I graduated from Bir Zeit on the Hudson a little too early to remember Barry Soetoro a/k/a Barack Hussein Obama. But isn’t it more than a little curious that not a single one of the 25 members of the Columbia College Class of 1983 – allegedly Obama’s class – who lives in Israel remembers him?
What are Obama’s classmates in Israel up to? Quite a few, like him, went straight to law school after finishing their undergraduate degrees. One is a doctor, several are engineers, and a few hold top jobs in finance. There’s an architect in the group, a tour guide, a librarian, a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist and a journalist. Most are married with children (about three on average ), a few are already grandparents, while others, who came to parenting relatively late in life, are still chasing around toddlers. Among the group are also two married couples who began dating while in college.
They’re scattered around the country, but Beit Shemesh and Ra’anana seem to be their preferred locales. Four live in Jerusalem and its outskirts, three in Tel Aviv, two are up north in Kfar Vradim, and two live over the Green Line in the settlement of Ginot Shomron.
But here’s the thing: Not one of us remembers Barack Obama – who transferred to Columbia after his sophomore year at Occidental College in California – from our undergrad years, nor do we know anyone else who does.
“If he wasn’t on my radar, he wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” asserts Jamie Miller, a mother of five, who lives in Beit Shemesh and remains active in the alumni association, traveling back to New York every five years to attend reunions.
“I was a cheerleader, so I knew all the jocks,” says Miller, who went to law school after college and today works as a librarian and English teacher. “I was in the marching band, I worked on the yearbook, and I was involved in student government, so I knew everyone. But I never saw him around.”
Sarah Graber Nehrer, a speech pathologist who moved with her family from the United States to Rehovot last summer, says she became curious about Obama even before his first presidential run. “When he first came on the political scene, back when he was running for the Senate, I was living in Illinois, and I was like, ‘Wait, this guy went to school with me,'” she explains. “But I had no recollection of him whatsoever, and neither did anyone else I know, which I found very strange.”
Compared with other American universities, Columbia, a member of the prestigious Ivy League, is small. Its graduating class in 1983 – including Columbia College for men, Barnard College for women and the College of Engineering – had fewer than 2,000 students. And since the campus itself, located in the uptown Manhattan neighborhood of Morningside Heights, is also quite small, the opportunities to bump into your classmates and get to know faces over a period of four years were abundant.
Yet another classmate, Michael Teplow, notes that someone with presidential aspirations “wouldn’t be shy, but in fact, quite gregarious,” which is why he, too, was surprised to discover “when I first started flipping through my yearbook looking for his picture that he wasn’t there, and I didn’t remember him at all.” Like Obama, Teplow went onto law school after he graduated Columbia. Today he lives in the settlement of Ginot Shomron, from which he travels each weekday to his law firm in Tel Aviv. Most of his practice is in corporate law, but Teplow has also built up a pro-bono side practice over the years representing Palestinians who have served as informers for Israel’s security forces.
Another Tel Aviv corporate lawyer in the group is Norman Menachem Feder, a senior partner in Caspi & Co., who once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon. “I spent most of my time at Columbia either in the library or in the gym practicing for fencing, so if Obama wasn’t hanging out in those places, I wouldn’t have seen him,” he notes.
Teddy Weinberger moved to Israel 15 years ago with his wife and former classmate Sarah Jane Ross, who works in institutional sales at Excellence Nessuah investment house. From their home in Givat Ze’ev, in the West Bank just north of Jerusalem, where the couple live with their five children, Weinberger continues to maintain close ties with many of his old college buddies, and says he understands why Obama may not have been on any of their radar. “He was a transfer student living off campus and that made it possible for him to keep such a low profile.”
What might be a fair comparison is to ask how many of them knew another famous Columbian from that era – George Stephanopoulos – who was a class ahead of them.
You don’t think Barry lied about going to Columbia, do you?
Report: ‘Nutella Theft’ a Major Problem for Dining Services at Columbia, As Students Gorge Themselves on Dozens of Pounds Each DayMarch 7, 2013
(Gawker by Neetzan Zimmerman)Columbia is reporting a rash of thefts on campus that have resulted in an estimated $5,000 worth of lost property each week.
But before concerned students go out and purchase expensive security measures, it should be noted that all reported thefts are of a single item: Nutella.
As first reported by the Columbia Spectator, students just can’t seem to get enough of the frosting-like chocolate-hazelnut spread, and may be swiping as much as 100 pounds of the sweet stuff a day from campus dining halls.
