Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Psychiatrists Debate Weighing in on Trump's Mental Health

In recent months a growing number of mental health experts and members of the media have offered opinions on Pres. Donald Trump’s psychiatric fitness. On Tuesday 37 U.S. psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers signed a letter to the editor of The New York Times warning about Trump’s mental health. Its signatories state—despite a self-imposed ethics rule forbidding psychiatrists from offering professional opinions about public figures they have not personally evaluated—they “believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” A number of petitions, including a petition started by psychologist John Gartner that has garnered more than 20,000 signatures, have called for the chief executive to be removed from office on the grounds he is mentally ill and unfit to perform the duties of president.

In response to these efforts, Allen Frances, an emeritus psychiatrist at Duke University School of Medicine who helped write the standard manual on psychiatric disorders, wrote a separate letter to the Times denouncing attempts to diagnose the president as mentally ill. He explains that Trump lacks the “distress and impairment required to diagnose a mental illness,” adding that bad behavior and mental illness are not synonymous. “Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy,” Frances wrote. Nevertheless, “he can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.”

Historically, psychiatrists have adhered to an ethics dictum known as the Goldwater rule, which appeared in the first edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics in 1973. It evolved out of an incident involving presidential candidate Barry Goldwater: In 1964 Fact magazine polled 12,356 psychiatrists on Goldwater’s mental fitness to be president and published an article stating that 1,189 of the 2,417 who responded deemed him psychologically unfit for the job. (Goldwater later won a libel suit against the magazine.)

The 37 mental health professionals writing in the Times, however, felt compelled to speak out: “We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer.” Susan Radant, a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist and director of the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, says she was motivated to sign by her worries about Trump’s competence, including his emotional stability, integrity and honesty. “I am hoping this letter will inspire both citizens and, particularly, the Congress to do their jobs,” she wrote in an e-mail, “and step in before our country and the world are permanently damaged.”

Radant thinks it is time to get rid of the Goldwater rule. She says mental health professionals are well qualified to offer certain diagnoses from a distance, pointing out the press, sans training, freely makes such assessments.

Fellow signatory Alexandra Rolde, a psychiatrist affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Newton–Wellesley Hospital, both in Massachusetts, emphasizes the letter does not attempt to diagnose Trump but rather highlights personality traits she and her colleagues find concerning. She does not believe any mental health professional should make a diagnosis without seeing a patient, but thinks it can still be appropriate to comment on how a person’s mental health may affect other people and his or her ability to perform. [...]

Rav Gestetner: ORA - the real creators of Agunas

The Real Creators Of "Agunas" Are The Notorious Hoodlums Of ORA (English Translation)

In regards to the dismal Kin-Ralbag affair, in which rabbis put out 'seruvs' against the husband, Mr. Yisroel Meir Kin(preventing him from entering shuls), even though he did everything according to bais din, and his name was vilified all over the world on the internet, mainly by the notorious gang of evildoers known as ORA, all of this having encouraged his wife Chaya Lonna not to agree to come to bais din according to the inherent halachic framework.

And that is what caused the husband (on 3 Adar II 5768) to deposit a get according to bais din's instruction at the Bais Din Kedushas Levy of Monsey, New York; and since she ignored (according to ORA's advice) the bais din's call for her to come to them to receive her get (according to their instruction), that is what caused the necessity to grant the husband permission to remarry with a Heter Meah Rabbonim, and that is what he did.

And It is obvious that to persecute an upstanding man that did everything according to bais din, and to smear him in public, just in order to boss him around and to deprive him of the right that every Jew has: To contact a rov or bais din of his choice with any problem he may have; and more than that, they have done so without any sources to justify their approach, at the very same time that the bais din that he chose did indeed provide sources to justify their own position (see the bais din records: transcript 1025, 1072), is a miscarriage of justice that cries out to the heavens, and it's a sin that has no atonement.

