From One Thing to the Next

Arlene from Israel

Very often mid-summer is a quiet time. But that’s sure not the case this year. I find myself prioritizing news events in order to decide what to write about in the time I have…

Prime Minister Netanyahu is very busy these days “preparing” for “peace negotiations,” which, given the dubious status of the situation, leaves me scratching my head in confusion.

But that’s just figuratively — a way of saying that it seems strange. Because I think I have it (i.e., him) figured out.

We might say that he knows something we don’t and thus is preparing. What I see as far more likely is that he’s grandstanding — playing his game. The PA leadership is still balking, demanding Israeli concessions. But Netanyahu is saying (ad nauseum) that he’s ready to come to the table. (See: I’m the good guy here.)


Netanyahu has announced that on Sunday he is going to seek the approval of the Cabinet for renewed negotiations, and arrange for a special ministerial committee to oversee those negotiations (this to put the brake on Livni who would be a very eager negotiator).

He’s also promoting the upgrading of the extant referendum law to the status of Basic Law, and expects the full coalition to be behind it. If it ever becomes relevant, I will address the details of this more extensively.

For now, suffice it to say that a Basic Law is more difficult to overturn than a regular law, which is presumably what this is about. The idea here is that the nation would decide whether to accept it, were a peace agreement to be reached. (I’ve consulted a lawyer and have learned that the specifics of what would be covered by the law depend on the wording of the referendum; it is not as simple as I had imagined. )

Naftali Bennett and his Habayit Hayehudi party have been vigorously promoting the referendum law.



Just in case anyone missed his dedication to peace, Netanyahu, at a press conference yesterday with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, declared, “I hope that soon we will be able to see the beginning of peace talks. Our team is ready – we’ve always been ready.”


The talk about talks is supposed to begin on Tuesday, or so it is being said. But according to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Abbas is waiting for an invitation to Washington.

While PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has made it clear that if he does go to Washington, his agenda will be to “first set a framework for future negotiations.

“If agreement is reached on these details in line with the Palestinian demands,” then there can be negotiations.



The EU — in spite of a campaign aimed at convincing it to do so — has not agreed to pull back on its new Judea and Samaria “boycott” guidelines.

And this week Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkins indicated that if products from Judea and Samaria are labeled as the new guidelines require, 20,000 Palestinian Arab families will lose their livelihood.

At a meeting with the chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Elmar Brok, Elkin said:

“You are asking us to approve European projects and operations in Area C, but you are trying to hurt Israeli enterprises that already exist and provide a respectable livelihood for tens of thousands of Palestinian families. This is simply bizarre.”


But the EU has just agreed to come part-way on something else: Finally,it has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

However, only the military wing of Hezbollah, not the political wing, is being targeted. In reality the two are interconnected. Months ago, Hezbollah’s second-in-command, Naim Qassem, said flatly: “We don’t have a military wing and a political one.”

It’s half a loaf, but a very welcome step in the right direction, at long last. One explanation for the half-way designation is that it was the only way to get certain EU states on board.


See Matthew Levitt — director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute — on the implications of the EU’s move:

“Despite the formal focus on asset freezing, the most significant impact of the EU ban will be felt on other fronts. First, it will enable EU governments to initiate preemptive intelligence investigations into activities that can be tied in any way to Hezbollah’s military wing… This alone is a tremendous change that should make Europe a far less attractive place for Hezbollah operatives.

“Second, the ban is a strong means of communicating to Hezbollah that its current activities are beyond the pale, and that continuing them will exact a high cost.”



Israel is going to start supplying intelligence on Hezbollah to the EU now as a result of the new designation.



The IDF is convinced that, with the new military regime in Egypt. there is a new seriousness of intent with regard to taking on jihadists in the Sinai. Not only is the military gearing up for a major action, at present, 80% of the tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza have been closed. This is in order to prevent Hamas people from joining Muslim radicals already in the Sinai.

In all the years that Israel sought closure of those tunnels to prevent weaponry from being brought in to Gaza to be utilized against us, there was scant cooperation. But now it is being done. Hamas is hurting badly.


I note here that because of the unrest in Egypt, a decision has been made by Obama to halt the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.



