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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘information’

Some Questions For Ambassador Rice

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Reports in recent days suggest that Republican opposition to the possible nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state seems to be softening. Critics such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are changing or at least modifying their tune regarding concern over Ms. Rice’s statements in the aftermath of the attack on U. S. diplomats in Benghazi.

Sen. McCain has said he looks forward to meeting with her to give her an opportunity to directly address his concerns, and Sen. Graham is now saying he’s not sure he would vote against or try to block her confirmation in the Senate should she be nominated.

We’ve stated in the past our concerns about Ambassador Rice’s comments on Benghazi and her vehement denunciation of Israeli settlements in a UN speech she gave while casting a U.S. veto of a resolution condemning the settlements.

Certainly her very public discomfort with a pro-Israel expression of U.S. policy signaled by President Obama makes us leery of her serving in any senior capacity relating to Israel, especially as secretary of state. Despite it being understood that a UN representative does the bidding of the president, her outburst confirmed to the world that she may not agree with the very policies she advocates.

And there are serious questions regarding Benghazi that we trust Senators McCain and Graham share and will pursue either now or in confirmation hearings.

As we asked last week, just how did Ms. Rice, when arguing on several news interview programs that the Benghazi attack resulted from spontaneous Muslim anger over a video critical of Muhammad, process the knowledge that it occurred on 9/11 and that the attackers carried rocket-propelled grenades?

Ambassador Rice has said she relied on talking points supplied by intelligence agencies, though she now acknowledges those agencies had information that the attack was pre-planned by Al Qaeda affiliates. Senators McCain and Graham should try to find out if she believes it appropriate for high public officials to be blindsided in this manner.

Do they?

On a related note, did Ms. Rice take advantage of her access to classified information to confirm the intelligence agencies’ talking points, especially given the 9/11 factor and the curious fact that she, rather than Secretary of State Clinton, was chosen to make the case for spontaneous combustion?

Perhaps most important, did she have anything to say to President Obama? After all, he made a big deal in the second debate with Mitt Romney that he already labeled the attack an act of terror the very next day in the White House Rose Garden. If the president knew, why didn’t he tell her?

We also hope that Ms. Rice will be asked whether she has any information that would support or counter the belief that adequate protection was not supplied to the Benghazi consulate because to have done so would have undermined the Obama campaign’s claim that the U.S. had eliminated the operational capacity of local terror groups.

Explosion Destroys Egyptian Intelligence Building

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Al Arabiya reports that a large explosion destroyed part of an Egyptian intelligence building.

The building is located in Rafah, near the Gaza border, in Egyptian controlled Sinai.

There’s no additional information available yet.

IAF Bombed the Gaza Stadium, where Missiles Were Fired from the Grass

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Even after operation Pillar of Defense is complete, it will be a long time before they play major league soccer in the Gaza strip. Last night Gaza’s “Palestine” International soccer stadium was among dozens of targets bombed by AIF.

On Saturday night, F-16 fighter planes opened fire on the site, leaving four large holes in the playing surface, while causing severe damage to an indoor hall and an adjacent building of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Then, last night, according to Palestinian reports, three rockets hit the stadium – and caused even more damage. It was also reported that a woman who lives in a house adjacent to the stadium was wounded by shrapnel.

The IDF said that Hamas made cynical use of the stadium, using the grass field as a launch pad for rockets fired at Israel. “Terrorists fired rockets into Israel hid under the grass turf a large arsenal of weapons,” a military source told Israel TV Channel 2.

IDF Spokesman Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said this morning that the IDF “attacked the Gaza City Stadium after receiving clear information about it being used for firing rockets, which once again shows the use being made by terrorist of civilian centers.”

Parshat Toldot: The Power Of A Text

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The theme of my column is leadership. As a general rule I avoid extrapolating leadership lessons from current events. The following is my reasoning. First, the information available from current events is often incomplete and inaccurate. Even when the information is relatively complete and accurate it is unanalyzed. Therefore the basis for lessons learned may prove to be faulty. Second, current events are often too current. To attempt to draw practical lessons in a dispassionate way would be insensitive. At least a minimal amount of time is needed to create the space necessary to allow for such an article. I have relied on the publication of books and scholarly articles on a particular recent event as an indicator that an appropriate amount of time has passed, thus allowing me to write a leadership article about it.

Like any good rule, however, there need to be exceptions. The all too recent hurricane that shattered an untold number of lives is such an exception. I thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu that my family was spared during this storm, but many of my colleagues, students, and friends suffered from its power and continue to suffer in its aftermath. From them I heard stories of hope and chesed that are unbelievable. I also learned from them a more nuanced definition of leadership.

We read in this week’s Parsha how important a bracha is. Even Esav, the rough and tough warrior and hunter, cries uncontrollably because he missed getting blessed by his father Yitzchak. It makes us stop and wonder what it was that made Esav so upset. It certainly was not his losing out on the spiritual aspect of the blessing. One also wonders if he was upset at losing out at the material aspect – after all, he received a material blessing from Yitzchak and it is clear that his descendants have done materialistically well for themselves.

