Tuesday, September 14, 2010

False confessions:Why experts need to conduct investigations


Eddie Lowery lost 10 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. There was no physical evidence at his trial for rape, but one overwhelming factor put him away: he confessed.
At trial, the jury heard details that prosecutors insisted only the rapist could have known, including the fact that the rapist hit the 75-year-old victim in the head with the handle of a silver table knife he found in the house. DNA evidence would later show that another man committed the crime. But that vindication would come only years after Mr. Lowery had served his sentence and was paroled in 1991.[...]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Belgian Catholic Church struggles with abuse charges


Catholic priests who abused children should tell their superiors, leaders of the church in Belgium said Monday.

"We want to repeat this call with force," Bishop Johan Bonny, the bishop of Antwerp, said. "It is to everyone's advantage that the abuser in a pastoral relationship communicates this fact to his superior" or to a new "center for investigation, healing and reconciliation" which he announced Monday.[...]

Domestic abuse


Once I realized I was about to do an article about a shelter for battered religious and haredi women, I was brimming with stereotypes. I imagined a narrow staircase leading down to a gloomy alcove lit by emergency lighting and crowded with beds, women wearing old, worn-out wigs, bruised children, and air laden with pity and desperation.
However, Rabbi Attorney Noach Korman, founder and manager of the Bat Melech organization which started the shelter, assured me I would be surprised after hearing my colorful description, I was still unprepared for the pastoral bed-and-breakfast atmosphere nestled among the citrus groves, the petting zoo, the playground, and the coffee corner. I was even more surprised when I met the women: mostly young, good looking, friendly, and intelligent – women who could be at their peak if it weren't for the difficult reality to which they had fallen victim. [...]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Medical treatment costs :New is not always better

New York Times

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that an astonishing half or more of the increased spending for health care in recent decades is due to technological, surgical and clinical advances.
For the most part, such advances are a cause for celebration. But an expensive new drug is not always better than an older, cheaper drug, and sometimes a new technology or treatment that is highly effective for some patients is unnecessary or even dangerous for others.
The system almost seems designed to keep driving up costs.[...]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Houston rabbis condemn use of internet for slander & lashon harah

American Jew teaches Gazans stress management

New York Times

Tough-looking ambulance drivers in this central Gazan city are drawing images of their fears with crayons. In the northwestern village of El Atatra, in an overheated hall without electricity, 10-year-olds are closing their eyes and imagining a reassuring place. In Gaza City, women who have lost children to political violence are dancing away their tensions, their black abayas shaking and flowing.

Gaza, the Palestinian coastal strip filled with refugees and hardship, is not generally thought of as a center of New Age sensibilities. But through the intervention of a classically trained but alternative-seeking American psychiatrist, nearly 10,000 people here have been taught techniques to reduce anger, ease family tensions and give them a sense of control in an environment known for helplessness. [...]

Rav Sternbuch Rosh HaShannah - preparation

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Translating words - חלב זכר

There has been a rather strange debate about the meaning of חלב זכר
which simply means milk from a male. It has been asserted that at least
the Shach holds that it is not milk. I am simply posting the Shach. I
can't see any way of reading it other than that is is some form of milk
associated with a male. It was also claimed that this non-standard
meaning is the view of the Ben Ish Chai - could not find any reference
there either.
ש"ך יורה דעה סימן פז
טז וחלב זכר לא מקרי חלב כו' - משמע דכיון דלא מקרי חלב ולית ביה אפילו
איסור דרבנן אינו אוסר המאכל ובאו"ה שם כתב דלא גרע מחלב אשה ומדברי הרב
המגיד פ"ט מהמ"א נראה דחלב זכר אסור מדרבנן וכתב שכן נראה מדברי הרמב"ם
שהעתיק המחבר לשונו וכן משמע קצת בש"ס פכ"ה (דף קי"ג ע"ב) דאמר שמואל התם
בחלב אמו ולא בחלב זכר בחלב אמו ולא בחלב שחוטה וא"כ כיון דמחד קרא מפיק
להו וחלב שחוטה קי"ל דמדרבנן מיהא אסור וכדלקמן סי' צ' ה"נ בחלב זכר ונראה
דהרב המגיד מיירי בחלב זכר של בהמה וכדפרש"י בש"ס שם וז"ל ולא בחלב זכר
שהיה לו חלב מועט מן הדדים כגון אם נשתנה והיו לו דדים וכן פי' מהרש"ל שם
סי' ק' וכן מוכח מהש"ס שם להדיא דקאמר בתר הכי בעי מיניה המבשל בחלב גדי
שלא הניקה מהו אמר ליה מדאיצטריך לשמואל למימר בחלב אמו ולא בחלב זכר זכר
הוא דלא אתי לכלל אם אבל האי כיון דאתי לכלל אם אסור ש"מ דבחלב זכר של בהמה
איירי אבל בחלב זכר דאדם פשיטא דלא גרע מחלב אשה ולפ"ז המחבר שהעתיק לשון
הרמב"ם דמשמע מיניה דגם בחלב זכר פטור אבל אסור והרב בהג"ה לא פליגי:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reforming schools is not solution to lack of student motivation


