JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's president on Tuesday canceled the appearance of a local pop star at a high-profile public event following the star's release of a new song focusing on a fictional Arab who gets his kicks by stabbing Jews.
The release of the song by singer Amir Benayoun reflects the recent tensions between Jews and Muslims, connected in large part to competing claims to the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem. President Reuven Rivlin, whose largely ceremonial role is meant to serve as a moral compass for the country, has repeatedly appealed for calm.
On Tuesday, Rivlin's office said it was cancelling its invitation for Benayoun to perform at an event next week marking the expulsion and exile of Jews from Arab countries and Iran.
The office said the sentiments expressed by Benayoun in the song "Ahmed Loves Israel" are "inconsistent with the responsibility required of the president's residence."
"His statements made at this time of conflict and tension ... do not, to say the least, help bring calm to the streets," it said.
"Ahmed Loves Israel" tells of a fictional Arab who wants to "send to hell a Jew or two" despite his moderate appearance.
"I wasn't brought up on love," the fictional Arab protagonist sings. "It's true that the moment will come when you will turn your back on me, and I'll stab you right in the back."
Over the past month, Palestinian attackers have killed 11 people. Five Palestinian assailants have died at the hands of Israeli security forces, and an Arab-Israeli man was fatally shot by police during a violent protest.
Against this backdrop, the Israeli government is pushing new legislation that would codify Israel's status as "the Jewish state." Critics, including Arab rights groups and many Jewish Israelis, believe it would undercut Israel's democratic character. Officials have delayed a parliamentary vote, originally scheduled for Wednesday, by a week while legislators search for compromise language.
The bill still threatens to fracture Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition.
On Monday the U.S. State Department called on Israel to preserve its democracy, in a clear reference to the legislation.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Missouri grand jury's decision to spare police officer Darren Wilson from criminal charges is the latest in a long line of police shooting investigations that show the latitude afforded law enforcement in using deadly force.
The question for the panel that decided the case was never whether Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, but rather whether the Aug. 9 killing constituted a crime. In declining to indict Wilson, the grand jury followed laws and court precedents to reach a conclusion that is far more the norm than the exception.
"For a cop to be indicted and especially to be convicted later of a crime in these kinds of situations is very, very unusual," said Chuck Drago, a police practices consultant and former police chief in Oviedo, Florida.
States and police departments have developed their own policies that generally permit officers to use force when they reasonably fear imminent physical harm. The Supreme Court shaped the national legal standards that govern the use of force, holding in a 1989 decision that the use of force must be evaluated through the "perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight,"
Since then, the court system has more often than not sided with police in shooting investigations, with prosecutors and grand jurors reluctant to second-guess their decisions.
Many of the cases that don't result in charges involve armed suspects shot during confrontations with police. But even an officer who repeatedly shoots an unarmed person, as was the case in Ferguson, may avoid prosecution in cases where he reasonably believed himself to be at bodily risk.
"A police officer is not like a normal citizen who discharges their weapon. There is a presumption that somebody who is a peace officer, and is thereby authorized to use lethal force, used it correctly," said Lori Lightfoot, a Chicago lawyer who used to investigate police shootings for the police department there.
But even though police are legally empowered to use deadly force when appropriate, Lightfoot said an officer's perception of danger can be strongly influenced by the race of a suspect, particularly in a community like Ferguson, where an overwhelmingly white department patrols a majority-black city.
"Take any environment you live in — if there's not diversity in your workplace, that is a void in your experience," she said.
The Ferguson shooting followed a skirmish that began when Wilson told Brown and a friend to move from the street onto the sidewalk. Wilson told jurors that he backed his vehicle up in front of Brown and his friend, but that as he tried to open the door, Brown slammed it shut, according to testimony released after the decision.
The officer said he pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit him in the face. Wilson said Brown grabbed the gun, and that he felt the need to pull it because he was concerned another punch could "knock me out or worse."
The Justice Department is continuing to investigate the shooting for evidence of a potential civil rights violation, and federal investigators are relying on the same evidence and witness statements as the grand jury. But they face a higher burden of proof to establish whether Wilson willfully deprived Brown of his civil rights.
That standard has been tough to satisfy in past high-profile shootings. Federal prosecutors, for example, declined this year to charge officers who fatally shot an unarmed woman with a baby in her back seat after a high-speed car chase from the White House to the U.S. Capitol.