So what was Esav upset about? That he lost out on the encouraging good words from his father. He missed out on the emotional laden blessing that could have served as Esav’s lodestar throughout his life. It could have served as a source of strength and hope when things were not so good, and a moral compass for when things were going well. Fortunately for us, the children of Yisrael, our forefather Yaakov received this blessing and we benefit from what the descendants of Esav missed out on.

Members of Lev Leytzan’s ElderHearts visited with residents of the Atria Riverdale Senior Community during Hurricane Sandy.

We see from here how important a simple string of words can be.

Leaders often focus on the big vision and the mega-decisions, but the primary role of leadership is to give hope and guidance to one’s followers and organizations. In this regard everyone who helps another person get through a day is a leader.

One of my friends who has suffered tremendously from the storm told me the following story.

On the Sunday following the storm, she was surveying the extensive damage to her house. She had just thrown out all her ruined sefarim, books, and furniture. Looking at her damaged home, wondering how long she and her family would remain nomads, how she was going to rebuild, and where she would find the moral energy to move forward, she became totally overwhelmed. Although she had been strong during and after the storm, she had finally reached her breaking point. Then suddenly out of the blue, at 1:20 p.m., she received a random text from a friend saying how inspired she was by her, because despite everything she was experiencing, her thoughts and prayers were about other people! This text, my friend told me, gave her and her husband the boost they needed. Her message to me was simple: while victims of the hurricane need lots of help in so many ways, people should not underestimate the power of a thoughtful word and a sympathetic ear, in addition to an outstretched helping hand.

Social Networking And The Blended Family

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

It still amazes me how the Internet has completely changed our lives and how we view communication these days. My children hardly believe me when I tell them that there was a time when being in touch with someone, meant we actually saw them, spoke to them on the phone, or wrote them a letter and mailed it.

The word communication is defined as the act of sending a message and the completion of that act occurs when that message is received. Today, communicating is so simple, maybe even too simple. With just a quick “point and click” on your computer screen you can let people know that you “like” or agree with something “posted” on a “page.” You can even brighten someone’s day by forwarding on the joke you got in an e-mail. Just like that; instant communication.

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with my computer and certainly with the Internet. The World Wide Web played a role in my divorce; allowing easy access for my ex-husband to “step out” and get to know other women from the safety and comfort of our home. At that time, more than 17 years ago, I was naïve and did not even know such a thing was even possible.

That experience certainly made me more than a bit wary of spending time on the Internet at all, but over the past decade it has begun to take on a greater role in my life.

I love the ease the Internet affords me. I am able to work from home, look up new recipes and keep in touch with family and friends. I thoroughly enjoy seeing pictures of my nieces and nephews who live far away and have even had the opportunity to join in family smachot that I would have otherwise missed.

Interestingly “social networking” has us considering people we hardly know as “friends”. I even heard a neighbor remark that she was just talking to a “Facebook friend” meaning they never actually met and only knew each other through their network of “online” friends. Hey, I enjoy connecting to new people as much as the next person, but can you really know and befriend someone based on a string of “statuses,” “comments,” blogs and “posts?” Everyone knows what we “like” and we seem to be “sharing” more of ourselves with the rest of the world.

Lately I have taken notice of the many ways this new era of instant communication and “social networking” has affected families of divorce and the blended family.

Take for instance an acquaintance of mine who is unfortunately going through a nasty custody battle. I understand and appreciate the importance of a good support system during trying times – I honestly do. But when your network of friends has topped 1000 and you feel a need to update your “friends” on how your divorce proceedings are going on a constant basis, something is awry. Do you need your entire list of “friends” to weigh in on every battle? Does posting that you had a bad day in court make the outcome any better? Does inviting everyone into your sorrow lesson the pain?

The misguided belief that venting via “post” and receiving encouraging “comments” is in any way a healthy response to a very frustrating situation is foolish at best – and may even be harmful.

With claims of it being in the best interest of the children, claimants on both sides of a highly publicized divorce case have garnered support this way. Is this truly in the best interest of the children, or a means to gain publicity and exposure?

Another “social networking” issue that has had a personal affect on my family is that this is the way my children are kept updated on their father’s life. I think it has been years since my son has had an actual conversation with his father, but his dad will send a quick :) his way every so often. They found out about his third marriage, and his fourth divorce via Facebook. The message came through loud and clear when his status turned from “married” to “single.” On a positive note, a bond of sorts is retained and my ex-husband has a chance to become “friends” with his children and to meet his grandchildren.

Ministry of Employment Hotline Assisting Southern Workers

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Residents of southern Israel who need information on the availability of their regular daycare services, employee rights and responsibilities associated with the security situation, and essential worker schedules are encouraged to call a hotline established by the Ministry of Employment.

Dial 1-800-201-180.

Three Things to Do Before Meeting Your Financial Planner

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Did you know that the most important part of a financial planning meeting occurs even before you set foot inside your financial adviser’s office?