“The demand [for Nutella] has been greater than originally expected,” Dining Services executive director Vicki Dunn told the Spectator in an email. “Students have been filling cups of Nutella to-go in Ferris Booth Commons and taking the full jars out of John Jay, which means we’re going through product faster than anticipated.”
Since last month, when Dining Services began offering Nutella to students on a daily basis, covering the cost of Columbia’s unhealthy habit has set the university back some $5,000 per week according to Columbia College Student Council rep Peter Bailinson.
But some are saying that the problem is being exaggerated, and Nutella raids aren’t all that widespread.
The New York Times talked to a university spokeswoman who said the figures being reported are “speculative and inaccurate” and were “roughly 10 times greater than the actual figures.”
Some have pointed out that if Dining was truly spending $5,000 a week on 100 pounds of Nutella, it was clearly buying its stock in the wrong place.
But the problem is obviously real enough for Dining to consider pulling the plug on certain “luxury” items, according to Bailinson.
“When you’re paying that much for a dining plan, some people feel a bit more entitled to taking things from the dining hall,” Bailinson told the Spectator. “But what they don’t realize is that dining uses any extra money to get awesome new items like Nutella, almond butter, and to make structural changes like the JJ’s renovation.”
Dining insists it won’t stop serving Nutella, but may cut back on more expensive comestibles “like lobster tails.”
[photos via WikiMedia, AP]
Did you know that many of the people who work in our government get jobs working at colleges? Notice that both are going broke. Might be time to stop freaking out about people liking Nutella and think about the price of tuition compared to what the students actually get back and then question why these institutions are borrowing so much money because they are in debt. Tuition is a tiny fraction of a University budget. What I suspect is gross negligence and corruption. If Muslim nations have that much influence at Columbia University through the Allawi foundation that has ties to Iran then you can count on corruption. I suspect the Nutella panic is an attempt to blame the students for a problem with an administration
As college student, Eric Holder participated in ‘armed’ takeover of former Columbia University ROTC officeDecember 17, 2012
(This recording can also be purchased as a downloadable MP3 from the Ayn Rand Institute eStore. © Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved. via aynrand.org) As a freshman at Columbia University in 1970, future Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquarters with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as “armed,” The Daily Caller has learned.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.
Holder was then among the leaders of the Student Afro-American Society (SAAS), which demanded that the former ROTC office be renamed the “Malcolm X Lounge.” The change, the group insisted, was to be made “in honor of a man who recognized the importance of territory as a basis for nationhood.”
Black radicals from the same group also occupied the office of Dean of Freshman Henry Coleman until their demands were met. Holder has publicly acknowledged being a part of that action.
The details of the student-led occupation, including the claim that the raiders were “armed,” come from a deleted Web page of the Black Students’ Organization (BSO) at Columbia, a successor group to the SAAS. Contemporary newspaper accounts in The Columbia Daily Spectator, a student newspaper, did not mention weapons.
Holder, now the United States’ highest-ranking law enforcement official, has given conflicting accounts of this episode during college commencement addresses at Columbia, but both the BSO’s website and the Daily Spectator have published facts that conflict with his version of events.
Holder has bragged about his involvement in the “rise of black consciousness” protests at Columbia.
“I was among a large group of students who felt strongly about the way we thought the world should be, and we weren’t afraid to make our opinions heard,” he said during Columbia’s 2009 commencement exercises. “I did not take a final exam until my junior year at Columbia — we were on strike every time finals seemed to roll around — but we ran out of issues by that third year.”
Though then-Dean Carl Hovde declared the occupation of the Naval ROTC office illegal and said it violated university policy, the college declined to prosecute any of the students involved. This decision may have been made to avoid a repeat of violent Columbia campus confrontations between police and members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968.
The ROTC headquarters was ultimately renamed the Malcolm X lounge as the SAAS organization demanded. It later became a hang-out spot for another future U.S. leader, Barack Obama, according to David Maraniss’ best-selling ”Barack Obama: The Story.”
Holder told Columbia University’s graduating law students during a 2010 commencement speech that the 1970 incident happened “during my senior year,” but Holder was a freshman at the time. “[S]everal of us took one of our concerns — that black students needed a designated space to gather on campus — to the Dean [of Freshmen]’office. This being Columbia, we proceeded to occupy that office.”
