Posted by JewishJournal.com
“Macho Man” Randy Savage died this morning in a car accident in Tampa Bay, Fl. Reuters reports that the Savage, who has had a long career in pro wrestling, “appeared to have lost control of his 2009 Jeep Wrangler for unknown reasons at 9:25 a.m. local time, crash investigators said.” He was 58.
Born Randy Poffo, Savage grew up in Columbus, Oh. to an Italian American father and Jewish mother. His father, Angelo Poffo at one time held the world record for sit ups and was a professional wrestler in the 50s and 60s, according to Wikipedia.
As a second generation wrestler, Savage entered the ring in 1973 and grew to fame as an established professional wrestler under the name “Macho Man Randy Savage.” He has been affiliated with the World Wrestling Federation (Now WWE), World Championship Wrestling and a short stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
Savage was known for performing the following moves on opponents, according to his Wikipedia page:
Diving elbow drop, alternating jabs to the opponent’s chest and head, atomic drop, diving crossbody, diving double axe handle-sometimes to an opponent outside the ring, hair-pull hangman, high knee smash, jumping knee drop, lariat takedown, piledriver, scoop slam, snapmare, various elbow strikes and a vertical suplex.
WWE released a statement regarding Savage’s death:
“Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. We wish a speedy recovery to his wife Lynn. Poffo will be greatly missed by WWE and his fans.”
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May 19, 2011 | 6:22 pm
This press release just arrived in from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the conviction of prominent L.A. businessman, Ezri Namvar. We will have more on this story shortly.
LOS ANGELES—Ezri Namvar, a prominent Los Angeles businessman and real estate developer, was found guilty today of four wire fraud charges for stealing approximately $21 million from four clients who allowed his “qualified intermediary” company to hold their money in safekeeping before it was reinvested in real estate.
Namvar, 59, of Brentwood, was convicted of the felony counts by a federal jury that deliberated for about three hours after hearing eight days of testimony.
The jury convicted a second defendant on the four wire fraud charges. Hamid Tabatabai, 63 of Agoura Hills, was Namvar’s right-hand man at the qualified intermediary company.
As a result of today’s convictions, Namvar and Tabatabai face statutory maximum sentences of 80 years in federal prison.
Following today’s verdicts, United States District Judge Percy Anderson ordered that Namvar, who is free on bond, be subject to home incarceration with electronic monitoring. Judge Anderson has scheduled a June 1 hearing, at which time prosecutors will argue that Namvar should be remanded into custody.
The evidence presented at trial showed that four victims entered into agreements to have approximately $25 million deposited with Namvar’s company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp. (NFE), which held itself out as a qualified intermediary for real estate transactions commonly called “like-kind exchanges,” “tax-free exchanges” or “1031 exchanges.” Under exchange agreements with NFE, the money belonging to the victims was to be held in safekeeping so the money would be available upon demand to effectuate 1031 exchanges.
However, instead of holding the money as promised, Namvar, with the assistance of Tabatabai, used the victims’ money for a variety of unauthorized and undisclosed purposes, including paying off creditors and investors of Namvar’s investment company, Namco Capital Group, Inc. (NCG).
Namvar controlled both Namco companies. Tabatabai was the controller and a vice president of NFE, and he held similar positions of authority at NCG.
The four victims entered into exchange agreements with NFE in 2008, and their money, per the agreements, was wired to NFE over a six-month period. NFE was forced into bankruptcy proceedings in April 2009.
During the course of the fraudulent scheme, Namvar and Tabatabai fraudulently transferred victims’ money from NFE to, among other places, an NCG bank account, where the money was used to pay the expenses and liabilities of NCG.
During the course of the fraudulent scheme, the four victims provided NFE with approximately $25 million in 1031 exchange proceeds, of which only approximately $4 million was returned to or used on behalf of the victims.
Namvar and Tabatabai are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson on August 22.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
May 19, 2011 | 12:52 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Americans for Peace Now released a statement from President and CEO Debra DeLee on its website approving of President Obama’s Middle East speech today. At the very end, DeLee called on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is set to hold its annual conference next week, to support Obama’s agenda. The full text is below:
“Today, President Obama signaled to the world that he is still serious about Israeli-Palestinian peace and that he is a true friend of Israel. We welcome his clear statement that the U.S. position is that a permanent status peace agreement will be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed on land swaps, and that the outcome must be secure and recognized borders, with a sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state and robust security arrangements for Israel. We also welcome his statement that such an agreement must find a way to resolve the issues of Jerusalem and refugees that is just and fair and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians
“What derives from these positions is clear. Palestinian leaders must come to terms with the fact that a future agreement will involve adjustments to the 1967 lines to accommodate some settlements - and educate their people to understand why this is so. They must also accept the fact that a future state will be demilitarized and that arrangements ensuring Israeli security will be paramount.
