by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

June 13, 2021

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament narrowly approved a new government on Sunday, with Naftali Bennett replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, ending Netanyahu’s record 12-year tenure.

Bennett, who represents the Yamina party, is leading a coalition with Yair Lapid, who represents the Yesh Atid party.  According to the Jerusalem Post, the two men agreed to split the term as prime minister, with Lapid expected to take over in two years.

According to the Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov, Bennett said in Hebrew before the Knesset on Sunday, “Thank you Netanyahu for a long service with many achievements for the State of Israel, for strengthening Israel’s diplomatic status and security,”

Netanyahu’s supporters shouted frequently during Bennett’s speech, while the outgoing prime minister sat silently in the audience.

Within the Knesset, Netanyahu’s Likud party will lead the opposition.  He is also facing a corruption trial in which he is accused of fraud, breach of trust, and taking bribes.  He responded to Bennett’s speech with his own, in which he lauded major accomplishments during his presidency.  During his presidency, the United States relocated its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.

Netanyahu has also reached agreements with a number of Arab countries.

The change in Israeli leadership does not appear to have resulted in a shift in the country’s foreign policy.  Bennett expressed gratitude to President Biden for his support during Israel’s recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and stated that his government intends to build relationships with members of both major American parties.

Bennett, on the other hand, echoed the outgoing prime minister’s opposition to the international nuclear deal with Iran being restored.  Returning to the deal would be a mistake, he said, and Israel would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

According to the Post, Bennett and Lapid were able to secure enough support to form a government after Lapid struck a deal with the Arab party Ra’am.  Later Sunday, the new government is expected to hold its first official meeting.


by The Chicago Times Staff

June 10, 2021

Jolene Grover, a 14-year-old girl in Virginia is speaking out against Loudoun County Public Schools’ (LCPS) decision to let “boys into girls’ locker rooms.” which she believes is sexist.  The policy follows a previous one, 1040, in which the county pledged to provide an egalitarian, safe, and inclusive workplace regardless of “sexual orientation, gender identity” or other personal traits.

The current proposed policy, 8350, states “students should be allowed to use the facility that corresponds to their gender identity.”

At the school board meeting on Tuesday, Grover, who was dressed in a shirt that stated “Policy 1040 was just an umbrella philosophy two years ago, and you were not going to allow boys into the girls’ locker rooms,” she claimed.  But you are doing just that right now.”

Grover is an eighth grader whose mother withdrew her out of an LCPS school last year after learning about a number of divisive woke rules.  She is now being educated at home. 

“Everyone knows what a boy is – even you,” she added, raising her eyes to the board members.

“Your suggested ideas are inherently unsafe and sexist.  When enlightened youngsters wonder if I am a lesbian or a trans boy because I cut my hair short, it is a good indicator that these modern identities are only skin deep.”

“Now, boys are reading erotica in the classroom next to girls,” she continued during her address on Tuesday, “and you want to give them access to girls’ locker rooms and you want to force girls to call those boys ‘she…You do this in the name of diversity, but you ignore the girls who will bear the brunt of the consequences of your policies…Your policies prioritize the desires of guys over the needs of girls.”

Grover’s comment was one of many about gender made by participants in response to Tanner Cross’s ongoing dispute.  Cross was suspended last month after giving a now-viral lecture criticizing the district’s new gender policy.

He stated to the school board that he would not participate “Because it is against my religion that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.  It is lying to a child, it is child abuse, and it is a sin against our God.”

Cross received a letter a few days after that speech telling him not to trespass on school grounds.

The school district was looking into allegations that Cross engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations of LCPS.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered LCPS to reinstate Cross, claiming that it had infringed his right to free speech. 

Cross had also mentioned draft policy 8040, which mandated the use of preferred pronouns by Loudoun employees.

“LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record…When addressing a student, school employees must use the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identification, unless the student or parent/legal guardian requests otherwise…It is acceptable to use gender-neutral pronouns…Inadvertent mistakes in the use of names or pronouns may occur; however, staff or students who fail to respect a student’s gender identity by using the incorrect name and gender pronoun on a consistent basis are in violation of this policy.”

Others in the room stated that LCPS’ policies were based on righteous goals like love and inclusion.

“I want to thank you for your commitment to equality and making sure every child feels loved and valued.” state Sen. Jennifer Boysko said to the board, wearing a rainbow pin and mask.  Another speaker claimed that policies like 8040 were not new and that they would make “trans and gender-expansive kids feel a little more welcome.”

However, some women and girls have begun to question the cost of such practices.  In women’s sports, the issue has grown particularly pressing in view that transgender athletes will diminish opportunities for biological women.  They also fear that males may pose as transgenders to have access to female facilities for lude and sexual deviant motives.


by The Chicago Times Staff

June 7, 2021

WASHINGTON – Justice Department announced Monday that only half of the multi-million Colonial Pipeline ransom payment was recovered following a cyberattack that forced the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to shut down operations last month.

The operation to recover the cryptocurrency from the Russia-based hacker group is the first undertaken by the Justice Department’s specialized ransomware task force, and it represents a rare victory as US officials scramble to combat a rapidly accelerating ransomware threat that has targeted critical industries around the world.

