Eurovision Song Contest defends itself after Israeli band dropped out to avoid singing on the Sabbath

The Eurovision Song Contest is answering for itself after an Israeli band dropped out of the competition because it learned its members would be forced to work on the Jewish Sabbath.

The Shalva group says Wednesday it’s quitting Israel’s qualifying competition after the Eurovision organizers said it would make no exceptions for Israel’s ultimate winner. The competition is held on a Saturday night and the compulsory rehearsal falls on the Sabbath.

“All broadcasters commit to abide by the Contest’s rules when agreeing to participate. The rules state that each broadcaster will undertake to enter a national song and a Contestant that complies with the present rules. These rules include obligation of attendance across all rehearsals and live shows, for delegation members and contestants,” a spokesperson for Eurovision Singing Contest told Fox News in a statement.


The spokesperson explained that any application by a broadcaster to waive these rules under mitigating circumstances must be run through the contest’s governing body and changes would be made at its discretion based on its impact on the other contestants.

“In this instance a change to the rules to exempt a Contestant from performing in both the Jury Final and the Grand Final dress rehearsal would involve disruption to the production schedule and compromise the fairness of the competition. It would also deny audiences in Tel Aviv the chance to see the home country’s participant perform in both shows,” the statement read. “For these reasons, the Reference Group felt that it would not be possible to grant KAN’s request.”


Shalva, which has several members who are blind or have Down syndrome, has become a fan favorite and serious contender to sing Israel’s entry. Israeli critics say the Eurovision seems tolerant of all besides Orthodox Jews.


The Eurovision final is on May 18. Israel earned the right to host the competition thanks to Netta Barzilai’s win last year with “Toy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The number of people bitten by sharks last year dropped significantly

Divers swim with rare great white shark


    Divers swim with rare great white shark


Divers swim with rare great white shark 01:00

(CNN)It’s a well-known fact that sharks make for good headlines.

Just look at the jaw-dropping viral photos and video of divers swimming recently with a great white shark in Hawaii.
Shark attacks, in particular, are covered extensively — whether it’s the teen bitten by a shark while diving for lobsters in California or the first man to die from a great white shark attack in Massachusetts in more than 80 years.
But the latest data from the University of Florida paints a different picture. The university’s International Shark Attack File reported 66 unprovoked shark bites worldwide in 2018 — a significant drop from the 88 of the previous year.
    Researchers define “unprovoked attacks” as incidents in which an attack on human beings “occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.”
    While the four shark-attack fatalities in 2018 remain within the average of six deaths per year, and some year-to-year variation in the figures is to be expected, biologist Gavin Naylor maintains that last year’s decline is unusual.
    “Statistically, this is an anomaly,” he said in a statement.
    It remains to be seen, he added, whether the drop could be attributed to fewer sharks in the ocean or successful policies to warn the public about risks.
    “It begs the question of whether we’re seeing fewer bites because there are fewer sharks — that would be the ‘glass half-empty’ interpretation,” he said.
    “Or it could be that the general public is heeding the advice of beach safety officials. My hope is that the lower numbers are a consequence of people becoming more aware and accepting of the fact that they’re sharing the ocean with these animals.”
    Florida saw its unprovoked bites plunge from 31 in 2017 to 16 last year, according to the International Shark Attack File. Volusia County, considered the shark-attack capital of the world, had four bites, down from nine in 2017, it reported.
      In his statement, Naylor says a possible cause could be the fall in the state’s blacktip shark populations.
      “Blacktips used to amass in huge numbers along the coast of Florida, and there have been far fewer of them, particularly in the last two or three years,” he said. “The fact that numbers of that particular species appear to be diminishing would be consistent with the number of bites being a little lower than in past years.”

      101-year old grandma kills two deer with one shot: ‘They both dropped right there’

      Age is only a number, and one 101-year-old woman isn’t letting it stop her from doing what she loves.

      Bertha Vickers of Morgantown, Miss., has been hunting and fishing most of her life.


      “I don’t know why everybody is making such a big deal about it,” she told the Clarion Ledger last year after the outlet wrote a profile on her hunting accomplishment just shy of her 100th birthday.

