Wonder Woman: Critics First Reactions Say It’s The Best DC Film Yet

It’s no secret; DC Entertainment has had trouble wooing critics in the past. After Christopher Nolan’s work with Batman wrapped, the studio found itself floundering to nab love with critics. Films like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got lackluster attention – and Suicide Squad was torn to shred by the press. This year, both Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have hoped to change that reputation with its upcoming releases. In less than a month, Wonder Woman will finally hit theaters, and an embargo just lifted for critics.

Now, the Internet is buzzing with first reactions and partial reviews of Wonder Woman. So, DC diehards, you can breathe now. Critics are calling Wonder Woman the best DC film to date.

In the following slides, you can read up on the overwhelming positive reaction to Wonder Woman. Reporters all have their favorite parts, but the reactions all agree on one thing: Wonder Woman is the kind of film which will leave you inspired. Alisha Grauso calls the film “a truly heroic light [the] DCEU desperately needs.” Several have even gone so far as to liken the film’s impact to the kind Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy commanded.

Talk about pressure, huh?

Of course, the cast of Wonder Woman will be happy to hear critics are so far enamored with the film. Earlier today, one of the film’s actresses opened up about her take on the blockbuster. The star, who plays General Antiope, said Wonder Woman was about much more than female empowerment; It is about love and untempered justice.

“Yes, it’s a female superhero, and it’s never been done before. But the generation, the young girls and young boys that are going to be our future, they’re going to flock to the cinema. And the message of this movie is not just female empowerment. It’s about love and justice. That’s what the film’s about. And what a great message to spread to our little ones.”

After reading up on the reactions below, let us know if you are still hyped to see Wonder Woman! Hit us up at @ComicBook to let us know!

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

Joining Gadot in the international cast are Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui. Patty Jenkins directs the film from a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, story by Zack Snyder and Allan Heinberg, based on characters from DC Entertainment. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston.




French President Emmanuel Macron presented a diverse cabinet of 22 ministers, including a Jew, a Muslim and both advocates and critics of Israel.

Macron, a centrist who had served in governments led both by Socialists and Republicans before his election on May 7 on an independent ticket, appointed on Wednesday as his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a former defense minister under the previous president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party.


In 2014, Le Drian wrote in a statement that France “condemns” the firing of rockets into Israel “but requests that Israel” minimize any harm to civilians in its attacks on Hamas.

Macron appointed Edouard Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of the main center-right The Republicans party, as prime minister.

Macron appointed to health minister Agnes Buzyn, a physician born to a Polish Jewish couple. Her father survived the Holocaust and her mother was born in France shortly after the war to Jewish immigrants from Poland. She is one of 11 women whom Macron made ministers – exactly half of his cabinet.

Francois Bayrou, a billionaire-turned-politician who has in the past criticized what he has called Israel’s “arbitrary and unjust arrests of Palestinians,” among other alleged actions by the Jewish state, was named minister of state – a position equivalent to minister without portfolio which nonetheless suggests seniority.

Bruno le Maire of The Republicans party was made minister of the economy. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.

Last year, le Maire criticized Hollande’s government for supporting a vote at the United Nations educational branch, UNESCO, which ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. He called it “a moral and political error.”

Marielle De Sarnez, a former lawmaker at the European Parliament who in 2010 visited Hamas-controlled Gaza and co-authored a letter urging Israel to lift its blockade of the area, was appointed as the minister in charge of European affairs. The letter she co-signed did not mention Hamas’ violations of human rights and terrorist activities. It also praised the work of UNRWA, a UN agency which Israel in those years accused of incitement, as “fantastic.”

Macron appointed Mounir Majhoubi, a 33-year-old entrepreneur whose family is Muslim and has Moroccan roots, to be France’s minister in charge of digitalization. Majhoubi in 2010 opened a successful high-tech firm together with his then business partner, the French-Jewish developer Marc-David Choukroun.

Taking a page from Trump, white nationalist mocks critics onstage during Texas speech



COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It’s remarkable the difference a few Nazi salutes can make.

White nationalist and self-styled leader of the so-called “alt-right” movement, Richard Spencer, only managed to bring a few supporters to the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University on Tuesday night, but outside the ripple effect of his movement was obvious.

Spencer was largely known only to his extremist supporters and some journalists until a video went viral last month of him giving a speech in DC, during which his shouts of “hail Trump, hail victory, hail our people” were greeted with cheers and a handful of attendees giving the Nazi salute.

