A Moving Horror Story About My Books

Our former Connecticut home had a lot of storage space. I had under the eaves closets that were cool year round and were about 60 feet by four feet. There were two walk in closets in the fourth bedroom that served as a playroom. We had a room full of bookcases and two rooms had built-in bookshelves. Those are where I stored my books. That is how I was able to collect over 8000 books and have it seem like I really didn't own that many. When things are stashed here and there you don't always realize how much you actually own.

I kept some books logged at Libratything.com and others I had in an Excel spreadsheet. I had received about 1300 books free of charge when a parochial school closed and was going to throw their books in a dumpster headed for a landfill. Others I got free at a local transfer station who ran a free book shed service. I bought others for 10, 25, or 50 cents, and some for a whopping one dollar. I got books from Paperbackswap.com and bought used books for up to 90% off full retail at homeschool curriculum used book sales. Others I bought new, of course. I collected rare and out of print books over several year's time.

When we moved from Connecticut to Texas on short notice I put my hands on every single book and the process overwhelmed me. I donated over 4000 books to charity. I had no time to resell them other than paying a friend 20% commission to take 20 boxes to a used curriculum sale, they did not all sell either, even priced at 25 cents, 50 cents or one dollar.

The moving expenses were paid by us, not my husband's new employer. There was a base fee plus 60 cents a pound. The entire move cost us $25K. Ouch. Based on the box count and box weight of 40-50 pounds each, I estimated the cost to move the remaining books here was $3500. I did not know what we'd wind up moving into since we had rented a small home temporarily, I didn't know what storage I'd have but I felt these books were keepers at least for now. We wound up purchasing a home with a full wall of windows facing the backyard, so that is a lot of wall and shelf space that does not exist here. The other rooms are open floor plan as most new Texas homes are. My windows start six inches off the floor so again there is little room for even a low bookcase let alone tall bookcases. I still own too many books than I can shelve in the new home. But I'm off on a tangent. Back to Connecticut and the moving story.

The move was so fast and I was alone with my kids since my husband had already moved to start his new job. I hired someone to help me pack. I sorted everything, chose what to throw away, donate, or to move, and marked the box as to whether it was going to the rental unit or into the storage unit. The hired friend packed my books meticulously so that the books would not be damaged in route by having spines broken or covers crushed. We painstakingly labeled the boxes to show what subject and type of books it contained. This was necessary since I'd not yet chosen materials for the upcoming homeschool academic year. I needed the boxes labeled "homeschool English, homeschool biology, homeschool nature guides, homeschool math, homeschool high school history", so forth and so on.

I found out about how professional movers work after signing the contract. Despite interviewing the local moving agent I found out that the truck owners are independent contractors and who you get to move you cannot be predicted in the future, they use whoever is close by who is contracted with that franchise company (i.e. Atlas, Allied). Our local mover seemed great but on moving day we were assigned a guy from Georgia who is contracted through the national franchise who has no direct relationship with the local mover agent.

Moving day was to begin at eight in the morning. A vehicle showed up with three local movers from the local agent's office. They informed me that the tractor trailer truck with the driver/owner/foreman and his assistant mover was delayed for five more hours and that they could not load that truck until after one in the afternoon. They didn't quite know what to do with themselves and asked if they could begin loading boxes outdoors for faster loading when the truck arrived. It was August and it was hot and sunny and I was so busy that I didn't know the local weather forecast. I told them it was fine so long as there was no danger of rain since I did not know the forecast. They said there was no danger of any rain and I believed them. They moved boxes of my books onto the newly mulched (and bush free) garden beds which were in the process of being redone. We were also in the middle of having a new roof put on and there were no gutters on the house yet. We were in the middle of renovations from an ice dam winter storm problem the previous season which the insurance had been hassling us about paying on the large claim (another major headache I was dealing with besides the unemployment and then the sudden move).

The moving truck finally arrived and the movers were now under the direction of the owner-operator who acts as job foreman. They had left the boxes outside and were told to work on furniture moving instead. All at once the clouds blew in and the thunderstorm hit and the rain was pouring down onto over a hundred cardboard boxes of my books. The rain on my v-shaped roof was pouring off in sheets (due to lack of gutters) directly on top of my books. I nearly had a heart attack. A lot of the books I had kept and decided to move with me were out of print or rare books. We kicked a fit and the movers started moving them onto the truck and threw a tarp over it. Now the mulch was wet and the moisture started wetting the boxes from the bottom up.

I had a major concern about what would happen to wet cardboard and wet books while on a weeklong journey in over a hundred degree heat coming down to Texas. I worried that the soaking wet boxes would leach water into the books as time went on, even as the minutes ticked by, and worried that later the mildew or water damage would occur. If we could get the books out of the wet boxes quickly, it would prevent worse damage, I thought. I could imagine books growing mold and mildew and being ruined over the course of the move. Wet paper with no air circulation and hot temperatures is a bad combination.

I demanded that the books be repacked immediately. The driver said I had to supply the boxes. I had no extra boxes on hand as my packing was done. I didn't have 50 or 100 new boxes at my disposal. I started having an anxiety attack and hyperventilating. It was the mover's fault that this happened so I felt the mover's should give me free boxes. The driver said he had nothing to do with the boxes being outdoors as that was done by the local movers under their own direction, so he was not financially responsible for their actions. (I later learned that once he arrives on the scene the job is under his direction but whatever happens before he technically was not responsible for.)

As I freaked out, the moving men thought I was being hysterical. First my husband stepped in and dealt with them while I went and id deep breathing in a quiet area of the house. Later the movers started making fun of me, right in front of me and also behind my back in front of my kids. My younger son was upset to hear them making fun of me. You see we'd gotten rid of our four old non-HD, non-flat screen TVs since they do not insure them because they often break in a move. The movers, with their ignorant manner of speech and with their (only) high school educations had already made fun of us for owning so many books. Who needs this many books, they asked. Who reads so much? No one, they said. "Usually people prize their TVs the most but you don't even own any! That's weird!" I tried explaining that we homeschool, not that I had to justify myself to them, but it fell on deaf ears. They thought I was some kind of book nut packrat. Not only was I afraid the books would be ruined and that they'd need to be replaced at my expense, but I did not want to pay 60 cents a pound to move ruined books or to have the ruined wet books infect good books and make more of a problem than we already had on our hands.

