BREAKING: Gunfire forces brief lockdown at U.S. Capitol


The U.S. Capitol was locked down briefly on Thursday after gunshots were fired outside the building following a car chase across central Washington and a number of people including a law enforcement officer were hurt, officials said.

A female suspect was killed by police at the scene, a U.S. official said.

The shooting rattled the U.S. capital three weeks after 12 people were killed and three injured in a shooting spree by a government technology contractor at the U.S. Navy Yard, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Capitol.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were in session when the gunshots were heard. The U.S. government was partially shut down this week when lawmakers failed to agree on a budget.

A source familiar with the situation said the incident started when a vehicle struck a security barrier at 15th and Pennsylvania avenue, near the White House. Police chased the vehicle for about 1 1/2 miles to 2nd Street and Constitution Avenue, near the Capitol, where the shots were fired.

“I was just eating a hot dog over here and I heard about four or five gunshots, and then a swarm of police cars came in wailing their sirens,” said Whit Dabney, 13, who was visiting from Louisville, Kentucky, and heard the shots a couple of blocks away.

A policeman was injured in a car crash resulting from the chase and was taken from the shooting scene in a Medevac helicopter, a U.S. official and police said.

The lockdown order at the Capitol was called off and security along Independence Avenue was eased shortly before 3 p.m. (1900 GMT). Tourists were allowed back onto the Capitol grounds.

Just before Capitol Police sealed off the building, the Senate and House were in session. On the Senate floor, Senator John McCain of Arizona was urging that President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators launch negotiations to break the deadlock over government funding and a debt limit increase.

The House had just passed a bill to fund the National Guard and reservists who are not on active duty during the shutdown.

The Capitol police, who were deemed “essential” staff, were at work despite the shutdown but they are not being paid.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident, a White House official said, providing no further details.

In 1998, a gunman burst through a security checkpoint at the Capitol and killed two Capitol Police officers in an exchange of fire that sent tourists and other bystanders diving for cover. The suspect, Russell Eugene Weston Jr., was not charged with a crime because of apparent mental instability.

Blank bullets fired near Paris-area synagogue


Blank bullets were fired outside a synagogue near Paris.

The security unit of France’s Jewish communities, SPCJ, reported that the shots were fired last Friday outside the synagogue at Argenteuil, a northwest suburb of Paris, hours after the city’s chief prosecutor gave a news conference detailing the arrests of suspects in the recent bombing of a Jewish store.

One of the raids, in Strasbourg, ended in the fatal shooting of a suspect in his 30s after he opened fire on police.

At Argenteuil, police found nine blanks after members of the congregation reported the shooting to the police and SPCJ. 

French police, meanwhile, arrested an 11th man whom they say may have been connected to a domestic terrorist cell of alleged jihadists suspected of involvement in the bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, home to a large Jewish community that emigrated from North Africa in the 1960s, on Sept. 19.

Two men dressed in black were seen throwing an explosive device into the store. It produced a “weak explosion,” according to French police, in which one man sustained minor injuries.

Police are searching for a 12th suspect.

Union for Reform Judaism fires 30 employees


The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) laid off about 30 employees as part of a general restructuring of the organization.

The reorganization is part of a series of changes being ushered in by the new president of the URJ, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who took over at the beginning of January. The layoffs were announced March 26.

“We’re trying to organize in a way that’s going to allow us to move forward and advance Rabbi Jacobs’ priorities and relate to congregations in more ways than we’ve been able to in the past,” said Mark Pelavin, a senior adviser to Jacobs. “What’s different is we’re focusing on Rabbi Jacobs’ priorities: youth engagement, this notion of working outside the walls of the congregation, and trying to find multiple ways of relating to congregations.”

The URJ’s overall budget will stay about the same, but many full-time employees will be replaced by part-time employees and outside consultants, Pelavin said. The net change in full-time equivalent employees will be a drop of about seven or eight positions, according to Pelavin. Overall, the URJ has approximately 370 employees, mostly in New York.