If people thought this historically conservative campus in deep red East Central Texas would welcome the newly famous white nationalist, a diverse crowd of hundreds of students and supporters rallied in the heart of the university to prove them wrong.

News of Spencer’s planned address had riled up the university’s students, also known as “Aggies,” who together with A&M officials, organized a host of counter-events including a silent march, a free concert in the massive football stadium, Kyle Field, and an energetic protest right outside the building where Spencer was speaking and where state riot police eventually had to clear the boisterous crowd.

In a sense, the scene bore some of the hallmarks of similar spectacles in Israel — a rally or speech by an extremist and a handful of supporters, outnumbered exponentially by media, counter-protesters, and the police.

Protesters fill the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University, where so-called alt-right leader Richard Spencer gave a speech on December 6, 2016. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Chanting “no Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA,” the protesters held up a slew of posters and placards ranging from the direct — a depiction of Hitler with a gun in his mouth and the words “follow your leader” — to the mundane, such as a man dressed in a Santa suit holding up a sign that read: “Richard Spencer, you are on the naughty list.”

There were also American flags held aloft outside the student union, next to masked protesters carrying flags emblazoned with the anarchy symbol and one which bore the Communist hammer and sickle symbol, with a Kalashnikov in place of the hammer.

The chants were interrupted by a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” coming from an oversized boombox, while a student singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” could be heard drifting out of the protest rally at Kyle Field.

Inside the lobby of the student center — a living memorial to students who died serving in WWI and WWII — protesters faced off with a handful of alt-right supporters who cited freedom of speech as their reason for demanding to hear Spencer speak, as well as one who loudly espoused Holocaust denial to whoever would listen.

The largely peaceful confrontation was interrupted by a man who shouted “Heil Hitler! Fuck all of you people” and then made a beeline for the door, much to the astonishment of those present. A woman debating with students who referred to herself as “racist and proud of it,” said the man’s outburst was “inappropriate” and “totally wrong.”

A man performs the Nazi salute outside an event hall at Texas A&M University on December 6, 2016, where the leader of the so-called alt-right movement, Richard Spencer, was speaking. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Inside the event hall, there were no Nazi salutes, unlike at the gathering last month in Washington, but Spencer gave a similar speech about the importance of the white race, issuing a call for white people to embrace their identity and regain control of America.

Twice during his address, he interrupted himself to mock and bully his critics.

As one woman who had been walking silently around the hall in a clown suit with a sign that read “he’s the real Bozo,” came back near the stage, Spencer said “she’s dancing, perhaps she’ll lose some weight,” to jeers and some cheers from the audience.

Richard Spencer breaks down what “race” is & why it’s important for Europeans to start identifying as a group.

He was on fire tonight.

In another instance, Spencer taunted a man wearing a T-shirt that said #BTHO hate — a reference to a football saying that A&M fans commonly cheer, hoping to “beat the hell outta” the opposing team — telling him: “You are a white coward. You are not even willing to do that. That t-shirt is total bullshit. You are not even willing to go to the gym. Look at how fat you are.”

Richard Spencer destroys man wearing violent shirt calling him a “white coward” while black supremacists try to shout Spencer down

Spencer seemed to be borrowing a page from US President-elect Donald Trump, whom he’s called an “alt-right hero,” and who routinely mocked opponents and critics — often from the stage — during his controversial campaign for the presidency.

Trump and the alt-right, Spencer said at a press conference prior to the event, “have a deep connection.” Trump for his part had disavowed the group, telling the New York Times last month that it was not a movement he wanted to “energize.”

At that same conference Tuesday, A&M’s Hillel campus Rabbi Matt Rosenberg invited Spencer to read Torah with him, saying “my tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion of love, love embodied by Torah, will you sit down and study Torah with me?”

“Ok, I can’t promise to study with you which is kind of a biggie. But I will promise to talk with you,” Spencer responded, before adding: “Do you really want radical inclusion into the state of Israel, and by that I mean, radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East can go move into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that? You’re not answering.

“The Jewish people, why are they a people? They are a people precisely because they did not engage in radical inclusion. Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate with the gentiles…,” he said. “That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history, and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves, I respect that. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.”

