US bombers buzz Korean Peninsula amid tensions with Pyongyang

SEOUL, South Korea — The US flew four F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula on Monday in a show of force after North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

The flight was to “demonstrate the deterrence capability of the US-South Korea alliance against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the ministry said in a statement.

They were the first flights since the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan last Friday, sending regional tensions soaring.

The US jets few alongside four South Korean F-15K jet fighters as part of “routine” training, the statement said, adding that the allies would continue such exercises to “improve their joint operation capabilities against contingencies.”

The previous such flights were on August 31.

Separately, China and Russia began a joint naval exercise east of the Korean peninsula.

The drill will be held in waters between the Russian port of Vladivostok and the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, further north, the Chinese defence ministry said.

The purpose of the exercise was not immediately clear and the ministry did not indicate its duration.

The UN Security Council last week imposed a fresh set of sanctions on North Korea over its missile and atomic weapons programmes, though Washington toned down its original proposals to secure support from China and Russia.

Moscow backs Beijing’s proposal for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a suspension of US-South Korea military drills which China blames for fanning regional tensions.

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has rejected the proposal as “insulting” and said it was time to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea by enacting the “strongest possible measures.”

North Korea’s weapons drive is set to dominate US President Donald Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly later Monday and his meetings with South Korean and Japanese leaders this week.

Tensions flared when Kim Jong-Un’s regime tested what it termed a hydrogen bomb many times more powerful than its previous device.

The North also fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific last Friday, responding to the new UN sanctions with what appeared to be its longest-ever missile flight.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke by phone Saturday and vowed to exert “stronger pressure” on the North, with Moon’s office warning that further provocation would put it on a “path of collapse”.

Trump has also not ruled out a military option, which could leave millions of people in the South Korean capital — and 28,500 US soldiers stationed in the South — vulnerable to potential retaliatory attack.

Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has said the US would “have to prepare all options” if sanctions prove insufficient to stop the North’s weapons drive.


Amid Chaos of Storms, U.S. Shows It Has Improved Its Response

ATLANTA — The two massive storms brought death and suffering and damage that will be measured in the billions of dollars. They left millions of residents cowering in their homes to ride out pounding rains, and left evacuees — hundreds of thousands of them — scattered across Texas and the Southeast.

At the same time, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may have revealed a largely unnoticed truth often buried under the news of unfolding tragedy: The United States appears to be improving in the way it responds to hurricanes, at a time when climate scientists say the threats from such storms, fueled by warming oceans, are growing only more dire. For all the chaos, the death toll from Harvey and Irma remained surprisingly contained: about 85 thus far in Florida and Texas.

“There’s no doubt that we’re doing better,” said Brian Wolshon, a civil engineer professor and evacuation expert at Louisiana State University. “The stuff we’re doing is not rocket science, but it’s having the political will, and the need, to do it.”

Across much of Florida and the region on Tuesday, stressed and exhausted families were assessing damage from Irma, or just beginning the arduous journey home, often grappling with gasoline shortages, sweltering heat, and power and cell service disruptions in addition to downed trees and damaged property. At least 13 people were reported dead in Irma’s wake, although the toll could still rise in the Florida Keys.

The pain was felt where the storm hit hardest, like the Florida Keys, where an estimated 25 percent of homes were destroyed and bleary-eyed residents contemplated a battered landscape of destruction.

And the pain was felt far away as well: in Jacksonville, where there was still major flooding from epic storm surge, heavy rains and rising tides; in Georgia, where at least 1.2 million customers were without power Tuesday; and in Charleston, S.C., where Irma’s effects coincided with high tide, causing some of the worst flooding since Hurricane Hugo, which devastated the area in 1989.

The political will Mr. Wolshon cited has arisen, in large part, from the two defining, and very different, disasters of the century: the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and, four years later, Hurricane Katrina, whose floodwaters put most of New Orleans underwater and left more than 1,800 people dead.

The terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania revolutionized the way American government coordinated disaster response. Katrina stimulated a new and robust conversation about the power of natural disasters, and, more specifically, forced Americans to rethink the growing threats from floodwater.

These issues have become central themes for government in recent years, and Richard Serino, a former deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he was not surprised that the response to the storms thus far has gone relatively well.

“It’s no accident,” he said. “We’ve been training people for this for the last 16 years.”

