Archive for December, 2010


Demons On The Streets Of Israel

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Demons on the streets of Israel
This is not a predominantly racist country, but we are guilty of failing to recognize victimhood in others.
By Anshel Pfeffer • Ha’aretz

Almost 30 years ago, my father employed a computer programmer who was an early and prominent support of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party. Innocently, I once asked him how an educated man, an accomplished linguist and mathematician, could support racism. “Jews can’t be racist,” he answered. “We allow anyone to convert and become a Jew and once he is a Jew, he is equal to us in every way. So how can anyone say we are racists?”

I have learned a few things since then. Among them, that having an education is no bar to holding obscene views, and that racism is not technically just about race. But the idea that Jews cannot really be racist is far from being a fringe belief. The reasoning behind this is not just theological.

Two millennia of persecution have ingrained us with the knowledge that whenever there is racism around, we will be on the receiving end. True, the Torah includes exhortations to exterminate whole nations, men, women and children, but those are relics of an ancient time with no relevance to today’s world. Or so we tell ourselves.

Most of the disparaging references to non-Jews in the Talmud were censored out a thousand years ago, mainly for fear of provoking more persecution. Racism always seemed like a luxury that a downtrodden minority group could not afford. Early Zionism may have ascribed to the notion of a “land without a people,” disregarding the Arab inhabitants of the land, but this was originally an English Christian notion and by the time 1948 was here, the new Jewish state enshrined equality for members of all races and faiths in its founding declaration.

Sure, 63 years later we still have not yet got around to ensuring that Arab citizens enjoy equal access to land, resources, employment, education and budgets, but we see that as just one more problem that our facile politicians and small-minded bureaucrats have yet to solve. Racists? Us? Have we not we given homes and livelihoods to millions of immigrants, many of them non Jews by any standard? William Safire wrote in the New York Times after the airlifting of the Beta Yisrael from Ethiopia became public that “for the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens.” Yes, not everyone wants their children to learn with them in the same school, but that’s only because they have so much to catch up, that they bring down the academic level. And the segregation between Sephardi and Ashkenazi girls in Haredi schools? That’s only some weird religious observance issue.

After 1967, Israel assumed control of the lives of millions of Palestinians, without civil rights, and after three generations of Israelis became accustomed to letting Jewish settlers through roadblocks and stopping Arabs, and mainstream state-employed rabbis began channeling biblical hatreds, we still convince ourselves it is a result of the existential nationalist conflict between us and them. They were the ones who shouted Itbach al-Yahud [slaughter the Jews], treated prisoners inhumanely and attacked Jews worldwide whenever tensions boiled over in the Middle East. We sent sophisticated field hospitals to Haiti after the earthquake. Two weeks ago, when dozens of rabbis signed the letter against renting apartments to Arabs, former Knesset Member Rabbi Haim Druckman proposed to change the wording. Instead of Arabs, he proposed “hostile elements trying to take advantage of the equality between loyal citizens, realize the ‘right of return’ and banish us from our land.” Anything to maintain the illusion.

Well, finally the racist cat is out of the bag. The demonstrations in South Tel Aviv and Bat Yam against foreigners living in their neighborhoods can no longer be interpreted as anything else.

The group of teenagers that systematically hunted down Arabs on the streets of Jerusalem is not just a freak occurrence. The xenophobia is no longer political, or even solely religious. Rabbis stood by women in shorts at the demonstrations. Veteran Kach members such as MK Michael Ben-Ari were there, but so was Kadima MK Yoel Hasson. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, a member of Labor, said the demonstration in his city was “understandable.” I wonder how he understood the booing and jeering that greeted an Ethiopian immigrant speaker until he assured his listeners that he was Jewish and then called for the Sudanese to be deported back to their land.

The failure of successive governments to secure the border with Egypt, impose consistent regulation on the import and abuse of foreign labor and, above all, to develop coherent and up-to-date immigration and citizenship legislation, has finally unmasked the demons that were always lurking close beneath the surface. Finally, we have the damning proof that in hurtling down the slippery slope between legitimate concerns over immigration and downright hatred of foreigners, Jews are no different from the goyim.

There is a lesson to be learned here from the Diaspora. The parties of the far right in Europe have shed their old neo-Nazi ties and recast themselves as anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim. In doing so, they have tried to court the local Jewish communities, citing joint concerns over anti-Semitic attacks. By and large, these overtures have been shunned; most Jewish leaders responsibly knew where to draw the line between speaking out against Muslim hate crimes and the resulting racist backlash. Some of those very politicians who would never be allowed on any respectable platform in their own countries were welcomed here last month and taken on a tour of the settlements.

Israel, for all its faults, is not a predominantly racist or Apartheid-like country. But there has been a continuing failure of Israeli society as a whole to recognize victimhood in others; to understand that there were other genocides in the 20th century that need commemorating other than the Holocaust; that while an entire nation hopes to see Gilad Shalit returned to his family, there are 10,000 mothers on the other side who see their imprisoned sons as fighters and not murderers; and to realize that no amount of PR can ever change the impression made by 43 years of occupation of another people. These demons have been unleashed on our streets.