And now, after almost eight years have passed since the husband deposited the get for her, without her even once contacting the bais din with a request to receive the get (this is what the ORA jokers call an "aguna" today.., making a complete mockery of this grave concept), she finally realized that she wouldn't be receiving anything tangible through any of ORA's bully tactics against her husband. She contacted us (on 3 Elul, 5775) and asked, what does she have to do in order to receive the get that was deposited for her, and we answered her: That until such time that all the "seruvs," defamations, and alienations are removed from the husband without any obligation on his part, and shall thus remain for a prolonged, unlimited period of time, it is forbidden according to the inherent halachic framework to begin to discuss anything, and we had thus ruled to the husband according to the words of our holy Torah: That it is forbidden for him to trip her with a null and void "get meusa." To that she answered us: That ORA won't agree to it! (And the wife said this also to the Av Bais Din of Kedushas Levy), and I replied to her: That their disagreeing won't do anything to change the halacha..., and after that we did not hear a peep out of her! (And we told this to a number of "askanim" who contacted us with the above question), and there was dead silence!

So you see that although ORA knows that according to our ruling it is forbidden for the husband to cave in to their pressure, and although they know that through their refusal to remove the slander against the husband, they are causing the wife to remain an "aguna," nevertheless they refuse to stop because of their bias and fear that it will become known that they didn't accomplish anything, and that they didn't care whatsoever about "setting her free."

The time has come already for the public to see for themselves and decide who is responsible for this misfortune; the time has come already for people to open their eyes and realize the hypocrisy of these two-faced evildoers known as ORA, that is being led by the bully and thug Jeremy Stern, who is making a living and waxing fat off of his hooliganism and false propaganda all over the world, in an effort to portray his gang as the "savior and redeemer who is setting women free." When in reality, the truth is exactly the opposite: That they themselves are the creators of those "agunas" and not the husbands; because you see, they have demonstrated that due to their "victory" complex they are preventing women from becoming free.

And all of this is besides for the stumbling block of gittin that are meusa, which are obtained from husbands through shaming and demonstrations, that cause her to remain a married woman, and her children from the second husband to be mamzeirim (not any less than if she remarries without a get at all as in the Friedman-Epstein affair, but that is for another time).

And let it be known that this case is just one of many in which we delved into the matter, and we saw clearly that had ORA, who advises women to insist on their positions, not been involved, the parties would have reached a compromise and concluded their affairs early, either towards peace or towards a get; and they would have spared the couple and the children many years of great misery and anguish, and they are the inhibitors.

In summation, the ORA gang are the real destroyers of women; that their main focus is achieving their "win" even if it comes at the expense of the distress and the chaining of women, for they don't care about that at all; woe is to them on the day of judgement and on the day of reproach; they have chained many women, they have grieved many couples, many have left the fold on their account, many children went down the tubes materially and spiritually on their account.

And Chazal have said: "A mouse is not a thief, rather the hole is a thief," and until there is public protest against those enablers and supporters who encourage them to continue with their evil deeds, this breach that diminishes every good share in Klal Yisroel will not be repaired, G-d forbid.

To the above we sign our name, and in the name of the associates of the Bais Din Shimru Mishpot on the 21st day of Shevat, 5776.

Avrohom Shmuel Yehuda Gestetner
Av Bais Din Shimru Mishpot

Rabbinical Court statistics: Since 2012 nearly 12% more women refused to accept divorce than men who refused to grant one.

Israel's Rabbinical Court system statistics for the past five years paint an interesting picture regarding the number of estranged spouses who refuse a divorce (unless their conditions are met), the low number of dispensations given to men to marry a second wife, and more.

A get-refuser ("get" is the Hebrew word for "divorce papers") is defined as either a man who refuses to grant a get or a woman who refuses to accept one within a month of the issuance of a ruling that a get should be given.

Surprisingly to many, some 56,000 couples have divorced over the past five years. In the vast majority of these cases, the Beit Din (Rabbinical Court) either succeeds in bringing about a divorce by mutual consent, or is presented with a "done deal." However, in nearly 7,000 cases, the Beit Din was forced to order a get – 3,566 against the man, and 3,384 against the woman. In all but 809 of these cases, a get was given within a month.

