GRILLING OUR FELLOW INNOCENT MAMMALS!


Richard Dawkins: When I see cattle lorries, I think of the railway wagons to Auschwitz.

 

 

​Miami Grill announces its partnership with Global Franchise Exchange, an experienced team of franchising experts guiding franchisors into international markets. Headquartered in the United States, with key worldwide offices. Global Franchise Exchange will lead the development of the Miami Grill brand in GCC and China markets.

Global Franchise Exchange (GFE) is an international franchise consulting company that specializes in international expansion for businesses through master franchising, licensing, direct investments, joint ventures, and distribution methods. GFE has a highly experienced and skilled team who have successfully launched franchises in the United States, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, as well as other parts of the world. The partners have hands-on experience as franchisors, master franchisees, and international business executives. GFE has in-country offices and teams of consultants in the U.S., China, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Australia to allow for rapid expansion in all parts of the world.

According to Alex DePase, founder and CEO of Global Franchise Exchange, “Global Franchise Exchange is excited to be working with Miami Grill to develop the GCC and Asia markets. The Miami Grill business restaurant concept offers an amazing opportunity for investors to bring the South Beach vibe, flair, and cuisine into their countries.”

“GFE will provide our brand with incredible growth opportunities, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership together.”

Richard Chwatt, CEO of Miami Grill

“GFE will provide our brand with incredible growth opportunities, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership together,” says Richard Chwatt, CEO of Miami Grill.

Miami Grill, operating primarily in South Florida, has an aggressive domestic and international expansion plan underway with restaurants open or under construction in Central & North Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Malaysia, Panama, Myanmar and Ecuador. And, recently, a new area developer committed to five new locations in Lahore, Pakistan.

According to Robert Haar, Miami Grill’s Vice President of Franchise Development, “Our growth depends upon our continued alignment with franchise partners that provide extensive operations experience, deep global perspective, and connections.”

South-Florida based Miami Grill is the hottest fast casual concept to hit the market, developed by the same owners as Miami Subs, Miami Subs Capital Partners 1, Inc. and key equity partner, Armando Christian “Pitbull” Pérez. Miami Grill and its “Everything Goes” concept embody the taste and sensations of South Beach and provide a diverse menu unlike any other chain in the category.

You should never eat in restaurants, because they use a lot of salt and sugar for better taste, putting the health of their customers at risk.  By law, certain levels of rodent and insect filth are also permitted in food. Moreover, the handling of paper money brings a lot of germs to the food served. Paper money has more germs than any other substance on Earth. 

Soda consumption has been linked with diabetes, hypertension, kidney stones, and tooth decay. Cola beverages, in particular, contain phosphoric acid and have been associated with urinary changes that promote kidney stones.

Human feces were found in Coke cans in bottling plants. The night shift at a Coca-Cola plant was disrupted when a container of cans clogged up the machines, only for workers to discover a number were filled with human waste! It was absolutely horrible, and the machines had to be turned off for about 15 hours to be cleaned. 

Some migrants have made that long journey in the lorry and in their desperation were forced to use the cans instead of a toilet.  Cans arrive at factories without tops on, to be filled with the fizzy drink before they are sealed and sold.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats. Eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts. Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.

The Venitis diet is based on salmon, brown rice, whole wheat bread, chocolate-almond dragees, walnuts, and all fruits and vegetables.

Dietary changes are used to treat certain medical conditions, rather than drugs or surgery. We can, through an altered diet or behavior, to shape the microbiome to improve health. The gut microbiome is the second genome, the first being our own.  This second genome is plastic and responsive to the way we choose to live our lives.

Addiction to fat, sugar, salt, and cola is killing you.  Medical research shows our health is greatly affected by what we eat.  Eat an abundant variety of vegetables. Choose a rainbow of fruits every day. Choose whole grains, such whole wheat bread, brown spaghetti, and brown rice. Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Use olive and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, because they reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. 

Sugar and sugary products are bad not only for your waistline, but for your brain function as well. Long-term consumption of sugar can create a wealth of neurological problems, and it can also interfere with your memory. On the other hand, sugar can also interfere with your ability to learn, this is why it is recommended to avoid pre-baked goods, sugar, corn syrup and products that are high in fructose.

Fat and sugar aren’t simply unhealthy, but they hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to drugs.  Food is addictive!  Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Food companies now face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.  No one disputes that obesity is a fast growing global problem. In the West, a third of adults and a fifth of teens and children are obese.

The cost to society is enormous. Moderate obesity reduces life expectancy by four years, while severe obesity shortens life expectancy by ten years. Obesity has been shown to boost the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and stroke. The annual cost of treating illness associated with obesity in the West is estimated at half trillion euros.

A few years ago, Starbucks’ popular Strawberry and Crème Frappuccino got its pink color not from strawberries, but from a dye made of crushed-up cochineal insects. Vegan consumers cried foul, and mainstream media outlets picked up the story. So, Starbucks decided to stop using cochineal extract and start using lycopene to dye its drinks pink instead.

Lycopene is a red pigment found in several fruits, but strawberries are not among them. The lycopene that now colors strawberry Frappuccinos is tomato-based. The upshot: in lieu of bugs, Starbucks is using tomatoes to make its strawberry-flavored drinks look more strawberry-like. It’s a natural ingredient, but not what nature intended. Yet that part of the story didn’t garner headlines. While crushed-up bugs may alarm some people, most of us tend to take the fact of food coloring for granted.

Today, we tend to view color as an ingredient. In the food industry, color standardization meant asserting the idea of naturalness, even as manufacturers imposed a ‘natural’ color through artificial dyes.

Take butter, for example. The color of butter fluctuates, depending on the season. From early summer through early autumn, cows eat green grass, which is rich in the orange pigment beta-carotene. The pigment colors the fat in the cows’ milk, which gives the butter a golden color. But, in winter, cows don’t eat grass. Rather, they eat grain, which, unless it has been genetically modified, does not contain much beta-carotene.  Thus, winter butter is whiter than summer butter. It’s also arguably less tasty. Because the flavor of butter was richer in the summer, there was the impression that the yellow golden color was better, too. So producers started coloring their winter butter with a golden shade to make it look tasty. The color was known as June shade.

The practice dates back to at least the fourteenth century in Europe. Dairy farmers would color their butter with carrot juice and annatto, a dye derived from achiote tree seeds, to make their butter look summery all year round. Late in the nineteenth century, dye manufacturers started supplying synthetic food coloring to dairy producers for the purpose of coloring butter and cheese, which essentially spearheaded the synthetic food dye industry.

Throughout the twentieth century, consumer watchdogs and activists opposed the use of chemical additives in food, and they continue to do so today. Major companies have responded to the demand. Nestlé pledged to remove artificial color from its candy bars in 2015, for example. General Mills promised in the same year to phase out artificial colors from its cereals. And Kraft’s signature macaroni and cheese no longer comes packaged with a Day-Glo orange powder, thanks to a pledge to stop using artificial dyes (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6) in the product. Due to consumer protests against synthetic colors, the standardization of color moved from being an opportunity to being a challenge for food manufacturers. That said, color continues to be an important ingredient in packaged foods.

Global Animal Partnership (GAP) is an international animal welfare rating program which includes the following:

  • Using breeds with measurably improved welfare because most chickens are bred to grow so fast that many collapse under their own weight
  • Ending extreme crowding and providing each chicken more floor space
  • Keeping chicken litter clean enough to prevent eye sores, flesh burns, and respiratory distress
  • Improving lighting standards, including at least six hours of darkness each night and 50 lux of light during the day, to decrease illness and disease
  • Ending live-shackle slaughter in favor of less cruel systems, such as controlled-atmosphere stunning, which eliminates the suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals

It is time for leading restaurant chains to ban needless abuse from their supply chains. Consumers are demanding companies ban the cruelest practices from their supply chains, and those that fail to do so are quickly falling behind competitors. The best way for individual consumers to protect chickens and other farmed animals from cruelty is simply to leave them off their plates.

Here are five reasons for giving up meat:

  1. The environmental impact is huge

Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.

Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.

Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. 

  1. It requires masses of grain, water, and land

Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 liters of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.

The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

  1. It hurts the global poor

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.

If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.

  1. It causes unnecessary animal suffering

If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily.

Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors.

In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.

  1. It is making us ill

At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.

This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.

High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialized countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers.

These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits.

Currently, the average meat intake for someone living in a high-income country is 200-250g a day, far higher than the 80-90g recommended by the United Nations. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8 million lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.

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LOSING TRADING SYSTEMS GALORE!

 

Blue Trading Systems, a bewilder provider of losing derivatives trading and risk analytics software, has launched BTS Spark, a comprehensive, unreliable, and extremely fast platform for losing futures traders. Users leverage a functionally robust futures interface and have the ability to create and operate synthetic spreads to churn their accounts. Software updates are controlled by the trader, leaving final losing authority in the customer’s miserable hands.

“Our clients said there was a void in the futures market and they were looking for alternatives,” said Kevin Darby, Managing Partner at Blue Trading Systems. “We are pleased to deliver an agile solution that has been built with an emphasis on speed and reliability.”

BTS Spark is a customizable platform with a C++/C#/Excel client API and has posted competitive re-quote times in microseconds. For an additional charge, customers can leverage an FPGA hardware accelerated version to lose their money fast! This way your account will be churned to death, your broker will become very rich from commissions, and you will lose all your money.  And since penniless is penisless, you will also lose your woman!

“We are pleased to bring the BTS Spark platform, built based on client requests, to the futures market,” said Darby. “We offer flexible licensing terms and pride ourselves on ultra-responsive customer support.”

The only sure way of making money is through insider trading!  That’s why most traders are insider traders, real or imagined.  The trick of the game is to differentiate an insider tip from a malevolent rumor and from a stupid rumor.  That’s where experience comes in.  I have been trading the markets for forty years, and I can smell the bullshit instantly. Insider trading is very healthy, because it helps the markets reach the equilibrium point soon.  All insider trading legislation is stupid.  You just cannot put all people in jail!

The permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal, yet it is routine among kleptocrats. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but kleptocrats do so routinely. Kleptocrats also get many hot issues, bypassing all fair procedures of distribution.  By funneling hundreds of millions of dollars or euros to supporters, even more campaign donations are ensured. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access to kleptocrats.

Kleptocrats have transformed politics to trade. They are traders who use their power, access, and privileged information to generate wealth. And at the same time well-connected financiers and corporate leaders have made a business of politics. They come together to form a kleptocratic caste.

Blue Trading Systems will be at FIA Expo in Booth 1013 where you can demo its new BTS Spark losing product. Blue Trading Systems knows the game is changing and will help you make your losing move. Blue Trading Systems enhances trading strategies and accelerates quoting times with low latency, versatile, software solutions. Its  losing feature updates are seamless, its customer service is responsive for huge loses and they link their success to their clients’ loses. With their game-changing technology, their clients maintain their losing edge in the derivatives misery.

Political intelligence consultants are hired guns who dig for closely held information to be used to trade stocks. Many work for hedge funds and securities firms, who just happen to be some of the biggest political campaign contributors.

While everyone has the same right to be a constituent and the same right to be part of a political discussion, the opportunity just isn’t always there. There’s limited time and resources for everyone to be involved in every discussion. This incentivizes brokerages to cultivate or simply purchase political connections in order to preserve privileged access to profitable information. This flow of information is more difficult to regulate than lobbying, which is regulated, because it is traveling in the opposite direction, that is, from politicians to their constituents.

Trading without inside information is a handicap!  Inside trading is the normal thing to do. Otherwise, the odds are stack against you, as almost everybody else is insider trader. Handicapped traders eventually lose all their money, throwing it in the black hole of ignorance.  Be an insider trader, or do not trade at all.  Technical analysis is ridiculous, and fundamental analysis is yesterday’s news.  Insider trading is the only way to trade!

Insider traders can escape prosecution by publishing a sponsored post with the inside information before they trade it.   If the trade ticket shows a time stamp after the publication of a sponsored post, nobody can touch them, because it’s considered public information, not insider information anymore! 

Legislators do not understand that the objective of insider trading laws is counter-intuitive, to prevent people from using and markets from adjusting to the most accurate and timely information. The rules target non-public information, a legal, not economic concept. As a result, we are supposed to make today’s trades based on yesterday’s information. Unfortunately, keeping people ignorant is economic folly. We make more bad decisions, and markets take longer to adjust.

Insider trading laws imbalance markets by regulating only one-half of the trading equation. A good investor makes money by knowing when not to buy or sell as well as when to buy or sell. Many insider tips alert owners to hold their shares or not to buy other ones. The sooner people act on accurate information the sooner the market will reach the equilibrium price. Interfering with the adjustment process by prosecuting people for insider trading will take the market longer to adjust.

Individuals and companies are entitled to keep proprietary information and punish those who violate that trust. But the offense should be civil, not criminal. And the punishment should fit the charge. In no case is the government justified in using intrusive enforcement measures developed to combat violent crime. The government should stop punishing investors seeking to act on the most accurate and timely information. After all, that’s what the financial markets are all about.

Insider trading creates an arcane distinction between non-public and public information.  It presumes that investors should possess equal information and never know more than anyone else. It punishes traders for seeking to gain information known to some people but not to everyone.  It inhibits people from acting on and markets from reacting to the latest information. Enforcing insider trading laws does more to advance prosecutors’ careers than protect investors’ portfolios.  Information will never be perfect or equal.

There shouldn’t be any prohibitions on insider trading at all. Insider trading, it’s against the law, but not because the U.S. Congress ever explicitly set out to ban it. Today’s prosecutions are based on an ambitious 1961 Securities and Exchange Commission administrative order and a lot of federal court rulings since. Now the courts may have begun to turn back the tide. That seems like a positive development — especially if it causes smart, ambitious prosecutors to begin looking elsewhere for cases to win.

My financial strategies are based on inside information, libertarian economics, and chaos theory. My objective is to identify the significant undiscounted aspects of economy and industries. This is where the true opportunities for investors lie and where business can get the jump on competitors. My approach is top down, emphasizing the major themes, which will influence business and financial markets.

Stockbrokers are taking advantage of their privileged position to increase profits for favored investors and hedge funds, all at the expense of their other customers. Brokers routinely leak confidential information about large stock trades to their best, most lucrative clients. When a savvy activist investor submits a trading order through a brokerage firm, for example, the brokers will exploit this information by telling their favorite clients all about it. Those clients can then imitate the activist’s strategy, thus earning higher returns themselves—to the detriment of the rest of the market, which was not privy to the leak.

It’s a huge issue, because it hurts the investors who try to implement their investment ideas and puts the smaller asset managers at a disadvantage. An important source of returns for fund managers in the stock market is not their superior skill or investment acumen. Rather, some managers appear to free-ride on the information provided by stockbrokers about the best ideas of other investors, which in turn is acquired thanks to the brokers’ ability to observe order flow before the rest of the market. Stockbrokers play a key role in shaping information diffusion in the stock market.

A Schedule 13D is a form that investors must submit to the SEC within 10 days of buying a 5 percent (or greater) stake in a company. It’s a legal requirement, which, like many disclosure requirements, is meant to level the playing field. Once that form is filed, everyone knows which firm an activist investor is targeting. The market tends to react positively to the news of a new 13D. Activists’ target companies tend to experience significant price changes once the activists’ strategies are released. In other words, the stock price of the target company goes up.

Until that form is filed, only two parties are supposed to know about the trade order: the investor who initiated the transaction, and the broker who orchestrated it. But, brokers tend to spill the beans to their other clients before the form is filed. The activist investor could also be leaking the information in order to drum up interest in the target company. But, in general, it behooves the activist to keep the trade on the down low, so as not to drive up the stock price while the trade is still in play.  It makes a lot of logical, strategic sense for a broker to leak the information.

If I’m the broker, then I know an order, and I know how this will impact the price; what I can do is use this information to generate more and more commissions from my best clients. And that’s what we see, a quid pro quo between the broker’s best clients—who get rewarded for their past business with the information, and the broker—who earns higher fees by executing their piggyback trades. This behavior of the brokers is not confined to activists’ trades but systematically occur for informed trades: that is, any time the smart money changes their stock positions.

Leaking information about stock trades might be both unethical and illegal, due to a fiduciary duty called best price execution. Brokers are legally required to seek the best execution reasonably available for their customers’ orders. If brokers leak information about the trades they execute, they end up causing a price disadvantage for the investors who ordered those trades. That’s because these transactions are deliberately executed slowly, so any information leaked during that time may end up affecting the stock price before the transaction is completed.

The price I give you is supposed to be the best price on the market. But, if you come to me with an order, and then I start telling all my best clients what you’re trying to do, they’re going to do it as well, which will push the price up. So the price you end up paying is not the best possible price.

There is a gray area that the brokers are navigating, because it’s not clear how much information is too much information. For example, if I don’t say that it’s Soros that made the large order, if I just say, ‘oh, I think there’s a lot of interest in this stock today,’ is that illegal? Well, maybe not. So, then, maybe there is sort of a gray area where they can navigate and continue doing this without breaking the law. 

Warren Buffett borrows to finance stocks that have low volatility, low price-to-book ratios, high profits, and high dividends. Donald Trump might have been even richer if, instead of dabbling in skyscrapers and casinos, he’d simply taken his eight-figure inheritance and sunk it into the stock market.

Fundamentally, stock markets are driven by popular narratives, which don’t need basis in solid fact. Such stories are thought viruses. They spread by contagion. Theories that seem to explain the stock market’s direction often work like this: First, they cause investors to take action that propels prices even further in the same direction. These narratives can affect people’s spending behavior, too, in turn affecting corporate profit margins, and so on. Sometimes such feedback loops continue for years.

The most prominent story seems to be one of a global slowdown with associated deflation. Underlying this tale are deeper, longer-term fears. There is a name for these concerns too. It is secular stagnation—the idea that there is disturbing evidence that the world economy may languish for a very long time, even for generations.

The current secular-stagnation story is less dramatic than that of the debt crisis. But because it’s so vague, the negative feedback loop can’t be resolved as neatly. The question may be whether this thought virus mutates into a more psychologically powerful version, one with enough narrative force to create a major bear market.

The main legal theory behind insider trading prosecutions is that corporate information belongs to the corporation, so employees shouldn’t be allowed to go around selling it. That makes some sense. It also makes one wonder why it isn’t left up to the corporation to discipline leakers and decide whether to press charges, but you could argue that most corporations would opt just to cover up the wrongdoing and move on.

When it comes to those who receive this information, though, it gets a lot harder to understand what public purpose is served by aggressively prosecuting them. This isn’t hubcaps or Old Master paintings, it’s information. And in general, the more information that gets out about a corporation, the better a job financial markets can do in pricing its securities.

 

Financial traders are better at reading their ‘gut feelings’ than the general population – and the better they are at this ability, the more successful they are as traders. Gut feelings, known technically as interoceptive sensations, are sensations that carry information to the brain from many tissues of the body, including the heart and lungs, as well as the gut. They can report anything from body temperature to breathlessness, racing heart, fullness from the gut, bladder and bowel, and they underpin states such as hunger, thirst, pain, and anxiety.
We are often not conscious – or at least barely aware – of this information, but it provides valuable inputs in risky decision making. High-risk choices are accompanied by rapid and subtle physiological changes that feed back to the brain, affecting our decisions, and steering us away from gambles that are likely to lead to loss and towards those that are likely to lead to profit. This can enable people to make important decisions even before they are able to articulate the reasons for their choices.

