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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘board’

What the Iranian People “Really Think”… and How to Help Them

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

In totalitarian societies, people are wary of telling others what they “really think.” Given the Iranian government’s ability to suppress its internal opponents, we should be extremely suspicious of public opinion surveys: the Iranian people are simply not going speak openly to anyone other than intimates and long-trusted friends, or it might not be “good for their health.”

Even so, this does not mean that we cannot know what they are thinking. In such circumstances, the joke, the proverb, and satire are key: today’s joke and proverbs about their rulers are stinging to say the least. Iranians know how to insult their leaders subtly, without making direct references to the tyrants that rule them.

For example, a well-known satirist, known as Aali Payam, recently stood before an audience in Iran and said: “I will not speak about the [Iranian] elections any more… We are at a sensitive time… They [the Iranian government] took a colleague in for questioning and asked him, ‘Don’t you realize we are at a sensitive period?’ The colleague replied: ‘We have been at a sensitive period for the last 333 years. Did you hear that Qaddafi told Saddam [both in hell] to get ready, they are going to have a guest? One of these days Bashar Assad will arrive!’” As the satirist cannot criticize the Iranian government directly, he does the next best thing: he pokes fun at Syria’s Bashar Assad, one of the Iranian regime’s strongest allies, to imply that if the Iranian regime supports Assad, Qaddafi and Saddam, Assad’s days on earth, like Saddam’s and Qaddafi’s, are numbered. (See video)

Another video called “2 + 2 = 5″ makes the point even more clearly. Elementary school boys are in a classroom. Suddenly the teacher comes in and the boys instantly stop their banter. The teacher tells them that the principal is about to speak to the whole school over the Public Address system with an important message, which turns out to be that their teachers are about to teach them an important message. Thereafter, the teacher writes on the board: 2 + 2 = 5. The boys say that the answer is 4. The teacher sternly repeats 2 + 2 = 5, and tells the boys to write this in their notebooks. Most of the boys follow the teacher’s instructions, but one insists that the answer is 4. A moment later, three older students with red arm-bands come into the class and the boy who said “4″ is told to go up to the board. The teacher yells at him to write 2 + 2 = 5. The boy writes 2 + 2 = 4. The three older students with red arm-bands then take out guns and shoot the boy. As blood spurts out, the boy falls to the ground. The teacher then instructs the three boys with the red arm-bands to remove this “object from the room.” The other boys are petrified. The teacher tells them to write in their books 2 + 2 = 5. All do so, except one boy then erases the “5″ and writes “4.” [Note: This video was clearly made by Iranians outside the country: it has subtitles in English and Thai.]

When Iranians escape their country, they are usually perfectly willing to say privately what they think, so long as they can maintain anonymity. They know that members of the Iranian regime are skilled at spying on Iranians abroad and could threaten their relatives still living in Iran. In totalitarian societies, only family relationships can be trusted; Iran is no exception.

Over the past year, more and more Iranians have been finding ways to communicate with their friends and relatives abroad in ways which should encourage the world to ratchet up the pressure on the regime.

It is now quite common to hear Iranians say that life is becoming unbearable in Iran. During the past year, the cost of living has become so expensive that even middle class people can no longer afford the basic necessities of life. People are finding ways to tell their friends and relatives outside the country that they are waiting for the day that this regime is gone so that they can lead some sort of normal life.

Luncheon Honors Wallenberg And L.A. Residents

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Both houses of Congress unanimously passed bills awarding World War II hero, Raoul Wallenberg, with the country’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, in recognition of his heroism in saving 100,000 Jews during the waning days of the Holocaust. The legislation is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama shortly.

(L-R, standing) Ben Hoffman, board member (Lakewood); Jonathan Zalisky, Healthplus Amerigroup; Stanley Treitel, board member (LA); Leon Goldenberg, board member; Abe Biderman, board member; Senator Johnny Isakson; The Honorable Emil Fish, honoree; Ezra Friedlander, CEO Friedlander Group; Andrew Friedman, esq., luncheon co-chairman/LA fire commissioner. (L-R, sitting) Sidney Greenberger, Ken Abramowitz, Peter Rebenwurzel, board members.

Attorney Andrew Friedman of Los Angeles was co-chairman of a congressional luncheon held on Capitol Hill on July 12, honoring Los Angeles residents Andrew Stevens, Stanley Treitel and Emil Fish. The luncheon featured Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who introduced the legislation, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA-Jr.), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT-Sr.), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR-Sr.), Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI-Sr.), Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-08) and other members of Congress.