Among the changes planned are refocusing staff who work outside New York on convening congregations and helping them build relationships with each other; building a “URJ knowledge network” that will collect and organize information in the URJ system; building up a “faculty of thought leaders,” including “congregational consultants,” who will serve as resources for Reform shuls; and establishing “communities of practice” in which the URJ will work closely with congregations focused on specific areas such as the youth initiative campaign.

British lawmaker loses post over Nazi-themed party


A British lawmaker was fired from his job working for a senior Conservative Party minister after attending a Nazi-themed party.

Aiden Burley, 32, a parliamentary private secretary for Transport Secretary Justine Greening, was dismissed on Dec. 19, a week after photos of his presence at the stag party at a French ski resort came to light. At least one party participant dressed up in an SS officer’s uniform, and the guests toasted to the Nazi Party and the Third Reich.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Dec. 19 ordered a full investigation into the incident following reports that Burley had been responsible for ordering the SS uniform costumes.

It is illegal in France to wear or exhibit in public Nazi-era memorabilia or copies of such memorabilia.

Burley apologized for the incident with an “unreserved, wholehearted and fulsome apology” in a letter to the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“On reflection, I wish I had left as soon as I had realized what was happening,” he wrote. “What was happening was wrong and I should have completely dissociated myself from it. I had a choice, and I made the wrong choice NOT to leave. I apologize for this error of judgment.”

Burley was elected to the House of Commons as a member of Parliament for Cannock Chase in 2010.

Syracuse fires basketball coach Bernie Fine amid sex probe


Syracuse University fired assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine amid allegations that he sexually molested boys, rocking the multi-million dollar world of collegiate sports with more questions of sexual abuse and oversight, the university said on Sunday.

“At the direction of Chancellor (Nancy) Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” the school said on its website.

Fine, who had been on administrative leave since Nov. 17, is the target of a grand jury investigation into accusations that years ago he molested a former ball boy, Bobby Davis, now 39, and at least one other boy, his stepbrother Mike Lang, now 45, when they were juveniles.

Fine’s boss for the past 35 years, Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, said on Sunday he supported the firing, withdrawing support he’d extended Fine when the allegations resurfaced this month. The university first investigated and dismissed the allegations for lack of corroboration in 2005.

“I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged,” Boeheim said in a statement posted on the Syracuse Orange sports Facebook page.

“What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated,” he said. ” … I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse,” he said.

The firing came hours after ESPN reported it had an audio recording of a 2002 conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife Laurie in which she said she knew about the alleged molestation but felt unable to stop it.

Neither the tape nor any additional witnesses surfaced when the university conducted its own 2005 investigation into Davis’ allegations, Cantor said in a statement on the school website.

Now that a new probe is underway by Syracuse Police, the school has hired an independent law firm to “review our procedures in responding to the initial allegations. … We need to learn all we can from this terrible lesson,” she said.

Fine has called the accusations against him “patently false in every aspect.”

LATEST JOLT

The firing was the latest jolt to major college athletics already reeling from allegations of abuse and possible cover-ups at football powerhouse Penn State, where a former assistant coach faces 40 sexual abuse charges.

Those accusations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, charged by a grand jury with sexually abusing eight young boys, took down legendary football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.

They were fired for failing to tell police about the allegations of abuse once they learned of it years earlier. Two other Penn State officials were charged with perjury.

Syracuse is the third major American university to disclose alleged abuse since the school year began. South Carolina military college The Citadel also said it had failed to tell police about a student accused in 2007 of inappropriate behavior with children at a college summer camp.

In Syracuse, police have said they opened an investigation into Fine when Davis’ stepbrother came forward with his own allegations. The grand jury is also investigating those allegations but no criminal charges have been filed.

Fine’s lawyer, speaking on Sunday before he was fired, said his client would no longer speak publicly about the case.

