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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘space’

How Do You Answer Evil? Ten Years After the Bali Terror Bombing

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Today marks ten years since jihadist terrorists carried out a ghastly bombing attack on night club spots on the Indonesian island of Bali. The Kuta Beach massacre was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia: 202 people were killed that night. 164 were foreign nationals, 38 were Indonesian citizens. 209 people were injured.

Almost immediately after it happened on 12th October 2002, the then editorial team at the Melbourne (Australia) Herald-Sun newspaper contacted Arnold Roth. This was only a year after the death of the Roths’ daughter Malki. Arnold and Malki had both been born in Melbourne. The Herald-Sun requested a first-person response, an open letter to the families of the Indonesian attack victims.

Malki‘s death, like those of the Bali massacre victims, came at the hands of terrorists acting in the name of Islam. Arnold felt he had something to say and set everything else aside to quickly write an op-ed [background here].

He sent it off to the Herald-Sun. Then… silence. For reasons that have never been explained, his article never appeared in the pages of the Melbourne newspaper. The paper’s editor at that time never responded to several emails asking for an explanation.

Eventually, the Jerusalem Post picked it up and published it in the paper’s December 9, 2002 edition. Here are excerpts:

A letter to the families of the Kuta Beach victims 

By Arnold Roth, Jerusalem

I never felt more like a father than when taking the hand of my little daughter Malki and crossing the street with her. There is something so right and solid about being your child’s protector.

I never felt more wretched, frightened and alone than on the night the call came saying her body had been identified. My daughter was murdered by a deliberate act of explosive horror. I was not there to protect her.

If you’re asking what can be done, I want to offer this. When a young life ends, a huge empty space is left behind. How do you fill it? With hatred, thoughts of revenge, evening up the score? After our daughter’s death, we sat down as a family and asked ourselves how her life and actions should be remembered. We decided to raise money and give practical help to families raising a child with disabilities. Malki, a very practical teenager, did this herself and believed in it. It would have made her smile.

Perhaps it’s not politically correct to say this, but I believe evil does exist in the world – a great deal of it.

How do you answer evil? For us, the right response has been to do things which we hope will increase the stock of good in the world. We know this will have no impact on the barbarians who killed our children and loved ones. But we’re absolutely determined that they won’t be impacting us any more than they already have. They and their values are irrelevant to our lives.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Miracle of the Crowded Pilgrims

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The Mishna in “Chapters of our Fathers” 5:5 describes ten miracles that used to occur in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (a couple of feet above the Western Wall in the picture). One of those miracle was that when the pilgrims—hundreds of thousands of them—stood in the Temple courtyard, they were crammed together, like the crowd you see here, photographed Monday night, the eve of Yom Kippur.

But when the time came for every pilgrim to prostrate themselves on the ground, the dimensions of the place morphed and each individual pilgrim had ample space so that no person touched the bodies of their fellow worshippers.

The multitude in the Temple courtyard fell on the ground as the High Priest read out the full name of God, all 72 letters of It. And when he was done, they all cried out: Blessed be the Name of His Kingdom for eternity.

We do both those things on Yom Kippur, during the Mussaf prayer: prostrate ourselves on the floor of the synagogue (on a sheet of paper), and cry out the blessing which, on normal days we only whisper.

It preserves the muscle memory of the ancient ceremony.

During the year, we whisper the “Blessed be the Name of His Kingdom for eternity” line after we say the opening line of the Shma reading. Each day, twice a day, when I say that line, I’m transported in my head to the place where I had last said it out loud, prostrated on the floor.

For an entire year now, I’ve been returning in my head, twice a day, to the Stanton Street Shul on the Lower East Side, where I last kept Yom Kippur.

This year, we’ll be staying with our friends in Tzfat, and will be davening in a Chasidish place in that strange, old town. I’ll be saying good bye to the last spiritual vestige of the Diaspora inside my head.

Possibly…

Have a meaningful fast. If you wish, this can be the most fun day of the year.

Turkish Report Holds Syria Responsible for Downed Warplane

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

A report by the Turkish Military Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that a Turkish warplane shot down in international air space in June was hit by a Syrian missile, according to the Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet on Thursday.

Though there are no indications that missiles hit the plane, there were traces of materials found in missiles on the jet.  Experts theorize that the missiles blew up near the jet rather than hitting hit, resulting in the materials being diffused on the plane without leaving signs of a missile impact.

The report also discredits Syrian accusations that the plane was shot down by anti-aircraft guns inside Syrian air space, and rules out technical malfunctions.

The report is being criticized as topical, not thorough enough to confirm that a Syrian missile was responsible.

America Needs a New Civil Space Policy

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Other nations are not waiting for the US to decide what kind of space policy it wants.