      “When you’re as old as I am, you naturally think each one could be your last one, but I’m going to go as long as I can. I enjoy it. I love being outside,” she said.

      This year, she’s making headlines again for her success during deer season. Though it isn’t the size of the deer that’s caught people’s attention this time — it’s the amount.

      After missing four deer earlier in the season, she was determined to get one. And after spotting several, she got ready.


      “I decided to wait for a bigger one. Before long, a bigger doe came out and I shot,” she said.

      But Vickers ended up killing two deer with a single shot.

      “I saw two deer on the ground. It shot plum through both of them. They both dropped right there. They didn’t take another step. I knew it was back there, but I didn’t realize it was that close to her where it could get shot.”


      Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website says the hunting limit for antlerless deer on private land varies depending on the zone she was hunting in, but for National Forests, hunters are only allowed to kill one deer per day, not to exceed two to three per season, depending on the zone.

      Not letting any of the meat go to waste, Vickers ended up giving most of it to her grandkids and made steaks for herself.

      Illegal immigrant found not guilty in Kate Steinle’s killing wants gun conviction dropped

      The lawyer for the undocumented immigrant who was found not guilty in November 2017 for the 2015 fatal shooting of a woman on the San Francisco pier– but convicted for illegally possessing a weapon– has appealed the conviction, arguing that he had fired the gun by accident and “momentary possession” of a gun is not a crime.

      Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 46, a previous felon and undocumented immigrant who served nearly two years for felony re-entry into the U.S. from Mexico, was sentenced to three years in prison for the gun conviction while he awaits deportation.

      In July 2015, Kate Steinle, 32, was walking on San Francisco pier with her father when a bullet ricocheted off the pier’s concrete floor and fatally struck her in the back. Garcia Zarate was reportedly holding the gun after it “unexpectedly” went off and threw it in the bay, prosecutors said.


      Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder, manslaughter and assault charges, but convicted of illegally possessing a firearm. The case sparked a national fervor about illegal immigration run amok, with President Donald Trump calling the verdict “a complete travesty of justice.”


      The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Garcia Zarate’s lawyer, Cliff Gardner, filed a motion on Friday with the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, asking the court to overturn his client’s conviction and order a new trial because Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng did not instruct the jury that “momentary possession” of a gun is not a crime, and the jury had no choice but to convict Garcia Zarate.

      Kanye West dropped out of Coachella due to over-the-top demands, ‘port-a-potties’ talk

      The real reason why Kanye West dropped out of the mega-music festival Coachella has been revealed, and unsurprisingly, it has to do with the star’s over-the-top requests.

      Billboard claims that on New Year’s Day, just two days before the highly anticipated lineup was set to be unveiled, West threw a fit because the festival’s organizers refused to allow him to build a giant chrome dome in the middle of its grounds to perform on instead of the main stage.


      Executives from Coachella’s parent company Goldenvoice told West that the custom-made dome wouldn’t be possible, because it would force them to reorganize the festival’s setup entirely, and move one of the largest sections of portable bathrooms on the grounds. West reportedly hung up abruptly and said he was “an artist with a creative vision who shouldn’t be spending his time talking about port-a-potties.”


      Due to West’s last-minute cancellation, Coachella was forced to make a quick replacement, which they found in Ariana Grande. The pop star is managed by Scooter Braun, who also worked with West until the rapper ended their professional relationship late last year because he claimed he “can’t be managed.”

      Grande will now take West’s place to close out the final night of the three-day festival, and will make history as the youngest Coachella headliner ever.


      West’s lofty request is just the most recent in the star’s erratic behavior spanning the last year. West, who claims he was diagnosed, then misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been candid about his mental health struggles, and proudly declares that he no longer takes medication at this point in time.

      It’s certainly a disappointment for fans that West will no longer be performing at the festival, which is widely considered one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Pre-sale tickets sold out in just six hours for this year’s lineup, and an estimated 125,000 people are expected to flock to the desert to see their favorite artists at the festival’s 20th iteration.


      West’s appearance at Coachella had reportedly been in the works for several years. Now with the financial backing allowing artists to be paid between $ 2 million and $ 5 million to perform there, the draw for musicians and concertgoers alike is at an all-time high.

