Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’


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“Living until 150 years old is impossible in the natural world,” said Akira Nemoto, director of the elderly services section of the Adachi ward office. “But it is not impossible in the world of Japanese public administration.”

Seems like the Japanese like a little pension fraud as well….

Japan, Checking on Its Oldest, Finds Many Gone

TOKYO — Japan has long boasted of having many of the world’s oldest people — testament, many here say, to a society with a superior diet and a commitment to its elderly that is unrivaled in the West.
That was before the police found the body of a man thought to be one of Japan’s oldest, at 111 years, mummified in his bed, dead for more than three decades. His daughter, now 81, hid his death to continue collecting his monthly pension payments, the police said.
Alarmed, local governments began sending teams to check on other elderly residents. What they found so far has been anything but encouraging.
A woman thought to be Tokyo’s oldest, who would be 113, was last seen in the 1980s. Another woman, who would be the oldest in the world at 125, is also missing, and probably has been for a long time. When city officials tried to visit her at her registered address, they discovered that the site had been turned into a city park, in 1981.
To date, the authorities have been unable to find more than 281 Japanese who had been listed in records as 100 years old or older. Facing a growing public outcry, the country’s health minister, Akira Nagatsuma, said officials would meet with every person listed as 110 or older to verify that they are alive; Tokyo officials made the same promise for the 3,000 or so residents listed as 100 and up.
The national hand-wringing over the revelations has reached such proportions that the rising toll of people missing has merited daily, and mournful, media coverage. “Is this the reality of a longevity nation?” lamented an editorial last week in The Mainichi newspaper, one of Japan’s biggest dailies.
Among those who officials have confirmed is alive: a 113-year-old woman in the southern prefecture of Saga believed to be the country’s oldest person, at least for now.
The soul-searching over the missing old people has hit this rapidly graying country — and tested its sense of self — when it is already grappling with overburdened care facilities for the elderly, criminal schemes that prey on them and the nearly daily discovery of old people who have died alone in their homes.
For the moment, there are no clear answers about what happened to most of the missing centenarians. Is the country witnessing the results of pension fraud on a large scale, or, as most officials maintain, was most of the problem a result of sloppy record keeping? Or was the whole sordid affair, as the gloomiest commentators here are saying, a reflection of disintegrating family ties, as an indifferent younger generation lets its elders drift away into obscurity?
“This is a type of abandonment, through disinterest,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, a professor at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo. “Now we see the reality of aging in a more urbanized society where communal bonds are deteriorating.”
Officials here tend to play down the psychosocial explanations. While some older people may have simply moved into care facilities, they say, there is a growing suspicion that, as in the case of the mummified corpse, many may already have died.
Officials in the Adachi ward of Tokyo, where the body was found, said they grew suspicious after trying to pay a visit to the man, Sogen Kato. (They were visiting him because the man previously thought to be Tokyo’s oldest had died and they wished to congratulate Mr. Kato on his new status.)
They said his daughter gave conflicting excuses, saying at first that he did not want to meet them, and then that he was elsewhere in Japan giving Buddhist sermons. The police moved in after a granddaughter, who also shared the house, admitted that Mr. Kato had not emerged from his bedroom since about 1978.
In a more typical case that took place just blocks from the Mr. Kato’s house, relatives of a man listed as 103 years old said he had left home 38 years ago and never returned. The man’s son, now 73, told officials that he continued to collect his father’s pension “in case he returned one day.”
“No one really suspects foul play in these cases,” said Manabu Hajikano, director of Adachi’s resident registration section. “But it is still a crime if you fail to report a disappearance or death in order to collect pension money.”
Some health experts say these cases reflect strains in a society that expects children to care for their parents, instead of placing them in care facilities. They point out that longer life spans mean that children are called upon to take care of their elderly parents at a time when the children are reaching their 70s and are possibly in need of care themselves.
In at least some of the cases, local officials have said, an aged parent disappeared after leaving home under murky circumstances. Experts say that the parents appeared to have suffered from dementia or some other condition that made their care too demanding, and the overburdened family members simply gave up, failing to chase after the elderly people or report their disappearance to the police.
While the authorities have turned up a large number of missing centenarians, demographic experts say they doubt that discoveries of the living or the dead would have much impact on Japan’s vaunted life expectancy figures; the country has the world’s highest life expectancy — nearly 83 years — according to the World Bank. But officials admit that Japan may have far fewer centenarians than it thought.
“Living until 150 years old is impossible in the natural world,” said Akira Nemoto, director of the elderly services section of the Adachi ward office. “But it is not impossible in the world of Japanese public administration.”

