When not listening to Islamic anthems, the only pop music Osama Bin Laden listened to  was that of a Jewish French musician who loved Israel.

In a report by the BBC earlier in the week, Flagg Miller, an Arabic culture and literature expert, discussed his analysis of the collection 1,500 of cassettes found at Bin Laden’s abandoned compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan, including the music of Enrico Macias, an Algerian-born French singer.

Macias gained worldwide fame in the ’60s and ’70s. He was especially beloved in Israel, where he performed several times throughout the years and often expressed his love for the IDF.

“These songs suggest that that someone, at some point in their life, was enjoying the songs of this Algerian Jew – and may have continued to enjoy them despite other struggles that clearly would have suggested doing so was heresy,” Miller said.

He added that the Macias’s music showed how people in Kandahar were cultured and spoke a number of languages. “Many had lived in the West for long periods and it can’t be said enough that they had led multiple lives,” says Miller.

The collection of recordings were discovered shortly after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Bin Laden fled his Khandahar compound immediately, leaving behind the collection of discussions, speeches, battle recordings and religious music.

According to the report, the tapes were originally sold to a cassette store in the area and were intended to be recorded over with modern pop music, something that was banned for many years under the Taliban. However, a CNN cameraman convinced the store owner against this.

Jerusalem Post

The Obama administration scrambled to satisfy a Texas judge it shouldn’t be punished for violating his order freezing an executive action to loosen immigration rules.

At a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Brownsville, ambulance government lawyers repeatedly apologized to U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen for mistakenly issuing 2, diagnosis 600 work permits after his order, and then making misleading statements on their compliance. Hanen froze the program after 26 states sued.

“We apologize for those miscommunications and regret them,’” James Gilligan, a Justice Department attorney, told Hanen. “They were inadvertent and unintended.”

“But they were repeated,” said Hanen.

Gilligan replied that the government responded immediately once it realized it had misled the judge about the permits.

“We weren’t trying to hide anything from the court in the first place,” Gilligan said. The administration said it has recovered all but 12 of the 2,600 permits.

The White House has submitted multiple reports to Hanen detailing extensive efforts to recover the permits. Agents have repeatedly texted, called and e-mailed immigrants to turn in their improper papers, with federal agents following up door-to- door to retrieve stragglers, the government said.

The states suing to block the program pressed Hanen to expand the government’s recovery campaign to include 108,000 work permits issued before Hanen’s freeze order.

Hanen, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, gave both sides until Sept. 4 to suggest what punishment he should impose on the Obama administration if he decides he was intentionally misled.

“I can just do nothing,” the judge told the lawyers. Or he could force immigration officials to disclose the names and locations of the 108,000 immigrants so their permits can be clawed back, either by the U.S. or the states.

Angela Colmenero, Texas’s lead lawyer, said the states prefer learning the identities and whereabouts of immigrants who may be using the permits to collect government benefits.

“The government should go back and unwind these benefits,” Colmenero said. “Every year those permits remain on the books, there are individuals seeking those benefits from the states.”

Obama’s initiative is designed to shield 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide work permits. Immigrants must be the parent of an American citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years or have been brought here themselves as children. They must also pass a criminal background check to qualify

The White House has challenged Hanen’s freeze order in a bid to get the program up and running before Obama leaves office. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans hasn’t yet ruled on the request.

By Bloomberg News

Around the world, temperatures soared last month, melting records and making July the hottest month in more than a century.

July’s average global temperature was 16.6 C, beating the previous mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree – a large margin for weather records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Canada, the intense warmth has prompted heat warnings in multiple provinces, and fuelled massive wildfires in the west.

“It was the warmest July on record—the warmest of any month on record,” Environment Canada Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips told CTV News Channel Thursday. “And we’re dealing with records that go back maybe a hundred and thirty five years.”

According to Phillips, the sweltering heat is no surprise to climatologists.

This year has already seen the warmest first seven months of any year ever recorded, he said. Coupled with a “super El Nino,” a weather system that causes temperatures to rise in the Pacific Ocean and North America, Phillips said the high temperatures make sense.

But the situation is not so hot everywhere.

While Victoria, B.C., sweated through its hottest summer on record, Phillips said, St. John’s, N.L., shivered through its coldest-ever July.