High frequency trading involves buying and selling futures contracts for only a short period of time – seconds or minutes, a few hours at the most. This form of trading requires an ability to assimilate large amounts of information flowing through news feeds, to rapidly recognize price patterns, and to make large and risky decisions with split-second timing. This niche of the financial markets is particularly unforgiving: while successful traders may earn in excess of £10 million per year, unprofitable ones do not survive for long.

Traders in the financial world often speak of the importance of gut feelings for choosing profitable trades, they select from a range of possible trades the one that just feels right. They manage to read real and valuable physiological trading signals, even if they are unaware they are doing so.

These traders contradict the influential Efficient Markets Hypothesis of economic theory, which argues that the market is random, meaning that no trait or skill of an investor or trader – not their IQ, education, nor training – can improve their performance, any more than these traits and skills could improve their performance at flipping coins.

A large part of a trader’s success and survival seems to be linked to their physiology. Such a finding has profound implications for how we understand financial markets. In economics and finance most models analyze conscious reasoning and are based on psychology. We’re looking instead at risk takers’ physiology, how good are they at sensing signals from their viscera. We should refocus on the body, or more exactly the interaction between body and brain. Medics find this obvious, economists don’t.

 

Precious metals, gold coins, and silver coins are very bad investments, because there are sales taxes on them in USA and value added taxes in EU and many other countries.  Derivatives of precious metals are very bad speculations, because they are very volatile and churned like hell in trading commissions, making your broker very rich and you very poor. This way your account will be churned to death.  And since penniless is penisless, you will also lose your woman!

Mass-market products such as exchange-traded funds are being concocted using the same flawed statistical techniques you find in scholarly journals. Most of the empirical research in finance is likely false. This implies that half the financial products promising outperformance that companies are selling to clients are false. Investors are being ripped off by investment firms that charge hefty fees while producing results that are no better than you’d get throwing darts at a page of stock listings.

The core of the problem is that it’s hard to beat the market, but people keep trying anyway. An abundance of computing power makes it possible to test thousands, even millions, of trading strategies. The standard method is to see how the strategy would have done if it had been used during the ups and downs of the market over, say, the past 20 years. This is called backtesting. As a quality check, the technique is then tested on a separate set of out-of-sample data, i.e., market history that wasn’t used to create the technique.

Torturing the data until it confesses is p-hacking, a reference to the p-value, a measure of statistical significance. P-hacking is also known as overfitting, data-mining—or data-snooping. The more you search over the past, the more likely it is you are going to find exotic patterns that you happen to like or focus on. Those patterns are least likely to repeat.

Index funds are cheap because their sponsors don’t need to hire expensive stockpickers. The old adage applies: If asset managers and finance professors are super-smart, why ain’t they super-rich? The big money is being made by firms that ignore finance theory. 

 

New tech-heavy financial firms are helping millennials invest, but with a twist. They are swapping out investment advisers for financial robots, and passing along the savings.

Robotadvisors make wealth advice and services feasible to a greater number of investors. They make it easy to open an account, they limit fees through the use of low-load investments and exchange-traded funds, and instead of time-intensive face-to-face consultations, they have user-friendly digital platforms that use simple questionnaires to identify investing goals and algorithms to determine things like risk profiling and optimal asset allocation.

Robotadvisor features such as portfolio rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting can translate into higher returns for investors. In USA, robotadvisor assets under management have grown threefold from around $60 billion in 2015 to $200 billion this year. And by 2020, that figure could top $500 billion. 

 

Millennials are disruptive bunch. The first generation to grow up with the internet, consumers born after 1980 are used to relying on technology and engineering to do almost everything—including shopping (Amazon), listening to music (Spotify), communicating with friends (social media), and hailing a cab (Uber).

It seems as if millennials would prefer to avoid face-to-face business interactions when there exists a more efficient way of getting what they want accomplished.

A new breed of financial technology companies, known collectively as fintech, has taken advantage of these traits to disrupt an unexpected industry: personal investing. Just as manufacturing companies have replaced assembly line workers with robots, these companies have replaced financial advisors with robo-advisors, which use big data and algorithms to determine the best places to put clients’ money—and appeal to a whole new generation of investors.
Millennials have a firm belief that the insights of modern technology can be competitive with someone who is personally advising you, and at a fraction of the cost. Traditional financial advisors cater to baby boomers with substantial savings, requiring minimum amounts for investment upwards of $100,000 to access their services. By contrast, industry-leading Wealthfront and similar firms such as Betterment, Vanguard Personal Advisor, and Acorns have tapped into an underserved market by allowing clients to invest as little as $5,000. Wealthfront doesn’t even charge a fee for assets of less than $10,000—and even after that charges a 0.25 percent fee, as opposed to fees of 2 to 3 percent by traditional firms.

The reason Wealthfront is able to do that is by keeping costs low. Traditional financial advisors are all about establishing a personal relationship with their clients, understanding their financial situation and walking them through their options. By pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach to investing, robo-advisors can eliminate a huge amount of operating costs. They have a phone number and an email for customer service, and that’s about it. The main way they communicate with customers is through a blog.

Secondly, much of the cost for traditional financial advisors comes from client acquisition—chasing down leads and making personal visits with potential clients. They also spend considerable resources in traditional marketing, especially the large firms. Those setup costs must be recovered over time through fees. Wealthfront keeps those costs low by finding clients through social media—either through direct ads or referrals by early adopters who post about their services. Their way to capture clients is through viral acquisition.

Lastly, fintech firms save costs by outsourcing money management expertise to technology rather than to experienced money managers. They come from the culture of the Silicon Valley, which is a culture of believing in engineering as a way of solving consumer problems.

That’s where millennials come in. This cohort is ideal for a robo-advisor firm in many ways—first and foremost, because they have faith in the power of technology to solve their problems. In fact, the Occupy Wall Street generation may be more likely to trust a fintech company than a big New York banking firm. Moreover, millennials are heavy users of social media, and apt to recommend services they enjoy to their contacts.

Studies also show millennials are financially responsible, with two-thirds of them putting more than 5 percent of their paychecks into savings, the highest rate of savings of any current generation. Having gone through the Great Recession, they tend to be more conservative with their money. That means that they have been accumulating savings, even if they are not yet large enough to be served by traditional brokers. They are going to be the asset accumulators of the future.

Lastly, millennials show a set it and forget it attitude towards money management, desiring to delegate the responsibility elsewhere so they have more time for their passions, whether that’s their careers, hobbies, or travel.

Despite the big differences in operations, the investment strategy Wealthfront pursues is not dissimilar from a mainstream financial investor. Its portfolio emphasizes a diversification of assets, managed through a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETF’s) that track market indexes. It’s a great way to invest cheaply in a diversified basket of stocks, bonds, and other securities.

If anything, Wealthfront’s offering is more diversified than typical balanced mutual funds, with 11 categories of investments, including global stocks, corporate and municipal bonds, real estate, natural resources, and treasury bonds. The fund also automatically rebalances itself over time just as mainstream financial advisors and brokers do for their clients—if for example, stocks do very well over a period of time relative to other asset classes and become too large a percentage of the portfolio, the robo-advisor automatically reinvests in the other asset classes to control investment risk, frequently through the reinvestment of stock dividends or the investment of new contributions.
Most of the strategy Wealthfront pursues is identical for each client; however, it does provide some amount of individual customization through a process known as tax-loss harvesting and asset allocations tailored to the tax status of the client. For example, tax-loss harvesting aims at realizing capital losses that help offset realized capital gains to reduce the amount of capital gains tax paid. Capital gains are computed based on when each individual made contributions to her account and in this sense efficient tax loss harvesting requires customization.

The strategy Wealthfront has pursued has resulted in growth of assets under management from $100 million to over $3.7 billion by September 2016, placing it in the top 100 independent registered investment advisors in the United States. Their diversified portfolios have outperformed the S&P 500 by 40 percent on a risk-adjusted basis. There have been challenges, too. CEO Adam Nash stepped down in October of 2016, replaced by founder Andy Rachleff returning as CEO. Nash retained his seat on the board of directors.

But regardless of their growth, the biggest indication of the success of these firms is the fact that mainstream investment firms have decreased their fees and added their own robo-funds with lower minimum asset amounts in an effort to compete directly with Wealthfront and its ilk.

They have been clearly disruptive. Most of the big brokers, such as Vanguard and Schwab, have seen that there is a way to address this segment of the market, and developed similar offerings. That’s brought this to the attention of not just millennials who have thousands of dollars to invest, but also Gen-Xers who have tens of thousands.

The bigger issue is whether, as millennials get older and develop more sophisticated investing, tax and estate planning needs, firms like Wealthfront will continue to keep them as customers, or lose them to more traditional firms. They are hoping that as millennials grow, the technology will grow with them to continue to offer sophisticated portfolio advice with technological solutions. Whether that will happen or not is an open question. If it does, then expect more disruption in the financial advising industry in the next generation.

We visited Bernie Madoff in prison. Madoff, a renowned stockbroker turned fraudster, lives in FCI Butner, a medium-security federal correctional institution in North Carolina. Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence for orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Madoff told us: In hindsight, when I look back, it wasn’t as if I couldn’t have said no. It wasn’t like I was being blackmailed into doing something, or that I was afraid of getting caught doing it. I, sort of, you know, I sort of rationalized that what I was doing was OK, that it wasn’t going to hurt anybody.

Madoff exhibits several all-too-familiar cognitive biases, psychological tendencies that can lead to irrational behavior. We hear Madoff describe a multitude of common biases. They’re amplified—biases on steroids, in Madoff’s case. But they’re biases that we all have, that we all experience.

Ambition: Madoff describes his ambition, which is something that every person aspiring to be successful in business—can relate to.

Overconfidence: “I built my confidence up to a level where I…felt that…there was nothing that…I couldn’t attain,” Madoff told us. The “slippery slope” that enables a small transgression to grow into a bigger one: “I started to go off the tracks, and I was able to convince myself that this was, you know, a temporary situation,” Madoff said.

