30 April 2008

Name Our Glatt Kosher Restaurant

NYC Restaurant Holds Fake Contest, Misleads Customers, And Collects Email Addresses
hat tip Consumerist.com

A small glatt kosher restaurant in New York City's East Village ran a contest where people submitted names for the new restaurant. According to the official rules (all 33 words of it), the $3,000 "will be given to the first person who entered the name we will choose." Eric writes in to note that they've announced their new name—Kosher Village—but they haven't announced any winner. To make things more suspicious, they also registered the domain name "koshervillagenyc.com" on April 12th, over two weeks before the contest ended this past Monday the 28th. Eric adds that "the in-store sign for Kosher Village was put up this weekend, also before the contest deadline." So was there ever a $3k prize, or was the entire contest a scam to drum up publicity and collect email addresses?

contest home page

Sounds pretty fishy to me. But the menu looks pretty good and the prices are reasonable. I hope this is a mistake.


OTOH, If the story is true, I would urge the OU Kashrus administrators to be certain that they want their heksher on this establishment. Its a sign of bad business to do such a thing, halachic considerations and legal considerations of fraud aside and a consumer fairly or unfairly could be led to presume things about the kashrus of an establishment that would be willing to hold a phony contest. Like I said, I hope it is an oversight and a mistake or bad information so that I can come back and report the matter closed. If anyone knows that an award was given, please let me and the Consumerist website know.

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Barack Flees From His Wright

Is it time to move on from Jeremiah Wright since Barry has now fully repudiated his racist black preacher? Rev. Wright is playing either the good sacrificial lamb or is using the limelight to advance his putrid, racist, anti-American, anti-west, antiJew views from a national forum and leaving his student Barry H.O. in the dust for insulting him and dissing not only him (Wright) but the black church and all blacks as well. Wright transcript.

Obama cannot truly distance himself from Wright albeit he can reduce some of the damage. Obama's continuing to claim that he never heard such comments at Church after attending and participating for 20 years is just not believable or credible. He cannot separate himself from the other congregants, friends and neighbors who attended the same church and read the same church bulletin. Barack said at the press conference "(he)still very much value(s) the Trinity community". I wonder if the Trinity community still values Obama?

Wright's beliefs that Obama calls "wrong and destructive" have been known and commented upon long before Barack's first attempt to disclaim Wright and his philosophy in Philadelphia. Does Barack believe that Wright went too far only at the National Press Club or as he said in the NBC video the "world view" of Wright now concerns him? Barack is rightly concerned for suggestions by Wright that he is "posturing" seemingly to save his campaign. Either way Obama loses. B.O. is either just another politician (as Wright implied) now distancing himself from Wright, his pastor of 20 years, because he is compelled to do so for political reasons, whether or nor Obama believes in the same ideas that Wright does and has (if he does believe the same) merely couched the ideas in American political rhetoric.

If Obama now really wishes to separate himself from Wright, the question of course is why now? How did you (Barry) not know what your pastor of 20 years believes and has spoken about from the pulpit? Did you once agree with him but now you no longer do? Which comment finally caused your break with him? If you were not the candidate and were observing a candidate for President who was a member of a white supremacist church and only with a few months left before the national party primary decided to "distance" himself from his racist preacher would you give that candidate the same benefit of the doubt for which you now seek?

Obama Says He Is Outraged By Wright's "Rants"

Taking Sharp Tone, Obama Breaks With Ex-Pastor (includes NBC video of press conference)

I can't help but reflect upon a question from my favorite parsha study book Vedibarta Bam appearing in the section for Parasha Kedoshim.

Vedibarta Bam — And You Shall Speak of Them, Volume III — Vayikra, Kedoshim by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky

"You shall not cheat your friend and you shall not rob him." (19:13)

QUESTION: Why does the Torah emphasize "rei'acha" — "your friend?"

ANSWER: Once two good friends came to the Chassidic Rabbi, Reb Yitzchak of Vorka seeking his berachah to enter into partnership. The Rebbe asked them if they had written a partnership agreement, to which they replied in the negative. The Rebbe said, "In that case I will write one for you." He took a piece of paper, wrote on it, and handed it to the two friends saying, "Now you have your partnership agreement."

They opened the paper and saw only four letters: alef, beit, gimmel, daled. The Rebbe, noticing their amazement, said, "These four letters are the secret to your success. alef stands for emet, the beit for berachah, the gimmel for gezel, and the daled for dalot.

