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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘gold’

Bitcoin ATM Launches in Israel

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The first Bitcoin ATM machine has launched for the first time in Israel, at a location in Tel Aviv.

Bitcoin, a new form of virtual currency, has recently begun to make the rounds of the global economy.

The new machine, operated by the Bits of Gold company, returns Bitcoin credit in a virtual wallet in exchange for a deposit of cold hard cash. The new ATM is located at the nonprofit Bitcoin emBassy organization offices.

The new currency appears to be creating an alternative underground world economy, independent from any other national system by virtue of the fact that it operates internationally, solely via the Internet.

In Israel, one Bitcoin (BTC) fluctuates around the NIS 1700 mark, according to the website of the Bits of Gold company. Users who prefer extra security are offered a USB key called a “Yubikey” by the company. For business owners, the company also offers a “checkout with Bitcoin” service.

 

An Even More Centralized Israel: Cashless and Criminal

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Centralization in Israel is a two-headed coin (or perhaps a two-headed monster).

There’s no doubt, that so many bureaucratic activities go much smoother in Israel than they do in America, because we have ID numbers and our cards are inter-linked to everything. Of course, sometimes that doubles the frustration when obvious things need to be manually duplicated over and over for no reason.

On the other hand, that centralization provides no flexibility or a safety net. Having problems with one government office can easily spill over to an unrelated one, since you’re linked together everywhere on record.

Then there is the basic issue of personal privacy and civil liberties.

And now, the Israeli government is attempting to implement two extreme decisions that threaten civil liberties more than ever.

They’re testing a biometric ID system. God forbid that should ever become mandatory.

Right now, even though your personal bio-data is out there with different organizations, there is still some semblance of privacy and protection because of the separation that naturally exists between your health fund, the army, the government, and so on.

But once that goes away, there goes your privacy. You will have no control over your personal information at all, and you’re reliant on the government, which as we know, is not the most effective of protectors of personal data.

The other move is even scarier.

The Israeli government is actually considering trying to find a way to abolish cash.

There was a unanimous cabinet decision to explore how to do that (Hey Naftali Bennett, I didn’t vote for you to lose my civil liberties – remember that come election time).

They want to get rid of cash, and give everyone rechargeable “cash cards” that will allow the government to track every single transaction you do. EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION.

I can’t even begin to describe the civil liberties and privacy violations that implementing this system will create.

And if they actually believe this will get rid of cash, or the black market, they’re even stupider than I thought.

Bitcoin, gold, barter… you name it. Smart (and dumb) people will find their way around it. Not to do illegal transactions, mind you, but simply to protect their privacy away from the government’s snooping eyes.

And then we’ll all be criminals, because of a dangerous legislation which is an intrusive attempt to suck more tax money out of us and spy on us, and not just spy directly, but with data mining too, to study our purchase and transaction behavior, and find every last penny they can suck out of us and understand what we do with it.

I guarantee one thing. If this legislation passes, if the party I voted for, and the ones I didn’t, don’t stop this in its tracks, I will do everything (legal) to make sure those people do not get elected again, and be replaced with people who do care and understand the importance of civil liberties and fear the tyranny of government.

Singer Eydie Gormé Dead at 84

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Eydie Gorme, a popular singer as a soloist and as part of a team with her husband, Steve Lawrence, died Saturday at a Las Vegas hospital after a brief illness, her publicist, Howard Bragman, said.

Gormé was born as Edith Garmezano in The Bronx, New York, in 1928, the daughter of Fortuna and Nessim Garmezano. Her father was a tailor. She is a cousin of singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka. Her parents were Sephardic Jewish immigrants, her father from Sicily and her mother from Turkey. Gormé grew up speaking English and Spanish.

In 1964, when she and her husband were at the height of their career, Columbia Records president Goddard Lieberson encouraged her to record in Spanish, too. The result was “Amor,” which became a hit in Latin America.

Gormé had several hit singles, the biggest of which was her 1963 release, “Blame It on the Bossa Nova.” It sold more than one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. She won a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance in 1967, for her version of “If He Walked Into My Life”, from Mame.

Lawrence and the couple’s son David were by Gorme’s side when she died, according to Bragman.

“Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years,” Lawrence said in a statement. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”

Kahneman Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Friday, August 9th, 2013

President Obama awarded Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton psychologist known for his application of psychology to economic analysis, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The White House release Thursday naming Kahneman and other recipients notes that the Princeton University scholar, who shared the Nobel Price for Economics in 2002, escaped Nazi Europe and served in the Israeli army.

