug overdose “just not natural”
It was against this backdrop that the heroin plague hit the region.
Coroner Lisman, whose dad was once the mayor of Wilkes-Barre, said that at first he made a point of personally going to the scenes when a suspected fatal overdose was reported. No more.
“Now it’s become so routine,” said Lisman, who has gone back to dispatching his deputies to do the grim work of taking the bodies to the morgue.
But Lisman says he is very much aware of what this plague is doing to his hometown and admits it has left him shaken.
“I was raised in an apartment above a funeral home….death never scared me,” he said.
What bothers him, he said, is the resignation he has seen in the victims’ families ones who react “almost with relief.”
“It bothers me that somebody’s life could reach a point that death could be a positive thing,” he said.
This from a man who has comforted thousands of people over the years whose loved ones died of natural causes, sometimes after enduring years of pain.
“Death by drug overdose is different,” he said. “That’s just not natural.”
One case in particular still haunts him. The police had gotten a 911 call and arrived to find a young couple in their 30s dead in bed from “a hot load of heroin while their 5-year-old son was watching TV and eating Cheerios,” Lisman said. “He knew enough to call the police for help.”
Death behind closed doors
The heroin plague in Wilkes-Barre is largely hidden with death taking drug abusers behind closed doors.
“You don’t see junkies on the street,” said Bozinski, who was previously an Emmy Award-winning TV and radio reporter. “This happens behind closed doors. In bedrooms and basements.”
But the effects ripple across the city and touch everyone.
“Everywhere you go you hear, ‘Did you see the story about that one in the paper? Was that another drug overdose?” said Wallace. “That’s what everyone here is talking about.”
The toll is not just psychic. Crime is up, police report, especially petty thefts and break-ins by drug abusers looking for money to score a fix. And the dealers are almost always out-of-towners.
“They’re not racist,” Bozinski said of Wilkes-Barre’s residents. “Yes, some white guys blame people from outside for bringing drugs here. But there’s also the acknowledgement that there is a market for it here.”
“We’re behind the times,” said 42-year-old Paul Smith, who was born and raised in the city — and who buried his former partner Jeremy three weeks earlier after he died of a heroin overdose. “A lot of the problems that were happening in other places are now happening here.”
Sitting in a local bar called Hun’s Café 99 and nursing a beer and a basket of chicken wings , Smith said Jeremy didn’t know what he was dealing with when he started snorting heroin.
“It’s been a very hard thing,” he said. “I spent a lot of time helping him to get clean. It was a very hard reality. And it was very hard to find services to help him.”
Smith said people in Wilkes-Barre turn to drugs because they are already depressed about their lives, depressed that they have to work two or three jobs to get by.
“That’s why people went for Trump,” said Smith, who runs a limo service, owns real estate — and admits to voting for the Manhattan mogul as well. “People are so sick of other people doing better.”
Sitting beside Smith was 28-year-old John Sabatelli. He agreed that it was ignorance of dangerous new variety of heroin that was fueling the crisis. He recalled being surprised when he discovered that a couple at the warehouse where he works was getting high on heroin in the bathroom.
“It’s surprising in that you don’t know who is going to do it,” he said.
Grieving dad Christopher Emmett said drugs have got a death grip on his community. He said his doomed son started smoking pot at age 13 and quickly graduated to harder drugs. He said Christopher Jr. was in and out of rehab – and so were most of his friends.
“It is really an epidemic,” Emmett said. “We went to 14 funerals of my son’s friends who died of addiction in just one year. They’re dropping like flies, every day.”
Emmett’s wife, Patricia, burst into tears at the thought of spending Christmas without her son. And as she cried, her boy’s ashes sat in an urn on a shelf in the living room.
“There ain’t no Christmas,” she said, bitterly.
A proud town fights on
Wilkes-Barre may be down now but it is far from defeated. In Public Square, new restaurants like Franklin’s have opened to serve the young professionals who have moved downtown to live in loft apartments in some of the vintage buildings.
Older establishments like the Café Toscana were bustling with diners on a Tuesday night. And so was the brand new Chick-fil-A, which is located on the first floor of dorm that King’s College built right on the square in an attempt to make students part of the city’s revival.