"If you will deal among yourself with emet — truth and honesty — there will be berachah — blessings in your enterprise. However, if you deal with gezel — cheating each other — then you will have dalut — poverty — i.e. your partnership will not succeed and you will end up in poverty."

The Torah is informing us that even if your partner is a good friend and you think he would not mind, you may not deceive him. Doing so will destroy both the friendship and the enterprise.

Barry and Jeremiah are going to end up like cheating partners. Their goals are not in common and they are cheating each other from a successful end. One wants to be President and one wants to be the new leader of an extremist black nationalist movement, both will fail.

PS - I have been asked to request a refuah shalyma for a young girl, Menucha Rochel bas Chana, Tehillim 1. Don't know the details. May HaShem heal her speedily.

Rev. Wright: The Gift that Keeps On Giving
Posted by Bobby Eberle
April 29, 2008 at 6:39 am
The "Look at me, I'm Rev. Wright" tour was in full swing over the weekend and continued Monday with a speech to the National Press Club. During the speech and following question and answer session, the reverend, who says he's a preacher not a politician, touched on a number of political subjects and showed once again that he is driven by a racist philosophy and an increasingly growing ego. From accusations of the U.S. inventing AIDS to kill blacks, to saying there is a difference between black brains and white brains, to saying that criticism of him is criticism of all black churches, Wright provided more evidence of his true agenda. The more Wright speaks, the more questions should be addressed to Sen. Barack Obama. To be under Wright's influence for twenty years should give everyone second thoughts about Obama's philosophy and motivations.

Despite Wright's other comments saying that God should damn America, his political statements on Iraq, and more, Wright went on to say that the criticism of his comments are not an "attack on Jeremiah Wright" but rather "an attack on the black church." This is utterly crazy. As we have seen over and over again from politicians and the media, there is a tried and true tactic when debating political issues: if you can't win the debate, call your opponent a racist. When people stand up against raced-based policies and say that college admissions or hiring should be based on merit not skin color, those people are called racists. When people say that the borders need to be controlled for security reasons and that immigration laws should be enforced, those people are called racists. Now, Wright is using the same tactic. He wants a free license to say anything he wants because he's black.

Wright continues to dig a hole for Barack Obama. Either, after twenty years, Obama believes the same things that Wright does, or the whole relationship was a sham... an effort by Obama to build credibility in the black community in order to first get elected. In either case, the relationship reflects poorly on Obama, and as Obama himself recently attested, the comments by Wright are fair game. With no record of accomplishment by the young senator, his influences and background will draw even more scrutiny. Wright is providing more than ample fodder for that scrutiny.

(the whole article may be found here - will open in new window)

OBAMA Responds - AP

The Illinois senator summoned reporters Tuesday to say he was outraged by the Rev. Wright's "divisive and destructive" remarks, scrambling to contain the flare-up in a controversy that has dogged him since clips of some of Wright's most objectionable remarks began circulating on TV and the Internet.

Obama said he belatedly condemned Wright's remarks because he did not see a transcript or video of Monday's appearance until the next day.

Below is an unanimated Barry H.O. distancing himself from his Pastor of 20 years about whom Obama says his hateful and racist remarks weren't observed from the pews of TUCC.

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29 April 2008

Disclosure and Deception

Legal Schmooze: How far can you go when selling a car?
By: Rabbi Michael Merdinger, Esq., Special to the Chronicle

A monthly column in which we look at how Jewish and American law take on today’s issues. For today: When you are a used car salesman. Having tried to sell two cars over the past several years, I can tell you that it’s a bit stressful — you want to market your car to get the best possible price but doing so raises some issues: how pretty a picture can I paint of my car when the picture is not quite so pretty? Do I have to tell the potential buyer about that sticking glove compartment or that oil drip? Can I tell the buyer that he’s getting a great price, even if he’s paying what’s really a reasonable price?

Let’s start with the easy things. Fraud is always bad. This is true in Missouri, in Kansas, in Jewish law and it stands to reason it’s true in our sister states as well. For example, thus sayeth the State of Kansas, that it’s a crime to try to sell somebody something through: “Deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or knowing misrepresentation of a material fact” (KS 21-4403). Done. You can’t affirmatively lie or misrepresent your vehicle (or whatever else you’re selling) to the potential buyer. You can’t say “nope, no oil leaks out of this king of the road.”

Missouri goes a step further. Not only are all those bad things like “deception, fraud, false pretense, misrepresentation” no-nos, but so are “concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact” (Missouri Revised Statutes 407.020). In other words, if you know about that oil drip, you’ve got to disclose. Now this wouldn’t apply to minor defects which are not “material facts” that the buyer relies on in purchasing the vehicle.