China is moving ahead with its independent manned space program. On June 18, 2012, a Chinese Shenzhou capsule, with China’s first female Taikonaut aboard, docked with China’s new space station. This Chinese mission is most likely meant to show that China is winning a new space race with the United States.

In January 2013, whatever the new administration, it will almost certainly not consider civil space policy to be one of its top priorities – civil space being the government’s non-military space program. The most important part of that is NASA; other parts include NOAA for civilian weather satellites and the FAA office of commercial space transportation for licensing commercial space launches.

If, in the first few weeks, space questions arise at all, restoring the 22% (or more) cuts made by the current administration to America’s military space programs will take precedence over decisions on the future of NASA. The European Space Agency has, at least for the moment, given up on major new cooperative space exploration programs with NASA. Further, the confused management of the US Space Agency has discouraged most of the world’s space organizations from joining with Americans on any serious new projects.

This situation is the opposite of the goal which the Obama administration set for itself in the June 2010 National Space Policy. The White House policy makers said then that they wanted to “expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities to broaden and extend the benefits of space …”

International partnerships for space exploration are certainly being developed — only without the United States.

It is hard nevertheless to imagine that the question, “What do we do about NASA?” can be long postponed: the US government’s military space and civilian space (which mostly means NASA) are two sides of the same coin. The same firms that support the military’s essential space functions also support NASA’s science and exploration programs. The stress on major civil space programs — caused by a combination of complex requirements, underfunding and poor management — means that in early 2013, several of the most important programs, including the Mars exploration project and the James Webb Space Telescope, will be in even deeper trouble than they already are.

Any new administration will at some point have to face the incredibly incompetent way in which the future of scientific research on the International Space Station (ISS) has been handled. To put it bluntly, the same woman who was in charge of writing the specifications for the body which is to supervise science on the ISS, is now a senior officer in the institution that won the contract. This involves, at the very least, what used to be called “the appearance of impropriety.” Until the new administration and NASA take dramatic action to separate themselves from this mess, investigations and litigation will probably ensure that very little science will be done on the station.

Moreover, to save money for the very costly and behind-schedule Webb Space Telescope — managed by the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, and the pet project of the powerful and sometimes feared Democratic Senator, Barbara Milkulski — the rest of NASA’s science programs have been gutted. This plunder has been especially true of the planetary science missions: future Mars exploration programs have been canceled, and the planned “Flagship” mission to the outer planets has been postponed to the point where it is doubtful it will fly anytime within the next decade.

The manned space exploration program is a shambles. The commercial space projects are taking baby steps at a time where giant ones are needed. One hopes that the so-called “New Space” companies will find a way to thrive in this environment, but they are, with the exception of SpaceX, nowhere near ready to fly paying passengers into orbit, and will not be ready for some years to come.

In the early morning of May 22, 2012, SpaceX, based in Hawthorn California, finally launched its Dragon ISS resupply capsule on the company’s own Falcon 9 rocket. This was only the third Falcon 9 launch and the first since December of 2010. Three days later, on May 25th, the Dragon capsule was successfully berthed onto the space station. There is nothing unusual about a complex space launch vehicle taking more time than expected to perfect. For a private firm such as SpaceX, however, it has been an expensive process that has, no doubt, hurt its bottom line, at least for the short term.

The SpaceX Dragon’s launch was carried out under the terms of the Bush-era Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. In 2007 and 2008, NASA was planning to extend the COTS contract to cover transporting people, as well as cargo, to the ISS under the so-called COTS-D program. Now, instead of the commercial program being a useful auxiliary to NASA’s main human exploration plans, COTS-D was renamed the Commercial Crew and Cargo Development program (CCDev) and, after that re-renaming, is now named the Commercial Crew Program (CCP). NASA created this program to build vehicles that would take over the entire job of carrying people and cargo from Earth to orbit and back, a task was formerly performed by the Space Shuttle.

Congress rejected that approach; at present a stalemate exists between those who support giving the entire job to the so-called “commercial” industry and those who are pushing for a compromise. The compromise which the Obama administration reluctantly accepted in 2010 was that NASA would continue to develop the Orion capsule for possible missions to the asteroids, the Moon or Mars, and that NASA would begin work on a new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS), which closely resembled the heavy-lift Ares V, a part of the Bush era Constellation Return-to-the-Moon Program. The SLS, like the Ares V, will, in theory, be able to lift more than 120 tons of payload into the Earth’s orbit — more than any other rocket in history. The current leadership at NASA, however, has been less than enthusiastic about the SLS program and has tried to undermine it every chance they got.