      However, given that West had not collected any payments from Goldenvoice or signed any contracts, they decided to abandon negotiations with him about the dome shortly before the deadline to announce the lineup arrived.


      Billboard also revealed that West nearly landed a headlining spot at the Governors Ball festival in New York, which never happened because of his demands for a dome stage.

      Washington Redskins’ Reuben Foster’s domestic violence charge dropped

      A misdemeanor domestic violence charge against Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster has been dismissed.

      The Florida State Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge against Foster which stemmed from an incident with his ex-girlfriend at a hotel, TMZ reported Thursday, citing a court document. It’s unclear why the charge was dropped. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport posted a photo of the State Attorney’s decision to drop the charge on Twitter.

      Foster, 24, was arrested in November hours before his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, were set to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence.


      Elissa Ennis, 28, who accused Foster of domestic violence, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” last month that a confrontation between them turned physical when she threatened to tell Foster’s new girlfriend that he paid for her flight to Florida.

      Foster allegedly slapped Ennis’ phone out of her hand, pushed her and slapped her in the face, ABC News reported, citing an arrest affidavit.

      The 49ers released Foster soon after the incident but the Redskins signed him. Ennis called Washington’s decision to sign Foster a “slap in the face.”

      Ennis had previously accused Foster of domestic violence in February. She accused him of hitting her a number of times and dragging her out of their Los Gatos, Calif., home, authorities said. Ennis told a judge that she concocted the entire story and Foster’s domestic violence charges were dropped.


      Foster was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list and still faces a suspension by the league.

      Illinois student, 18, reported missing two weeks after being dropped off at train station by family

      Authorities have launched a search for an 18-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student who vanished nearly two weeks ago after her family dropped her off at a train station.

      Shalyha Ahmad was last seen at the UIC Student Center East on Dec. 14, hours after her parents dropped her off at a Chicago train station, according to the Missing Person Awareness Network.

      Ahmad’s mother, Shetti Fatima Ahmad, said in a news conference Wednesday that she was supposed to pick up her daughter later that night, but she never showed up to their meeting point, WLS reported.


      “We were supposed to meet at 6:30 p.m. [on Dec. 14] because we told her we were going to pick her up from school,” Ahmad said. “She did not arrive at our meeting place and that’s when we got worried.”

      The worried mother said she has not been able to reach Shalyha on her cellphone or on social media.

      “I’m just trying to appeal to all the people to help us find our daughter,” Ahmad said. “Any information would really help us. We are really worried about her at this point. Call us or call 911 or call the TV stations, if you have any information.”

      She added that she received an anonymous tip that Shalyha may be with friends from the college’s Filipino community. She told the Chicago Tribune that a friend contacted her saying she saw the 18-year-old on campus the same day she was dropped off at the train station to return to campus.

      “A friend contacted us to tell us they saw her on campus about 10 or 11 that morning,” Ahmad told the newspaper. “We didn’t know where she disappeared — in the station or in school. So now we know she got to school.”

      Chicago police on Thursday said they were searching for Shalyha, who is a freshman at UIC, even though the department not issuing a missing person flyer. They said authorities have been struggling to piece together a timeline of her disappearance, the Chicago Tribune reported.


      “Generally, before we put out public alerts detectives need to corroborate the initial timeline and conduct a risk assessment on the vulnerability of the individual. Depending on where they live, this could take some time to contact individuals and do interviews,” Chicago police officer Christine Calace said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.

      Shalyha was described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, 110 pounds with long black hair and dark brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a multi-colored jacket paired with blue jeans and a red beanie. She was also carrying a black Chrome messenger bag.

      Anyone with information is urged to call (312) 744-8266.

      Over 500 migrants to be dropped off in El Paso through network of hospitality sites, nonprofit says

      Some of over 200 migrants, who were dropped off at a bus station by ICE, wait for transportation to emergency shelters or onward travel in El Paso, Texas,on December 23, 2018.

      Some of over 200 migrants, who were dropped off at a bus station by ICE, wait for transportation to emergency shelters or onward travel in El Paso, Texas,on December 23, 2018.

      (CNN)A total of 522 migrants will be dropped off at sites in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday night, Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia said.