My husband I had to escalate the situation by calling the staf, then the manager, then the owner of the local mover. He agreed to drive boxes to my house to give us boxes free of charge. When the boxes arrived (an hour later) we began repacking (inside the truck). I handled wet books and wiped the covers and painstakingly repacked them with care so they'd not break in transit when stacked ten feet high in the truck with other heavy stuff on top of them. Then the driver said the insurance did not cover us being on his truck and we had to leave while his workers repacked them by themselves. I didn't trust them at this point but what could we do? They basically threw the books in the boxes any which way. The books were mixed up and topics were combined. For example homeschool curriculum was now mixed with cookbooks and adult nonfiction, and nothing was labeled. This would present a challenge later when I needed to get my hands on my books.

The thunderstorm passed and the sun came back out again. My garden thermomemeter that registers high and low temperatures showed that during the move the maxmium temperature in the tractor trailer truck had reached 155 degrees. The temperatures during the move on the Texas end was 105 degrees.

All the books that were wet were ones slotted to go to the (temperature controled) storage facility. Due to the way the moving process unfolded it was impossible for me to check those books for damage when the boxes arrived in Texas. The boxes were put into the unit and the stuff was stacked about ten feet high solid, going back 30 feet. The insurance claim deadline for damage to items going to a storage unit was 48 hours. This meant that most of our possessions could not be checked in time and no claim could be put in. Those boxes remained in storage for a year, at which point we had sold the old house, bought a new one, and paid the movers to bring all that stuff to the new home.

This weekend I finished putting my hands on all my books by going through the last boxes that the movers had repacked. Those boxes were labeled with the local mover's logo so they were easy to detect. I found a fair number of broken spines, bent covers, or books completely bent in half or warped severely, and about thirty books warped and had pages ruined from water damage from that thunderstorm. None had new mold or mildew. I had feared that if some grew mildew they would spread it to the other books in that same box, that did not happen.

For anyone who loves books and collects books and uses books frequently, I am sure you can understand the emotions I was put through that moving day. That to me was a true moving horror story. We had other damage done and even fraud done to us so this book nightmare was just one of the anxiety causing things that happened. I am relieved today to finally know the full extent of the damage. I am happy to know that our demand to change the boxes before the water full seeped into the books worked to save over 95% of the books.

NYPD Cops punch, kick Queens teen in drug arrest

A Queens teen got a brutal beatdown by a group of NYPD police officers during a stop outside the Flushing YMCA, dramatic video released today shows.

The Jan. 8 attack — which was captured on a witness’ cell phone — begins about 12:38 p.m. with two cops fighting to restrain Queens resident Robert Jackson, 19, on the ground while yelling “put your hands behind your head.”
I can’t, I can’t, please stop,” Jackson pleads, crying, as the number of cops kicking and punching — and at one point scraping his face against the asphalt — increases to seven officers.

Meanwhile, shocked bystanders are heard shouting, “Why are they hitting him?” and “They’re actually jumping him!”

Cops managed to arrest Jackson and charged him with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, unlawful possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct.

He was mouthing “profanity threats” against one of the cops prior to the incident, court records show.

But Jackson’s lawyer, Jacques Leandre, said he wants the charges to be dismissed because his client is “an innocent victim of police brutality.”

“Its unfortunate that this could happen to somebody like me when cops are supposed to be protecting us,” said Jackson, whose badly-bruised face is still scarred from the incident.

Jackson has four prior arrests, including an Aug. 2012 arrest for criminal possession of a weapon, police sources said. Three of his arrests are sealed.

Police yesterday said the incident has been referred to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Fugitive ex-cop believed dead, as cabin stronghold goes up in flames

The dramatic manhunt for a fugitive ex-LAPD cop who killed at least four people apparently ended when the rural California cabin he holed up in went up in flames, with ammunition exploding in the inferno and smoke billowing up into the mountain air.

Christopher Dorner, who hours earlier had killed one San Bernadino sheriff's deputy and wounded another before barricading himself in the cabin, in the San Bernadino mountains, was believed to be inside. Dorner, who vowed not to be taken alive, had been surrounded inside the cabin since early Tuesday afternoon. It was not clear who set the fire in the Big Bear community where Dorner apparently has been hiding since sometime last week.

It was a stunning end to a saga that gripped the nation, and had the nation's third-largest police department on tenterhooks for a week. Dorner, a former Navy man and highly trained marksman, had vowed revenge on the department he believed had wronged him - designating specific targets for death. As flames devoured the cabin, police stood by, confident that there was no escape for Dorner, and no way he could survive the blaze - assuming he had not already taken his own life.

San Bernardino Sheriff Spokesperson Cindy Bachman told reporters that they will not enter the structure until it is safe to do so.

Law enforcement sources said sometime within the last few days, Dorner broke into an cabin off Route 38, on the mountain resort area where days ago his truck was found burning. Two women were held there until Tuesday morning, when Dorner left in a white pickup believed to belong to one of the women, who he left bound inside. One managed to escape and call authorities around 12:50 p.m. local time.

Sometime later, fish and wildlife officers spotted the stolen pickup, which they were looking for, and tried to stop it near Big Bear Lake, authorities said. The driver, believed to have been Dorner, fled on foot, exchanging gunfire, sources told Fox News. Hours later, police had Dorner cornered in another cabin, exchanging gunfire with the suspect. It was there that his rampage would end.

As the forces surrounding the cabin mounted, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department shut down Highway 38 to create a choke point, sources told Fox News. Four area schools were on lockdown.