Just outside downtown loomed the rotting hulks of long-abandoned factories. But higher up in the hills, Christmas lights twinkled on many of the modest-but-clearly kept up homes and the streets bustled with families going about the business of everyday life.
Over at the ornate county courthouse, which dates back to 1909 and which was built at a time when the future of Wilkes-Barre seemed bright, a chorus of fourth graders from a school across the river in Larksville filed into the central hall to perform a medley of Christmas carols.
Watching them was the grandmother of one of the 11-year-old, a chubby, brown-haired boy with untied gym shoes. His face creased into an angelic smile when he spotted his grandma.
“I am scared for him,” said the grandmother, who declined to give her name. “I have family that got hooked on drugs. I don’t want that to happen to him.”
Asked why the area has been so ravaged by drugs, she shook her head. “I don’t know, maybe because they’re so easy to get,” she said.
The children’s music teacher, Joseph James, said so far his kids “are completely sheltered” from the heroin crisis unfolding around them.
When she outed herself to me as a Trump supporter, I realized I had finally found the “silent majority.” I looked at her, this suddenly strange girl who sleeps a few feet away from me, my college roommate. The silent majority has seen me put on my head scarf in the morning and take it off at night. The silent majority has touched my face, done my makeup, watches “Gilmore Girls” religiously. The silent majority occasionally enjoys sliced mango before bed.
We fought; I packed. This was Tuesday evening, so I headed to my friend’s dorm, where a small group of us, mainly black women, tried to find solace in one another as the country slowly fell to red. I tried and failed to speak, to write. I ignored my roommate’s lengthy texts.
Did she really expect me to respect her choice when her choice undermined my presence in this country, in this university, in my very own dorm room? Did she really expect me to shake her hand for supporting a candidate who would love to bar my relatives from this country, who has considered making people of my faith register in a specific database and carry special ID, Holocaust-style?
What with the standstill of loyalties in this election, it is no surprise that our argument proved hopeless. There was no reasoning with her, but my goal today is not to reason with her. I know perfectly well — by the nature of this very platform, by the type of person who would click on this article — that I am preaching to the choir.
My roommate’s reasoning reflected an “us versus them” mind-set that has defined this nation for as long as it has existed, that explains the very core of Donald J. Trump’s appeal. Mr. Trump’s canned last-minute appeals to “one united people” does not change the fact that the world feels very different to me today.
I’ve always found refuge and clarity in the streets of New York City. After the vote was all but called at 3 in the morning, I wandered around Times Square with two equally bewildered friends. Drifting through the empty blue streets, witnessing the ugly truth illuminated by billboards, was more surreal than I could have imagined. The emboldened silent majority speckled the streets, sporting their red “Make America Great Again” caps. I was struck by a feeling that their caps were a military uniform, that our country was at civil war, and that I was a target. The way we eyed one another warily seemed to confirm this sentiment. And in fact, this exact dynamic seems to be playing out on college campuses around the country.
During a job interview recently, I was asked about the audience that I write for. I responded instantly: people who do not look like me. People I can shock with my multifaceted existence — the fact that I am Muslim and an ardent feminist, a child of immigrants and a writer in English. People — mainly white people — whom I can persuade to see reason by sharing parts of myself through stories that make me as real to them as they are to themselves.
On the subway back from Times Square, I realized that I was seeing the election results as proof of my personal failure as a writer. A black friend who was with me saw the election results as proof of her personal failure as a Black Lives Matter activist. A white friend seemed to blame his choice to vote in New York rather than back home in Michigan. Everyone I was with seemed crippled by a collective lack of agency that was more difficult to watch than CNN’s election coverage.
But this is not our fault. We are not the silent majority.
My roommate’s main defense of Mr. Trump during our argument was that he didn’t mean the “stupid things” he said. She had the privilege to dismiss his words, just as he has the privilege to dismiss mine. But today, I have woken up with a craving to write. Today, for the first time in a long time, my audience has changed.
