11 arrested, water canon deployed as Orthodox Jews protest military draft in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

Eleven people have been arrested as hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets of Jerusalem to decry the detention of their young co-religionists who didn’t show for enlistment to the Israeli armed forces.

Around 1,500 members of the so-called “Jerusalem faction” of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community protested in several locations across the city on Monday, according to Haaretz. They blocked light rail and vehicular traffic for several hours, affecting the area around the Israeli parliament, Knesset, among others.

The police used water cannon, which sprayed foul smelling green liquid on the protesters, in order to disperse them. The tactic, however, didn’t bring immediate results as some of the protesters sat on the ground in front of the vehicle, preventing its movement.

The police made 11 arrests before the protests were finally curbed and traffic resumed, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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FILE PHOTO. © Nir Elias

Jerusalem and the nearby town of Beit Shemesh became the scene of much larger Orthodox protests last Thursday, which saw thousands participating and around 120 arrests.

The tensions escalated after some 45 students of yeshiva – an institution where Jewish religious texts are taught – were arrested and still remain in military prison for failing to show up for the draft or obtain the military service exemptions.

The Jerusalem Faction leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has told the youths to refrain from getting exemptions and cooperating with the military in any other way. The move made hundreds of young men in the area eligible for arrest on charges of dodging conscription.

Protesters, however, told the Jerusalem Post that the exemptions from service were unavailable on many occasions and that the recruiters were pressuring some “weaker” Orthodox Jews to join the military against their will.

READ MORE: At least 58 arrested in ultra-Orthodox protests against Israeli military draft (VIDEOS)

In September, the Israeli Supreme Court annulled the law that granted Orthodox Jews exemptions from service, saying that it was unconstitutional. It suspended its own ruing for a year, however, to allow the government time to work out new legislation on the issue.

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‘Never underestimate the power of the dark side’: Orban goes Star Wars on EU ‘migrant invasion’

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has apparently called on Hungarians to beware of the power of the Sith in his latest speech on migration crisis in Europe. He also declared Eastern and Central Europe the last ‘migrant-free zone.’

“We should never underestimate the power of the dark side,” the prime minister said, referencing Star Wars as he referred to the plots of those behind the “migrant invasion,” adding that they “have no solid structure but extensive networks.”

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FILE PHOTO: Migrants wait in the transit zone where their asylum claims are processed in Tompa, Hungary, June 14, 2017. © Laszlo Balogh

The EU and some of its key member states have been “taken hostage” by a “speculative financial Empire” through an orchestrated “invasion of new immigrants,” Orban said in Budapest on Monday, adding that this mysterious “financial power” was behind the “latest great migration of peoples” that flooded Europe with “millions of migrants.”

“This plan was developed to make Europe a mixed [multicultural] continent,” the prime minister said at an event commemorating the anniversary of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary, adding that “only we managed to stand up against it,” apparently referring to the governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have taken a staunch anti-migrant stance and refused to accept refugee quotas imposed by Brussels.

Orban then declared Central and Eastern Europe the continent’s last “migrant-free zone.” The Hungarian leader expressed the hope that, by acting together, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia could potentially stop mass immigration.

He went on to say that the ultimate goal of the massive inflow of migrants into Europe consisted of depriving it of its Christian and national identity. The prime minister then stressed that Europe should remain “safe, fair, civic, Christian and free” and should regain the splendor he said it had before embracing multiculturalism.

Orban’s remarks concerning the “financial power” behind the mass immigration apparently referred to the Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian prime minister has already accused Soros of seeking to create a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe” in July. He also repeatedly blamed the tycoon of fueling the refugee crisis in Europe, adding that “Brussels has come under George Soros’s influence.”

Orban’s words were echoed by Hungarian MP Andras Aradszki, who claimed that “Soros and his comrades want to destroy the independence and values of nation states” by bringing migrants into Europe. He slammed the billionaire by calling him “Satan” earlier this month.

Orban’s latest remarks also come as Central and Eastern European countries witness a shift to the right. In Austria, two anti-migrant parties took the first two places in the parliamentary election, and are now expected to form the ruling coalition.

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Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Business magnate George Soros © Reuters

Just a week later, parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic ended up in a victory of an anti-establishment movement headed by a local billionaire dubbed “the Czech Donald Trump,” who is particularly known for his severe criticism of the EU’s immigration policies.

Hungary itself is engaged in a bitter row with the EU over the refugee relocation quotas, together with Poland and Slovakia. The issue dates back to the EU decision made in 2015 to rehouse some 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy over a period of two years, only around 27,700 of whom have been settled so far.

Budapest also faces pressure over the fence that covers one-quarter of the length of its borders and was designed to stop the inflow of migrants and asylum seekers at the peak of the refugee crisis. Despite repeated criticism from many European countries, Hungary refuses to remove it and claims that it has helped to cut the inflow of migrants by 99.7 percent since 2015.

