Monday, April 2, 2012

Condo Owner Told To Remove Jewish Mezuzah Ornament Or Face Fines

Fox News--A Connecticut condominium owner has been told by the complex's management association that she must remove a Jewish religious symbol or face fines, advocates told

Barbara Cadranel, an internationally-renown harpsichordist living in Stratford, Conn., contacted the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League earlier this month to report that she had been told by the California Condo Association to remove the mezuzah -- a small object inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah placed on the doorpost of a Jewish family's home -- or face fines of $50 per day, according to ADL's Connecticut Regional Director Gary Jones.

"It's pretty rare," Jones said of disputes between condominium association and owners involving mezuzot. "The obligation to place a mezuzah on the doorframe or doorpost is a right in the Bible. Jewish people everywhere, including those in condominiums, post a mezuzah as a reminder of their religious obligations."

Jones said Cadranel, 60, who could not be reached by for comment Friday, has retained Nathan and Alyza Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that has notified the condominium association that its actions are in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Cadranel told The Hartford Courtant she received the mezuzah as a gift last fall. She now feels "violated" after being told to remove it, she told the newspaper.

"I'm bullied and I'm saddened," she told the Courant. "It's changed my whole existence here." 
Cadranel, who "travels the world" playing harpsichord and other classical instruments, travels so often that "she doesn't have a real home," Jones said.

"For the first time in awhile, she's had a place to call home," he continued. "So it's very disconcerting to her that this would be an issue.

"It's not a decorative choice, or a choice at all when a condo association or anyone says that a mezuzah can’t be put on a doorpost or doorframe. Basically, they are telling the Jewish person that he or she cannot live there."

Attempts to reach representatives at the California Condo Association were not successful Friday. According to an agreement with its condo owners, the display of items like Christmas wreaths and crosses on doors is allowed, but the display of other items such as mezuzah on doorposts is not, the Jewish Ledger reports.

The association's attorney has said that Cadranel was well aware of the bylaws when she purchased the unit on Aug. 31, 2010, the Courant reports.

"The declaration expressly prohibits unit owners from hanging or displaying anything on the outside windows or outside walls of any building, and also prohibits any sign from being affixed to or placed upon the exterior walls … without prior consent of the association's board of directors," attorney Kurt Ahlberg, said in a March 21 response.

Jim O'Neill, spokesman for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, said his office had not received a complaint on the matter.

"If she files a complaint, we'll certainly look into it," O'Neill told
Similar disputes have occurred at condominiums around the nation. 

In the most well-known case, a Chicago couple sued after being told they couldn't put the symbol on their door. The case dragged on from 2005 to 2009, eventually making its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals before the parties settled. The couple was permitted to keep the symbol in place. 

The case led city officials and Illinois state Legislature to pass laws barring condominium associations from banning the symbols. Some states have enacted laws specifically protecting condo residents’ rights to put up mezuzahs.

NBC Launches Investigation After Today Show Chops Up 911 Recording To Make Zimmerman Sound Racist

Fox News--NBC has launched an internal probe after running an edited version of the 911 call from George Zimmerman -- the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin -- that made Zimmerman sound racist.  

"We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story," the network said in a statement to the Washington Post on Monday.  

NBC's "Today" show ran the edited audio of George Zimmerman's phone call to a police dispatcher in which Zimmerman says: "'This guy looks like he's up to no good … he looks black." 

But the audio recording in its entirety reveals that Zimmerman did not volunteer the information that Martin was black. Instead, Zimmerman was answering a question from a police dispatcher about the race of the "suspicious person" whom Zimmerman was speaking about.

A transcript of the complete 911 call shows that Zimmerman said, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."

The 911 officer responded saying, "OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?"

"He looks black," Zimmerman said. 

The abridged conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher that NBC ran on March 27 has been blasted by media watchdog groups as misleading. Critics have said the edited version was made to suggest that Zimmerman targeted Martin because he was black -- an accusation by many that is still under investigation. 

Going On Vacation? Why Not Try Communist North Korea!

