Rabbi Michael Lerner: "in mourning for a Judaism being murdered by Israel"

"No wonder, then, that I’m heartbroken to see the Judaism of love and compassion being dismissed as “unrealistic” by so many of my fellow Jews and fellow rabbis."

Israel has broken my heart: I’m a rabbi in mourning for a Judaism being murdered by Israel

I always told myself that the dominant humanity of the Jewish people and the compassionate strain within Torah would reassert itself once Israel felt secure.

That belief began to wane in the past eight years when Israel, faced with a Palestinian Authority that promoted nonviolence and sought reconciliation and peace, ignored the Saudi Arabian-led peace initiative that would have granted Israel the recognition that it had long sought, an end to hostilities, and a recognized place in the Middle East, refused to stop its expansion of settlements in the West Bank and imposed an economically crushing blockade on Gaza. Even Hamas, whose hateful charter called for Israel’s destruction, had decided to accept the reality of Israel’s existence, and while unable to embrace its “right” to exist, nevertheless agreed to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority and in that context live within the terms that the PA would negotiate with Israel.

Yet far from embracing this new possibility for peace, the Israeli government used that as its reason to break off the peace negotiations, and then, in an unbelievably cynical move, let the brutal and disgusting kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens (by a rogue element in Hamas that itself was trying to undermine the reconciliation-with-Israel factions of Hamas by creating new fears in Israel) become the pretext for a wild assault on West Bank civilians, arresting hundreds of Hamas sympathizers, and escalating drone attacks on Hamas operatives inside Gaza.

Kucinich: "a land grab going on" in Gaza

"Three weeks ago, Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, called for Gaza to “become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel.” Israel has a housing crisis? After the “no-go” buffer zone is evacuated, there will be 21,951 Palestinians per square mile in Gaza, while Israel’s population density stands at 964 persons per square mile."

Crimes against humanity in Gaza: is it really a 'buffer zone' – or a bigger plan? (the Guardian)

On Monday, the US state department went further, calling the airstrikes upon a UN school “disgraceful” – and yet America provides Israel with more than $3.1bn every year, restocking the ability of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to hit more schools, and to wage total war against an imprisoned people, because of their nationality.

American taxpayers should not be paying for this....

There is a land grab going on. The Israeli prime minister, Binjamin Netanyahu, has shrunk Gaza’s habitable land mass by 44%, with an edict establishing a 3km (1.8-mile) buffer zone, a “no-go” zone for Palestinians – and that’s quite significant, because a good part of Gaza is only 3 to 4 miles wide. Over 250,000 Palestinians within this zone must leave their homes, or be bombed. As their territorial space collapses, 1.8m Gazans now living in 147 square miles will be compressed into 82 square miles.

Google is scanning Gmail users mail for kiddie porn

The sexual abuse of children is bad. People who sexually abuse children should be locked up, full stop.

It's more questionable whether people should be locked up for having images of the abuse of children. We've previously covered Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge's take on that topic. (If you find questioning the criminalization "child pornography" shocking, ask yourself: isn't it odd that you can go to jail for having an image of a 16-year-old making love but it's a-ok to have an image of a 16-year-old being murdered? And no, I don't have either sort of image lying around, nor any interest in viewing either sort of image.)

But it's even more questionable whether ISPs should be routinely spying on people and looking for evidence that they have images of the abuse of children. The use of "OMG won't someone think of the children!" as a justification to limit liberty and create a digital panopticon should give us pause.

Did Google Go Too Far? (Business Insider)

On the other, debate rages about how much privacy users can expect when using Google's services like email. In a word: none.

A year ago, in a court brief, Google said as much. Then, in April, after a class-action case against Google for email scanning fell apart, Google updated its terms of service to warn people that it was automatically analyzing emails.

US rearms Israel so it can continue war crimes

You tax dollars at work.

Despite concerns, US restocks Israel with ammunition (Yahoo News)

The United States confirmed it had restocked Israel's supplies of ammunition, hours after finally sharpening its tone to condemn an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza. "Obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians seeking shelter in a UN facility," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged, in some of the toughest US comments since the start of the 23-day fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Australia tries for gag order to hide corruption

If you can't solve a problem, sweep it under the rug.