So how, in January 2013, could a new President restore NASA’s place as a world leader in science, technology and exploration? Perhaps by following three relatively-simple-to-understand principles:

Number OneRespect the US Constitution

Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. As such, it may be incredibly frustrating to deal with at times; however, its role as the keeper of the national purse must be acknowledged. The Obama administration’s cancellation of the Constellation program, which aimed to return Americans to the Moon and eventually land US astronauts on Mars, was nothing short of an act of political vandalism. Constellation had been carefully crafted, with considerable input from senior Senators and Representatives from both political parties. Killing Constellation poisoned NASA’s relations with the men and women on Capitol Hill. Until there is new leadership at the space agency and also at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the bitterness and anger will endure.

Number Two: Set Clear Goals

People are tired of hearing about President Kennedy’s 1961 instructions to NASA to “within this decade, land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth.” The Apollo program was a product of a unique time and place. The US will never again devote more than 2% of GDP to NASA as it did in the mid 1960s. If the country were to spend even 1% of its annual wealth on NASA, it would look like a miracle.

Yet, reduced funding is no excuse for allowing the space agency to disaggregate into a unconnected set of programs which not only cannibalize each other, but which are often canceled after spending billions with nothing to show for them. A Back-to-the-Moon-and-on-to-Mars program is still the most sensible, and doable, long term goal. Humanity needs to explore and settle new worlds, and America needs to be at the forefront of those efforts.

Number Three: Reform the Way NASA Does Business

As with many other Federal agencies and departments, the waste that results from starting and then canceling programs dwarfs any other form of governmental waste. The cancellation of the Constellation program, after more than 9 billion dollars had been spent on it, was merely one example of this practice. Few foreign governments habitually start, and then kill, expensive national programs with the same reckless disregard for the national purse or the national interest as do our leaders in Washington DC.

To carry out these reforms not only does NASA desperately need to fix its management problems, such as the ones which have led to the wild cost overruns in the Webb Space Telescope program, but above all NASA needs new leaders in Washington. Any President should look soon into a top-to-bottom, radical reform and simplification of the gigantic and complex Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). America’s FAR are rivaled only in their Kafkaesque complexity and lack of rationality by America’s Tax Code.

Done correctly, such reforms would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years, not only at the Defense Department, but also at NASA. FAR reform would free up cash inside the NASA budget for research, science and exploration.

It should be noted that both of NASA’s commercial programs, COTS and the CCP, have been carried out under the “Space Act Agreement” law. This legislation has enabled the COTS and CCP contractors to build their vehicles to fill NASA crew and cargo transportation needs without having to fulfill the costly and time consuming requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. This raises the question: Why doesn’t NASA ask all its contractors to work under the Space Act Agreement rules?

It needs to be clearly understood America’s civil space program is just as much an instrument of national power as the US Navy or the State Department. It is to be hoped that the President and Congress will in the future recognize this fact.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Chabad Buys Manhattan Building for $42 Million

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Chabad said it had been renting the 12-story, 60,000-sq.-ft. building at 509 Fifth Avenue for the past 16 years, before it bought it on Thursday. The building has a synagogue, offers programs and oversees the activities of seven Chabad centers in Manhattan. It also includes a vacant space.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to God for this enormous blessing,” Rabbi Joshua Metzger, executive director of Chabad of Midtown Manhattan, said in a statement. “This record-breaking acquisition presents enormous opportunities and an awesome responsibility to ensure that all of our Jewish brethren in the heart of one of the largest cities of the world are cared for and inspired.”

In April, 2010, the New York Post reported, Metzger filed a $30 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against real estate investors David Werner and Amram Kass. Metzger alleged that he discussed with them his desire to buy the building but was subsequently cut out from its purchase. The suit also was filed against the building’s then-owner, 509 Fifth Avenue Associates Owner, which includes Norman Sturner of Murray Hill Properties, the Post reported.

Werner, Metzger alleged, was a matchmaker between seller Joseph Moinian and Sturner, who bought the structure for $32 million, according to the Post.

In January, 2012, Sturner’s ownership group filed a $9 million suit against several groups, including the Chai Foundation – a Chabad operation — and Metzger. It alleged that Metzger had not paid rent and was in the process of being evicted when another company had signed the contract to buy the building for $39 million – a deal that fell through in December, 2011, according to the Post.

Claudine Uzan Caterers Will Serve You For Sukkot

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The summer is over. The kids are back in school and the high-holiday season is upon us. Rosh Hashanah is only two weeks away.

There is always a tremendous effort that goes into getting ready for a yom tov. There are menus to plan, guests to invite, cleaning, organizing, shopping, cooking and serving. Even Yom Kippur, a day of abstinence, requires a before and after-fast meal, arrangements for synagogue ticket reservations and many other details including making sure the family has non-leather shoes and belts.