.@tamu rabbi @aggiehillel asks Spencer if he would study the Torah with him

The university, which once considered opening a satellite campus in the northern Israeli-Arab town of Nazareth, had been grappling with a response to Spencer’s invitation to speak by alumnus Preston Wiginton, a white nationalist with deep ties to former KKK leader and avowed anti-Semite, David Duke.

“[O]ur leadership finds his views as expressed to date in direct conflict with our core values,” the university’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Amy Smith, said prior to the event. “Private citizens are permitted to reserve space available to the public as we are a public university, as is the case here.”

Spencer said he was “a little surprised” by what he termed the university’s overreaction but boasted that it was in his favor.

“It ultimately strengthens the alt-right and strengthens me,” Spencer told the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday. “They are declaring that we are so powerful that they must have … diversity rituals at football stadiums. It’s a lot better than being ignored.”

Alexis Sutter, 21, who is getting her degree in Biomedical Studies at A&M, said students were worried by Spencer’s event but understood that the university’s couldn’t stop it. “That’s why they had all these counter-events.”

“It’s an effective way for people to deal with this situation,” said Sutter, who had just finished writing “love is love is love is love” on a standing wall made of chalkboard where students had been writing messages highlighting unity and diversity all day.

Spencer himself had participated, in true troll fashion, signing the “Aggies United” protest wall with the words “we triggered the world — Richard Spencer.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer wrote on the Aggies United wall, “We triggered the world.”

Pakistani-American A&M student Samir Taruqui, 27, said he came to show solidarity with the protesters at the Aggies United event, and didn’t seem particularly worried about Spencer’s talk or the election of Trump.

“Personally I’m not worried but most of my [Muslim] friends are. I believe that perhaps some racists have been emboldened by the election, but it was always there.”

Justin Newcomb, 25, disagreed, claiming that the “era of white supremacy is gone” and that it should be “allowed to die” if only the media would let it.

Newcomb, an Orthodox Jew who does not attend A&M, drove three hours from Dallas to see the protests. He said the media attention given to the so-called alt-right was “creating more support for the movement.”

“If we gave them no voice, then they’ll go away…with less attention, there will be less white supremacy,” he said.

Riot Police secure the hall at Texas A&M University on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, where so-called alt-right leader, Richard Spencer, gave a talk. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Back outside, tensions ran high when riot police, bigger and better equipped than your average Magavnik (Border Police officer) or Yassamnik (riot police officer), started pushing protesters back to make way for the event’s attendees to leave, with the demonstration briefly turning against the police.

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “who do you protect, who do you serve,” — slogans from Black Lives Matter protests in recent years — were heard, as well as the more provocative “cops and klan go hand in hand”, and a few protesters who answered the call of “don’t shoot” with “shoot back,” apparently a call to shoot police.

Sentiment shifted again when a shoving match then broke out between alt-right supporters leaving the event and protesters, as some, including Newcomb and another young man wearing a kippa, tried to keep the warring sides apart. The police stood by as the pushing escalated and two young men gave the Nazi salute to counter-protesters while the air filled with profanities and insults flowing freely from both sides.

A&M police said two non-students were arrested in the protests but gave no details.

UC Berkeley (White Freemasons) suspends course labeled anti-Israel by critics

SAN FRANCISCO (J. Weekly via JTA) — The University of California, Berkeley, has suspended a student-led course, “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” following an outcry from Jewish community leaders who called it biased, anti-Zionist and in violation of the university’s academic standards.

The university made the decision Tuesday after determining that the student facilitator, Paul Hadweh, “did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the DeCal program” for student-led courses, said Dan Mogulof, the school’s assistant vice chancellor.

A day earlier, Berkeley Hillel and its international umbrella group had called on the university’s president, Janet Napolitano, and administrators to condemn the one-credit course in a strongly worded statement.

“Any perusal of the syllabus will show that this is a one-sided course which puts forth a political agenda,” Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut and Berkeley Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman said in the statement. “It does not tell the truth. It ignores history. It ignores facts, such as the inconvenient one that Jews have inhabited Israel for 3,000 years. This course seems to be a matter of political indoctrination in the classroom and is a violation of the newly adopted principles by the UC regents on intolerance.”

The course was to be offered as part of the university’s DeCal program in which students propose and teach one-credit courses under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. Other DeCal classes offered this academic year include “Cal Pokeman Academy,” “Art Anatomy” and “Science in Oakland Elementary Schools.”

