Here’s A ‘Smart Condom Ring’ That Tries To Track Your Sexual Performance

OK. Getting some men to wear condoms is hard enough…so to speak. Now British Condoms is trying to get you to wear a wearable on your wearable. Its i.Con Smart Condom is a ring that fits over your condom and tracks the activity of you know what. The website says that the device is not yet available that they “are in the final stages of testing i.Con” (whatever testing entails) and “aiming for general public release in 2017.”

The i.Con is “a ring that will sit over a condom at the base, which you can use over and over again. It is extremely comfortable, water resistant and lightweight.” (It better be water-resistant or even bleach resistant because you may want clean it over and over again.) It is also “wearable” technology, which can connect to an app on your smartphone, using what the web site describes as a Nano-chip and sensors. This wearable doesn’t track the number of steps you take unless you are walking in a really weird way. Instead, the web site explains that for £59.99 the i.Con will be able to record:

  • Calories burnt during sexual intercourse: On average, 100 calories per session, according to a University of Montreal study.
  • Total number of thrusts: Is this like the number of steps? Is there a daily limit that you want to achieve?
  • Frequency of sessions: Do you really need a wearable to tell you that you just had sex? Was that sex or just a firm handshake? And if you really need a wearable to count the number of times you are having sex, then you are probably having enough sex.
  • Total duration of sessions: Or maybe you can what’s called a clock.
  • Girth measurement: Big data?
  • Speed of thrusts and average velocity of thrusts: Sex is not pitching in baseball. Faster is not necessarily better.
  • Different positions used (currently BETA testing – will have more info in a release coming soon): How exactly will this be measured?
  • Average skin temperature: Not sure what this information tells you. Although if it drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 200 degrees, you probably need medical attention.

Additionally, Denisese Moreno reports for Medical Daily that “developers of the smart condom said the i.Con can indicate the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs); the ring has an ‘antibodies filter’ which sends an alert to the app when it detects proteins or antigens found in STIs.” Is the “world’s first smart condom ring” really that smart? Has this diagnostic capability actually been scientifically tested? What if a false negative gives the user some false assurance?

The website says that “all data will be kept anonymous but users will have the option to share their recent data with friends, or, indeed the world.” Really, is this data that you want your friends to share with you? Do you want your buddy to send you the following text: “Hey, here’s the score of the Ravens versus Steelers game, the directions to the party, and, by the way, here is some more information…”?

The website adds that “You will be able to anonymously access stats that you can compare with i.Con users worldwide.” Because that’s all you need, another way to feel like you don’t measure up to people whom you don’t know. Such anonymous stats will also heavily depend on how many people are actually using the device and whether the measurements are accurate. Someone putting the device on a dog’s nose may generate some interesting but also misleading data. Moreover, the website does not indicate how the device has and will be scientifically tested, making you wonder about whether the device can provide reliable and trustworthy information. Again, don’t use such a device to replace real medical testing for STIs. Finally, should you even care about such data? The only data that actually matters (unless you are dating Siri) are the thoughts and feelings of the person whom you are with…and a wearable can’t measure such things…yet.

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Artificial embryo shows early potential for medical therapies, not babies

 

(CNN)Trying to mimic the early stages of reproduction, Cambridge University researchers cultivated two types of mouse stem cells in a Petri dish and watched an embryo emerge — one that closely resembled a natural mouse embryo in its architecture, its development process and its ability to assemble itself.

The artificial structure shows promise as a tool for medical research, though it cannot develop into an actual baby.
“I not only want to understand the basic biology of development but also why it goes awry in the early stages of up to 70% of human pregnancies,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, senior author of the research, which was published Thursday in the journal Science.