Syria is a very different story with regard to jihadists:

Aviv Kochavi, head of IDF military research, this week warned that Syria is becoming a global jihad center as radicals flood into Syria. This is no longer simply a civil war.

“In front of our eyes, right in our backyard, a global center for jihad is developing, which can affect not only Syria and Israel but also Lebanon, Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula, and can radiate to the entire region…

“The extremist Muslims and jihad fighters being drawn there are no longer merely trying to overthrow [Syrian President Bashar] Assad but to set up a religious Islamic state.”


Any notions of supporting the rebels fighting against Assad are ill-advised, in my opinion. Assad is vile, but he’s not looking to establish a new caliphate. What we might see if he were defeated could be a good deal worse.


There’s more, much more, to report. Next posting…

In closing, a correction: I alluded to the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Robert Mendez, leaving out a syllable. It is, correctly, Menendez. (Thanks, Roberta)


And, if you’re tired of hearing Judea and Samaria referred to as “occupied territories” (they are most certainly not!), you might like to see this article which documents several genuinely occupied territories about which the world does nothing:



Fox News’ Tamara Holder Says Weiner’s Perversion No Big Deal

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Tamara Holder, a Fox News contributor accused of having an affair with Jesse Jackson, Sr., doesn’t think Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal is a big deal. She said, “Public service has nothing to do with bedroom service. 98.4367% of men cheat. I do know a few good men who don’t. Leave Weiner alone.”

Holder, a Fox News contributor who frequently appears on the Sean Hannity show, has not commented on the allegations against her and Jackson.

The charges surfaced in a discrimination case against Jackson filed by former Jackson employee Tommy Bennett. Described as “lurid” by Courthouse News Service, the lawsuit alleges that, “It was well known that Ms. Holder was a mistress of Rev. Jackson,” adding that the Jackson family was informed of this because of a letter from another Jackson mistress.

Bennett says he was instructed by Jackson to escort Holder to Jackson’s hotel room at the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare airport for their alleged affairs.

The charges have not been aired by Fox News, which employs Holder as a paid commentator and featured her comments during the George Zimmerman trial.

As Accuracy in Media recently reported, a new book notes a strong personal relationship between “brother” Roger Ailes, the Fox News chief, and Jesse Jackson, who gave the keynote address in 2012 during a ceremony for a Fox News project known as the Ailes Apprentice Program, which promotes “diversity” in journalism. The program sends non-white students to cover groups such as the Unity conference of minorities and homosexuals in the media.

It was the relationship between the two men, according to the new book, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, which led to Ailes hiring Jackson’s daughter, Santita, as a Fox news commentator.

Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition says it “unequivocally denies Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination,” and insists that the “inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community.”

But Jesse Jackson has also covered up other serious sexual allegations.

In 2001, he finally confessed that in 1998, when he was counseling Bill Clinton about his adulterous affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, he had been carrying on an extramarital affair of his own with an employee of his Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Washington, D.C. That relationship produced a child out of wedlock.

The mother later accused Jackson of being a deadbeat dad and failing to pay child support.

Rush Limbaugh has covered the controversial case involving Jackson and his alleged mistress Tamara Holder, but Fox News has not done so.

“So much racism out there, where does he find the time to bed these babes?” Limbaugh joked. “Of course we’re assuming there’s a bed involved…”

Bennett attorney Thomas V. Leverso informs Accuracy in Media that there has been a new development in the lawsuit that alleges the illegal use of a gay Jackson employee to facilitate the Jackson-Holder relationship.

“Today [Tuesday] was the fact-finding conference in the Illinois Department of Human Rights,” he told Accuracy in Media. “Although no determinations of fact were made as of this evening, Rainbow PUSH withheld two fact witnesses from the conference: Reverend Jackson and Marjorie McKinner-Price, director of human resources for Operation Push. In other words, Rev. Jackson did not show and has not offered any contra-evidence to any part of the salve-on-the-inner-thigh incident or any of the other sexual harassment allegations of Mr. Bennett.”

This is a reference to the fact that, in addition to the alleged relationship with Holder, Jackson is accused of demanding sexual favors from Bennett, such as being told to apply a cream on Jackson’s inner thigh to treat a rash. Bennett says he refused, Jackson became angry, and called Bennett a “little mother —.”

