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Israel’s Medical Association: ‘Reality Shows Worse than Experiments On Human Beings’

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

“Many claim that putting people in high pressure, tense situations, for the purpose of observing their behavior at every moment, borders on performing medical experiments on human beings. If we would examine several reality shows in the context of human experiments, it’s doubtful if it were permitted under the Helsinki Declaration,” states a report submitted by an ethics committee appointed by the Israeli Medical Association, according to a report in The Marker.

The Helsinki Declaration determines ethical principles regarding human experimentation which were developed for the medical community by the World Medical Association (WMA). It is regarded universally as the cornerstone document of human research ethics.

“This would hold true just based on the fact that the participants’ consent is not given from an informed position,” states the report.

The harsh verdict was issued in the aftermath of a scandal in which a psychiatrist working for “The Big Brother” reality television show prescribed psychiatric pills to contenders, ostensibly to enable them to stay on.

The committee added that “in contrast with experiments conducted on human beings, where the primary purpose is the development of drugs and healing methods benefiting humanity, reality shows merely gratify the peeping impulse of the viewers, and their main purpose entertainment for the masses and profits of the producers.”

The committee published the results of its recently completed study on Tuesday. The Health Ministry has decided not to initiate procedures against Dr. Ilan Rabinowitz, the psychiatrist at the center of the Big Brother scandal, after he was found guilty of dispensing psychiatric medication to the contestants during the show’s second season, and also not to initiate procedures against the show’s production company, or the franchise, Keshet, which have both been accused of being aware of Rabinowitz’s alleged manipulation.

The Medical Association’s Report is by far harsher than the findings published by the Health Ministry investigation. It opens with an introduction that completely opposes reality shows on moral grounds and indicates potential emotional harm to contestants as well as damage to the public, resulting from the shows.

Professor Abraham Reches, chairman of the Medical Association Ethics Committee, explained that in spite of the convincing ethical flaws found by the committee regarding reality shows, the committee chose, in effect, to acknowledge that the shows are not going away any time soon, and thus to cooperate with them by establishing guidelines.

“I’m a realistic person, and it’s clear that the reality shows will continue to be aired, even though I have a negative view regarding their very message. Therefore, given that these programs will not stop being televised, we are taking at least one positive step by outlining the proper way to safeguard the participants’ health. I am convinced that this will be a gradual remedial process, and it is my hope that the network and production companies will adopt our recommendations,” Dr. Reches told The Marker.

According to Dr. Reches, “Our concern is for the physical and emotional health of the contestants in the reality shows and we are determining where the red lines are, between our absolute commitment to the patient/contestant, and our obligation to the interests of the producer. A doctor remains a doctor even when he gets his salary from a television production.”

Estonian gas company apologizes for using Auschwitz in ad

Monday, August 27th, 2012

(JTA) — An Estonian gas company apologized for using a photo of Auschwitz in its advertising.

The website of GasTerm Eesti on Aug. 23 published a photograph of the front gate of the Nazi death camp with the famous inscription “Arbeit macht frei,” or “work makes you free.” The caption read “Gas heating — flexible, convenient, and effective.”

The next day the photo was removed from the site and an apology was posted.

Company director Sven Linros said, according to DzD.ee portal, “Hitler killed himself because he got a gas bill … a lot of people laugh at this, but I do not. I visited Auschwitz with dread. I feel sorry for the victims and their families. The picture was intended for a narrow group of people. We wanted to clarify that the CH4 gas is not toxic and can be used to heat buildings even those with such a sad history.”

Auschwitz photos have been used before in ads. In January, a gym in Dubai used an image from the camp with the tag line “Kiss your calories goodbye.”

Samsung to Pay Apple More Than $1 Billion Dollars

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

A US Jury found Samsung guilty of patent infringement of key features of Apple’s iOS, iPhone and iPad. The jury awarded Apple over $1 Billion dollars for damages ($1,049,393,540 to be exact). While in the issue of Samsung’s claims against Apple, Samsung was awarded nothing.

The Jury deliberated for less than three days on and decided that Samsung infringed on six out Apple’s seven patent claims, while Apple had infinged on none of Samsung’s five patent claims.

Apple is now seeking an injunction against Samung, while Samsung will be appealing the ruling.

Apple and Samsung both released statements in response to the court’s decision:

Apple:

We are grateful to the jury for their service and for investing the time to listen to our story and we were thrilled to be able to finally tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trail showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew. The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.

Samsung:

Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.

T’shuva Makes the World Go Round

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The Gemara teaches that t’shuva existed before the world was created. In a similar vein, Rabbi Kook writes that the spirit of t’shuva hovers over the world and gives it its basic form and the motivation to develop. It is t’shuva which gives the world its direction and its inner energy to constantly progress. The desire to refine the world and to embellish it with beauty and splendor all derive from the spirit of t’shuva.

