Fairleigh Dickinson University Newspaper: Egypt is a City

I picked up a copy of the local school's newspaper on Friday. From this story on page 6 it looks to me like Fairleigh Dickinson University, "The Leader in Global Education," needs to be more  focused on teaching their students about the difference between a foreign country and a city.


Halleluyah, the Vatican Clobbers Richard Williamson for his fake apology

Halleluyah, the Vatican has clobbered Richard Williamson for his fake apology. No more games now. He has not repented of his evil, pernicious hatred. He has not recanted his Holocaust denial. CNN reports further that he is, "under investigation for Holocaust denial in Germany, where it is a crime."
Vatican: Holocaust denier's apology not enough
  • Vatican says apology by Holocaust-denying bishop is not enough
  • Bishop Richard Williamson regretted hurt he caused but did not recant
  • On Swedish TV, he said Hitler did not set out to murder Jews or use gas chambers
  • Williamson suspended from performing priestly functions until he recants
ROME, Italy (CNN) -- The Vatican said Friday it is not satisfied by the apology issued by a Catholic bishop who denied the Holocaust, saying the cleric must still clearly "distance himself" from the controversial comments.

Bishop Richard Williamson, who is now in England, issued a statement Thursday saying he regretted making the remarks. But he did not retract them or say he had changed his mind about the Holocaust.

A Vatican spokesman pointed out that the apology, which was posted on a Catholic Web site, was not addressed to Pope Benedict XVI.

"The bishop's 'statement' does not appear to respect the conditions set by the secretariat of state on February 4, 2009, whereby he must also distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public from his stand regarding the Shoah (Holocaust)," said Padre Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

Williamson said in an interview with Swedish television that he did not believe that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler deliberately set out to murder Jews or that there were gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camp...more...

Campaign Against Jewish Children Smoking Cigarettes on Purim

Ultra-Orthodox children in Israel are given their first cigarette on Purim.

This Israeli anti-smoking campaign is clear - smoking cigarettes is killer number one.
Rabbis to battle smoking in haredi public
'Cigarette- the number one killer' - Anti-smoking campaign launched...
Jerusalem Municipality, leading haredi leaders join forces to fight widespread phenomenon of smoking in sector through halachic rulings, educational campaign
by Neta Sela

Leading rabbis and the Jerusalem Municipality have joined forces in a battle against the widespread habit of smoking in the haredi public, in light of studies indicating that the sector has the highest rate of smokers in Israeli society.

The Health Ministry and local haredi authorities will also take part in the effort.

In a campaign that will be launched Thursday, rabbis will issue halachic rulings banning smoking. The rulings will be posted on bulletin boards and buses, and published in the community's pamphlets.

The decision to launch the campaign ahead of Purim was based on the fact that during the holiday it is usually considered legitimate for children to smoke cigarettes.

"Studies have shown that most haredi smokers smoked their first cigarette during Purim, as part of a defective practice which permits teenagers, and even children, to smoke on the holiday," Jerusalem Municipal Council Member Shlomo Rosenstein, explained.

"The campaign was made possible in view of the realization among all the bodies entrusted with this issue, that the haredi sector needs a campaign that speaks its language and addresses its codes," added Rosenstein, who heads the project.
Highest smoker rate

In addition to the distribution of relevant halachic rulings, the municipality also plans to institute educational programs on smoking prevention in schools and yeshivot, and open a special training program for educators.

Furthermore, rabbis and yeshiva heads will soon publish a petition slamming the practice of "the first cigarette" on Purim.

Yair Amikam, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, said that medical studies indicate that smoking is more prevalent in the haredi sector than in any other sector in Israel, with the rate of smokers standing at 18.5%.

"In the haredi population it is very common to smoke in public places such as yeshivot, reception halls and so on," Amikam added.
[repost from 2008]


JTA: Bishop Richard Williamson - a bizarre man and an apology denier

When is an apology not an apology? When it is a sick game. But that guy does not care.

Bishop Richard Williamson apologized today for nothing. He did not retract his Holocaust denial or his lifetime of antisemitic preaching and teaching. To an antisocial personality like Williamson everything is a game. To the rest of the world, it's a disgrace.

Here is who this bizarre man is according to an NPR report:
Williamson champions The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forged document from the late 1800s that blames Jews for the problems in Russia at the time. He has called Jews the enemies of Christ and says that they, together with Freemasons, have contributed to the corruption of the Catholic Church.

Rizzo says Williamson expressed such opinions and ultra-orthodox views during spiritual conferences held on Thursday afternoons.

"He was always insisting that women should not wear pants, because that would be an occasion of sin, that women when married should be subjected to their husbands to such a degree — I'll never forget this — that if the wife misbehaves the husband should be willing to beat her," he said.

The 48-year-old priest says Williamson had bad things to say even about a 20th century icon of Catholic charity.

"He would criticize Mother Teresa for false facade of charity, saying, 'Oh yes, she may take care of the poor, but she is still a modernist. We shouldn't fall for her liberal tendencies,' " he said.

Rizzo also recalls that when Williamson taught sacred scriptures, he would often espouse conspiracy theories and attack the American government — a theme he would pick up in a 2007 lecture in London where he described the United States as a police state.

"And I hope none of you believe that 9/11 is what it was presented to be," Williamson said at the time. "Of course two towers came down, but it was absolutely for certain not two airplanes which brought down those two towers; they were professionally demolished by a series of demolition charges from top to bottom of the towers."
And here is his latest non-apology according to a JTA report and I just don't know why they gave it the misleading title that it bears...
Bishop apologizes for Holocaust remarks

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Bishop Richard Williamson apologized for making comments minimizing the Holocaust, but he did not recant them.

"The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy," Williamson said in a statement published Thursday by the Zenit Catholic News Agency.

Pope Benedict XVI sparked a furor last month when he reinstated Williamson and three other excommunicated bishops, all members of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, just days after Williamson told Swedish TV that he believed "that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler." He said no more than a few hundred Jews died in Europe during World War II.

This week, Williamson expressed regret for making the remarks.

"Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them," he said.

Williamson concluded, "To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize. As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust violence against one man hurts all mankind."

The founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, Menachem Rosensaft, called Williamson's apology unacceptable, noting that the bishop expressed regret for voicing his opinion but did not disavow his views about the Holocaust.


Kindle 2 was at my door! Woot.

It's awesome. Sleek and sexy. Tiny little cute chicklet keys! Solid feel. Web browser slow but works even on Tzvee's Talmudic Blog and that is all that matters (91 screens for our index page). The little joystick takes us back fifteen years.

We'll be trying lots of two week free introductory subscriptions, started already with the WSJ.

There will be a lot to say as we use it. This one is a keeper!

We think it will be our next Harris Epstein best invention award winner.

PS - if you decide that you are going to buy one, kindly remember to come back here and click on our kindle ad in the column on the right to order - please support our blog!

Star Tribune: New York City drops to #2 in worst traffic rankings

Shockers. Twin Cities jumps to #10 and New York City drops to #2 in the worst traffic rankings:
  1. Los Angeles
  2. New York
  3. Chicago
  4. Dallas-Ft. Worth
  5. Washington D.C.
  6. Houston
  7. San Francisco
  8. Boston
  9. Seattle-Tacoma
  10. Twin Cities

John Biggs on Crunch Gear - Top 10 reasons to buy an Amazon Kindle 2

Hi John,
I like your Kindle review! Regards to Joanna.
Having used both Kindles 1 and 2, I thought it would helpful to list where the new Kindle excels and where it falters. The dead tree book will never die - I think it will even have more longevity and popularity than the boutique appreciation of vinyl records - but our generation will be the last to use “books” as our primary reading systems. Expect ebooks to hit colleges in perhaps five years and high schools and grade schools in about 7. That said, should you buy a Kindle now? Why and why not?...more...