Of those 809 cases, 382 of them involved a recalcitrant husband, while the other 427 – nearly 12% more – involved women who refused to accept a get. This flies in the face of the conventional perception that unresolved divorces are invariably the result of men holding their estranged wives "hostage" until their unreasonable demands are met.

Between the years 2012 and 2015, 249 women refused a get, while 205 men did. The year 2016 saw a surprising jump in the number of unresolved divorces, caused equally by men and women: 143 by men, 142 by women. So far in 2017, 36 women and 34 men are refusing their estranged spouses' conditions.

During this five-year period, 69 men were imprisoned for refusing to give a get; no women were imprisoned for refusing to accept one.

On the other hand, since 2012, 53 men were granted permission to marry a second wife. Such permission involves a complex process involving two levels of courts and requiring the express permission of the President of the High Rabbinical Court. It is done only when the woman is either physically unable to accept a get, or when her refusal to receive one appears to be intractable.

It could very well be that since women are Biblically forbidden to remarry without a divorce, the only measures that can be taken against men is imprisonment – whereas recalcitrant women are punished not with jail, but with the permission granted to their husbands to marry a second wife.

Nineteen men who were granted permission to remarry by the Regional Beit Din were prevented from doing so by the High Beit Din.[...]

Dr. Michael Salamon: Getting Away With Abuse

Just last week a New York State licensed teacher, an admitted and convicted child molester, received what is being referred to as a sweetheart sentence for his crimes. This 31-year-old charedi man sodomized a 6-year-old, bit his penis and among other threats put a gun to his head and warned that he would kill him and his family if he told anyone what happened. Yet this perpetrator received a sentence of probation from the court. No jail time for him. And he did not even have to register as a sex offender, something that under other circumstances would have at a minimum occurred.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that the district attorney prosecuting this case was willing to make this deal, allowing a misdemeanor plea, despite the fact that the perpetrator was originally charged with first-degree felony sexual acts against a minor because there may have been no other option. It is reasonable to assume that either one of two scenarios played out prior to sentencing: either the parents of the 6-year-old molested boy did not want the child to testify, or the community put significant pressure on the family to not testify against the perpetrator.

This is not mere conjecture; it is based upon the history of avoidance of reporting to the authorities within this particular segment of the Orthodox community. Many cases have not even made it to a courtroom for these reasons and the result is that sexual predators have been able avoid any prosecution. Despite a law requiring anyone who provides health care or teaches children to report any reasonable suspicion of abuse to the authorities, reporting in this community rarely happens.

This case was resolved the same week that the first Kol v’Oz conference was held. As reported in The Jewish Week (“This Is Something We Can’t Ignore,” Feb. 10), Kol v’Oz is an organization whose mandate is to bring together international professionals from across the Jewish world to prevent child sexual abuse in the worldwide Jewish community.

I was among the presenters and attendees at this important gathering and had the opportunity to ask some questions of religious leaders who presented their perspectives on the problem, suggested interventions and their rationale for the best way to react to protect children.

In virtually all cases we discussed it was clear that a state law exists that more or less indicates that those caring for children who suspect child abuse must report it. This is true in Israel, where everyone is considered a mandated reporter. In the State of New York, the State Department of Education issued a clear ruling that even in private schools, anyone who works with children must report suspected abuse. This ruling by the department has no room for delaying or discussing a suspicion with anyone but the properly trained authorities. This makes a great deal of sense as it is only those professionals who know how to conduct a proper investigation who should do so. Further, any delay allows a perpetrator time to continue to offend, threaten those who he or she has already abused and make excuses for previous offenses.

There are those in the Jewish world, perhaps now a minority view, who argue that prior to reporting to the authorities, a rabbi should be consulted. When asked at the Kol v’Oz conference about this view, one rabbi would not take a position against it. My follow-up question to him was about licensed professionals who by law are mandated to report their suspicions immediately. Were these professionals, I asked, also supposed to ask a rabbi first or were they required to follow the law and report immediately?