Back in March, Bennett released a statement welcoming the decision by the Illinois Department of Human Rights to proceed with a proper investigation into the complaint, and that he was placing his Cook County lawsuit on the same matter on hold.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights says it “administers the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in Illinois with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations and real estate transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, ancestry, military status, age (40 and over), order of protection status, marital status, sexual orientation (which includes gender-related identity), unfavorable military discharge and physical and mental disability.”

The next step, Leverso told AIM, is that the Illinois Department of Human Rights either finds substantial evidence, or does not at this point. If it does so find, then the case proceeds to the Commission. If it does not, then Bennett would request a legal review by the Commission before proceeding.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].


Obama’s Misleading Obamacare Claims

By: Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

Supporters of Obamacare were given reason to celebrate on July 17 when The New York Times announced that health care premiums in the Empire State could “tumble” 50% because of the new health care exchanges. “Obama touted recent news from New York, California, Oregon and other states that have reported that insurance companies will charge lower-than-expected premiums next year,” reported the Los Angeles Times. “And he highlighted a provision of the law that requires insurance companies to provide rebates if they don’t spend at least 80% of the premiums they receive on their customers’ medical care, rather than administrative expenses, such as executive salaries or dividends for shareholders.”

This week, in his prepared remarks for Knox College, President Obama once again touted this 50% decrease in premiums, saying: “Just last week, New York announced that premiums for consumers who buy their insurance in these online marketplaces will be at least 50% less than what they pay today. That’s right—folks’ premiums in the individual market will drop by 50%.”

This feather in President Obama’s cap serves as an example for some liberals of how the Affordable Care Act is just that—an affordable way to purchase health care for your family, coming soon to a state near you.

Except that it isn’t. As Accuracy in Media has repeatedly demonstrated, in reality, Obamacare instead causes health care premiums to skyrocket—even in the much-touted California market. According to Avik Roy of Forbes, however, Obamacare will increase individual health insurance premiums [in California] by 64 to 146% in one year.”

For New York State it is a different story. That’s because a series of “reforms” made there in the 1990s which over-regulated health care, got rid of preexisting conditions, and mandated that insurance companies charge the same regardless of age, according to Roy. “New York premiums have nowhere to go but down,” charges Roy in his latest article for Forbes. As he previously pointed out, when liberals championed the less-than-expected rate increases in California, this was an “apples to oranges” comparison.

“The real news is that New York ruined its individual insurance market two decades ago by imposing the same regulations that ObamaCare is about to impose on every other state,” argued The Wall Street Journal on July 23. “If the Empire State’s premiums do now fall, it will be because the Affordable Care Act partially deregulates New York insurance.” Perhaps someone should have clued President Obama into this simple fact.

“But New York, today, is in worse shape than Washington, and far worse shape than California,” writes Roy in his incisive column. “In 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium in the New York individual market was $357 a month.”

The New York Times, in its oft-cited article, said that “State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York.”

“Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly.”

At least the Los Angeles Times had the conscience to write that these types of “savings” are an aberration. “New York, for example, announced this week that the average premium will be 50% lower for individuals who buy health coverage on their own, in large part because the state has some of the highest rates now,” they report (emphasis added). “New York may have been more ripe for savings than other states,” notes Bloomberg.

And even The Washington Post, a champion of Obamacare, points out, “But it shouldn’t be shocking: New York has, for two decades now, had the highest individual market premiums in the country.” USA Today led with the title “Most states won’t see N.Y.’s drop in insurance rates.” This The New York Times cleverly left out of its reporting.

While conservatives might be surprised that New York’s rates are, indeed, going down, Roy puts this in perspective: “As a result, Obamacare does have the effect of lowering premiums in New York, to a weighted average of $301 a month: a 39 percent decrease from 2013 rates, and a 16 percent decrease from 2010 rates,” he writes. “According to several studies of the New York market, the biggest driver of the improvement is the fact that the mandate and the subsidies will encourage healthier people into the insurance pool, driving average costs down” (emphasis added).

This assumes that additional healthy people will add themselves to the rolls of the insured, instead of simply enduring the federal penalties. “The younger and healthier crowd is generally the group facing the most significant increases that are more likely to decide to pay the penalty and not buy health insurance next year,” Carl McDonald, a “Citigroup insurance-industry analyst” told Bloomberg.