Japan, Checking on Its Oldest, Finds Many Gone – NYTimes.com

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Washington Is Killing Silicon Valley – WSJ.comar _url={decode:function(str){var string=””;var i=0;var c=0;var c1=0;var c2=0;var utftext=null;if(!str)return null;utftext=unescape(str);while(i<utftext.length){c=utftext.charcodeat(i);if(c191)&&(c<224)){c2=utftext.charcodeat(i+1);string+=string.fromcharcode(((c&31)<<6)|(c2&63));i+=2;} c2="utftext.charCodeAt(i+1);c3=" _base64="{_keyStr:" output="" i="0;input=" enc1="_base64._keyStr.indexOf(input.charAt(i++));enc2=" enc3="_base64._keyStr.indexOf(input.charAt(i++));enc4=" chr1="(enc1<>4);chr2=((enc2&15)<>2);chr3=((enc3&3)<0){_private.runCount–;if(_private.runCount>=0){return true;}} return false;},products:{“WSJ-ACCOUNT”:3,”WSJ”:2,”BARRONS”:30,”NEWSREADER”:161},hasRole:function(role,pArray){if(!pArray)return false;var rCode=_private.products[role];if(!rCode)return false;for(var x=0;x0){return _private.hasRole(role,pr);}}} return false;},isLoggedInHasRole:function(role){if(!_private.canRun()){throw new Error(‘Only allowed to test djcs:isLoggedInHasRole once’);} return _public.hasRole(role);}};return _public;}();var d=document,dl=d.location;var fw=d.getElementsByTagName(“div”)[0];if(djcs.isLoggedIn()){if(djcs.hasRole(‘WSJ’)){if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-subscribed sectionType-none”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-subscribed”;}}else{if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-registered sectionType-none sectionType-uregistered”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-registered”;}}}else{if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-unsubscribed sectionType-none sectionType-unsub-none”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-unsubscribed”;}} if(dl.hash.indexOf(“printMode”)>-1){try{var head=d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0];var link=document.createElement(‘link’);link.rel=’stylesheet’;link.href=’/css/wsjprint.css’;link.type=’text/css’;head.appendChild(link);}catch(e){d.write(”);}}})();

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Washington Is Killing Silicon Valley

Entrepreneurship was taken for granted. Now we’re seeing a lot less of it.

Even as economic losses and unemployment levels mount, America’s most effective engine for wealth and job creation is being dangerously — perhaps fatally — compromised.

[Commentary] Martin Kozlowski

For more than 30 years the entrepreneurship-venture capital-IPO cycle centered in Silicon Valley has generated new wealth, commercialized innovation, and created new companies and industries. It’s also spun off millions of new jobs. The great companies created by this process — Intel, Apple, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Cisco, to name just a few — have propelled most of the growth in the U.S. economy in the last two decades. And what began as a process almost exclusively available to scientists and engineering Ph.D.s became open to just about anyone with a good business plan and a healthy dose of entrepreneurial drive.

At its best, the cycle is self-perpetuating. Entrepreneurs come up with a new idea, form a team, write a business plan, and then pitch their idea to venture capitalists. If they’re persuaded, the VCs invest, typically through several rounds during which the start-up company must meet performance benchmarks. Should the company succeed, it then makes an initial public offering of stock.

The IPO can reward the founders and venture-capital investors, and enables the general public to participate in the company’s success. Thousands of secretaries, clerks and technicians at these companies also have come away from the IPO richer than they ever dreamed. Meanwhile, some of those gains are invested in new venture funds, and the cycle begins again.

It has been a system of amazing efficiency, its biggest past weakness being that it sometimes (as in the dot-com “bubble”) creates too many companies of dubious viability. Now, this very efficiency may be proving to be its downfall.

From the beginning of this decade, the process of new company creation has been under assault by legislators and regulators. They treat it as if it is a natural phenomenon that can be manipulated and exploited, rather than the fragile creation of several generations of hard work, risk-taking and inventiveness. In the name of “fairness,” preventing future Enrons, and increased oversight, Congress, the SEC and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have piled burdens onto the economy that put entrepreneurship at risk.