The response I received was disconcerting. The rabbi started out by saying that he would not answer the question. He went on to suggest that the law was open to interpretation and a case could be made that a report may not have to be made instantly. I had several follow-up questions that I could not ask and they bother me still: Who assumes the responsibility of protecting the child during the delay, and if the state chooses to prosecute the professional for not reporting as required, will the Jewish community pay the legal fees? [...]

Stephen Colbert talks about the Trump administration: Is this comedy or tragedy?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mike Flynn might be done – but Trump’s nightmare has just begun

Cast your mind back to four months ago, when Donald Trump was just a long-shot candidate with a hot-headed adviser by the name of Michael Flynn.

It was the homestretch of the presidential election and national security wasn’t some side issue, mentioned in passing. Trump promised he would be a tough national security president with the toughest national security team.

In fact his closing argument was that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be trusted with the country’s national security because, he claimed, she couldn’t be trusted with her private email server.

It sounded ridiculous at the time. But after a month of this gonzo president, our memories are already fading. Propaganda will do that to you, as George Orwell warned us all in 1984. Sometimes two and two are four. Sometimes they are five.

Still, it’s true that the Trump campaign seized on the preposterous FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails to issue this press release: “Clinton’s Careless Use of a Secret Server Put National Security At Risk.”

Less than a week later, at their second presidential debate, Trump took the attack one step further, threatening to jail Clinton if he ever took power: “She didn’t know the word – the letter C on a document. Right? She didn’t even know what that word – what that letter meant.”

Let’s just pretend that Trump knew that C means Confidential, not Classified, as he was suggesting. Let’s even play along with the notion that Clinton’s server was a security risk to the country.

What do Michael Flynn and Mar-a-Lago mean for national security?

To the fee-paying members of Trump’s Florida club, it means greater access to watch the president and Japanese prime minister reacting to the news of a North Korean missile launch in real time: huddling over documents and making phone calls on cellphones in public.

Or as one guest, Richard DeAgazio, put it on Facebook: “HOLY MOLY!!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. The Prime Minister Abe of Japan huddles with his staff and the President is on the phone with Washington DC…Wow…the center of the action!!!”

Never mind classified information. Here is a president who is so careless that he can’t handle a national security incident in a confidential manner.

This kind of spectacle does wonders for the fees at Mar-a-Lago, where initiation has just doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 since its owner became president. But it does little for the national security of the country or its allies.

In case you think this is just one small lapse over dinner, Mr DeAgazio also posted to Facebook photos of the military aide carrying the nuclear codes that are frighteningly close to Trump’s trigger-happy mouth.

These are just minor details in the life of a commander-in-chief whose national security adviser was himself a national security risk.

Michael Flynn was so careless about his cellphone conversations, and so mistaken about his foreign policy priorities, that he called the Russian ambassador to the US before taking office.

Clearly clueless about how such conversations are transcribed by all parties, he talked about President Obama’s sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election that ended with Trump in the White House.

Then he denied talking about those sanctions at all, allegedly misleading the vice-president Mike Pence, who in turn misled the American people on national television about the same call.

Based on those reports that he misled the vice-president, Flynn could have been compromised by Russian blackmail. But then again, the Russians might already have enough ammunition against him if he accepted secret payments from the Kremlin when he traveled to Moscow in 2015.[...]

We can’t be sure what’s going on underneath Trump’s coiffured combover. Unless he’s watching cable news and simultaneously tweeting about his thoughts in real time.

Instead we have to rely on his public comments about Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his own United States. Comments like the ones he made barely a week ago, when Bill O’Reilly of Fox News dared to suggest that Putin was a killer. “We’ve got a lot of killers,” said Trump. “What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump is correct: his version of America is not so innocent. It’s the kind of place where a candidate can accuse his opponent of running a foundation that is “a criminal enterprise” for accepting money from foreign governments. Then, once that candidate becomes president, invite foreign governments to give his businesses money in Washington DC and Mar-a-Lago.