Nature’s way

After an egg is fertilized by a sperm, it begins to divide multiple times. This process generates a small, free-floating ball of stem cells: a blastocyst.
Within a mammalian blastocyst, the cells that will become the body of the embryo (embryonic stem cells) begin to cluster at one end. Two other types of cells, the extra-embryonic trophoblast stem cells and the endoderm stem cells, begin to form patterns that will eventually become a placenta and a yolk sac, respectively.
To develop further, the blastocyst has to implant in the womb, where it transforms into a more complex architecture. However, implantation hides the embryo from view — and from experimentation.
In the study, Zernicka-Goetz wanted to replicate developing embryonic events using stem cells.
Other scientists who have attempted the same thing have used only embryonic stem cells, but these experiments, though they have yielded embryoid bodies, have not been entirely successful. The artificial bodies never follow the same chain of events found in nature, and they lack the structure of a natural embryo.
Zernicka-Goetz, a professor in Cambridge’s Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, hypothesized that the trophoblast stem cells communicate with the embryonic stem cells and guide their development.
She and her colleagues placed embryonic and trophoblast stem cells within an extra-cellular matrix: the non-cell component found in all tissues and organs that provides biochemical support to cells. This formed a scaffold on which the two stem cell types could co-develop.
The embryonic stem cells sent chemical messages to the trophoblast stem cells and vice versa, said Zernicka-Goetz. Essentially, the different stem cells began to “talk to each other,” and this helped the embryonic stem cells, she explained.
“They respond by turning on particular developmental gene circuits or by physically changing shape to accomplish some architectural remodeling,” she wrote in an email. “This happens in normal embryogenesis and it is what we are trying to recreate in the culture dish.”
Ultimately, the cells organized themselves into a structure that not only looked like an embryo, it behaved like one, with anatomically correct regions developing at the right time and in the right place.
“The results were spectacular — they formed structures that developed in a way strongly resembling embryos in their architecture and expressing specific genes in the right place and at the right time,” Zernicka-Goetz wrote.
Despite its resemblance to a real embryo, this artificial embryo will not develop into a healthy fetus, the researchers said. That would require the endoderm stem cells, which “does other things that are most likely necessary for further development,” said Zernicka-Goetz.
“Whether adding these to the system would be enough to achieve further development, I don’t know,” she said.
“Correct placental development” is essential for proper implantation into “either the womb or a substitute for the womb,” she said. “To achieve this will be some time off.”

Therapeutic applications

Robin Lovell-Badge, an embryologist and head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute, found the new research to be interesting “on a number of counts.”
He wrote in a commentary published with the study on the website of the journal Science that past research suggests that the cells fated to become support structures (placenta and yolk sac) for the embryo in fact organize the cell types within the embryo. Meanwhile, the new research suggests that “it is the combination of the two cell types (embryonic and trophectoderm) that is important” while the third cell type, endoderm, may not be essential.
According to Dr. Christos Coutifaris, president-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the new study is significant because it shows how “the cells that are extra-embryonic — the ones that are going to give rise to the placenta — actually play a role” in the development of cells that eventually become the fetus.
“It’s not two completely separate entities,” Coutifaris said, referring to the embryo and its support structure. Understanding how the two types of cells interact and the chemical signals they exchange is “really, really critical.”
Zernicka-Goetz’s model has practical applications in research, where it can be used to better understand the conversation between embryonic stem cells and trophoblast stem cells, he said. “You can manipulate these cells molecularly to try to understand these interactions and how early development occurs pre-implantation.”
According to Kyle E. Orwig, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, and molecular genetics and biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, Zernicka-Goetz’s model “will enable investigators to investigate the effects of genetic manipulations, environmental toxins, therapeutics and factors on embryo development.” Artificial embryos “represent a powerful tool for research that might reduce (but not eliminate) the need for human embryos,” Orwig said.
Dr. David Adamson, a reproductive endocrinologist, an adjunct clinical professor at Stanford University and chairman of the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, believes that it’s “very important to continue to do basic science research in reproductive medicine.”
“How our species reproduces is very important to know,” Adamson said. “When you learn about reproduction and learn how cells reproduce and how cells differentiate and what makes things happen normally and what makes thing happen abnormally, then there clearly are a lot of potential therapeutic applications.”
Past advances in reproductive medicine have helped scientists prevent genetic-based diseases, he said. Specifically, in vitro fertilization techniques have allowed doctors to biopsy and conduct genetic tests on embryos to prevent inherited illnesses, including Huntington’s.
In vitro fertilization is “fundamentally transformative,” said Adamson, who sees the new research as adding to the wealth of knowledge about this procedure.
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In fact, Zernicka-Goetz works in the same nondescript brick building on the Cambridge campus where Robert Edwards, a reproductive medicine pioneer, once toiled. Edwards developed the Nobel Prize-winning technique of in vitro fertilization, which eventually resulted in the birth of the first “test tube” baby, Louise Brown.
Helping families have babies is the most obvious contribution of in vitro fertilization. Today, Adamson said, there have been approximately 6.5 million babies born using in vitro fertilization since the procedure was first developed. An exact number is not known because many countries, including China, do not have registries to count them, explained Adamson.
Meanwhile, Zernicka-Goetz said she will continue her work on embryonic development as she and the members of her lab are “totally driven by a curiosity to understand these fundamental aspects of life.”
She plans to use human stem cells to create a similar embryonic model. Then she plans to use that model to learn more about normal embryonic development and understand when it goes wrong without needing to experiment on an actual human embryo.
The work also “continually teaches us about the properties of stem cells,” Zernicka-Goetz said. She added that this knowledge is useful for developing “therapies to replace faulty tissues in so-called regenerative medicine.”