Jewish law takes yet another approach. The classic code of Jewish law by Rabbi Yosef Caro says, “If he knows that there is a flaw in his merchandise he must inform the potential purchaser.” (Choshen Mishpat 228:6). This is different from what we saw in the Missouri statute because it is not limited to a “material fact,” but extends even to flaws which are minor and wouldn’t necessarily even be sufficient to change the value of the goods.

Why is there such a difference? It seems to me that American law is primarily concerned with preventing business practices which are unfair and unjust. Rules of this nature help foster a marketplace which is reliable and in which people can feel comfortable doing business with each other — the Midwest as opposed to the Wild West. Kansas’ and Missouri’s rules agree on this principle, but differ about whether it extends to an act of omission (leaving out or concealing a material fact).

There’s an extra law on the books in Jewish law that’s relevant here as well, a prohibition of geneivat da’at, theft of the mind. A precise definition is beyond the scope of this column, but an example from the Talmud may serve as an introduction: “Do not pressure someone with an invitation to eat at your (home) when you know he won’t, or give him a gift when you know he won’t accept” (Chullin 94a). Why not? The problem is that the invitee increases his goodwill and good feeling towards the offeror, thinking that the offeror is a better friend than he really is. This is considered “theft” of the invitee’s goodwill. Accordingly, you can’t tell the potential buyer that you’re giving him such a great deal when in fact you’re giving him an okay deal, because you’re stealing goodwill.

For those who are thinking it’s impossible to sell a car if you have to “sell” its flaws, here’s a caveat. You can certainly market the good qualities of your car, pointing out all it has to offer, and you don’t have to advertise the flaws up front but only at a reasonable time during the discussions so the buyer can make an informed and unpressured decision.

Hopefully, he won’t care about the oil drip because you’ll have sold him already on the great sound system.

Rabbi Michael Merdinger, an Overland Park resident, is a graduate of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and New York University School of Law. He can be reached at mfm@merdingerlaw.com.

Rabbi Merdinger explains in the above article that halacha requires disclosure of known flaws and prohibits deceptive promises and claims. I thought this was a good article for inclusion on the blog during a political season especially in terms of the two candidates vying for the democrat party nomination. Without naming names, while both candidates could qualify as lousy in both categories, one candidate excels in deception and the other in failing to provide adequate disclosure. Lets not bring up Israeli politics in this discussion shall we? No? Okay then.

Suffice it to say, the Olmert government is acting under a veil of official deception in terms of what is under negotiation with the arabians and who is doing the negotiating. Confirmations and denials regarding the accountability of the government to the citizenry are really asking for too much.


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11 April 2008

Visions of Obama Negotiating with Ahmadinejad

(Islamo Facism week sponsored by TerrorismAwareness.org, David Horowitz)

US Democrat Obama Urges Talks With Iran To Stabilize Iraq-AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP)--Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called Tuesday for a "diplomatic surge" including U.S. talks with Iran, to help stabilize the situation in Iraq.

The Illinois Senator battling Hillary Clinton called for more pressure on the Iraqi government to embrace political reconciliation and a regional "diplomatic surge that includes Iran."

"We should be talking to them as well," Obama told the top US General in Iraq David Petraeus and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker.

"I do not believe we are going to be able to stablize the situation without that."

There is no better evidence that Barry H.O. is not ready for prime time than his desire to negotiate with Iran. The future of Iran does not lie with the leadership but with people of Iran. Instead of offering negotiations which protect and strengthen this madman, call for his overthrow. Why here Barry, why Iran?

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10 April 2008

Barry Obama and Palestine Advocacy

Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama
CHICAGO -- It was a celebration of Palestinian culture -- a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi's wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table," but around "this entire world."

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.

(another nice quote)

"I am confident that Barack Obama is more sympathetic to the position of ending the occupation than either of the other candidates," said Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow for the American Task Force on Palestine, referring to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began after the 1967 war. More than his rivals for the White House, Ibish said, Obama sees a "moral imperative" in resolving the conflict and is most likely to apply pressure to both sides to make concessions.

more at LA Times (opens in new window)

Who should tell Barry that "palestinian" is not a nationality but a regional description?