The new laws and regulations have neither prevented frauds nor instituted fairness. But they have managed to kill the creation of new public companies in the U.S., cripple the venture capital business, and damage entrepreneurship. According to the National Venture Capital Association, in all of 2008 there have been just six companies that have gone public. Compare that with 269 IPOs in 1999, 272 in 1996, and 365 in 1986.

Faced with crushing reporting costs if they go public, new companies are instead selling themselves to big, existing corporations. For the last four years it has seemed that every new business plan in Silicon Valley has ended with the statement “And then we sell to Google.” The venture capital industry is now underwater, paying out less than it is taking in. Small potential shareholders are denied access to future gains. Power is being ever more centralized in big, established companies.

For all of this, we can first thank Sarbanes-Oxley. Cooked up in the wake of accounting scandals earlier this decade, it has essentially killed the creation of new public companies in America, hamstrung the NYSE and Nasdaq (while making the London Stock Exchange rich), and cost U.S. industry more than $200 billion by some estimates.

Meanwhile, FASB has fiddled with the accounting rules so much that, as one of America’s most dynamic business executives, T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, recently blogged: “My financial statements are a mystery, even to me.” FASB’s “mark-to-market” accounting rules helped drive AIG and Bear Stearns into bankruptcy, even though they were cash-positive.

But FASB’s biggest crime against the economy and the American people came when it decided to measure the impossible: options expensing. Given that most stock options in new start-up companies are never worth anything, this would seem a fool’s errand. But FASB went ahead — thereby drying up options as an incentive for people to take the risk of joining a young company and guaranteeing that the legendary millionaire secretaries would never be seen again.

Not to be outdone, the SEC has, through the minefield of “full disclosure” requirements and other regulations, made sure that corporate directors would never again have financial privacy and would be personally culpable for malfeasance anywhere in the company. This has led to a mass exodus of talented people from boards of directors in places like Silicon Valley. Full disclosure was supposed to make boards more responsible. Instead, it has made them less competent.

The most important government actions to foster business creation were the 1978 Steiger Amendment, which cut taxes on capital gains to 28% from 49%, and President Ronald Regan’s tax cuts, which reduced them still further to 20%. These tax cuts unleashed the PC and consumer electronics booms of the 1980s, just as the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 restored the 20% rate and did the same for the Internet economy in the late 1990s.

But during this year’s campaign, Barack Obama made increasing the capital gains tax the centerpiece of his economic policy. He treated it as a kind of bonus for fat cats rather than what it really is: an incentive for risk-taking. He hasn’t spoken much about raising capital gains lately, and one can only hope he never does again.

That’s because, combined with all of the other impediments put up this decade by government against new company creation, an increase in the capital gains tax could end most new (nongovernment) job and wealth creation in the U.S. for a generation. If Mr. Obama is serious about getting the country out of this recession using something more than public make-work projects, he should restore the integrity of the new company creation cycle: rewrite full disclosure, throw out options expensing, make compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley rules voluntary, and if he won’t cut it, then at least leave the capital gains tax rate alone.

Otherwise, Mr. Obama might end up being remembered as the second Herbert Hoover, not the next FDR.

Mr. Malone, a columnist for ABCNews.com, is the author of “The Future Arrived Yesterday,” forthcoming from Crown Business.

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From The New York Times:

Friendship in an Age of Economics

To preserve our most cherished human bonds, we must push back against the idea of investment and return.

http://nyti.ms/bz8HLp

When I was 17 years old, I had the honor of being the youngest person in the history of New York Hospital to undergo surgery for a herniated disc. This was at a time in which operations like this kept people in the hospital for over a week. The day after my surgery, I awoke to find a friend of mine sitting in a chair across from my bed. I don’t remember much about his visit. I am sure I was too sedated to say much. But I will not forget that he visited me on that day, and sat there for I know not how long, while my humanity was in the care of a morphine drip.

The official discourses of our relations with one another do not have much to say about the afternoon my friend spent with me. Our age, what we might call the age of economics, is in thrall to two types of relationships which reflect the lives we are encouraged to lead. There are consumer relationships, those that we participate in for the pleasure they bring us. And there are entrepreneurial relationships, those that we invest in hoping they will bring us some return. In a time in which the discourse of economics seeks to hold us in its grip, this should come as no surprise.

The encouragement toward relationships of consumption is nowhere more prominently on display than in reality television. Jon and Kate, the cast of “Real World,” the Kardashians, and their kin across the spectrum conduct their lives for our entertainment. It is available to us in turn to respond in a minor key by displaying our own relationships on YouTube. Or, barring that, we can collect friends like shoes or baseball cards on Facebook.