Trump: Sessions ‘did not say anything wrong’

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/02/politics/democrats-sessions-russia-resignation-call/

 

(CNN)President Donald Trump stood by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday, releasing a statement saying Sessions did not make any misleading statements under oath during his confirmation hearings, but that he could have been more accurate in his responses to lawmakers.

“Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional,” Trump said. “This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election and now, they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total witch hunt!”
Earlier Thursday, Sessions bowed to intense political pressure and recused himself from any investigation related to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions acted after it emerged that he had failed at his Senate confirmation hearing to disclose two pre-election meetings with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, at a time when Moscow was accused of interfering in the presidential race.
“I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” Sessions told reporters.
Later Thursday night, on Fox News, Sessions said he plans to submit a “supplement” to the record of his congressional testimony, detailing the meetings he didn’t mention at the time.
“My response went to the question indicated about the continuing surrogate relationship that I firmly denied and correctly denied, and I did not mention in that time that I had met with the ambassador,” Sessions told host Tucker Carlson. “So I will definitely make that a part of the record as I think is appropriate.”
Sessions explained that he plans to recuse himself from any investigations into the campaign, but he would take decisions on investigations into Russian hacking “on a case-by-case basis.”
Sessions said the decision to recuse himself followed his promise to the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid any semblance of a conflict of interest between his new role and previous position as a strong supporter of the Trump campaign. It was also the result of consultations with career Justice Department officials, he said.
The attorney general’s news conference was the culmination of a day of steadily rising political pressure over the issue. Democrats demanded he resign and accused him of lying to Congress. Many Republicans, feeling the political heat and growing increasingly concerned that the Russian drama was about to spin out of control, had been forced to call for Sessions to offload ultimate responsibility for an FBI probe into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Sessions went ahead and did just that, despite strong support from the White House.
Aboard an aircraft carrier in Virginia, Trump told reporters he had “total” confidence in Sessions. Asked if Sessions should recuse himself, the President said: “I don’t think so.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer meanwhile billed the day of controversy arising from news of the meetings between Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as a “partisan thing that we’ve seen over and over again.”
“This continues to be a question of: there’s no there there,” Spicer said.
If nothing else, Thursday’s intrigue served as another reminder that questions over Trump’s attitude toward Moscow and the Kremlin’s apparent operation to sow discord in last year’s election are issues that will return again and again to confound the White House.
In this case, questions about Russia served to halt the President’s victory lap after his well-received address to Congress on Tuesday night.
The Russian drama has already led to the departure of another Trump ally and top political appointee — former national security adviser Michael Flynn — also over contacts with Russian ambassador Kislyak.
Earlier on Thursday, Democrats had sensed new vulnerabilities for the administration over Russia — and relished taking the battle to Sessions.
“(That) the top cop in our country lied under oath to the people is grounds for him to resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “He has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust.”
Several Republicans, many of them increasingly uneasy about the implications of the evolving Russian drama, had called on Sessions to recuse himself from any probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
“Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself to ensure public confidence in the Justice Department’s investigation,” said Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who introduced Sessions at his confirmation hearing in January.
“I think the attorney general should further clarify his testimony. And I do think he should recuse himself,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Rep. Darrell Issa of California also called for Sessions to recuse himself.
But Sessions appeared to take the edge off Republican anxiety with his late afternoon news conference.
“Attorney General Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself,” said Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, told CNN: “I think if he made that judgment I think that’s in the best interest of everything. I’m glad he did it quickly.”
Sessions met on two separate occasions with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, encounters the Alabama Republican did not disclose during his confirmation hearing on January 10.
At the hearing, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken asked Sessions what he would do if there was any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians,” Sessions said.
Franken told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday that statement appears to be false.
“I am going to be sending (Sessions) a letter to have him explain himself, but he made a bald statement that during the campaign he had not met with the Russians,” Franken said. “That’s not true.”
On Twitter, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned that Sessions should never have been confirmed at all, but now there is reason to remove him.
“Now Jeff Sessions is AG — the final say on the law enforcement investigation into ties between the Trump campaign & Russia? What a farce. This is not normal,” she tweeted. “This is not fake news. This is a very real & serious threat to the national security of the United States.”
With Sessions’ decision, oversight of any probe involving Trump’s 2016 campaign will likely fall to acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente. Democrats would prefer the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate questions about Russia but appear to lack sufficient leverage to bring about such a step.