The course syllabus said it would cover the history of Palestine from the 1880s to the present and “explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism.” Students were to be required to attend an event “relating to Palestine” during the semester and make a final presentation proposing a “decolonial alternative” to the region’s problems not restricted to the two-state solution.

Forty-three Jewish and educational organizations signed a letter by the Santa Cruz-based Amcha Initiative, a nonprofit that monitors anti-Semitism in higher education, addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks expressing deep concern about the course.

“A review of the syllabus … reveals that the course’s objectives, reading materials and guest speakers are politically motivated, meet our government’s criteria for anti-Semitism and are intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish State and take action to eliminate it,” the letter said.

The letter called the faculty sponsor, Hatem Bazian, “a well-known anti-Zionist activist who is also the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine.”

Here are the details — critics would say the devils — in Colombia’s peace deal with FARC

Like all treaties, Colombia’s peace accord represents a compromise. As chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said Wednesday night as before signing the final pact, “we got the best deal possible. Everyone would have liked to get a little more.”

The Marxist-Leninist FARC long ago gave up any pretense that it could use the talks to force major changes to the political and economic system it has been fighting for 52 years to overthrow. Now it says it will keep fighting to change Colombia — only with its leftist ideals, not AK-47s and grenade launchers.

What FARC has achieved at the bargaining table is more modest. Most of its leaders will probably be able to avoid prison. They got new guarantees the government will do more to protect them from assassination by their enemies. If the guerrillas can successfully transform into a political party, they will clearly pay a big role in the rural parts of Colombia where they have long projected influence, and where the government has promised to bring major new investments.

President Juan Manuel Santos’s goals in the peace process were simple: end the 52-year-old war without giving away too much and agreeing to a deal that would be politically indefensible. From the outset, and to the FARC’s chagrin, he insisted that the accord would ultimately face the judgement of Colombian voters. Therein lies the risk. Now everything is riding on the plebiscite he has scheduled for Oct 2, and his powerful political foe, former president Alvaro Uribe, will be campaigning against the accords.

Santos insists there’s no going back if voters reject the peace deal. The 52-year war with FARC will be back on.

Most of the major elements of the accords were worked out long ago, and versions of their contents have been released publicly. But here’s a quick rundown of what Colombia’s peace deal consists of — what Santos described in an televised address Wednesday night as the five main points.

1. The end of political violence. FARC ceases to be a rebel army and transforms into a political party. Once the accord is officially signed, as soon as late September, the rebels will begin moving into UN-monitored camps where they will disarm in phases over a period of 180 days. Colombia’s military — the lifelong enemies of the guerrillas — will be in charge of setting up security perimeters to protect the camps from potential attacks by drug trafficking groups, right-wing militias and other FARC rivals.

2. Justice for victims of the conflict. Colombia will establish special tribunals to adjudicate war crimes and other atrocities committed by the rebels as well as paramilitary groups and government security forces. It will be akin to a truth-and-reconciliation process. If combatants fully attest to their crimes, they will be eligible for alternative sentences and “restorative” justice aimed at making amends to victims. If they don’t tell the truth, they will be vulnerable to criminal prosecution and up to 20 years behind bars. This is one of the most controversial elements of the peace deal, because Uribe and other critics liken it to a slap on the wrist for FARC “terrorists” guilty of war crimes.

3. Rural development. This was the low-hanging fruit of the peace accords. The government has promised to invest heavily in infrastructure projects and state-building in the long-neglected areas where FARC has held sway. Naturally, once they’re in politics, FARC commanders could play a big role in directing — or administering — those projects. For a country with one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, rural Colombia has a shockingly deficient infrastructure, and the government is simply not present in wide swaths of the country. All that is supposed to change if the deal goes through, ostensibly to the benefit of small farmers.

It should be noted that it is not a land reform agreement: Santos insisted Wednesday that “private property won’t be affected,” in an obvious appeal to powerful landowners who remain skeptical of the deal.

4. FARC in politics. This one is another gamble for the government, and it was the last major sticking point to the final accord. FARC has always insisted it was forced to take up arms in self-defense because so many of its members and other leftists have been wiped out by right-wing assassins while trying to participate in democratic politics. Santos said Wednesday that the rebels will be granted a limited number of seats in Congress through 2018, where they will not have voting rights but can speak on matters pertaining to the implementation of the peace accords. They will be assured a number of seats for two electoral terms after that, but then they will have to win at the ballot box, Santos said. His opponents have already savaged this concession as an outrageous giveaway to the rebels.