Now that an us-versus-them system has been voted into office, I want to write for those who feel like the latter, the “them.” National unity in this moment may be nonexistent, but the unity among us is real and crucial. To the first trans kid I ever met; to my Muslim and Hispanic and female friends; to my sister and my mother, both hijabis; to all of the individuals who helped me feel love on Tuesday night, who offered me water as I cried on their bathroom floors, who marched from Union Square to Trump Tower on Wednesday — I believe in us, in our ability to regroup and find a course of action.
Mobilization depends on all of us — everyone who has been or could be a target of Mr. Trump, everyone who has been appalled by this election, at the parody of American democracy that has unfolded. We do not need to be silent. We do need to find resilience, inspiration and hope in one another.
At least 13 arrested in Los Angeles for blocking highway traffic in protest of Trump
Anti-Trump protests have occurred in more than 25 cities
(CNN) The morning after Election Day smacked Democrats with a combination of shock and sadness.
Donald Trump would be the next US President. For thousands, disappointment turned to protest as Hillary Clinton supporters channeled their disbelief into a single defiant message.
“Not my President,” they chanted. “Not today.”
In response to Trump’s victory, a shocking win fueled by the rural roar of a dismayed white America, tens of thousands in at least 25 US cities — including New York and Nashville, Chicago and Cleveland, San Francisco and Seattle — shouted anti-Trump slogans, started fires, and held candlelight vigils to mourn the result.
Donald Trump’s victory met with mixed reaction02:33
Many of those demonstrations continued early Thursday morning and led to dozens of arrests.
“People are furious, not just at the results of the election, but the rhetoric of Donald Trump,” Ahmed Kanna, an organizer for Social Alternative Berkeley, told CNN’s Don Lemon.
Demonstrations outside Trump’s properties
In New York, authorities estimated that as many as 5,000 people protested the real estate mogul’s victory outside Trump Tower. They included pop star Lady Gaga, a staunch Clinton supporter.
Lady Gaga protests against President-elect Donald Trump outside Trump Tower in New York.
Their concerns ranged from policies, such as his proposed plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, to the polarizing tenor of his campaign that stoked xenophobic fears.
“I came out here to let go of a lot of fear that was sparked as soon as I saw the results,” protester Nick Powers said. He said he feared Trump will support stronger stop-and-frisk policies that would put many people in prison. He also was worried that Trump’s victory would embolden sexist views.
Fifteen Trump Tower protesters were arrested Wednesday night for disorderly conduct, an NYPD spokesman said.
Protester: I wonder how much sexism was at play02:16
In Chicago, activists marched down Lake Shore Drive — an eight-lane expressway along Lake Michigan — toward the Windy City’s Trump Tower with signs such as one that said, “I still can’t believe I have to protest for civil rights.”
CNN’s Ryan Young, who saw a few thousand people there, said many chanted vulgarities toward the President-elect.
“As a nation we thought we had come so far, but it seems like we’re taking many steps back,” one woman said. “We want to come together to change that.”
Emotional Clinton supporter: Hillary, sue the US 01:36
Meanwhile, protesters in Washington chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” as they marched downtown to the Trump International Hotel. Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, an illuminated sign proclaimed that the US is “better than bigotry.”
Their cries turned profane after a solemn gathering of thousands who attended a candlelight vigil outside the White House to mourn the election loss.
“Everything that has been built up has been destroyed,” protester Brian Barto told CNN affiliate WJLA-TV. “America has failed (minorities).”
Hundreds of protesters rally against President-elect Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower in New York City.
Charles Watkins makes his voice heard at a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in Denver.
Clair Sheehan takes part in a protest on Wednesday against President-elect Donald Trump, in downtown Seattle.
People in downtown Seattle carry signs and listen to speakers in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump..
Protesters rally against Donald Trump in Union Square in New York City.
A woman argues with New York City police officers during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump.
Demonstrators gather before the start of a rally against President-elect Donald Trump in Boston on Wednesday.
Protesters in New Orleans burn an effigy of President-elect Donald Trump before a march.
Sasha Savenko, left and Sydney Kane join thousands of protesters in Seattle.
Hundreds of protesters rally against President-elect Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower in New York City.
Charles Watkins makes his voice heard at a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in Denver.
Clair Sheehan takes part in a protest on Wednesday against President-elect Donald Trump, in downtown Seattle.