“Mr. Fine will not comment on newspaper stories beyond his initial statement,” attorney Karl Sleight said in a statement in response to allegations by a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, made on Facebook and carried in media reports on Sunday.

“Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities,” Sleight said. Attempts to reach Syracuse police and city officials on Sunday for further comment were unsuccessful.

Syracuse’s basketball team is currently undefeated and the university in upstate New York is widely heralded as having one of the top college basketball programs in the country. (Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Bohan)

JPost fires Larry Derfner for controversial blog post


The Jerusalem Post fired senior reporter Larry Derfner after he penned a controversial blog post justifying terrorist attacks against Israelis.

The post, titled “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror,” appeared on a personal blog Derfner shares, Israel Reconsidered. It stoked a firestorm of controversy in Israel for appearing to justify the recent terrorist attack near Eilat, which left eight Israelis dead. It was later deleted from the blog.

“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack,” Derfner wrote, according to text from the blog cited Sunday by Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Liebler.

“But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it, I don’t want to see Israelis killed, and as an Israeli, I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen,” Derfner wrote in his original post. “What’s needed very badly, however, is for Israelis to realize that the occupation is hurting the Palestinians terribly, that it’s driving them to try to kill us, that we are compelling them to engage in terrorism, that the blood of Israeli victims is ultimately on our hands, and that it’s up to us to stop provoking our own people’s murder by ending the occupation.”

On Friday, Derfner apologized for the post, saying he meant that the Israeli occupation provokes Palestinian terrorism, not that it justifies it.

“Writing that the killing of Israelis was justified and a matter of right took a vile image and attached words of seeming approval to it. This, I’m afraid, produced an ‘obscene’ effect, as one critic wrote. I don’t want to write obscenity about Israel. I didn’t mean to, and I deeply regret it,” Derfner wrote. “I meant, instead, to shock Israelis and friends of Israel into seeing how badly we’re hurting the Palestinians by denying them independence: It’s so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us.”

Apparently, that apology was insufficient. On Monday, he posted a note saying the Jerusalem Post had fired him after receiving hundreds of subscription cancellations.

In restructuring, key Canadian Jewish officials are let go


Several senior employees of the Canadian Jewish Congress have lost their jobs in a restructuring of Canada’s Jewish organizations and advocacy agencies.

Notices of dismissal, effective June 30, were sent to Benjamin Shinewald, CJC’s Toronto-based acting CEO; Wendy Lampert, national director of community relations; and Enza Martuccelli, director of community relations in CJC’s Montreal office.

Two longtime CJC employees in the Ottawa office—Eric Vernon, the director of government relations and international affairs, and Josh Rotblatt, the director of operations—received notices effective July 31.

Romy Ritter, regional director in Vancouver, was told her employment will not continue with CJC.

The personnel moves were “mandated” by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), said CJC President Mark Freiman in a statement to his board on June 24.

“I grieve for our community’s loss in terms of the talents and devoted service of those whose employment CIJA has decided to terminate,” Freiman said.

Earlier this month, the boards of CIJA and United Israel Appeal Federations Canada approved a major overhaul of communal organizations. The new, as-yet unnamed super agency will assume the role of CJC, the Canada-Israel Committee and other groups.

For months, Canada’s Jewish community has expressed concerns that the CJC, founded in 1919, would cease to exist under the changes.

A survey has been sent to stakeholders and interested parties on a new name and priorities for the agency.

Fired cancer patient Marla Gilson, ex-employer reach agreement


Marla Gilson and the Association of Jewish Aging Services, which fired her after she was stricken by cancer, have come to terms.

“As part of the settlement, AJAS has agreed to provide Ms. Gilson with additional severance and to provide financial support to help cover her medical expenses,” said the statement issued by AJAS.

Gilson was diagnosed with leukemia and dismissed in March, stirring outrage among Gilson’s colleagues and acquaintances in the Jewish communal world.

“AJAS wishes Marla a speedy recovery,”  the statement said, “and we also thank her for the contributions that she has made to our organization.”

