Record number of hate groups, RBG returns, Jussie Smollett arrested and more
There is a record number of hate groups active in the US, civil rights center finds
The number of active hate groups in the United States is at a record high — and many are anti-Semitic in nature. That comes from a report released Feb. 20 by the Southern Poverty Law Center saying that 1,020 hate groups were active last year, an increase of about 7 percent from 2017. The number exceeds the record of 1,018 groups in 2011; the Montgomery, Ala.,-based civil rights organization started counting hate groups in 1990. The SPLC found that the number of both white supremacist and black nationalist groups — such as the Nation of Islam and the Black Hebrew Israelites — has increased. Its intelligence project director, Heidi Beirich, told reporters in a phone call that the majority of groups in both categories are anti-Semitic. However, the number of some types of organizations, including neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan chapters, fell last year.
Also see: An Idiot’s Guide to Anti-Semitic Tropes
Louis Farrakhan blames “wicked Jews” for Women’s March crisis
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan blamed “the wicked Jews” for the crisis over anti-Semitism and the Women’s March. “The most beautiful sight that I could lay eyes on [was] when I saw, the day after Trump was elected, women from all over the world were standing in solidarity, and a black woman is the initiator of it,” said Farrakhan, referring to Tamika Mallory, a leader of the Women’s March who has lionized Farrakhan and refused to condemn his pervasive anti-Semitism. “The wicked Jews want to use me to break up the women’s movement,” Farrakhan continued on Feb. 17 during his address at the Nation of Islam’s Savior’s Day conference in Chicago. “It ain’t about Farrakhan, it’s about women all over the world [who] have the power to change the world.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her perch on the bench Feb. 19, asking questions in a firm and strong voice, according to NPR. The 85-year-old liberal feminist icon underwent surgery for lung cancer in late December and since then has been recovering at home. In January, for the first time in her 25-year tenure, she missed being in court for oral arguments, but she participated in the decision of those 11 cases based on the written briefs and transcripts of the arguments. At her return for the Feb. 19 arguments, Ginsburg was the first to ask a question in a patent case that normally would have drawn no press attention. Instead, the press rows were nearly full. At the end of the argument, Ginsburg got up carefully. As she descended the steps behind the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts walked next to her, ready to help. But Ginsburg walked on her own.
Trump to name Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rod Rosenstein as deputy US attorney general
President Donald Trump will name attorney Jeffrey Rosen, the current deputy transportation secretary, to serve as the next deputy U.S. attorney general. “His years of outstanding legal and management experience make him an excellent choice to succeed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has served the Department of Justice over many years with dedication and distinction,” new U.S. attorney general, William Barr, said Feb. 19 in a statement. Rosen must be confirmed by the Senate. He does not have experience as a prosecutor or Justice Department official, which is unusual in the position for which he has been nominated, Reuters reported. Rosenstein said earlier this month that he would step down once Barr was confirmed as attorney general. Bar was confirmed last week. Rosenstein is expected to leave his position next month. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and has been a key player in overseeing the probe that President Donald Trump has called a “witch hunt.”—JTA
Jussie Smollett arrested
Black, Jewish and gay actor Jussie Smollett was indicted on felony charges for making a false police report in which he said he was the victim of a hate attack last month in Chicago. Smollett, known for his role in the Fox drama “Empire,” was charged Feb. 20 with felony disorder conduct, which carries an up to three-year prison sentence and could require the actor to repay police for the cost of the investigation, which could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was taken into police custody on Feb. 21 at Chicago Police headquarters.
Israeli director’s film takes top prize at Berlin International Film Festival
A film by an Israeli director won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms” on Feb. 16 was awarded the Golden Bear Award. The film, about identity, is the semi-autobiographical story of a young Israeli man who moves to Paris and tries to become thoroughly French. The festival’s jury was headed by French actress Juliette Binoche. The film competed against 15 other entries for the top award. Lapid is the director of “The Kindergarten Teacher,” which recently was remade in English in the United States. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on Feb. 17 congratulated Lapid on his success. “One doesn’t have to agree with every point or every position expressed in the film to recognize the importance of daring, smart and beautiful Israeli cinema gaining international recognition. It has always been and always will be a great source of pride. Mazal Tov, Nadav!” he said in a statement.—JTA
BSO hires four new musicians
While still locked in a stalemate with players over proposed cuts, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is adding new musicians to its ranks, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. The orchestra last week announced the appointment of a new assistant principal flutist and three new violinists. “We are excited to announce that these four superb artists are joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,” BSO president and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement. “These appointments demonstrate the artistic excellence of our Orchestra, and I join the Board, musicians and staff in welcoming them to the BSO community.” New assistant principal flutist Christine Murphy, a graduate of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, started her assignment last month. Violinists Jeremías Sergiani-Velázquez and Chelsea Kim, respectively a recent guest concertmaster with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a graduate of The Juilliard School, will start in May. The third violinist, Agnes Tse, a performer with the New Jersey-based Symphony in C, will join the BSO at a to-be-determined date during the current season. The hires come as orchestra management and players are still no closer to agreeing to a new contract, though WYPR reported last week the two sides are still talking.
Baltimore Veterans Job Fair
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and RecruitMilitary host a Baltimore Job Fair on Feb. 21 at Coppin State University from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for veterans and military personnel and military spouses seeking civilian career opportunities. This event features nearly 50 employers and coincides with RecruitMilitary’s collaboration with Google and its newly designed job search function for military trained talent.
Find out more here.
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