Lack of self-control: “I…probably…just didn’t give it enough thought or wasn’t frightened enough…to say to myself, I can’t, you know, I can’t do this, I can’t take the risk,” Madoff told us.

Rationalization of iffy decisions: The piece that’s most humbling in the recording is the realization of rationalization. Madoff recognizes now that it was all rationalization.

Once our readers recognize that this is a smart guy, and he didn’t need to do what he did, but he still did it anyway, there is a degree of humility in the venitism blog. Madoff is an extreme case in many ways, but in other ways, he is just someone who fell prey to biases and the tendency to rationalize.

It’s especially important for budding entrepreneurs to appreciate the link between Madoff’s ambition and his slippery slope to infamy. While Madoff possesses an extraordinary lack of empathy for his victims, he didn’t explicitly set out to commit the crime of the century.

Madoff is respected in prison because it looks like he was the mastermind of this extraordinary plan. But to say that he sat down and planned a two-decade, multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, that’s giving him too much credit as an individual financier, or even as a sinister deviant. He couldn’t have planned such a long-running and extraordinarily devastating fraud in advance even if he tried.

Madoff was once best known for pioneering the controversial but legal practice of payment for order flow, in which he would pay brokerage firms a couple of cents per share to send orders through his firm. This made him popular among investors, who previously had to pay brokers for the service of buying shares; now Madoff had turned the practice upside down and was paying them to trade.

That innovation diverted trading away from the New York Stock Exchange floor, and by the early 1990s, Madoff’s firm was handling upwards of 10 percent of all NYSE-listed stock trading. Outside his brokerage business though, in his growing investment management practice, Madoff started to feel greater strain in generating profits.

He began naked shorting to clients. Another controversial but legal practice, this involved short-selling a stock without first borrowing the security, and then acquiring the security after the sale. But then he started conducting short sales without putting them on the books, which is illegal. Eventually he stopped trading altogether, once he realized he couldn’t generate the profits he continued to promise his investors. A few steps down the slippery slope later, he was running a Ponzi scheme.

“It’s like a comedy of errors,” Madoff told us. “I allowed myself—and I really have to say ‘allowed,’ since no one put a gun to my head—to keep taking in more money. I kept on waiting for the environment to change and of course it never did. It turned into a total fiasco.”

It’s a mundane series of errors, one leading to another, which grew into something of remarkable proportions. Even as famous white-collar criminals go, Madoff is an outlier, both in the size of his crime and in its longevity. But it’s important to appreciate the slippery slope of small crimes often becoming bigger ones, especially in today’s entrepreneurial culture, which tends to accept and even glorify bending the law a little.

Within entrepreneurial cultures, there’s often a feeling that it’s OK to ignore or bend some regulation. Sometimes regulations are legitimately outdated or potentially too restrictive to let innovation flourish. But the challenge for entrepreneurs is that the line between appropriate and illicit is often quite murky.

Case in point, the ride-hailing company Uber, which is thriving in spite of pushing legal boundaries—and fighting its case in court—in cities all over the world. In some places Uber is hailed as a brilliant company, and in other places its executives are convicted criminals. Many well-respected entrepreneurs, from Michael Dell to Steve Jobs, have faced their own allegations of wrongdoing, but still managed to build remarkable enterprises. At the same time, many white-collar criminals also break rules in the process of believing they are on the cusp of doing something great. Navigating the fine line of which regulations might be legitimately broken and which cannot is sometimes difficult. But understanding this distinction is critical for entrepreneurs who want to operate on the most innovative frontiers of business. Entrepreneurs who are trying hard to make their mark often need to be aggressive. This sometimes leads to successful businesses like Uber or Airbnb, and other times it leads to terrible failures like Enron.

SUU KYI SPEAKS THE TRUTH

http://s4.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20170919&t=2&i=1201951033&r=LYNXNPED8I06T&w=940

 

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi condemned on Tuesday human rights violations in Rakhine state and said violators would be brought to justice. Suu Kyi’s remarks came in her first address to the nation since attacks by Muslims on Aug. 25 sparked a military response that has forced more than 410,000 Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh. Western diplomats and aid officials, hoping for an unequivocal condemnation of violence and hate speech, welcomed the tone of Suu Kyi’s message.

“We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state,” Suu Kyi said in her address in the capital, Naypyitaw. “Action will be taken against all people, regardless of their religion, race and political position, who go against the law of the land and violate human rights,” she said.

Islam is not a religion, but a terrorist culture. Every time of terror, we hear the same hollow words of shock and grief and how incomprehensible it all is. But we never hear the leaders of Western countries, tell us the truth: The cause of all this bloodshed, all this misery, all this pain and sorrow, is Islam. Muslims aren’t being oppressed by critics of Islam like ourselves, but they are oppressed by Islam. Muslims who don’t oppress women or gay people are being persecuted by those who do and that’s where the persecution comes from.

Instead of the truth, we get crocodile tears. We have to listen to platitudes, we have politically correct hot air blown at us, again and again. But the truth remains that no bad tree bears good fruit.

What we are witnessing is pure Islamic practice. It is the Koran with its admonishment to “cast terror in the heart of the non-Muslims” (Surah 8:12). It is the so-called prophet Muhammad, who boasted to his followers: “I have been made victorious through terror” (Bukhari, 4.52.220).

Islam is not a peace-loving religion, but an evil totalitarian ideology. It wants all non-Muslims to submit. It is totally incompatible with freedom and human decency. It preaches hatred, propagates violence and is barbaric and violent by nature.

And it also abuses our own freedoms and democratic liberties to subvert our democracy and rob us of these freedoms. It builds mosques and Islamic schools, often with Saudi money, where hatred against the West is preached. It abuses our legal system to harass its critics. It behaves like a fifth column in our midst. It is not global warming that is threatening the world; it is global Islam.

Attack after attack, innocent people are being killed. Everyone is a target. It is absolutely unacceptable that there are still political leaders and media ignoring the problem. They want the citizens to believe that Islam is a peace-loving religion and that there are only a few Islamic extremists who are ruining everything for everyone. But do not let yourselves be fooled. Opinion polls show that no less than two-thirds of Muslims find Islamic rules more important than our secular democratic laws. Research from the University of Amsterdam shows that as many as 11 percent of Muslims find it acceptable to use violence in the name of Islam.

The United States urged Myanmar on Monday to end military operations, grant humanitarian access, and commit to aiding the safe return of Muslims to their homes. Myanmar’s generals remain in full charge of security and Suu Kyi did not comment on the military operation, except to say there had been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations since Sept. 5.

Muslims arriving in Bangladesh hoodwink of soldiers attacking and burning villages as recently as last Friday.  Myanmar forces are carrying out operations to defend against the insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which has claimed responsibility for attacks since October. The government has declared ARSA a terrorist body and accused it of setting the fires and attacking civilians.

Western governments that backed Suu Kyi’s campaign against military rule still see her as the best hope for Myanmar’s political and economic transition. But she has to avoid angering the powerful army.

She also has to avoid alienating her supporters by being seen to take the side of a Muslim minority that enjoys little sympathy, and has been blamed for initiating violence in a country that has seen a surge of Buddhist nationalism.

Some diplomats said after the speech that Suu Kyi had yet to fully address the problem. But her domestic audience was happy.

Thousands of supporters gathered in the main city of Yangon and other towns to watch the speech on big screens. Social media saw a blizzard of posts with the message: We stand with Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

 

The ambassador of China, which vies with the United States for influence in Myanmar, welcomed Suu Kyi’s speech, saying it would improve understanding. Russia’s ambassador said there was no evidence of ethnic cleansing. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy also attended the address.

Suu Kyi, 72, said her government had been promoting harmony between the Muslim and largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine communities, but a government official did not share her optimism.

 

Suu Kyi said her government was committed to recommendations made by an advisory team led by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, which last month suggested a review of a law that makes a link between citizenship and ethnicity and leaves most Muslims stateless. On the return of refugees, Suu Kyi said Myanmar was ready to start a verification process and “refugees from this country will be accepted without any problem”.

It is impossible for the ideology of Islam to assimilate in a free society. People can assimilate; an ideology cannot. We should not import it any longer to our society. Not because we hate the people, but because we have a problem with an ideology that is totally incompatible with freedom. Those who sow Islam must realize that they will harvest nothing but terrorism and the barbarism of Sharia law, with its oppression of women, Christians, Jews, apostates and Islam critics.

The world is becoming ever more Islamic. Between today and 2060, the number of Muslims will grow by 70 percent. That is more than twice as fast as Christians, thrice as rapid as Hindus, and almost five times faster than Jews. By 2060, Islam will have almost as many adherents as Christianity. And soon after, it is bound to become the largest belief system on earth.

In many Western European countries, populations are growing only because of immigrants. And many of these are Islamic. Muhammad is already the most popular name among newborn boys in major cities in Britain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere. Islam uses all the tools it can lay its hands on. Guns and bombs, knives and cars and planes. But also demography and immigration.

Last year, over 180,000 people crossed in shabby boats from Libya to Europe. And this is just the beginning. The United Nations expect the population of Africa to quadruple by the end of the century. From 1 billion today to 4 billion. One third of the Africans want to leave their own countries. Many of them are Islamic. And many want to move north. If Western Europe continues with its present open-door policies, the population of the European continent is in danger of being replaced and its nations colonized and Islamized. No longer European, but a province of Africa.

According to Greek myth, the Athenian hero Theseus sailed to Crete to stop the tribute of seven Athenian men and seven women sent every nine years to the distant carnivorous Minotaur in his haunt within the labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossos on Crete.

In various versions of the prehistorical myth, the Athenian King Aegeus had conceded earlier to the attacking Cretan King Minos to surrender the youths as tribute to prevent a wider war. Then his heroic son Theseus came of age and volunteered to stop the scripted slaughter, sailing to Crete, where he slew the Minotaur. And that was that.

