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Jewish leaders renew antisemitism fight after hostage case

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Jewish leaders renew antisemitism fight after hostage case

By PETER SMITH

Although the FBI initially said the man who held four people hostage at a Texas synagogue was focused on an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community,” the captor voiced beliefs that Jews controlled the world and had the power to arrange the release of a prisoner, survivors said after their escape.

The gunman’s words were all too familiar to Jewish leaders and terror experts, who saw the attack on Congregation Beth Israel as yet another in the rising number of antisemitic hate crimes, a sign of the continued need of vigilance and interfaith solidarity.

The hostage-taker — identified by authorities as Malik Faisal Akram — “thought he could come into a synagogue, and we could get on the phone with the ‘Chief Rabbi of America’ and he would get what he needed,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told the Forward, a Jewish news site.

The hourslong standoff ended after the last hostage ran out of the Colleyville synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, though authorities have declined to say who shot him.

The attack recalled recent deadly assaults on synagogues, including Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life in 2018 and California’s Chabad of Poway in 2019. Unlike those attacks, when assailants linked to white nationalist motives went on shooting rampages soon after entering, Akram took hostages to have them to use their influence to obtain the release of Aafia Siddiqui.

Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is serving a lengthy sentence in a prison in nearby Fort Worth.

Jeffrey Cohen, another of the synagogue hostages, said Akram “did not come there to kill Jews” but tried to use them in the belief they could get Siddiqui released.

Akram “had bought into the extremely dangerous, antisemitic trope that Jews control everything, that we could call President (Joe) Biden and have him release her,” Cohen told the Times of Israel.

Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, said that while only Akram himself knew his motives, his words reflect “a misguided and conspiratorial mindset.”

“The idea that Jews are overwhelmingly, disproportionately powerful and control America is completely mainstream” in some politically Islamist factions, similar to tropes among white nationalists, he said.

And he said Siddiqui’s case is a “cause celebre” in those factions. Siddiqui herself voiced “chilling” words at her court proceedings, blaming her conviction on Israel and asking for genetic tests on jurors for possible Jewish connections, he said.

On Saturday, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office said the hostage-taker was focused on an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.” But on Sunday, the FBI called the ordeal “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.”

Akram “was looking for a Jewish target,” said Nachman Shai, Israel’s Cabinet minister for diaspora affairs. “If it’s not about Jews, why didn’t he walk into a church, a mosque or a supermarket there?”

The attack resonated in Jewish communities across the country, including those that had been attacked before.

“It’s upsetting to me whenever Jews are under attack, whenever human beings are under attack,” said Beth Kissileff, a Pittsburgh author and member of New Light Congregation. The congregation was one of three meeting in the Tree of Life building that lost members in the Oct. 27, 2018, attack that claimed 11 lives.

She hopes survivors of the Pittsburgh attack — who were consoled in 2018 by Muslim survivors of a deadly mosque attack in Quebec — can offer similar support to those in Colleyville. “People reached out to us, and we want to reach out,” she said.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the denomination Beth Israel is affiliated with, noted that Muslim, Christian and other faith leaders quickly gathered to support the congregants.

“While the uptick of antisemitism is clear, we’ve never lived in a community where there’s more solidarity,” he said.

Anna Eisen, the founding president of Beth Israel, experienced that first-hand, citing support “from neighbors, strangers, churches, the governor” and others.

“I feel safer,” she said. “I know now I’m a part of this community and this country.”

Some advocacy groups and lawmakers have cited the Texas hostage situation in calling on the Senate to take up Biden’s nomination of Deborah Lipstadt to serve as a special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.

The Emory University professor’s nomination languished last year, forcing Biden to resubmit her name two weeks ago. The Anti-Defamation League called on the Senate to “act now” to show the urgency of confronting antisemitism.

“We need to treat antisemitism not as an aberration but an everyday reality,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the ADL.

Rabbi Noah Farkas, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said he has been speaking with rabbinic colleagues in the wake of the Texas incident and many have trepidations about leading services.