“At the same time, the Netanyahu government must accept that Israel’s appetite for settlements must be balanced, inch for inch, against its readiness to give up territory that is inside what is now sovereign Israel. This applies not only in the West Bank but also in East Jerusalem, where Netanyahu’s defiant determination to continue to expand settlements continues to send a message that he cares more about settlements than peace. Moreover, President Obama’s clear statement that a Palestinian state must be contiguous and have recognized borders with Jordan underscores the impossibility of Israel maintaining permanent control over the Jordan Valley.
“We also welcome President Obama’s pragmatic articulation of his approach to Palestinian efforts to establish a unity government. It is indeed incumbent on the Palestinians to provide a credible answer to those who suggest that Israel cannot negotiate peace with a unity government. As we have long argued, any Palestinian government should be judged by its actions and positions, not it composition.
“By articulating these positions, President Obama demonstrated that he is a real friend to Israel - one who recognizes that Israel’s security and viability as a Jewish state and a democracy depends on peace. He has also made clear his understanding that Israel’s future cannot be divorced from the fate of the Palestinians or from its relations with the rest of the region. We welcome President Obama’s message of support for freedom, rights, security, and democracy in the Middle East - a Middle East that include both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We now call on President Obama to follow these words with concrete actions to make his vision of peace a reality. We also call on the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to rise to the challenge in the President’s words and demonstrate to each other and the world that they are ready to rise above pettiness, set aside grievances, and work to finally end the conflict. We know that most American Jews support President Obama in this effort. We call on leaders of AIPAC, who are hosting their major conference in Washington in a few days, to convey this support.”
May 19, 2011 | 12:40 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
This press release just arrived in from the Simon Wiesenthal Center—calling 1967 borders “Auschwitz Borders’. We will be seeking further comment.
SIMON WISENTHAL CENTER ISRAEL SHOULD REJECT A RETURN TO 1967 ‘AUSCHWITZ’ BORDERS’
The Simon Wiesenthal Center commended President Obama’s call for further democratization in the Arab world but expressed deep disappointment that he called for Israel’s return to the pre-June 1967 borders.
“We welcome the president’s recognition of Israel’s security needs and that Hamas cannot be a partner in the peace process, but a call to a return to 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, even with “land swaps” is a non-starter, when at least half of the Palestinian rulers are committed to Israel’s destruction”, said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean and associate dean (respectively). “The road to peace has been clear for a long time-direct negotiations between parties who recognize each other’s legitimacy.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.
May 18, 2011 | 12:42 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a Democrat, will face Craig Huey, a Republican businessman, in a second round of voting to determine who will fill the open seat in California’s 36th Congressional District, which was vacated by Jane Harman in December 2010.
Hahn finished ahead of the 15 other candidates, winning just under 25 percent of the votes. Huey, who raised more money than any other candidate, took the second spot, with 21.87 percent of the electorate.
Huey narrowly beat California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, who won 21.48 percent of the vote. The difference between Huey and Bowen: 206 votes.
The result of Tuesday’s election—the state’s first congressional election to be contested without party-based primaries—paves the way for a second round of voting on July 12, in which Hahn and Huey will be the only two names on the ballot.
The 36th Congressional District has twice as many registered Democrats as it does Republicans.
Other candidates of interest in the election included Marcy Winograd, a teacher and anti-war activist who ran against Harman in the 2006 and 2010 Democratic primaries. Winograd came in fourth, winning 9.5 percent of the votes.
Democratic candidate Daniel Adler, whose name exploded in the blogosphere over the race’s final days in conjunction with his attention-grabbing advertisements, finished in 10th place.
May 18, 2011 | 12:06 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
In the race for the last open seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board, with just under half of all districts reporting, Scott Svonkin, a senior adviser to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, is narrowly leading Lydia A. Gutierrez, a teacher who sits on the board of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
Svonkin, who has been a regular presence at high profile Jewish community events in recent months and who has been involved with Jewish organizations for a decade or more, garnered more than twice as many votes as Gutierrez did in the March 8 primary election.
But the primary featured a field of seven candidates, and neither Svonkin nor Gutierrez won an outright majority, which forced the May 17 runoff.
Since then, Svonkin has been the subject of two articles in the LA Weekly that portrayed him as a bully. Neither article said much about Lydia Gutierrez.
Last week, an article in the Los Angeles Times focused on the “political name-calling” that was being used by both sides in the purportedly nonpartisan race. In the article, Gutierrez called Svonkin an “insider.” It also cited a mailer from the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee that labeled Gutierrez a “Sarah Palin-style Tea Partier.”
The article also noted that in the month before Tuesday’s election, Svonkin had raised “just over $299,000,” nearly 10 times as much as Gutierrez, who raised $3,788.
For the latest results, go to the Office of the City Clerk’s website.
