US/World News

"In Brief" week ending 7/13/12

Syria a candidate for UN Human Rights Council
( While the death toll in Syria has topped 14,000 since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began, the country is now a candidate for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, UN
Watch reported. UN Watch, an NGO that monitors the international body’s activity, cited a draft resolution in which the U.S. reveals that Syria announced its candidacy for a Human Rights Council seat in 2014. The resolution says Syria “fails to meet the standards” for Human Rights Council membership. Syria is likley to win a spot on the 47-nation council “due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats,” according to UN Watch.

Islamic group outlaws tomatoes
( An Islamic group said eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are a “Christian food,” according to a report on
The “Popular Egyptian Islamic Association” posted on Facebook that the tomato “praises the cross instead of Allah,” claiming that the interior of a tomato resembles a cross when the tomato is cut in half. Additionally, the group cited “a sister from Palestine who saw the Prophet of Allah in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating [tomatoes].”

Olmert acquitted on corruption charges
( Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — who faced multiple corruption charges in a five-year legal proceeding — was acquitted Tuesday, June 10 of the major charges that prompted him to resign from the prime minister’s post, but was found guilty of breach of trust, Israel Hayom reported. It is not clear whether the conviction will carry any jail time. The verdict was seen as a major victory for Olmert, who stepped down as prime minister for the centrist Kadima party in 2009 to battle allegations that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from a supporter and pocketing the proceeds from a double-billing scam on overseas travel. His conviction on the charge of breach of trust made him the first Israeli prime minister ever convicted of a crime. Olmert’s legal troubles are far from over: He will be sentenced on Sept. 6 and is currently standing trial in a separate real estate bribery case.

Russia, Canada join Israel on energy initiatives
( Canada and Russia will collaborate with Israel on energy initiatives, a move that could place Israel in a stronger position relative to other Middle-Eastern countries. Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently visited Israel, meeting with Israeli Water and Energy Minister Uzi Landau and agreeing to boost ties and launch several joint renewable energy projects, Yediot Achronot reported. Additionally, “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Israel came in the wake of news that Russian gas company Gazprom and Israel will cooperate on gas extraction, according to Globes. Israel, previously thought to contain few oil and gas reserves, has begun attracting interest in the wake of recent natural gas discoveries off its coast. Five billion barrels of recoverable oil and over a trillion cubic feet of gas have been discovered off Israel’s shore, and estimates say the reserves contain much more.
The decision of Russia and Canada to collaborate on energy with Israel shows increased interest in the Jewish state’s potential resources and the possibility for a changed dynamic in the region. Lebanon disputes the undersea boundary with Israel in an effort to claim some of these oil discoveries. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have also claimed possession of the discovered oil. Now, Russia is likely to block any efforts to stop gas development in the region, American Interest reported.

‘Suspicious’ fire kills Dallas lawyer
Worldwide Sukkah Directory now online
Polish journalist calls WJC ‘international blackmailers’

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