WSJ: Amazon's Kindle 2 versus competitor Indigo Shortcovers

Our Amazon Kindle 2 shipped today. We'll have it in hand and review it this week. I hope they got it right this time after all the hype.
Kindle 2 Arrives, and So Do Rivals

By Geoffrey A. Fowler
The second generation of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader started shipping Monday – one day early to ensure Amazon meets a promised February 24 launch, the company said.

And there appears to be plenty more where that came from. The gadget is “in stock” on the Amazon Web site, for now, despite being the site’s top seller in electronics since it was introduced on February 9. That’s a big improvement from the supply problems that plagued the first generation of the device, which sold out soon after being unveiled in 2007 and was also out of stock for most of last year’s holiday shopping season.

kindle2Amazon won’t say how many Kindle 2 devices are shipping today, or how many Kindles have sold overall. In a statement, Amazon vice president Ian Freed said, “The response from customers to Kindle 2 has been tremendous.” (Enthusiasts can watch Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos talking about the device tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central.)

Yet already a new service from a major bookseller, calling itself a “Kindle Killer,” is hoping to steal some of Kindle’s thunder. On Thursday, Canadian bookseller Indigo Books & Music is planning to launch Shortcovers, an e-book reading and buying program that works on devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones, and in the coming months on other smartphone systems including Symbian and Windows, as well as on other gadgets such as the Palm Pre.

“We think the ability to use your existing device is definitely going to be a convenient aspect to the service, especially for a consumer that isn’t an avid reader,” said Michael Serbinis, the executive vice president of Shortcovers in an interview with this blog. Shortcovers says it will also distinguish itself with features that allow users to read the first chapter of books for free, as well as buy just single chapters of a book at a time. That could be helpful, for example, if you want just the chapter on one city in one of those chunky travel guides.

The service is clearly targeted at a younger, more attention-deficit afflicted reader, coming with the ability to share comments, create tags, and even Twitter while you read. “People are reading differently than they would with a print edition of a book. They are reading in shorter bursts, with higher frequency,” said Serbinis. “One eye is busy reading while the other eye is looking for authority, and context and relevance.”

Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said his company is also working on making Kindle books available on cellphones, but doesn’t have any details to share. Moreover, Amazon maintains there’s still plenty of need for a gadget that’s dedicated to plain old reading. “We also know that lots of people, especially people who love to read, want a purpose built-reading device, for the same reason you have a cell phone and a digital camera—you want a dedicated device for the things you love,” he said.


Is CNBC's Rick Santelli out of his mind?

It was just last week that we praised CNBC's David Faber for his award-caliber "House of Cards" documentary. Now this.

What to do when a business reporter goes off the deep end while on the air supposedly doing his serious job?

The Times ("CNBC Replays Its Reporter’s Tirade") sums up the Rick Santelli affair in a report that strikes an incredulous tone. Within the article it summarizes the nutty on air event (in case you missed it):
Mr. Santelli is normally a strait-laced newsman; he has reported live from the Chicago Board of Trade for 10 years. But in an appearance on the morning show “Squawk Box” on Thursday, he suggested a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest the administration’s housing plans.

“The government is promoting bad behavior,” he said, and later implied comparisons to Cuba and asked the traders around them whether they wanted to pay their neighbors’ delinquent mortgages. When the traders started to boo, Mr. Santelli said, “President Obama, are you listening?”
I'm not going to link to the video. It's embarrassing. Nor will I harp on the obvious "bad behavior" irony.

Yes, Mr. Santelli, we were all listening and we now are waiting to hear your abject apology for your unprofessional actions.

Is Meet the Press Host David Gregory Jewish?

Yes, David Gregory is Jewish and embraces and practices Judaism.

We just received an email [HT to Mimi] with a link to his blog, "The View From Here. Updates from the Host of Meet the Press."

The top of the blog image today (and it may be the permanent image) is David overlooking the Dead Sea at sunrise.

And what a nice surprise. In a blog post of 2/18/09, "Making room for the spiritual," David extols his Shabbat experience and speaks about the Torah he has learned this week:
Over bagels and eggs this week a friend who is a well known Washington rabbi described “Aha!” spiritual moments. You know, those times in our lives, when we say, "Aha!" This is what it means to be alive and filled with a sense of purpose and meaning in our spiritual life.

I experience it when we gather as a family on Shabbat to put money in the Tzedekah box and take a moment to say who we are thinking of and how fortunate we are to be the hand that gives.

In my new job, I find the work week even more involved and absorbing than before so I am particularly comforted by a prayer I read in my siddur (prayer book). It thanks God for calling us to light the Sabbath candles because, without this mitzvah, I might have never slowed down enough to remind myself what life is really about and about the greater purpose we all have.

Speaking of purpose, I studied Deuteronomy with my teacher this past week and we focused on the idea that God “opens our hearts that we may live.” What does it mean to open your heart to someone else or to God?....more...

Mazal tov to the great Jewish comedian Jerry Lewis on receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Tonight the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will give Jerry Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

In 1962 when I was a school kid in the Manhattan Day School on 104th Street and Manhattan Avenue, my classmate Bella recruited me to join the Jerry Lewis Fan Club. I've been impressed ever since with the enormous talent, character and generosity of this performer.

Jerry deserves the award. The Times has a nice article, here is part,
... He was born Joseph Levitch in Newark on March 16, 1926, the only child of vaudevillians who, during the school year, left him with relatives while they hit the road. He didn’t stay behind for long: by the age of 5 he was warbling the Depression standard “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” in the borscht belt, where, as a teenager, he worked as a tummler, a hotel social director cum court jester whose job it was to keep guests entertained at any madcap cost. By 19 he was a high-school dropout with a wife (the first of two), a baby (the first of seven) and a struggling career lip-synching to records in funny outfits, making like Carmen Miranda with a fruit-bowl hat as “Jerry Lewis — Satirical Impressions in Pantomimicry.”

The partnership with Martin, with whom he joined forces in 1946, turned them into a national phenomenon. There had been plenty of comedy teams before — Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby — but Martin and Lewis added something to the mix. They were sexy, for starters (well, one of them anyway), as well as sexed up. (Jerry liked to plant kisses on Dean.) And they were overtly ethnic: the suave Italian-American and the jittery Jewish American who, with a sprinkling of Yiddish, seduced mainstream America. By 1950 the dream team was so popular thousands of screaming fans waited outside their Times Square hotel, a scene that’s self-reflexively captured in their 1953 musical comedy, “The Stooge.” ...


Want to Join a Non-Denominational Online Discussion of Religion? Try the Amazon Forums

I don't follow them. But wow, I just noticed that there sure are a lot of discussion forums over at the Amazon site under the heading. "Religion."

religion forum

Products (10,946)   
Lists & Guides (1,001)

Example: There are NO genuine contradictions in the Bible (~2000 posts)

CNN: Holocaust Denier Bishop Williamson Forced to Leave Argentina

'Undeniable' and impressive that Argentina has come out so strongly against the holocaust denier, Bishop Richard Williamson. We hope that on his way out someone reminds the Bishop that Argentina was the country that harbored many Nazis who hid out there after WWII, the country from which Adolf Eichmann was captured by the Mossad in 1960 to be put on trial in Israel and executed for his role in the Holocaust.
Bishop who denied Holocaust ordered to leave Argentina
  • Story Highlights
  • Argentina's Ministry of Interior gives bishop 10 days to leave
  • Bishop Richard Williamson denied existence of the Holocaust last month
  • Minister says statements that "deny a historic truth" harm society
  • Williamson's welcome back to church by Pope has sparked anger
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- Bishop Richard Williamson, who last month denied the existence of the Holocaust in an interview with Swedish television, was ordered Thursday to leave Argentina within 10 days, the Ministry of Interior said.