The government has a duty, finally, to build the southern border fence, to find ways to integrate some of the illegal immigrants and find alternative solutions for the rest, but all of us have a duty to ourselves – to admit we can also be racists.


Researchers have found evidence for “chronesthesia,” which is the brain’s ability to be aware of the past and future, and to mentally travel in subjective time. They found that activity in different brain regions is related to chronesthetic states when a person thinks about the same content during the past, present, or future.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-scientists-evidence-chronesthesia-mental.html


Visa, MasterCard and Pay Pal suffered online outages when they came under attack from WikiLeaks supporters waging cyber-war against the firms they accuse of stifling the project’s activities by stopping payment processing.


Click to enlarge

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently in a British jail fighting extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.

The US government has presented no charges against  Assange, but the absence of solid accusations did not stop American government officials from reportedly putting pressure at the highest level to cut off Wikileaks’ funding supply.

The senior executive of America’s money transfer giant, Pay Pal, said the State Department had written to the company, claiming the online whistleblower had illegally leaked documents. So Pay Pal, along with MasterCard and Visa no longer accept cash donations for the controversial website.

“It’s the threat of this that has some impact on national security. And when you say that, in the United States, everybody, you know, wets their pants and they do what they’re told,” scorned Sam Husseini, the communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. “It’s a misconception in some cases that people think the US is purely a money-driven society. It is not. The government has certain prerogatives, particularly over national security.”

It appears that no court ruling or legal procedures were needed to crackdown on the media organization.

Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist organization, believes the situation with WikiLeaks is outrageous.

“Wikileaks has not been charged with a single US crime,” he said, “and here the country’s financial institutions are taking action on behalf of our state department to extinguish this whistleblower’s website.”

Later, Pay Pal backtracked on its reasons for acting on the US government’s request, while MasterCard and Visa were most evasive on the issue.

But the general explanation they give for not accepting donation payments for WikiLeaks is that the site “encourages, promotes, facilitates or instructs others to engage in illegal activity.”

But, on the other hand, neither MasterCard nor Visa have any problems processing donations for, say, the Ku Klux Klan – a racist, anti-Semitic movement with a history of extreme violence, with goals of racial segregation and white supremacy. And yet it takes seconds to make a donation for the Klan, using your Visa or MasterCard. In this case, MasterCard and Visa are saying, it is all about business. But they are not saying that when it comes to WikiLeaks.

A number of senators, including the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Joe Lieberman, were quick to pat those companies on the back for cutting off cash to WikiLeaks.

But some cannot help asking: if US officials are so down on WikiLeaks, why are they not after the WikiLeaks’ partner newspapers?

”One other incredible thing about the persecution is that so many people are falsely reporting that WikiLeaks has dumped 250,000 documents but it’s not true at all. They were only putting stuff up on their webpage, when the New York Times, [German] Der Spiegel, [British] The Guardian or [Spanish] El Pais were putting them up. They were very useful to the US government in some ways,” Sam Husseini reminded.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding WikiLeaks. But what is on the surface now, are examples of double standards: everyone is after WikiLeaks, but not, for example, the New York Times. The question is why?


22 December 2010 Last updated at 18:03 GMT


Ancient humans, dubbed ‘Denisovans’, interbred with us By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News

 

Professor Chris Stringer: “It’s nothing short of sensational – we didn’t know how ancient people in China related to these other humans”

Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species.

The ancient humans have been dubbed Denisovans after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found.

There is also evidence that this group was widespread in Eurasia.

A study in Nature journal shows that Denisovans co-existed with Neanderthals and interbred with our species – perhaps around 50,000 years ago.

An international group of researchers sequenced a complete genome from one of the ancient hominins (human-like creatures), based on nuclear DNA extracted from a finger bone.

‘Sensational’ find

According to the researchers, this provides confirmation there were at least four distinct types of human in existence when anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) first left their African homeland.

Denisovan tooth
DNA from a tooth (pictured) and a finger bone show the Denisovans were a distinct group

Along with modern humans, scientists knew about the Neanderthals and a dwarf human species found on the Indonesian island of Flores nicknamed The Hobbit. To this list, experts must now add the Denisovans.

The implications of the finding have been described by Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London as “nothing short of sensational”.

Scientists were able to analyse DNA from a tooth and from a finger bone excavated in the Denisova cave in southern Siberia. The individuals belonged to a genetically distinct group of humans that were distantly related to Neanderthals but even more distantly related to us.

The finding adds weight to the theory that a different kind of human could have existed in Eurasia at the same time as our species.

Infographic

Researchers have had enigmatic fossil evidence to support this view but now they have some firm evidence from the genetic study carried out by Professor Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.

“A species of early human living in Europe evolved,” according to Professor Paabo.