“To be a Jew in America today, to wear Jewish ritual garb like the yarmulke or a Star of David, is an act of courage, and I would say defiance as well,” Farkas said.

The attack underscores how “the Jewish community is an affected and targeted group,” said Bradley Orsini, senior national security advisory for Secure Community Network, which consults with major Jewish organizations on security.

He took part in a weekend webinar that drew about 1,600 Jewish community leaders to update them on the Colleyville situation. “We really need to keep preparedness in front of us,” he said.

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Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem; Kevin Freking, Mike Balsamo and Colleen Long in Washington; Holly Meyer in Nashville, Tennessee; Mariam Fam in Cairo; and Luis Andres Henao in Princeton, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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Abbott says agreement reached to reopen baby formula plant

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Abbott says agreement reached to reopen baby formula plant

By ZEKE MILLER and MATTHEW PERRONE

WASHINGTON (AP) — Infant formula maker Abbott says it’s reached an agreement with U.S. health officials to restart production at its largest domestic factory, a key step toward easing a nationwide shortage tied to the plant’s shutdown earlier this year.

Abbott did not immediately detail the terms of the agreement reached with the Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating safety problems at the Sturgis, Michigan, facility. The consent decree is a binding legal agreement between the company and the federal government.

After production resumes, Abbott has said it will take at least eight weeks to begin shipping new product to stores.

The Biden administration has come under intense pressure over the last week to do more to ease the shortage of formula that has forced parents of infants to go to significant lengths to feed their children.

Abbott’s plant came under scrutiny earlier this year after four infants became sick with bacterial infections after consuming powdered formula from the Michigan factory. Two of the babies died.

In February, the company halted production and recalled several brands of formula. Those steps squeezed supplies that were already strained by supply chain disruptions and parents stockpiling during COVID-19.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under fire from parents and politicians, President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday is expected to announce an agreement to reopen the largest domestic manufacturing plant of infant formula and to ease import rules to allow supplies in from overseas, amid a nationwide shortage spurred by the Michigan plant’s shutdown earlier this year over safety issues.

A consent decree between the producer, Abbott, and the Food and Drug Administration that would pave the way for reopening the plant is “forthcoming,” said Brian Deese, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council. He added the agency would also take steps Monday to allow more foreign imports into the U.S. to address the urgent supply constraints.

It comes as the Biden administration has come under intense pressure over the last week to do more to ease the shortage of formula that has forced parents of infants to go to significant lengths to feed their children.

Over the weekend, the White House offered formula manufacturers and retailers transportation and logistics support, and working with all major formula producers to boost production, including reaching out to their suppliers to encourage them to prioritize production and delivery of formula ingredients.

Deese said the administration “made clear to all of them that federal resources, including transportation and logistics resources, are available and on call and we are prepared to move assets in coordination with them as and when we identify need.”

The shortage stems from a February recall by Abbott, the nation’s largest formula maker, that shuttered the company’s Michigan plant and exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on stores shelves across much of the country. The shortage has led retailers like CVS and Target to limit how many containers customers can purchase per visit and forced some parents to swap and sell formula online.

On Monday, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that the federal agency is “working really closely with Abbott” to reopen the closed Michigan factory and he expects that “in a very short period of time we’re going to have an announcement about the path forward.”

Califf said an announcement is forthcoming about importing baby formula from abroad, noting that the key is making sure the instructions for the formula are in languages that mothers and caregivers can understand.

The FDA warned families against making their own baby formula because it has 30 distinct constituents that have to be in the right amount, otherwise the formula can possibly be dangerous to consume.

Abbott’s voluntary recall was triggered by four illnesses reported in babies who had consumed powdered formula from the Michigan plant. All four infants were hospitalized with a rare type of bacterial infection and two died.

Abbott is one of just four companies that produce roughly 90% of U.S. formula, so its shutdown squeezed already tight supplies.

After a six-week inspection, FDA investigators published a list of problems in March, including lax safety and sanitary standards and a history of bacterial contamination in several parts of the plant.