Perhaps Trump’s real problem with the Clinton Foundation wasn’t about Hillary’s character. It was just professional jealousy.

The only things protecting Trump from impeachment for his egregious behaviour are his poll numbers and the false sense of security they give to Republicans in Congress.

Sadly for Trump, those numbers are tumbling faster than the ratings of Celebrity Apprentice. In just three weeks, Trump has lost 5 points in his Gallup approval polls to hit 40%.

It took Richard Nixon four years to reach this low point, just a year before he quit the presidency. At this rate, Trump will reach Nixon’s all-time low of 24% approval before the end of April.

We have barely begun to scrape the surface of Trump’s fatal compromises with Russia. It was only last week that US officials say they corroborated some of the communications in the famous British dossier detailing those compromising situations.[...]

Lower Back Ache? Be Active and Wait It Out, New Guidelines Say

Dr. James Weinstein, a back pain specialist and chief executive of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, has some advice for most people with lower back pain: Take two aspirin and don’t call me in the morning.

On Monday, the American College of Physicians published updated guidelines that say much the same. In making the new recommendations for the treatment of most people with lower back pain, the group is bucking what many doctors do and changing its previous guidelines, which called for medication as first-line therapy.

Dr. Nitin Damle, president of the group’s board of regents and a practicing internist, said pills, even over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, should not be the first choice. “We need to look at therapies that are nonpharmacological first,” he said. “That is a change.”

The recommendations come as the United States is struggling with an epidemic of opioid addiction that often begins with a simple prescription for ailments like back pain. In recent years, a number of states have enacted measures aimed at curbing prescription painkillers. The problem has also led many doctors around the country to reassess prescribing practices.

The group did not address surgery. Its focus was on noninvasive treatment.

The new guidelines said that doctors should avoid prescribing opioid painkillers for relief of back pain and suggested that before patients try anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants, they should try alternative therapies like exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy or yoga. Doctors should reassure their patients that they will get better no matter what treatment they try, the group said. The guidelines also said that steroid injections were not helpful, and neither was acetaminophen, like Tylenol, although other over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen could provide some relief.

Dr. Weinstein, who was not an author of the guidelines, said patients have to stay active and wait it out. “Back pain has a natural course that does not require intervention,” he said.

In fact, for most of the people with acute back pain — defined as present for four weeks or less that does not radiate down the leg — there is no need to see a doctor at all, said Dr. Rick Deyo, a spine researcher and professor at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and an author of the new guidelines.

“For acute back pain, the analogy is to the common cold,” Dr. Deyo said. “It is very common and very annoying when it happens. But most of the time it will not result in anything major or serious. ”

Even those with chronic back pain — lasting at least 12 weeks — should start with nonpharmacological treatments, the guidelines say. If patients still want medication, they can try over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin.

Scans, like an M.R.I., for diagnosis are worse than useless for back pain patients, members of the group said in telephone interviews. The results can be misleading, showing what look like abnormalities that actually are not related to the pain.[...]

It is surprising, some experts in back pain say, how often patients are helped by treatments that are not medical, even by a placebo that patients are told at the start is really a placebo.

Dr. Standaert cited a study in which patients with chronic low back pain were offered a placebo, and were told it was a placebo, along with their usual treatment — often an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen. Or, the patients remained with their usual treatment alone.

Those taking the placebo reported less pain and disability than those in the control group who did not take it. The placebo effect, although modest, was about the same as the effect in studies testing nonpharmacological treatments for back pain like acupuncture, massage or chiropractic manipulations.

Many people with chronic back pain tend to shut down, avoiding their usual activities, afraid of making things worse, Dr. Standaert said. Helping them is not a matter of prescribing drugs but rather teaching them to set goals and work toward returning to an active life, even if they still have pain.

“They have to believe their life can get better,” Dr. Standaert said. “They have to believe they can get to a better state.”[...]

Chastisment should be from love not from superiority and contempt

דף על הדף ערכין דף טז עמוד ב
בגמ': עד היכן תוכחה כו' עד קללה כו' עד נזיפה.