T’shuva is the Divine, spiritual force in the universe which is constantly propelling all of existence toward perfection. It is the voice of God calling, “Return to Me, you children of men.” Due to the “separation” from God through transgressions, improper living, or through the act of Creation itself, there is a constant drive in all things to return to a harmony with their Maker. Rabbi Kook writes that, “It is impossible to express this awesomely deep idea.” The force of t’shuva, like gravity in the physical world, is built into the inner fabric of life. It stands as the impetus behind all human history, all world development, all endeavor toward social improvement. It is the force which inspires all cultural, artistic, and scientific advancement. Similarly, the yearning of mankind for universal justice and moral perfection is a product of the encompassing, ever-present power of t’shuva.

On a personal level, when a man sells his house in the country because he wants to improve the quality of his life, he is involved in t’shuva. When a family has a fun and relaxing vacation, they are being motivated by forces of t’shuva. Though there may be underlying factors of profit and self-interest when a pharmaceutical company produces a new drug, they too are involved in t’shuva, if their product truly helps to benefit the world.

“T’shuva derives from the yearning of all existence to be better, purer, more fortified and elevated than it is. Hidden within this desire is a life-force capable of overcoming that which limits and weakens existence. The personal t’shuva of an individual, and even more so of the community, draws its strength from this source of life which is constantly active with never-ending vigor.”

Never-Ending T’shuva

In his writings, Rabbi Kook illuminates the phenomenon of t’shuva in an entirely new fashion. Here we encounter the notion of t’shuva, not as personal penitence alone, but as an ever-active force in the world which constantly works to unite all things with God.

“The currents of specific and general t’shuva flood along. They resemble waves of flames on the surface of the sun, which break free and ascend in a never-ending struggle, granting life to numerous worlds and numberless creatures. It is impossible to grasp the multitude of colors of this great sun that lights all worlds, the sun of t’shuva, because of their abundance and wondrous speed, because they emanate from the Source of life itself….”

In his poetic style, Rabbi Kook describes t’shuva like a sun which sends out constant flames of warming light to the world. Just as God has created the sun as life’s principle energy source, so too is t’shuva the spiritual energy source of existence. T’shuva does not only operate when a person decides to mend his erring ways – t’shuva exists all of the time. It exists both within man and all around him, as a personal t’shuva, and as a t’shuva which comes from Above. Like gravity, or the wind, or the rays of the sun, t’shuva is ever present. It is a constant force always at work, bringing the world to completion. One day the force may hit Jonathan; the next day Miriam; one day soon it will uplift the Jewish people as a whole. Its waves flow by us in a continuous stream. Minute by minute, the song of t’shuva calls out to us to hurry and join in the flow.

That’s our lesson for today. If you don’t want to wait for the daily doses of t’shuva that we’ll be delivering, you can get yourself a copy of The Art of T’shuva and give yourselves a jumbo fix. But one step at a time up the ladder of t’shuva is a wise way to do it, so that you don’t fall back down, God forbid, just as fast as you soared up.

Jury Throws Book at Muslim Hotel Owner for Throwing Jewish Guests Out of her Pool

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

After five days of deliberation, a Santa Monica jury announced on Wednesday that Shangri-La Hotel owner Tamie Adaya committed anti-Semitic discrimination when she uttered her now-famous cry, “Get the [expletive] Jews out of my pool!

The jury found for the plaintiffs on multiple acts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, malice, fraud and oppression, and violations of the California Civil Rights Act.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The 18 individual plaintiffs and one corporate plaintiff were awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages, but the final amount Adaya and her company will owe is expected to go much higher, because the individual plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages on many of the counts.  In addition, attorney James Turken is entitled to collect attorney’s fees from the defendant under the Unruh Act – California’s Civil Rights Act, which specifically outlaws discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Turken was quite emotional after the verdicts were read Wednesday evening.  He had just been through two of the most draining experiences of his life.  For one thing, Turken is a corporate defense litigator, and so to him this civil rights case, especially representing plaintiffs, was largely unfamiliar territory.  He took on the case, he told the Jewish Press, because when he learned the facts he became “outraged,” and because he was also “incredibly impressed” with the plaintiffs.

On Friday, when the case went to the jury for consideration, Turken went to the home of his younger brother.  He then sat by his side as Dr. David Turken was succumbing to defeat in his years-long battle with Leukemia.  Jim Turken said that his brother had been following the lawsuit closely, despite his dwindling strength.  Even at the very end, when David was drifting in and out of consciousness, he kept asking his brother whether the jury had come back yet.

Turken could not say enough good things about his clients, the plaintiffs.  He praised them on multiple occasions as “the very best we have to offer, these are young people trying to make a difference, who volunteer for all kinds of charities.”  He told The Jewish Press that “as a Jew, I took this case very personally, but the plaintiffs made it a pleasure – I was honored to represent them.”

Ari Ryan, the lead plaintiff in the case, explained why he felt it was so important to persevere through the long, tortuous legal proceeding. Ryan was one of the organizers of the Friends of the IDF event at the Shangri-La Hotel, and as the events unfolded, as the Jews with wristbands were being herded out of the pool, “the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on me.”  He said, “evil succeeds if good men and women don’t stand up and do what is right.”