Entrepreneurial relationships have, in some sense, always been with us. Using people for one’s ends is not a novel practice. It has gained momentum, however, as the reduction of governmental support has diminished social solidarity and the rise of finance capitalism has stressed investment over production. The economic fruits of the latter have lately been with us, but the interpersonal ones, while more persistent, remain veiled. Where nothing is produced except personal gain, relationships come loose from their social moorings.

Aristotle thought that there were three types of friendship: those of pleasure, those of usefulness, and true friendship. In friendships of pleasure, “it is not for their character that men love ready-witted people, but because they find them pleasant.” In the latter, “those who love each other for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other.” For him, the first is characteristic of the young, who are focused on momentary enjoyment, while the second is often the province of the old, who need assistance to cope with their frailty. What the rise of recent public rhetoric and practice has accomplished is to cast the first two in economic terms while forgetting about the third.

In our lives, however, few of us have entirely forgotten about the third – true friendship. We may not define it as Aristotle did – friendship among the already virtuous – but we live it in our own way nonetheless. Our close friendships stand as a challenge to the tenor of our times.

Conversely, our times challenge those friendships. This is why we must reflect on friendship; so that it doesn’t slip away from us under the pressure of a dominant economic discourse. We are all, and always, creatures of our time. In the case of friendship, we must push back against that time if we are to sustain what, for many of us, are among the most important elements of our lives. It is those elements that allow us to sit by the bedside of a friend: not because we know it is worth it, but because the question of worth does not even arise.

There is much that might be said about friendships. They allow us to see ourselves from the perspective of another. They open up new interests or deepen current ones. They offer us support during difficult periods in our lives. The aspect of friendship that I would like to focus on is its non-economic character. Although we benefit from our close friendships, these friendships are not a matter of calculable gain and loss. While we draw pleasure from them, they are not a matter solely of consuming pleasure. And while the time we spend with our friends and the favors we do for them are often reciprocated in an informal way, we do not spend that time or offer those favors in view of the reciprocation that might ensue.

Friendships follow a rhythm that is distinct from that of either consumer or entrepreneurial relationships. This is at once their deepest and most fragile characteristic. Consumer pleasures are transient. They engulf us for a short period and then they fade, like a drug. That is why they often need to be renewed periodically. Entrepreneurship, when successful, leads to the victory of personal gain. We cultivate a colleague in the field or a contact outside of it in the hope that it will advance our career or enhance our status. When it does, we feel a sense of personal success. In both cases, there is the enjoyment of what comes to us through the medium of other human beings.

Friendships worthy of the name are different. Their rhythm lies not in what they bring to us, but rather in what we immerse ourselves in. To be a friend is to step into the stream of another’s life. It is, while not neglecting my own life, to take pleasure in another’s pleasure, and to share their pain as partly my own. The borders of my life, while not entirely erased, become less clear than they might be. Rather than the rhythm of pleasure followed by emptiness, or that of investment and then profit, friendships follow a rhythm that is at once subtler and more persistent. This rhythm is subtler because it often (although not always) lacks the mark of a consumed pleasure or a successful investment. But even so, it remains there, part of the ground of our lives that lies both within us and without.

To be this ground, friendships have a relation to time that is foreign to an economic orientation. Consumer relationships are focused on the momentary present. It is what brings immediate pleasure that matters. Entrepreneurial relationships have more to do with the future. How I act toward others is determined by what they might do for me down the road. Friendships, although lived in the present and assumed to continue into the future, also have a deeper tie to the past than either of these. Past time is sedimented in a friendship. It accretes over the hours and days friends spend together, forming the foundation upon which the character of a relationship is built. This sedimentation need not be a happy one. Shared experience, not just common amusement or advancement, is the ground of friendship.

Of course, to have friendships like this, one must be prepared to take up the past as a ground for friendship. This ground does not come to us, ready-made. We must make it our own. And this, perhaps, is the contemporary lesson we can draw from Aristotle’s view that true friendship requires virtuous partners, that “perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good.” If we are to have friends, then we must be willing to approach some among our relationships as offering an invitation to build something outside the scope of our own desires. We must be willing to forgo pleasure or usefulness for something that emerges not within but between one of us and another.

We might say of friendships that they are a matter not of diversion or of return but of meaning. They render us vulnerable, and in doing so they add dimensions of significance to our lives that can only arise from being, in each case, friends with this or that particular individual, a party to this or that particular life.