Three Reasons To Buy Dividend-Paying Stocks

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Have you thought about investing in dividend-paying stocks? As the name suggests, these are stocks that pay out a certain percentage of the company’s earnings as a dividend periodically (usually quarterly) to the investor. Recently, dividend-paying stocks have received a good press in publications such as The Wall Street Journal. Have you considered why dividend-paying stocks might be good for you?

Here are three possible reasons for thinking about dividend paying stocks:

1. You can reinvest the dividend payments in the same stock. Chances are you originally bought the stock because you believed in the fundamental strength and stability of the company. As long as you continue to believe in the strength of the particular firm, if you reinvest your dividend income in the company and continue to buy more shares of the same stock, you will increase your position in a company that you believe is strong. If you choose carefully, your investments might turn out like those of Grace Groner, a secretary at Abbott Labs. Her $180 investment in 1935 eventually grew to $7 million (which eventually went to fund a foundation to benefit students of Lake Forest College.)

2. Dividend-paying stocks have the potential to maintain a certain amount of stability when the market gets rough. Stocks that pay dividends are generally considered safer in a down market because they still keep a certain level of value and generate income in the form of a regularly paying dividend. Even if the stock value drops, unless the board of directors vote to eliminate the dividend, you can still anticipate receiving a periodic check.

3. The need to pay out dividends to shareholders can keep a company’s management in check. If the board of directors knows shareholders expect a dividend on a regular basis, they may be more likely to avoid embarking on risky projects that could end up fundamentally destabilizing the company. Since stockholders will only continue holding onto their shares if they believe in the fundamental stability of the company, both the board of directors and shareholders have a common interest in furthering the company’s profits.

If reading the above has convinced you that to buy dividend-paying stocks for your portfolio, wait a minute before you call me (or your broker). First, read my next post, to learn about potential problems with dividend-paying stocks. As always, don’t invest in anything until you get proper advice from a licensed financial advisor.

Nadler Pushes to Keep Families Seated Together on Commercial Flights

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation to help keep families seated together on commercial flights. In response to ever-increasing fees and decreasing transparency among airline carriers, the Families Flying Together Act of 2012 would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to direct each carrier to “establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight; and (2) make the policy…available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier.” The legislation would help to ensure that children are not separated from their families and seated alone on flights.

“Air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses,” said Nadler. “Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights. It is positively absurd to expect a two or three-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane. It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”

As airlines change policies and increase fees for a variety of basic services, it is becoming more difficult for families to sit together on commercial flights. From airlines charging a fee to make advance seat assignments, to charging a premium for window or aisle seats, to eliminating advanced boarding for parents with small children, the obstacles for families are growing. There are increasing reports of people being separated from their children when they arrive to board the aircraft. When this happens, the only recourse is to rely on another passenger to willingly change seats. This is an inconvenience for everyone involved and not an efficient business practice. It is also potentially unsafe and traumatic for the families involved.

Swiss Politician Wants ‘Kristallnacht for Mosques’

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Alexander Müller has resigned from the Swiss People’s Party after a tweet sent from his account called for a repeat of the Night of the Broken Glass, this time targeting Muslims, reports The Local, a Swiss English-language website.

His tweet read: “Maybe we need another Kristallnacht… this time for mosques.”

Earlier, Müller tweeted: “we should take this pack out of the country. I do not want to live with such people.”

Müller stepped down on Tuesday night.

Turns out the Swiss take their extremists seriously, and Müller’s house was searched by police and his computer was confiscated, the newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

A criminal case has been opened against him, and Müller’s employer, a credit insurance company (how Swiss is that), has terminated his contract.

Müller denied writing the offending message, but his claim that screenshots of the tweet were forgeries was quickly disproved – archive searches showed that the tweet had in fact come from his @DailyTalk account.

Muslims must have hacked the poor lad’s Tweeter…

The Swiss People’s Party is the largest party in Switzerland’s Federal Assembly, with 54 seats. In 2009 it initiated a constitutional amendment banning the construction of new mosque minarets.

The SVP was founded in 1971 by the merger of the Party of Farmers, Traders and Independents (BGB) and the Democratic Party, while the BGB in turn had been founded on the background of the emerging local farmers’ parties in the late 1910s. Its vote share of 29% in the 2007 Federal Council election was the highest vote ever recorded for a single party in Switzerland.

Dr. Herbert Winter, president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, told JTA that Muller’s Twitter statement was “totally unacceptable.” He said it was “very offensive” to both the Jewish and Muslim communities because it “implies that Muslims deserve Kristallnacht treatment as the Jews deserved it in 1938.”