Bishop Richard Williamson had denied the existence of the Holocaust, saying there were no gas chambers.

Bishop Richard Williamson had denied the existence of the Holocaust, saying there were no gas chambers.

"The bishop has repeatedly forged the true motive for his stay in the country, having declared that he is an employee of 'La Tradicion' Civil Society when, in reality, his true activity was as priest and seminary director of the Society of Saint Pius X in the neighborhood of Moreno," Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said in a written statement.

Williamson and three other bishops who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X were excommunicated in 1988. The society was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, who rebelled against the Vatican's modernizing reforms in the 1960s, and who consecrated the men in unsanctioned ceremonies.

"Williamson has had public notoriety following his anti-Semitic statements to Swedish media in which he questioned whether Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust," Randazzo continued.

"For these reasons, along with the strong condemnation from the Argentine government of how statements like these harm Argentine society, the Jewish community, and all of humanity by trying to deny a historic truth, the national government has decided to demand that the Bishop leave the country or be expelled."...more...


Times: Stock Market Dow Dips Under 7500

Too late to sell. Too early to buy. Does the market linger here or head down into the water? Darned if I know. The Talmud provides little insight into this question.

We do know that round numbers like 7500 are psychological barriers. When broken through, newspapers write about them. The Times:
...Losses among financial companies, computer makers and General Electric sent the Dow lower by 89.68 points, or 1.19 percent, to 7,465.95. The index dropped below its recent bear-market lows. It had not closed so low since it sank to 7,286.27 on Oct. 9, 2002.

Although it does not mean anything has changed economically when market indexes like the Dow Jones industrial average cross 7,500 or 10,000 or 14,000, analysts say these benchmarks contribute to investor psychology and sentiment — factors that can move markets...

Guardian: FBI Finds Robert Allen Stanford in Fredericksburg Virginia - Serves Him Papers

No longer on the lam, Stanford has been found and served with papers. Not arrested? What?
'We said, are you this guy? He said yes.' FBI finds Stanford
Ed Pilkington in St John's, Antigua, The Guardian

A two-day global hunt to find the cricket tycoon Sir Allen Stanford in the wake of allegations that he masterminded a massive financial swindle came to an end last night, when the FBI said it had tracked him down to Virginia.

The discovery of the Texas billionaire in Fredericksburg, about 50 miles south-west of Washington, spared the American financial regulators further embarrassment after they issued charges against Stanford on Tuesday but without being certain of his whereabouts.

It allowed the Securities and Exchange Commission to serve papers on the businessman, thus rendering its proceedings against him active in what it claims to be a financial fraud of "shocking magnitude".

The FBI said last night the businessman had been found as he was driving a car in Fredericksburg, noting he was not a fugitive and had been very cooperative. "He wasn't hard to find," the FBI said. "We said, 'Are you this guy?', he said, 'Yes', and we served the papers on him."

The SEC alleges Stanford misled investors in a fraud whose total value reaches $9.2bn (£6.4bn). He is accused of encouraging investors using false information about the performance of his banks, including claims that he put the money into tradable shares when in fact it went towards real estate and private equity...

IHT: Argentina Banishes Holocaust Denier Bishop Richard Williamson

Bravo to Argentina for doing the right thing.

Argentina expels Holocaust- denying bishop
By Hugh Bronstein

Argentina has given a Roman Catholic bishop 10 days to leave the country or be expelled after he caused an international uproar by denying the extent of the Holocaust, the government said on Thursday.

Bishop Richard Williamson, an ultra-traditionalist who headed a seminary near Buenos Aires until earlier this month, has said he believes there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Germany's Nazi concentration camps, rather than the 6 million figure that is widely accepted.

The Vatican ordered him to retract his comments and the British-born Williamson responded that needed more time to review the evidence.

"The interior minister ... orders Richard Nelson Williamson to leave the country within 10 days or be expelled," Argentina's government said in a statement.

Williamson's views were anti-Semitic and "deeply offended Argentine society," the government said. Argentina is home to one of the world's largest Jewish communities outside of Israel.

At the seminary outside Buenos Aires, in the rural town of La Reja, two clergymen told Reuters that Williamson had already left the sprawling, tree-lined compound.

"It's very sad but there you have it," said a bespectacled, young Frenchman who identified himself as Juan de Dios, or Juan of God.

Neither he nor priest Alvaro Calderon was willing to say if Williamson had left for good.

Pope Benedict angered Jewish leaders and many Catholics last month when he lifted excommunications on Williamson and three other traditionalists to try to heal a 20-year-old schism within the Church that began in 1988 when they were ordained without Vatican permission.

Williamson, who belongs to the ultra-traditional Society of Saint Pius X, was removed earlier this month as head of the seminary in La Reja...

Argentine Jewish groups applauded the government's decision. Aldo Donzis, head of the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations, said denying the Holocaust was "unacceptable."

Rabbi Daniel Goldman, a child of Holocaust survivors who sought government action against Williamson, told the Jewish News Agency that "actions such as these clearly show that our people and our leadership refuse to live alongside a lie."

A leader of Germany's Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, said on Sunday it was "almost ridiculous" that Williamson has said he needs time to review evidence about whether the Holocaust took place.

Where is Robert Allen Stanford Hiding?

Reuters reports that Robert Allen Stanford is still on the lam - nobody can find him. Rightfully the court has seized his US assets and Venezuela has seized one of his banks.
...Stanford's whereabouts remain a mystery. CNBC television reported this week that he had tried to hire a private jet to fly from Houston to Antigua, but the jet lessor refused to accept his credit card.

The SEC says it does not know where Stanford is and says he failed to respond to subpoenas seeking testimony.

A federal judge appointed a receiver on Tuesday "to take possession and control of defendants' assets for the protection of defendants' victims."

Stanford's personal fortune was estimated at $2.2 billion last year by Forbes Magazine. He holds dual U.S.-Antiguan citizenship, has donated millions of dollars to U.S. politicians, and has secured endorsements from sports stars, including golfer Vijay Singh and soccer player Michael Owen.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already severed its association with Stanford, and a planned Stanford-sponsored international cricket tournament is now unlikely to take place, ECB chairman Giles Clarke said.

In Antigua, Stanford owns the country's largest newspaper, heads a local commercial bank, and is the first American to receive a knighthood from its government. He has homes across the region, from Antigua to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Miami.

EJP: Belgian Magzine Joods Actueel Exposes Rampant Catholic SSPX Antisemitism

We are sincerely horrified at what the Belgians have chronicled about the rampant antisemitism of SSPX, especially since Pope Benedict XVI is rehabilitating the stature of Bishop Richard Williamson and other members of this strange fringe group into the mainstream Catholic church.
Review of Pius X Society websites reveals virulent anti-Semitism, says Jewish magazine

Subtitle: Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers, is a member of the Society

ANTWERP (EJP)---The traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican in January, openly propagates virulent anti-Semitism, according to an investigation published Thursday by a Jewish magazine in Belgium.

The Roman Catholic Church excommunicated The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in 1988 along with Richard Williamson and three other member priests, declaring that their consecrations were "unlawful" and "schismatic."

Richard Williamson, a controversial British priest, denied that Jews were killed in the Nazi gas chambers during WWII, in a recent interview with a Swedish television.