Australia bans reporting of multi-nation corruption case involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam

Today, 29 July 2014, WikiLeaks releases an unprecedented Australian censorship order concerning a multi-million dollar corruption case explicitly naming the current and past heads of state of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, their relatives and other senior officials. The super-injunction invokes “national security” grounds to prevent reporting about the case, by anyone, in order to “prevent damage to Australia's international relations”. The court-issued gag order follows the secret 19 June 2014 indictment of seven senior executives from subsidiaries of Australia's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The case concerns allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by agents of the RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries.

Bank of England admits money is a racket

Money is a fiction, a creation of humanity. If the way we're creating it doesn't serve our needs -- and it obviously doesn't -- then we need to create it differently.

The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it (the Guardian)

Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called "Money Creation in the Modern Economy", co-authored by three economists from the Bank's Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.


It's this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say "there's just not enough money" to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending "crowding out" the private sector. What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: "Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits" … "In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money 'multiplied up' into more loans and deposits."

In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it's backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There's really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit....


Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

pibble saves injured chihuahua

Yet another pit bull whose love puts most of us primates to shame.

Jonie Loves Chachi: Hero Pit Bull Saves Injured Chihuahua Pal (ABC News)

A pit bull is being hailed as a hero for carrying an injured Chihuahua to safety -- and now the two dogs are looking for a loving home together.

Pit bull Jonie was found carrying her injured friend, Chachi, inside her mouth, roaming around a Savannah, Georgia, neighborhood on July 10.

Chachi, a long-haired Chihuahua mix, had suffered an injury to his left eye. Jonie, a white Lab-pit bull mix many times larger than Chachi in size, was walking around with Chachi in her mouth and putting him down every now and then to lick his wound.

"test" of bulletproof vest leads to murder charges

Doing stupid things can get you killed.

Man charged with shooting friend in botched test of bulletproof vest in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun)

Three people stood in the basement of a Westport home before 4 a.m. Wednesday to film a stunt in which they planned to test a bulletproof vest. Darnell Mitchell put it on, looked into a video camera and proclaimed himself ready to take "deuce deuce in the chest."

But, police said, Mark Ramiro missed the body armor when he pulled the trigger on the .22 caliber handgun, and he now faces murder charges in the 28-year-old's death.

Roko’s Basilisk and the ridiculous side of technofuturism

I am interested in technology -- my degrees are in Computer Science, after all, and I still mostly pay the bills by creating software and wrangling machines. And I am interested in the future, since as the cliche goes, that's where we'll spend the rest of out lives. But hardcore technofuturism is full of pathetic, confused people, like poor Ray Kurzweil, who wants to build a computer simulation of his dead father. It's mostly old silly religious ideas dressed up in new silly science fiction. They replaced the Rapture with the Singularity, and now they're replaced Pascal's Wager with Roko’s Basilisk. It would merely be sad-to-amusing -- except that some of these people have a lot of money and influence.

The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time (Slate)

One day, LessWrong user Roko postulated a thought experiment: What if, in the future, a somewhat malevolent AI were to come about and punish those who did not do its bidding? What if there were a way (and I will explain how) for this AI to punish people today who are not helping it come into existence later? In that case, weren’t the readers of LessWrong right then being given the choice of either helping that evil AI come into existence or being condemned to suffer?

... It was a thought experiment so dangerous that merely thinking about it was hazardous not only to your mental health, but to your very fate.

separate entrances for the working class

Is it time to sharpen the guillotines and give the aristocrats what they deserve yet?

Building Will Have a Separate Door for Poor (Daily Intelligencer)

New York City moved just a little closer to all-out class warfare over the weekend, when the Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved a plan for an Upper West Side condo building with a separate door for the poorer people who are being allowed to live there. Extell Development, the company building the 33-story luxury complex at 40 Riverside Drive, proposed the controversial arrangement last year as part of its application for the Inclusionary Housing Program, which gives developers tax credits and other perks in exchange for creating some affordable units alongside their less affordable ones.


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