JTA reports that Winter also praised the Zurich prosecutor’s office for its “quick action” and noted that the Swiss People’s Party had distanced itself from Muller’s statement.

“Unfortunately, this party sometimes attracts people who don’t necessarily represent the democratic values of our country,” he said.

On November 9 and 10 of 1938, during Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, the Nazis burned down Jewish synagogues, houses and shops in a coordinated attack across Germany and parts of Austria. More than 7,000 shops were destroyed and an estimated 30,000 people were arrested and put into concentration camps.

After his resignation on Tuesday, the Swiss People’s Party said there was “no room permitted for comparison or reference to the unspeakable dictator of the Nazi regime.”

Müller serves on his local school board, and they, too, are asking him to resign, according to Hannah Leonard, president of the district school board for the Zuriberg area.

Israeli Navy Captures Palestinian Smugglers Vessel

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The Israeli Navy captured a Palestinian fishing vessel engaged in illegal smuggling travelling towards the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. No weapons were discovered on board the ship, only spare vehicle parts, and it was taken to shore by an Israeli Navy Dvora class fast patrol boat.

After the investigation was complete, the smugglers were released to the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing.

The Navy Patrol Squadron, responsible for securing Israel’s southern marine front, carries out short-range operations off the shore to prevent additional weapon smuggling. “There was a lot of equipment on board the vessel, which could have easily included weapons,” said commander of the Dvora class patrol boat reconnaissance squadron, Cpt. M. to the IDF Website.

Once a fishing vessel crosses the border and enters Israel’s jurisdiction, it is immediately captured by Israeli Navy forces. “Smuggling takes place regularly,” said Cpt. M. The detained smugglers go through a thorough security inspection of the cargo. If no affiliation with terrorist organizations is recognized, the smugglers are returned to the Gaza Strip in an orderly fashion along with the capture vessels.

Arizona Jewish family, Israeli Wife, in Murder-Suicide

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Police have identified a Jewish family from Tempe, Ariz., the Butwins, as the subjects of a suspected murder-suicide.

Police said that James Butwin, a board member of his local synagogue, Temple Emanuel, was the primary suspect in the killing of his Israeli born wife and three daughters. The bodies were found on Saturday in a burning SUV registered to the Butwins after having been missing from the family home.

While authorities were working to identify the remains, the Pinal County sheriff said he believed the deaths were the work of a drug cartel, but police now believe James Butwin, 47, killed himself after killing his wife Yafit, 40, daughter Malissa, 16, and sons Daniel, 14, and Matthew, 7, according to the Tucson Citizen.

The Butwins were going through a divorce and James had serious financial and medical problems, the paper reported.

A crisis response team from Tempe’s Jewish Family & Children’s Services was dispatched to Temple Emanuel on Wednesday, the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix reported, and professionals were also sent to the East Valley Jewish Community Center, where the youngest Butwin child was to have been a summer camper. Team members were planning to offer counseling to those attending a 7 p.m. service of grief at the Reform congregation on Wednesday.

Toronto Islamic School Closed over Anti-Semitic Teachings

Friday, May 18th, 2012

A Toronto Islamic school has lost the right to use a public school building for its classes after anti-Semitic teachings were discovered in its curriculum and posted on its website.

The Toronto District School Board announced this week that the East End Madrassah could no longer rent space for its Sunday classes until police finish their investigation of the anti-Jewish teachings.

The public school board “[needs] to be satisfied with the outcome of the investigation and that [the madrassah was] in compliance with our policies and procedures” before they can use school board property, board spokesman Jim Spyropoulos told the Toronto Star.

The board has asked for a meeting “to have a deeper discussion so we can have a clear understanding of their programming and curriculum, and how and why some of the statements that appeared on their website were there,” Spyropoulos added.

Police are probing the madrassah based on Canada’s Criminal Code, which makes it unlawful to publicly and “willfully” promote hatred against any identifiable group.

One of the lessons taught at the madrassah referred to Jews as “crafty” and “treacherous,” contrasted Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis,” and alleged Jews conspired to kill the Prophet Muhammad.

The curriculum was available on the school’s website, which was later taken down.

Avi Benlolo of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, who alerted police to the offensive material, was pleased with the board’s move but said the permit should have been revoked immediately. He called on Canadian school boards to “put a plan in place to ensure no group is ever targeted as the Jewish community has been.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/toronto-islamic-school-closed-over-anti-semitic-teachings/2012/05/18/

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