As 56 million children return to the nation’s 133,000 elementary and secondary schools, the promise of “reform” is again in the air. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has announced $4 billion in Race to the Top grants to states whose proposals demonstrated, according to Duncan, “a bold commitment to education reform” and “creativity and innovation [that is] breathtaking.” What they really show is that few subjects inspire more intellectual dishonesty and political puffery than “school reform.”
Since the 1960s, waves of “reform” have failed to produce meaningful achievement gains. The most reliable tests are those given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The reading and math tests, graded on a 0–500 scale, measure 9-year-olds, 13-year-olds, and 17-year-olds. In 1971, the initial year for the reading test, the average score for high-school seniors was 285; in 2008 that score was 286. The math test started in 1973, when high-school seniors averaged 304; in 2008 the average was 306.[...]

Religious people have stronger yetzer harah

Avnei Milium (Introduction):… Our Sages say that whoever is greater his yetzer is greater. That is because there is no comparison of one who has bread in his basket to one who doesn't. When the spirit is closed in, it makes a greater effort to break through the restrictions and escape. Therefore one who holds to the path of Torah without letting his lust to express itself – the yetzer harah  does not have bread in his basket because it is highly unlikely for the person to do a really disgusting sin. Therefore his yetzer harah becomes stronger and the power of his lust which is being restrained is aroused to escape the restraints and act. It is different with a person who is not a tzadik since his yetzer harah has bread in its basket. Meaning the yetzer harah has the ability to influence through lust. Since the yetzer harah is not locked in, it doesn't make efforts to go out. This is what Tosfos (Kiddushin 31a) concerning that the one who is commanded has a greater yetzer. That the one who is not commanded to do the mitzva has bread in his basket because if he wants he can ignore the mitzva. However this picture changes over time. That is because it is well known that one who gets habituated to constant pleasure that it is no longer pleasing to have the same thing everyday. Therefore the power of lust and its strategies change everyday as is known that the way of drunkards is to search new ways to get pleasure…

Religion vs Science: Mystery and Evidence

There is a story about Bertrand Russell giving a public lecture somewhere or other, defending his atheism. A furious woman stood up at the end of the lecture and asked: “And Lord Russell, what will you say when you stand in front of the throne of God on judgment day?” Russell replied: “I will say: ‘I’m terribly sorry, but you didn’t give us enough evidence.’ ”

This is a very natural way for atheists to react to religious claims: to ask for evidence, and reject these claims in the absence of it. Many of the several hundred comments that followed two earlier Stone posts “Philosophy and Faith” and “On Dawkins’s Atheism: A Response,” both by Gary Gutting, took this stance. Certainly this is the way that today’s “new atheists”  tend to approach religion. According to their view, religions — by this they mean basically Christianity, Judaism and Islam and I will follow them in this — are largely in the business of making claims about the universe that are a bit like scientific hypotheses. In other words, they are claims — like the claim that God created the world — that are supported by evidence, that are proved by arguments and tested against our experience of the world. And against the evidence, these hypotheses do not seem to fare well.

But is this the right way to think about religion? Here I want to suggest that it is not, and to try and locate what seem to me some significant differences between science and religion.[...]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rabbis should be free from police interrogation?


A poll conducted by Ynet and the Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy reveals that 58% of haredim and the religious public believe that rabbis should not be subjected to police interrogation. The majority of seculars and traditionalists, however believe that rabbis should report for questioning when called.

The Ynet-Yesodot survey, which was conducted by the Panels Institute, polled 501 respondents representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The standards deviation of the results is plus or minus 4.4%.[...[