Designer John Galliano fired from his own label


Fashion designer John Galliano was fired from his own designer label over accusations of anti-Semitism and racism.

Galliano, who was fired on March 1 as chief designer at Christian Dior, was dumped from the label that bears his name but is 91 percent owned by Dior, Women’s Wear Daily reported April 15.

A video surfaced in February showing Galliano praising Hitler following accusations that he accosted a couple at a Paris bar, and a second complaint of anti-Semitism was filed against him regarding events that took place at the same bar last October.

Paris prosecutors announced that Galliano would be tried for “public injury toward individuals due to their origin, their religious affiliation,” according to a statement.

Galliano could face up to six months in prison and a $31,000 fine for hate and anti-Semitic speech after allegedly spewing racist invective against a Jewish and Asian couple at the La Perle bar in February.

One and a Half Men? Sitcom sacks Sheen


Actor Charlie Sheen has been fired from his hit CBS sitcom in the wake of a rant against the show’s executive producer that was called “borderline anti-Semitism.”

Sheen was fired Monday, effective immediately, from “Two and a Half Men,” for which he was paid $2 million per episode. The series was not canceled, however.

Warner Brothers said Sheen’s “statements, conduct and condition prevented him from performing his essential duties.”

Sheen, in a radio interview Feb. 24 and in a letter posted on the TMZ website, called “Two and a Half Men” executive producer Chuck Lorre a “contaminated little maggot,” said he was a “clown” and “stupid,” and referred to him several times as Chaim Levine. Lorre’s given name is Charles Michael Levine.

“By invoking television producer Chuck Lorre’s Jewish name in the context of an angry tirade against him, Charlie Sheen left the impression that another reason for his dislike of Mr. Lorre is his Jewishness,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, said in a statement. “This fact has no relevance to Mr. Sheen’s complaint or disagreement, and his words are at best bizarre, and at worst, borderline anti-Semitism.”

Sheen has called on ADL to apologize.

Christian Dior designer John Galliano: “I love Hitler” [VIDEO]


Read more here.

Stewart takes shots at Sanchez


“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart jabbed back at fired CNN anchor Rick Sanchez.

Sanchez was fired Oct. 1, a day after he suggested that Jews run the news business and called Stewart, who is Jewish, a bigot.

During the taping Oct. 2 of a Comedy Central benefit to raise money to educate autistic children, host Stewart urged those feeling guilty about their actions to donate.

“If you dented a car, $50. If you cheated on something to get ahead, $500,” said Stewart, who was hosting “Night of Too Many Stars,” according to reports. “And if you went on radio and said Jews run the media, in that case you better hold onto your money.”

Stewart took another shot at Sanchez during the benefit, which will air Oct. 21 as part of a live telethon, saying that “All he has to do is apologize to us, and we’ll hire him back.”

Sanchez, a native of Cuba, alleged during a freewheeling exchange with Pete Dominick, a Latino stand-up comedian and radio show host, that Stewart singled him out as the butt of many jokes because of white bigotry.

Dominick pushed back, saying that Stewart, because he is Jewish, is himself a member of a minority.

“I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah,” he said.

The ‘revenge of the fired’ could fill a book — and does


Because I’ve been fired from nearly every job I’ve ever held, I always thought nobody in the world understands what I’ve been through. Boo-hoo, right?
But along comes Annabelle Gurwitch and her book, “Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed,” which includes the pink-slipped memories of folks like Robert Reich, Felicity Huffman and Bill Maher. So when Gurwitch hosted an event for the book not long ago — in a lovely, long, willowy slip-of-a-thing of her own — I immediately quit what I was doing (pretending to work) and attended.
 
Gurwitch first planned her literary revenge after being fired off a film set by Woody Allen.

 
“You look retarded,” he told her.