These events, and other disasters before and after, have fed into the collective knowledge of how a modern nation should respond to hurricanes, serving as catalysts for improvements in weather forecasting, evacuation policies and hurricane-resistant building practices.

Experts said all of them most likely played a role in keeping the death tolls lower than expected in the last few weeks. The planning and response also benefited from a few lucky turns in the weather, the growing sophistication of personal technology — the iPhone did not exist when Katrina struck — and a public dialed in to the internet and tuned into 24-hour television news.

The deadly problems posed by hurricanes are at once ancient and rather new: Hal Needham, a coastal hazard scientist who runs a private consulting business in Galveston, Tex., notes that it was not until after World War II that populations began to soar in the hurricane-vulnerable states of Texas and Florida. The rise of satellite-based meteorology came only in the 1960s. Before that, hurricanes could still come as a surprise.
Today, lawmakers enjoy better weather forecasts, but now face the problem of what to do with millions of people who may lie in a storm’s path. Mr. Wolshon does not agree with all of the evacuation decisions made in the face of Harvey and Irma, but he said they were made with an evolving and increasingly sophisticated understanding of the challenges.

In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner and other local officials decided not to call for a mandatory evacuation before the arrival of Harvey, in part because of the nature of the threat to the area. Harvey, by the time it reached Houston, was not expected to bring storm surge or high winds, so much as pounding, extended rains. In this case, it was difficult to know which areas would flood and which would not. So officials decided to encourage people to stay put.

It was a marked difference to the strategy of Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who announced Thursday to 6.5 million people: “Leave now, don’t wait.”
Dr. Needham said that the move was probably the right one. “When Irma was bearing down on Southeast Florida it did appear several days out that we could potentially see Category 5 winds in the metro Miami area,” he said. “When you have a massive flood event, if you can you just go up, if you’re in a condo or an apartment.”

But in whipping, hurricane-force winds, sheltering in place probably would not have been as safe as hitting the road. Evacuation also made sense given the threat of huge storm surges, experts said.

Miami did not end up experiencing extreme winds, though much of South Florida did take a beating. Lives may have been saved because of the drastic overhaul of South Florida building codes after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. That massive storm damaged or destroyed 125,000 homes in the area, and the new codes have forced developers to build structures that could better withstand hurricane-force winds.

Houston, too, has learned from its tragic past. In July 2001, southeast Texas was hit hard by Tropical Storm Allison, which caused serious flooding. It prompted officials at Houston’s Texas Medical Center, billed as the largest medical complex in the world, to undertake a $50 million upgrade that included installing flood doors and putting generators high enough that they could not be inundated.

Dr. Needham said that these changes probably helped keep the death toll down in Texas. “If the power goes out in a hospital with premature babies and elderly people on ventilators, you can really see an increase in the loss of life,” he said.

Both Texas and Florida probably also benefited from the growth and sophistication of the federal Department of Homeland Security, and the training that even tiny communities have undergone since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The storms also unfolded at a time when government disaster response has grown more sophisticated, an evolutionary process that did not necessarily begin with the Sept. 11 attacks: James Witt, the FEMA director under President Bill Clinton, recalls going to Congress to fund a modern operations center after discovering what passed for one at FEMA headquarters up to that point.

“The operations center was so bad that they had telephone wires hanging out of the ceiling and foldup chairs and tables,” he said.

But the federal disaster-response system grew markedly after 9/11. And while the Homeland Security Department has been criticized as being expensive and bloated, it has also insured a system in which local, state and federal officials are inured to the idea of working and communicating together.

Still, few observers were openly celebrating the government response to the storms in the United States. The damage was too vast, not just in Texas and Florida but also in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The response continues, with the rebuilding likely to last years. And everyone knows that Texas and Florida had some good fortune beyond the scope of human influence: The big winds never hit the major urban areas, and in Florida, capricious Irma did not deliver a storm surge as devastating as some had predicted.
“While thankfully the impact on people injured or killed was low, this is largely a factor of luck,” said Ahmad Wani, chief executive of One Concern, a California-based company that seeks to use new technologies to create “next-generation disaster response” systems.

Mr. Serino said that Harvey had introduced another cutting-edge idea: relying on residents, not just government workers, to make significant contributions to hurricane response. “Now we’ve seen images of neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “They’re the real emergency medical workers.”