“The only area, globally, that has actually been a little cooler in July was part of northern Scandinavia and here in Eastern Canada, in Eastern North America, from Nunavut right to down to parts of, say, Florida,” he said.

“We’re seeing, even in our own country some variation.”

However, on average, global ocean and land temperatures are “clearly” warmer, Phillips said.

And even though fall is on the horizon, the climatologist said temperatures are likely to remain above average for the rest of the year.

“It’s been just relentless warming and that is most likely to continue for the rest of the year,” he said. “I think it’s the safest bet of all to say that 2015 will go down in history as the warmest year on record.”

By CTV News

A Palestinian held without charge by Israel ended his unprecedented 66-day hunger strike Thursday, his lawyer said, after the Supreme Court ordered him released from detention.

The decision by Mohammed Allan to halt his fast appeared to avert a crisis over two controversial Israeli actions that threatened to unleash Palestinian violence as his health deteriorated.

Allan’s case tested a new Israeli law allowing fasting inmates to be force-fed, a measure that many doctors say amounts to torture. It also cast light on Israel’s use of administrative detention — the holding of suspects in special cases for long periods without charge.

Allan, 31, ended his strike Thursday, according to his lawyer, Jamil Khatib, who added that his client was still in serious but stable condition in Barzilai hospital in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. He said it could take several weeks to determine how much Allan’s health was damaged by the prolonged fast.

Allan, who lost consciousness Aug. 14, was showing “great improvement,” said Dr. Hezy Levy. He had regained consciousness Monday, and he was said to have suffered some brain damage as a result of the fast.

“We took him off the respirator. He’s no longer sedated,” Levy said. “He is starting to communicate and I am happy that medically he is on the right path.”

Levy said he hoped that Allan would soon start eating again on his own. Allan’s body cannot yet process food after such a prolonged fast.

During his hunger strike, Allan was not force-fed, which entails inserting a feeding tube into his stomach. He was, however, given intravenous fluids, vitamins and nutrients as his condition deteriorated.

Allan was now “a free man,” Khatib said, adding that he does not believe Israel would renew Allan’s detention period when it ends Nov. 3.

The Supreme court suspended the detention order Wednesday, releasing Allan while he receives medical care. The court did not specify what would happen to Allan if he recovers, saying only he can petition for his release if his condition improves.

He began his fast to protest the policy of administrative detention. Israeli authorities argue the measure is needed to stop militant attacks, adding that revealing the charges would expose intelligence networks and put lives in danger. Rights groups say it violates due process, is meant only for extraordinary cases, and is overused.

Israel said Allan was put under detention for his affiliation with Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group that has carried out scores of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers. Allan denies the affiliation.

Israel first arrested Allan in 2006 and jailed him until 2009 for enlisting suicide bombers for Islamic Jihad and helping wanted persons, according to a defense official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. At the time of his arrest, Allan was a known activist and leader in the student wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group at his university in the West Bank. After his release, Allan finished his law degree and opened a practice in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Sawson Zaher, a lawyer with the advocacy group Adallah that represented Allan, said the Israeli court’s decision showed administrative detention is an “arbitrary and punitive tool” against Palestinians.

Palestinian prisoners have used hunger strikes before to draw attention to the practice of administrative detention. Fearing that a death could spark Palestinian violence, Israel has at times acceded to hunger strikers’ demands. In June, Israel freed Khader Adnan, 36, a senior Islamic Jihad activist, after a 55-day fast.

A law narrowly approved by Israel’s parliament in July sought to curtail hunger strikes by permitting a judge to sanction force-feeding of a prisoner whose life is in danger.

By The Associated Press

Israel couldn’t believe its luck when huge natural-gas deposits were found in its waters five years ago. There was hopeful talk of cementing regional peace with pipelines to energy-hungry neighbors, ailment and of plentiful gas fueling a new economic boom.

Instead, what happened since then has spotlighted how unprepared Israel was to deal with newfound energy riches even as it prides itself on being a modern, investor friendly economy.

Political feuding and bureaucratic infighting have delayed for years the development of the biggest gas field and now are threatening Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu’s fragile coalition government.