 
Now, she seems to have found fortune in the awful feelings that follow getting shown the door. Along with her anthology, there’s a CD and DVD. And she’s been taking her show on the road, including the performance I attended at the Skirball Cultural Center, which also included 10 funny fellow “firees.” She’ll lead a panel at this weekend’s West Hollywood Book Fair, with guests Jeff Garlin, Jeff Kahn, Glenn Rosenbloom and Cathryn Michon (for more information, see page 43).

 
“Have you ever been fired?” I ask the woman sitting next to me at the Skirball.
“No,” she says. “Unless you count my kids washing their hands of me.”

 
Not really. One time, I tell her, I was selling ice cream to kids and got fired right in the middle of my Good Humor route because they attacked my truck.
Skirball gal shushes me as the show starts.

 
The adorable Gurwitch recounts some of the aftermath of losing a job:

  • You deserve it.
  • It can lead to something so much better than you ever dreamed of in your entire life.
  • It was crappy, but you get a good story.

 
For example, while most of his high school friends in Evanston, Ill., worked at the Banana Republic, actor Matt Price spent one summer as a knife company salesman.

 
“Top-level cutlery?” he says. “That was a sign of becoming a man.” His clientele: “Forty-five-year-old Jewish women and 70-year-old Jewish women.”
Poor Price could cut a penny with the company’s scissors, but by July he had to “hang up the knit tie” when he discoveredthe company was a pyramid scheme.

 
Gurwitch hears stories from people who are canned for “not trimming the nose hairs of the boss” and for “not nesting” correctly. Like Jessica Van Der Valk, who found herself having to confront her boss one day with: “You’re firing me for not having any knickknacks in my cubicle?”

 
“Yep,” said the boss.

 
Actor Kahn, Gurwitch’s husband, calls his contribution to the book, “The World’s Worst Waiter.” At D.B. Kaplan’s Deli in Chicago, they require waiters to memorize the contents of hundreds of sandwiches. But Kahn says he really only knew three: “The Ditka,” “The Oprah” and “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.”

 
Unable to total up checks correctly, Kahn had to take another job just to support the deli gig. Finally losing it after scorching his hand on a pile of hot cheese, he pulled a knife on an unsympathetic cook and … see ya!

 
Back at Skirball, Jonathan Goff described the dynamic between “the firer and the firee.” One of his first jobs was in Rhode Island announcing morning traffic reports from a Chevette. Just before being let go, he realized he was “driving a tiny car in the wee hours in a miniscule state with no traffic.”

 
Still, no matter what job you lose, “you feel small,” Groff said. “And they are tall.”

 
Speaking of self-worth, Gurwitch saved the strong and sensitive for last: Jane Edith Wilson, a striking redheaded comedian. Sure, she said, who isn’t happy to be “released from an astounding, soul-sucking job.” However, she added, any firing doesn’t feel good. “There’s something heavy in the air … once you have that stink on you.”

 
“You charm people,” one boss told her. “It’s disgusting.” Waitressing at the Greenwich Village V&G café, Wilson became known for her hilarious antics, like the dance she did with the plastic honey bears. (I remember; I used to enjoy her!)

 
She always exacted “a look of murder” at a customer, she says. “I wanted him to know I was deeply aware of my own self-worth.”

 
Wilson gave people lip, was “often hung-over” and always late. But after 12 years at V&G, “to this day,” says Wilson, “whenever I hear ‘Crazy for You’ by Madonna, I have an urge to put a plate of fries in front of a drunk person.”
In the moment of being fired, Wilson says she “felt an odd resignation.”

 
And I think I know what she means. I felt awful being fired from my job at a Westside car wash last summer. But I was resigned. They had to can me. I accidentally smashed a cherry Chevy Tahoe into a pole driving it to the drying area.

 
And when I got fired as deejay on “The Voice of Peace” pirate radio ship in Israel, peace ship owner Abie Natan sent an Arab dinghy out from Jaffa to yank me off the air. Now that was an interesting way to get thrown over.

 

Hank Rosenfeld has been fired from every radio announcing and car-washing job he’s ever had. “Fired!” books, CDs, and DVDs are available at www.firedbyannabellegurwitch.com.

