Sunday, December 5, 2010

As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up


Ninth grade was supposed to be a fresh start for Marie’s son: new school, new children. Yet by last October, he had become withdrawn. Marie prodded. And prodded again. Finally, he told her.

The kids say I’m saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook,” he said. “They don’t believe me when I tell them I’m not on Facebook.”

But apparently, he was.

Marie, a medical technologist and single mother who lives in Newburyport, Mass., searched Facebook. There she found what seemed to be her son’s page: his name, a photo of him grinning while running — and, on his public wall, sneering comments about teenagers he scarcely knew.

Someone had forged his identity online and was bullying others in his name. [...]

In Pakistan, Christianity Earns a Death Sentence


It all began a year and a half ago, with a quarrel over a bowl of water. A group of women farm workers were suffering in the heat near a village in Pakistans Punjab province. Aasia Noreen, an illiterate 45-year-old mother five, offered them water, but was rebuffed. Noreen was a Christian, they said, and therefore her water was unclean — sadly, a common taunt hurled at Pakistan's beleaguered Christians. But rather than swallowing the indignity, she mounted a stout defense of her faith.

Word of the exchange swiftly filtered through the village of Ittan Wali, in Sheikhupura district. The local mullah took to his mosque's loudspeakers, exhorting his followers to take action against Noreen. In a depressingly familiar pattern, her defense of her faith was twisted into an accusation of blasphemy, according to her family and legal observers familiar with the case. As a frenzied mob pursued her, the police intervened, taking her into custody. But far from protecting her, they arrested and charged Noreen with insulting Islam and its prophet. And on Nov. 8, after enduring 18 months in prison, she was sentenced to death by a district court, making her the first woman to suffer that fate. [...]

Friday, December 3, 2010

Israel Struggles to Quell Forest Fire


Israel was still struggling on Friday to control a fire raging in a rain-starved forest in northern Israel that has left at least 41 people dead, caused the evacuation of thousands of residents, destroyed some kibbutz houses and prompted the government to call for urgent international aid in fighting the blaze.

A spokesman for the fire service in the area, Hezi Levy, said the fire, which broke out on Thursday morning, was the biggest and deadliest in Israel’s history.

The scale of the crisis forced Israel, which prides itself on being one of the world’s most nimble and generous countries in disaster relief, into the unusual position of petitioner. Early on Friday, a plane from Greece carrying personnel and equipment and a Bulgarian plane with about 100 firefighters landed at an air force base in the north of the country. [...]

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel: A violent husband should be excommunicated


On the same day that the Jerusalem District Court convicted self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen for a long list of abuse charges, Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel published a ruling asserting that a man who abuses his wife should be barred from participating in a prayer or any other Jewish activity.

The prominent rabbi, who heads Tzohar, a union of Zionist Religious rabbis, also ruled that a violent husband should be excommunicated – a tough and unusual punishment reserved by the Jewish law for those committing grave religious and moral violations. [...]

Rav Sternbuch: Refusing Compromise

Rav Sternbuch: Reconciling Suffering

Rav Sternbuch:Chanuaka - battling Yavan

Israel:Fire disaster: World offers help, Turkey sends planes


International community offering its help: Israeli authorities are expecting to receive more than 20 firefighting aircraft Thursday night from Britain, France, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Russia to help in the effort to contain the northern blaze that claimed at least 40 lives.

Despite the great diplomatic tensions vis-à-vis Israel, Turkish officials announced that they too will be sending two firefighting airplanes. Egypt also pledged to send a plane to help battle the blaze. Later Thursday, Jordan and Bulgaria said they are willing to send firefighting teams to help contain the fire. Italy also said it would offer assistance. [...]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Operating theater accident sets pregnant woman alight


A woman suffered burns during a cesarean operation when a fire broke out in the operating room at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer in 2008, a report by a Health Ministry inquiry committee reveals.

Hospital staff had washed the woman with various chemical solutions to sterilize her before the operation and then dried her off. But when she was brought to the operating room, the surgeon asked that the relevant areas of her body be washed down again with an alcohol solution, just to be doubly sure.

The surgeon then cut into her with a diathermic needle. But the instrument, which uses an electric current, emitted a spark, and when the spark touched the alcohol on her body, it burst into flame. [...]