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Murder trial begins for illegal immigrant who sparked ‘sanctuary city’ debate

Jurors in the trial of an illegal immigrant charged with the 2015 murder of a 32-year-old San Francisco woman were told to ignore both immigration and gun control. The suspect had been deported from the US five times, but kept returning to the “sanctuary city.”

Opening statements in the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate began Monday at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. Zarate, 54, is accused of killing Katherine “Kate” Steinle as she sat with her father on San Francisco’s Pier 14 in July 2015.

Zarate, who has also gone by the names Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez and Juan Jose Dominguez de la Parr, had been deported from the United States five times. He also had several prior criminal convictions, including four felonies for possession of heroin and manufacturing narcotics.

He was released from a San Francisco jail for re-entering the US illegally only two and a half months before the shooting. After his release, Zarate was not deported because San Francisco refuses to turn over illegal immigrants to federal authorities, under the so-called “sanctuary” policies. Zarate said that he returned to the US seeking employment, and came to San Francisco because of the protections the city offers to illegal immigrants.

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© Global Look Press

The case became a flashpoint in the debate about illegal immigration and “sanctuary cities,” an issue emphasized by President Donald Trump during his 2016 election campaign.

However, during jury selection, Judge Samuel Feng told prospective jurors that their political views should not enter into their deliberations. The jury has also been barred from bringing up the politics of immigration and gun control during the proceedings.

The jury, which induces three immigrants, has been instructed to consider only one question in the case: whether Zarate shot Steinle intentionally, or was it an accident?

Zarate has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the shooting was not intentional. His attorney, Matt Gonzalez, called the shooting a “freak accident,” claiming his client was 90 feet away and the bullet bounced off the pavement before hitting Steinle.

After the shooting, Zarate had told reporters he had found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt near the beach. When he picked it up, the gun accidentally fired three times, Zarate said in an interview with KGO-TV. He then threw the gun into the San Francisco Bay and walked off, not knowing he had shot anyone until he was arrested hours later.

However, Zarate also said that he had taken sleeping pills before the shooting, and that his memory of the events is not clear.

The handgun was issued to a Bureau of Land Management ranger who had reported it stolen from his parked car in San Francisco a week before the shooting occurred. Gonzalez contends that the .40-caliber SIG Sauer P226 was left in hair-trigger mode and had no safety device.

Prosecutors contend that the gun was in a position that would have required a conscious, deliberate action in order to pull the trigger. They also contend that Zarate pointed the gun at people on the pier.

“This was an act of random violence,” Assistant DA Diana Garcia said in 2015, according to CNN. “And the defendant claimed to have found this gun shortly before just firing it at somebody at close range, shooting an innocent victim in the back.”

The San Francisco district attorney’s office has charged Zarate with second-degree murder, which could carry a maximum sentence of 15 years to life. His trial is expected to take between six and eight weeks.

In June, Republicans introduced Kate’s Law, a bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences on illegal immigrants who returned to the United States after previously being deported. The was adopted in the House of Representatives. Trump has called on lawmakers in the Senate to send the bill to his desk for signature.

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Bitcoin ‘going to implode’ like Enron – Saudi billionaire Alwaleed

Bitcoin is going to implode, repeating the fate of US energy and commodities giant Enron, Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said.

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© Brendan McDermid

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Alwaleed told CNBC‘s Squawk Box program when asked about the prospects for Bitcoin. “This thing [Bitcoin] is not regulated, it’s not under control, it’s not under the supervision” of any central bank, he said.“I just don’t believe in this Bitcoin thing. I think it’s just going to implode one day. I think this is Enron in the making,” the head of the Kingdom Holding, which has Apple, Citigroup and Twitter among its investments, added.

Based on a controversial business model, Enron was at one point valued by analysts as one of the biggest energy and commodities companies in the world.It went bankrupt in 2001 after its fraudulent structures and massive accounting fraud were exposed.

Alwaleed has joined a chorus of other top investors who recently expressed serious doubts about the future of the cryptocurrency.A few weeks ago, BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink, said: “Bitcoin just shows you how much demand for money laundering there is in the world.” JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, labeled Bitcoin a “fraud” in September, saying: “It’s just not a real thing, eventually it will be closed.”

The founder of Bridgewater Associates, investor Ray Dalio, told CNBC that Bitcoin was a “highly speculative market,” which had all the criteria of a financial “bubble.”

READ MORE: ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ calls initial coin offerings ‘biggest scam ever’

The statements came as Bitcoin has grown 500 percent in 2017, reaching its all-time high of over $ 6,100 on Saturday.

