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In West Bank, Arab home faces demolition while Jewish ones get stamp of approval

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© Gil Cohen-Magen
A neighborhood under construction in the West Bank settlement of Ofra.
Defense Ministry changes housing regulation according to whether the houses belong to Jews or Palestinians.

The Defense Ministry's Civil Administration on Tuesday rejected a request to legalize a Palestinian house, claiming it was too close to a main West Bank road. A day earlier, the administration approved the construction of homes in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, after revoking the very ban on which the Tuesday decision was based.

The administration's planning heads, architects Natalia Averbuch and Daniel Halimi, said their considerations were purely professional. But observers maintain that the administration's planning is politically motivated and aimed at pushing the Palestinians off their land.

The request that a retroactive bulding permit be issued for the Palestinian house in Beit Ummar, a village 11 kilometers northwest of Hebron, was rejected by the administration's planning and licensing committee, headed by Halimi, on Tuesday. The administration had previously issued a demolition order for the house, which was built without a permit.

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Student suspended for a year after hugging teacher

© Jose Cendon/AFP/Getty Images)
A high school senior won't graduate on time after being suspended for one year for hugging a teacher in November. Last week, a Duluth High School hearing officer found that Sam McNair violated the Gwinnett County Public Schools' rules on sexual harassment.

"Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite," McNair told WGCL.

A surveillance camera captured when McNair entered a room, placing his arms around the back and front of the teacher and tuck his head behind her neck. The teacher alleged in a discipline report that McNair's cheeks and lips touched the back of her neck and cheek, according to WGCL.

The 17-year-old denied that he sexually harassed his teacher and that he kissed her. He said that he has never been disciplined for hugging teachers in the past.

Eye 1

Controversy over 5th-grader's religion speech

© CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images
A 5th grade student won first place after he gave a speech about the history of people using religion to justify murder, but was stripped of his title the same day by a school official.

Zachary Golob-Drake gave the speech to his class at the Patel Partnership School in hopes that he would be chosen to represent the school at the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech Contest, WFLA-TV reports. He was to deliver the speech Thursday morning to the entire 4th and 5th grades classes and two winners, one from each grade, were to be chosen to represent the school.

Golob-Drake said the assistant principal told him his speech was inappropriate before school was dismissed.

"She started talking to me about how she thought my speech wasn't appropriate for 4th and 5th graders and she thought that probably I would have to rewrite my speech, take the religion out or not compete," Golob-Drake explained to WFLA.

Comment: "Take the religion out or not compete." The message seems pretty clear, even to a 4th or 5th grader.


Evil Rays

Tamerlan Tsarnaev believed he was being fed orders through 'majestic mind control'

© Barcroft Media
Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Slain suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev said he heard voices in his head and believed in the concept of influencing others by way of "majestic mind control," according to a new report.

Journalists at The Boston Globe published this weekend the result of a five-month investigation into the Tsarnaev family, and their report reveals new, never-before-released information about the 26-year-old Chechen boxer who, along with his younger brother Dzhokhar, is accused of orchestrating a terror attack at last April's Boston Marathon race which killed three and left hundreds injured.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died during a shootout with police days after the event, and his brother is currently awaiting trial in federal court in Massachusetts. With the high-profile terrorist case likely a long way from being settled, little attention has been paid to the story in the months since the dust cleared after the event.

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Horsemeat fraud ring discovered in France

© BBC
Clearly labelled horsemeat.
Police arrested 21 people in raids on the horsemeat industry across southern France this morning on suspicion that horses used to develop medicines were sold fraudulently for food, police and industry officials said.

Marseille public prosecutor Brice Robin said about 200 horses unfit for human consumption had been given false veterinary certificates and slaughtered for meat by an organised ring, based in the southern town of Narbonne, involving cattle traders, vets and butchers.

"There is absolutely no evidence that these animals were toxic or posed a threat to public health," he told a news conference.

A spokesman for pharmaceutical company Sanofi said some of the horses had been used to incubate antibodies to manufacture serums for everything from rabies to snake bites, and while in good health were certified as fit for human consumption.

Spokesman Alain Bernal of the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine division said the firm was co-operating with investigators but did not know how long the fraud had been going on.

"Horses are a factory of antibodies," he said.

Arrow Up

ASA membership votes to boycott Israel by landslide

© Wissam Nassar / Maan Images
The full membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) has voted by a two-to-one margin to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, it was announced today.