בס' אמת ליעקב להג"ר יעקב קמינצקי (פ' ויצא ופ' קדושים) הקשה מהו כוונת שאלת הגמרא עד היכן תוכחה, וכי מה זה יהי' שונה מכל המצוות כמו תפלין ותפלה? ועוד צ"ב למה אם חבירו נוזף בו או מקללו - כבר נפטר הוא מחיוב תוכחה?

ותירץ דגדר תוכחה אינו מדין בין אדם למקום, טעות הוא לחשוב שמצות תוכחה הוא שכיבכול אנחנו ה"שוטרים" של הקדוש ברוך הוא, אלא הוא דין "בין אדם לחברו" - לאהוב את הזולת ולדאוג לו לטובת נשמתו ורוחניות שלו, להובילו לדרך הישר, שזהו עיקר החיים שלו. וז"ל הרמב"ם (הל' דעות פ"ו ה"ז): הרואה חבירו שחטא כו' מצוה להחזירו למוטב כו', וידבר לו בנחת ובלשון רכה, "ויודיעו שאינו אומר לו - אלא לטובתו" עכ"ל.

ולפ"ז מובן שאלת הגמרא עד היכן חיוב תוכחה, דאם העובר לא אכפת לו מעצמו, אם כן יש לדון טובא עד היכן יש החיוב להובילו לדרך הישר.

והמסקנא הוא עד כדי נזיפה וקללה, והטעם הוא, שאין זה "שיעור" בחיוב תוכחה, אלא שאם חבירו נוזף בו ומקללו, או אז "סימן" הוא, דחסר בעצם מהות התוכחה, דאילו הי' חבירו יודע מכיר ומרגש שהמוכיח חבר הוא לו ורוצה הוא אך ורק בטובתו, לעולם לא הי' מתריס נגדו, צועק עליו ומקללו.

ובס' ילקוט דברי אסף (ערך תוכחה אות ג') מביא מהרע"ב במסכת אבות (פ"ב מ"ט) על המשנה "חבר טוב", שמבאר דהיינו מי שמוכיח אותו כשרואה אותו עושה דבר שלא כהוגן, והיינו שהתוכחה צריכה להיות נובע מאהבת זולתו, וכמו הרואה שור חבירו וחמורו תועה בדרך מצווה להשיב לו, כן הרואה חבירו עצמו תועה בדרכים נלוזות, צריך להוכיחו ולקרבו לאבינו שבשמים.

ובזה מבאר הסמיכות "לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך - הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך" (ויקרא י"ט י"ז) דהתוכחה לא יהא מצד עליונות וטינא, אלא בדיוק להיפוך מצד אהבתו וחמלתו עליו, יחוס ויחמול על נפש חבירו, שלא ישגה באולת. 

Accused Hitman Points Finger At Dan Markel In-Law In Jailhouse Confession

Interviews with inmates who spent time with Sigfredo Garcia in the Leon County Jail may corroborate what one of his co-defendants and investigators have said all along about the death of Dan Markel — that Garcia was allegedly recruited by the law professor’s in-laws in a murder for hire plot.

The interviews, with two inmates at the Leon County Jail, reveal that while housed in L Pod, 34-year-old Garcia opened up about the Markel investigation and how he ended up driving to Tallahassee from Miami to allegedly shoot the Florida State legal scholar.

Garcia, his girlfriend Katherine Magbanua and Luis Rivera were all charged with Markel’s July 2014 shooting. In October, Rivera pleaded to second-degree murder. His statement, which he provided in exchange for a 19-year prison sentence that runs concurrently with a 12-year federal term he already was serving, led to Magbanua’s arrest.

Garcia is still awaiting trial.

Police have asserted that Markel’s former in-laws, chiefly his ex-wife Wendi Adelson’s brother and mother, Charlie and Donna Adelson, were involved in planning and paying to have the legal scholar killed.

Markel’s murder in broad daylight, police contend, stemmed from the couple’s acrimonious divorce and the desire of the Adelson family to move their two young boys to South Florida.