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Stephen Hawking's PhD thesis posted online, crashes Cambridge website

Pioneering theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis has for the first time been made available freely online, though high demand saw tens of thousands of Hawking fans crash the Cambridge website from which the 1966 work could be downloaded.

Hawking is famed for his groundbreaking work on relativity and black holes. His 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” became an unlikely bestseller, straddling the literary chasm between theoretical physics and popular non-fiction.

However, before all of that he had to get through university, and he wrote his thesis “Properties of Expanding Universes” as a 24-year-old student at Cambridge University in 1966. The 134-page scientific work is, according to the university, the most requested item in its library.

It’s popularity hasn’t waned since it was made available free just after midnight on Monday, causing the university’s Open Access repository Apollo, to go into meltdown.

“By making my PhD thesis Open Access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos,” Professor Hawking said.” Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.

“Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them, just as I did as a young PhD student in Cambridge, inspired by the work of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein. It’s wonderful to hear how many people have already shown an interest in downloading my thesis – hopefully they won’t be disappointed now that they finally have access to it!” he added.

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Dismantling MS-13 priority for DOJ organized crime unit – Sessions

By designating MS-13 a priority for the Justice Department’s organized crime unit, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed officials to pursue a roster of possible charges during prosecutions, including racketeering, gun and tax law violations.

“MS-13 threatens the lives and well-being of each and every family and each and every neighborhood that they infest,” Sessions said Monday before a gathering of police chiefs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “They leave misery, devastation and death in their wake. They threaten entire governments.”

According to the attorney general, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) should look into all laws in its investigative and prosecutorial efforts, including drug laws, gun laws, tax laws, RICO, and anything else that will cripple the gang.

“Now they will go after MS-13 with a renewed vigor and sharpened focus,” Sessions said.

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has become a prime target of President Donald Trump’s administration and its broader crackdown on immigration. Federal prosecutors have gone after MS-13 before, but say they’ve recently seen a resurgence.

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© Andres Stapff

MS-13 is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California in the 1980s, and grew its membership among the prison population. The gang engages in kidnapping, small-time drug trafficking, running brothels, money-laundering and contract killings. Its recruits are middle and high school students, predominantly in immigrant communities.

The gang has spread to many parts of the US, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, and is active in urban and suburban areas including New York City, Boston, Charlotte, Houston and Washington, DC. Most members are of Central American origin, mainly from El Salvador.

Some 40,000 or so members have their gang names tattooed on their backs and sometimes on their faces. MS-13 is said to be allied with Surenos, Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. Its rival gangs are the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings.

The OCDETF involve federal prosecutors from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as other agencies.

In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. It has become the most powerful tool used to take down organized crime, as it allowed the government to “attack criminal enterprises on a broad front, stripping them of their leadership and sources of both illicit and legitimate revenue in one massive prosecution,” according to a 1992 report in Congressional Quarterly.

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Russian Athletic Federation hopes for 'productive meeting' with IAAF in October

Russian Athletics Federation (RUSAF) head Dmitry Shlyakhtin has expressed hope that the upcoming meeting with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) working group will be productive.

The meeting, which is set for October 30 in Oslo, Norway, will take place with the working group designed to assess the restoration of RUSAF’s international membership.

RUSAF’s membership was suspended in November 2015 following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation into alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia.

“A lot of work has been done in recent times to battle doping in Russia. We have met the majority of requirements [set by the IAAF] to restore the federation’s membership,” Shlyakhtin said, TASS reported.

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© Franck FIife

“We hope to hold an effective meeting with the IAAF working group members, the results of which will be announced after the talks concluded. We all are looking forward to seeing our athletes competing again at the world’s stadiums and we hope to see them performing under the Russian flag.

“We realize the importance of every step, we are continuing working and doing everything in our power. And when a team is trying to squeeze the most out of its efforts, the victory is right around the corner,” Shlyakhtin added.

RUSAF’s fully-fledged membership is not expected, however, to be restored at the upcoming meeting which is possible only after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which was declared non-compliant in November 2015, is reinstated.

RUSADA Director General Yuri Ganus stated on Monday that the organization has met practically all the requirements to be declared WADA Code-compliant again. “RUSADA has fulfilled all the requirements and criteria within its competence to return to compliance with WADA,” Ganus said.

READ MORE: Russian Anti-Doping Agency names new general director

“Final step was taken at last week’s Supervisory Board meeting, where the head of Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee and a candidate for the post of the ethics officer were chosen,” Ganus concluded.

RUSADA must fill in two remaining WADA requirements unmet by: publicly accepting the findings of the McLaren Report and providing access to the stored doping probes of the Moscow laboratory which were sealed up due to a federal investigation.

Organization’s future will be discussed at a WADA Executive Committee meeting on November 16.

Russian athletes can take part in the international track-and-field events only as neutral athletes, though the majority of licenses, issued by the IAAF, will expire by the end of the year.

