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Sun, 24 Oct 2021
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Influential group of 5,000 U.S. scholars votes to boycott Israel

Boycott Israel
© Reuters/Francois Lenoir
A powerful group of US scholars has voted to launch an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. With a membership in the thousands, the group has become the largest academic collective to protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

The American Studies Association (ASA) announced Monday that its nearly 5,000 members voted in favor of the boycott by a 2-to-1 margin on Sunday night. A total of 1,252 members voted on the issue, with 66 percent voting 'yes' and 30 percent voting 'no.' Three percent abstained from voting altogether.

The boycott calls on US schools and academic research groups to end all work with Israeli groups. It does allow individual Israeli scholars to still attend conferences and speak at American universities, as long as they do not do so in any official capacity of the government.

Dollar

Republican Senator explains his wife's 'fiasco' on Obamacare website

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© AP
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
When it comes to Obamacare, "many members of Congress are feeling the very same pain that the rest of America is feeling," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told Americans in a radio address on Saturday.

Toomey said he, his wife, and three children are among those "forced" to buy government-mandated health insurance on one of the new exchanges, and last week, his wife tried to sign up the family on an Obamacare exchange website.

"Now, my wife is a very sharp woman. She's a former computer software consultant," Toomey said. After entering the family's personal information, the website wouldn't let her browse the various plans. "When she called someone and asked for help, she was told the system just wasn't working right now and it was best to try again later."

According to Toomey, "The fiasco my wife just faced with the health care website is being experienced by Americans across the country when they try to sign up for health insurance. If this were just a matter of a slow-moving computer glitch, well, then maybe that would be excusable, but it's much more than that.

Brick Wall

Florida city to evict woman from her paid-for house for living "off the grid"


Robin Speronis, a Florida woman who lives off the grid, is being threatened with losing her home due to her "alternative lifestyle".

Last month, Robin's story was featured on Fox 4 news in Florida. She does not have a refrigerator, oven, running water, or electricity.

Robin explains her decision to live off the grid:
"It was an interest in empowering myself, like we did when we got off the health care system. I wanted to look at every other part of my lifestyle and say, do I need this? Is this of value to me? If it went away tomorrow, what would I do? The more I got into it, the more exciting, the more of an adventure it became. My message was to create, so I created a happy place... a place where I get up, and I'm like this is beautiful."
Most of what Robin owns was free, donated, or bought for next to nothing.

She cooks on a propane camping stove, and her electronics run on solar-charged batteries.

Eye 1

Nelson Mandela statue unveiled in Pretoria by Zuma

A statue of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been unveiled in the capital, Pretoria, a day after he was buried. The nine-metre (30ft) bronze statue has been erected at the Union Buildings, the government headquarters.

The statue, with Mr Mandela's hands reaching outward, was intended to show that he had embraced the whole nation, President Jacob Zuma said. Mr Mandela was given a state funeral at his ancestral home on Sunday.

African National Congress (ANC) members, veterans of the fight against apartheid and foreign dignitaries - including several African presidents and the Prince of Wales - attended the funeral ceremony in the village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. It followed a 10-day period of mourning and celebrating Mr Mandela's life after his death at the age of 95. The national flag was raised on Monday from its half-mast position, and was flying as normal.

Take 2

Tom Laughlin, of 'Billy Jack' fame, dead at 82

billy jack

Tom Laughlin as 'Billy Jack'
Actor and filmmaker Tom Laughlin, star of the Billy Jack films of the late '60s and early '70s, died Thursday at sunset near his home in Thousand Oaks, California. He was 82.

Laughlin first rose to fame with the character of the native American motorcycle vigilante and martial artist Billy Jack in the 1967 independent film The Born Losers, which went on to commercial and critical acclaim. Laughlin produced and starred in three sequels. The first of which, the morally-ambiguous Billy Jack, remains one of the most financially-successful independent films of all time.

He and his wife Delores Taylor had been out of the movie business for a few years, running a Montessori school, when they decided to make the Billy Jack films. The movies captured some of the zeitgeist of the late '60s sense of political protest and rebellion, and set Laughlin on a path as an activist. Laughlin sought the Democratic nomination for president three times - 1992, and 2008 as a Democrat, and 2004 as a Republican. He was an outspoken critic of the Iraq War, which he has said was worse than Vietnam.