The police also asked the media to stop tweeting events in real time and showing live aerial shots of the cabin, theorizing Dorner could be monitoring events on television. A CBS correspondent briefly found himself in the crossfire as he broadcasted from the event, before police ordered him out of the danger zone.

The shootout came after a day of searching and speculation, with authorities continuing their door-to-door search in the rural Southern California community, even as sources guessed Dorner, 33, may have made it over the border and into Mexico.

The hulking suspect, who claimed in a rambling manifesto posted online that he was booted from his job unfairly after official determined he falsely accused his partner of assaulting a suspect, vowed to being "asymmetrical warfare" to the department, using his police and military training, and named 40 "targets." Police have guarded the homes of the targets even as they conducted what may be the biggest manhunt in state history.

Dorner was suspected of gunning down Monica Quan, 28, and her fiancĂ© Keith Lawrence, 27, on Feb.3 in a parking garage in Irvine, Calif. Quan’s father, Randall Quan, represented Dorner at the hearing in which he lost his job in 2009. On Monday, a day after Quan and Lawrence were found dead, some of Dorner's belongings were discovered in a trash bin near San Diego. Dorner’s bizarre manifesto surfaced on Facebook, implicating him in the murders and announcing his twisted plan for revenge against his former employer. Police hunted Dorner in San Diego, where last Wednesday night a man matching his description tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat from a marina there.

In the wee hours on Thursday, some 100 miles north in Riverside County, two LAPD officers assigned to protect a person named in Dorner’s manifesto chased a vehicle they believed was Dorner's. During an ensuing shootout, one officer was grazed in the forehead. Moments later, a gunman believed to be Dorner ambushed two Riverside cops at a traffic light, killing 11-year veteran Police Officer Michael Crain and critically injuring the other.

Dorner’s burning truck turned up 50 miles west of Riverside later that morning. Although statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and authorities were watching the border, the most intense phase of the search has not left Big Bear since the truck was found on a local forest road.

In recent days, hundreds of police officers scoured the mountain, searching cabins door-to-door. While the search on Big Bear was scaled back on Monday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department continued the hunt, likely within a stone's throw of their violent quarry.

Meanwhile, an associate of Dorner was being tracked by investigators, according to court records that suggest Dorner may have received help as he eluded a massive law enforcement dragnet. A criminal complaint filed in federal court raises the possibility that Dorner may have been assisted by an associate identified as "J.Y."

Hustvedt To Visit Minnesota

If you're a fan of Norwegian-American writer Siri Hustvedt and you live in the Twin Cities area, you're in luck. The Northfield, Minnesota native will return to her hometown for a series of events at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges next week. Hustvedt will be traveling with her husband, Paul Auster. In addition to conducting faculty seminars, the couple will participate in three events for the public.

  • Wed., Feb. 20, 4:30–6 p.m.: Joint reading by Hustvedt and Auster, followed by a book signing and reception in the Great Hall of Carleton College.
  • Thurs., Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. Guided interview with Hustvedt and Auster, conducted by St. Olaf writer-in-residence Benjamin Percy in Viking Theater at St. Olaf College.
  • Fri., Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m. Convocation by Hustvedt in Skinner Memorial Chapel at Carleton.  The talk, "Reflections on Creativity," will be followed by a book signing.

Hustvedt's work, which includes five novels, two books of essays, a book of poetry and a work of non-fiction, has been translated into more than thirty languages. She also lectures and publishes regularly on the intersection of philosophy, psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Want to learn more? To read a Viking interview with Hustvedt, check out our May 2011 issue.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Search for fugitive ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner creates traffic problems along border

The hunt for an ex-LAPD officer facing murder charges has expanded from California to Mexico after investigators say evidence suggests the suspect, Christopher Jordan Dorner, may have fled the country.

The beefed-up security at the border has created unusually heavy traffic backups as agents are more closely inspecting each car. State police in Mexico's Baja California were given photographs of Dorner, 33, and instructed to consider him armed and extremely dangerous.

Investigators say Dorner attempted to steal a boat in San Diego and drive it to Mexico. Dorner's wallet, including his identification cards, was also found at the San Ysidro Point of Entry near the U.S.-Mexico border, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, was raided Monday by investigators after there were reports of a sighting, but there was no evidence of the suspect on the property, 10News.com. reported.

Federal documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicate how authorities developed "probable cause" that Dorner was possibly trying to reach Mexico and provide new details on his actions since he allegedly killed three people, including a police officer, in a Feb. 3 shooting spree that began in Irvine.

Dorner may have been aided by an associate identified as "JY" in the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last week after the former police officer evaded authorities.

Federal authorities told The Times late Monday that the court papers reflected their thinking at the time, but they stressed that Dorner could be anywhere.

Authorities have obtained a no-bail arrest warrant, which allows Dorner to be apprehended anywhere, Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said.

Also on Monday, Zellerbach filed charges — which could result in the death penalty — against Dorner for the murder of Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain and the attempted murder of three other officers. Zellerbach said he believes Dorner hasn’t finished carrying out his vendetta.

"Just read his manifesto and look at his actions," Zellerbach said. "He's trying to send a message, and it would be my belief that his message is not completed yet."

The manhunt for Dorner began last Wednesday when he was identified as the suspect in the Orange County murders of a former Los Angeles police captain's daughter and her fiance the previous weekend. Hours after police announced they were looking for him, Dorner fired at two LAPD officers then ambushed the Riverside officers.

"By both his words and conduct, he has made very clear to us that every law enforcement officer in Southern California is in danger of being shot and killed," Zellerbach said at a news conference that was guarded by four officers armed with rifles.

Police say Dorner wrote a lengthy manifesto that was posted to Facebook after the double murder. He vowed deadly revenge on those in the LAPD responsible for his firing years earlier, and their families. Police now are providing protection for some 50 families believed to be targets.

The search for Dorner had previously been focused in the mountains near Big Bear Lake about 80 miles east of Los Angeles after his burned-out truck was found there. Authorities are searching more than 30 square miles day and night in the ski resort area and checking on roughly 600 cabins.