Sessions: ‘This allegation is false’

Sessions has drawn a distinction between his role as a Trump surrogate and his duties as a senator and strongly denied ever discussing campaign-related issues with anyone from Russia.
“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” he said in a statement. “I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
Sessions’ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said there was nothing “misleading about his answer” to Congress because he “was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”
“Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors,” Isgur Flores said in the statement.

Meetings with Russian ambassador

According to the Justice Department, Sessions met with Kislyak in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions, then the junior senator from Alabama, was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.
Kislyak is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy recruiters in Washington, according to current and former senior US government officials.
Kemlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov stated that Russia has never interfered and has no plans to ever interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries, speaking to journalists Wednesday.
This story has been updated.

New York police: Anti-Semitic incidents have nearly doubled over last year

A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. (Screenshot from Twitter)

(JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents are up 94 percent in New York City over this time last year, the New York Police Department reported.

The figure is part of a 55 percent increase overall in the number of hate crimes in the city as compared to the same time last year.

Through the first two months of this year, 35 anti-Semitic incidents have been reported, compared to 18 through February 2016.

Overall, the total number of hate crime incidents in the city for the first two months of 2017 is 68, up from 44 last year, according to the NYPD. Among the incidents, six people were targeted for being black, three for being Muslim and eight for their sexual orientation.

“Hate crimes are up in this city. They’re driven primarily by anti-Semitic hate crimes,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a news conference Wednesday, according to reports.

Patrols have been added near Jewish community centers and synagogues in response to the increased anti-Semitic hate crimes, according to DNAInfo. The patrols will increase even more as Passover nears in April, the NYPD said.

“I understand against a backdrop of growing numbers of anti-Semitic incidents all over this country and all over this world, which is a pattern that has to be addressed profoundly. We’re trying to do it here in this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “But the backdrop is worrisome. … This is becoming more widespread, and I’ve been very clear about, an atmosphere of hate has been fostered in recent months in America, and we have to stop it.”

CAN THERE BE NAZISM IN AMERICA?

 

After seventy incidents of bomb threats aimed at JCCs [Jewish Community Centers] throughout the US, two vandalized cemeteries (one in St. Louis and one in Philadelphia), a Texas school teacher who was fired for a “kill some Jews” tweet, and after swastikas and racial slurs were spray painted on cars, a building, and a school playground near Buffalo, and a CUNY administrator complained about having “too many Jews” on the staff, we can officially say that there is antisemitism in America. Finally, Jewish leaders feel confident enough to talk about a “worldwide pandemic” and not exclude the US from the picture.

The intensification of antisemitism is not coincidental. It is a result of a natural, mandatory process by which the more selfish a society becomes, the more it is prone to antisemitism. In the book, Like a Bundle of Reeds: Why Unity and Mutual Guarantee Are Today’s Call of the Hour, and on the Internet site, “Why Do People Hate Jews,” I show that regardless of upbringing, beyond a certain level of egoism, antisemitism must surface in the same way that only so much salt can dissolve in water before it begins to show.