Research by the Antwerp-based “Joods Actueel” weekly magazine has revealed a “slew of anti-Semitic content” on websites of the St. Pius X society in five languages.
The research comes to the conclusion that Pius X is “an extreme conservative Catholic group that rejects the Second Vatican Council and propagates the worst kind of anti-Semitism.”

For the research the international overarching site of the society was consulted and also a host of national sites such as those of the US, Brazil, Ireland, Asia, Austria, South-Africa and Poland.

The magazine found that the society's US Web site described Jews as "the enemy of man, whose secret weapon is the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy," adding that "heads of Jewry have for centuries conspired methodically and out of an undying hatred against the Catholic name."

The South African site said that "Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their substitute-Messianic drive towards world dominion." The Irish site asks whether "the Jews are guilty of Deicide," answering: "We must say yes."

The site from Germany said that "contemporary Jews are for sure guilty of the murder of God, as long as they don't recognize Christ as God."

The Belgian site accuses Jews of "still believing they are the chosen people" while "awaiting world domination."

Michael Freilich, chief editor of Joods Actueel, commented his research: “This is in many ways worse than the outrageous statements of bishop Williamson denying the Holocaust and the existence of gas chambers.”

“Williamson is a lone fool and not taken serious by the masses, whereas here we are talking about an entire society comprising thousands of priests spreading hatred against the Jewish people to hundreds of thousands around the world”.


Bloomberg: Why Rich People are Nasty Rotten SOBs

We've posted quite a bit recently about several ultra-wealthy personalities who by-and-large have been described as having rude, nasty personalities.

A writer over at Bloomberg has given this general coincidence of wealth and rudeness some thought and come to the conclusion that it is not an accident.
Want to Be Rich? It’s About Being Rude to People: Matthew Lynn
...If you want to make a lot of money, just try being rude to people.

Hold on, that doesn’t make sense, you may say. Surely the way to get on in life is to be as polite as possible. A soft cloud of charm can carry even the lamest executive all the way to the boardroom. Tell everyone you meet they are fantastic, listen to their ridiculous suggestions, buy them a drink as they launch into a tedious anecdote, and they will think you are great. The way to the top is to be courteous, you say.

No less an authority than Dale Carnegie in his self-help classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” makes the point emphatically. Rule No. 1 for making people like you: Become genuinely interested in them. Rule No. 2: Smile.

Rich and Rude

New research has turned that wisdom upside down. The richer people are, the ruder they are, according to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Keltner and co-researcher Michael Kraus videotaped 100 undergraduate students who didn’t know each other, and studied their body language during one-minute gaps in conversation.

The results were clear: Students from a higher socio- economic background were more likely to be rude during the silence. They would doodle, fidget or start grooming themselves. Less-privileged students made far more effort to engage with the other person, making “I’m interested” signals such as laughing or raising eyebrows.

In short, the richer people were a lot ruder, while the poor were a lot more polite.

The psychologists viewed the results as basic animal behavior. The higher up the food chain you are, the fitter and stronger you are. The wealthier animals are signaling that they don’t need anyone. The poorer animals are ingratiating themselves because they need help.

No Reliance

“It is the experience of wealth that leads individuals to become disengaged,” Keltner says.

There is much truth to that. The richer you are, the less reliant you are on other people. It doesn’t matter much what others think of you, since you are unlikely to be asking them for a favor any time soon.

And yet while the rich may be rude because they are wealthy, it is just as likely to be the other way around. Just as plausibly, they are wealthy because they are rude.

Carnegie and other self-help writers have missed the point the last few decades. Getting ahead in life isn’t about making people like you. It is about getting them to serve your interests.

Success depends, more than anything, on an inner ruthlessness. As anyone who has spent much time with chief executives will know, they are mostly an unpleasant bunch.

They bully, cajole, threaten and fume. There are very few examples of them flattering or charming their way to the top. They are more likely to be shouting and raging at people, demanding the impossible, and casting old friends and colleagues aside the moment they become an inconvenience. The accumulation of wealth requires an ability to crush rivals, stamp on employees, and sweep aside all opposition. Charm doesn’t come into it.

As your bank or hedge fund slides toward insolvency, just carry on barking at your secretary, snubbing waitresses, and blanking old friends who nod at you in the elevator. Everyone will assume you are still loaded -- and will hold off pulling the plug on you for a few more days at least.

Pope Benedict XVI Powwows with Pro-choice Democrat Nancy Pelosi

For heretics and non-believers, getting to see this Pope is getting easier every day.

Last week the Pope entertained a group of Jewish leaders and told them what they wanted to hear. This week he spent 15 minutes in private with pro-choice Catholic politician, democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

After the Pelosi powwow the Vatican issued a namby pamby softball statement, "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

Reminding the democrat of the Vatican's stance in favor of "Laws capable of protecting..." is many stages and degrees away from the spin that reactionary Catholics have put on it. The Pope did not directly criticize or chastise the politician for her openly heretical positions.

The fact is that we can spin this event as a softening while others spin it as a reiteration of hard-line papal politics.

So, now this and recall that last week on the one hand he greeted a Holocaust denier back into the Church and then on the other hand he greeted a group of Jewish leaders in the Vatican and spoke against Holocaust denial.

Amazing. The Pope has become a sort of papal Talmudist who promulgates utterances and performs actions that are interpreted in diametrically opposite ways.

Should the Northwest Jesuits be given bankruptcy protection?

We ask whether Northwest Jesuits be allowed bankruptcy protection against abuse lawsuits. We don't think it is a good idea to let this entity use the shelter of chapter 11.

Critics say, "Chapter 11 bankruptcy is excessively lenient in giving a needless "escape hatch" to the incompetent management of a failing company, damaging the efficiency of the economy as a whole and allowing poor managers to continue managing. It is unusual for the management of a company in Chapter 11 to be fired, as it is usually assumed that the present management team knows far more about the company and its customers than would a new set of management. These critics note that in Europe, bankruptcy law is far less lenient for failing companies."

In other words, bankruptcy in this case will encourage the church to maintain in place the priests that allowed the abuse. Bad idea.

Critics of chapter 11 say further, "A company undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy is effectively operating under the 'protection' of the court until it emerges, in some cases giving the bankrupt company a great advantage against its competitors, distorting the market and harming more competitive businesses."

This troubles me because it blurs the separation of church and state. If a church operates under the 'protection' of the secular court and derives therefrom advantages -- to me that suggests the state is engaged in fostering the establishment of a specific religion.

The first amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Allowing a church the benefit of state protected bankruptcy violates that clause. Bad idea.

That's our Talmudic analysis of the day.
Northwest Jesuits file for bankruptcy protection

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Confronted by scores of lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests, the Jesuits of the Oregon Province have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The petition was filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland. The province of the Roman Catholic order listed assets of less than $5 million and liabilities of almost $62 million.

"Our decision to file Chapter 11 was not an easy one, but with approximately 200 additional claims pending or threatened, it is the only way we believe that all claimants can be offered a fair financial settlement within the limited resources of the Province," The Rev. Patrick J. Lee, the current provincial, said in a statement late Tuesday.

The religious order — officially The Society of Jesus — has 10 provinces in the United States. The Oregon Province covers Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

Many of the lawsuits involve Alaska Natives who say they were sexually abused as children while living in remote villages.

Ken Roosa, an Anchorage-based attorney who has filed claims on behalf of more than 60 Alaska Natives, said Tuesday night the Oregon Province is vastly underestimating its assets. Roosa said he believes the Oregon Jesuit province has assets of "more than a billion dollars."

The Portland-based province contends it has worked "diligently" to resolve claims of misconduct, saying it has settled more than 200 claims and paid more than $25 million to victims since 2001. That amount does not include payments made by insurers.