People in downtown Seattle carry signs and listen to speakers in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump..
Protestors rally against Donald Trump in Union Square in New York City.
A woman argues with New York City police officers during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump.
Photos:Protest against the election of Donald Trump
Demonstrators gather before the start of a rally against President-elect Donald Trump in Boston on Wednesday.
Headed into Thursday, more than a thousand protesters in Los Angeles, including young Latino protesters, rallied outside City Hall, according to CNN’s Paul Vercammen.
They chanted “I will not live in fear,” “Fight back, stand up” and “¡Si se puede!” (Spanish for “It can be done”).
Protesters also set on fire a piñata depicting the head of President-elect.
More than 200 people gathered on steps of Los Angeles city hall protesting President-elect Donald Trump.
Several protesters said they feared that family or friends might be deported once Trump takes office. Brooklyn White, an 18-year-old protester who voted for Clinton, held a sign that said, “hate won’t win.”
“We can’t let it stop us,” she said. “If he’s the president then fine, but if Donald Trump is going to be it, then he has to listen.”
Early on Thursday morning, the protesters marched onto the 101 Freeway and blocked traffic. Authorities arrested at least 13 protesters, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said.
Donald Trump effigy burned by protesters.01:56
In Oakland, California, police said as many as 7,000 demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday night. By then, trash fires burned on a highway. Johnna Watson, public information officer with Oakland’s police department, said three officers were injured.
Thirty people were taken into custody and at least 11 citations were issued for vandalism, assaulting officers, unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and possession of a firearm. Police said some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, and fireworks at police officers.
A few miles away at Berkeley High School, about 1,500 students walked out of classes Wednesday morning. It was one of numerous high school walkouts that occurred nationwide following the election.
Supporters: Trump an ‘agent of change’
As anti-Trump protesters aired their grievances with the election’s outcome, supporters also came out in some places to express their enthusiasm for the President-elect.
In New York early Wednesday, groups of Trump supporters cheered his triumph outside Trump Tower. Others went to the White House late Tuesday and early Wednesday to show their support.
Nicholas Elliot, a Georgetown University student, said he was elated about Trump’s election as he compared it to the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union.
“I feel pretty good, a year and a half process has ended and it ended my way,” the Texan told CNN affiliate WJLA.
JD Vance, author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy,” told CNN that Trump supporters in middle America voted for the President-elect because so few people — including the Clinton or her supporters — had paid attention to their plight.
“They see Trump as is an agent of change and agent of protest against folks who they feel have really failed in government,” Vance said.
CNN’s Marc Preston said the “Band-Aid” has been ripped off over the past 24 hours. Now comes the hard part: finding middle ground.
“All that anger that has been contained outside of Washington, D.C. and New York that we don’t see in middle America necessarily although these are urban cities, everyone’s starting to see it,” Preston said. “There is a lot of healing that has got to happen.”
CNN’s Paul Vercammen, Ryan Young and Susanna Capelouto contributed to this story.
Photography enthusiast Matt Ames was pleased to find some rolls of old film among the usual collection of discarded bric-a-brac lining the shelves of a backstreet thrift shore in Virginia.
But what Mr Ames didn’t realize was that he’d accidentally stumbled upon a piece of Europe’s wartime history – as captured by a young American couple who appeared to be on their honeymoon in Italy.
For among the 400 or so negatives on the 35 mm nitrate films, he was shocked to uncover previously unseen photos of Adolf Hitler touring Italy at the height of his powers.
The pictures were taken by a mystery photographer, who Mr. Ames believes may either have ended up living in the city of Roanoke, where the films were purchased, or New York, which is featured in many of the photos.
Among the scores of holiday snaps and family photos, the pictures – taken in the years before the Second World War – reveal the unknown photographer’s brush with the 20th century’s most infamous leaders.
In one of the forgotten photos, Hitler is pictured sitting next to King Emmanuel III of Italy during a parade in Naples in 1938 after the Fuhrer had viewed fellow fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s naval fleet in the Mediterranean.
Mr Ames, who has held an exhibition of the photos in Martinsville, Virginia, said: ‘In 2013 I found several rolls of negatives in a thrift store in Roanoke, Virginia. They were standard 35 mm, black and white and some of the rolls were clearly nitrate film.