Amid outcry over hotel signs, Swiss lawmaker raps Israel for tolerating haredim

Commenting on a public outcry over signs that urged Jews at a Swiss hotel to shower before entering the pool, a state lawmaker from Geneva said “Israel should apologize for its excessive tolerance of ultra-Orthodox Jews who prevent peace in Palestine.”

Roger Deneys, a Socialist representative at the Grand Council of Geneva, made the assertion Wednesday on Facebook.

Deneys deleted his comment shortly after posting it and apologized for having written “nonsense,” the online edition of the Swiss Le Matin daily reportedThursday.

Over the weekend, signs placed at the Paradise Apartments in Arosa, some 80 miles southeast of Zurich, urged “Jewish guests” to shower before entering the pool and access a refrigerator at set times. Observant Jews who were staying at the hotel stored kosher food in the hotel refrigerator.

A sign put up at a Swiss hotel calling on Jewish guests to shower before going swimming (Courtesy)

The signs generated a storm of criticism, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at whose urging the hotel was removed from the online reservations service Deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said that the incident reflected the prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe at large.

Deneys told Le Matin he had reacted “too fast and stupidly” because he was angry at Hotovely for her “disingenuous reaction, in which she demanded apologies from Switzerland.” He added: “I had no intention of discriminating against the Jewish community.”

In a statement to the media, Hotovely’s office did not demand Swiss authorities apologize for the incident. She did, however, urge the prosecution of the person responsible for posting the signs. Her statement said that Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland requested the Swiss Foreign Ministry deplore the hotel staff’s actions.

Ruth Thomann, who runs the hotel, told JTA on Monday that she removed the signs shortly after they were put up. She said she meant no offense to Jews and that she merely sought to convey information relevant only to the Jewish guests.

Thomann said only the Jewish guests were entering the pool without showering first while wearing T-shirts and they alone were allowed, as a courtesy, to put food in the staff’s refrigerator.

Swiss Lawmaker Roger Deneys photographed during an interview in February 2010. (Screen capture/YouTube)

“I may have selected the wrong words; the signs should have been addressed to all the guests instead of Jewish ones,” she added.

The sign about the pool read: “To our Jewish Guests: Please take a shower before you go swimming and although after swimming. If you break the rules, I’m forced to cloes the swimming pool for you.” [sic]

The sign about the refrigerator read: “To our Jewish guests: You are allowed to approach the fridge between the hours: 10.00-11.00 in the morning and 16.30-17.30 in the evening. I hope you understand that our team does not like to be disturbed every time.”

Trump to host Lebanese leader amid Middle East tensions

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will meet Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Washington next week for talks on issues including refugees and combating terrorism, the White House announced Friday.

Analysts also anticipate US aid will be high on the agenda of the July 25th talks at the White House, which has made clear its intent to slash its aid budget for Lebanon, on grounds that national forces there have not adequately applied US military support towards reining in terrorist group Hezbollah.

“The two leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern, including the fight against terrorism, the economy and refugees,” the White House said in a statement.

“This meeting will serve as an important opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relationship,” the statement said, adding that the talks “will encourage other international and regional partners to support Lebanon as it faces a wide range of challenges.”

The announcement comes days after US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Lebanon-based Hezbollah of amassing weapons and urged the international community to dial up pressure on the powerful paramilitary organization to disarm.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican senators at the White House on July 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

There has been speculation about the possibility of a new war between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel, more than a decade after their last direct confrontation.

On Thursday members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced legislation aimed at bolstering sanctions targeting Hezbollah, dubbing the group a threat to Israel’s security and criticizing its role as an active ally of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

Fox Sports Fires Jamie Horowitz (Kike) Amid a Claim of Misconduct

Jamie Horowitz was fired by Fox Sports on Monday. CreditFrederick M. Brown/Getty Images

21st Century Fox’s sports group abruptly fired a top executive, Jamie Horowitz, on Monday amid an investigation into sexual harassment, a person briefed on the matter said.

The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the investigation had begun about a week ago.

“Everyone at Fox Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times,” Eric Shanks, the president of Fox Sports, said in an email to employees. “These values are non-negotiable.”

The company did not explicitly say why Mr. Horowitz had been fired, or what details the investigation had yielded.

Mr. Horowitz was in charge of sports programming, and his radical restructuring of the network caused widespread consternation among its employees. He has hired the lawyer Patricia Glaser to represent him in relation to his firing.