"Our hope is that by filing Chapter 11, we can begin to bring this sad chapter in our Province's history to an end," Lee said. "We continue to pray for all those who have been hurt by the actions of a few men, so that they can receive the healing and reconciliation that they deserve."


Before Blogging Was Invented Tzvee Liked Just Plain Surfing

Talmudic surfing koan: Does a wave exist?

Increase in Older Facebook Users and Everyone is Asking Who Owns the Content?

We are using Facebook more now and so are our friends and relatives.

So here are two timely Facebook articles:
Time Magazine. Technoculture. Why Facebook Is for Old Fogies
By Lev Grossman

Facebook is five. Maybe you didn't get it in your news feed, but it was in February 2004 that Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, along with some classmates, launched the social network that ate the world. Did he realize back then in his dorm that he was witnessing merely the larval stage of his creation? For what began with college students has found its fullest, richest expression with us, the middle-aged. Here are 10 reasons Facebook is for old fogies...more...

NY Times: Facebook’s Users Ask Who Owns Information

Reacting to an online swell of suspicion about changes to Facebook’s terms of service, the company’s chief executive moved to reassure users on Monday that the users, not the Web site, “own and control their information...more...

Times' Editors Demand Faith Without Tribes

The Times' editors today demand that, "Discrimination by faith-based grantees should be barred."

Boy are they mixed up. Religions are nearly always tribal and preferential. They are clubs with members.

How come the editors of the Times don't get that?

Can you really give money to a religious group and tell them not to "discriminate"?

We have been there and we did that exercise back in the 60's. Yeshiva University and many other parochial schools had to decide back then if it could take the "Federal Money" that demanded non-discrimination.

The resulting Talmudic/Byzantine/convoluted/labyrinthine organizational framework that came out of that era has been a moral disaster.

It made this happen. YU leaders said to their donors we are a religious school for Jews. Give us your money. And to Washington they said we don't discriminate. Give us your money.

What does the Times want from religious organizations? Does the Times want to perpetuate more of the two-faced corruption of ethics and morals of the past?

Yes we know. The question goes back really to Obama who is keeping the Faith Based Initiatives alive and back to Bush who first set up shop in that swamp.

The title of the editorial says it all: "Faith-Based Fudging."

Our view is that the boundary between democracy and religion should never have been fudged in the first place.

There is no way for a religion to maintain its mission and integrity and for it to fulfill Obama's directive, to wit,
Speaking last July in Ohio, Mr. Obama set forth his “basic principles” for assuring constitutional balance. “First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use the grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of religion,” he said. “Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs.”
Enforcement of these goals is impossible by definition. We all know that. The current wink and nod approach to making believe that it is not impossible is now just given a new name. It is called a "process of case-by-case review."

Constitutional lawyers may say this makes the funding program kosher.

The editorial concludes with a warning, "The case-by-case review seems destined to confuse as much as enlighten. And it is hardly the clear commitment to proper employment practices Mr. Obama voiced as a candidate, and the Constitution requires."

This warning is not enough.

The Times ought to have said clearly that the program is flawed at its essence and destructive to our nation's social fabric.

To keep these initiatives going means that we surely are instructing our purported moral leaders in their respective faith communities to misrepresent the essence of their being so they can qualify for Federal Funding. Or should we say, Federal Fudging?


Abraham Lincoln, Israelis, Palestinians and God

In 1865 Abraham Lincoln offered up a prophetic lesson that is directly relevant for the Israelis and Palestinians at the end of their long and costly conflict, whenever that will come.

Lincoln's second inaugural address of March 4 of that year stands as one of the greatest of all speeches. It is a profound document delivered amidst the certainty of the victory of the Union over the Confederacy after a bitter war that claimed 620,000 lives. The London Spectator reported that the address had, "a sacred and almost prophetic character."

Remarkably, Lincoln in his time of triumph did not gloat or even celebrate his great victory. He took the occasion to make a brief but deep and meaningful theological inquiry - to explain the role of God in the conflict and the role of humanity in its aftermath.

Lincoln observed that both North and South claimed God on their sides. He opined that God clearly must have ordained that a tragic war should occur. He saw the war theologically, both as a result of the offense of slavery and as the means that God provided to remove it. No matter how bloody and how long the conflict would be, Lincoln defended it as the Lord's judgment. Though not a conventionally religious man, Lincoln fervently believed that God's universe was orderly and just.

Most noteworthy, he concluded his speech not with a call to vengeance or a cry to punish the enemy. He called for a peace by expressing what has become the epigram of American magnanimity, "With malice toward none; with charity for all."

Though known for his melancholy disposition, Lincoln called forth finally a great national optimism to bind up wounds and to achieve a just and lasting peace.

What should Israelis and Palestinians learn from Lincoln? Both have claimed God on their sides in a conflict that has been long and costly. Both ought to heed Lincoln's determination that God wanted this strife to occur - because the universe is based on order and justice.

Most of all, Israelis must follow Lincoln's lead at the near-conclusion of a struggle that they clearly have won. Without triumph, rejoicing or calling for punishment or recrimination, they must turn and affirm, "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
The Conclusion of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865

...Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.

The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
[repost from 2006]

Jew on a Jet Video: Exterior of a 737 Plane Adorned with Israeli model Bar Refaeli

We note this as religion news - an indication of the decline in global morals that heralds the imminent arrival of the redemption of the Messianic age.

Livni to Olmert: No No Coalition with Netanyahu

Arutz Sheva tells the story of the "note" that Livni passed to Olmert while on TV in front of open microphones saying,
“I have no intention of being in a unity [government] headed by Bibi, and do not hint in that direction,” Livni scribbled hurriedly. “What you are saying leads there and this is not Kadima’s position,” she wrote, underlining the word ‘not.’
The story of the note's publication is a bit hazy.
The note which Livni then passed was visible on the TV screen but its content is not clear from the video and seems to have reached Channel 2 in a different way. Channel 2’s Internet news website states that the contents of the note “reached” it but does not say how.
Right wing Arutz Sheva's wishful thinking spin is that this paves, "the way for the formation of a coalition based only on Likud and parties to its political right."


Pope to Jewish Leader Bobble Head Dolls: Holocaust Denial is a Bad Thing

You gotta admire the Pope for his courage to get up and say last week in front of an audience of Jewish leader bobble head dolls that the denial of the Holocaust is "altogether unacceptable"!

No shoes were thrown at him. Man, that guy has guts.

Pope meets Jews, says denial unacceptable

Pope Benedict XVI, responding to the controversy over his decision to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, one of whom denies the Holocaust, today met at the Vatican with American Jewish leaders travelling under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The pope, speaking in English, rejected Holocaust denial, saying, "It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable.''...

Clergy Speak for Evolution

Bravo. Mainstream clergy this weekend have banded together to support science and evolution.

Here is what the Clergy Letter Project says.
This year represents the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (12 February 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species in 1859. This backdrop provides a rich opportunity to demonstrate that religion and science have much to offer one another. Please join us and congregations all around the world iin celebrating Evolution Weekend 2009!

13 -15 February 2009 -- Evolution Weekend

Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic - to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, which has now been signed by more than 11,000 members of the Christian clergy in the United States, Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy.

Through sermons, discussion groups, meaningful conversations and seminars, the leaders listed [see site] will show that religion and science are not adversaries.
Postscript:  Read Origin of Species.


The Australian: Ian Buruma's Urgent Report on Antisemitism in Asia

Of course, the antisemitic stories that circulate in Asia are "myths" - that is untrue narratives. Still, it's not a rosy picture that Ian Buruma paints of the spread of antisemitism in Asia. This is something we all ought to know about and start working to combat before the stories become "myths" - that is stories that people accept as true because they are part of their faith systems. This is an important article by a writer of substance.
Asia's Jewish myths
Ian Buruma

A CHINESE bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I'd Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder's Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar's army in 1905.