Holder also claimed in his 2009 speech that he and his fellow students decided to “peacefully occupy one of the campus offices.” In contrast, the BSO’s website recounted its predecessor organization’s activities by noting that that “in 1970, a group of armed black students [the SAAS] seized the abandoned ROTC office.”
While that website is no longer online, a snapshot of its content from September 2010 is part of the archive.org database.
In a December 2010 GQ magazine profile of Holder, one of his Columbia friends confirmed that he and Holder were both part of the ROTC office takeover.
Holder particularly “connected with four other African-American students” at Columbia, correspondent Wil S. Hylton wrote. “We took over the ROTC lounge in Hartley Hall and created the Malcolm X Lounge,” said a laughing Steve Sims, one of those students.
Hylton described Sims as “the attorney general’s closest friend” and “a man Holder describes as his ‘consigliere.’”
The SAAS was part of a radicalized portion of the Columbia student body whose protest roots were hardened in the late 1960s. Its members collaborated with the SDS to stage a series of protests on the New York City campus in 1968, the year before Eric Holder arrived on campus.
Those earlier protests culminated in a separate armed takeover of Dean Henry Coleman’s office in which students held him hostage and stopped the construction of a gymnasium in the Morningside Heights neighborhood, near the campus.
The BSO reported on its website as recently as 2010 that those students were “armed with guns.”
Emboldened by their successes, SAAS leaders continued to press their demands, eventually working with local black radicals who were not college students. A young Eric Holder joined the fray in 1969 as a college freshman.
The SAAS also actively supported the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement, according to Stefan Bradley, professor of African-American studies at Saint Louis University and author of the 2009 book “Harlem vs. Columbia University.” He has described the Columbia organization as being separatist in nature.
“In 1969, SAAS has taken up a new campaign to establish a Black Institute on campus that would house a black studies program, an all-black admissions board, all-black faculty members, administrators and staff and they wanted the university to pay for it,” Bradley told an audience in 2009.
Though Columbia never met all of the black militants’ demands, it brought more black students to campus through its affirmative action program, introduced Black Studies courses and hired black radical Charles V. Hamilton — co-author of “Black Power” with Black Panther Party ”Honorary Prime Minister” Stokely Carmichael (by then renamed Kwame Ture).
“The university hadn’t thought of all of this by itself,” said Bradley. “It took black students [in the SAAS] to do this.”
In March 1970 the SAAS released a statement supporting twenty-one Black Panthers charged with plotting to blow up department stores, railroad tracks, a police station and the New York Botanical Gardens.
The SAAS, along with the SDS and other radical campus groups, staged a campus rally on March 12, 1970 featuring Afeni Shakur — one of the Panthers out on bail and the future mother of rapper Tupac Shakur.
The rally’s purpose, The Columbia Daily Spectator reported, was to raise bail money for the twenty other Panthers and to call on District Attorney Frank Hogan to drop the charges. All 21 defendants would later be acquitted after a lengthy trial.
The April 21, 1970 SAAS raid on the Naval ROTC office and Dean Coleman’s office came one month after the Black Panther arrests. The Columbia Daily Spectator released a series of demands from the student leaders on April 23 in which they claimed to be occupying the ROTC office for the purpose of “self-determination and dignity.” They needed the space, they said, because of “the general racist nature of American society.”
In their statement, the SAAS leaders also decried “this racist university campus” — in particular its alleged “involvement in the continued political harassment of the Black Panther Party” — along with what they called a “lack of concern for Black people whether they be students or workers” and a “general contempt towards the beliefs of Black students in particular and Black people in general.”
“Black students recognize the necessity of not letting the university set a dangerous precedent in its dealings with Black people,” the statement read in part, “that is letting white people direct the action and forces that affect Black people toward goals they (white people) feel are correct.”
Among the black professors who publicly supported Holder and the SAAS during this period was Black history teacher Hollis Lynch, who is one of four professors Holder later said “shaped my worldview.”
Entering Columbia Law School in September 1973, Holder joined the Black American Law Students Association. Less than a month later, that organization joined other minority activist groups in a coalition that demanded the retraction of a letter to President Gerald Ford, signed by six Columbia professors, that argued against affirmative action and racial quotas.
“Merit should be rewarded, without regard to race, sex, creed, or any other external factor,” the professors wrote to President Ford. Following a campaign marked by what two of those professors called “rhetoric and names hurled” at them, they changed their position and denied they actually opposed affirmative action.