Police and city officials believe a $1 million reward, raised from public and private sources, will encourage citizens to stay vigilant. More than 700 tips had come in since the reward was announced.

"Now it's like the game show 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire,'" said Anthony Burke, supervisory inspector for the U.S. Marshals regional fugitive task force. "Instead of one contestant, we've got 100,000, and there's only one question you have to answer. All they have to answer is where he's at, and we can take it from there."

Dorner was fired from the LAPD five years ago, when a department board determined that he falsely claimed another officer had kicked a suspect. Randal Quan represented him during the proceeding.

Quan's daughter, Monica, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, were found shot dead Feb. 3 in a car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium. Last Wednesday, after discovery of the manifesto, Irvine police announced they were searching for Dorner.

Early Thursday in the Riverside County city of Corona, police say Dorner shot at two LAPD officers who had been dispatched to protect a possible target of Dorner's. One officer's head was grazed by a bullet; the other was unharmed.

Minutes later, authorities said Dorner used a rifle to ambush two Riverside officers, killing one and seriously wounding another. The murdered officer was identified as Michael Crain, 34. The other officer's identity was not released to protect his family.

MKs protest ‘suppression of news about jail suicide of Australian’

A series of Knesset members on Tuesday spoke out in parliament against what they said were efforts by the Prime Minister’s Office to suppress publication of a sensitive episode concerning an Australian citizen who had committed suicide in an Israeli jail.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday convened members of a hitherto defunct “Editors’ Committee” to seek their cooperation in the matter, the MKs said.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am Ta’al) asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to respond to reports that “an Australian citizen who was being held in Israel under an assumed name committed suicide in jail.”

Neeman said the matter was not part of his purview, adding that questions over such matters should be out to the minister of public security. Still, said Neeman, “there is no doubt that if these claims are correct, this has to be checked.”

The acting speaker of the Knesset, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, told MKs that the minister of public security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, would be available in parliament on Wednesday, and that legislators could question him about the affair.

Zahava Gal-on (Meretz) protested what she said was “the undemocratic process by which journalists volunteer to censor information at the request of the authorities.” She said she thought such phenomena had long since disappeared, and that gag orders should be applied only when there was a clear threat to national security. She also protested that editors were given information that was being withheld from members of Knesset.

How could it be, Gal-on asked, that “prisoners held under assumed names commit suicide and nobody knows about then?

Labor’s Nachman Shai said that the public would find out about the affair anyway sooner or later, and “it would be better to tell the public the truth, within certain security parameters.”

Dov Hanin (Hadash) noted that the information was available from overseas sources on the Internet in any case, and claimed the aim of the suppression was thus not to protect national security but rather “to prevent open public debate” surrounding the affair.

Israel’s main nightly TV news programs opened their broadcasts with the sketchily reported story on Tuesday night, showing footage of the various Knesset members complaining about the story’s suppression. One of the TV stations, Channel 10, making plain that it was hampered by restrictions on what it could report, supplemented its coverage with a report on the history of Israelis who had leaked Israeli secrets to the Soviet Union and others through the decades.

Among those it mentioned was Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, who was jailed for treason after selling the so-called secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal to London’s Sunday Times in the 1980s.

Even Israel’s most sensitive security hierarchies, this report concluded, have proven not to be immune to espionage.

Israel's mystery Prisoner X 'was Australian Ben Zygier'

Jerusalem - An Australian man committed suicide in a high-security Israeli jail in 2010 after being held for months in great secrecy, Australia’s ABC channel said on Tuesday, throwing new light on a case that has rattled Israel.

The unforced ABC story named the man, known previously only as “prisoner x”, as Ben Zygier. It added that it “understood” the 34-year-old from Melbourne had been previously recruited by the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

There was no official comment on the story in Israel.

However, within hours of the report surfacing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office summoned Israeli editors to ask them not to publish a story “that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency”, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said.

“The emergency meeting was called following a broadcast outside Israel regarding the incident in question,” Haaretz said, giving no further information.

Shortly afterwards, all reference to the Australian report vanished from Israeli news sites—including Haaretz itself.

Such a gag order is highly unusual in Israel, where state military censors normally allow local media to quote foreign sources on controversial incidents—such as an alleged attack on Syria last month by the Israeli airforce.

ABC said that Zygier’s imprisonment was so secret that not even his guards knew his name. However, word got out at the time of a mysterious prisoner and human rights groups wrote to the state to demand more information.

“It is insupportable that, in a democratic country, authorities can arrest people in complete secrecy and disappear them from public view without the public even knowing such an arrest took place,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote in June 2010.

When Israel’s Ynet website wrote about the case that same month the story was quickly removed because of a gag order.

ABC said Zygier had moved to Israel 10 years before his death and changed his name to Ben Alon. It gave no reason for his imprisonment, speculating only that it would have had to concern espionage and sensitive state secrets.

Funeral notices from Australia show that Zygier’s body was flown back to Melbourne at the end of December 2010 for burial.

What Would The Rebbe Say?

Police chief in Chris Brown probation scandal resigns

The embattled police chief of Richmond, Va., resigned today, after he was accused of sloppy work that allowed Chris Brown to allegedly fake his way through community service.

Bryan Norwood, who had been his city’s top cop since 2008, came under intense scrutiny last week when Los Angeles prosecutors said R&B crooner Brown logged hours of work in Richmond that he couldn’t have possibly done.

Brown was sentenced to 180 days — or 1,440 hours — of labor in his 2009 plea-bargain deal for savagely assaulting girlfriend Rihanna.

After doing 581 hours in LA County, Brown was given permission to finish his debt to society in his home state of Virginia, where he claimed to have finished all court-ordered work.

“As of today I’ve accepted the resignation of Bryan Norwood from his post as chief of police for the city of Richmond,” Mayor Dwight Jones announced.

“He has offered leadership that has brought us a little bit further in our endeavors to improve public safety. In many ways the Richmond Police Department and the city is better off because of his dedication.”