‘Much to my surprise the film included photographs of Hitler and King Emmanuel on parade, other Nazi images from Naples, Italy in the Spring of 1938, numerous photos of Naples city life, Pompeii and photos of Manhattan.’
Pictures of Adolf Hitler – sitting on the left beside King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy – were uncovered on films found in a thrift store in Roanoke, Virginia by photography enthusiast Matt Ames
Mystery couple: The roll of vacation snaps also includes a picture of the photographer and a woman thought to be his wife. The man is thought to have worked for Mobil Oil
Hitler visited Italy in 1938 to meet with fellow Axis leader Benito Mussolini. The photos uncovered in Virginia are believed to show him after he viewed Italy’s naval fleet
Hitler (circled) is pictured receiving fascist salutes from Italian troops, who lined the seafront road in Naples for his visit
The images show Hitler’s cavalcade surrounded by motorcycle outriders as he is paraded along the streets of the southern Italian city
The pictures also appear to show young members of Mussolini’s Gioventu Italian del Littorio or GIL youth movement, which was similar to the Hitler Youth in Germany
Hitler took a tour of Italy in 1938, and joined Mussolini and the king on board the battleship Conte di Cavour in Naples to watch military exercises
The photographer managed to capture a picture of the Italian fleet, which was amassed of the coast for the Fuhrer’s visit
The pictures also offer an insight into the fascist architecture being built-in Italy at the time, with swastikas adorning a number of public monuments (above and below)
Hitler’s visit to Naples was one of many meetings between the two leaders, pictured here ahead of the 1938 Munich conference. File Photo
The rolls of film were later bought by Matt Ames (pictured left with the films), who used newspaper cuttings to work out when they were taken
THE ‘MAD LITTLE CLOWN’ WHO SIGNED THE PACT OF STEEL – HITLER AND MUSSOLINI’S ROCKY RELATIONSHIP
Mussolini’s fascist regime, which took control of Italy in 1925, was in many ways seen as a forerunner to Hitler’s own Nazi party.
Hitler is known to have admired the way Mussolini swept to power and wrote to him in 1923, the year after the Italian’s famous ‘March on Rome’ protests.
After Mussolini took control of Italy, he provided financial assistance to Hitler’s National Socialist movement and allowed the SS to train with his ‘Blackshirts’ brigades.
After taking power in Germany, Hitler backed Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935 and the two countries’ forces lined up together with the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.
But despite the diplomatic consensus, the pair’s first meeting in 1934 (pictured right) went badly, with Mussolini struggling to understand Hitler’s Austrian accent.
Hitler is believed to have felt upstaged by Mussolini’s elaborate uniform and the Italian is said to have found Hitler boring and described him as ‘a mad little clown’.
Despite the personal differences, the two leaders signed the so-called ‘Pact of Steel’ in 1939, agreeing military and economic cooperation.
Italy didn’t officially enter the Second World War until 1940 and after a disastrous campaign in North Africa, the Allies invaded Sicily in 1943, with Mussolini later expelled from power and executed. Berlin fell in 1945, with Hitler committing suicide in his military bunker.
The pictures also include some street scenes of 1930’s Naples, including this one, showing a children’s goat-drawn cart in a city square
The snaps show the photographers’ interest in Italy’s famous sports cars, including a photo of this vehicle, pictured on a seaside promenade
The rolls of film also contain more usual holiday snaps from the photographer’s visit, including shots of the Naples skyline at the time
Mr Ames also found a series a photos of New York on the films, apparently taken from a boat rolling into the city’s famous harbor.
The pictures, which show a crowded boat about the dock in the US, suggest the man either visited Italy on a trip or moved to America from Europe ahead of the Second World War
The photos, along with tales from Mr Ames’ attempts to work out their origins, were made the subject of a recent exhibition at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia.
Mr Ames traced the location of the pictures by comparing this shot of Naples waterfront with modern-day pictures of the same location
The photographer, seemingly a car enthusiast, also took photos of this Fiat garage and motorists filling their vehicles outside.