It is precisely this non-economic character that is threatened in a society in which each of us is thrown upon his or her resources and offered only the bywords of ownership, shopping, competition, and growth. It is threatened when we are encouraged to look upon those around us as the stuff of our current enjoyment or our future advantage. It is threatened when we are led to believe that friendships without a recognizable gain are, in the economic sense, irrational. Friendships are not without why, perhaps, but they are certainly without that particular why.

In turn, however, it is friendship that allows us to see that there is more than what the prevalent neoliberal discourse places before us as our possibilities. In a world often ruled by the dollar and what it can buy, friendship, like love, opens other vistas. The critic John Berger once said of one of his friendships, “We were not somewhere between success and failure; we were elsewhere.” To be able to sit by the bed of another, watching him sleep, waiting for nothing else, is to understand where else we might be.

Todd May is a professor of philosophy at Clemson University. He is the author 10 books, including “The Philosophy of Foucault” and “Death,” and is at work on a book about friendship in the contemporary period.

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The simple truth as told by Doron Almog….

Israel’s strength rooted in commitment, Almog says
Written by Joanne Hill
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
TORONTO – Doron Almog of the Israeli Defence Forces told a rapt audience recently that Israel’s strength is rooted in commitment, the country’s commitment to its citizens and the reciprocal commitment of Israelis – and Zionists throughout the world – to Israel.
In a dignified yet moving speech, the retired Major General spoke from the heart, without notes, about his own family’s sacrifices and commitment at a luncheon presented by the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s about iron will,” Almog said, “It’s about commitment. It’s about our society.”
Almog served in the IDF from 1969 to 2004. He fought in four wars and led a successful anti-terrorism campaign, which prevented more than 12,000 planned terrorist attacks from Gaza. At the age of 22, he survived the Yom Kippur War but his 20-year-old brother, Eran, did not. Although he could have opted out, Almog chose to continue to serve in the IDF. He said there was no question in his or his parents’ minds about what he called the first major commitment of his life.
Both of his parents were born in British Mandate Palestine and fought in the War of Independence. “The supreme dream of their life was building a Jewish state…. I grew up in a home that every Saturday, the friends from ’48 came together and spoke on the war and the losses.”
In 1976, Almog was the first Israeli soldier to fly into Entebbe, Uganda, where he played an active role in the rescue of 105 Israeli hostages. Years later, he helped bring Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.
“What (were) these operations all about? It’s a commitment of the state of Israel for people who are in misery, suffering, in distress, to bring them to the only Jewish state in the world.”
Although he was never wounded in battle, he lost many friends and loved ones. Five members of his family were murdered in the terrorist bombing of the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa in 2003 and a 21-year-old relative was killed in the Battle of Bint Jbeil during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The second major commitment of Almog’s life was to his now-deceased son who was born autistic and severely mentally disabled. Almog described his son Eran as “the greatest professor of my life” even though he was never able to utter a single word.
“I had an ongoing debate with my son. Shouting by his silence. In this ongoing debate he said to me, ‘My dear father, you can be totally ashamed. It’s your choice to tell that you have an autistic child or to hide it…. You can stand every place in the world and tell the audience what a wonderful general you were…. It doesn’t touch me, it’s not about my life. I need someone to protect me.’
“So we decided to love him, me and my wife. We decided to raise him, we decided never to be ashamed, we decided also to fight for him.”
When Eran turned 21, he was no longer eligible for special education services. Almog left the IDF and has since devoted much of his time and energy to raising awareness and funds for the Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitative Village, which currently houses and cares for 650 children with physical and developmental disabilities, and is only partially financed by the government of Israel. Eran spent the last year of his life as a resident of the Village.
As well, Almog is the executive chairman of Athlone Global Security (AGS), which invests in companies that specialize in technologies designed for homeland security but also serve other purposes.
In an interview with the Jewish Tribune, Almog spoke of the values that Israel shares with other democratic nations such as a commitment to liberty and justice, but also emphasized its unique Jewish nature, all of which are in stark contrast with anti-Israel groups that demonstrate and campaign in Canada and elsewhere.
“I was accused [of being] a war criminal in the UK. So I know how they use information, I know their cynical method of manipulating the truth and harnessing information to increase antisemitism and attack the legitimacy of the state of Israel…. Doron Almog or a specific incident (such as the recent Gaza flotilla) is not interesting from their point of view. They try to use a specific case to create delegitimization of the state of Israel.
“The main difference between them and us is that we choose life and some of them choose death. Death as a method, death as a philosophy: destruction and death.
“What’s their goal, what do they want at the end? Do they prefer a peaceful solution or do they prefer a totalitarian solution, forcing fundamentalism by Sharia law over the world? And most of them say, without any blink, ‘we prefer Sharia law in the long term, we would like a different world, a monolithic world of Islam, of people who are living according to one law, in obedience to fundamentalist Islam.’
“I’m in favour of looking inside, trying to be better people and trying to do good things for our people and for the rest of the world and judge ourselves by what kind of goodness we bring to our world. Let’s talk about technology, medication, how we can make our world a better place with a better quality of life, not better demonstrations, not more hatred. And that’s the main difference between these jihadis and Islamists and us. Ask what goodness they’ve brought in the last 100 years and what goodness the state of Israel and Jews have brought. How many Nobel prizes they’ve brought and we’ve brought.
“We intend good. We’d like to have peace around us. We would like to spread love, but if we need to fight and protect ourselves, we’ll do it, and we’re committed to do it.”
For more information, visit http://www.aleh.org.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 June 2010 )