The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.

In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children's blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.

So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.

Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West's dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.

The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.

One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonised people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule. Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.

In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the West. Excluded from many occupations, they too survived by clannishness and trade. They too have been persecuted for not being "sons of the soil". And they too are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, as both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.

As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people's views of the US and, indeed, of the Jews. Japanese anti-Semitism is a particularly interesting case.

Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. However, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.

As a result, during World War II, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection.

This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.

Times: Venezuela's Jews, the Pope and the Jews, Geert and the Muslims

The Times puts three loosely related stories on page A8 today, all three of concern to us, in particular the first. My daughter-in-law's sister and her family are living now in Venezuela.
A break-in at a Caracas synagogue on Jan. 31 heightened the concerns of the country’s Jews.
Venezuela’s Jews, Already Uneasy, Are Jolted by Attack
The Jewish community is apprehensive amid attacks on Jewish institutions following President Hugo Chávez’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador....

The warm welcome that Mr. Chávez has extended to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has also troubled Jews.

The tensions intensified last month when Mr. Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador to protest the war in Gaza, and senior officials attended a rally at the Sheik Ibrahim Mosque here in Caracas. “Our revolution is also the revolution for a Free Palestine,” Tareck El Aissami, the interior minister, said at the rally.

On the sidelines of the televised rapprochement on Thursday at the synagogue, one observer, León Benaim, summed up his view of the attack and the government’s reaction to it.
“The motive was simple,” said Mr. Benaim, 73, a Moroccan Jew who moved to Venezuela three decades ago. “It is to threaten and frighten the Jewish community so that we leave.”

Pope Calls Any Denial of Holocaust ‘Intolerable’
The remarks to a Jewish group were among the pope’s strongest since a bishop’s comments set off outrage....

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who also attended the audience, said he had hoped the pope would go even further, and excommunicate Bishop Williamson once again.

“You can’t condemn anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and then reinstate someone who’s a Holocaust denier,” Mr. Foxman said. He called the pope’s statements “significant and very important,” but said they “did not bring closure.”
Geert Wilders, who has compared the Koran to “Mein Kampf,” was ordered to leave Britain on the grounds that his presence endangered public security....

Officials said they were acting under immigration rules adopted last year to screen out visitors who posed a security threat. In a letter handed to Mr. Wilders at Heathrow, the Home Office said he posed “a genuine, present and sufficient threat to the fundamental interests of society.” But he told reporters that Prime Minister Gordon Brown was “the biggest coward in Europe.”

“Democracy means differences and debate,” he said. “Of course I will come back.”


Mortgage Crisis Explained by David Faber of CNBC in Brilliant "House of Cards"

No matter that you don't know a mortgaged backed security from a collateralized debt obligation. You know that the mortgage companies, the banks and Wall Street created a monster financial mess that is causing a ton of suffering.

How did this happen? The basics of the mortgage crisis are all explained by David Faber of CNBC in his brilliant documentary, "House of Cards." [CNBC site page.]

We watched it tonight. Faber goes for interviews far and wide to tell the story with clarity and persistence. He speaks to the mayor of Narvik Norway, to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, to contrarian investor Kyle Bass and to a whole lot of others, from financial scoundrels to ordinary hurting folk.

And guess what. Like a great professor, he translates complexity, teaches us what happened, when, where and how it happened and then he leaves it up to us to reflect on what needs to be done next.

TTB Rating: Must see! The best 2 hours you can invest in your economic education. And woven into a great story too.

Others agree, for instance Newsday rates the show GRADE A(+) in a full review, check it out.

Check out the Promo Preview Video or the Cramer Promo. Good work by all involved: An Emmy, Peabody, and Dupont award winner, David Faber is the anchor and co-producer of CNBC's acclaimed original documentaries as well as a contributor to CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." James Jacoby is writer and producer of CNBC's "House of Cards." Jill Landes is co-producer. James Segelstein is senior producer. Mitch Weitzner is the Executive Producer of CNBC's Long Form Unit. Jonathan Wald is the Senior Vice President, Business News at CNBC.
Saturday, February 14th  7p | 10p ET
Sunday, February 15th  9p ET
Monday, February 16th  8p | 12a ET
Sunday, March 1st  Midnight ET
Sunday, March 15th  9p ET

Times: See the Valmadonna Trust Library of Rare Hebrew and Aramaic Books at Sotheby’s Auction House

"A copy of the Babylonian Talmud (1519-23) made by the Christian printer Daniel Bomberg in Venice, was created with the advice of a panel of scholars that codified many aspects of how the Talmud is displayed and printed."
The collection is on display to the public through next Thursday, on view for the large institutional libraries and collectors who might be prepared to pay at least $40 million for what Sotheby’s, echoing scholars in the field, describes as “the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world.”
We say: Bad timing. Sorry but in this economic climate I doubt that the library, no matter how breathtaking, will fetch $40 million.

Also the Times' article
is a bit imprecise when it says, "These are all books written in Hebrew or using Hebrew script, many of them rare or even unique." The Talmud is written mostly in Aramaic. True enough the script is the same as that used for Hebrew. The Samaritan Torah in the collection is written in a script that 99% of Hebrew readers could not make out. True, the article does call it an "ancient Hebrew script resembling inscriptions on archaeological finds rather than the letters that came to define mainstream Hebrew."

This to us at the Talmudic blog is the kind of imprecision that is just barely excusable, especially since you have a big fact checking desk over there at the Times whose job it is to know the difference between Hebrew and Aramaic and make sure the reports it publishes are clear about that.

Tzvee Likes the Google Translation Machine

We found traffic to our blog coming from a European blog called Lucerna wikipedie. So to find out what they were saying about us we turned to Google Translate. There we were told to "Enter text or a webpage URL."

The neat choice that I found recently is "Detect language" - the first on the source drop-down menu on the Google Translate page. In the case of the blog in question, I did not originally detect myself that the blog was written in Czech - so the automatic detection was more useful than trial and error.

In some languages the translation engine is not especially thorough and I suspect not entirely accurate. Certainly the style of the translated result lacks fluidity. But for my purposes it is usually fine. I'm curious to know how people use my blog posts. In particular I want to see if antisemites are misusing content that we post, not that there is anything we can do about that, to paraphrase the famed Jerry Seinfeld qualifier.

The link in this case is from a Czech Wikipedia centric blog to our Tzvee's Talmudic Blog post regarding Timothy Geithner, where we established by our own independent research that contrary to information that had been posted in Wikipedia, he is not Jewish.

While we were on the subject - we have added the Google Translate gadget to our blog. It's on the side in the right hand column of every page now.--->

This makes our webpage instantly available in other languages, it offers instant access to automatic translations of our content.

It's nice to see the blog in Hebrew! Try it.......--->

Also try the Google "Translated Search" page, available as one of the tabs at Google Translate.

That's a facility that is a bit more complex. It offers some promising assistance. In a rare case of technical writing Google actually tries to explain what "Translated Search" does for you as follows:
How does this work?
1. Search for Dubai tours from English to Arabic.
2. We translate your query into "جولات دبي" and find Arabic web page results.
3. Finally, we translate the Arabic web page results back into English for you.

Other things you can search for
St. Petersburg restaurants - (Санкт-Петербург рестораны) in Russian pages
Beijing apartments - (北京公寓) in Chinese pages


Tzipi Livni on the Beach

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (C) walks on the beach in Tel Aviv February 7, 2009 (Reuters photo). No, that is not Tzvee or neighbor Henry, with her on the beach. And yes, Tzipi Livni is Jewish, a mainly secular Jew.