A Guilty Plea in AIPAC Case


A Pentagon analyst at the center of an investigation that has rocked the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will plead guilty.

Edward Adams, a spokesman for the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., announced last week that Lawrence Franklin had scheduled a guilty plea for this week. Edwards said he did not know what charge Franklin would plead to, or if the plea is part of a larger deal.

Lawyers for Franklin in the past have suggested that he would plead guilty to charges that he moved classified documents out of a designated area to his home in West Virginia, the least of the charges against Franklin. He also is charged with leaking classified information to Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two AIPAC staffers who have since been fired, and to Israeli diplomats. Franklin’s lawyers said in August that they would seek to try Franklin separately from Rosen and Weissman, who also have been indicted.

 

Salvin Group Fights ADL


At least one issue left in the wake of the firing of David Lehrer has been resolved.

On Wednesday, the New York headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it had reached a settlement with Lehrer, whom ADL National Director Abraham Foxman fired last December in a move that shocked and angered many Angelenos.

Lehrer characterized the settlement as a "mutually satisfactory agreement" whereby the national office acknowledged his many years of service and contributions to the organization as well as to the Los Angeles community. The settlement bars Lehrer from commenting on details of the agreement, but the former regional director said he continues to be grateful for all the support he has received and that he hopes the local organization can now be free to rededicate itself to the important work at hand.

But if that wound has been somewhat healed, the firing left another one still open: the national office’s relationship with its young leadership in Los Angeles. The veteran members of the Los Angeles branch expressed shock and dismay at Lehrer’s firing. But in the weeks after the news broke, it was mainly the young leaders who stood up and roared.

"I am passionate about the ADL because of David’s being passionate," said Alicia Duel, 34, a consultant with the Entertainment Industry Foundation who became involved with the Jewish organization through its Salvin Leadership Development Institute, a program aimed at adults ages 27-45. "The organization had his personality. I don’t know what happened [between him and Foxman] but the way that it was done was wrong.

As Jewish organizations work hard to curry support among the next generation of leaders, the dissent is potentially very harmful to the ADL.

Duel was one of the proponents of an amendment made to a resolution voted on at a Jan. 22 meeting of the ADL’s Southwest Pacific Regional board and executive committee. The resolution, which was defeated, demanded an independent evaluation be performed to determine Foxman’s ability to lead the ADL. But the amendment, which was drafted by members of the Salvin group and calls for the ADL’s national commission to hold outside evaluations of all regional directors and the national director every three years, passed. It is unclear, however, what weight the amendment holds with the national office.

Another Leadership Institute alumni, Alicia Bleier, accomplished what even the press, with all its hounding, has not been able to do: get a response directly from Foxman. Bleier said she gives Foxman credit for agreeing to meet with her.

"It would have been very easy to dismiss my letter. I’m not a huge donor, yet I do think he realizes the necessity of the young leadership to the survival of the ADL," she said, adding that she thought the meeting was productive despite its inconclusive outcome. The national leaders "are beginning to understand the depths of frustration and the depths of the problems."

Bleier, Duel and other Salvin alumni say they believe it is imperative that Foxman, Tobias and other members of the national board come to Los Angeles and speak directly to lay leaders here. According to ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum, a trip scheduled for President’s Day weekend was canceled because of a death in Tobias’ family but will be rescheduled sometime in March.

"I’ve been speaking with a group who want to do something about de-Balkanizing this city in a real way and I’m very excited about it," Lehrer said. "Los Angeles isn’t like New York or Chicago, where everyone has a chance to walk on the street together and meet all kinds of different people. Here we get in our hermetically sealed cars and never get a chance to know each other. I want to do something to change that."

Duel said she hopes the whole incident involving Lehrer will continue to energize the young leaders to stay involved with the ADL. "The ADL does amazing things and we’re not trying to undermine that in any way. Nobody wants to leave, we just want to make the organization better."