“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling,” Ms. Glaser said in a statement. “At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct, nor an inability to adhere to professional conduct. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job, the job that until today he has performed in an exemplary fashion. Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”

A person familiar with the matter said there were no legal claims against Mr. Horowitz or settlements made regarding allegations of sexual harassment.

Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer representing Fox Sports, issued a statement countering the assertions made by Ms. Glaser: “Mr. Horowitz’s termination was fully warranted and his lawyer’s accusations are ill-informed and misguided.”

The Los Angeles Times first reported that the company was investigating allegations of sexual harassment.

The swift dismissal of Mr. Horowitz — without a public lawsuit or public pressure — represents a significant departure from how 21st Century Fox has handled other cases. 21st Century Fox, the media giant controlled by the Murdoch family, owns Fox Sports, Fox News and a number of other entertainment properties.

The development is yet another setback for a company that has been reeling for a year from a sexual harassment scandal at Fox News.

On July 6, 2016, the former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit against Roger Ailes, the former chairman of the network. That prompted an internal investigation that found several women at Fox News who reported misconduct. Mr. Ailes was forced out of the network, with a $40 million exit package, and the company went on to reach settlements with at least six women who accused Mr. Ailes of sexual harassment, according to a person briefed on the agreements. The company paid $20 million to settle the suit with Ms. Carlson.

Yet women inside Fox News said that issues of harassment and intimidation at the network went beyond Mr. Ailes. Current and former Fox News employees have said that they feared making complaints to network executives or the human resources department.

In late February, 21st Century Fox reached a settlement worth more than $2.5 million with Tamara Holder, a former Fox News contributor, who reported that she had been sexually assaulted by an executive at company headquarters. The network fired the executive.

Then in April, an investigation by The New York Times exposed financial settlements involving multiple women who had accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior. After an internal investigation, Mr. O’Reilly was ousted on April 19. The cleanup continued in May, with the dismissal of one of the network’s presidents, Bill Shine, a protégé of Mr. Ailes.

Mr. Ailes, who has since died, and Mr. O’Reilly both denied any wrongdoing.

The continuing scandal has been a financial and reputational hit for 21st Century Fox. The company disclosed that in the nine months leading up to March 31, it incurred $45 million in costs tied to settlements of pending and potential litigation related to harassment allegations. That does not include the exit package for Mr. Ailes and the estimated $25 million payout for Mr. O’Reilly.

The scandal has come under the spotlight on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, federal investigators have looked into the network’s financial practices. And last week, British regulators reviewing 21st Century Fox’s $15 billion deal to take full control of Sky, the European satellite giant, found that the company and its executives were “fit and proper,” despite concluding that the sexual harassment scandal had amounted to “significant corporate failures.”

Mr. Horowitz began his career at NBC Sports, working on Olympic and N.B.A. coverage, before going to ESPN in 2006. He was initially in charge of World Series of Poker coverage before moving into original programming.

In 2008, Mr. Horowitz helped develop “SportsNation,” which became a staple of ESPN2’s afternoon block, and later oversaw “Numbers Never Lie.” But he is best known for taking charge of “First Take” and pairing Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, resulting in one of the most popular, and controversial, shows in sports.

Mr. Horowitz’s later work was less successful, however. In 2013, he created both “Olbermann” and “Colin’s New Football Show,” but neither show gained ratings traction, and both ended after two years. In 2014, he was hired to run NBC’s “Today” show but was fired after just three months, before he had even officially started.

Mr. Horowitz was hired by Fox in May 2015 and was put in charge of programming at the flagship channel FS1, which was then three years old and struggling to compete with ESPN. He revamped the channel’s daytime lineup, hiring away Mr. Bayless, Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock from ESPN, making them and their opinion-driven shows the face of the network.

He presided over a move away from news at Fox Sports, ending “Fox Sports Live” — FS1’s competitor to ESPN’s “SportsCenter” — and letting on-air reporters depart. He was later put in charge of digital operations at Fox Sports, and just last week laid off about 20 online writers and editors in a shift to video content featuring Fox Sports personalities.

Liberman, Mattis discuss ‘regional strategy’ amid Golan Heights unrest

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met Tuesday with his American counterpart James Mattis to discuss “regional strategy” and the ongoing cooperation between the Israeli and US militaries Tuesday, amid spiraling tensions between Israel and Syria.