We are rooting for Tzipi to form a new vibrant centrist government.

For those of you truly tasteless and awful web surfers who are looking for more revealing photos of Livni via a Google search query, that includes Tzipi Livni with the terms swimsuit, bikini, topless or nude, sorry to disappoint you.
לאלו מכם אשר מחפשים יותר של לבני חושפים תמונות באמצעות שאילתת חיפוש אשר כוללת ציפי לבני עם תנאי ביקיני, ללא חזיה או עירום, מצטערת לאכזב אותך

Bernice Sells an Old Baseball Card for $64,073

Nice going Bernice!
Fresno woman's rare baseball card nets $64,073
Fresno woman gets $64K for rare baseball card she originally tried to sell for $10

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- A Fresno antiques dealer has hit a home run with the sale of a rare baseball card she thought was worth only $10.

Bernice Gallego ended up selling the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team card on an online auction site for $64,073 on Tuesday. That's more than double the previous record set for an identical card. The Cincinnati Red Stockings are the first professional team in the U.S.

Gallego didn't know what she had when she originally listed the card on eBay for $10. After numerous e-mails asking if it was real, she pulled the card. Only a handful of them exist.

The front of the card features a sepia-toned, gelatin-silver photographic print of the entire team. The reverse has a red-and-white advertisement for Peck & Snyder, a New York sports equipment manufacturer.

Gallego enjoyed national media attention and appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" after finding the card in a box of junk.

The buyer was Jeff Rosenberg, president of a Houston company that promotes sports memorabilia shows.

Reuters: The Vatican of Pope Benedict XVI v. Jewish People

A short timeline issued by Reuters paints a high-level picture of the negative direction that Pope Benedict XVI has led the Catholic church vis a vis the Jews.
  • He refused to open the Vatican's WW II archives.
  • He proposed to make Pius XII into a saint.
  • He restored antisemitic prayers to the Good Friday liturgy.
  • His Cardinal accused Israel of making Gaza into a "concentration camp."
  • He lifted the excommunication of a Holocaust denying bishop, then appeared to backpedal.
It boggles our imagination that we Jews are still on square one with this Pope. We have no expectation that he will move forward in the right direction. He is firmly stuck in reverse gear in all respects. From Reuters:
2005 - New Pope Benedict XVI visits the Cologne synagogue. The appeal by the head of the Jewish community there to open all Vatican archives concerning World War Two shows that Pius XII remains an obstacle on the road to reconciliation. Pope John Paul had put Pius on the road to sainthood.

December 2007 - Moves to make Pius a saint are delayed as Benedict has said he wants to review older documents from World War Two and study new ones that have come to light.

February 2008 - Pope Benedict orders changes to a Latin prayer used by traditionalist Catholics for Jews at Good Friday services. Jews criticized the new version because it still says they should recognize Jesus Christ as the savior of all men and it keeps an underlying call to conversion.

November 2008 - Benedict pays tribute to Pius XII. Benedict has so far not approved a decree making him a saint, opting instead for what the Vatican has called a period of reflection.

January 2009 - Israel criticizes Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace, after he criticized Israel over its offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip, calling it a "big concentration camp".

-- Elia Enrico Richetti, chief rabbi of Venice, announces a boycott of the Church's annual celebration of Judaism, saying decisions by Benedict are negating years of interfaith progress.

-- The pope lifts the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops, thrown out of the Church in 1988 for being ordained without Vatican permission. The four bishops lead the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X, which has rejected modernization of Roman Catholic worship and doctrine.

-- One of the four bishops, British-born Richard Williamson, has made several statements denying the extent of the Holocaust.

-- In late January Pope Benedict tried to heal the rift by expressing his "full and unquestionable solidarity" with Jews.

February 2009 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls on Bavarian-born Pope Benedict to make clear he did not tolerate any denial of the Holocaust in unusually strong words, which draws a sharp response from the Vatican.

-- The Vatican orders Williamson to publicly recant his views if he wants to serve as a prelate in the Church.

-- World Jewish leaders tell Vatican officials that denying the Holocaust was "not an opinion but a crime" when they meet to discuss Williamson and his views.


Amazon's Kindle 2.0 Sounds Like a Winner

Yes we bought the Kindle 1.0 in 2007 when it came out.
Amazon has released the second version.
We've ordered the Kindle 2.0.
Reviews are positive. It is time!


Winona Daily News: Holocaust Denier Richard Williamson Taught in Minnesota for 15 Years

I'm shaking my head. They are much closer than I imagined.

Not in Argentina, but just a few miles from where I lived in Minneapolis, Richard Williamson, the meshuggenah Holocaust denier bishop, lived and taught from 1988 to 2003 at an SSPX seminary in Winona.

Did the Winona seminary fire him? We doubt it - he was their rector for 20 years. The good news is that his Argentina seminary bosses have fired him now.

And now what will the Pope do? Promote him to the Vatican?
Holocaust-denying bishop lived in Minn. 15 years
Associated Press

WINONA, Minn. - A Holocaust-denying bishop lived and taught for 15 years at a Minnesota seminary, where he expressed views similar to those that sparked a diplomatic crisis for the Vatican, the Winona Daily News reported Sunday.

Bishop Richard Williamson was one of four bishops from the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican last month. The decision sparked outrage because he said in a recent Swedish TV interview he did not believe any Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

Williamson made numerous similar statements in the southeastern Minnesota city of Winona, where he was rector of the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary between 1988 and 2003, the newspaper reported.

"There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies," he said in a speech at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes church in Sherbrooke, Canada in 1989, shortly after he became rector, the newspaper reported. "The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel ... Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism," he said in the speech.

The Daily News said Williamson kept a low profile at the seminary from 1988 to 2003, writing letters on his beliefs and occasionally making speeches. It said Williamson became rector of the society's U.S. seminary in Connecticut in 1983, and came to Winona when the seminary moved here in 1988 to occupy the former St. Peter Martyr Priory....more...

Star Tribune: New Proposals Address Religion in Minnesota Charter Schools

People in Minnesota invented the charter school. An article by SARAH LEMAGIE and NORMAN DRAPER, Star Tribune staff writers, discusses what some may call the next chapter in the development of these institutions - some might call this Charter Schools 2.0 - "Minnesota charter schools are in for a change: As interest in the independently run but publicly funded schools explodes, so does legislators' desire to monitor them more closely."

Among many others, Minnesota has a controversial school, the Islamic Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Some have said it violates the laws that prohibit public schools from promoting religion. As we said before, it seems from the press coverage that the school practices thinly disguised subterfuges, to cover up the fact that they are indeed a Muslim school with required religious training and rituals.

The article concludes with the news that state legislators are attempting to address such issues:
Two state proposals deal with religion, Anderson said. One would bar a house of worship from sponsoring a charter school (none does now). Another would require charter schools to follow a state law that currently applies to district schools, which allows students to attend limited religious instruction but only if it's off campus.

Objective Stateuniversity.com Ranks Many Yeshivas High

The Star Tribune reports that, "StateUniversity.com calls its rankings '100 percent objective.' It says it has built its results based on a 'comprehensive survey of verified data including student/faculty ratio, student retention and test scores.'"

Here are a few select rankings. Click to find your favorite in the top 2000.