Philosophy originated with the Jews - not the Greeks

Kuzari (2:66): Shlomo spoke with Divine power as well as his great intellect and natural talents concerning all types of knowledge. From the ends of the earth, people came to him to hear his knowledge and to transmit it to the world — even as far as India. In truth the root of all wisdom and its principles was copied from the Jews — first by the Chaldeans and afterwards the Persians and Medes. Afterwards this knowledge went to the Greeks and Romans. However, because these events are distant in time and there are many intermediaries in the process - it has not been mentioned in the books of science and wisdom that it was taken originally from the Jews. These books mention only that they originated in Greek and Roman sources. …

Rema (Toras HaOlah 1:11): In truth all the wisdom of philosophy and intellectual analysis originated from the Jews. All the secular wisdom is in fact contained within the Torah. The Rambam demonstrates in great detail in the Moreh Nevuchim that all philosophical wisdom is found in the medrash and aggados of our Sages. You should know that I saw a very ancient document that described the development of all philosophy. It stated that Socrates was considered the first philosopher. It also says that he obtained this wisdom from Assaf and from Achitofel. It also says in the Paths of Faith that the philosophy of Aristotle was stolen from the wisdom of Shlomo HaMelech. When Alexander the Great captured Jerusalem, he gave control of Shlomo HaMelech’s library to his teacher Aristotle. Whatever good things he found there he wrote his name on it and then added some of his own incorrect thoughts such as the world had no beginning and the denial of Providence. This was done in order to conceal the fact that his material was in fact stolen from the wisdom of the Jews. Alternatively, it is possible that whatever he found that did not have clear-cut proofs in the works of Shlomo - he simply did not believe. We see however that the basis of all wisdom hangs from this vine. In truth, every Jew should believe in this system and not to give a pride and glory to strangers - the wise men of the gentiles. In fact, Shlomo was praised for being able to speak to the cedars of Lebanon and the hyssop growing on the wall. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the basis of this wisdom was stolen from him, there would be nothing praiseworthy in Aristotle and those that came after him…Therefore it is proper to believe in these things. Just as we have written that is the way it is.

Rema (Toras HaOlah 3:4): And R’ Moshe Butreal wrote in his commentary to Sefer Yetzira that the wisdom of Kabbala is the wisdom of philosophy but expressed in a different language… The way of Kabbala is itself the way of true and reliable philosophy.

Baclofen: New Version of an Old Drug Could Treat Autism (and Addiction Too)


One night in 2006, Kathy Roberts rushed her autistic daughter, Jenny, to the hospital. Nothing had been able to stop the young woman, then in her mid-20s, from vomiting. Jenny had recently suffered several major seizures and her entire gastrointestinal system was going haywire.

To try to calm Jenny's GI tract, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital prescribed baclofen, an antispasmodic drug that is also being studied as a potential treatment for alcoholism and other addictions. The drug relieved Jenny's vomiting, but it did something else too — a completely unexpected and welcome side effect. (More on Could Anorexia Be a 'Female' Form of Autism?)

"Within 24 hours, I saw a change," says Roberts. "Right away, I saw that it was globally calming. I've always described a state that she would get into where it seemed like she wasn't comfortable in her own skin, and was trying to crawl out. I saw that calmed down."

Roberts, founder of the Giant Step school for children with autism in Southport, Conn., called Mark Bear, professor of neuroscience at MIT and advisory board member of Giant Step. In 2005, Bear had co-founded a drug company called Seaside Therapeutics to develop treatments for autism and other developmental disorders. Roberts told Bear about baclofen's effect on her daughter, and a new line of research was born. (More on Picky Eating May Be Early Sign of Autism). [...]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Israel ‘a rogue state’? You’d better hope so

An expectation-defying speech delivered at a Cambridge University student debate last month.

Background information JPost


This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening – to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the "Aye" door. I face a singular challenge – most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.

This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel. [...]

Self-declared Israeli rabbi convicted of abusing eight children


The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday convicted a self-declared rabbi for abusing the eight children of the woman with whom he lived.

Last week, four of Rabbi Elior Chen's followers were sentenced to lengthy prison on similar child abuse charges. [,,,]

Conjoined Twins See Through Each Other's Eyes

AOL News

Twins share a unique bond, often claiming to know each other's thoughts and frequently finishing each other's sentences. But one set of sisters has taken twin powers to a whole new level: They can see through each other's eyes.

Meet Tatiana and Krista Hogan of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada -- 4-year-olds conjoined at the head, known as craniopagus twins.

"They are very interconnected. They share a lot of things normal conjoined twins don't. They have the special ability to see what each other's seeing through each other's eyes," Felicia Simms, the girls' mother, said in a television interview with ABC News. [...]