Ray Tarasovic, who had previously served as Richmond's assistant chief, was talked out of retirement and elevated to Norwood’s old job.

“We’ve reached, however, a mutual agreement, at this time, that his time as Richmond police chief has come to an end,” Jones said of Norwood. “We certainly wish Chief Norwood much luck in his endeavors going forward.”

Richmond police allegedly signed off on Brown’s claims that he picked up trash in that city, on days when the recording artist was partying across the globe, LA prosecutors said.

Brown claimed he picked up trash in Richmond between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2011. But Department of Homeland Security records showed Brown cleared customs at Dulles International Airport, 120 miles away, at 6:44 a.m. that day, after landing from Dubai, LA prosecutors said.

“It would be unreasonable to believe that after a 12-13 hour flight, the defendant rushed through … early morning rush traffic, traveled directly to Richmond in just over two hours, and then worked eight straight hours picking up trash,” Deputy DA Mary Murray wrote.

Then Brown claimed he picked up trash in Richmond on March 15, last year, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Again, Homeland Security records appeared to contradict Brown, who jetted off to Cancun at 4 p.m. that same day, LA officials said.

Brown’s lawyer Mark Geragos insisted he has statements from Richmond police officers and firefighters and photographs to prove that his client did all necessary work.

The singer is due back in LA court on April 5. The DA wants a judge to throw out Brown’s Virginia hours and make him do all his remaining time in LA County.

Brown’s beating victim, Rihanna, has since made up her attacker. She accompanied him to court and sat next to his mom in LA court last week.

CUNY officials are investigating ejection of Jewish students from anti-Israel forum at Brooklyn College

City university officials are investigating why four Jewish students were ejected from a controversial anti-Israel forum sponsored by Brooklyn College.

Campus police booted graduate student Ari Ziegler, 23, and three classmates from the event last Thursday, which showcased the founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Ziegler, his brother, Michael, and friends Melanie Goldberg and Yvonne Juris were escorted out after they took out pro-Israel handouts, they say.

“If this were true, it was wrong and we need to understand exactly what the circumstances were,” CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said.

College officials are also investigating why members of the media were barred from the forum. The investigation will be led by CUNY’s top lawyer, Frederick Schaffer, and an independent consultant, who will report their findings back to Goldstein.

Italian Lead Singer Will Not Perform on Shabbat

ROME  — The lead singer of an Italian pop group reportedly will skip a live performance at Italy’s most famous popular song festival because he observes Shabbat.

Singer Raiz (Gennaro Della Volpe), of the Neapolitan reggae-dub group Almamegretta, will not sing live on stage during Friday night’s broadcast of the annual San Remo song festival, according to the La Stampa newspaper. Instead, the newspaper reported, the group may perform without him or will run a pre-recorded video.

La Stampa said Raiz converted to Judaism several years ago and is observant.

The San Remo festival, founded in 1951, is a combination song festival and song competition mixing concert performances with a competition for best new song. The five-day festival, broadcast on state-run RAI TV, begins Tuesday.

Rabbi Dovid Weitman: “Sorry, I do not Shake”

Rabbi Dovid Weitman, Chief rabbi of the Sephardi Community Beit Yacov Safra, was being greeted by Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, in a recent event celebrating the International Day of the Holocaust, apparently she didn`t know orthodox rabbis don’t shake hands with woman.

The Rabbi politely explained that orthodox men are prohibited from shaking hands with  

Jersey girl helps Jerusalem's Orthodox ladies get their hip-hop groove on

“Every night up in the club [beat] getting money with the thugs [beat, beat]” – so go the somewhat incomprehensible lyrics to the hip-hop tune by one Trey Songz, which is pumping out of the studio loudspeakers. “….Thought I’d never fall in love [beat]. Then there was you.”

It’s Tuesday night at the mall, in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, and here at the Elbaz Studio, right above the La Belle wedding hall and next door to an Arab electrical and mechanical engineering college, it’s another all-girls dance class night.

Hip-hop dance instructor Raquella Siegel, 26, in blue and pink high tops, black baggy sweatpants, a hot-pink T-shirt and a baseball cap pulled down low over her brow, sings along, slightly breathless, as she demonstrates the moves she has choreographed to go with the groove.

A minyan of young women in leggings, sweatshirts and sneakers, with an occasional baseball cap perched on a pony-tailed head here and there, all have their eyes trained on the five-foot-tall ball of energy in front of the class.

“Left, right, hip back, swivel, swivel, point your fingers in the air…. Keep those knees bent,” Siegel calls out as Songz rocks on: “I don’t want to be a player no more [beat, beat]. Every night in the club [beat] tricking with a different girl.”

The women, focused, in sync, and slowly letting loose, are swiveling as if there were no tomorrow. “Swivel, Swivel, hips, hips, halt….” Siegel is yelling. “Go, now take it from the top, girls: One and two and three and four.”

“What, you think Orthodox girls don’t want to hip-hop?” Siegel asks later, rhetorically, as she sits down for a quick chat before zooming off on her moped to make dinner for her husband, Levy, a Russian immigrant she married just a few months ago.

Born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, in a Modern Orthodox family, Siegel says dancing was always what she was about. And we are not talking about the folk dancing behind the mehiza (partition) at Orthodox Jewish weddings kind of dance. We are talking serious Michael Jackson-style moves.

She started out alone, watching music videos and imitating Britney Spears down in her family’s basement. Later, at Frisch, the Modern Orthodox yeshiva high school in New Jersey she attended, she tried out and joined the dance team.

“I was the girl always walking around the hallways with a boom box doing the moonwalk,” she relays. “People would yell out: ‘Yo! Raquella, dance for us!’”

With her parents' support, she soon enrolled in the Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan for formal training, focusing on jazz funk and hip-hop. She loved it, but for one problem: the boys. In line with Jewish law, or halacha, Raquella was “shomer negiah,” meaning that she abstained from any physical contact with members of the opposite sex – clearly a difficult task if one is dancing with them.  