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Dystopian-like footage of typhoon warning broadcast in Japan (VIDEO)

As Typhoon Lan approached Tokyo on Monday, authorities broadcast an audio warning throughout the city, one resident caught the eerie Blade Runner-like footage on camera.

Lan, left at least two people dead when it made landfall on Honshu, the largest and most populous island of Japan, on Monday. The storm, with an eye 50 nautical miles wide, lashed parts of Japan with heavy rains and wind speeds reaching 216 kilometers per hour.

As it approached Tokyo, authorities broadcast a warning, alerting residents to the danger of the approaching storm.

“This is a warning,” the female announcer says, as her booming eerie voice echoes throughout the city in a scene reminiscent of 1980’s dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner. She then tells people to pay attention to weather reports before the message ends.

In the areas affected by the typhoon, several small landslides occurred and rivers came close to bursting their banks. More than 70,000 households across Japan were advised to evacuate and more than 5,000 were ordered to do so.

The typhoon also led to cancellation of as many as 350 flights across Japan.

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Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta targeted in ‘Trump-Russia’ probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly begun looking at Tony Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist and brother of HIllary Clinton’s campaign chairman, as part of his probe into “Russian meddling” in the 2016 US presidential election.

The probe into Podesta and his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, grew out of an inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances, NBC News reported Monday.

Manafort served as chairman of President Donald Trump’s electoral campaign between March and August 2016, and resigned shortly after media reports about his lobbying efforts in Ukraine.

Between 2012 and 2014, Manafort organized a PR campaign for a nonprofit called the European Center for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), said to have been backed by the country’s government. The ECMU campaign was designed to sway public opinion and included attempts to solicit favorable press coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Manafort is alleged to have made $ 12.7 million for those efforts, according to the New York Times.

The Podesta Group was co-founded by Tony and his brother, John Podesta, a longtime Clinton aide who served as chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign. The lobbying firm worked with Manafort on the Ukraine campaign. Mueller’s team is now pursuing a criminal inquiry into whether the Podesta Group violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by doing so, according to NBC.

Under FARA, people in the US who lobby on behalf of foreign entities must register through the Justice Department as a foreign agent and disclose their work. At issue is whether the Podesta Group filed the disclosures at the time, or only after their work in Ukraine attracted media attention.

In a statement Monday, the Podesta Group said that it was in compliance and “has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office.”

“The Podesta Group fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work,” the group’s spokesperson said. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false.”

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Paul Manafort © Rick Wilking

Mueller’s inquiry into the lobbying campaign appears to be part of a larger investigation into Manafort’s work for the Party of Regions, his offshore banking transactions, his tax compliance and his real estate dealings, NBC reported.

The new focus on the Podesta Group could indicate that the Muller probe may be expanding beyond the original focus on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump, ensnaring Democratic operatives in the process.

Several US intelligence agencies have claimed that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as well as the personal email account of campaign chair John Podesta, and forwarding the contents to WikiLeaks. 

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WADA launches investigation into claims of ‘systematic doping’ in China

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced an investigation into claims of widespread doping in Chinese sports, following the airing of a documentary on a German TV channel.

The statement regarding the probe was published on the organization’s website, and involves claims that large-scale doping practices were prevalent in China in the 1980s and 90s.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has seen the 21 October documentary by German broadcaster ARD alleging systematic doping in China during the 1980s and 1990s; and, questioning whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades. The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” it reads.

WADA’s statement refers to the recently released documentary by German journalist Hajo Seppelt, titled ‘China’s doped ascent to sports superpower.’

In the film, a former doctor of the Chinese national teams, Xue Yinxia, who requested political asylum in Germany after she recently left China, stated that thousands of Chinese athletes were taking illegal drugs in the 1980s and 1990s. According to Xue, the system covered all sports and medals were won thanks to the doping system.

WADA is now looking to initiate an investigative process to evaluate Xue’s claims.

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Members of the Russian Paralympic team © Alexander Vilf

Previously, Seppelt filmed two documentaries on alleged doping in Russian sports – “The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Winners” (released in 2014), and 2015’s “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics.”

Both movies featured Russian athlete Yulia Stepanova and her husband, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, Vitaly. According to the film, Russian track and field athletes systematically doped themselves on the instruction of their coaches.

In 2016, the New York Times published an article on an alleged state-run doping program in Russian sport, based on the evidence given by the former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, who admitted to playing a key role in the scheme.

His claims were also used for the WADA-sanctioned investigation by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

The investigation, known as the McLaren Report, later led to the Russian Anti-Doping Laboratory’s license being suspended, a ban on the Russian track and field team at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, and a blanket ban on the Russian Paralympic team.

Rodchenkov and the Stepanovs have left Russia, and now reportedly live in the US.

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