AFP - North Korea attempted on Sunday to lure foreign tourists to the hermit country to help celebrate a major anniversary, pledging to make "every possible sincere efforts" to show visitors a good time.
Preparations are under way at the scenic Mount Kumgang to arrange transport and lodging for foreigners who have apparently showed "keen interest" in visiting the communist nuclear-armed nation.
There are no official figures on how many foreign tourists visit North Korea each year, but their cash -- the North charges exorbitant prices for everything from beer to accommodation -- is a major boon to the moribund economy.
The resort at Mount Kumgang, where a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a soldier in July 2008 after allegedly straying from the area, was developed by the South Korean giant Hyundai Asan and opened in 1998.
It once earned the impoverished North tens of millions of dollars a year from South Koreans eager to see the other half of the Korean peninsula, but the tours have been banned since the fatal shooting of the South Korean housewife.
The development, which has since been deserted, "is fully open to all tourists in the blooming best tour season of April", a spokesman for the tourism authority in the Mount Kumgang area told state media KCNA.
The spokesman pledged "all kinds of special privileges" to tour firms willing to go there, stressing the North was in celebratory mood for the centenary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-Sung, on April 15.
"We welcome all the tourists coming to Mount Kumgang and will make every possible sincere efforts to let them spend pleasant days in the best scenic spot," said the spokesman.
The resort in the coastal Mount Kumgang was developed with South Korean money as a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas, who are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice.
But the 2008 shooting there and a general deterioration in ties has seen the North and South fail to agree to find a compromise on tour groups from South Korea returning.
Frustrated with the long stalemate and desperate for foreign cash, Pyongyang last year stripped Hyundai Asan of its exclusive right to run tours to the idyllic area that boasts breathtaking views, lush vegetation and waterfalls.
Foreign tourists face immense restrictions on visits to North Korea, which can ordinarily only be made as part of a closely watched tour group. Most areas of the country are off-limits and visitors are forbidden to talk to the locals.
Pyongyang on Sunday renewed criticism of what it called South Korea's "grave provocation" over Mount Kumgang. Seoul has been lobbying for a blanket ban on all foreign tourists going there.
The North is set to lavishly commemorate the anniversary with various festivals and events including the launch of a satellite that has drawn widespread condemnation from the international community.
Pyongyang insists it is a peaceful space project but Washington and Seoul see it as a disguised missile test banned under UN resolutions.
The North, which desperately needs foreign aid to feed its 24 million people, slammed Saturday the US suspension of food aid over the disputed launch, calling the move an "overreaction".
The communist regime under the late ruler Kim Jong-Il set 2012 as the year to become a "strong and prosperous nation".

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Teen Mob Attacks On The Rise In Minneapolis Police Looking To Enforce Curfew

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There have been six mob attacks, in all, since February. Now, police are now wondering if an 8 o’clock curfew keeping anyone 17 and under from two downtown streets will stop the violence.

Nicollet Mall is a destination for many. Outdoor patios where drinks and food are served are a draw not only to people who live here, but also tourist.
Since February, when the sun goes down, later in the evening, mobs of teens take advantage of the darkness and attack.

A video captured on 6th Street and Nicollet shows how the mob of teens viciously attacks innocent people.

Police have made four arrests, but continue to search for others. They’ve beefed up patrols and monitor video from cameras that cover the entire downtown area.

Minneapolis Police have asked the city attorney if it can impose a curfew of 8 p.m. along the mall and Hennepin Avenue.

For some, talk of an earlier curfew for 17 year olds and under won’t stop the violence.

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Atheist And Agnostic Festival Held At Military Base

Christian Post--The U.S. military hosted an event meant specifically for atheist and agnostic soldiers for the first time Saturday on the grounds of a large Army base in North Carolina.

"Rock Beyond Belief," an event featuring secular speakers and musicians, was held on the main parade ground at the Fort Bragg military base. It was modeled after the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's "Rock the Fort" evangelistic event that was held at the same venue in 2010.

"I love the military," The Associated Press quoted Sgt. Justin Griffith, main organizer of the event and the military director of American Atheists, as saying. "This is not meant to be a black eye."

The organizers claim on the event's website that they are not interested in being a counter-event to the "offensive" "Rock the Fort" concert, or in putting on an anti-Christian, anti-religious event. "Rock Beyond Belief" is a day of fun and entertainment, they say.

Griffith had invited Christian soldiers to the event, and had said a free barbecue meal would be provided to the first 1,000 Department of Defense cardholders.

Atheist and agnostic soldiers at Fort Bragg have been pushing for gaining recognition as a faith group that would have the right to hold meetings inside the facilities. And Saturday's concert, attended by a few hundred people, was also aimed at making a case for that demand.

Prominent British atheist Richard Dawkins was a speaker. "We're never antagonistic toward religious believers, we're antagonistic toward religious belief," he claimed. "There is no good, honest reason to believe in a god or gods of any kind, or indeed in anything supernatural. The only reason to believe something is that you have evidence for it."
What is your occupation?
"We got any Darwin fans in the house?" asked Baba Brinkman, a rapper, before launching into a song about evolutionary biology.

The Delaware-based Stiefel Freethought Foundation, which promotes and supports the free thought movement, had donated $70,000 for the event. Its founder Todd Stiefel was quoted as saying that the Army should not host events like Saturday's concert and the BGEA-sponsored event that prompted it. "I would like this to be the last one of these events."

Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Sicinski at Fort Bragg said the hosting of "Rock the Fort" was a non-issue. "We don't treat soldiers who are atheists as atheists, we treat them as soldiers," he said. "They're soldiers first."

The post commander had earlier refused to allow the festival to be held on the main parade field. Griffith had to cancel the event scheduled for April 2 last year. However, with the backing of groups working for church-state separation, Griffith complained to the Secretary of the Army that the fort was discriminating against certain religious groups. Cooperation was pledged as a result.

"This just might be the turning point in the foxhole atheist community's struggle for acceptance, tolerance and respect," Griffith said after the permission to hold the event was granted last August. "It's an amazing time to be a nonbeliever in the U.S. military on the cusp of a major breakthrough."

Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that it's important to understand the background of how the atheist event came about. The festival was conceived as reaction to the Billy Graham's event, which received some manpower and financial support from the base command at the request of some chaplains.
Griffith and atheist groups objected to it, alleging it was an army-sponsored platform to seek converts.

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