Colonial Pipeline, situated in Georgia, delivers almost half of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, and had to temporarily halt operations on May 7 when a group of hackers infiltrated its computer system with the DarkSide ransomware strain.

According to FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate, the ransomware variation employed by DarkSide, which has been the target of an FBI investigation for the past year, is one of more than 100 that law enforcement officials have discovered.

Colonial authorities claimed they pulled its pipeline system offline before the attack expanded to its operating systems, and then decided to pay a ransom of 75 bitcoins, nearly $4.4 million at the time, in the hopes of restoring service as quickly as possible. 

The FBI was able to identify a virtual currency wallet used by the hackers and recover the proceeds. Cryptocurrency is popular among cyber criminals because it allows for direct online payments regardless of geographical location.

Though the FBI normally discourages paying a ransom because it may promote more hacking, Monaco said one benefit for the private sector is that if businesses contact law enforcement early after a ransomware attack, officials may be able to assist them in recovering funds as well.

The quantity of Bitcoin seized — 63.7, now worth $2.3 million due to the price of Bitcoin plummeting — was 85 percent of the entire ransom paid, which is the same amount that cryptocurrency-tracking firm Elliptic believes was taken by the affiliate who carried out the attack.

Ransomware attacks, in which hackers encrypt a victim organization’s data and demand a large fee in exchange for the data restoration, have grown in popularity.  The cost of such attacks was the highest on record last year.  Hackers have targeted critical businesses, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies.


by The Chicago Times Staff

June 7, 2021

SANTA ANA, CA – William Wallace, 39, of Anaheim, was sentenced to 15 years to life in jail on Friday for killing his wife and propping up her body on a sofa while her children opened Christmas presents.

Za’Zell Preston, 26, was killed in 2011 by Wallace, who was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this year.  Preston was allegedly abused by Wallace several times throughout their marriage, according to authorities.

Preston’s mother spoke during his sentencing hearing “He beat and tortured my daughter and at the same time mentally assassinated her children…He had no mercy for her.  Let us not be merciful to him.”

Preston was allegedly attending college classes in the hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor when she was fatally battered by Wallace on Dec. 24 or early Dec. 25 in 2011, according to prosecutors. Wallace had previously done time in prison for hitting her.  The couple had gone to a neighbor’s Christmas Eve party, according to prosecutors, and a neighbor recounted hearing an argument later that night.

According to the prosecution, Wallace took his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room couch the next morning, dressed her in sunglasses, and told the kids, “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.”

Wallace’s attorney said that Preston died from injuries when she drunkenly slipped and fell into a glass table, breaking it.

Preston left behind a 7-week-old boy and two girls, 3 and 8, from a previous relationship.


by The Chicago Times Staff

June 6/7/21

GARDENA, CA — Last week, a woman pumping gas in California was badly battered in an apparently random attack caught on camera.  Surveillance film showed the vicious attack that took place in Gardena, about 14 miles south of Los Angeles, shortly after 7 p.m. on May 30.

The suspect was described as a Black male between the ages of 30 and 35, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 350 to 365 pounds, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

According to FOX11, authorities apprehended the a man resembling the suspect on Friday in Long Beach.  There was no additional information available right away.

According to the sheriff’s department, the victim, a Hispanic woman, was pumping gas when the suspect, who seemed to be shirtless, stopped immediately in front of her car and calmly exited his vehicle.  The suspect then repeatedly bashed her in the head and face while she was on the ground. 

He also pulled the victim’s hair and repeatedly banged her head against her car and onto the ground.

When the guy calmly walks back to his vehicle, bystanders can be seen gathering at the pump on film.

The suspect then drove away, according to the sheriff’s department.

The victim was taken to the hospital and later released to recuperate at home.  She told deputies that she had never encountered the suspect before and that no one had taken any of her possessions during the incident.


by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

June 3, 2021

WASHINGTON — As New York City looks to confront a recent rise in violent crime, Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged Thursday that authorities should stop building jails and instead focus on underlying public health issues.

New York Democrats, including AOC, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, have asked Congress to appropriate $400,000 for a program called Stand Up To Violence which aims to combat gun violence through therapy and community outreach. 

“If we want to reduce violent crime, if we want to reduce the number of people in our jails, the answer is to stop building more of them,” AOC said.

AOC and her colleagues are requesting congressional cash through a procedure known as “earmarking,” a recently revived procedure that allows politicians to funnel financial support for personal causes in their districts.  The Stand Up To Violence program is housed at a hospital in AOC’s congressional district.

The Democrats’ request comes as New York City deals with an increase in gun violence as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  According to the New York Police Department, shootings were up 86 percent in May.

AOC has admitted that she supports therapy and has even committed herself to using psychotherapy to cope with the “extraordinary traumatizing” events of Jan 6th at the US Capitol.  AOC said she did not know if she was going to live to the end of the day.  Perhaps she can tell her story to the residents of Chicago who live that fear daily and do not have the same protection.

Bernard P. Lawson, National Political Reporter/Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.