The first time that I ever tried smoking Marijuana (Pot) was in the High School parking lot the year I turned 17, that was 1973. As I learned through the years the Pot I tried was Norther Illinois Homegrown and was basically worthless as far as getting a buzz (high) from it. Back then you could buy a five-finger bag for $15 but I thought it to be a waste of 15 hard-earned dollars. I am now 60 years old so I have been around Marijuana for 43 years now so yes, I do have some opinions that I would like to share with you about what I think and believe about this God-given plant. The next time I tried Pot I was 23 years old and living in Houston Texas. I have never really been a drinker of alcohol nor a user of hard drugs and I have never once stuck or been stuck with a needle with street drugs in it, I have never had such a desire to do so. The far right (wrong) media has been talking trash about Pot at least since about 1988 saying it is a ‘gateway drug” that gets people to go into doing “hard” drugs like Crack, Pills and Heroine. Folks, my life’s experiences have shown me that Pot being a “gateway drug” is a bunch of lies (BS).
Folks, I have known people who have smoked Pot their whole adult lives who have never gone onto harder drugs and that includes alcohol. I have known people in several professions who liked to smoke Pot in the evenings when they got home from work to help relax from the stress of their day and who would smoke it on the weekends for the relaxation of it. These people I speak of are my age and older who are now retired from their jobs. These people were/are inner twined into the fabric of our economy. They bought and paid off homes, cars, boats, and raised families. None of these people who I know ever did anything to get into trouble with the law, they weren’t/aren’t robbers, murderers or violent people. Many millions of people believe that this is a God-given plant that is given to the people for many health benefits and believe that no man, no government has any right to refuse it to the people. This past week President Obama said that Marijuana will stay in the class one category of drugs because it has no medical value and this is what the DEA also spouts as truth. I know that these are educated people but if they believe this they would have to be both ignorant and stupid. The only reason that these people would say something so stupid is if big money is involved, and you know it is. So, is it stupidity, ignorance or just plain crooked. Personally I have to go with the big money, thus the crooked concept.
I am a service connected disabled Veteran from active duty Army service. I was only in for seven months because in the second month I was struck by lightning during a training exercise. The VA has in the past loaded me up with pain killers which do almost nothing for the nerve pain so I had them stop them about 14-15 months ago as I have no desire to walk around like a Zombie. The only thing that I have found that helps is if/when I can find some good quality Pot. The Pot does not cure the issues but then again, neither do the pills. The Pot works like a block on the nerve pain, the pain is still there but it does not let the pain signals go from (A to B) SO IT STOPS THE PAIN SIGNAL FROM GOING TO THE BRAIN. About two weeks ago the Senators and Congressmen who were on the committee over seeing the budget for the VA at the last-minute took the provision to okay medical Marijuana out of the VA funding bill. These disgusting people should all be fired this November!
In my life I have seen many cases where people who used to smoke Pot but had to quit because of laws about pre employment and random drug test at their employers, if I remember correctly this kicked into high gear in about 1988. If you are old enough to remember this is about when our Federal Government started their so call ‘war on drugs’. This ignorance, the way they have gone about things have cost many thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could have gone into the economy instead. For many people when they had to quit smoking Pot because it stays traceable in your system for about 30 days they then started drinking or just drinking more than they ever had. Also for many people who still wanted a ‘high’ when they had to quit smoking Pot turned to things like Cocaine, Crack, Heroine, and Pills because these things only stay in a person’s system about three days. So in essence, the Government has increased drug usage with their ‘war on drugs’. Check the stats, in states where Marijuana is now legal drug overdoses have gone down, Pill usage has gone down because people would rather have the mellow high that Pot gives and a fact is, no one has ever died from an overdose of Marijuana. If states would all legalize real Marijuana this new product called K-2 would disappear. It seems like every week we are hearing of people having to go to the hospital because of the chemical effects of this synthetic version of Pot. Just yesterday it was on the news that 10 people in Austin Texas were sent to the hospital because of it.