But Chicago-based Abbott has emphasized that its products have not been directly linked to the bacterial infections in children. Samples of the bacteria found at its plant did not match the strains collected from the babies by federal investigators. The company has repeatedly stated it is ready to resume manufacturing, pending an FDA decision.

The terms of the consent decree were not immediately clear, including what steps Abbott was taking to remediate issues raised by the FDA or how quickly production at the plant would be restarted.

Former FDA officials say fixing the type of problems uncovered at Abbott’s plant takes time, and infant formula facilities receive more scrutiny than other food facilities. Companies need to exhaustively clean the facility and equipment, retrain staff, repeatedly test and document there is no contamination.

Even if the facility reopens soon, the FDA will still face scrutiny for its handling of the issues at the plant.

FDA inspectors visited the factory in September for a routine inspection, around the time that the first bacterial infection was reported in an infant. Although inspectors uncovered several violations— including standing water and unsanitary conditions— the FDA did not shut down the plant or issue any formal warning.

Only after several more illnesses were reported did the FDA return to the plant in January, this time finding a history of bacterial contamination in several parts of the plant. Abbott then shut down the facility and recalled several powdered formulas in mid-February.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro reported last month that a whistleblower had contacted the FDA in October about unsafe conditions and practices at the plant, including falsifying plant records and failing to properly test formula for contamination.

She and other lawmakers are set to question FDA Commissioner Califf about that issue and others at a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

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Top 3 Books Under $30 To Master Micro Stakes Poker

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Top 3 Books Under $30 To Master Micro Stakes Poker

When you start playing micro stakes poker, you may be wondering how to play this style of poker. Due to the increasing popularity of micro stakes poker, many of real money online casinos Canada are offering gamblers to play micro poker. However, without decent preparation there is nothing to do by the poker table. Luckily, in this article, we will discuss the best books which will help you learn the basics of micro stakes poker and thus, improve your micro stakes poker strategy.

Below are top 3 poker-related manuals which will help you to learn many things about micro stakes poker. Interested? Keep reading!

Crushing Low Stakes Poker: The Essential Guide to Dominating Low Stakes Sit ‘n Gos, Volume 1: Strategy

Books from the Crushing Low Stakes Poker series will help you to dive into the low stakes poker world, because they are mainly devoted to micro stakes poker, while Volume:1 Strategy part will cover the most essential points for any nowise gambler who desires to learn micro stakes poker strategy.

In this book you will find:

  • Essential information about bankroll management, tips on right table selection, odds guide;
  • Chapters dedicated to pre-flop and post-flop elements;
  • Explanation of various stages of micro stakes poker (push, bubble, different kinds of blinds, etc.);
  • Examples of the most helpful poker tools and websites.

As an addition, this book has various helpful push-fold charts, which are helpful for making your endgame more mathematically successful, and a series of poker-related videos and presentations.

Crushing Low Stakes Poker: The Essential Guide to Dominating Low Stakes Sit ‘n Gos, Volume 1: Strategy paperback version can be easily found on Amazon for a price starting from $8,00 and up.

Master Micro Stakes Poker: Learn to Master 6-Max No Limit Hold’em Micro Stakes Cash Games

Worth to say that this book is written by a poker-guru and a micro stakes poker enthusiast Alton Hardin, who is an ex-college professor and a practicing instructor at Alton Teaches LLC and MicroGrinder Poker School. Many of his manuals were well-praised by poker players and this one is not an exception!

The Master 6-Max No Limit Hold’em Micro Stakes Cash Games book was designed primarily for beginners or players who struggle with micro stakes cash games. It promises to teach anyone testified poker strategies through “tight-aggressive approach” and aims to pass the author’s year-long experience to newbie poker players.

The book can be downloaded or purchased as a paperback on Amazon for $14,49.

No Limit Hold’em – Beating the Micro Stakes: Crushing Micro Stakes & Small Stakes Poker

Dedicated to micro stakes No Lomit Hold’em, the No Limit Hold’em – Beating the Micro Stakes book guides the strategies for beating low micro stakes games. Moreover, it teaches essential practices for both online No Limit Hold’em or live low stakes games. This awesome manual contains numerous quizzes and answers with explanations on myriads of questions, which is helpful for memorization and repetition of information to better master the small stakes game.