5. Ending the drug trade. This is a big one, especially for the United States, the biggest consumer of Colombian cocaine. Colombia’s illegal coca crop is the gasoline that has kept the armed conflict running all these years, and the rebels owe their massive military expansion in the 1990s to an increasing dominance of the drug trade. Under the peace accords, FARC essentially agrees to go out of business as a narcotics trafficking organization, and to work with the government and others attempting to wean Colombia’s rural farmers off coca. It won’t be easy. This is one of the most fraught aspects of the peace deal, and many are bracing for a period of increased bloodshed as other illegal armed groups compete to take over FARC’s considerable share of the billion-dollar coca business.

Trump speech signals shift to Nixon-style coded race language, critics say

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — During the primaries, Donald Trump threw red-meat rhetoric to supporters, pledging to build a wall on the Mexico border and to ban Muslim immigrants. He even told at least one crowd that he wanted to punch a demonstrator who disrupted an event.

Now that he’s the GOP presidential nominee, who needs to appeal to the whole country, some observers say he’s turning to tried-and-true code words to gin up racial animosity and fear among America’s white voters.

Trump “didn’t get on stage and issue a bunch of racial epithets,” said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie, who watched his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. “We didn’t hear the N-word, and we didn’t hear other words that may offend many people. But just because he didn’t use racial slurs doesn’t mean he didn’t frame issues in a way that people in racial and ethnic groups find problematic.”

Ian Haney Lopez, author of “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class,” went further, saying Trump’s speech surpassed even the coded racial language of Richard Nixon in 1968.

In addition to appealing to whites’ racial anxieties about crime, the celebrity businessman added immigrants to the mix and said refugee families with unknown backgrounds threaten to transform the nation unless drastic measures are taken, Lopez said.

“This was a speech that said essentially that the barbarians are at the gate,” he said.

Samuel LeDoux, a Republican delegate from New Mexico who is Hispanic, said he didn’t hear racial overtones in Trump’s speech.

“I think people are reading too much into it,” said LeDoux, 24, who agrees with Trump’s call to reduce illegal immigration because it is affecting wages. “He comes from New York, a very diverse city.”

When asked Friday for a comment, a Trump spokesman said the campaign was focused on a deadly shooting in Munich, Germany, and would respond later.

Trump has been criticized for his racial language since the beginning of his campaign, which started with his declaration that the Mexican government is “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States,” including drug dealers and rapists.

“In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says ‘we and us,’ he’s only talking about whites in the United States,” said Tomas Summers Sandoval, a history and Latino studies professor at Pomona College, in Claremont, California.

Some have pointed out that Trump’s slogan “America First” was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose primary goal was to keep the United States from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. The group opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

As he sewed up the nomination, Trump declared himself the “law-and-order” candidate. In Cleveland, he repeated the idea.

“I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police. When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country,” he said. “In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate!” Trump exclaimed.

When they hear that phrase, anxious white voters fill in any picture they want in their minds, imagining cutting crime or pushing back against social causes like the women’s movement, said Michael Flamm, Ohio Wesleyan University history professor and author of “In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime.”

But for some, there’s a clear racial element, he said.

“For some people, law and order was a way to express a racially coded message, and some white voters responded to law and order because they believe it supported their anti-civil rights, anti-racial justice beliefs,” Flamm said.

Politicians of both parties have long used coded language to stoke enthusiasm and fear among American voters.

The late political operative Lee Atwater, manager of George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign and a South Carolina native, was open about the evolution of racial code words in political campaigns.

In the early 1950s, racial slurs like the n-word were common. But by 1968, politicians had abandoned those terms, knowing they could backfire. So instead “you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff,” Atwater said in an interview for the book “Southern Politics in the 1990s.”

Faced with racial riots, anti-war protests and rising Vietnam War casualties, Nixon played off the nation’s deep divisions in 1968 by calling for law and order and promising to speak for the “silent majority.” He adopted a “Southern strategy” that emphasized appealing to whites’ disaffection with liberal Democratic civil rights policies but rejecting overtly racist stances.