There is only one thing that comes to mind for the reason that Marijuana is not legalized and that is there is very big money flowing into D.C. politicians to keep it illegal. Remember what I said about the VA? If Marijuana became legal and the VA was able to dispense it the drug companies would lose billions of dollars each year because there would be no need or reason to take their chemicals. This would also save the VA and the tax payers billions of dollars each year, this is money that could be going into the economy instead of CEO’s pockets. The U.S. ‘war on drugs’ has in fact created drug traffickers and cartels. This ignorance has created revenue for street gangs here in the States. How many lives has been taken by these gangs from South America and Mexico to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to small towns all over the U.S.? Marijuana being illegal has helped fuel other much more dangerous drugs and gang warfare on our city streets! How many police have lost their lives in this war? I don’t know that answer but even one Officer losing their life over the bought and paid for politicians and their hypocrisy is just plain evil. There is also the reality that many policing agencies go after the people with small amounts of Pot for the purpose of stealing people’s personal property like their homes, cars, land and bank accounts. It is safer and more profitable to go after these people who are much more mellow type of folks. The exception would be when the police are trying to arrest some of the Pot dealers, some times some of these folks will have guns or big dogs to worry about. There is also the concept of the Prison Industry which cost the public billions of dollars to arrest, convict and house/jail Pot smokers each year. Some States cry about over crowded prisons and want to have more jails and prisons built. The remedy to this problem is simple, free the people you have in the prisons who are there for simple possession of Pot. This would free up many cells in which to put the violent offenders! Also there is the problem of our Court system being so backed up with people charged with simple possession that it takes ridiculous amounts of time to adjudicate the cases of the violent criminals that our local jails are over-flowing. One last thought, the U.S. has more people in Prisons than any nation on Earth, more than Iran, Russia, China or even North Korea. The remedy to all these ill’s is simple, make Marijuana legal, every thing about this issue is a win win for our Country and our people.
This morning I read an article on my Google-News that President Obama wants to create a ‘green space’ in New York City’s Greenwich Village area and create a monument to Gay men. Evidently this area is considered the original beginning location of the ‘Gay Movement’ here in America. The article informed me that to this day this is an area that is frequented by men of this lifestyle so I guess that if a ‘Monument’ need’s to be built to celebrate anyone’s sexual life style this is as good a spot as any. Personally I do not believe that any monument to anyone’s sexual lifestyle should be or needs to be built unless a person wants to build one on their own property that they themselves pay for. Yet today my article is not about these men’s lifestyle, it is about calling this future monument ‘the first’, it is not the first. Does our President not know that there is already a monument to a very Gay American that is almost 12,000 feet long that took four years to build?
This ‘monument’ that I speak of is called the Walt Whitman Bridge that spans the Delaware River on the south side of Philadelphia Pa. to Gloucester City New Jersey. Ever since I attended college and learned about this man it has ticked me off that he of all people has any public thing named after him. I am not saying this because he was a gay person I say this because I happened to pick his name out of many names in American history to make a history report on. I knew of Mr. Whitman because of that bridge as I had crossed it a couple of hundred times while driving a truck for a living but until I started digging into this mans life did I know of his sexual orientation. The issue here is the things I found out about him personally that just turns my proverbial stomach.
Throughout Mr. Whitman’s life he very plainly preferred young men and very very young men. This report that I mentioned that I had to write I titled it “Walt Whitman The Pedophile Poet”. The reason wasn’t his explicit homosexual rantings he called poems in his self published book Leaves Of Grass, it was because of his actions that literally caused him to be physically chased out of the state of New Jersey by angry parents. You see, when he was a young man in New Jersey he chose to be an elementary school teacher. In just two years he had worked at five different schools and he was chased away all five times by the towns people and these kids parents. The fifth time the people literally chased him out of the State of New Jersey across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Why would you honestly think that he would have been ran out of the state and out of all of those towns and schools? This is why I say that America already has a “monument” to a gay man. If this man had lived in the 20th or 21st centuries he would have either been lynched (which is rather obvious what would have happened to him if he hadn’t escaped those N.J. parents), or he would have spent his life in the American prison system. It is like saying that I do not have a problem with America having a female President but saying about Ms. Hillary, just not that woman. I honestly believe that we as a nation can do better than Ms. Hillary for our first woman President and I believe that we can do better than to name a ‘monument’ after a better person than Walt Whitman.
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