The referendum was called after the National Council, the ASA's governing body, endorsed the boycott itself on 4 December.

The vote is likely to be seen as an historic milestone in the Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), particularly in the United States, where university administrations have forcefully opposed student and faculty initiatives of this kind.

The ASA describes itself as the "nation's oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history." It has 5,000 individual members along with 2,200 library and other institutional subscribers.

Folder

Charges dropped for NY pair after a month in jail when 'cocaine' proves to be soap

© Shutterstock
Authorities have dropped charges against a New York pair who spent nearly a month in jail after tests confirmed two kilograms of cocaine were, in fact, soap.

A state trooper pulled the couple over Nov. 13 on Interstate 78 in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, for driving 5 mph over the speed limit and hugging the side of the lane.

The trooper said he smelled marijuana, and the driver, 26-year-old Annadel Cruz, admitted that she'd smoked pot before leaving New York City.

Cruz consented to a search of the new Mercedes-Benz, and the trooper found two brick-size packages covered in clear plastic wrap and red tape in a bag stowed in the trunk.

The driver said the packages contained soap she'd made herself, but the trooper performed a field test that showed the presence of cocaine and arrested Cruz and her passenger, 30-year-old Alexander Bernstein.

Heart

Al Jazeera interview with 78-year-old President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica (VIDEO)

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The man described as the world's 'poorest president' discusses his past, his motives, his philosophy, Uruguay's move to regulate marijuana, his role as peacemaker between US-backed Colombian forces and the ELN rebels, and why all you need is love!


Stormtrooper

Update: The 'mean' campus police officer who shot killed straight-A student, 23, who asked him: 'You gonna shoot me?'


Cpl. Chris Carter, an officer with the San Antonio university's 17-strong police force, shot dead Robert Cameron Redus early Friday following a traffic stop outside the student's apartment.
The campus policeman who shot dead a straight A student at the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas has been pictured for the first time.

Cpl. Chris Carter, an officer with the San Antonio university's 17-strong police force, shot dead Robert Cameron Redus early Friday following a traffic stop outside the student's apartment.

The news comes as one of Redus' neighbors, Mohammad Haidarasl, 22, described hearing the 23-year-old's last words before his life was tragically cut short.

'I heard (a man) say, "Oh, you're gonna shoot me?'" in a surprised voice,' Haidarasl said. Les than a minute later he said he heard four to six gunshots.

Carter was grabbing a burger for himself and his colleague when he spotted Redus' car speeding and then hit a curb, police said.

He sounded his siren and pulled the vehicle over as it drove into The Treehouse Apartments where Redus lived. Redus got out of the car and went to walk into his home.

Carter, who had nine law enforcement jobs within seven years, responded with his firearm after Redus apparently grabbed his baton and used it to strike him in the head and arm.

According to the Express-News, people who know the officer described him as 'mean.'

'He was mean,' Hugo Bustillos, a former neighbor, said. Bustillos lived above Carter's apartment for about a year. He said Carter also had run-ins with at least one other tenant over his dog before he moved away last year.

Comment: We used to live in a society where police officers were there to help members of the community whether they had been intoxicated or not. There are other ways to defend yourself against the belligerent, if that is even the case here. No human being deserves to be murdered in cold blood for 'resisting arrest'. Welcome to the Police State.


Eye 1

Director to Raw Story: Exposé on brutal Christian school cost me my faith


Katie Logan
Kate Logan, the director of "Kidnapped for Christ" a documentary exposé about a brutal offshore Christian reform school, said that she lost her Christian faith in the course of making the film.

In an interview with Raw Story, Logan opened up about how her initial intent was to make a documentary praising the school, but that the façade the Escuela Caribe presented to the world quickly crumbled when she began to interact with the students. She first became interested in the school and New Horizons Youth Ministries at the age of 18 in 2004. "I was a missionary working in the area," she said. Escuela Caribe is located in the Dominican Republic, one of the most impoverished areas of the world. "And I found out about the school because you tend to notice other Americans there."

When she first heard of the program, it sounded great. "They told me the school was a place for kids that would either end up in jail, on the streets or dead, kids that were really in trouble," Logan said, "And I thought to myself, what a great program, where kids can learn about another culture and get away from bad influences back home."

A few years later, Logan was in film school and thought, "Hey, that would be a good project, to go down and make a short, kind of heartwarming documentary about these rough-and-tumble kids learning about Dominican culture together and getting therapy." "I had no idea what the school was really like or what their history was," she said.