Santa Hat

Teacher scolds black student for Santa costume because 'Santa is white'

santas
© AFP Photo / Fernando Veludo
What was supposed to be a cheerful day at a New Mexico high school quickly went downhill when a teacher told a black student that he shouldn't dress up as Santa Claus because the jolly old man is white.

Officials at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico say the unnamed teacher has been disciplined - though they won't say how. But the student's family is not satisfied; the boy's father, Michael Rougier, is calling for the teacher to be fired.

The incident occurred last week when ninth-grader Christopher Rougier came to school in a Santa costume. Although students were allowed to dress up as holiday characters, Christopher's father, Michael Rougier, told local KOB-TV that his son's teacher said, "Don't you know Santa Clause is white? Why are you wearing that?"

The student was reportedly crushed by the comments, and Michael Rougier says the teacher's question was unacceptable."There's no room for that in the classroom," he said. "Whether this teacher felt Christopher may have been wearing this out of context, there's no room for it. There's just no room for it."

Comment: 'Tis the season... to stick your foot in your mouth.


Gear

House Report: Poorly-trained Obamacare navigators encouraging fraud, jeopardizing private info

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© Breitbart
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
The Obama administration decided that Obamacare Navigators, tasked with helping Americans enroll in a health insurance plan, would not undergo mandatory background checks. Now, in the ten weeks since the launch of Healthcare.gov, the ill-trained Navigators have put Americans' sensitive health and tax information at risk.

Breitbart News has obtained a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report on the Obamacare Navigators that will be released Monday. It has found that Obamacare Navigators have been giving Americans misinformation and, in some cases, actively encouraging enrollees to commit fraud in order to raise their subsidies. To complicate matters further, there is no way for Americans to find out whether their Navigators are properly certified.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a Congressional hearing that it was "possible" for convicted felons to become Navigators. The report, titled Risks of Fraud and Misinformation with ObamaCare Outreach Campaign: How Navigator and Assister Program Mismanagement Endangers Consumers, concludes that is only one of many worries Americans should have about Navigators.

The Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and HHS actually learned that "poorly-trained Navigators gave consumers incorrect information about the health care exchanges, violated HHS rules and procedures, and even encouraged applicants to commit tax fraud in some instances." Moreover, this was learned from various news reports due to the complete lack of any internal oversight.

Phoenix

Mail burns at NJ postal center

New Jersey

unknown
Some packages were damaged in a fire at a large U.S. Postal Service facility in Jersey City.

Postal Service spokesman George Flood says employees were evacuated when the fire began in a mail processing machine at the New Jersey International & Network Distribution Center at 4:22 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and workers were allowed back into the building about an hour later.

Bad Guys

Highest-paid U.S. government climate change expert commits massive fraud by pretending to work for CIA

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© C-SPAN
Former high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official John Beale testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Oct. 1, 2013.
The EPA's highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his lies were a "crime of massive proportion" that were "offensive" to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

Beale's lawyer, while acknowledging his guilt, has asked for leniency and offered a psychological explanation for the climate expert's bizarre tales.

"With the help of his therapist," wrote attorney John Kern, "Mr. Beale has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior." Kern also said Beale was driven "to manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives ... that are fueled by his insecurities."

The two sentencing memos, along with documents obtained by NBC News, offer new details about what some officials describe as one of the most audacious, and creative, federal frauds they have ever encountered.

Health

Oakland teen declared brain dead days after routine tonsil surgery

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© family photo
Jahi McMath
Family members of 13-year-old Jahi McMath are holding out hope for a miracle recovery after a routine procedure has left the girl brain dead. Last week, McMath went in to Children's Hospital Oakland to get her tonsils removed.

She was supposed to go home the next day, but her grandmother noticed severely bleeding from her nose and mouth after the procedure. She soon went into cardiac arrest.

The child is now hooked up to a ventilator and doctors are telling mother Nailah Winkfield she won't recover.

"At this point I'm just all cried out. I have no tears left, so the only thing I can do is stay here," said Winkfield. "I am not leaving unless she leaves with me because I will not let them pull the plug on my child."