It's hard to know how often police use force. A federal Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that an estimated 1.4 percent of the nearly 60,000 U.S. residents who reported having contact with police in 2008 said the officers used or threatened to use force against them.
Some cases, of courses, do result in criminal charges.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, police officer was indicted in January on a voluntary manslaughter charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man who wrecked his vehicle and knocked on the front door of a home seeking help. Thinking incorrectly that the man was trying to break into her home, the woman who answered called police. Three officers responded and one repeatedly shot the unarmed victim, authorities say.
But far more often officers aren't prosecuted.
A grand jury in Ohio, for instance, declined to indict a police officer who in August shot a man carrying an air rifle inside a Wal-Mart. And in May, an Alabama grand jury declined to indict an officer who shot and wounded an Air Force airman he pulled over on the highway. The Opelika police chief said the officer shot the man after he got out of his car based on a perceived threat.
Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminologist, said only a "small tip" of police shootings are considered so outrageous as to merit criminal charges. An absence of prosecution, he said, does not mean that an officer did a good job, didn't make a mistake or should not face a wrongful-death lawsuit. But criminal charges are a different burden.
"He may not do (his job) well, and he may have made a mistake, but it's not like he woke up in the morning and said, 'I'm going to go out and kill someone,'" Alpert said.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy has begun on a Kansas woman who died this weekend, days after she was sexually assaulted and set on fire in a Wichita park, a county official said Monday.
Sedgwick County spokeswoman Brittany Clampitt said coroner's office officials were investigating, but it wasn't clear when the examination would be complete.
Family members held a memorial for Letitia "Tish" Davis on Sunday evening in Wichita's Fairmount Park, where she was found Nov. 14 with burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head.
They remembered her as a loving mother of four. Marcie Bell called Davis "truly a beautiful person."
"This is my way to tell her she will never be forgotten," Bell told The Wichita Eagle.
Cornell McNeal has been jailed and charged with attempted murder and rape. He doesn't yet have a lawyer, according to court records and the Sedgwick County Public Defender's office.
Police Lt. James Espinoza told The Eagle that charges against McNeal would be amended after Davis died Saturday. He hasn't returned messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. A capital charge could make McNeal eligible for the death penalty.
District attorney's office spokeswoman Georgia Cole said Monday that prosecutors would determine "what charges are appropriate based on new evidence," which would include the results of the autopsy.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An 11-year-old Mexican boy with a massive tumor who drew international attention when U.S. officials helped him get treatment in New Mexico is still recovering after an 11-hour surgery to remove pieces of the growth.
And he got a surprise visitor while resting.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez visited Jose Antonio Ramirez Serrano on Monday, a week after the Ciudad Juarez-born boy underwent the risky procedure to remove what doctors called multiple cysts, spongy-soft tissue and a conglomeration of blood vessels.
Around a third of the watermelon-sized tumor was expunged and the boy now faces months of physical therapy, according to doctors at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
"In the operating room, we encountered more bleeding than expected," said Pediatric Surgeon Cynthia Reyes, who led the surgery team. But Reyes said the team was able to get the bleeding under control and the 97-pound boy is recovering in an intensive care unit.
"He's had an amazing attitude during the whole thing," said Jimmy Windsor, director of Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesia at the hospital.
In July 2012, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assisted in picking up the boy and his parents from a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez — one of the deadliest cities in the world due to drug cartels.
Federal agents helped the family seek care for Jose after First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho members saw him during a missionary visit.
After stories and images of the boy went viral, First Baptist Church officials reported a jump in donations to help him raise money for the surgeries.
Martinez then got involved and sought an extended visa for the boy to receive treatment in New Mexico.
During her visit with Jose on Monday, the Republican governor softly touched the boy's knee as she spoke to his parents in Spanish. She asked about his condition and asked his parents to keep her updated.
Though unconscious, Jose's heart rate rose slightly when told that the governor had stopped by to visit.
"He knows you are here," his mother told the governor.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wavering near record levels as investors weigh an upward revision in U.S. economic growth against a drop in consumer confidence.
Energy stocks fell 1.4 percent Tuesday after the price of oil resumed its slide ahead an OPEC meeting on Thursday. Some believe the group will fail to agree to cut production in an effort to shore up oil prices.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell a point to 2,068 as of 11:55 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,832. The Nasdaq composite rose four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,759.
Pall, a supplier of filtration technology, jumped 3 percent after its earnings beat estimates.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.30 percent.