10 Brown
27 College of William and Mary
57 Columbia
79 Macalester College
108 University of California-Berkeley
164 Yeshiva University
188 Bard College
193 University of Minnesota
351 Telshe Yeshiva-Chicago
403 University of North Carolina at Charlotte
407 Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Detroit
438 Yeshivath Beth Moshe
459 Yeshivath Viznitz
480 Yeshiva Karlin Stolin
535 Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia
558 Yeshiva of the Telshe Alumni
559 Adelphi University
659 Touro College
669 Yeshiva Derech Chaim
845 Rabbinical College Bobover Yeshiva Bnei Zion
1218 Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary
1962 Hebrew College
2000+ Fairleigh Dickinson (not listed)

Are we in the US in a depression?

Yes. According to the IMF, advanced economies, like ours in the US are in a depression which may deepen. Bloomberg reported this weekend:
IMF Says Advanced Economies Already in Depression
By Angus Whitley and Shamim Adam

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Advanced economies are already in a "depression" and the financial crisis may deepen unless the banking system is fixed, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

“The worst cannot be ruled out,” Strauss-Kahn said in Kuala Lumpur, where he was attending a gathering of central bankers from Southeast Asia. “There’s a lot of downside risk.”

Ten days ago, the IMF cut its world-growth estimate for this year to 0.5 percent, the weakest pace since World War II. Stimulus packages alone won’t succeed in dragging the global economy out of recession unless confidence is restored in the banking system, Strauss-Kahn said today...more...


We told you so: Universities lost 50% this year - right out of the pockets of students and faculty

Posted last year on 1/25/08. We warned you. (Lots of other people were squawking too.)

We told you - Spend the endowments. Did you listen? No! You lost 50% of your value. Why? So your endowment managers could collect big bonuses. So your presidents could get enormous salaries. And you threw away money that should have gone to students and faculty.

That was a crime. So here is the repost. Read it and weep.

Times: Politicians to Universities: Greedy Pigs! Spend Your Endowments

Somehow Universities lost their way. They amassed piles of capital in their endowments and began to think they were capitalists. They turned off the spigot for the students, wept to the faculty about the severe budgetary constraints that they faced, and turned on the bonuses for the fund managers and presidents, and now they must answer to congress for their blatant exploitation of the citizenry of our republic.

When I was helping to raise an endowment for our tiny department at the University of Minnesota, I was told that we had to spend 5% a year on programs and we planned accordingly. Apparently that rule has been ignored by the big boys and now the stuff is hitting the fan.

And I remember scratching my head for days after the University of Minnesota announced record fund raising success for its endowments out of one side of its mouth and pleaded poverty to the public out of the other side of its mouth, insisting on zero salary increases for faculty and tuition hikes for students.

Twenty years ago this behavior across the academic industry was unethical, immoral and criminal. It has continued unabated. Millions of dollars tucked away in endowments has now increased to billions of dollars. The real question here is how much has America suffered with inferior education for its students, with faculty research and teaching that never took place, because of the greed of University administrators and endowment managers?

An entire generation of students has been cheated out of tuition. An entire generation of professors have been exploited with sub-par wages, labs and budgets. All this so that dozens of universities can amass piles of capital and make millions of dollars for the administrators and money managers.

This is a corruption of an industry that goes far beyond the Enron or Worldcom scandals. It's a perversion of the entire concept of the non-profit organization.

It's high time that we begin to see some university fund managers and presidents marched off in handcuffs to serve their time in prison for cheating the public - students and teachers - out of the charitable donations that were meant for them.

And while you are locking up those crooks, you might also start sending some hefty bills to the donors who took tax write offs for money that never went to non-profit purposes.

A curse is descending on all the sleazy donors, all the avaricious endowment managers and all the greedy university presidents.

You know who you are and you will all rot in hell for what you have done.
Senate Looking at Endowments as Tuition Rises

The Senate Finance Committee, increasingly concerned about the rising cost of higher education, demanded detailed information on Thursday from the nation’s 136 wealthiest colleges and universities on how they raised tuition over the last decade, gave out financial aid and managed and spent their endowments.

The committee also asked about endowment-related bonuses paid to college presidents and endowment managers.

The move came as a record 76 colleges and universities achieved endowments of $1 billion or more in the last fiscal year, according to a report released this week. Harvard’s endowment, the largest, grew 20 percent, to $34.6 billion, while Yale’s, the second largest, grew 25 percent, to $22.5 billion.

“Tuition has gone up, college presidents’ salaries have gone up, and endowments continue to go up and up,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the committee. “We need to start seeing tuition relief for families go up just as fast.”

The committee, which has a central role in setting tax policy, has been pressuring universities to use more of their wealth for financial aid and threatening to require them to spend a minimum of 5 percent of their endowments each year, as foundations must. The committee pointed out that donations to universities and their endowment earnings were both tax-exempt.

Seeking to head off Congressional action, wealthy universities have been rushing in recent months to expand financial aid, in some cases using more of their endowments to increase assistance to low-income and upper-income students alike. Harvard recently said it would increase aid for families earning up to $180,000 a year, and Yale said it would help families with annual incomes of as much as $200,000.

The request for information came in a letter, signed by Mr. Grassley and the committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. It provided a strong indication that the committee was not backing off the idea of requiring colleges to spend more of their endowments.

Mr. Grassley said that the information gathered in the next 30 days “will help Congress make informed decisions about a potential pay-out requirement and allow universities to show what they can accomplish on their own initiative.”

University officials expressed surprise at the broad information request and concern about Congress mandating how they use their endowments.

“I believe that Senator Baucus’s and Grassley’s intentions may be admirable,” said Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, “but understanding university finances is an extremely complex matter, especially in public colleges and universities.” Berkeley’s endowment is roughly $3 billion.

Henry S. Bienen, president of Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., said that while he believed that putting more information into the open “will help eliminate many myths and misunderstandings,” he rejected the proposal that universities be required to spend 5 percent of their endowment assets each year.

“Universities are not like foundations,” Dr. Bienen said. “They have operating budgets which they cannot easily adjust with the ups and downs of markets. They cannot easily turn off spigots.” Northwestern, thanks to a recent cash infusion, now has a nearly $7 billion endowment.

University officials noted that an economic downturn would reduce the returns on endowments while creating more demand for financial aid. “People have got used to the last few years of wonderful endowment growth,” Dr. Bienen added. “It does not always happen.”

Lynne Munson, an adjunct research fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a vocal critic of college spending practices, said the committee’s request was “unprecedented but important, because colleges and universities have kept endowment spending secret for so long.”

“Parents, donors and all taxpayers deserve to know how these tax-free endowment funds are being spent,” Ms. Munson said.

Although the Senate letter is not a subpoena, a spokeswoman for the committee said that it was rare for a nonprofit entity not to cooperate with a request for information.

College tuition has been rising faster than inflation and colleges have adopted complicated aid programs and discounts that have made the pricing of an undergraduate education at an elite college as complicated and varied as the pricing of airline seats.

Most colleges have far lower endowments and charge less than the ones the committee is addressing.

The committee’s letter, asking for detailed financial information from the universities and colleges across a decade, signaled that lawmakers plan to get deeply into pricing policies. It asks for both the sticker price of tuition and the average and median prices paid by students year by year for 10 years.

The committee questioned how the colleges recruit low-income students and how much they spend on these efforts. It also asked who decides when tuition increases are necessary.

In the matter of endowments, lawmakers sought year-by-year growth and investment returns, and fees paid to investment advisers.

The senators moved a day after the National Association of College and University Business Officers released its annual endowment study, which showed that the 76 colleges and universities with endowments of $1 billion or more had seen their value rise 21 percent over the previous year. Despite good returns, however, they spent on average only 4.4 percent of their endowments.

Mr. Baucus and Mr. Grassley noted the “explosive” growth and said, “That is good news because much good can be done now.”