      Annunciation House, a nonprofit that offers hospitality to immigrants, oversees a network of 11 “hospitality sites” where the migrants will be released, Garcia said. Most of the sites are connected to a church.
      The migrants will also be dropped off at prearranged locations.
      “No one is going be released on the streets,” Garcia said. “It is a planned and orderly release to specific hospitality sites that are ready to receive them.”
        The process is set to begin by approximately 6:30 p.m. CT.
        Asylum seekers board a bus stop after they were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials earlier at the Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso, Texas late on December 23, 2018.

        Asylum seekers board a bus stop after they were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials earlier at the Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso, Texas late on December 23, 2018.

        ICE officers dropped off more than 200 undocumented immigrants Sunday night outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso without an apparent plan for housing them, police said.
        Police in El Paso learned about the first group released around 8 p.m. Sunday when officials at the Greyhound terminal told them people were trying to board buses without tickets.
        “All of a sudden a bunch of people show up; ICE drops them off,” Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said. “We weren’t expecting it. We (were) not given prior notice.”
        The waiting area at the bus terminal is small, said El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Robert Gomez, and many people were left standing outside in the cold. He said the group of undocumented immigrants included some families and small children.
        Later, four buses arrived for people to board and stay warm, he said.
        “We weren’t going to put 200 people on the streets of El Paso on a cold night. We wouldn’t do that,” Gomez said.
        Authorities found housing for the migrants, including at a hotel and a nearby Catholic school, he said.
        “We’re a little perplexed because this is not something typically that ICE does,” Dylan Corbett, director of Hope Border Institute, told CNN affiliate KFOX. Corbett said ICE usually gives Annunciation House notice so it can be ready for a large number of arrivals.
        Asylum seekers stand at a bus stop after they were dropped off by ICE at the Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso, Texas, late on December 23, 2018.

        Asylum seekers stand at a bus stop after they were dropped off by ICE at the Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso, Texas, late on December 23, 2018.

        ICE said in an emailed statement to CNN that after decades of inaction by Congress, the government is limited in what it can do to remove families who are in the United States illegally.
        “To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the timeframe allotted to the government, ICE has curtailed reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border,” the statement said. It did not specifically refer to the events in El Paso.
        “ICE continues to work with local and state officials and (nongovernmental) partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”
        Dozens more migrants were dropped off at the station Monday, according to US Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.
          At least 180 “migrants were dropped off Christmas Day in downtown El Paso, staggered through the afternoon, starting at 1:30 p.m. local time,” Corbett, the director of Hope Border Institute, told CNN.
          “About half of them were children and some parents had more than one child with them,” he said.

          Johnny Depp dropped from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, Disney producer confirms

          Johnny Depp has been officially dropped from the “Pirates of The Caribbean” film series, it has been confirmed.

          A Disney producer said Depp, 55, will stop playing Captain Jack Sparrow after 14 years at the helm so the movies can have a reboot.

          “We want to bring in a new energy and vitality,” Disney’s production chief Sean Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter.

          “I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”


          Disney has met with Deadpool’s writing duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to pen the script for a reboot following their success with the superhero franchise.

          Johnny’s last “Pirates of the Caribbean” was “Dead Men Tell No Tales” in 2017, which was the lowest performing of the five films.

          Depp played the lead role in five films over 14 years and the series grossed more than $ 4.5 billion making it the 12th biggest franchise in movie history.

          Back in October scriptwriter Stuart Beattie appeared to confirm the news of Johnny’s exit on “DailyMail TV” and revealed they will be reworking the entire franchise.

          Speaking about his exit, Stuart said: “I think he’s had a great run. Obviously, he’s made that character his own and it’s become the character he’s most famous for now.

          “And kids all over the world love him as that character so I think it’s been great for him, it’s been great for us, so I’m just very, very happy about it.”


          He added: “I think Jack Sparrow will be his legacy. It’s the only character he’s played five times, it’s the character he dresses up in to visit children in hospitals, it’s what he’ll be remembered for.

          “Before Jack Sparrow came along, [Depp] was considered this kind of quirky, independent actor that made these really cool little Tim Burton films but he was by no means a movie star and a lot of people thought we were crazy for casting him at the time.

          “Because he wasn’t a proven commodity; you know, a big movie star. And we were making a big movie and we were putting this quirky, independent actor in the middle of it and people thought we were crazy.