Critics argued that Nixon’s “silent majority” was merely a coded way of saying middle-class whites. In television commercials, the campaign showed images of bloody protests, burning cities and police in riot gear. Each Nixon commercial ended with the words, “This time vote like your whole world depended on it.”

Much of the coded language remained during Nixon’s 1972 re-election bid.

“The subliminal appeal to the anti-black voter was always in Nixon’s statements and speeches on schools and housing,” Nixon’s top domestic aide, John Ehrlichman, wrote in his 1981 book “Witness to Power.”

President Ronald Reagan referred to “welfare queens,” a term many saw as coded language for black women. He also made an appearance calling for “states’ rights” at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three young civil rights workers were slain in 1964.

The 1988 contest between then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis included the infamous Willie Horton commercial, which featured a black murder suspect who raped a white woman during a weekend furlough program that Dukakis had at one time supported.

More recently, Hillary Clinton has been criticized for her use of the term “superpredator” in the 1990s to refer to a supposed wave of lawless teenagers that never emerged. Critics have complained that the word targeted black and Hispanic youth and led to overzealous prosecution and incarceration.

Critics say new Israeli civics textbook whitewashes and distorts reality

After five years in the works, the Education Ministry released its new high school civics textbook To Be Israeli Citizens on Monday.

The new 514-page textbook, which is set to replace the current version published in 2000, has been at the center of controversy since even before its release over what content to include in a civics book geared towards students in the state and state-religious school system.

Earlier this year, the book’s language editor, Yehuda Yaari penned a letter to the ministry, which was leaked to the media, noting several objections to the text.

Among the divisive excerpts included quotations implicating Arab Israelis in attacks in the wave of terrorism, and citations that it was never proven that the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was due to incitement.

The report also stated that the chapter on human dignity included dozens of quotations from Jewish sources, without including citations from secular thinkers, philosophers, poets, or writers, a reversal of the previous version of the textbook.

Due to the severe backlash, the textbook was revised and several of the problematic segments were removed; for example, the 2015 wave of terrorism was entirely omitted from the book.

The final version of the textbook includes four sections covering: What is a Jewish State?; What is a Democratic State?; Government and Politics in Israel; and Society and Politics in Israel.

Spanning 38 chapters, the book begins with the Declaration of Independence and touches upon the historic right to a state, the identity and makeup of Israel’s citizens, and ends with a chapter on the different views on the desired character of the State of Israel.

Critics of the book have charged that it does not adequately address shared citizenship in a Jewish and democratic state, downplaying key issues such as the divide between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and providing minimal coverage of Arab Israelis, but rather places an emphasis on Jewish nationalism above all, including “God’s promise” to the Jewish people as a justification for the establishment of the State.

Prof. Yossi Dahan, chair of the board of directors of the Adva Center, which provides information on equality and social justice in Israel said from his initial perusal of the book, it offered an unrealistic picture of Israeli society.

He wrote in a Facebook post: “The impression is that one of the goals of the book is to convince students of the existence of a parallel world to the world in which they live, an Israeli reality that almost perfectly fulfilled the vision of the Declaration of Independence.”

In the parallel world that the book creates, aside from three negligible lines on the ‘ethnic divide’ there are no Mizrachi or Ashkenazi [Jews] in Israel, no developing cities, no impoverished neighborhoods and no history of conflict over lands, resources or opportunities. For the writers of the book ‘we are all Jewish so why the conflict’,” he wrote.

Left wing MKs Zehava Galon and Dov Henin also criticized the book shortly after its release and also accused the writers and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of re-writing reality and omitting important aspects and sectors of Israeli society.

The Civics Teachers Council issued a statement criticizing the fact that the ministry withheld the book from them until the “last minute,” though it said it would nevertheless refrain from providing any commentary or criticism of the book within the first 24 hours of its release citing that it was devoted to pedagogy and would need much more time to thoroughly read the entire text.

The Education Ministry released a statement saying, “The book is designed to foster among students an attitude of respect and commitment toward human rights in Israel, toward democratic principles and values and toward the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state.”

“In addition, it is designed to strengthen the common denominator for all the students in the school system, who will be the future adult citizens of the State, and give them the tools that will assist each and every one of them in developing a personal stand as to the vision of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” the ministry said.