Where I think hasbara may have failed is tying the idea that supporting a non-people and a non-nation in its attempt to re-write history and steal a real people and real nation's land and culture away makes one an accomplice to the lie. I know it is old hat now to make this argument and one for which so many in the kooky left just waive off as old fashioned. But really? Why is the question not even asked? There must be wide acceptance of the leftie idea that there is a "palestinian" people because after all what matters is what one hears and sees now. If hasbara were effective, it would be easy to say, "hey look, this Obama character is out there talking about this palestine fantasy as if it were real. What's he up to?"

But today's left has a dogma which calls upon its adherents to find the so-called underdogs, oppressed, and exploited (or those who make the case that they are) and to use these causes as raison d etre de'jour in an effort to garner favor to "the state" and break apart the opponents to "big state" policies in the form of what is called in politics "cracking" (turn their interests against them). Of course, if the oppressed are oppressed by a leftist entity or communist entity, the left isn't that interested and suggesting that these groups need help too just leads to another self-serving and self-righteous waive off of denied credibility. All this means, use the pali argument as a way to reduce the influence and impact of free thinking and further the effort to empower big government. Who cares who pays the price? Why these people deserve a land! They have been oppressed you know by those Jews.

The left's approach and one where Israel has clearly paid a price as a result is the assumption that identity is what you say you are. History and evidence become irrelevant. Consider this logic. I was born in the US. As a Jew I feel obligated to frame a discussion about my ancestry in these terms, "my family made long term stop overs in Russia, Poland, Belarus and other countries prior to arriving in the US." While I am proudly American by birth and staunchly grand old flag egoistic, I also realize that by destiny, after where ever else fate takes me or my descendants (sooner or later), the final destination is back to the future, to where my ancestry began. Not Russia not Belarus or Poland, go back further. Jews came from Judea and that land under Judean authority, hence the name association, (yehud/yehuda). In a Jewish religious context, the name Israel, (yisroel or yisroelim) is also one implying unity of people to land.

What are "palestinians"? By definition, that is, a classical definition(since palestinians like to claim they are an ancient people certainly they would want to use a classical source vis a vis.. a modern source right?) palestinian refers to of or related to the area of palestine, not to a particular people or nationality. Where did the name Palestine come from?. The name originating with the Romans did not for refer to any particular people at any time until the 20th century and was out of existence during the Ottoman years, only to be resurrected by the British after WW I.

By most accounts, Arabian entry into the land they wish to call "palestine" did not occur until the mid 600s. According to What is the Arab history in Palestine? in 1099 the Christian Crusaders conquered Jerusalem but held out less than 100 years. The area of "palestine" (AKA Israel) became part of the Syrian district and a vassal state to an Egyptian empire and finally to the Turks which brings us back to the 20th century.

So what is a presidential candidate to do? Does he buy into the big lie for convenience and use his prose to play both sides of the fence or should he acknowledge history? The question isn't limited to Barry H. American policy slide from Reagan to Bush II has lead the world into believing that "peace" is attainable when the ancient palis have been "restored" to an independence in a land which was never independently their own. Two nations, living side by side in peace and tranquility, is what Bush has banked American foreign policy upon, notoriously grabbing the mantle as the first American president to call for the creation of an independant "palestine".

As the LA Times article points out, Barry excites the pali advocates. In yet another chapter in the theory, "Reading Obama by his Associates", the LA Times article describes Barry's affiliation with pali activists Ali Abunimah, Edward Said, (discredited as a liar) and Rashid Khalidi not to mention antiJews Al Sharpton and his Rev. Jeremiah Wright (not discussed in the article).

Like the lacking argument that a twenty year affiliation with a reverend and church with very racist and antiJew opinions doesn't affect or reflect one's opinions, Barry's favorable opinions of and friendships with anti-Israel activists not affecting his "pro-Israel" stance is equally unbelievable. Barry, one may predict, will take the easy road.

more history of Israel and arabians can be found here

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08 April 2008

A Review of the 2008 HIMSS Analytics Report: Security of Patient Data

HIMSS Analytics (short for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society); a “think-tank” for the healthcare management world has just released the 2008 HIMSS Analytics Report: Security of Patient Data. Press release.

This report examines the security of patient personal identifying information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). In the current data breach crazy world, this is a timely report which tries to get beneath the surface of the needs of health professionals to balance quick access to secure patient health records and the need to protect not only patient privacy but prevent access to information which could lead to identity theft.