At first, she decided to make an exception, or as she puts it, “what happens in the studio, remains in the studio.” But later, back home after a year in Jerusalem studying at the now defunct Orthodox Jewish seminary Machon Gold, Siegel decided not to partake of mixed dancing anymore. But she still wanted to hip-hop.

“I tried private classes, but it was too expensive and I was not sure what to do," she says. "I started thinking how great it would be to have training for me - and anyone else like me - who wanted to dance hip-hop but without needing to touch men. I wanted to create a safe environment where women could feel comfortable.”

She brought that dream with her back to Israel. After making aliyah in 2007, Siegel began a four-year dance and movement degree at the religious Orot College for Women in Elkana. Simultaneously, she started teaching women's-only hip-hop classes in and around Jerusalem, where Orthodox women would feel at ease and welcome.

“The only halacha prohibition is not to dance with or in front of men,” she says. “But anything else goes.”

These days, Siegel teaches hip-hop almost every day of the week, and also has been working on “hip-hop day of fun” events for religious high school girls.

“There are dance competitions and conferences all over the world -- and my dream is to be part of that, and to create a Modern Orthodox hip-hop scene here, with nationwide competitions,” she says.

The lyrics of her chosen musical genre, she will admit, can be problematic. “I have given up trying to find lyrics that have good messages, but I do try to find songs without too many curses,” she says. “But, anyway, it's less about the message of the song.

It’s about release. My hip-hop classes provide an outlet for women to express themselves and be free -- in a safe place. We do that. And then we go home.”

Pope Benedict XVI, true to his declared commitment to the Jewish people

Pope Benedict XVI's surprising and historic announcement that he will retire at the end of the month has generated much speculation.

His declared reason is that he is no longer physically capable of handling the demands of the position. Having met with him three times in the course of the last year, I can attest to his growing frailty.

However, while the conclave that elects the pope is a jealously closed gathering, Benedict XVI as a living former incumbent could have a significant influence on the choice of a successor something historically unique in itself.

As someone who sees himself as a bulwark of theological truth facing a tidal wave of secular relativism, he would want the next pope to continue this conservative line.

While many liberals within and outside the Church will be hoping for a successor with a very different outlook, those who care about the future of Catholic-Jewish relations and who know Pope Benedict XVI's record will be concerned that the next pope might not have the same commitment as his predecessors.

Benedict XVI has been a true follower, in word and deed, of John Paul II regarding the Church's relationship with the Jews. In fact, in many ways he consolidated the latter's steps.

One might have considered John Paul II's visit to the synagogue in Rome or his pilgrimage to Israel, paying respects to the state's highest elected political and religious leaders, to be the atypical actions of a pope who had had a unique personal connection with Jews since childhood.

The fact that Benedict did the same confirmed these gestures as belonging to the Church as much as to individuals, and potentially made them a template for his successors.

Benedict XVI was the first pope to ever invite Jewish leaders both to the funeral of a pope and, even more significantly, to the celebration of his own ascension.

Little more than a month later, he received a delegation of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, the body that represents the principal Jewish advocacy organizations as well as the major streams of contemporary Judaism.

Notably, he received this Jewish delegation before delegations from representative bodies of other branches of Christianity, let alone other religions.

At this meeting he declared his commitment to continuing the path of his predecessor in deepening relations with the Jewish people.

Moreover, his first visit to a place of religious worship of another faith community was to the synagogue in Cologne, where he said: "I intend to continue with great vigor on the path toward improved relations and friendship with the Jewish people, following the decisive lead given by Pope John Paul II."

Both at the meeting and on the synagogue visit he acknowledged the tragic past history of Catholic conduct toward the Jewish people, called for "a continued reflection on the profound historical moral and theological questions posited by the experience of the Shoah," and deplored resurgent anti-Semitism.

There were two incidents that cast a shadow over Catholic-Jewish relations during his pontificate, although these had more to do with poor communications and public relations than with substance.  

The first concerned the expanded use of the Latin liturgy that included an offensive Easter prayer for the conversion of the Jews.   Pursuant to Benedict's permit for the wider use of the Latin liturgy, he reformulated the prayer without the offensive language, but it still envisioned Jewish acceptance of Jesus.  

After indignant reactions from the Jewish community, the Pope explained that this was in no way a permit for proselytizing, which the Church opposes.   The text in question, he indicated, is but a prayer to the Almighty that at the end of days He will somehow mysteriously resolve the seemingly irresolvable differences between the faiths.  

The second incident related to the Vatican's negotiations to restore ties with the Society of Saint Pius X, which had broken away from the Church.   When the Vatican announced that it was lifting its excommunication, the fact that the group included a Holocaust denier evoked outrage in the Jewish community.  

In reply to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Vatican explained that lifting the excommunication did not mean bringing the dissidents back into the Church. For this they would have to accept all the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including the changed positive relationship with Judaism and the Jewish People.

Moreover, Benedict went out of his way to emphasize his intolerance for Holocaust denial and his commitment to fighting anti-Semitism.

There are some who believe that Pope Benedict XVI sought to advance the cause of sainthood of Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pope.

But while he signed the document declaring the spiritual virtues of Pius XII, he did not beatify him, which would have been a step toward ultimate sainthood. I think a fair person can only conclude that Benedict was showing sensitivity to Jewish concerns.

However, as much as he was a true successor to John Paul II, they were extremely different personalities. John Paul II was an extrovert, a supreme communicator and master of grand gestures, while Benedict XVI is an introvert who never lost his professorial manner, and has little patience for public relations.

This has sometimes led to a less favorable perception of the man in some Jewish circles.

The fact remains, though, that Pope Benedict XVI has been true to his declared commitment at the beginning of his papacy to continue the path of his predecessor in advancing Catholic-Jewish relations. Whether the same will be said of his successor remains to be seen.

Rabbi David Rosen is the American Jewish Committee's International Director of Interreligious Affairs and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Honorary Advisor on Interfaith Relations. He is a past chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations.