Chipotle’s E. coli outbreak threatens sales, emboldens critics

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc’s (CMG.N) food poisoning outbreak in Washington state and Oregon threatens to scare diners away from the popular burrito chain and has become fodder for one of its most vocal critics.

Health officials are scrambling to identify the cause of the E. coli food poisoning that has sickened 39 people, most of whom dined at eight Chipotle restaurants in the greater Seattle and Portland areas. Previously, 41 cases were reported but Oregon authorities have lowered the number in their state by two to 10.

All of Chipotle’s 43 outlets in those cities have been closed since Oct. 31. The company is deep cleaning the closed units, testing and replacing food and has hired consultants to tighten up its food safety.

Analysts expect the closures, and the negative publicity surrounding the outbreak, to depress sales at the roughly 1,900-unit chain that already was seeing its red-hot sales growth cool.

“Even after the company sounds the ‘all-clear,’ we believe that it will take some time for traffic to return,” Maxim Group restaurant analyst Stephen Anderson said in a research note. He estimated that the same-restaurant sales hit could be as much as 75 basis points this quarter and 25 basis points in the first quarter of next year.

Shares in Chipotle, which has had two other food safety lapses this year, closed 1.3 percent lower at $614.98 on Wednesday. The stock closed at just over $750 on Oct. 13.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a critic of Chipotle backed by the food and beverage industry, on Wednesday took a swipe at the chain with a full page ad in the New York Post reading: “You can’t spell ‘Chipotle’ without ‘E. coli’.” In September, that group ran “Chubby Chipotle” ads criticizing the high calorie counts in some Chipotle dishes.

Chipotle has won a loyal following and forced change in the restaurant business with its “food with integrity” policy that includes serving meat from animals that have never received antibiotics.

Health officials say the E. coli O26 strain implicated in this outbreak usually causes less severe illness than the E. coli O157:H7 that killed four children who ate contaminated and undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box (JACK.O) in the early 1990s. No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak.

They suspect that contaminated fresh produce caused the current outbreak, but have yet to pinpoint the source.
Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/05/us-chipotle-mexican-ecoli-idUSKCN0ST2JB20151105#ObZb0mZC61FMbzuq.99

US Senate Passes CISA, a “Cybersecurity” Bill Critics Say Will Expand Mass Surveillance

The US Senate passed the so-called Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act – or CISA – Tuesday evening by a wide 74-21 margin.

The overwhelming Senate support for the bill gave little indication that concerns from tech companies, information security experts and civil liberties advocates were seriously considered. Shannon Young reports.

The landslide Senate vote in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, came after multiple attempts spanning five years to pass similar legislation under different names. Called CISPA in a former incarnation, the bill also drew on the highly controversial “cyber” legislation before it: SOPA and PIPA.

Some of the tech companies that have raised concerns about CISA include Google, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. CISA sponsor Senator Richard Burr addressed those companies specifically ahead of Tuesday’s vote, saying “Do not try to stop this legislation and put us in a situation in that we ignore the fact that cyber attacks are going to happen with greater frequency for more individuals, and that the sooner we learn how to defend our systems, the better off personal data is in the United States of America.”

The stated purpose of CISA is to allow companies to share information in real time about perceived hacking threats, but critics of the bill warn it’s a legal framework for mass surveillance in cybersecurity clothing.

“In particular, CISA seems like it offers the opportunity for companies to engage in PRISM-like practices without a risk of being called to task for the privacy invasions that are a result,” explains technologist Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. He says that information-sharing already occurs at a certain level to monitor and mitigate threats to networks, but the type of data sharing across networks with varying security protocols called for in CISA would actually make data more vulnerable.

“By encouraging a wide spread of potentially large amounts of information, it allows and encourages the establishment of not only the sort of spying apparatus that really has no business being in place in a democratic society, but it decreases cybersecurity by putting the data that is shared even more at risk that it was in the first place,” explains Gillmor.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Senate supporters of the bill pushed the point that participation in the information-sharing program is voluntary. But companies that do choose to join can take advantage of an attractive incentive: liability protection.

CISA “provides that two competitors in a market can share information on cyber threats with each other without facing anti-trust suits,” says California Senator Dianne Feinstein. “It provides that companies sharing cyber threat information with the government for cybersecurity purposes will have liability protection.”

CISA critics say that liability protection could keep companies with already bad digital security practices from improving their protocols. Then there’s the issue of oversight.