 

Maimonides, Midrash Rabah, and many other sources tell us that during the time of Abraham the Patriarch, Abraham would observe his countryfolk building the Tower of Babel. He noticed that the builders were growing increasingly self-centered and alienated from each other, which prompted him to search for an explanation. The book Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 24) illustrates how the Babylonians “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took up his sword and they fought each other to death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

This hatred troubled Abraham and he wondered who or what was causing this change. According to Maimonides, Abraham “began to ponder day and night, how it was possible for this wheel to always turn without a driver” (Mishneh Torah, Chapter 1). In doing so, he discovered a unifying force that is the root of all of creation, and called that force “God.”

Abraham realized that in order to ensure a good life, people did not need to bow to this God or offer it semolina, as his countryfolk would do with their gods at the time. All you needed to do in order to be happy and resolve the hatred was to rise above it and unite. But when Abraham suggested that the Babylonians unite instead of fighting, their king, Nimrod, expelled him from his country.

As the exiled Abraham wandered toward Canaan, people “gathered around him and asked him about his words,” writes Maimonides. “He taught everyone … until thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and they are the people of the house of Abraham. He planted this tenet in their hearts, composed books about it, and taught his son, Isaac. And Isaac sat and taught and warned, and informed Jacob, and appointed him a teacher, to sit and teach… And Jacob our Father taught all his sons.”

Finally, a tribe that knew the law of unity was formed, as was the hatred for that law and those who espouse it.

A few centuries later, Moses wanted to do the same as Abraham. He aspired to unite his people, and faced Pharaoh’s fierce resistance. Like Abraham before him, Moses fled with his people, except this time they numbered in the millions and therefore needed an “upgrade” of Abraham’s method of connection.

The upgrade was the Torah—a set of laws that comes down to one and only principle, which Old Hillel described very simply: “That which you hate, do not do unto your neighbor; this is the whole of the Torah. The rest is commentary; go study” (Shabbat, 31a). Under Moses, the Hebrew tribes united and became a nation, but only after they committed to be “as one man with one heart.” The new nation got its name, Israel, from its vocation, to go Yashar-El (straight to God)—to achieve the same unity as the force that Abraham had discovered.

Immediately after becoming a nation, Israel was tasked with completing what Abraham intended to achieve when he first began to speak of unity above hatred—that the whole world would benefit from the method. “Moses wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. … However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way,” wrote Ramchal in his commentary on the Torah. But once Israel achieved unity, they were tasked with passing it on, or as the Torah put it, with being “a light unto nations.”

When Egoism Spreads Ruin, the Jews Are Blamed for It

Following the formation of the Jewish nation, the Jews knew many ups and downs. When unity prevailed among us, we prospered. When egoism took over, we suffered. But when the egoism of our ancestors reached such levels that they could not tolerate each other, sina’at hinam (unfounded/baseless hatred) erupted among them and weakened their strength. Finally, the leader of the Roman legion in Judea, Tiberius Julius Alexander—himself a Jew whose own father had coated the Temple’s gates with gold—destroyed the Temple and exiled the Jews from the land of Israel. In the words of the Maharal of Prague: “The Temple was ruined because of unfounded hatred, because their hearts divided and they were unworthy of a Temple, which is the unification of Israel” (Netzah Israel).

The hatred that destroyed us then persists to this day. And yet, the seed of unity still lies within us and is still our only source of strength. Throughout the ages, our sages have stressed that unity is the key to our salvation. The book Maor VaShemesh writes, “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them.” Likewise, The Book of Consciousness writes, “We are commanded at each generation to strengthen the unity among us so our enemies do not rule over us.”

Although the seed of unity exists within us, as long as we are disunited, we cannot be “a light unto nations” and we are not spreading unity to the world, as Abraham and Moses had intended. At the same time, humanity is growing increasingly egoistic. Our egoism today is so intense that even though we know that we are ruining our children’s future by polluting our planet, we simply do not care enough to stop. We understand that pluralism is important and liberalism is vital to society, but everyone is so narcissistic that we simply cannot listen to each other, much less unite above our differences. In such a state, the hatred toward Jews intensifies because we both hold the key to overcoming egoism, yet the egoism within us rejects that remedy, like King Nimrod before and Pharaoh after him. This is when the situation becomes dangerous for Jews.