No development work started so far on the Leviathan field, the largest in the Mediterranean and estimated to hold 22 trillion cubic feet of gas—enough to supply a country like Turkey for more than a decade. Amid uncertainty about government regulations, no serious search for likely additional gas and oil fields in Israel’s waters is under way, either.

And with global oil and gas prices plummeting this year, the country increasingly faces the risk of missing much of its expected energy bonanza altogether.

So far, regulatory and government-caused delays in the gas sector have cost the country some 100 billion shekels, or $ 26.5 billion, according to Israeli Infrastructure and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

By Yaroslav Trofimov – The Wall Street Journal

When prominent Washington, shop D.C., cheap Rabbi Barry Freundel was arrested last year for secretly videotaping dozens of women using the mikvah, salve the ritual’s sense of sacredness was shattered for some local Jewish women.

Local artist Rena Fruchter recently spearheaded a community project to put the pieces back together: A mural created by female members of Orthodox Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington inside their mikvah.

After months of work, the mural was dedicated on Sunday.

The project gave the women “something they could own, something they could feel part of,” said Fruchter. It allowed them to take “something shattered; make something whole.”

“We have a broken system. We don’t throw it out. We take the pieces. We put them together and make something beautiful together.”

Freundel led Kesher Israel, another Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C., until his arrest in October. As part of a guilty plea, he admitted to installing video cameras in the National Capital Mikvah, next to the synagogue. He was sentenced in May to 6 1/2 years in prison for 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism. He filed notice that he will appeal the sentence.

Elanit Jakabovics, the president of Kesher Israel, endorsed the project, noting the Freundel’s actions had hurt Jews across Washington, D.C, and even the world.

“I strongly support anything that helps the healing,” she said. “You know the pain is never going to go away.”

The colorful new mural features a Van Gogh-like swirl, women dancing, moons, water, reeds and the words from Isaiah 12:3, in both English and Hebrew: “Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of redemption.”

The design is the result of collaboration between Fruchter and local artist Arturo Ho, with input from women from Ohev Sholom.

After collecting glass objects in donation boxes stationed at their synagogue, Fruchter organized weekend gatherings of women from the synagogue to break the glass up and reassemble it.

The mood at the gatherings was celebratory. On Saturdays, women sipped margaritas and mojitos as they worked, and on Sundays mother’s brought their daughters to chip in.

“Women came and hung out. They got to know each other,” said Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman. The women took the mikvah space defined it and demystified it.”

About 60 women participated in the gatherings, which started soon after Passover.

Ariele Mortkowitz contributed to the project with her mother and 6-year-old daughter. Before moving to near Ohev Shalom, Mortkowitz had used the National Capital Mikvah. That “mikvah is near and dear to me. I still have friends there,” she said.

“Freundel was a big blow around mikvahs in general, and this could make it a better experience.”

By: Suzanne Pollak – JTA

A Spanish music festival has reversed a decision to cancel a concert by a Jewish-American singer after the ban sparked outrage and formal condemnation from the Spanish government.

The Rototom Sunsplash on Wednesday publicly apologized to reggae singer Matisyahu, an American-born artist who is ethnically Jewish, and invited him to perform, as originally scheduled, at the festival’s main stage on Aug. 22.

The Rototom festival uninvited Matisyahu after he declined to give his public support for a Palestinian state. The decision was widely condemned in Spain and beyond and, on Wednesday, the Spanish government formally chastised Rototom organizers, calling the decision an “act that violates the conscience” and “put into question the principle of non-discrimination.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the Rototom festival apologized, saying it “rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community; we respect both their culture as religious beliefs, and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred.”

The festival said it bowed under what it called a campaign of “pressure, coercion and threats” employed by pro-Palestinian group the BDS, which had called for Matisyahu to be banned from the festival. The BDS is an activist group that calls for wide-ranging boycotts against Israel for the country’s actions in the Palestinian territories. The BDS campaigned against Matisyahu, accusing him of being anti-Palestinian.

In a post on his Facebook page, Matisyahu called it “appalling and offensive” that he was put under pressure to air his political views. The singer is not known for his strong political stances and has in the past been careful not to address politics, particularly the Israeli-Palestine situation. He has repeatedly said he wants his music to be non-political and accessible to all.