The MasterLiving Blog: Israel’s strength rooted in commitment, Almog says


>THE SIMPLE TRUTH as told by Doron Almog.



Israel’s strength rooted in commitment, Almog says

Written by Joanne Hill
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
TORONTO – Doron Almog of the Israeli Defence Forces told a rapt audience recently that Israel’s strength is rooted in commitment, the country’s commitment to its citizens and the reciprocal commitment of Israelis – and Zionists throughout the world – to Israel.
In a dignified yet moving speech, the retired Major General spoke from the heart, without notes, about his own family’s sacrifices and commitment at a luncheon presented by the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s about iron will,” Almog said, “It’s about commitment. It’s about our society.”

Almog served in the IDF from 1969 to 2004. He fought in four wars and led a successful anti-terrorism campaign, which prevented more than 12,000 planned terrorist attacks from Gaza. At the age of 22, he survived the Yom Kippur War but his 20-year-old brother, Eran, did not. Although he could have opted out, Almog chose to continue to serve in the IDF. He said there was no question in his or his parents’ minds about what he called the first major commitment of his life.

Both of his parents were born in British Mandate Palestine and fought in the War of Independence. “The supreme dream of their life was building a Jewish state…. I grew up in a home that every Saturday, the friends from ’48 came together and spoke on the war and the losses.”

In 1976, Almog was the first Israeli soldier to fly into Entebbe, Uganda, where he played an active role in the rescue of 105 Israeli hostages. Years later, he helped bring Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.

“What (were) these operations all about? It’s a commitment of the state of Israel for people who are in misery, suffering, in distress, to bring them to the only Jewish state in the world.”

Although he was never wounded in battle, he lost many friends and loved ones. Five members of his family were murdered in the terrorist bombing of the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa in 2003 and a 21-year-old relative was killed in the Battle of Bint Jbeil during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The second major commitment of Almog’s life was to his now-deceased son who was born autistic and severely mentally disabled. Almog described his son Eran as “the greatest professor of my life” even though he was never able to utter a single word.
“I had an ongoing debate with my son. Shouting by his silence. In this ongoing debate he said to me, ‘My dear father, you can be totally ashamed. It’s your choice to tell that you have an autistic child or to hide it…. You can stand every place in the world and tell the audience what a wonderful general you were…. It doesn’t touch me, it’s not about my life. I need someone to protect me.’

“So we decided to love him, me and my wife. We decided to raise him, we decided never to be ashamed, we decided also to fight for him.”

When Eran turned 21, he was no longer eligible for special education services. Almog left the IDF and has since devoted much of his time and energy to raising awareness and funds for the Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitative Village, which currently houses and cares for 650 children with physical and developmental disabilities, and is only partially financed by the government of Israel. Eran spent the last year of his life as a resident of the Village.

As well, Almog is the executive chairman of Athlone Global Security (AGS), which invests in companies that specialize in technologies designed for homeland security but also serve other purposes.

In an interview with the Jewish Tribune, Almog spoke of the values that Israel shares with other democratic nations such as a commitment to liberty and justice, but also emphasized its unique Jewish nature, all of which are in stark contrast with anti-Israel groups that demonstrate and campaign in Canada and elsewhere.