At the heyday of the Spanish monarchy, for instance, when its pride and confidence were at their highest, the axe came down on the Jews. Despite their deep immersion in the Spanish society and remoteness from their own religion, the Jews were blamed for all of Spain’s troubles and were expelled, tortured, and killed by the Inquisition under the leadership of Torquemada, who—like Tiberius—was of Jewish descent. In the previous century, Germany was on the top of the world. But as it fell, it turned its anger at the Jews. When Adolf Hitler could not expel the Jews, because no one would have them, he simply exterminated them.

Teetering between Nazism and Unity

The Book of Zohar writes, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together. These are the friends as they sit together, and are not separated from each other. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another. Then they return to being in brotherly love. …And you, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part … And by your merit there will be peace in the world” (Aharei Mot).

Similar to The Zohar, its great commentator, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, wrote that “the Israeli nation had been constructed as a gateway by which the world can understand the pleasantness and tranquility in love of others.” Like Ashlag, the Rav Kook wrote, “In Israel is the secret to the unity of the world” (Orot Kodesh).

As much as we may hate the thought, we are the carriers of Abraham’s method of correction for the egoism that separates and destroys our world. If we do not implement among us this method of uniting above differences, the nations will blame us for their woes and punish us yet again. But if we do implement it among us, the whole world will come to learn how. The most notorious anti-Semite in American history, Henry Ford, recognized the role of the Jews toward society in his book, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

For decades, America has been on a path of growing egoism, alienation, and social isolation. Depression has been the primary cause of illness in the country for years now, and despair is growing rapidly. If a book titled The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement can reach the top of The New York Times bestseller list, and Millennials define their milieu as the “Me, Me, Me” culture, you know that the country is on the brink of implosion. And when the American society collapses, it could easily take on some form of Nazism or extreme fascism.

We think that Nazi Germany was a one-time event. But saying “Never again” will not prevent history from repeating itself. We are forgetting that it was not the Germans who invented the yellow badge, but the British, as early as 1218.

In the early 1950s, Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote in The Writings of the Last Generation: “The world erroneously considers Nazism a particular offshoot of Germany. In truth … all the nations are equal in that; there is no hope at all that Nazism will perish with the victory of the allies, for tomorrow the Anglo-Saxons will adopt Nazism.”

If American Jews do not take their lives in their own hands and force themselves to unite above their mutual dislike, the Americans will force them to do so through bloodshed. There is no more time. The Jews must put aside all differences and unite because unity is the Jewish people’s sole salvation, and because when we unite, we are a light unto nations—giving the world what Abraham intended for humanity to have almost four millennia ago, and what the world so badly needs today.

Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, and was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (the RABASH). He has written over 40 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages. Click Here to visit his author page.

US REPS SAY FEDERAL RESPONSE NEEDED TO STOP JEW-HATRED

 

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from both parties are expressing grave concern over a measurable spike in antisemitic threats, attacks and acts of vandalism across the US, and are calling on the Trump administration to coordinate a more proactive and comprehensive response.

A bipartisan congressional task force founded primarily to combat antisemitism overseas reconstituted itself last week in order to meet the growing challenge at home. That group, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday detailing specific steps he could take to mitigate the threat.

 

Their letter was prompted by the overturning of hundreds of Jewish tombstones in Pennsylvania and Missouri last week, an unprecedented spike in antisemitic vandalism in New York State since November, and more than 100 bomb threats called in to Jewish Community Centers across the country since the beginning of the year. On Thursday morning, a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York, was found vandalized. Five headstones were found toppled at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery.

“If 100 branches of any institution in this country – any religious site, any business, or, God forbid, any school – were targeted by bomb threats in such a short period, there should be public outcry and it should rise to the highest levels of concern,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida), discussing the letter with reporters.

“We’re asking for a more comprehensive federal response,” Deutch said. “We’re here today to bring necessary attention to this public security threat. Because a threat to the Jewish community – or to any religious community – is a threat to us all.”

Democrats offered “credit where credit is due” to Trump for opening his first address to a joint session of Congress with robust condemnation of the recent events. But “actions speak louder than words,” Nita Lowey (D-New York) told The Jerusalem Post.