The Spanish media is often openly critical of Israeli policies see last year’s open letter from Spanish celebrities, including Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, which denounced Israel’s incursion into Gaza last year as “genocide.”

But the country’s major political parties and much of the Spanish press have sharply criticized the decision to boycott Matisyahu.

An editorial in leading Spanish newspaper El Pais called the cancelation “unacceptable discrimination … Anti-Semitism and discrimination on the grounds of ideology cannot be tolerated and must be stood up to. Criticism of Israel’s policies and defense of the Palestinians cannot be used as cover for systematic persecution of those who hold different views, or because they are Jewish.”

By Scott Roxborough – The Hollywood Reporter

A Portugal, led to quite an unexpected find for archaeologists after a dozen bodies were uncovered along with evidence that suggested they had been “unceremoniously dumped outside the Inquisition Court along with regular garbage,” according to Forbes.

With the help of the structural plans of the building they were able to infer that the bodies were found in what was either the cleaning yard or trash dump of the jail associated with the Inquisition Court. They were also able to narrow down the time frame of the usage of the yard to between 1568-1634.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology,archaeologists write that “the sediment surrounding the skeletons is indistinguishable from the household waste layer where they were placed, suggesting that the bodies were deposited directly in the dump,” leading excavators to believe those buried at the site were considered heretics within Portuguese society.

Although not as well known, the Portuguese version of the Inquisition was very similar to Spain’s.

The Portuguese capitulated to pressure from Spain and eventually launched their own inquisition in 1536 that echoed both the method and reasoning of the Spanish.

The Roman Catholic Church’s attempts at ensuring the population maintained the purity of the faith as well as the basic Catholic ethos led to a witch-hunt of perceived heretics within Portugal.

By using the prisons records as a template, researchers believe that the skeletal remains found at the excavation site were those of individuals secretly practicing Judaism.

By The Jerusalem Post

Reports of a recently discovered Nazi train filled with lost treasure could trigger a massive reversal of fortune, prescription as an art group readies itself for the possibility of reconnecting Jewish families and heirs with stolen art, medical gold and other valuables.

Two men claim to have discovered a legendary train in Poland that was rumoured to have disappeared into a network of secret tunnels in May 1945 as the Germans retreated near the end of World War II.

According to local lore, the train was loaded with a trove of precious gems, priceless art and gold when it slipped into the mountains.

Polish authorities are taking the claim seriously. Marika Tokarska, an official in the southwestern Polish district of Walbrzych, told the Associated Press, “We believe that a train has been found.”

As officials work to verify the train’s existence, Mary Kate Cleary of the London-based Art Recovery Group says her group is preparing for the possible chance to reconnect families with decades-old stolen property.

“The Nazis were notorious plunderers of art, cultural property and other valuables,” Cleary told CTV News Channel Thursday afternoon.

“They would engage in a systematic campaign to dispossess particularly Jewish communities and other enemies of the Nazi regime of their property.”

Trains were typically used to transport the stolen property back to the German Reich, Cleary said. The supposed discovery is said to have been made in an area of Poland that formerly belonged to Germany.

“If this train was one of those such trains, then it would contain materials from Eastern European countries, possibly dispossessed from Jews, victims of the Holocaust,” Clearly said.

If that’s the case, Cleary hopes her organization will work to return the property to their rightful owners.

“We would hope that if these objects are in fact from victims of Nazi persecution … that they could be identified and we at our recovery group, in addition to other organizations, could work to identify these objects and get them back to the victims or their heirs.”

According to officials, the two men who supposedly discovered the train, a German and a Pole, have hired lawyers and requested 10 per cent of the value of the train’s property in return for sharing its location.

Local authorities have already begun discussing a safe plan to reach the train if it is indeed found. They are concerned that latent explosives or underground methane gas could add a degree of peril to the mission.

With files from the Associated Press and CTV News Channel

Aviya Morris is the fresh new face of Jewish extremism, try a soft-spoken young mother who wants to see the Muslim walls tumble down and a new Israel rise. This is her dream.

“It could lead to world war, stuff ” the 20-year-old admits, advice adding that would be the fault of Arabs — and the international community.