Main topics covered in the book are:

  • Micro stakes-focused betting schemes;
  • Both player types and playing styles discussion;
  • Starting hands guide, which are particular to micro stakes games.

Paperback version of this book costs $23,27 on Amazon, or $9,95 for a Kindle version.

To Conclude

There are a lot of great books, videos and podcasts across the internet about the best poker online games to play and its varieties. Any beginner who desires to be successful in poker games must read, learn and listen to all guides as much as possible. The books in this article aren’t an exception, quite the contrary – read them and become a micro stakes poker professional!

The post Top 3 Books Under $30 To Master Micro Stakes Poker appeared first on AlphaNewsCall.

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Heat find their dream scenario vs. Celtics in East finals, as higher-seeded underdog

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Heat find their dream scenario vs. Celtics in East finals, as higher-seeded underdog

This is exactly what the Miami Heat wanted, the very type of thing that brought a smile to the face of forward Jimmy Butler after Monday’s practice at FTX Arena.

No, not mere homecourt advantage, which will be the case against the Boston Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals that open Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

No, not carrying the No. 1 seed into the proceedings.

But, rather, the seeds of doubt.

As in the lower seed, the road team, the Celtics being favored by almost all bookmakers.

As in various power ratings giving the Celtics the far greater chance to emerge as 2022 NBA champion.

“What I love about this team the most,” Butler said, “is ain’t nobody paying attention to what anybody else picks, because we know we can win. Those are guys that I want to go to war with.

“We’re gonna fight, and we’re gonna come out on top. I think this is going to be really fun and really interesting.”

Considering it is Celtics-Heat, it likely has little other option, be it the teams’ dramatic 2020 Eastern Conference finals the Heat won in the Disney World quarantine bubble, to LeBron James going into TD Garden and stealing the Celtics’ souls with his 45-point performance in Game 6 of the 2012 East finals, to Heat president Pat Riley telling former Celtics general manager Danny Ainge to STFU, because, well, just because he could.

“I’ve heard a few times throughout the year about the thing with Boston,” veteran Heat power forward P.J. Tucker said of his impending first taste of Heat-Celtics. “But we have that anyway, no matter who we’re going to play, that fight, that desire to win. We worked hard all year to get to his moment.”

Because of that, coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t want these next two weeks to be about historical perspective, but rather what has already been accomplished … and what still remains.

“We have a big goal,” he said, “and along the way on those goals you’re going to be playing against really good competition and that’s what Boston is. They’ve really established a strong culture, really good habits, both ends of the court.

“They’ve earned eight wins, just like us. And if you have eight wins at this point, you’ve done some really good things.”

For the Heat, it has meant pushing past the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. For the Celtics, it has meant eliminating the Brooklyn Nets and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, with a Sunday Game 7 victory in that East semifinal.

For both teams, it has meant a grinding, enduring, committed defensive effort that along the way has sidelined the likes of Trae Young, Joel Embiid and James Harden by the Heat, and Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Giannis Antetokounmpo by the Celtics.

“Pat probably is really going to enjoy this,” Spoelstra said of the defensive culture Riley established with the franchise more than a quarter century ago. “This is like a throwback series. And both teams are really on top of their games.

“This shouldn’t be a series where either team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense.”

No, Spoelstra said, nothing like Heat-Knicks, during the days when Riley still was patrolling the Heat sidelines.

“It’s different; the game is different,” Spoelstra said. “I would never compare it to the physicality of those series. That was closer to football; this will be basketball.”

But, yes, arguably a higher quality of competition than either team has experienced to this stage.

“We were the two best teams in the East most of the season,” Spoelstra said, “and it’s fitting that we’re meeting in the conference finals.”

So, yes, a higher-seeded underdog.

It’s as if Spoelstra could not have asked for a better scenario — the opposition favored, the Heat with Game 7 at home, need be.

“Our guys love competition and love being challenged,” Spoelstra understated, “love taking on big challenges. And that’s what we’re facing in Boston.”

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