In discussing PHI and PII it is important to first establish a fact. Unauthorized access to PII no matter where it may be found could lead to identity theft. Unauthorized access to PHI alone, will not lead to financial identity theft in most cases. It could be used to help a fraudster identify a possible victim by placing the consumer/victim in a particular location and may give the fraudster a hint as to vulnerabilities of the consumer. It is also unlikely to result in medical identity theft. In terms of useful information needed to perpetrate identity theft, the date of birth and Social Security Number are far more valuable than PHI. A consumer may feel that their privacy has been violated when PHI has been exposed but unless PII is included in the breached data, the patient is only marginally more likely to be exposed to identity theft than other non-breached consumers.

Health care organizations or as HIPAA labels these “covered entities,” must still treat all the personal information of their clients/patients the same. Other privacy obligations affecting the health care world are mandated from Sarbanes Oxley and Gramm-Leach-Bliley. In some cases, the PCI Data Security standard may also apply. Compliance with these three laws and the PCI Standard obligates a health care entity to take formal steps to implement reasonable privacy and security policies and procedures.

The HIMSS report may reflect a gap between reasonable policies and procedures and practice. Most healthcare facilities responding to HIMSS “indicated that their organization has a security policy in place. (p .4 of the report).” The study continues that these policies are reviewed regularly and that “85 percent of respondents indicating that their policy was updated on an annual basis, if not more often. (p. 4 of the report).”

Yet, the report also indicates that employees are considered the greatest threat which could cause a data breach of patient information, (p. 6, p. 15 of the report). The respondents indicated that even though part of new hire training involved security related matters, (95% of respondents) only 64% of the respondents require some form of on-going security training refreshing (p. 8). On the surface, it is fair to conclude that health care facilities do not place much faith in their security training. This is an area which could be addressed by implementing security mindedness to all areas of training and to every separate task performed in the facility. Or as quoted by Brian Lapidus, Kroll Fraud Solutions Chief Operating Officer and survey sponsor in the press release:

"There's a dangerous assumption in the healthcare industry that education leads to policy implementation and change," said Mr. Lapidus of Kroll. "Best practices in data security cannot be achieved by employee training alone. Organizations must make data security a part of their DNA, reflected in every aspect of business operations."

Maybe some of this detachment between policy and practice identified in the report can be traced to healthcare organizations focusing much of their security effort and resources on IT related security at the expense of employee training. Ninety seven percent (97%) of the respondents have implemented “Technical IT security” while only 70% have implemented formal education courses. This disparity can be compared and contrasted to the actual reporting of how breaches occurred amongst the respondents. The HIMSS results reveal that the health care management concern regarding employees is justified, with employee originated “unauthorized use of information” leading to 62% of all breaches followed by 32% of respondents blaming “wrongful access of paper-based patient information”, (pg. 18). In addition, in response to the question “who was the perpetrator of the security breach?” 80% identified a current employee. While improper release of PII or PHI may have originated with an employee 62% of the time only some of these occasions are likely the result of a blatant attempt to steal information and many of these are probably unintentional consequences of the busy and often demanding need to react with haste in a health care setting.

Based upon this research, healthcare facilities and employers seem to understand what causes data breaches however address these concerns ineffectively. A concentration on data security from the IT perspective is not addressing the fact that employees with authorized access to information, and causing breaches whether intentionally or unintentionally is the most significant threat to patient privacy and prevention of identity theft. Better background screening and higher thresholds for new hires may address some of this problem. The effort to implement a national health record access system may or may not solve this problem; however, such a solution may or may not make theft of information easier. Healthcare management is left with the daunting task of figuring out what change is needed to that will prevent patient PII and PHI from being breached yet keep it accessible for those health care professionals who need it. Based upon the HIMSS results, the policies and procedures at many of America’s health care facilities need to be re-evaluated with a mind to stimulating a culture of data security. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

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Fried sings Geula Shleima - preview

New disk to include new song sung by Avrohom Fried called "Geula Shleima.

A new musical album will soon be released that will include songs from Mordechai Ben David, Shloimi Daskal, Shloimi Dask and Yosef Chaim Bloch. It will also include a new song by Avrohom Fried called "Geula Shleima.

The musical arrangements were made by Moshe Laufer and his son Eli

Click here to listen to the song. Courtesy of Shlager.net

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03 April 2008

Eric Yoffie - John Hagee, Arabs and Jews

Oh, shut up, Yoffie - Zioncon
Oh, shut up, Yoffie - INN

27 Adar Bet 5768, 4/3/2008

I think we should hold a contest for the most imaginative ways to shut up
"Rabbi" Eric Yoffie, the leader of the American Reform synagogue's
political SWAT team, the "Union for Reform Judaism." It is a political
movement that seems to want to replace the Torah with Tikkun Magazine.
You know the the sort, Jews who consider Palestinian statehood and gay
"marriage" to be the highest priorities for Judaism. Yoffie evidently
wants the Ten Commandments to be replaced with Barack Obama's campaign

"Rabbi" Yoffie is a leading theological practitioner of Political
Liberalism as Judaism, a form of pseudo-Judaism and "liberation theology."
Yoffie has a long track record of issuing anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian
pronouncements. This past week he is calling for a Jewish jihad against
Christian evangelists, because the latter are guilty of supporting Israel.
Who does not need to be criticized, according to Yoffie? Islamofascists,
of course. Last year, "Rabbi" Yoffie sucked up to them at the Islamic Society of North America's 44th annual convention in Chicago, IL. While still president, Moshe Katsav made a point out of refusing to call Yoffie a Rabbi.

So imaginative suggestions for ways to shut Yoffie up are being solicited.

So far we have:

1. Stick the stockings from a Reconstructionist Christmas tree into his

2. Borrow a giant reefer for him from Arthur Waskow.

3. How many Kafiyas can he swallow in an hour?

4. Get him the seafood platter from a progressive egalitarian California
Reform "temple" we know about.

5. Two words: fur balls.

6. Get him to recite fatwas from the Religious Action Center of David
Saperstein at the speed of an old 45 record being played at 78.

7. Make him give all his liberal speeches in Hebrew. (Or Aramaic)

8. Make him give a class on the Daf Yomi before any political speech he
plans to give.

9. Get him to a dentist who was admitted to dental school via affirmative

10. Let him drink every day as if it were Purim.

# posted by Steven Plaut : 9:49 AM

All Jews would like to think of their Rabbis as being thoughtful, inspiring, and learned. They want them to be able to listen and respond in a meaningful manner as an halachic guide and adviser answering our questions in good times or G-d forbid the bad times. I wonder what it is that Reformist Jews see in Eric Yoffie? I can't picture him as an adviser, guide, teacher and most certainly not a pulpit Rabbi. Granted my observations are based upon primarily print media and the Internet, but what I have seen and heard leaves me quite confused. The Shalom TV interview which I referred to in a previous post left me even more confused. Yoffie is soooo "un-Rabbi" like. APRPEH has made references to Yoffie's essentially illogical and uninformed positions many times.

An example can be found here with Yoffie being quoted as saying in regards to John Hagee:

"In expressing contempt for other religions and rejecting territorial compromise under any and all circumstances, their views run against the American grain."

In other words, Yoffie by equating 'contempt for religions' and 'territorial compromise' if I may be permitted to read between the lines, believes that Hagee doesn't like Yoffie's religion since it takes the arabist position calling for a judenrein Yosh.

Setting aside the "contempt for other religions" (which would seem to already be a subjective observation given Hagee's non-contempt for Jews - although Catholics might see it differently) it is Yoffie who is mistaken in terms of what is American sentiment for Israel and the need for "territorial compromise". Yoffie is clearly expressing his view and that expressed by the Reformist party/movement that Israel should engage in what he calls "territorial compromise" and meaning it in the fullest sense of the word.

As Gallup polls demonstrate, Americans favor Israel in the dispute with the palis and do so year after year. The Gallup polls also show that Americans want more pressure exerted on the palis than Israel by the American government in negotiations (not that there should be any pressure on Israel to acquiesce before barbarians). While polls also do show support for a pali state, it is presumed they mean the peaceful, non-belligerent, non-terrorist, non-bloodthirsty, non-antiJew state of the Foggy Bottom propaganda machinations. Could it be that Yoffie's understanding of "territorial compromise" and the understanding of the Americans polled is different? Could he actually be wrong? What do Americans believe in terms of a pali state in Judea and Samaria?

Palestinian-Israeli Dispute Engenders American Sympathy for Israelis

Americans Likely Welcome Arab-Israeli Peace Summit

Mixed Reviews for Bush Administration’s Mideast Peace Push

And how is this fictitious contiguous pali state in the West Bank to come into existence? Polling before the Gaza disengagement commissioned by the ZOA and conducted by McLaughlin and Associates on this question resulted in overwhelming American opposition to the removal of Jews from their "homes and businesses":

Respondents, by a margin of 4 to 1 (63% to 16%) opposed "Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from a section of Gaza and northern Samaria and forcing 10,000 Israeli Jews from their homes and businesses" and by a margin of 2.5 to 1 (53% to 21)%, agreed with the statement that "this Gaza Plan sends a message that Arab terrorism is being rewarded". Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. Based upon these results one must conclude that it is Yoffie's views which run against the American grain. How would Americans poll on the need for more Israeli withdrawals after having watched the disturbing and heart breaking videos of the previous disengagements? Would Americans be more or less favorable toward forcing "Jews from their homes and businesses"?

Returning to the idea of thoughtful rabbis, maybe it is within the interpretation of poll results where a diagnoses of Yoffie and reformism can be found. For the record, I do not particularly care what results the polls reflect when Jewish life and security are at stake. Even if the polls were overwhelmingly supportive of the palis and anti-Israel it wouldn't matter. I also believe that to be the case with many Jews. When it comes to Yoffie and his supporters, I must conclude the opposite. His use of public opinion polls to justify his callousness in terms of the security of Israel is informative of his lack of thoughtfulness and lack of real rabbinic status. And yet he speaks from both sides of his mouth.

Reform Jewry Head Calls PLO Movement Ugly and Stupid

Yoffie senses that the palis use of terror reflects stupid politics. At least that is how I interpret his comments. Again, this interpretation, if true reflects his very arabist thinking. In other words, the palis have taken actions which damage their cause, not that the lives of Jews matters so much. Yoffie is saying, the state could have been yours if you killed and maimed fewer Jews. This logic, to those who read the words expressed by the palis is Abu Mazen logic.

Maybe, it is this very ability to deny reality and side with the enemy which is indicative of how Reformism thinks about Judaism. In Chassidus there is an idea that all Jews really wish to be Tzadikim and come close to Hashem. But, they are held back by their gashmius (physicality) which allows their physical selves to dominate their actions. (Where Chassidus teaches how to harmonize the soul and body in a spiritual bond). This weakness drives the person further away from holiness and eventually shields him from seeing the difference between right and wrong. The effect of the yetzer hara is that reason becomes a vehicle for confusion. The origin of this confusion stems from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

When there is a question of what is the good and what is the evil, the human mind tries to make distinctions which leads to compromising. Good becomes some good and a little bad and bad becomes a little bad with some good and the human mind, left alone without proper Torah guidance becomes confused. This is where in my humble opinion reformism and its followers have descended to. And this is where Eric Yoffie resides as the one who believes he can make the proper decisions. After all, the palis have some good and bad and the Jews have some good and bad. They are not all wrong and the Jews are not all right, etc etc etc...

It is this inability to see clearly which hides the truth. Yoffie and all Jews must unite to say clearly without reservation that mission number 1 is the need to preserve Jewish life and to acknowledge once and for all that HaShem, the King of Kings has established from the time before creation that the Jews have been assigned the land of Israel. This idea is amongst Rashi's first comments in his Chumash commentary and well worth remembering.

Here is a good place to start learning about your soul.

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01 April 2008

Lifelock Getting Picked

Lifelock Getting Picked

Since February 2008, Lifelock, the company that guarantees that your identity will not be stolen has been hammered by legal problems. Lifelock charges consumers $10 a month for the privilege of allowing the company to manage your Fair Credit Reporting Act right to a free initial security alert and which automatically opts out a consumer from pre-approved credit offers for six months. The Lifelock website states:

LifeLock, the industry leader in proactive identity theft protection, offers a proven solution that prevents your identity from being stolen before it happens. We'll protect your identity and personal information for only $10 a month - and we guarantee our service up to $1,000,000. Lifelock website

A consumer must know what it is they are shopping for and buying. Part of the education of the consumer comes from the vendors or retailers where the consumer shops. Lifelock, as quoted above claims that their product “prevents your identity from being stolen before it happens”. Prevents? Come again? It would make sense to say, in the careful speech of legalese, “reduces the likelihood of identity theft” or “works to protect your identity”. The word “prevents” clearly implies a non-conditional protection. A consumer reading this, if he or she is able to overcome their natural inclination to say “too good to be true” might jump at the opportunity to purchase such protection.

But can Lifelock truly prevent your identity from being stolen. Three legal actions aimed at Lifelock beg to differ. First, on February 13, 2008, the Montana Attorney General, Mike McGrath opened a civil investigation of Lifelock based upon the appearance of CEO Todd Davis’s Social Security Number in a full page advertisement in the Great Falls Tribune. Assistant Attorney General Jesse Laslovich is quoted as saying in an article in the same newspaper “… there also are some businesses cropping up that may only claim to protect people from identity theft”, pointing out the nature of Lifelock’s business is the utilization of no-cost initial security alert placed on the credit file by the three credit repository agencies upon request. An additional concern implied by the Attorney General is that the advertisement including Davis’s Social Security Number may itself be contributing to attempted identity fraud, “The Social Security number in the advertisement is registered to numerous people, Laslovich said. Thats probably because people see it and try to use it to open lines of credit, he added.” Great Falls Tribune

Lifelock’s second blow came from the credit repository Experian filing a civil suit in the Federal District Court of Central California announced on February 21. press release

Experian’s suit alleges that Lifelock is abusing the Fair Credit Reporting Act right to an initial security alert, essentially comparing the use of the alert in a permanent fashion to crying wolf. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states in § 605A (a)(1) that “… a suspicion that the consumer has been or is about to become a victim of fraud or related crime, including identity theft,…” is the definition of an initial alert’s purpose. FCRA text.

Experian also claims that Lifelock’s advertising is “false and misleading.” Another claim is that Lifelock’s ordering of credit reports for it’s customers (which are provided free of charge according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act when requesting an initial fraud alert, § 612. Charges for certain disclosures (d) Free disclosures in connection with fraud alerts ) is being conducted “without adequate disclosure”, meaning that consumers are unaware or are not told by Lifelock that the credit reports they receive are provided free by the credit repositories per federal law. Experian goes on to claim that companies are not legally able to place the fraud alerts for consumers which seems to be a stretch provided that consumers are authorizing the company to do so.

Experian’s most pertinent complaint involves the applying of initial fraud alerts without the imminent fear of or possibility of fraud. The credit bureau’s argument is that the protective nature of an initial security alert will be diminished if the alerts become too common place. Experian argues that creditors will essentially be forced to treat every initial alert as equal implying that eventually the alerts will be ignored.

Lifelock is counting on the practice that creditors will always place a telephone call to the consumer upon discovering the initial security alert. However, The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not require a creditor to make a telephone call to the consumer every time an initial security alert is found, but is permitted to “ take reasonable steps to verify the consumer's identity and confirm that the application for a new credit plan is not the result of identity theft” meaning that it is possible that the use of database to verify the personal identifying information of the consumer probably suffices to meet the requirements of the law. If the database does not reflect new fraudulent activity, the alert may not work. Another possibility is to mail a letter to the consumer. Experian seems to have a good point.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

§ 605A. Identity theft prevention; fraud alerts and active duty alerts [15 U.S.C. §1681c-1]

(h) Limitations on Use of Information for Credit Extensions

(1) Requirements for initial and active duty alerts-

(B) Limitation on Users

(ii) Verification. If a consumer requesting the alert has specified a

telephone number to be used for identity verification purposes, before

authorizing any new credit plan or extension described in clause (i) in

the name of such consumer, a user of such consumer report shall

contact the consumer using that telephone number or take reasonable

steps to verify the consumer's identity and confirm that the application

for a new credit plan is not the result of identity theft.

Lastly, on 28 March 2008 a class action suit was filed in Arizona against Lifelock alleging similar claims as the Experian suit:
The lawsuit alleges that the three-year-old company defrauds customers by offering services it cannot legally perform, and by touting a $1 million guarantee that the suit alleges is wildly misleading. press release

The class action suit based upon Arizona's Consumer Fraud Act and the Arizona Insurance Code alleges that Lifelock misleads the consumer by overstating the protection it affords and reiterates the Experian claim that Lifelock cannot legally order the consumer’s credit report. The class action suit also calls into question the highly advertised $1,000,000 guarantee. The press release reports that the guarantee’s actual language is:

LifeLock will not pay any losses directly to the consumer and does not cover consequential or incidental damages to identity theft. The guarantee is limited to fixing failures or defects in the LifeLock services and paying other professionals to attempt to restore losses.

So a consumer who does become a victim of identity theft at the very least can claim remuneration from Lifelock for professional identity restoration services, something that could have been purchased on a monthly basis for not too much more than Lifelock’s $10 fee from competitors of Lifelock.

Will Lifelock survive this legal onslaught? Are more suits or investigations coming? Only time will tell. What is for certain is that Lifelock’s attorneys are going to be very busy in 2008. Lifelock continues to secure funding from prominent industry financial leaders such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc most recently $25 million in January 2008. BizJournal. How much of this last funding round will be spent in legal fees or payouts remains to be seen.

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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