The past three days have seen three incidents of errant shells fired from Syria that landed in Israel. The IDF has responded with force, targeting installations of the Syrian army, which Israel holds responsible for all incidents originating from Syrian soil.

Mattis and Liberman discussed “regional strategy and the ongoing cooperation between the Israeli and US defense agencies,” Liberman’s office said in a statement.

The defense chiefs met in on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference, set his year to focus on the Syrian conflict, in their fourth confab since Mattis took office just four months ago.

In April, Mattis visited Israel for meetings with Defense Ministry and IDF officials as part of a six-country Middle East tour that included Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Israel and the US have long had close strategic ties, with Washington providing Israel more than $3 billion per year in defense aid and US President Donald Trump pledging unstinting support for the country.

Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Syria after projectiles fired from the war-torn country hit the Israeli Golan Heights on June 24, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)

Liberman said on Monday that Israel has “no intention of launching a military operation” against Syria or rebel groups operating within it even as tensions have spiraled. “If you read the newspapers it seems that we have many prophets predicting a hot summer,” the defense minister said. “Let me be clear once again: We have no intention of initiating a military operation, neither in the north nor in the south.”

But Liberman said that despite the military establishment’s hope for calm on Israel’s borders, it will not tolerate any provocations, even accidental fire that spills over from a neighboring conflict.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Knesset, on June 26, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We won’t hold back if necessary and when needed we will respond with all our might,” he said. “Anyone that wants to turn Syria into an Iranian base against Israel should think again.”

Before meeting Liberman, Mattis told journalists that the US would not be drawn into Syria’s civil war, despite an increasingly complicated battle space that has seen US warplanes down pro-regime aircraft. The US-led coalition was determined to keep a strict focus on fighting the Islamic State group, he said.

We won’t fire “unless they are the enemy, unless they are ISIS,” Mattis said during an impromptu press conference, using an acronym for the jihadist Islamic State organization. “We just refuse to get drawn into a fight there in the Syria civil war. We try to end that one through diplomatic engagement.”

His comments came shortly before White House spokesman Sean Spicer issued a statement saying President Bashar Assad’s regime may be preparing for a chemical attack against civilians and warning that the Syrian military would pay a “heavy price” if it took such action.

Smoke rises from buildings following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 14, 2017. (AFP/Mohamad Abazeed)

Coalition forces on the ground have accused pro-regime fighters of targeting them in recent weeks, as they shot down two Iran-made attack drones and a Syrian fighter jet.

“If somebody comes after us, bombs us or takes a heading on us or fires on us, then under legitimate self-defense we’ll do whatever we have to do to stop it,” Mattis said.

The coalition has been active in Syria since late 2014, bombing IS targets and training local fighters to conduct ground assaults against the group.

Twitter briefly suspends Al-Jazeera Arabic amid Qatar rift

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Social media platform Twitter briefly suspended the account of Al-Jazeera Arabic amid a wider diplomatic dispute between Qatar and Arab nations.

Twitter later reinstated the account Saturday, a move that comes after Arab nations have blocked websites and broadcasts by Doha-based Al-Jazeera.

A spokesman for the channel said the cut may have been due to a technical problem and that all Twitter accounts affected were back online.

“Most of our Arabic accounts were blocked, but they are now up-and-running,” the spokesman told AFP, adding that it may take several hours for them to be fully restored.

Another Al-Jazeera Arabic account described the move as part of an “organized campaign” targeting it. Al-Jazeera has said it has come under cyberattack as well amid the diplomatic crisis.

“The main Al-Jazeera Twitter account has been suspended, and work is ongoing to solve the problem,” Yasser Abuhilalah, managing director of Al-Jazeera Arabic, tweeted.

“Disruption (by others) will not stop because the truth terrifies them. We’ll be back.”

In another tweet, he said no other “channel in the world… faces the same amount of conspiracy”.

San Francisco-based Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Among its top investors is Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the kingdom’s royal family.

Saudi Arabia has led other Arab nations in cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar on June 5 over allegations the nation supports extremists. Qatar long has denied that.

Amid Gulf crisis, US and Qatar agree on F-15 fighter sale

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement Wednesday for a $12-billion sale of US-manufactured F-15 fighters, the Pentagon said.

The sale comes amid a simmering crisis in the Gulf after Qatar’s neighbors accused it of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties.

US President Donald Trump has signaled his support for the Saudi-led move but other US officials have been more cautious and called for dialogue to end the crisis.