The idea of harvesting people as part of some strange protocol to preclude a wider, far more destructive war is to not unknown in both history and popular myth.

Many of the thousands of human victims sacrificed to the various hungry gods of the Aztecs such as Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca often were delivered as a sort of human tribute forced from neighboring conquered cities and tribes. The subdued assumed that paying the smaller human toll was cheaper than waging a far bloodier and likely futile revolt against the Aztec Empire—at least until the arrival of Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors in 1519, who found restive conquered peoples eager for revolt, largely on promises to overthrow the Aztecs and stop their collection of human tribute.  

A half-century ago, in the 1967 Star Trek episode “A Taste of Armageddon,” the starship Enterprise visits an imaginary planet Eminiar II, that was engaged in an existential—but virtual—war with the neighboring planet Vendikar. To avoid full-scale Armageddon, both sides far earlier had agreed to wage a computer-simulated war, in which electronically projected losses were reified by ordering selected “fatalities” to report to “disintegration” chambers—TV-land’s version of the Minotaur myth—to avoid a larger (and real) war.  Captain Kirk plays a role somewhat analogous to Theseus and puts an end to the nightmarish nonsense.

Something akin to this trope is occurring in Europe and to a lesser extent in the United States. From Fort Hood to Manchester, we are witnessing such human harvests around the Western world. The script goes like this: A Middle-Eastern Muslim resident alien of a Western country, or a second-generation citizen or subject of Middle Eastern descent, is “radicalized”—either by the local Islamist immigrant community or through Internet sermonizing. Then, out his own sense of failure or unhappiness in the West, the failed youth seeks some sort of Islamist transcendence in terrorizing the very hosts who had welcomed his parents or himself.

What follows is also predictable. The opportunistic terrorist picks a soft target—unaware partying youth in a nightclub or at a concert, unarmed police or soldiers, a Jewish center, throngs of holiday shoppers or celebrants, an office building or shopping center. He and other terrorists certainly have no desire or ability to storm NATO headquarters or an American Marine base. Next, he pulls out a gun or some sort of hand weapon such as a machete or hammer, and goes on a rampage, slaughtering the innocent and defenseless, often in iconic fashion, as if his savagery is designed to be disseminated through iPhone video propaganda. If well-organized, he rents a large van or truck to maximize his carnage by running down pedestrians.

Occasionally, the more emboldened and nihilist killers strap on suicide vests to up their death toll and terror. Amid the carnage, the Islamist terrorist chants some sort of allahu-akbar-like mantra, not too unlike the Aztec high priests’ incantations as they tore the living hearts out of their sacrificial victims on the high pyramids of Tenochtitlan. Law enforcement usually arrives too late to save the targeted victims, but sometimes in time to kill, wound, or apprehend a few of the terrorists.

The tragedy continues. We often learn that the supposedly “lone wolves” were in fact “known wolves” who previously had shown up on the radar of Western intelligence, but were not investigated for their unabashed jihadist activities—either due to Western political correctness and fears of charges of “Islamophobia,” or the inadequacy of Western intelligence resources to deal with the tens of thousands of radicalized Islamist youth who are potential human IEDs.

Political leaders then rush to condemn the murdering—at least sort of. Prime Ministers, presidents, elected representatives, Christian clergy, and public intellectuals deplore the violence, calling the serial killing “unacceptable” and “deplorable,” often adding stereotypical adverbs to describe their anguish like “cowardly.”

The tragic script continues. Almost immediately, there are solemn memorials for the fallen—heartfelt candlelight gatherings, church services, and tragic press stories of young lives snuffed out for nothing. Yet within a day or two, Western self-appointed leaders start issuing cautionary warnings to resist “Islamophobic” anger, which is soon contextualized as the real existential danger. The families and friends of the killers are interviewed and, confident in their exemption from any consequences, usually swear that they had no clue that there were jihadist killers living among them.

The more emboldened moralists lecture Western societies to be wary and not return to their recent illiberal past following 9/11, when intelligence services supposedly inordinately surveilled radical mosques and put suspected extremists on no-fly lists. Muslim-rights organizations then issue communiques citing “hate crimes” that are increasingly due to Islamophobic backlash.

Contemporary hot-button issues like immigration and gun control make their way into the conundrum—the Left usually arguing that proper gun control laws would have prevented the massacre. Progressives sometimes sermonize that terrorism is less deadly than bathtub or traffic accidents. They insist, that few of the Islamist killers are immigrants—thereby avoiding the thornier question of why second-generation immigrants are often prone to jihadist extremism, and the even more controversial issue of vetting incoming immigrants. Few reason that by placing restrictions on immigration from war-torn zones in the Middle East, it would be less likely that second-generation immigrants would one day turn to terrorism.

And next?

Within about a week, Westerners seem to return to “normal,” relieved that once again less than 50 or so innocents died from the latest attack in a world of over 1 billion people. No jet was hijacked; no skyscraper toppled. The Minotaur was satiated until the next tribute sacrifice in the labyrinth follows.

Jihadists know that Osama bin Laden’s only strategic mistake was killing too many all at once and thereby inciting a ferocious American response, rather than sticking to his previous, more limited, mode of attack on various embassies or docked warships. The point of an Al Qaeda or ISIS strategic plan is not to incite a unified and warlike Western response, but instead to slowly enervate the West—weakening it by demonstrating to the world that an exhausted, agnostic, and hedonistic Europe and North America either cannot or will not stop the serial harvesting of its own citizens, and thereby does not deserve its global preeminence and cultural hegemony that so often, Islamists allege, corrupt superior local mores and traditions.

Even the fact that Westerners welcome in immigrants whose children occasionally terrorize their new host nations is a powerful propaganda tool for the jihadists, again signifying the impotence of secular Western values to cope with such an asymmetrical but far more zealous opponent. What we consider sober and judicious probity, Islamists see as weak-horse excuses for an existential inability to articulate and defend our values. Radical Islamists gloat that an impotent West has been forced to concede, in amoral fashion, that it is willing to put up with frequent reaping of a few of its own rather than be stereotyped as illiberal on the global stage for taking the necessary measures to end the threat.

The harvesting then will continue until Islamists once again miscalculate, become too carnivorous, and spark an existential response that might entail targeted immigration bans on particular Middle East countries, an end to multicultural deference in favor of melting-pot assimilation, domestic surveillance of known Islamists, deportations, and World War-II like responses to centers of terror in the Middle East and their enablers and sponsors.

But for now, we are in a long war with our Islamist enemies and sadly shrug that a few among us will have to be episodically “disintegrated” to prevent unnecessary retaliatory violence—part of keeping a lid on a virtual war that we often deny even exists.

In order to save ourselves from atrocities and to stop the process of population replacement in Europe, these are the three most important things we should do:

  1. Realize that Islam is the problem and start to de-Islamize our societies. No Islamic schools anymore, no hate preaching. We are facing an existential threat and should treat it as such.
  2. End all immigration from Islamic countries. Enough is enough! Those immigrants who are already in our nations are welcome to stay, but only if they fully adhere to our values, our constitution, our laws. If they commit crimes or start acting according to Sharia law, we should expel them at once. If necessary, radical Muslims must also be administratively detained.
  3. Get rid of political correctness. We should not let Islam abuse our freedoms and our constitutional rights just to abolish them. It is naïve and dangerous to grant rights to a totalitarian ideology which, if it gets its way, wants to rob us of our rights. We should realize that Islam has declared war on us, but that we will never allow it to win!

Islam hates and kills us. And nobody protects us. Our leaders betray us.

Let us start acting bravely, do our duty and de-Islamize our nations in order to protect us and remain a free people.

 

BEWILDERING HOI POLLOI WITH GODS, DEMONS, AND AFTERLIFE

 

God is the biggest hoax of all times! The relationship people have with the real world has changed. Throughout time, individuals have tried to escape the reality of life, through religion, drugs, or alcohol. Today, modern technologies allow a genuine democratization of the unreal. Everyone can live in a parallel world consisting of gods, prophets, avatars, churches, video games, augmented reality, or sitcoms. Each can lead an alternative life by proxy.

Naphtali “Tuly” Weisz was a newly ordained Modern Orthodox rabbi in Columbus, Ohio, when he began dialoging with evangelical Christians. At first, they met at the local Jewish Community Center. Later, he invited them into his synagogue, Beth Jacob Congregation, where he had taken over the pulpit from his late, long-serving grandfather, Rabbi David Stavsky.

This interfaith dialogue was satisfying, but the Yeshiva University-educated Weisz did not at that point consider non-Jews central to his work.

Then came a life-changing phone call. It was from a Christian woman he had met for the first time the previous evening at his synagogue. She wanted to buy $50,000 worth of Israel Bonds.

“The fulfillment of the messianic process is fundamentally tied to the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. When the State of Israel was re-established in 1948, and then with the miracles of the Six Day War, it became apparent that prophecy, as stated in the Torah, was being fulfilled,” he said.

“Today, when Nefesh B’Nefesh helps Jews come on Aliyah, that’s a part of prophecy — the ingathering of the exiles. When JNF [Jewish National Fund] plants millions of trees throughout Israel, that’s the flourishing of the land, as described throughout Tanach [the Hebrew Bible],” said Weisz.

Atheism is the smart zeitgeist. Today we know very well we are just a sort of apes, all religions are wrong, there is no God, there is no afterlife, and all miracles are hoaxes. God is the most unpleasant character in all fiction! But many people refuse to accept reality that when they die that will be the very end of them, that they will cease to exist.  Hoi polloi live on wishful thinking that they will live forever near God in another life! Hitler used to say that hoi polloi believe big lies, not small lies!

In 2011, Weisz immigrated to Israel and started Israel365, a Jewish-owned and run “media company.” The company and its subsequent spin-offs target the 700 million-strong evangelical Christian worldwide community interested in connecting with the Holy Land from biblical and prophetic perspectives.