“There was a western form that was the Neanderthal and an eastern form, the Denisovans.”

The study shows that Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of the present day people of the Melanesian region north and north-east of Australia. Melanesian DNA comprises between 4% and 6% Denisovan DNA.

David Reich from the Harvard Medical School, who worked with Svante Paabo on the study, says that the fact that Denisovan genes ended up so far south suggests they were widespread across Eurasia: “These populations must have been spread across thousands and thousands of miles,” he told BBC News.

One mystery is why the Denisovan genes are unique in modern Melanesians and are not found in other Eurasian groups that have so far been sampled.

‘Fleeting encounter’

Professor Stringer believes it is because there may have been only a fleeting encounter as modern humans migrated through South-East Asia and then on to Melanesia.

Denisova cave The remains were excavated at a cave site in southern Siberia

“It could be just 50 Denisovans interbreeding with a thousand modern humans. That would be enough to produce this 5% of those archaic genes being transferred,” he said.

“So the impact is there but the number of interbreeding events might have been quite small and quite rare.”

No one knows when or how these humans disappeared but, according to Professor Paabo, it is very likely something to do with modern people because all the “archaic” humans, like Denisovans and Neanderthals disappeared sometime after Homo sapiens sapiens appeared on the scene.

“It is fascinating to see direct evidence that these archaic species did exist (alongside us) and it’s only for the last few tens of thousands of years that is unique in our history that we are alone on this planet and we have no close relatives with us anymore,” he said.

The study follows a paper published earlier this year by Professor Paabo and colleagues that showed there was interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals as they emerged from Africa 60,000 years ago.

Bad Science in Star Wars

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Bad Science
Tags:

Bad Science in Star Wars

FORA.tv has a short video of me performing at the recent Wonderfest science festival in Berkeley.  I’m talking about bad science in science fiction movies, and the example in the clip is a classic moment from Star Wars…

Link to video on FORA.tv


Arabs Not Allowed because they aren’t Jewish; What if they were Muslim?

How poignant is the above Photo? It wasn’t long ago that such signs were strewn across the USA, but those with historical amnesia seem to forget it ever existed.

Even more egregious,  Jewish extremists in Israel are now inflicting a similar decrepit form of racist and religious discrimination. What if it were Muslims saying “this is a Muslim only neighborhood, no Jews allowed?” Or if this had happened in an area of Cairo?

You can be sure that Robert Spencer and company would be chirping about it day and night.

Arab tenants forced to leave Tel Aviv home due to threats

(YNet)

Four Muslims and a Druze man were compelled to leave an apartment they had rented in southern Tel Aviv due to neighbors’ scheming against them, Ynet has learned. They claim that residents of the neighborhood threatened to torch the apartment and attack the landlord if the tenants were not evicted.

“Residents said aloud that they didn’t want to see Arabs in the neighborhood, because it’s for Jews alone,” one of the tenants said. (Hassan Shaalan)


Robert Spencer Goes Bonkers for Austrian Fascist Ewald Stadler

Birds of a feather flock together and in Robert Spencer’s case it seems that he has latched onto a fellow Catholic in Austria by the name of Ewald Stadler.

The only problem is that Stadler is a politician with the BZO, a group that he found along with Jorg Haider, a neo-fascist. Stadler has also made some controversial statements on Nazism.

Here is the video Spencer posted on his site and his comments, it has been reposted by the BNP since,

Austrian MP Ewald Stadler, addressing the Turkish ambassador to Austria, here dares to tell the truth about Islam in Turkey and in Europe. It’s breathtaking. Ewald Stadler surely deserves to be nominated for Anti-Dhimmi Internationale of 2010.

(Video thanks to Pamela Geller.)

Here is Stadler’s bio translated from the German (hat tip: Leonora),

Ewald Stadler is an Austrian politician and was a member of the Austrian Freedom party until 2007. He was counted among the so-called “German National” wing of the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party/ freedom party Austria) but was also a proponent of the (previously less known) conservative catholic views in his party. Stadler constantly attracted attention with his controversial statements on the Nazi era. He asserted that the end of the National Socialist(nazi) command in Austria would not give any relief/liberation.  In the European elections in Austria in 2009 he was the top candidate of the BZÖ .

Bündnis Zukunft Österreich(BZÖ)= Alliance for Austria’s Future (BZÖ) is an Austrian party . It was founded in April 2005 by members of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) by Jörg Haider. It is classified as right-wing (right-populist).

Is it any surprise that Spencer is so awe struck by Stadler? A fascist whose party is classified as right-wing (right-populist), and who has made borderline Nazi favorable comments? In reality it once again peels away at the facade that Spencer has created as a defender of the West when in reality he is nothing more than an anti-Freedom fascist.

It also adds to the list of Fascists that Spencer has supported and spoken with:

-EDL (English Defense League), SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), Geert Wilders, Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, Ewald Stadler, BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), etc.