“The Department of Justice must have access to the necessary resources to fully investigate,” she said. “I look forward to hearing the president’s response.”

The task force letter calls on the White House to take three specific actions: Provide the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division with the resources it needs to fully investigate the phenomenon; create an interagency mechanism to coordinate detection and response; and evaluate growing antisemitic rhetoric online, which may be inciting real-world attacks.

“This is the first time, I think in my lifetime, where I’m really worried about it,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York). “It’s something where people tend to say, well, big deal, it’s not really a threat. But it is a threat. If you don’t cut it right from the beginning – pull up its roots – this is something that will spread.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday called the recent spate of events “vile and disgusting,” and praised the Trump administration for harshly condemning the perpetrators.

“On behalf of the whole House, I want our friends in the Jewish community to know we stand with them,” said Ryan, who insisted that Democrats and Republicans were united on the matter. “We stand with you.”

One Republican on the task force, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, called on the administration to act “immediately” on the letter and to swiftly appoint a special envoy at the State Department to monitor and combat antisemitism.

“This isn’t a matter of the president ‘may do this.’ This is a statutorily constituted special envoy,” said Smith, who wrote the amendment in 2004 that established the position. “It’s not a matter of discretion. He must do it.”

The Republican said he is worried that the “rising tide” of antisemitic activity across the US may soon turn violent.

“It’s a very quick movement from threats and bomb threats to actual terrorist acts where people may die,” he said.

Experts on antisemitism with the Anti-Defamation League told the Post last week that recent events were truly unprecedented: Since the November presidential election, more threats and acts of vandalism have been recorded than in the previous year combined.

“There should be a point person to lead this effort, there should be a point person in the White House to work with the Jewish community,” Deutch told the Post. “But we’re offering what we hope are some very concrete steps that can be taken to address this concern and to stem the tide of these threats.

ISRAELI OFFICIAL TO HAMAS: WE KNOW OF YOUR COOPERATION WITH ISIS IN SINAI

 

COGAT’s Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Hamas on Thursday that the IDF is well aware of its cooperation with Islamic State in Sinai.

“Hamas leaders: Your efforts to hide your cooperation with Islamic State’s smuggling from Sinai, through lies and manipulation in attempts to broadcast ‘business as usual’ with Egypt, are not hidden from our view,” the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit wrote in Arabic on Facebook.

 

According to Mordechai, Bilal Brahma, a Salafist- linked Hamas member and top smuggler with Sinai Province, the Islamic State group in Sinai, was reported by Hamas to have been killed in the restive peninsula. But despite Hamas setting up a mourning tent for him, he is alive and receiving a salary from Hamas’s “military” wing, Izzadin Kassam, while being treated in a hospital in Gaza by Jihad Cahlut, who is supposedly responsible for contact with ISIS terrorists in Sinai, according to Mordechai.

“Hamas is brazenly lying to its neighbors and to Egypt, which works to destroy tunnel infrastructures; this comes one week before representatives of the terrorist organization will make an expedition to Egypt,” he said. “Hamas’s senior delegation may want to consult with Bilal to know which tunnels are best for crossing from Gaza to Egypt and save the time waiting in Rafah.”

Rafah is one of the only crossings out of the Hamas-run enclave, allowing for Gazans to leave the devastated territory into Egypt.

Israel has a 240-km. border with Sinai and since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rise to power, Cairo and Jerusalem have been closely cooperating in the Sinai peninsula in the fight against Islamic State terrorists. According to an infographic released by ISIS, Sinai Province operates in El-Arish, Bir Abd and Sheikh Zuweid.

Sisi has waged extensive military operations against Islamic State in Sinai, and in January said 25,000 soldiers have been deployed to northern Sinai to fight the jihadists.

Despite the small size of the terrorist group, Sinai Province is considered to be one of the most effective Islamic State franchises outside Syria and Iraq, and has carried out numerous deadly attacks on Egyptian security forces.

PENCE USED PRIVATE EMAIL WHILE INDIANA GOVERNOR

WASHINGTON – US Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, his office said in a statement on Thursday.

The private email account was first reported by the Indianapolis Star, which said Pence used it at times to discuss sensitive matters and homeland security issues. The account was hacked last summer, the newspaper added.