The Columbia Spectator’s editorial page later argued against affirmative action as a factor in university admissions, touching off another controversy with the coalition that included the Black American Law Students Association. “Affirmative action is just a nice name for a quota, and quotas are just a nice name for racism,” the editorial board wrote.
In response, the minority students’ coalition responded that “traditional academic criteria have a built-in bias” that leaves many minority students “automatically excluded.”
“[A]ffirmative action is neither racist nor sexist,” they wrote. “Rather it is opposition to it, which fails to provide alternative means for eradicating bias, that supports the racist and sexist status quo.”
As attorney general, Holder has defended the affirmative action policies that are now the status quo. In February 2012, Holder said during a World Leaders Forum at Columbia University that he “can’t actually imagine a time in which the need for more diversity would ever cease.”
“Affirmative action has been an issue since segregation practices,” Holder said. “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin. … When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”
Holder has also come under fire for presiding over a Justice Department that declined to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party who allegedly intimidated white voters outside a Philadelphia polling precinct in 2008.
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Updated: (Syrian aide to Basher al-Assad defends her relationship with Barbara Walters) News report here.
Barbara Walters has apologized after newly released emails showed her attempting to get a close aide to Syrian president Bashar al-Asaad an internship at CNN and a place at Columbia University.
Asaad, whose bloody crackdown on his citizens has made him something of a pariah, granted Walters an exclusive interview in December. On Thursday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Walters stayed in close contact with Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations and a close aide to Assad, after the interview was over.
Jaafari was a regular presence in emails obtained by the Guardian in March. “This man is loved by his people,” she said in one email.
Syrian opposition forces — perhaps the same ones who gave the Guardian the earlier documents — passed on a new cache of files to the Telegraph. They showed Walters calling Jaafari “dear girl” and writing to Piers Morgan and his producer about her. “I wrote to Piers Morgan and his producer to say how terrific you are and attached your résumé,” she wrote. On Tuesday, a CNN spokesperson told The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that the network received the letter, but did not speak with Jaafari or offer her an internship.
Walters also contacted a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism to plug Jaafari’s bona fides. (Jaafari was not admitted, though the professor, who is also the father of Piers Morgan’s producer, assured Walters she would be given “special attention.”)
Contacted by the Telegraph, Walters admitted that, even though she refused to get Jaafari a job at ABC News, her actions “created a conflict and I regret that.”
CORRECTION: Walters contacted CNN about an internship for Jaafari, not a job as the article originally stated.
…at least Barbara Walters apologized. You won’t see the rest of the media doing the same.
At the end of each year, the Committee to Protect Journalists counts the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide and lists the countries in which they’re locked up.
These data are very helpful, but I think we can consider them under a new lamp by taking into account each country’s size. China and Eritrea, for example, have about the same number of journalists rotting in prison, 27 and 28 respectively. But the population of China is over 250 times that of the small dictatorship.
Any country that unjustly arrests or imprisons a single journalist is democratically suspect, of course, and that includes you, America. Ratings of press freedom in the United States tanked after 2011, as counts of arrested journalists in this country soared. Still, though police in the United States tend to arrest journalists filming or otherwise documenting unrest, their bosses usually get embarrassed at the media blowback and drop the charges. Imprisoning journalists for months or years at a time is another matter and, other than the outright murder of journalists in places like Russia and Syria, the long-term jailing of reporters is the offense with which the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is most concerned.
For a new take on this scourge, I quickly calculated the highest twelve ratios of jailed journalists to a country’s population size.
So we see that according to this criterion, Israel jails more journalists per capita than any other nation except for Eritea.
Sounds damning, right? (read on… it’s misleading, but I would of never caught this)
I grew up in the neighborhood and using the Columbia gym to play basketball in. I suppose even though I didn’t graduate there I felt like it was my school. We all know where they are going with this journalist lecture. They feel threatened because they can not control the content. I suppose you should too because I repost your stuff for my blog on mine, but at least I try to give credit… (though I admit I’ve made mistakes before, but I also know people use my site and don’t give credit). I noticed this well known site who didn’t give me a hat tip the other day and I said to myself…. what can I do? I don’t want to scold the guy because I want to steal back from him. His theft is rather good. There has got to be some happy and fair moderation. Sometimes I subvert what you say by the repost because I don’t always agree. That is threatening to the news standards, but it works both ways. Sometimes the news does do good things… and they are being punished.