In addition to his immigration, “the work we do at Israel365, enabling non-Jews to support Israel financially, diplomatically and politically is also described as part of the redemptive process in Jewish tradition,” said Weisz.

In many ways we’re not all the different from established Christian media that connects faith with journalism

There are Israel-based Jewish media outlets aimed at religious Jews, and there are evangelical Christian news companies producing news out of Israel — but Weisz wanted to cross the ecumenical divide.

“In many ways we’re not all the different from established Christian media that connects faith with journalism, but what we are doing doesn’t exist within the Jewish media. The religious Jewish media is really just secular news geared toward a niche market. For instance, they may omit pictures of women, but the news itself is essentially no different from what you would read in the mainstream,” Weisz said.

“What we are doing is pioneering a new genre of biblical journalism. The Jewish perspective is very rich. We’ve been reading the Tanach [Hebrew Bible] since it was given, whereas Christians have been studying the Bible in translation with outside forces that have influenced their perspectives,” he said.

All religions are big lies. Basic to religion is a presumed distinction between humans and animals, and a presumed uniqueness of humans in the universe. Based on evolutionary biology and astronomy, science rejects this stupid distinction. God is imaginary and religion is a complete illusion. Belief in God is nothing but a silly superstition, which leads a significant portion of the population to be delusional.

Bible and Qur’an express toleration for slavery and regard women as subordinate to men. Religious morality is impoverished to the point of bankruptcy. If we rely on religion, there is a certainty we will fail. Religion has nothing to offer but taboos without a clue.

The level of socio-pathology caused by a religious meme or meme complex depends, at least in part, on the degree to which it leverages compulsion as part of its reproductive strategy. Religious compulsion might refer to the level of threat and fear a religion uses to win and keep converts, or the degree of obsessive thought and compulsive behavior it engenders in believers. But compulsion is likely to be just one part of the picture, because the experience of many religious believers is that they practice their faith freely and happily, even when this may seem dubious to outsiders.

An apocalypse is technically revelatory nonsense with a narrative framework in which the revelation is mediated to a human recipient through an otherworldly being disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.

Apocalypticism has been introduced as the category to understand earliest Christians or the people of Qumran who saw the world in apocalyptic terms. But, obviously, defining an apocalyptic worldview (or apocalypticism) is quite complicated: Has it to do with the imminent intervention of God in earthly affairs? With an end-of-the-world catastrophe? With the revelation of heavenly secrets on the course of history? With some kind of theological-political stance?

Apocalypticism was a growing trend throughout the Second Temple period to Byzantium and early Islam. Apocalypticism grew in importance in that span of 1,000 years, and there is more here than the increasing success of a literary trend—even though people enjoyed reading apocalyptic nonsense similarly to how we like to watch catastrophic movies or read about zombie apocalypses. Throughout these centuries, apocalypticism had a crucial role in shaping the origins and lasting configurations of Christianity, Islam, and—largely by contrast—Judaism as we know them today.

Ancient and modern people wrote apocalypses or developed an apocalyptic imagination under the pressure of unfavorable social or political conditions. For instance, Christians wrote and read a book like Revelation as a response to the Roman persecution. Religion is also generated by people’s desire to escape or forget about their concrete social condition.

In recent years it has become evident that apocalyptic nonsense offered—and still offers—more than just fantasies of escapism. Apocalypticism is a much more sophisticated tool that helps humans, for instance, to think about alternative temporalities or to reflect about and act when faced with change in their world at all levels—from the cultural to the socio-economic.

Understanding apocalyptic traditions and apocalypticism is key in order to have a better grasp of the origins of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic nonsense. All three of them began or were shaped in a religious and cultural environment dominated by apocalyptic nonsense. This is very clear at this point for Jesus and the early Jesus movement, but it is becoming more and more evident for the earliest Islamic movement as well—and the latter is quite a fascinating development from a historical point of view.

An apocalyptic worldview is the hegemonic cultural expression of our world. This is even more evident in North America today than it is in Europe, and it is really difficult to disagree when one looks at how much popular culture focuses on apocalyptic nonsense taken directly from the texts.

They are very much alive and influential; one has only to mention Revelation in order to make this point. The hermeneutic issues that interest scholars of apocalyptic nonsense in antiquity coincidentally persist in contemporary apocalypticism. One can refer to the pervasive violence of the nonsense, to the ambiguous understanding of the relationship between divine and political power, or to the ways in which the subject is shaped by an experience of time that is so alien from linear historicity.

Donna Jollay, a Christian Zionist entrepreneur, partners with Weisz on an online Torah academy for non-Jews venture called Yeshiva for the Nations. She agreed that Weisz is doing something new and unique.

“I could read the Christian media, but what Tuly is providing is the most authentic perspective,” she said.

Israel365 began in 2012 by connecting people to Israel through a daily newsletter and an online store. The Beit Shemesh-based company now has 15 employees and has spun off into a number of brands, including Breaking Israel News, a site that launched in 2014 with dispatches and opinion pieces written from a biblical perspective, and Israel Media Network, a digital marketing agency helping Israeli organizations to reach Christian audiences which launched in 2015. Israel365 also began publishing its own Bible in 2015 and has invested in Yeshiva for the Nations, the initiative co-founded by Weisz and Jollay.

For those interested in keeping up with what’s happening in the Holy Land, website Breaking Israel News publishes articles related to Jerusalem, the IDF, and US-Israel relations. It also has sections titled “Christian Zionism,” “Biblical News,” “Bible Prophecy,” and “End of Days.” The articles all cite biblical verses, and most frame current events — including increased Jewish-Israeli birthrates, Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, and Iranian and North Korean nuclear threats — in terms of prophetic fulfillment.

Christianity is a baseless religion that was designed by the Roman empire to justify slavery and pacify the citizens. Christianity may be considered a religion, but it was actually developed and used as a system of mind control to produce slaves that believed God decreed their slavery.

At the time, Jewish sects in Judea and Samaria were awaiting a warrior Messiah, which became an increasing problem after the Roman Empire failed to deal with the problem with traditional means. As a result, the rulers resorted to psychological warfare which would appear to give the citizens what they wanted, while at the same time making sure they followed their rules. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system.

That’s when the peaceful Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to give onto Caesar and pay their taxes to Rome. Although Christianity can be a comfort to some, it can also be very damaging and repressive, an insidious form of mind control that has led to blind acceptance of serfdom, poverty, and war throughout history.

The response from the Jewish community has been mixed — everything from skepticism, to bewilderment to support, said Weisz. He’s received support (and lack thereof) from Jews of all different backgrounds, from ultra-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, to secular.

“Those who have been more supportive are people who are more open-minded, not afraid of what Christianity represents, and are more in tune with the needs of the modern State of Israel,” said Weisz. “I’ve found that Jews in Israel have given more thought to Christian support to Israel than have Jews in America.”

As a religious Zionist, Weisz, 37, believes his job is to reach out to non-Jews and help them engage with their biblically prescribed role in the ingathering of the exiles and rebirth of Israel.

“I don’t believe these things will happen miraculously. It will require a lot of work and organization. There are many passages in the Tanach about the non-Jews recognizing the true role of the Jews,” Weisz told us.

“Once I started to read the Tanach carefully, I learned how this is not inconsistent with the Jewish experience, with our mission to be a light unto the nations,” he said.

According to Israel365 director of publishing Maayan Hoffman, Breaking Israel News has 100,000 subscribers and the sixth largest amount of traffic for any English-language news website out of Israel.

“Our audience is vast and engaged. It’s not uncommon for one of our 1,000-word articles to generate 10,000 words of comments,” Hoffman said

Not everyone agrees that Breaking Israel News’s articles, with their biblical and prophecy angles, qualify as journalism.

“It’s not fact-based journalism. It is opinion and can be regarded only as that,” said University of Toronto professor journalism professor Jeffrey Dvorkin after looking at Breaking Israel News.

The definition of ‘news’ is not what was taught in journalism school back in the day

“The definition of ‘news’ is not what was taught in journalism school back in the day. Everyone has an agenda today,” Weisz claimed.

He gave the example of the history of the Temple Mount, saying that some look at it from former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s ascent in 2000 sparking the Second Intifada. Others use 1967 or 1948 as starting points.

“Our perspective is 3,000 years back to King David, who inaugurated the Temple Mount. The Bible has relevance to today and tomorrow. Prophecy and the news is not an oxymoron,” Weisz said.

David Parsons, spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, participated in a Prophecy in the News Conference hosted by Israel365 in Jerusalem in June that attracted an array of Jewish and Christian right-wingers, messianists, and Third Temple advocates. Parsons warned against the sensationalism and speculation that he said gives prophetic and biblical news a bad reputation.

“It can be a game of guessing what’s next, and that’s where we try to be cautious,” Parsons said.

At the same time, Parsons agreed with Weisz that there is no need to apologize for putting trust in the Bible as the word of God, and in trying to use that as a way of understanding the news.

“This is nothing new. People have been doing this for centuries. The Templars were doing it, as were members of the Palestine Exploration Fund founded by Queen Victoria,” Parsons said.

Parsons thinks the mainstream media often mocks evangelicals and ends up missing “an incredible story in terms of the sweep of history by ignoring the prophetic aspect of the news.”

He lamented the fact that so much of the news out of Israel is strictly about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and praised Weisz and his team for “telling a story others aren’t.”

While Weisz may be telling a story, even he admits it isn’t the full story. He believes his responsibility is to report the good, but not necessarily the bad and the ugly.

“Prophecy in the news is about God controlling events. It gives many people a tremendous amount of hope and positivity,” Weisz said.

Accordingly, some of the biggest stories in the mainstream Israeli press are conspicuously absent from Breaking Israel News.

“We don’t report on negative news stories on Israel. For instance, we don’t cover Israeli politicians getting investigated or arrested for corruption,” Weisz said.