“This has none of the oversight that the already pathetic, inadequate overseeing programs that the NSA and FBI currently do –  none of the oversight, none of the ability for a defendant to ultimately challenge the collection of this data,” says independent journalist and researcher Marcy Wheeler. “And it’s going to get a lot more content from Americans, which is illegal, according to a Supreme Court ruling.”

Oversight would fall to inspectors general within the agencies, who – when they do find issue with a program – tend to act slowly, if ever.

Wheeler says companies can also use reports of perceived network intrusions or hacking as a sort of “get out of regulatory action free” card: “For example, Chrysler was exposed to have, you know, that their cars could be hacked remotely. If Chrysler had just gone to NHTSA, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and given them that data from the start, NHTSA would not have been able to force a recall, which is what NHTSA ended up doing. So this actually takes tools out of the government’s hands to force corporations to do what they need to do. And they’re doing it…Congress is doing it just to bribe corporations to spy on their customers for the government. That’s the arrangement that is happening here.”

But while the measure encourages information sharing in some sectors, it restricts it in others.

CISA significantly weakens the Freedom of Information Act and puts decision-making power on FOIA requests into the hands of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the same body where current CISA legislation originated.

Before it can go to the president’s desk and become law, CISA must now go back to the House of Representatives for conference, so legislators can consolidate the Senate bill with the House version passed earlier this year.

After hard-liners push back, Rouhani rebukes nuke deal critics


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday chided hardliners opposed to the landmark nuclear deal, saying that while domestic critics may nitpick, the agreement itself “is more valuable and more significant” than its specifics.

Iranian parliamentarians are “scrutinizing one by one the terms of the deal,” Rouhani said, according to Reuters. “That’s good but what has happened is more valuable and more significant than that.”

While Iranian lawmakers are reviewing the deal — a process they say could take more than 60 days — several prominent hard-liners have said parts of the deal cross Iranian red lines, especially pertaining to inspections of military sites.

The president lambasted critics for failing to support the Islamic Republic’s negotiators and their gains unconditionally.

“How can one be an Iranian and not cheer for our negotiating team?” Rouhani said. “I chose the best negotiators Iran had. They are knowledgeable and brave.”

The president added that this new “page in history” could be traced back to his election to office.

“This is a new page in history,” he said. “It didn’t happen when we reached the deal in Vienna on July 14, it happened on 4th of August, 2013, when the Iranians elected me as their president.”

Since the deal was clinched between Tehran and world powers last week, some Iranian officials have voiced objections to the agreement.

On Monday, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards rejected the deal, saying the pact was unacceptable and “clearly in contradiction” of the Islamic Republic’s demands. The statement by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, came hours before the UN unanimously voted to endorse the deal paving the way to lift crippling international sanctions in exchange for curbs on nuclear enrichment.

“Some parts of the draft have clearly crossed the Islamic Republic’s red lines, especially in Iran’s military capabilities. We will never accept it,” Jafari told Iranian news agency Tasnim.

On Tuesday, Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi claimed Washington was using the accord as pretext for a future US military strike against Iran.

“Any Iranian who reads the Vienna documents will hate the US 100 times more [than before],” Naqdi said Tuesday according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“The US needs the agreement merely to legalize the sanctions and continue pressure against Iran,” he added.

Iran’s parliament will need “at least” 60 days to review a proposed final deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program, a prominent lawmaker said Tuesday, giving legislators in the Islamic Republic about the same time as the US Congress to examine the proposal. But while hard-liners in Iran’s parliament could vote against the deal struck last week in Vienna, their numbers wouldn’t be enough to derail a proposal already backed by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who headed the Iranian negotiating team, formally submitted the deal Tuesday to parliament. Hours later, the official IRNA news agency reported lawmakers formed a 15-member special committee to review the deal.

Under Iran’s constitution, parliament has the right to reject any deal — even one negotiated by the Foreign Ministry. But committed hard-liners in the Iranian parliament hold only about 60 of the body’s 290 seats, the rest belonging to conservatives and a handful of pro-reform lawmakers.

While hard-liners have drawn other lawmakers over to their side in previous votes, that appears unlikely in this case as the supreme leader has endorsed the work of the nuclear deal negotiators. The lawmakers’ special committee may prove to be an olive branch to hard-liners — allowing them to vent their frustrations against world powers, especially the US, while parliament ultimately approves the deal.