Among the 16 people receiving the award this year are Gloria Steinem, the feminist pioneer, and the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who was for decades a pro-Israel leader in Congress.

The awards will be presented later this year.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established by President John Kennedy in 1963, is with the Congressional Gold Medal the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Hoard of 1,500-Year-Old Coins Found in Ancient Garbage Dump

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Archaeologists and researchers are trying to figure out why a recently found treasure of 1,500-year-old coins and other artifacts was buried in Byzantine era refuse pits.

The excavations, on behalf of the Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority, are being carried out prior to expanding the city of Herzliya, immediately north of Tel Aviv.

Numerous finds dating to the Late Byzantine period of the 5th-7th centuries were among the antiquities discovered in excavations conducted in the agricultural hinterland of the ancient city of Apollonia-Arsuf, located east of the site.

Among the finds uncovered are installations for processing the agricultural produce such as wine presses, and what also might be the remains of an olive press, as well as remains of walls that were apparently part of the ancillary buildings that were meant to serve local farmers.

“The most intriguing find in the area is a number of Byzantine refuse pits,” said Tel Aviv University Prof. Oren Tal and Moshe Ajami of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“One of them is especially large – more than 100 feet in diameter –  and contained fragments of pottery vessels, fragments of glass vessels, industrial glass waste and animal bones.

“In the midst of the many shards that were discovered in the big refuse pit was a large amount of usable artifacts, whose presence in the pit raises questions. Among other things, more than four hundred coins were found which are mostly Byzantine, including one gold coin, as well as two hundred whole and intact Samaritan lamps, among them lamps that were never used, rings and gold jewelry.”

Noteworthy among the jewelry is an octagonal ring with parts of verses from the Samaritan Pentateuch engraved in Samaritan script on each of its sides. One side reads, “Adonai is his name,” and another side reads, “One God….”

Approximately a dozen Samaritan rings have been published so far in scientific literature, and this ring constitutes an important addition given the assemblage in which it was discovered.

The excavation site once served as the agricultural hinterland of Apollonia-Arsuf, which is located west of the excavation area and what is today the Apollonia National Park. Archaeological excavations conducted there from the 1950s until the present indicate that the site was inhabited continuously for more than 1,500 years – from the Persian period  in the late 6th century BCE until the end of the Crusader period in the 13th century CE.

What if Israel Were on the Gold Standard?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Imagine for a moment that I want to buy a car for 100,000 shekels. I’d rather not work and save, so instead I decide to simply print 100,000 shekels in cash so I can buy the car. I print it, I hand the pile over to the car dealer and the car is now mine.

What just happened here? I counterfeited 100,000 shekels and increased the money supply by 100,000 when I handed those shekels over to the car dealer. The average person, the kind that has to work for his money would say that I stole 100,000 shekels. But today’s economic experts like Stanley Fischer and Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman would say that I gave “economic stimulus to the automobile industry.” So what really happened?

When an average person works in the private economy and saves money to buy a car, he produces more than he consumes, hence savings. In other words, he puts more into the economy than he takes out, the difference represented by the money he saves. There is now more value in the economy, more stuff because he worked harder, and he takes that real value represented by the money saved and buys a car for 100,000 shekels.

The car dealer now has 100,000 shekels of real value to invest in expanding his business, and thanks to the value that the saver added to the economy through saving, there is now more value in the economy with the same money supply. The value of the shekel goes up and prices drop just a little bit, and everyone owning shekels gets a bit richer thanks to the saver. The car dealer can now expand his business and safely assume the demand is there to match his increase in supply. The economy grows.

Now, if I simply print up 100,000 shekels and give it to the car dealer, I added zero value to the economy. There is no more useful stuff. Just paper. I did not save a thing. All I am doing is taking from the economy without adding anything to it. Worse, the 100,000 shekels I added to the money supply makes the value of the shekel go down a little bit, since more shekels are now chasing the same amount of goods. Prices go up. Everyone gets poorer, except for me of course, because I got to buy the car before the money supply went up. The act of me buying the car was itself the action that made the money supply go up in the first place. I, the money printer and the first new money user, am up one car. Yay for me. But everyone else besides the first person to use newly printed money loses.