May 17, 2011 | 10:35 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
With the polls closed and only the mail-in ballots counted, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn is leading the pack of 16 candidates in the special election to fill California’s 36th Congressional District, the seat vacated by Jane Harman in December 2010. Hahn won 24 percent of the early votes.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen received the next largest share of early votes, with 21 percent. If no candidate wins an outright majority, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff on July 12.
Many observers expected these two candidates to lead the pack before the election. Running in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Bowen and Hahn, both Democrats, were believed to have better name recognition than the other 14 candidates. They also had raised more money than any of the other Democrats.
Not more than Republican businessman Craig Huey, though. Huey, who won the fund-raising competition thanks in large part to money he loaned to his campaign, got 18 percent of the mailed-in ballots. He was trailed by another Republican, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, who took 11 percent of the votes.
Marcy Winograd, a teacher and anti-war activist who ran against Harman in the 2006 and 2010 Democratic primaries, mustered just eight percent of the early votes.
Democratic candidate Daniel Adler, a late entry into the race, managed 92 mailed-in votes, 0.36 percent of the electorate, putting him in the 13th spot among the field of 16 candidates. But the deadline for mailed-in ballots was May 10, before Adler’s name made its way into the blogoshpere, thanks to a series of ads that drew a lot of attention.
Rounding out the field of 16 are the three candidates in the race who declined to state a party preference: Matthew Roozee (whose website touts his Ph.D. in mathematics), Katherine Pilot (who described herself as “an average citizen”) and Michael T. Chamness (who calls himself a “coffee party activist”).
We’ll be updating the results throughout the evening—but for the latest results, check the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk Website.
May 15, 2011 | 5:10 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
If you couldn’t tell by the last name, numerous sources will confirm that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is Jewish.
“Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born on 25 April 1949 in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine. He is the son of Gilbert Strauss-Kahn, a legal and tax advisor and member of the Grand Orient de France, and Russian/Tunisian journalist Jacqueline Fellus. His family is of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish origin,” according to Wikipedia.
Strauss-Kahn has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, a sharp critic of French anti-Semitism, the founder of the Socialisme et Judaisme movement and the Leon Blum circle within French socialist circles. He is married to the French journalist Anne Sinclair, born Anne-Élise Schwartz. Her father was one of the country’s major art dealers.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested yesterday in New York and accused of sexually assaulting a 32-year-old chambermaid at his hotel.
According to The New York Times: “‘The defendant restrained a hotel employee inside of his room,’ said John McConnell, an assistant district attorney. ‘He sexually assaulted her and attemepted to forcibly rape her,’ and when that failed, he forced her to perform oral sex.”
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he intends to plead not guilty. (Yes, Brafman is also Jewish. Orthodox. Son of Austrian Jews who witnessed Kristallnacht and escaped Hitler in 1938.)
But what does it matter that Strauss-Kahn is Jewish?
If you’re an unhinged neo-Nazi (sorry, redundant), the fact is additional proof that depraved Jews are running and ruining the economy, preventing you from getting that big house and pretty life you otherwise deserve because, well, you are white, and Christian.
If you’re a radical Islamist, it’s proof that those who support Israel also like to rape young women. As if this weren’t just obvious. The Web site Radio Islam flags Strauss-Kahn as an “agent of Israel” as if to support the rights of a sovereign nation is a crime against humanity.
If you’re a Jew, it depends. Some Jews are naturally embarrassed or appalled when a co-religionist is implicated in scandal, just as they are proud when one of their own wins a Nobel Prize or, say, gets picked to head the International Monetary Fund. Other Jews pass it off with a shrug: What does he have to do with me? People are people. He didn’t rape (or not) on behalf of the Jewish people. I never gave him permission.
The truth is, most Jews fall into the former category. We feel something when one of us is elevated, or implicated. We can’t help it. It’s a reflex of the minority, partly because we have to worry what larger and more powerful groups think of us, and we recognize it is the rare human who doesn’t occasionally think it terms of “them,” rather than just “him.” According to The New York Times, the guilt of inside trader Raj Rajaratnam captivated the South Asian community.
“I think there will be for a while this cloud hanging over the South Asian community,” one of their leaders said.
With Jews, the reflex is also more than tribal, it’s textual—right there in one of our founding stories, when Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We know it’s rhetorical, because we know at some level, whether we like it or not, the answer is yes. That means whether or not we are responsible for the actions of other Jews, we can’t help but feel a bit responsible. Jewish pride and Jewish guilt aren’t opposites, they’re twins. At its most useful, the idea provokes us to look at the values and teachings of our communities and make sure they themselves aren’t misdirecting or misleading people. It pushes us to take responsibility where we can, and act to prevent misdeeds. It allows us to take a small portion of otherwise undeserved pride in accomplishments that we had nothing to do with (Sandy Koufax, anyone?). It reinforces that larger idea of Oneness, that not just we Jews, or we South Asians, but we humans, are in this together.
Anyway, this cultural reflex has been with us for thousands of years, from Cain to Koufax to Strauss-Kahn. Sometimes it’s just easier to swallow.