Well, the Shangri-la plaintiffs did what was right, and in the end, their conviction and hard work were validated.

Tamie Adaya was not in the court room when the verdicts were read, but she is required to be present during the punitive damages phase which starts on Thursday.

SEC Shuts Down $600 Million Alleged Online Ponzi, But Apparent Israeli Offshoot Still Functional

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday announced fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze to halt a $600 million Ponzi scheme on the verge of collapse. The emergency action assures that victims can recoup more of their money and potentially avoid devastating losses.

The SEC alleges that online marketer Paul Burks of Lexington, N.C. and his company Rex Venture Group have raised money from more than one million Internet customers nationwide and overseas through the website ZeekRewards.com, which they began in January 2011.

Users who go into the zeekrewards.com website this morning, receive this message: “Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website.”

Not so with zeekinhebrew.blogspot.co.il, which appears to be the Israeli offshoot of the same outfit, and continues to function and lure in unsuspecting get-rich-quick seekers in Israel.

The home page is a Q & A that includes these paragraphs:

How much should you invest after joining ZeekRewards?

To profit from ZeekRewards, you must enter once a day and publish one of the ZeekRewards ads, it takes from one to two minutes a day. In addition, you can invest money in the website and increase your daily interest rate.

How soon see revenues in ZeekRewards?

Once you have registered on the site, you need to post an ad of your choice every day (from a pool of ZeekRewards ads) and paste your ad in one of the free sites that serve ads online (a full list is on the ZeekRewards website).

After you posted an ad, you receive a confirmation which you send to ZeekRewards.

Once you submitted the certificate at ZeekRewards, you have 24 hours during which you are entitled to earn money.

Within 24 hours you can see the revenues (relative to the amount you spent on the site). The gains come by check to your home once you choose [to collect].

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., customers were offered several ways to earn money through the ZeekRewards program, two of which involved purchasing securities in the form of investment contracts. These securities offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.

The SEC alleges that investors were collectively promised up to 50 percent of the company’s daily net profits through a profit sharing system in which they accumulate rewards points that they can use for cash payouts. However, the website fraudulently conveyed the false impression that the company was extremely profitable when, in fact, the payouts to investors bore no relation to the company’s net profits. Most of ZeekRewards’ total revenues and the “net profits” paid to investors have been comprised of funds received from new investors in classic Ponzi scheme fashion.

“The obligations to investors drastically exceed the company’s cash on hand, which is why we need to step in quickly, salvage whatever funds remain and ensure an orderly and fair payout to investors,” said Stephen Cohen, an Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “ZeekRewards misused the power of the Internet and lured investors by making them believe they were getting an opportunity to cash in on the next big thing. In reality, their cash was just going to the earlier investor.”

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the scheme is teetering on collapse with investor funds at risk of dissipation without its emergency enforcement action. Last month, ZeekRewards brought in approximately $162 million while total investor cash payouts were approximately $160 million. If customers continue to increasingly elect to receive cash payouts rather than reinvesting their money to reach higher levels of rewards points, ZeekRewards’ cash outflows would eventually exceed its total revenue.

According to the SEC, Burks has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges against him without admitting or denying the allegations, and agreed to cooperate with a court-appointed receiver.

According to the SEC’s complaint, ZeekRewards has paid out nearly $375 million to investors to date and holds approximately $225 million in investor funds in 15 foreign and domestic financial institutions. Those funds will be frozen under the emergency asset freeze granted by the court at the SEC’s request. Meanwhile, Burks has personally siphoned several million dollars of investors’ funds while operating Rex Venture and ZeekRewards, and he distributed at least $1 million to family members. Burks has agreed to relinquish his interest in the company and its assets plus pay a $4 million penalty. Additionally, the court has appointed a receiver to collect, marshal, manage and distribute remaining assets for return to harmed investors.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brian M. Privor and Alfred C. Tierney in the SEC’s Enforcement Division in Washington D.C. The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the Quebec Autorite des Marches Financiers and the Ontario Securities Commission.

Rabbis Protest Mobile App of the ‘Protocols’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A European rabbinical group is protesting a mobile app of the notorious anti-Semitic text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement Tuesday that he would contact Apple to urge that the company remove the app. JTA’s calls to Apple were not immediately answered.

The app, which was released earlier this year, is available only in Arabic and is attributed to the software developer Ahmed Elserety.

It costs $1.08 to download and is accompanied by a compact description of the “Protocols” stating that “according to many historians, these writings are a hoax.” The text describes a supposed Jewish plot to control the world.

The app notes a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated.

Still, Goldschmidt said, it is unacceptable to have such an app on the market.

Goldschmidt believes it is “the first mobile version of the famous anti-Semitic work,” which was first published in Russia in the early 20th century.

“Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable,” he said, warning that it could be “used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their
racist agenda.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbis-protest-mobile-app-of-the-protocols/2012/08/15/

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