What chutzpah! John Galliano he’s a schmuck

Late last month, disgraced fashion designer John Galliano arrived in New York City with little fanfare and no red-carpet appearances. Instead, paparazzi photographed him in an underground car garage in a baggy dark-brown suit that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bowery flophouse.

Two years after the once revered designer unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade at a Parisian bar, he is now quietly working in the studio of Oscar de la Renta in the run-up to the designer’s Fashion Week show tonight.

And this is a troubling — even unthinkable — development to many leaders in the local Jewish community.
  “John Galliano coming to Jew York — that’s just chutzpah!” cries influential Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, upon being told the news.

“In a city with 2.2 million Jews, I’d hope he would undertake some real positive action in the community to demonstrate his reversal while he’s here.”

Galliano has been in exile ever since a video of him hurling outrageous insults to fellow diners in a Parisian bar surfaced in February 2011.

“I love Hitler,” he slurred to customers, with the shocking exchange caught on a cellphone camera. “People like you would be dead today,” he ranted. “Your mothers, your forefathers would be f - - king gassed and dead.”

He was promptly fired from his position at the helm of Dior, where he had worked for 15 years, in a move that was praised by the Anti-Defamation League.

Dior brand ambassador Natalie Portman said at the time, “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano . . . In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

The French courts later found him guilty of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity,” and he was fined $8,400 and enrolled in an Arizona rehab clinic for alcohol addiction. While in Paris, he’s been seen regularly at AA meetings held in a church down the block from Dior, according to a source.

So, what could possibly have changed the court of opinion regarding the shunned designer?

Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, a close friend of both Galliano and De la Renta, has reportedly facilitated the collaboration. And her choice of atelier for Galliano’s second act is a savvy one, say insiders.

“Oscar’s the only one who could have done this,” says fashion writer Dana Thomas, author of the book “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster.”

“His is one of the few independent companies left in fashion. He doesn’t have shareholders telling him not to take on such a potentially explosive position, p.r.-wise, that it will destroy the value of their shares.   “The only person Oscar answers to is Oscar.”

Both Wintour and De la Renta declined to comment for this story, but the designer recently gave Galliano his vote of confidence.

“I think John is one of the most talented men I’ve ever met. I like him very much. The years I was doing Balmain in Paris, I went many times with Anna [Wintour] to his shows,” De la Renta told New York magazine’s fashion blog “The Cut” two days ago.

“So when Anna asked me if I would have John in my studio, I said yes. I also believe that everyone should have a second chance, especially someone as talented as John. And he has worked so hard on his recovery.”   Details of the partnership are vague: Is Galliano, 52, being tapped to take over the house of the 80-year-old De la Renta? And will the pair come out and take a bow after De la Renta’s fall 2013 fashion line debuts this evening?

“I haven’t missed an Oscar show for years,” says socialite Jamee Gregory, a contributing editor to Elle Decor. “I think it will be interesting to see what sort of an effect Galliano’s presence will have on his collection, if any. I am sure Oscar values his artistic experience, while not condoning his disturbing past behavior.”

The mounting intrigue has led a De la Renta show producer, who declined to be named, to crow: “It’s the hottest ticket in town.”

But not all fashionistas are clawing each other for tickets.

“Galliano is without question one of the most talented designers of our time, and I plan to enjoy gazing at his work from afar, ” Bryce Gruber, editor of the Luxury Spot, tells The Post. “But why on earth as a proud Jew would I ever throw my money at a fashion house that supports a man who lashes out at a community that’s helped make him a superstar? It’ll be vintage De la Renta for me from now on, thank you very much.”

High-profile De la Renta fan Ivanka Trump won’t be attending tonight’s show, either, according to her rep — even though the socialite, who recently converted to Judaism, has been spotted all over Fashion Week, from Altuzarra to Carolina Herrera.

“People are talking about it — it’s a topic of discussion,” says Elie Tahari, the Israeli-born fashion designer who also shows tonight.

“People are wondering if he’s sincere or opportunistic. Time will tell. Time will always tell.”

Galliano has remained mum on the issue ever since offering a public apology days after he was axed from Dior. “Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense,” he said back in 2011 of his drunken outburst.

Last month the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement applauding the designer’s rehabilitation and recovery process: “We believe that individuals can change their hearts and minds as long as they demonstrate true contrition.

“Mr. Galliano has worked arduously in changing his worldview and dedicated a significant amount of time to researching, reading and learning about the evils of anti-Semitism and bigotry. Along his journey to recovery he met with us on numerous occasions. He has accepted full responsibility for his previous remarks and understands that hurtful comments have no place in our society.”

When pressed as to what specific steps Galliano had taken for the League to lift its earlier condemnation of his actions, they declined to elaborate. And now that Galliano is possibly eyeing a teaching stint at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, as Page Six reported yesterday, some critics would like to see Galliano do more than just pay lip-service and truly make amends in the city.

“He should categorically retract his comments. He should explain that no one should hate,” says Rabbi Dovi Scheiner, who presides over the city’s most fashion-forward congregation, the Soho Synagogue.

“I know what he said then, but what does he feel now? I need to see a statement that shows growth,” he adds. “That would give me a degree of comfort. This whole thing is a little weak for me.”

Adds Boteach: “Let him bring some supermodels and designers to go to a home for the aged or to a Jewish school — or visit the beautiful Holocaust Museum in Battery Park. Any of those actions would be far more convincing than he’s involved himself in therapy and rehab.”

But some believe in redemption for Galliano.

“Jews believe in repentance — in this way, we are the people of second chances,” says Rabbi Elie Weinstock, associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side.

“If the ADL’s Abe Foxman is publicly giving John Galliano a second chance, that is akin to the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Plus, he seems to be trying harder than Mel Gibson,” after the director was accused of anti-Semitism in the wake of his film, “The Passion of the Christ.”

Either way, New Yorkers will be monitoring his every move.

As fashion designer Tobi Rubinstein Schneier, puts it: “Good luck and mazel tov, Mr. Galliano — we are watching you very closely.”          