Now, let’s say I stop printing money and the car dealer expands his business with the new shekels. Since everyone is now poorer, there is no new demand to match his new supply. The signal he got of new demand for his cars was wrong, because the 100,000 shekels I printed did not represent added value to the economy through saving. Demand is not there, his business overexpands and he has to cut back and contract by selling cars for cheaper and taking a loss. His business shrinks or “goes into recession,” but cars get less expensive for everyone else.

But let’s say I keep printing 100,000 shekels every day and buy another car with it day after day after day. The car dealer will keep misinterpreting the sales as new demand that doesn’t actually exist. He will keep expanding. It will look like the economy is growing and growing, the statistics the government puts out on car sales will skyrocket. But really, only I and the car dealer are benefiting. Everyone else is suffering inflation and getting poorer and poorer every time I print. At some point I will have to print more than 100,000 to buy each car since the money supply is expanding so rapidly, but that’s no big deal for me. It takes the same effort to print 150,000 as it does to print 100,000. I keep getting richer. Inflation doesn’t bother me. The car dealer keeps expanding and cars become so expensive that no one can buy them. Then let’s say suddenly I stop printing shekels and stop buying cars. The car dealer’s business totally crashes, and he goes out of business in a bankruptcy sale. All the cars get sold to the public for ultra cheap. His business “goes into depression,” but cars are suddenly cheap for everyone else.

The Story Of Daniel

Friday, December 7th, 2012

There are many wonderful stories narrated in Scriptures about the experiences of the Navi Daniel. Many of these stories are found in Sefer Daniel, while others are found in the Talmud and Midrash.

In the third year of the reign of Yehoyakim, king of Yehuda, Nevuchadnezzar, king of Bavel lay siege to Yerushalayim and conquered it. He took many treasures from the Beis HaMikdash back to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god.

He then ordered his courtiers to round up the wisest children of Yehuda, who would be trained as advisors, for these children were known for their erudition and for their worldly knowledge.

Among the children taken were four outstanding young geniuses: Daniel, Chananyah, Mishael and Azariah.

Provides Meats For The Children

The king commanded Ashpenaz, the chief of his courtiers, to provide the children with the best of meat and wine so that they should be healthy in body and in mind when they appeared before him.

Daniel and his companions, however, would not defile themselves with the king’s meat and wine and requested instead that they be supplied with vegetables.

Ashpenaz was afraid to comply with this wish. “I fear to disobey my lord the King, who has ordered me to give you his meat and wine. For, if he sees you looking worse than the other children of your country who are eating the meat, he will have me killed.”

“Fear not,” replied Daniel. “Experiment by giving us only vegetables and water for the next 10 days and then compare us with the other children who will eat the king’s meat. You will then see who looks healthier.”

He agreed, and for the next 10 days he served them vegetables and water. And lo and behold, at the end of that time their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children who ate meat. From that day onward, Daniel and his companions only ate vegetables.

G-d gave Daniel and his companions, knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and to Daniel, especially, he gave understanding of all visions and dreams.

After three years of study, they appeared before the king and the king found none that in all matters of wisdom and understanding, they were 10 times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm. He appointed them to be his personal advisors.

The King’s Dream

In the second year of the reign of Nevuchadnezzar, the king had a dream. He awoke in the morning with a start. It was a terrible dream and it bothered him because he forgot what he had dreamed about. All he knew was that it had been scary.

The king called all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans to appear before him. When they arrived, the king told them that he had a terrible dream and asked them to interpret it for him.

“O King, live forever,” said the Chaldeans. “Tell the servants your dream and we will then offer you its interpretation.”

“I cannot remember the dream,” replied the king. “It is gone from me. If you will not make known to me the dream with its interpretation I shall cut you to pieces and destroy your homes. But if you tell me what I dreamt and its interpretation I shall reward you handsomely and I will give you great honor.”

The Chaldeans replied, “There is no man on earth who can fulfill your request and there had never been a king who has asked such an unfair request.”

Death To The Wise

The king became very angry and commanded the guards to destroy all the wise men of Bavel. Among the wise men to be destroyed was Daniel, who had not attended the sessions of the Chaldeans. When he was made aware of this decree, he sought out Arioch, the king’s captain, and advised him that he would tell the king his dream and its interpretation the following morning. The captain made arrangements for Daniel to appear before the king the following morning.

That night Daniel visited Chananya, Mishael and Azariah and urged them to pray to G-d to help him so that he they would not perish with the rest of the wise men of Bavel. G-d heard their pleas and He revealed the secret to Daniel in a night vision.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/the-story-of-daniel/2012/12/07/

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