The Adelsons remain suspects in the murder-for-hire plot, said Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman. They have denied any involvement and have not been charged.

One inmate, in a recorded interview with Tallahassee Police investigators, said Garcia started to tell his fellow inmates about his involvement in the crime around the time of Magbanua’s Oct. 1 arrest.

Garcia said he was propositioned by his girlfriend and mother of his two children, who had been asked by a woman named “Don Adelson” to kill someone for money, the inmate told investigators. [...]

Trump's National Security Advisor M. Flynn - resigns in disgrace for lying about contacts with Russia

Washington Post

Fired by one American commander-in-chief for insubordination, Michael Flynn has now delivered his resignation to another.

President Donald Trump had been weighing the fate of his national security adviser, a hard-charging, feather-ruffling retired lieutenant general who just three weeks into the new administration had put himself in the center of a controversy. Flynn resigned late Monday.

At issue was Flynn’s contact with Moscow’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak appear to have discussed U.S. sanctions late last year, raising questions about whether he was freelancing on foreign policy while President Barack Obama was still in office and whether he misled Trump officials about the calls.

The center of a storm is a familiar place for Flynn. His military career ended when Obama dismissed him as defense intelligence chief. Flynn claimed he was pushed out for holding tougher views than the Obama administration about Islamic extremism. But a former senior U.S. official who worked with Flynn said the firing was for insubordination, after the Army lieutenant general failed to follow guidance from superiors.

Once out of government, he disappeared into the murky world of mid-level defense contractors and international influence peddlers. He shocked his former colleagues a little more than a year later by appearing at a Moscow banquet headlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Given a second chance by Trump, Flynn, a lifelong if apolitical Democrat, became a trusted and eager confidant of the Republican candidate, joining anti-Hillary Clinton campaign chants of “Lock Her Up” and tweeting that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

As national security adviser, Flynn required no Senate confirmation vote or public vetting of his record, and his tenure was brief but turbulent.

The Washington Post and other U.S. newspapers, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported last week that Flynn made explicit references to U.S. sanctions on Russia in conversations with Kislyak. One of the calls took place on Dec. 29, the day Obama announced new penalties against Russia’s top intelligence agencies over allegations they meddled in the U.S. election process to help Trump win.

While it’s not unusual for incoming administrations to have discussions with foreign governments before taking office, the repeated contacts just as the U.S. was pulling the trigger on sanctions suggests Trump’s team might have helped shape Russia’s response. They also contradicted denials about such discussions of the sanctions by several Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Flynn later backed off his adamant denials. On Friday, he said he “no recollection” of discussing sanctions policy but “can’t be certain,” according to an official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Seahawks' Michael Bennett withdraws from Israel trip, citing sympathy for Palestine

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett has withdrawn at the last minute from a sponsored trip to Israel, saying the government there is using him for a public-relations initiative and that he sympathizes with Palestinians.

Bennett was to be part of a delegation that is scheduled to arrive Monday and includes Seahawks teammate Cliff Avril, Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans, Mychal Kendricks of the Philadelphia Eagles, Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints, Calais Campbell of the Arizona Cardinals, Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers, Dan Williams of the Oakland Raiders and Justin Forsett of the Denver Broncos. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills tweeted that he also will not make the trip.

The trip, as Israeli Cabinet minister Gilad Erdan put it, is to combat "the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world," with the players serving as goodwill ambassadors. Erdan, who heads the ministry for strategic affairs and public diplomacy, had no comment on Bennett's decision Sunday.

The visit to Israel will include stops at a hospital, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and a meeting with the "Black Hebrews," a community of African-Americans who live in southern Israel.

"I will not be used in such a manner," Bennett wrote in a letter addressed "Dear World" and posted on Twitter. "When I do go to Israel - and I do plan to go - it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives." [...]

"When you have a chance to change the world, you change the world," the Patriots tight end said. "It's not like, 'Here's my chance to change the world, I'm going to pass that up.' If I have a chance to change the world, I'm going to do everything I can to change the world."