Two weeks ago, the woman, her husband and their baby, Liberty Zion, left their Jewish settlement in Shiloh in the West Bank to visit the raised esplanade in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.

The walled compound is sacred to both religions — and the flash point these days for frequent desultory clashes — where Jews believe the world began and Abraham had his hand stayed by an angel of God before he struck a fatal blow against Isaac. Here Jews built their first and second temples.

It is also the site of Islam’s golden Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, which marks the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad on his night journey to heaven.

And it was here Morris shouted, “Muhammad is a pig.”

Morris said she was provoked, that during her visit to the mount she was hounded by veiled Muslim women shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and “death to the Jews.”

“I felt like it would be an embarrassment not to say anything, a reflection not just on us, but on Israel,” she said. “We have a right to be there.”

Morris said the Palestinian women were the aggressors.

“This is the only place in the world where Jews cannot pray. Arabs can wave (Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant) and Hamas flags, and we cannot pray or wave Israeli flags, and the world does nothing.”

Israeli authorities briefly detained and questioned Morris, and warned her to stay away from the Old City for a week — for her own safety.

Palestinians, and some fellow Israelis, said she should have been charged with incitement. No charges have been filed.

Israelis and Palestinians are reeling from the fast-moving violence of recent days that included Jewish settlers clashing with government forces at a West Bank settlement; a knife attack at the Jerusalem gay pride parade by a Jewish extremist that left a 16-year-old Israeli girl dead; and a lethal arson attack in a Palestinian village where a toddler was burned alive and his father succumbed to wounds a week later.

Israeli politicians, angered and embarrassed by the emergence of Jewish extremists in their midst, have called for the death penalty against Israelis guilty of terror and for the use of harsh new measures, including indefinite detentions without charge or trial, that have been almost exclusively employed in the West Bank by the Israeli military against Palestinians.

Morris said she snapped when she disparaged Muhammad, but she snapped accompanied by an Israeli TV correspondent, who went along with Morris and the group of visiting mothers and babies.

Palestinian female guardians are a new phenomenon at the al-Aqsa compound. They follow Jewish visitors and their Israeli police escorts to stop Jews from praying or singing (Jewish prayer is against Israeli and Jordanian rules, designed to protect the 48-year-old status quo).

The Palestinian wardens say their mission is to protest against the Jewish visitors, for fear the Jews want to return to worship here en masse — and to see a future third temple rise from the ruins of their mosque.

In the Palestinian mainstream media, Jews who come to the sanctuary are rarely “visiting,” but “raiding” or “laying siege” to the compound.

The Palestinians had cellphone cameras to capture Morris’s words, too. Social media was soon swirling with her photograph; some posts called for her death.

Morris has been at the forefront of provocative acts before.

In 2012, she spat at the Arab Israeli parliamentarian Ahmad Tibi during a debate at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, the Times of Israeli reported. In 2013, she was arrested on suspicion of involvement in vandalizing Jerusalem’s Monastery of the Cross, where assailants left the spray-painted message, “Jesus — son of a whore,” on a wall. She was released without being charged.

Israel’s domestic intelligence agency vows to dismantle what the Hebrew media describe as a shadowy underground of young zealots who authorities say want to topple the state of Israel by fomenting Arab-Israeli unrest.

Nine young Jewish settlers suspected of extremist activities against Palestinians were arrested Sunday.

The radicals want to see the rise of a new religious kingdom, where Israel would be ruled by Torah law and the third temple would be rebuilt.

Morris is a member of a group of activists calling themselves Students for the Temple Mount, which held a flag-waving protest near an entrance to the complex Sunday.

Members of the various Temple Mount movements, funded by U.S. sponsors, say all they want are equal rights to pray, while others prepare for the day when the third temple will be rebuilt and do not advocate the destruction of the mosque. Instead, they are searching for the perfect red heifer to usher in the new age.

But some activists say they want that day now.

Asked if she imagined a future when Jews and Muslims could share the sacred site, Morris said no.

“There’s no good solution,” she said. “You can’t share it. There’s no partition. It wouldn’t work. There is no point in trying.”

She said the Torah contains “exact guidelines” for building the Third Temple. “If it were up to us,” Morris said, “we’d rebuild it now. That’s our solution.”

By William Booth – The Washington Post