“The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Mattis and al-Attiyah also discussed mutual security concerns, including the Islamic State group and “the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals.”

The Pentagon did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could include as many as 36 warplanes.

The State Department last year said it had authorized the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Qatar.

That deal was worth an estimated value of $21 billion.


Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (photo credit:FACEBOOK)

After being banned in Lebanon and pulled from a festival in Algeria, global blockbuster “Wonder Woman” is facing a similar fate in Tunisia, where its theatrical release has been suspended ahead of its sneak premiere Wednesday evening.

The superhero movie was set to open in at least two Tunisian theaters on Thursday but was suspended following a lawsuit filed Monday by the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers, which called “Wonder Woman’s” Israel-born lead actress Gal Gadot a “champion Zionist.”

The Tunisian courthouse decided to halt the theatrical release of “Wonder Woman” while it examines the lawsuit, according to local reports.

The film was subsequently removed from the local ticket-booking website, which serves all Tunisian theaters. Meanwhile, the Facebook page for the sneak premiere Wednesday was also updated with a tag saying “suspendu” (“suspended”). The film was due to play in 3D, with subtitles, and had gathered 237 confirmed guests on the Facebook page.

As in Lebanon, where the film was banned May 31, the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers filed a lawsuit on the grounds that Gadot had publicly praised Israel’s military actions during the 2014 war in Gaza. The group also pointed out that the actress had served in the Israeli army.

“Wonder Woman” was also pulled from a festival in Algiers, where it was supposed to open Sunday during the second edition of Nuits du Cinema, a festival organized to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But it was unclear whether Gadot’s background was the issue.

But Amine Idjer, head of press at MD Cine, which co-organizes the Algerian festival, said the film was pulled because of “administrative issues linked to exhibition rights.”

A petition to boycott the film in Algeria called “Non! Pas en Algeria” (“No! Not in Algeria”) was launched last week after Lebanon’s ban was announced.

The film is still expected to open this week in Morocco, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates.

Campus Where Jewish Professor Was Targeted By ‘Mob’ Shut Down Amid Threats


A day after a Jewish professor’s complaints about being targeted by a left-wing “campus mob” went viral, his college was shut down in response to what the school called a “direct threat.”

The nature of the threat that closed Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington was not immediately clear, and spokespeople for the university and the campus police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The threat and resultant shutdown came after a year of roiling protests at the college, and a late-breaking media backlash to the actions of student protesters at a campus known for its long history of radical politics.

In recent weeks, Evergreen biology professor Bret Weinstein has gone public with complaints about student protesters who disrupted his classes and called for his firing. Weinstein held classes in a nearby park last week after campus police that it was unsafe for him to be on campus. Weinstein did not respond to requests for comment.

Weinstein wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about his experience, and appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program.

“That looks like something out of Phnom Penh, 1975,” Carlson said after viewing a video of student protesters confronting Weinstein, comparing the incident to the Communist genocide in Cambodia that killed 2 million people.

Breitbart and other outlets have picked up Weinstein’s story.

Weinstein appears to have first drawn the ire of student protesters for an email he sent earlier in the year to fellow faculty members, contesting plans for white students to be asked to attend an off-campus seminar on a day reserved for programs around issues faced by students of color.

In the March email, Weinstein called the plans a “show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.” Student protesters took offense at the email, which was published in the student paper, and some included calls for Weinstein’s firing among a litany of protest demands.

Protest have riled Evergreen since last September, according to a timeline published this week in a campus newspaper, the Cooper Point Journal.

The disruption of Weinstein’s classes on May 23 was the latest in a series of mounting protests and confrontations on campus. In video of the incident, students shouted at Weinstein in a hallway. According to the campus paper, campus police responded to the disruption. Protesters are now calling for the suspension of one of the police officers who responded.

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed on the incident, Weinstein wrote that the controversy was part of a broader struggle over the future of Evergreen, and suggested that he had fallen afoul of the campus administration’s broader efforts to reshape the school.

“I dissented and ended up teaching in the park,” he wrote.

Yet most coverage of the incident has focused on Weinstein’s email, and the notion that he was targeted for opposing a “white people-free day,” as the New York Post headline had it.

In a statement, Evergreen disputed the characterization. “White students have never been required to leave campus, for Day of Absence/Day of Presence events, or any Evergreen activity,” the university said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

Read more: