Do US Jews suffer needlessly from – #Iran and the Myth of #AntiSemitism? – In These Times


Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic is a respected and well-connected American commentator on U.S.-Israel affairs and regional issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran. His access to top Administration officials like President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry is among the best in the business.

When he wrote a few months ago that a senior Administration official had described Benjamin Netanyahu as “chickenshit,” it caused gigantic waves in both Washington and Jerusalem. People in the know take Goldberg seriously.

So what is one to make of his latest effort, which propels the Iranian regime’s attitudes to Jews and Israel into the forefront of the ongoing debate (or virtual war) over getting the nuclear deal through Congress?

Goldberg’s confusion is evident from the start. The article is headlined “Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters,” while the sub-headline is “A close read of Obama and Kerry’s comments on whether Iranian leaders seek Israel’s destruction.”

In other words, seeking Israel’s destruction—if that indeed is what the Iranian regime is after—is synonymous with anti-Semitism. But is it? And is there a consequential difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (or anti-Israelism,) or is it OK to conflate the two, as Goldberg does?

(Being a journalist I know that writers are very often not responsible for the headlines attached to their article and are at the mercy of less-stringent copy editors. But that’s not the case here. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel are used interchangeable by Goldberg throughout the piece, as in “Does the Iranian leadership seek the elimination of Israel? I had already discussed the nature of Iranian-regime anti-Semitism with Obama in a May interview.”)

Iran and the Myth of Anti-Semitism – In These Times.

What could go wrong? – Heavily-armed white men patrol #Ferguson, ‘ready to confront authorities to defend US Constitution’ — RT USA

Armed to teeth with semi-automatic assault rifles and handguns, members of the Oath Keepers militia, formed of former and current law enforcement and military officers, have blended into the crowd of Ferguson protesters, saying “We’re on your side.”At least four members of the ‘Oath Keepers’ arrived in Ferguson on early Tuesday and began patrolling the West Florissant Avenue, walking through the crowds of protesters gathered there for a ‘day of civil disobedience’ following the anniversary of the killing of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown, shot dead by white Police Officer Darren Wilson.  Continue reading

She studied kids of Shoah survivors but her findings seem to fit poor, inner-city negroes as well #blacklivesmatter


Epigenetic changes often serve to biologically prepare offspring for an environment similar to that of the parents, Yehuda explains. In this case, however, the needs of the fetus seem to have trumped that goal. With low levels of cortisol and high levels of the enzyme that breaks it down, many descendants of Holocaust survivors would be ill adapted to survive starvation themselves. In fact, that stress hormone profile might make them more susceptible to PTSD (below, yellow); previous studies have indeed suggested that the offspring of Holocaust survivors are more vulnerable to the effects of stress and are more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD. These descendants may also be at risk for age-related metabolic syndromes, including obesity, hypertension and insulin resistance, particularly in an environment of plenty.

via Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones – Scientific American.

Was the ape who wrote Shakespeare’s plays wasted? – Traces of #Cannabis Found in Pipes on Bard’s Property – FoxNews

shakespeare (1)

Did the greatest playwright the world has ever known have a taste for the wacky tobaccy? Did William Shakespeare have a case of the munchies while penning “Macbeth”?

The answer may very well be “yes” after a group of South African scientists found that clay pipes recovered from the garden of the Bard’s home contain traces of cannabis.

The researchers examined fragments of 24 clay pipes that were recovered from the garden of Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, as well as from surrounding houses. After examining the fragments using a gas chromatography technique, the scientists found that eight of the pipes contained traces of cannabis, one contained nicotine, and two contained traces of cocaine derived from Peruvian coca leaves. Four of the pipes containing cannabis came from Shakespeare’s property.

Stoner Shakespeare? Scientists say pipes from playwright’s garden contain cannabis | Fox News.

The sincerest form of espionage flattery – Iran shows off flying copy of captured US UAV

An Iranian replica of a US spy drone, seized by Iran in 2011, is inferior to the US version, which was initially captured by Iran, according to the Pentagon. Iran released a video of their similar design earlier this week.

“There is no way it matches American technology,” Colonel Steve Warren said when asked about the Iranian replica. Warren added “Replica being the operative word there.”

READ MORE: Video emerges of Iranian version of US stealth drone

Iran has just presented its “reverse-engineered” homemade variant of a US spy drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, which it shot down in December 2011 after the aircraft entered Iranian airspace from Afghanistan while on a CIA mission.

The video showed a black mono-winged aircraft flying over mountains and arid terrain, before landing at an unknown airbase.

“Today is a very sweet and unforgettable day for me,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the drone earlier in the week, according to a video posted by the Tasnim News Agency.

The US has been claiming that its unmanned craft was protected in such a way as to make it impossible to copy, but Tehran responded back in August, saying it had managed to reverse engineer the aircraft.

READ MORE: Iran releases video ‘proof’ US drone decoded (VIDEO)

Now Iran claims its drone is even better than the American RQ-170 Sentinel it seized.

“The Iranian version’s weight has remarkably become less, it consumes less fuel, its speed has been increased and the duration that it can fly has improved a lot because of its enhanced body,” said General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the aerospace division of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard. “The Americans had used metal in building the body but we did not use metal at all. It helps to reduce its detectability by radars,” he added.

Iran plans to build two or three more prototypes and gear up to mass produce them next year.

The US RQ-170 Sentinel is reportedly not the only drone that Iran took down. Tehran claims that over the course of a few years it has captured several US drones, including the American Boeing-designed ScanEagle. Iran says that it is also copying the ScanEagle and plans to put its version into service.

READ MORE: Tehran claims capture of US spy drone in Iranian airspace

Iran has accused the US of sending drones to spy on the Iranian nuclear program. As for the RQ-170 Sentinel, Washington insisted that it crashed because of a technical glitch.

Are you an addict too?

Started a new Coursera class today, “The Addicted Brain”.  The instructor, prof Michael Kuhar, defines “addiction”  as “repeated behavior that results in distress or has a negative impact.” Among the “addictive” substances we’ll explore is caffeine (aka, “Starbucks!) .  Does caffeine cause distress or have a negative impact in your life?

Loves Us Some Nicotine!

I want to talk about… about… um… (vape) Oh yeah, how nicotine can improve memory and cognitive function! I can guess what you’re thinking: nicotine “Noooooo!” But calm down. Nicotine (named for Jean Nicot) the French ambassador to Portugal who brought the tobacco plant back to Paris) Nicotine is a classic example of guilt by association.

But nicotine may be the best friend of aging brains. If you’re like me, and I know I am, you worry about aging and Alzheimer’s disease the first sign if which is what neurologist call MCI or Mild Cognitive Impairment. In 2012 neurologist Paul Newhouse slapped patches on 67 subjects. 33 contained a placebos and 34 delivered 15 milligrams per day nicotine. After 6 months of double blind study the nicotine group showed improvement in primary and secondary cognitive measures of attention, memory, and mental processing. It concluded that there was evidence for nicotine-induced cognitive improvement in subjects with MCI.

But the nicotine news gets better! A 1991 study in the Netherlands found that smokers had a lower incidence and later onset of and that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreased with increasing daily number of cigarettes smoked. Truth be told, the neuroprotective effects of nicotine have been experimentally documented for years.

Cigarette smoking harms almost every organ in your body. Smokers risk cancer, emphysema birth defects and probably acne. But nicotine delivery by other means, not so much. As far as I can tell the biggest risk of nicotine is becoming addicted to something that protects your brain.

But what do I know? Thank goodness I’m not a doctor and have no qualifications, pretentions or interest in giving anybody medical advice. Anybody who’d take medical advice from a comedian may already have mild cognitive impairment. But there is good data out there by grownup neuroscientists providing reasons to take another look at our old buddy… um… niee… ni – (vape) oh yeah nicotine!

The Blessings of Epilepsy

Epilepsy has its blessings. If you must have a life-threatening brain condition, my current version of epilepsy inspires terror and optimism.

Epilepsy definitely could kill me, but it likely won’t.  More drivers with epilepsy probably die from texting than seizing. No one really knows what causes some people to seize, so we are free to imagine: everything from too much alcohol to not enough of it, from work-related stress to Republican control of Congress. Whatever stirs upset could trigger seizures. I’m inclined to blame the Miami Heat.

Most epilepsy sufferers don’t even suffer from it. My epilepsy, to me, is mostly gossip. I’ve gone to bed a couple of times, slept peacefully, then awakened to amazing tales. I’m told my love is so true even brainstorms can’t blow it down. They say that from inside Seizureland I still pucker at the woman of my dreams, or as we now call her, “the Widow Freeman.”

I seize while I sleep. If I should die before I wake, from Status Epilepticus, (SE) non-stop seizures, I won’t know it. I actually entered SE last month. Three consecutive seizures wracked my body while I slept. Through them all I told Sharon I loved her and that she was beautiful, even though I could not retrieve her name.

The scariest consequence of epilepsy is SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death by Epilepsy. It takes you out without seizures.  You are perfectly healthy… except that you’re dead.

But for me, even SUDEP has a silver lining. Aside from painlessness, it’s an excuse to ask the existential “What If?” What if today was my last? A good question for everybody, but who wants to get unnecessarily real on a daily basis?  Reading about the lethality of SUDEP broke my heart, but thinking about living my last days with Sharon mended it again.

Other good news: SUDEP only happens in 1 in 1000 epilepsy cases per year.  Most seizures are as mine have been, the scary, unexplained and harmless result of overly-excitable neurons.  I have meds now, so far well-tolerated, with helpful side effects. Like most anti-seizure drugs mine, Levetiracetam, calms brain activity.  It helps me speak more slowly.  (Where was Levetiracetam when I had verbal diarrhea at the Second City?) It helps me sleep better too which in itself may stop the seizures.

Since the diagnosis, my husbandly clout has skyrocketed. My wife knows that any morning she could wake up next to the tragic kind of stiff, so yes, she’ll let me have the last drumstick.

Because I’ll most likely sleep through my death, Sharon knows someday she may have to clean me off the bed, tell my kids, and explain things to my mother.  She’s already lived through several parts of the wifely nightmare. She’s awakened to find the man she loves possessed by a break dancing alien.  She has an address in that terrifying psychic place, where I lie cold, but chooses not to reside there.   Still, several times a night, she will rest her hand on my back to check for breathing. I can almost feel the relief in her fingers.

Epilepsy denies us the luxury of denial. In more than a third of cases drugs don’t control seizures.  Every supper really could be the last, every hug, every episode of “Orange Is The New Black.”  Any given good night kiss could be the kiss to end them all. We knew that last night. Imagine how happy we were this morning!

Epilepsy has brought new delight to every dawn we share. We have always loved waking together. The Jewish “thanks for waking me up” prayer was a habit for me BEFORE my seizure life.  We take the gift of my regaining consciousness way less for granted now, which makes it that much sweeter.

I remember waking once in an ambulance and another time inside a CT scanner. Opening my eyes and seeing only the face of my beautiful wife is the aurora borealis, a total eclipse, and the acceleration disk of a black hole all rolled into one.  Spectacular beyond compare! Sharon remembers a pre-dawn tonic cry blaring from my throat just before she lost control of her bedroom and husband to burly firemen. She thought she was watching my body shut down and KNEW life as we had lived it was over.  Yet here I am, literally happier than ever. Miraculous!

 Nothing bad happened THIS morning.  Last night featured neither gasps nor spasms.  This day has not been interrupted by maverick neurons.

Epilepsy has given us new love of waking up. We daily thank the gods for the immense blessing of each morning.  We rise to wallow in endless possibilities and eagerly embrace the boundless opportunities before us.

But we are in no hurry to seize the day.

Jewish Pain/Jewish Healing Rabb Ed Feinstein @ Aitz Hayim Cent. for Jewish Living, Glencoe, IL – YouTube

Rabbi Ed is a very smart, provocative thinker and regular guest scholar at our congregation.  I find these comments provocative, insightful and worthy  of serious consideration.  Other times, he is also a VERY funny guy!

Jewish Pain/Jewish Healing Rabb Ed Feinstein @ Aitz Hayim Cent. for Jewish Living, Glencoe, IL – YouTube.