          “The fact that it worked is a miracle.


          “They were certainly nervous watching the rushes everyday but when it all came together, something just clicked and it was magic and connected with audiences. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

          The Sun Online has contacted Johnny’s rep for comment.

          This article originally appeared on The Sun.

          Judge’s breathtaking Obamacare opinion is a bomb dropped on America’s health care system

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          Timothy Jost is an emeritus professor of law at Washington and Lee University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

          (CNN)Late on Friday, a federal district judge in Texas, Reed O’Connor, dropped a bomb on the Affordable Care Act, and indeed on the entire American health care system.

          Timothy Jost

          Timothy Jost

          His ruling, in Texas v. U.S., was a victory for the 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors who had brought the case in February, asking the court to block operation of the health care law. They based their attack on the law’s requirement that people either buy health insurance or pay a penalty, which opponents of the law have long called an unconstitutional mandate.
          In a landmark decision in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law by declaring that mandate was actually a tax, which Congress had the authority to impose. But when Congress reduced the tax to zero last year, the plaintiffs argued that now — without its individual-responsibility enforcement mechanism — the entire Affordable Care Act was suddenly unconstitutional.
            Judge O’Connor agreed. He said further that the law and its mandate could not be separated, and with this key part missing, the whole law should collapse, like a pillar of blocks in the game Jenga.
            The scope of Judge O’Connor’s judgment is breathtaking. The ACA contains ten titles and hundreds of individual provisions governing every corner of our health care system. The invalidation of the ACA, if upheld on appeal, would affect virtually every American.

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            Of course, millions of individuals who purchase their insurance directly from insurers or through the marketplaces would lose the ACA’s preexisting condition protections. Older Americans and women could again be discriminated against as well.
            Millions of individuals and families covered through the ACA’s Medicaid expansions would lose coverage — even in states that have recently passed referenda to expand coverage — but other Medicaid beneficiaries would lose benefits conferred by the ACA as well.
            Medicare beneficiaries would lose preventive-services coverage and could see the “donut hole” reopen, imposing higher drug costs. Indeed, the order may invalidate current ACA regulations governing Medicare payments, throwing the Medicare program into chaos.
            Most Americans, who have coverage through their employer, would lose their right to preventive services and coverage of children to age 26 and see lifetime and annual dollar limits of coverage reappear. ACA reforms to the Indian Health Service or provisions for FDA approval of generic biologic drugs would disappear. Fraud and abuse protections included in the ACA would no longer be effective.
            In deciding to wreak this destruction on the American health care system, Judge O’Connor arrogated to himself authority that rightly belongs with Congress. A Republican Congress spent most of 2017 debating to what extent it wanted to repeal the ACA. In the end, it only changed one small provision: reducing the shared responsibility tax to $ 0.

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            Judge O’Connor believes that in doing so, Congress pulled a grenade pin, exploding the entire law. But numerous Republicans, both during the debate on the vote on the tax law and since, have made it clear that was not what they did.
            Judge O’Connor points to the “findings” from the original ACA itself to claim that the mandate was “essential” to various provisions of the law, but those findings were included to bolster arguments that the mandate was constitutional as a legal requirement and were not intended to make the rest of the law dependent on the mandate.
            Republicans in Congress repeatedly tried and failed to repeal the ACA. It is not up to an unelected judge to do it himself.
            So, what does Judge O’Connor’s judgment mean? He specifically did not enter an order blocking the operation of the law, so it remains in effect. O’Connor only found two individuals had standing to challenge the law, so arguably the ruling only applies to them.
            Another judge is considering a case brought by Maryland to uphold the ACA, so we may get dueling judgments. An earlier appellate court decision, involving a number of the states in this case, invalidated the individual mandate but held the entire remainder of the ACA to be valid. Any noncompliance with the law may be challenged in other courts.
              California will appeal Judge O’Connor’s decision and the Trump administration may appeal parts of it as well. It will likely be reversed on appeal and may never get to the Supreme Court. It is simply the opinion of one district court judge.
              But it will surely cause chaos and confusion throughout the health care system, as the federal government’s lawyer predicted at oral arguments. No doubt that is what Judge O’Connor wanted.