When Jesus announced that we should cut off body parts, he was telling others to harm themselves. There were entire monastic orders that castrated themselves because Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 that “he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Every year in the United States we read about one or two men who mutilate themselves in order to prove their obedience to Jesus!  This only shows that Jesus was immoral.

Chryse Pege, Golden Source, is the most infamous gay mafia of the Greek Orthodox Church, organized by the late archbishop Christodoulos.  The corrupt Church of Greece greatly contributes to the moral decline of Greek society.  Nevertheless, religion is protected by lèse–majesté! The barbarity and corruption of Greek bishops is beyond imagination, heavily involved in skulduggery, orgies, trial rigging, drug and antiquities smuggling, money washing, robberies, inheritance dirty games, election manipulation, and so it goes. Bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta, godfather of Chryse Pege, blasted Education Minister Nikos Filis over his decision to replace the current religious studies from the school curriculum with a lesson on comparative world religions. During his speech at Church, Ambrosios pleaded to Jesus that Fili’s arm would rot before he signed the decree! Ambrosios also had a few words for those not fasting by eating meat. He said he hoped the meat would turn to poison and puncture their stomach!

Catholics are upset about the pedophilia of their bishops, but this is nothing comparing it to pedophilia and homosexuality of the Greek gang of the late archbishop Christodoulos.  Christodoulos surpassed all corruption of all ayatollahs and bishops on planet Earth for all times!  He marched on dead bodies to become the archbishop of Athens, and then tried to transform Greece to a super-corrupt Orthodox theocracy.  He also destroyed my father with false accusations. I hate the motherfucking Christodoulos like hell! Greeks used to call him ayatollah Christollah!  If there is hell, he is definitely there!  Let him rot, wherever he is.  Amen!

PEACE IS THE MEETING OF PEOPLES

When His Holiness the Dalai Lama met briefly with members of the press at his hotel, he began by telling them how happy he was to be back in Italy, visiting Sicily at the invitation of his friend Renato Accorinti.

“I’m just a human being—and remembering that we are all the same as human beings is important, because, when, as too often we do, we stress instead the secondary differences between us, it easily leads to trouble and conflict. In this part of Europe you have taken in many refugees. In the face of their suffering, that you have received and helped them is wonderful. But, just as we Tibetans expect eventually to return to Tibet, these refugees will hope to return to their own lands once peace and security are restored there. So it will be good if you can give them shelter and provide facilities for the young to receive education and training so they are equipped to rebuild when they get home.

 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Mayor of Messina Renato Accorinti meeting members of the press at his hotel in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Paolo Regis
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Mayor of Messina Renato Accorinti 

 

“I am committed to promoting an appreciation of the oneness of humanity in the service of greater human happiness, as well as encouraging religious harmony. In this context, I believe you, members of the media, also have a responsibility to educate people about such positive opportunities.”

In his answers to journalists’ questions His Holiness touched on the need to reform an education system that is too focussed on materialistic goals rather than inner values. He stressed instead the need for warm-heartedness and the importance of compassion. He repeated his admiration for the spirit of the European Union, which has kept peace in Europe for decades. He also recognised that Tibetans have attracted significant support to their cause because they are resolutely non-violent and are not seeking independence.

“We Tibetans are an ancient nation. We have our own language, culture and way of life. We have kept our Buddhist heritage, with its source in Nalanda University in India, alive for more than 1000 years. In addition to knowledge of the workings of the mind, we have preserved an approach to education that depends on logic. On the basis of both these factors I believe we have something to contribute to the welfare of humanity today.”

 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the press at his hotel in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Jeremy Russell
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the press at his hotel in Taormina.

 

His Holiness clarified that after his semi-retirement, when Tibetans elected a leader in 2001, he fully retired from political involvement in 2011. He added that he also ended a nearly 400 year old tradition of the Dalai Lamas having a political role in Tibetan affairs. He observed that although there were impeccable Buddhist teachers in India, there is no record of their having institutionalized their reincarnations.

His Holiness drove the short distance from his hotel to the Greek Theatre where an estimated two and a half thousand people were waiting in the hot sun to hear him. As the Mayors of Catania and Messina, Eligio Giardina and Renato Accorinti, escorted him onto the stage, a cheer went up.

After publicly welcoming His Holiness to Sicily once again, Accorinti explained how excited he was to realize his dream of bringing him to Messina and Taormina. He recounted the story of going to see His Holiness in Palermo in 1996, and being unable to enter the event until His Holiness grabbed his hand and drew him in. Then and there he invited him to come to Messina. A journalist mistook what he’d overheard and reported that the Mayor had issued the invitation. Accorinti said that at the time he had no thought of becoming the Mayor and yet that is what has happened.

The two Mayors presented His Holiness with an award from the Metropolitan City of Messina in recognition of his promotion of peace and solidarity in the world and in appreciation of his commitment to dialogue—after which he addressed the crowd.

 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama receiving an award from the Metropolitan City of Messina in recognition of his promotion of peace and solidarity in the world at the start of his talk at the Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Federico Vinci/Città Metropolitana di Messina
His Holiness the Dalai Lama receiving an award from the Metropolitan City of Messina in recognition of his promotion of peace and solidarity in the world at the start of his talk at the Greek Theatre in Taormina.

 

“Brothers and sisters, I’m honoured to have received this award and happy to be here with this chance of talking to you. In this ancient place I am reminded of the Indus Valley civilization and the Nalanda Tradition it eventually gave rise to. Among the cultures of the ancient world, the Indus Valley civilization seems to have given rise to many thinkers and philosophers. The Buddha’s instruction about dependent arising, indicating that nothing exists independently and that everything depends on other factors, resonates with the contemporary quantum physics assertion that nothing exists objectively.

“Today, despite great material development, we and our leaders are facing an emotional crisis. Although Buddhist literature has much to say about this, tackling our negative emotions has nothing to do with religion as such. But what the thinkers of ancient India have to say about our mind and emotions is important and relevant in the modern world.

“I always speak from the point of view of being just another human being—not as a Tibetan, a Buddhist or as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was born as just a human being and I’ll die as just a human being, so I emphasize that in being human we are all the same. We are emotionally, mentally and physically the same. We feel sadness, fear and suspicion in the same way. And it’s on this basis that my experience may be of some help to you.

 

A view of the Greek Theatre with over 2,500 people attending the talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on "Peace is the Meeting of Peoples" in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Paolo Regis
A view of the Greek Theatre with over 2,500 people attending the talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

 

“The global economy and the effects of climate change recognise no national boundaries. What they are teaching us is that we should act more as one human community. We are enjoying peace and tranquillity here, even if it is quite hot, but in other places right now other people are being bullied, killed or facing starvation. It’s unbearable.

“Many of the problems we face come about because we insist on exaggerating secondary differences of nationality, colour and even faith. This misplaced emphasis leads to division. It’s unacceptable. We need to think more deeply and recognise the oneness of humanity and that as human beings we are much the same.

“Peace in the world can’t be brought about by use of force. Peace is a state of mind. The use of violence provokes anger and yet more violence. We need to reduce anger and fear by offering friendship. Once again I have to say I admire the spirit of the European Union, which has adopted the more holistic view that we have to live together and we’re better to do it as friends.

“Violence is quite the wrong way to achieve what we want. Ultimately we should aspire for a demilitarized world if we really want to achieve peace.”

 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on "Peace is the Meeting of Peoples" at the Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Paolo Regis
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on “Peace is the Meeting of Peoples” at the Greek Theatre in Taormina.

 

His Holiness explained that he is committed firstly to promoting human happiness in the context of the oneness of humanity and secondly to encouraging religious harmony. He cited the example of India as vividly demonstrating that it’s possible. He pointed out that all the world’s major religions, with their common message of love, tolerance and contentment, have flourished side by side for centuries in India. He was forthright in declaring that since all religions have the potential to bring peace, to refer to Muslim or Buddhist terrorists is wrong. He asserted that the moment someone commits an act of terrorism they cease to properly follow their faith. If, on the other hand, you base your practice on love, you won’t be able to do anyone any harm.

Among questions from the audience the first concerned what advice he might have for dealing with the crisis over North Korea. He suggested that both sides should be more realistic and less emotional. He pointed out that when the mind is dominated by anger, suspicion and pride, it’s difficult to bring common sense to bear.

Another questioner wanted to know more about the connection between ancient Indian knowledge and quantum physics. His Holiness reminded him that where quantum physics says that that without an observer there is no observed object, the Buddhist Mind Only School says that the object has no external existence, while the Middle Way School says the object has no independent existence.

His Holiness went on to compare what Nagarjuna says about grasping at independent existence being a mistake, with what cognitive therapist Aaron Beck told him about our sense of the negativity of someone we’re angry with being 90% mental projection. He said that in Buddhist philosophy the word ‘shunyata’ or emptiness means things don’t exist independently. He went on to say that having been interested in this for 60 years and having thought rigorously about it for 40 years, he can say that such ideas are useful in reducing our negative emotions.

 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama heading for his car at the conclusion of his talk at the Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on September 16, 2017. Photo by Federico Vinci/Città Metropolitana di Messina
His Holiness the Dalai Lama heading for his car at the conclusion of his talk at the Greek Theatre in Taormina.
His Holiness also made it clear that in the world today 1 billion out of 7 billion people show no interest in religion. For the remainder, their faith, while it may be strong in the church, temple of mosque, is superficial when it comes to day to day life. In such a context, secular ethics provides an approach to renewed conviction in human values. He stressed that he uses the word secular in the way it is used in India to indicate unbiased respect for all religions and even the views of those with no faith. What’s more, secular ethics should be based on scientific findings—that basic human nature is compassionate, common experience—such as our need for affection, and common sense.