North Korea conducts third controversial nuke test

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea conducted a nuclear test at an underground site in the remote northeast Tuesday, taking an important step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile that could reach United States.

North Korea made clear that the explosion of its third atomic device — which it claimed was smaller than the ones in its previous two tests — was a warning to what it considers a hostile United States. Its actions drew immediate condemnation from Washington, the U.N. and others. Even its only major ally, China, voiced opposition.

"The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level, with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said.

It was a defiant response to U.N. orders to shut down atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation, as well as a direct message from young leader Kim Jong Un to the United States, Pyongyang's No. 1 enemy since the 1950-53 Korean War.

KCNA said the test is aimed at coping with "the ferocious hostile act of the U.S." That's a reference to what Pyongyang said was Washington's attempts to block its right to launch satellites. North Korea was punished by U.N. sanctions after a December launch of a rocket that the U.N. and Washington called a cover for a banned missile test. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch.

The timing was significant. The test in an underground tunnel came hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to give his State of the Union speech, a major, nationally televised address.

Obama said in a statement Tuesday that the test is "a highly provocative act" and promised to "continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."

The test also comes only days before the Saturday birthday of Kim Jong Un's father, late leader Kim Jong Il, whose memory North Korean propaganda has repeatedly linked to the country's nuclear ambitions. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, and in late February South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye will be inaugurated.

North Korea is estimated to have enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to American nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker.

If the test was indeed successful, as claimed, it would take North Korean scientists a step closer to building a warhead small enough to be mounted on a long-range missile that can reach U.S. shores —seen as the ultimate goal of North Korea's nuclear program.

Still, it wasn't immediately clear to outside experts whether the device exploded Tuesday was small enough to fit on a missile, and whether it was fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium.

In 2006, and 2009, North Korea is believed to have tested devices made of plutonium. But in 2010, Pyongyang revealed a program to enrich uranium, which would give the country a second source of bomb-making materials — a worrying development for the U.S. and its allies.

Plutonium facilities are large and produce detectable radiation, making it easier for outsiders to find and monitor. However, uranium centrifuges can be hidden from satellites, drones and nuclear inspectors in caves, tunnels and other hard-to-reach places. Highly enriched uranium also is easier than plutonium to engineer into a weapon.

The nuclear test is North Korea's first since Kim Jong Un took power of a country long estranged from the West. The test will likely be portrayed in North Korea as a strong move to defend the nation against foreign aggression, particularly from the U.S., North Korea's longtime enemy.

North Korea's rocket launches and nuclear tests largely are seen by analysts as threats designed to force the United States to confront the issue of military tensions between the foes.

The test is a product of North Korea's military-first, or songun, policy, and shows Kim Jong Un is running the country much as his father did, said Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based expert on North Korea with the International Crisis Group think tank.

The test also shows North Korea is "more confident in their military technology and their military power," he said. "Now they will be emboldened as they focus on other goals."

The decision to push ahead with a test will be a challenge to the U.N. Security Council, which recently punished Pyongyang for launching the December long-range rocket. In condemning that launch and imposing more sanctions on Pyongyang, the council had demanded a stop to future launches and ordered North Koreato respect a ban on nuclear activity — or face "significant action" by the U.N.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned Tuesday's nuclear test in a statement.

The test will likely draw more sanctions from the United States and other countries at a time when North Korea is trying to rebuild its moribund economy and expand its engagement with the outside world.

China expressed firm opposition to the test but called for a calm response by all sides.

North Korea cites the U.S. military threat in the region as a key reason behind its drive to build nuclear weapons. The two countries fought on opposite sides of the Korean War, which ended after three years with an armistice signed on July 27, 1953, not a peace treaty. The U.S. stations more than 28,000 troops in South Korea to protect the ally.

Whatever scientific advancements the North can gain from its third nuclear test, there's also an important political angle. Many analysts believe the North uses nuclear and missile tests to win greater concessions in stalled nuclear disarmament-for-aid talks.

"A third test increases uncertainty about the North's intentions and calculations," Robert Carlin, a former U.S. State Department official who has made dozens of trips to North Korea, said in a Stanford University website posting last year.

The other part of a credible North Korean nuclear deterrent is its missile program. While it has capable short and medium range missiles, it has struggled in tests of technology for long-range missiles needed to carry bombs to the United States.

North Korea isn't close to having a nuclear bomb it can use on the United States or its allies. Instead, Hecker said in the Stanford web posting, "it wants to hold U.S. interests at risk of a nuclear attack to deter us from regime change and to create international leverage and diplomatic maneuvering room."

The North Korean nuclear program has long been a worry for Washington and Pyongyang's neighbors. A nuclear crisis in the early 1990s was followed by another standoff during the early 2000s during the George W. Bush administration.

Starting in 2003, negotiators from five nations — China, Russia, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea — tried to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs with offers of aid in return.

North Korea walked away from those talks after being punished by the U.N. Security Council for an April 2009 rocket launch.

NYPD: Australian tourist raped in Manhattan

A foreign tourist was dragged into a Midtown alley and raped shortly after leaving the Midtown celeb hot spot Lavo early Sunday morning, law-enforcement sources said last night.

The 20-year-old Australian victim was intoxicated when she left the club — a supermodel magnet where stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Gerard Butler party — on East 58th Street between Park and Madison avenues in Manhattan at around 3:35 a.m. Sunday, the sources said.

She jumped into a cab to head back to where she was staying.

But the woman, for some reason, started arguing with the driver and quickly got out, the sources said.
Once back on the street, she was suddenly grabbed from behind and dragged into the nearby alley, where she was assaulted, the sources said.

She could not remember the exact spot when questioned later, the sources said.

Cops released a sketch of the suspected attacker, whom they described as a middle-aged man, about 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds and wearing dark clothing.

He is believed to be between 35 and 40 years old. He was wearing a dark skull cap at the time of the assault.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers’ Web site or by texting tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577.