Sukkot is an especially work intensive week. The sukkah hut needs to be erected and later disassembled and stored. Tables, chairs and lighting need to be gathered and installed. Meals are taken back and forth from the house to the sukkah. It can be exhausting.

Rina Kramer of Claudine Uzan Caterers suggests advises us to “take a break. We will serve and accommodate you in our beautiful sukkah. You can relax and enjoy!”

Rina invites visitors and Florida residents alike to be her guests at the oceanfront Mimosa Condominium for fine dining and service during the Sukkot holiday. The Mimosa is conveniently located at 4747 Collins Avenue, in the heart of Miami Beach, and is easily accessible to visitors and locals who cannot or do not want the stress and strain of building their own sukkah.

Delicious Shabbat meals on Friday night, September 28 and Saturday afternoon, September 29, will be available at the popular Mimosa-based Cu Cafe. Sumptuous Sukkot fare (includes four meals) will be served in the sukkah. Catering will be available for the days of chol ha’moed, Shabbat October 5 and 6, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

Claudine Uzan Caterers has been serving the worldwide Jewish community for three generations. Rina’s mother, Claudine Uzan, was one of the first gourmet kosher caterers in Paris in 1963. Rina grew up around the best kitchens and first-class professional French chefs. She has studied the culinary arts in top schools and hotels in France and Switzerland.

Rina has worked in the industry for over 29 years in the Miami-Dade and Broward County communities in South Florida. Her reputation and high standards of both kashrut and quality cuisine are legendary.

Space is limited so call Rina now at 305-542-1656 to make reservations. If you are interested in using the sukkah without catering, ask for Maritza and reserve your space immediately.

The Moderate Paradox

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-moderate-paradox.html

The moderate solution is deeply seductive for Republicans, who see their opposition sliding to the extreme left and believe that they can sweep up the middle by just moving a little to the left. All they have to do is moderate their position on X, Y or Z, and they will win over all the unaffiliated voters who are a natural fit for their common-sense policies.

This seems like such a no-brainer that high-profile Republicans keep earnestly and then angrily  pushing for a surrender on one point or another as the key to becoming the moderate mainstream party. But no matter how many times the Republican Party plays this game, it never stops being the “extremist” party that is out of touch with whatever the new normal is.

Like Lucy’s football, the moderate identity is a paradox. The more you pursue it, the less likely you are to reach it. Our current political grammar, which leans heavily on ideas such as moderation and extremism, was crafted by the left. Like Orwell’s Newspeak, the meaning of such words is relative and varies unpredictably. That relativism has given us the moderate Taliban and the moderate Muslim Brotherhood. Before long, it might give us the moderate Al-Qaeda member.

“Moderate” and “Extremist” are words that are used with an absolute air, as if what they refer to is clear and fixed. Actually, the value of each is relative to the other. If the range of views among Muslims is such that the Taliban are actually somewhere in the middle, then they are indeed moderate. This does not mean that they are decent people or that we can reason with them. It just means that the spectrum of Muslim views is bad enough that, within that spectrum, the Taliban fall in the middle, rather than on the extreme end.

The relativism of moderation means that there is no fixed position that can be taken which will make one moderate. If you are on a ship that is traveling between New York and London, then standing in the middle of the boat will not put you in between the two cities except during the brief period when the ship’s travel puts it at that mark. Similarly, adopting “moderate” positions when the culture is moving leftward will not make you a moderate. It will still make you a conservative.

The moderate positions of ten years ago are the conservative positions of today. Not in principle but in practice. When the culture is moving fast enough leftward, then anyone attempting to adopt a moderate position is already trying to conserve something, which makes him a reactionary in the eyes of the left.

To repeatedly attempt to be a moderate is to adopt the positions of the left at a slower rate than the culture as a whole. This is only useful as a cynical political position adopted by someone who believes in nothing at all. It is not good for anything else. That type of moderate is always standing in the middle of the ship as a showy pose, while pretending that the ship isn’t moving at all.

The practiced moderate falls afoul of Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. He is forever trying to reach a point that appears to be closer each time he reaches for it, but that he can never reach. But unlike that paradox, the reason that he can never reach it is because the moderate position is a moving target.

The moderate Republican calculates the position of the left, factors in the position of his party and stakes out a middle position. The Democratic Party moves six steps to the left making it extremist. And our moderate Republican decides that he has found his chance. If he just moves one step to the left, he will seize the moderate position and lay claim to the terra incognita of the middle ground. But when the Democratic Party moved six steps to the left, the new moderate position is actually three steps to the left. All that the moderate Republican has done is watered down his message and made himself slightly more palatable to the middle, but that will change next week when the Democratic Party moves another six steps to the left and the middle will move with it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/the-moderate-paradox/2012/08/14/

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