Before you meet for the first time, you need to do your homework. Even the most professional adviser can’t help you if you haven’t done these three things:

1. Make a list of your current income and expenses, as well as future anticipated income and expenses. Then, create a careful inventory of your net assets. Include any property you own, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, savings and pension plans. To make this easier, use these trackers to organize your information.

2. Outline your goals.  Take a realistic look at what you want to accomplish beyond paying your monthly bills.  Do you have large college tuition expenses or wedding bills looming in the future?

When do you wish to retire? All of the various factors that may affect your future goals and desires should be written down before you meet with your financial planner so they can be included in the plan.

3. Buy a box of tissues either for the disappointing news that your aspirations are beyond your means or for the tears of joy when you find that your dreams are within your reach. While meeting with a financial planner can help create order an increased chances of reaching your goals, it shouldn’t bring any surprises.

The more complete your list of net assets, the more thoughtful your goals, and the more realistic your expectations are, the greater the chances of your reaching them… and the better you’ll sleep.

If you’re like me, even the most comfortable eye shades won’t help you fall asleep unless your finances are in order. A financial planner can’t make miracles or predict the future. However, if the clients supply accurate information and realistic goals, together they can create a financial plan to maximize chances of reaching your life goals.

On The Interface Of Science And Torah Ethics Human Genomics: Scientific Achievement and Ethical Dilemmas

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

“G-d formed man from the earth and breathed into him a living soul.”

The greatest achievement of the biological sciences since that moment in creation has been the Human Genome Project, a massive effort by thousand of biologists, chemists and physicists who isolated and identified the 24,000 genes that Hashem placed in Adam and Eve, and through them in each of their descendents. These genes direct the formation of all our physical and mental attributes. Despite having the same genes, however, we are not all identical. When compared to the genetic make-up of the “reference human,” whose gene sequences were published at the completion of the Human Genome Project, every individual’s genome has about four million variations, some of which predispose to disease or determine response to a specific treatment. “Personal Genomics” is the goal that medical geneticists hope to achieve under which specific treatment for a disease would be determined by studying the whole genome sequence [WGS] of a patient.

The WGS is a non-invasive test requiring only some blood or saliva. Such testing now exists for analyzing fetal DNA from pregnant women. Unlike amniocentesis, which needs fluid removed from the sack (amnion) that surrounds and protects the developing fetus and may cause a spontaneous abortion, these new tests need only a few drops of blood from the mother to isolate fetal DNA, and a swab of the father’s saliva. Three commercial labs launched versions of this test in the past twelve months and last June, researchers at the University of Washington used this non-invasive test to “read” the entire genome of an 18 week fetus.

This magnificent advance in the study of the human genome poses an ethical challenge to all who are guided by Torah law. Even our current primitive ability to study the genetics of a fetus, to determine if it carries the genetic Down’s Syndrome, has resulted in the abortion of 90% of those so identified. Testing 24,000 genes for “normalcy” will surely result in a massive increase in abortions. Current obstetrical practice routinely includes an ultrasound scan of the developing fetus. Under instruction from their liability insurance company to avoid suits for “unlawful birth” doctors must report to parents’ every minor deviation from the idealized norm. If such deviations are reported, worry and fear supplants the joy of pregnancy until, as almost always, a normal, healthy child is born.

What will be the decision of young parents who planned on a family of three children- two of whom are home in bed and one in utero? Why risk the tragedy of a genetically defective child being born? Cancel this one and try again in a few months!

Torah Law is unambiguous! Aborting even the earliest pregnancy violates biblical law. Some who follow the dictates of halacha are misled by the reference in the Talmud to an embryo before 40 days of gestation as “maya b’alma,” which they translate incorrectly as “merely water.” The reference is to the unformed stage of development (like water without form) and is not intended to impugn the embryo’s claim to life. When the health of the mother is endangered, the halacha differentiates between a pre- or post-40 day gestation. The halacha, however, defends the implanted embryo’s claim to life even if it requires transgressing Torah Law, come the Sabbath, to obtain medical care that would prevent the termination of the early pregnancy.

There is another ethical dilemma to evaluate. Is knowledge an absolute good? Must everyone be aware of every potential mishap that may occur because of some genetic flaw harbored in his genome?

Indeed, most would agree that it is better not to know of the presence of a catastrophic gene such as the gene for Huntington’s Disease which destroys the brain by age 50 and for which there is no cure. But there are many who prefer to have a life of simple faith in Hashem knowing that His kindness will protect from all evil. They do not want to know—hence the dilemma. When one member of a family undertakes a WGS study, it reveals information about every other close relative. To tell them the test results imposes the burden of knowledge that they prefer not to bear. To withhold genetic information such as the presence of cancer genes which predispose to the disease prevents them from taking necessary precautions such as frequent medical examination or early pharmacological or radiological intervention that be life saving.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/on-the-interface-of-science-and-torah-ethics-human-genomics-scientific-achievement-and-ethical-dilemmas/2012/11/02/

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