 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Pence criticized Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was US secretary of state, saying it endangered national security.

“Similar to previous governors, during his time as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence maintained a state email account and a personal email account,” Pence’s office said in a statement.

Indiana law does not prohibit public officials from using personal email accounts, the Star said.

After Pence was hacked in June by a scammer who sent a plea for money to his email contacts, the governor set up a new AOL account, the Star reported.

Pence was chosen by then-Republican candidate Donald Trump as his running mate in July.

Indiana law requires all records dealing with state business to be retained and available for public information requests, the Star reported.

Pence’s office said in the statement that he directed outside counsel to review all of his communications as Indiana governor to ensure that state-related emails were being transferred and properly archived by the state.

ISRAEL, US DISCUSS STRATEGY TO COUNTER UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

 

Israel and the United States have held serious discussions to formulate a joint approach with regard to the UN Human Rights Council.

The talks come in advance of the anticipated UNHRC publication this year of a data base – known to Israel as the black list – of companies doing business with West Bank settlements or Jewish entities in east Jerusalem.

 

A story on Politico.com and a statement earlier this week by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay indicated that the Trump administration may consider pulling out of the council, in part because of its anti-Israel bias.

“As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the council’s actions with an eye to reform, to more fully achieve the council’s missions to protect and promote human rights,” Barclay said in a statement to the UNHRC on Wednesday.

It is presumed that the threat of the US leaving the UNHRC could force it to change policy, including its policy on Israel. The inter-governmental body has condemned Israel more times than it has any other country.

On Thursday morning, Army Radio published a transcript of tape recording from a closed portion of a Likud ministerial meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he returned from his February 15 meeting with US President Donald Trump.

“During the trip I raised the question of whether the United States should remain in the Human Rights Council,” Army Radio quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Likud MK Anat Berko questioned whether it would be more beneficial for the US to remain in the UN body and retain the power to impact votes taken there.

According to Army Radio, Netanyahu responded, “It’s better to leave! These organization must be delegitimized.”

The US is one of 47-member states of the UNHRC.

Meanwhile on Thursday, sources in Yesh Atid told The Jerusalem Post that its party head Yair Lapid was not sure if Netanyahu actually raised the issue with Trump in Washington.

According to the sources, Lapid sent a letter on the matter to the prime minister this week and now suspects that Netanyahu made remarks about the matter to his faction but while he was in Washington did not ask Trump to take action.

The sources also suggested that the leak came from the Likud, a charge denied by Army Radio.

The data base was initially scheduled to be completed in time for the 34th UNHRC session in March. But at the end of January, the UNHRC Bureau agreed to delay its publication to allow more time to compile information.

The Obama administration had already stated its intention to boycott the blacklist, even though its policy had been to engage with the UNHRC. Under former president George W. Bush, America boycotted the council altogether.

Israel becomes a gas exporter with first delivery to Jordan

An Israeli company said Thursday it has started exporting gas from an offshore field to Jordan, marking the country’s first ever exports of natural gas.

The exports to Jordan began in January, Delek Drilling — part of a consortium leading the development of Israel’s offshore gas reserves — told AFP.

There was no formal announcement at the time but it is the first time Israel has ever exported natural gas, a company spokeswoman said.

Jordanian firms Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine signed a deal in 2014 to import 2 billion cubic metres (around 70 billion cubic feet) of gas from Israel’s Tamar field over 15 years.

At the time reports said the deal was worth $771 million.

Jordan is one of only two Arab countries to have a peace deal with Israel but the 1994 agreement is unpopular among Jordanians — almost half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

Detractors of the gas deal, including Jordan’s main opposition Islamist party, reject any cooperation with a country they regard as an enemy.

However, the resource-poor Arab country has few alternatives to tackle shortages.

Israel historically had few natural resources but has discovered a series of offshore gas fields in recent years.

In September 2016, a larger deal worth an estimated $10 billion was signed to export gas from the Leviathan offshore field to Jordan.

In the face of protests, Jordanian Information Minister Mohamed Momani defended the deal, telling state television it would cut $600 million a year from the state’s energy bill.

Deliveries from Leviathan are expected to begin in 2019.