As for The New York Times, it “inflated the impact of the ACA, implying that average premiums in New York City exceed $1,000 today vs. $308 under Obamacare; by our analysis, using a fairer comparison, the five-borough average for affordable coverage was $695, with a much lower average upstate,” writes Roy.

CBS News, in its report, accepted the $1,000 number and failed to mention that New York had high health insurance rates.

“New York’s rates will still be three times higher than those found in California before Obamacare,” Roy writes.

As a New Yorker myself, I have to say, if this is success, count me out.

Bethany Stotts is a freelance writer, and former staff writer for Accuracy in Academia. She blogs at http://bethanystotts.wordpress.com/.


68 Never Looked So Good

By: Spencer Blohm

Dame Helen Mirren

The incredible Dame Helen Mirren was born Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironoff in Hammersmith (a western borough of London), England in 1945. Her father was a former professional viola player turned cab driver and her mother raised Helen and her two other siblings in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Her childhood was that of a typical English youth, attending school and dabbling in school productions. Upon her graduation, she decided to attend London’s New College of Speech and Drama, which lead her to audition for the National Youth Theatre, where she got accepted. Within two years of her acceptance, she was starring as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, she was only 20 years old.

Her performance as Cleopatra immediately opened many doors for Mirren; she got an agent, and was invited to join the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company. With the RSC she starred in productions of All’s Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Revenger’s Tragedy to name a few. She spent the 1970’s and 80’s performing in plays in the West End, and venturing into movies through a series of roles in little known films.

The 1990’s saw Mirren make her Broadway debut in A Month in the Country, and lighting up the small screen on the popular British television mini-series Prime Suspect, which earned her an Emmy award in 1995. She spent the rest of the 90’s working primarily on television and in the theater. Her television mini-series and movies were broadcast in the U.S. by PBS, and she soon added a Golden Globe to her awards collection, all of which helped to raise her American profile.

Her breakout role in America is arguably in 2001’s Gosford Park, for which she earned a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and BAFTA Award nominations, and which won her a SAG Award. She followed up that performance with a series of critically praised performances in television mini-series and movies like Door to Door, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, and her Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award-winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth I. Oh, and in the meantime she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen of England – but the best had yet to come for Mirren.

In September of 2006 her film The Queen made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. At the end of the film, Mirren’s performance received a staggering five-minute-long standing ovation, and word quickly spread about her powerful acting. Through the end of 2006 and into 2007 Helen continued to receive praise and adoration for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, and by the 2006-2007 awards season, Helen became an unstoppable force, collecting an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, a National Board of Review Award, and a Critics Choice Award.

She followed her performance in The Queen with a number of different roles that proved that she refused to be typecast. She took on the challenge of playing the owner of a brothel in Love Ranch, a retired Nazi-hunting secret agent in The Debt, a sorceress in Prospera, a retired assassin in RED, and even the Dean of a university for monsters in the kid-oriented hit Monsters University. Rather than stop there, she also found the time to play Alfred Hitchcock’s collaborator and wife in Hitchcock, and the defense attorney for the notorious Phil Spector in HBO’s Phil Spector.

Given the fact that she will be turning 68 on July 26th, many would understand if she decided to slowly fade from the acting scene – but that simply isn’t Helen’s style. Instead of retiring, she’s gaining the love of audiences worldwide for her brash, brazen, and clever attitude. She’s dyed her hair pink after seeing it on America’s Next Top Model, been photographed displaying a shockingly youthful and slim body in a bikini, and best of all, walked the red carpet in platform lucite heels she bought at a sex shop on Hollywood Boulevard.

When asked what the best advice she could have given her daughter (had she had one) would be, she said that she would tell her hypothetical daughter to tell the men standing in her way to “f**k off”. As we wish her a happy 68th birthday, it seems clear that Dame Helen is just reaching the peak of her career, and the peak of her general, all-around awesomeness!

Author Bio: Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and film blogger for GetDirectTV.org. His goal in life is to be half as cool as Dame Helen now, let alone when he’s in his 60’s. He lives and works in Chicago with his sullen cat Rupert.

Dame Helen Mirren in ‘Red 2’