In answering a final question about mandalas, complex representations of the universe, used in some Buddhist rituals, His Holiness recalled an occasion years ago when some Japanese Buddhists had constructed a large peace stupa in Rajgir. The President of India had been invited to the inauguration. In his remarks His Holiness stated then that the real peace stupa is the one we construct in our hearts. After thanking the audience and waving goodbye, His Holiness was escorted from the stage to his car and returned to his hotel for lunch. 

ROSH HASHANA AND YOM KIPPUR, DAYS OF AWE

 

By Dennis Prager

Tomorrow night is Rosh Hashana, one of the two High HoIy Days of Judaism, or “Days of Awe,” as they are called in Hebrew. The other High Holy Day, nine days later, is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Just as there are many Christians who only go to church on Christmas and Easter, there are many Jews who only go to synagogue on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The combination of the unique importance of the High Holy Days and the uniquely large number of Jews in synagogue makes the rabbis’ sermons on these days their most important of the year. Many rabbis begin preparing for them months in advance.

One of the themes of these High Holy Days is an “accounting of the soul.” Jews ask themselves: What type of person have I been this past year, and how can I be a better person next year? That is why the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are known as “The Ten Days of Repentance.” Some variation on this subject is what rabbis have most often talked about for as long as they have given these sermons.

Another theme of the two Holy Days is mortality. As the most famous of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers puts it: “Who will live and who will die? … Who will be tormented and who will be at peace? … Who will die by fire and who will die by drowning?” It’s serious, sobering stuff.

And the liturgy is all about God. The other Jewish biblical holidays — Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (the Feast of the Tabernacles, or the “Holiday of Booths”) — all commemorate Jewish national events. But Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are universal holidays. And the liturgy repeats and repeats one overwhelming theme: On this day, God judges humanity — yes, every single human being.

Given these enormous themes, you would think that rabbis have a deep well from which to choose the subject of their sermons. And many do. But Jews from all over America increasingly tell me that their rabbis speak about what most of us would deem politics.

Many non-Orthodox rabbis (and I do not write this as an Orthodox Jew) have chosen the holiest days in the Jewish calendar to speak about global warming, racism, sexism, transgender issues, immigration, “dreamers,” food insecurity, single-payer health insurance and the like.

And this year, many rabbis will surely also talk about President Trump as a threat to American Jews. They will solemnly sermonize that he is a white supremacist who winks at American neo-Nazis. Even before the Charlottesville events, most American Jews were sure that Trump’s election unleashed a wave of anti-Semitism in America. That libel and its accompanying hysteria subsided only when it was revealed by the authorities that nearly all the bomb threats called into Jewish community centers had been called in by a disturbed American Jewish teenager living in Israel, and the others were called in by a black radical who wanted to frame his ex-girlfriend. But Charlottesville has revived talk about Trump and anti-Semitism.

Why will many rabbis choose to talk about these subjects?

The primary reason is that leftism has become the value system of most American Jews outside of orthodoxy (and a minority within orthodoxy), just as it has for mainstream denominations within Protestant Christianity and the very top of the Roman Catholic Church.

For people on the left, left-wing issues are not political issues; they are religious issues (anyone who does not perceive leftism as a religion does not understand leftism). Moreover, for Americans Jews, as for all others on the left, global warming is an existential issue. How, then, could saving life on planet Earth be considered merely a political issue? What could be more important to talk about on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur than human survival?

As for President Trump, most non-Orthodox Jews deem opposition to him tantamount to a religious commandment. That is why the Conservative and Reform denominations announced that they would not participate in a pre-Rosh Hashana telephone call with the president (while the Orthodox said it would). For Conservative, Reform and other non-Orthodox Jews, talking to Trump is, apparently, a chet (sin) and one should distance oneself from sin, especially at this time of the year. Indeed, they regard his very election as a national sin, which is why some rabbis announced that they had fasted after his election and why many synagogues sat shiva (ritually mourned) as they would upon the death of an immediate relative.

But just as mainstream Protestant churches and many Catholic churches are emptier than ever, especially of young people, most non-Orthodox synagogues are in decline and increasingly devoid of young people. After all, if you are preoccupied with global warming and believe the White House is occupied by a white supremacist, why bother going to synagogue to hear about these things when The New York Times, CNN and university classes are perfectly adequate for the task?

Meanwhile, Jews who are preoccupied with God and traditional Jewish values will almost all go to an Orthodox synagogue. Or they will go to a non-Orthodox synagogue and feel alone.

CALIFORNIA GONE INSANE!

By Daniel Greenfield

The Paris Commune, the Bavarian Soviet Republic and the California legislative supermajority of Dems are shining examples of what happens when insane leftists take over a formerly prosperous place.

 

 

“The issue of resistance is beyond the symbolism,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon declared. “A lot of other municipalities, as well as other states, are looking towards California … to be the leader of this resistance.”

The “resistance” is to President Trump, democracy and sanity. California has the best student government in the world. And like every student government, it’s eager to serve every leftist cause.

Forget good government. California is leading the “resistance.”

California lawmakers don’t waste time on trivialities like the pension bomb. Instead they tackle the serious issues. That’s why the California Assembly passed a bill mandating that Trump publish his taxes. The bill is unconstitutional. U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton settled that back in the 90s. If California wants to revisit that, it’ll have to rely on a dissent from Clarence Thomas. Not to mention Scalia.

The bill would be signed by Governor Brown who hasn’t released his own tax returns.

But following the law is for Republicans and little people.

And California legislators compulsively generate bills that are immune to math, laws, precedent or legality. And that can only produce a complete and utter disaster if they are implemented.

And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

In addition to the multiple gratuitous legislative attacks on President Trump, which are as bizarre as they are unprecedented, there was a bill, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco, to remove sex offenders from the sex offender registry. Wiener claimed that the sex offender registry was homophobic. The bill, which passed, will allow child rapists to be removed after 20 years, and gives child pornography distributors a pass after 10 years.

A spokesman for Governor Brown, whose former pal Jim Jones would have been thrilled by the legislation, spoke glowingly of the bill. But this is a state in which a statue of another Jim Jones ally, Harvey Milk, the Democrat pedophile who lured runaway teens, decorates San Francisco City Hall.

Move over undocumented immigrants. Here come the undocumented sex offenders.

Sadly, the “supervised heroin” bill which would have allowed heroin addicts to shoot up under the supervision of “qualified medical professionals” failed. But Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman claims that her bill got lots of “momentum” and will be back. Eggman is a member of both the LGBT Caucus and the Latino Legislative Caucus. And those are the only qualifications in California politics now.

Worse news still, it’s now illegal to ingest “any marijuana product while driving”. But employers are not allowed to ask about your criminal history.

California did manage to pass the “Gender Recognition Act” inventing “non-binary” as a new gender and a bill sealing the juvenile records of teenagers who commit murder and other horrifying crimes.

The sanctuary state bill that bars law enforcement from asking illegal alien criminals if they’re illegal aliens went through to media applause. Landlords are also prohibited from reporting illegal aliens to the authorities. Businesses would be forced to demand a warrant from ICE: whether they want to or not.

“An employer… shall not provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter any nonpublic areas of a place of labor,” the latter bill mandates.

The bill actually punishes Californians for cooperating with Federal law enforcement. Where do they think they live anyway? America?

There are extensive fines for landlords and businesses that choose to follow United States law and actually cooperate with immigration authorities.

Before long, everyone in California will be banned from reporting illegal aliens.

And using the term “illegal alien” will be a hate crime punishable by 20 years working to construct the light rail to nowhere under the supervision of undocumented non-binary sex offender murderers.

But there’s still no progress on the socialized medicine bill which would cost a mere $400 billion. Or twice California’s current budget. And the 100 percent renewable energy by 2046 hasn’t made it either. It would be a mistake to attribute these setbacks to sudden outbreaks of fiscal sanity. There’s no such thing in Sacramento. California is run by a crooked leftist oligarchy based on identity politics and special interests.

The California Senate will do anything and everything for illegal aliens. But when some unions didn’t like the latest renewable push, it stalled. It’s easy enough to protect child rapists because the coalition doesn’t care about children. It does care a great deal about alternate sexual identities, illegal aliens and heroin users. The homeless and criminals are top priorities. But while members of the oligarchy don’t care about children, they have compelling financial interests involving alternate energy sources.

Identity politics is important. But money matters more. And disguising that is the “resistance” circus.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago taunts Trump as a “Russian crony” even while he promotes a college affordability program hosted by the Mexican Consulate. He attended a DACA shutdown opposition event alongside Senator Armando Ríos Piter, a Mexican politician who had called for retaliating against Trump by seizing American property in Mexico. Whose crony is Miguel Santiago?

Santiago was “inspired” to get into politics by propositions 187 and 209. These last gaps of democracy in California were quickly snuffed out. Illegal immigration and affirmative action rule now. The old people power propositions have either been rolled back or will be. Instead Dem pols drift in from the Mexican Independence Day celebration to find new punitive measures to protect their illegal alien voting bloc.

The left is in charge and is doing what it always does.

The Paris Commune returned to the old radical obsession with remaking the calendar as soon as it could. It abolished the death penalty even while killing hostages. It claimed the right to conscience even as it was seizing churches. Instead of preparing to fight, it spent its time on pointless political debates, circular firing squads and finally burning buildings that stood for the wrong sorts of things.

The California Commune has no interest in fixing the problems that it’s busy creating.

It decriminalized drugs and now has to worry about driving while high. It decriminalized public defecation and a hepatitis outbreak is sweeping San Diego. Its social policy spending sprees are bringing California closer to the economic abyss. Instead of dealing with these problems, the Dem supermajority will virtue signal on illegal aliens, on socialized medicine, on non-binary genders and on criminals.

It’s just easier that way.

California’s leftists would rather be the anti-Trump resistance than do the responsible thing.

Legal and illegal migration allowed the left to seize power in California. And now California is being destroyed by the left. But at least the undocumented pedophiles will have socialized medicine.