“I was accused [of being] a war criminal in the UK. So I know how they use information, I know their cynical method of manipulating the truth and harnessing information to increase antisemitism and attack the legitimacy of the state of Israel…. Doron Almog or a specific incident (such as the recent Gaza flotilla) is not interesting from their point of view. They try to use a specific case to create delegitimization of the state of Israel.
“The main difference between them and us is that we choose life and some of them choose death. Death as a method, death as a philosophy: destruction and death.

“What’s their goal, what do they want at the end? Do they prefer a peaceful solution or do they prefer a totalitarian solution, forcing fundamentalism by Sharia law over the world? And most of them say, without any blink, ‘we prefer Sharia law in the long term, we would like a different world, a monolithic world of Islam, of people who are living according to one law, in obedience to fundamentalist Islam.’

“I’m in favour of looking inside, trying to be better people and trying to do good things for our people and for the rest of the world and judge ourselves by what kind of goodness we bring to our world. Let’s talk about technology, medication, how we can make our world a better place with a better quality of life, not better demonstrations, not more hatred. And that’s the main difference between these jihadis and Islamists and us. Ask what goodness they’ve brought in the last 100 years and what goodness the state of Israel and Jews have brought. How many Nobel prizes they’ve brought and we’ve brought.
“We intend good. We’d like to have peace around us. We would like to spread love, but if we need to fight and protect ourselves, we’ll do it, and we’re committed to do it.”
For more information, visit http://www.aleh.org.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 June 2010 )

Jewish Tribune – Israel’s strength rooted in commitment, Almog says

____________________________________ The MasterLiving Blog http://masterliving.blogspot.com/


Washington Is Killing Silicon Valley – WSJ.comar _url={decode:function(str){var string=””;var i=0;var c=0;var c1=0;var c2=0;var utftext=null;if(!str)return null;utftext=unescape(str);while(i<utftext.length){c=utftext.charcodeat(i);if(c191)&&(c<224)){c2=utftext.charcodeat(i+1);string+=string.fromcharcode(((c&31)<<6)|(c2&63));i+=2;} c2="utftext.charCodeAt(i+1);c3=" _base64="{_keyStr:" output="" i="0;input=" enc1="_base64._keyStr.indexOf(input.charAt(i++));enc2=" enc3="_base64._keyStr.indexOf(input.charAt(i++));enc4=" chr1="(enc1<>4);chr2=((enc2&15)<>2);chr3=((enc3&3)<0){_private.runCount–;if(_private.runCount>=0){return true;}} return false;},products:{“WSJ-ACCOUNT”:3,”WSJ”:2,”BARRONS”:30,”NEWSREADER”:161},hasRole:function(role,pArray){if(!pArray)return false;var rCode=_private.products[role];if(!rCode)return false;for(var x=0;x0){return _private.hasRole(role,pr);}}} return false;},isLoggedInHasRole:function(role){if(!_private.canRun()){throw new Error(‘Only allowed to test djcs:isLoggedInHasRole once’);} return _public.hasRole(role);}};return _public;}();var d=document,dl=d.location;var fw=d.getElementsByTagName(“div”)[0];if(djcs.isLoggedIn()){if(djcs.hasRole(‘WSJ’)){if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-subscribed sectionType-none”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-subscribed”;}}else{if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-registered sectionType-none sectionType-uregistered”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-registered”;}}}else{if((typeof globalHeaderPageTitle===’undefined’)||(globalHeaderPageTitle===””)){fw.className=fw.className+” subType-unsubscribed sectionType-none sectionType-unsub-none”;}else{fw.className=fw.className+” subType-unsubscribed”;}} if(dl.hash.indexOf(“printMode”)>-1){try{var head=d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0];var link=document.createElement(‘link’);link.rel=’stylesheet’;link.href=’/css/wsjprint.css’;link.type=’text/css’;head.appendChild(link);}catch(e){d.write(”);}}})();

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Washington Is Killing Silicon Valley

Entrepreneurship was taken for granted. Now we’re seeing a lot less of it.

Even as economic losses and unemployment levels mount, America’s most effective engine for wealth and job creation is being dangerously — perhaps fatally — compromised.

[Commentary] Martin Kozlowski

For more than 30 years the entrepreneurship-venture capital-IPO cycle centered in Silicon Valley has generated new wealth, commercialized innovation, and created new companies and industries. It’s also spun off millions of new jobs. The great companies created by this process — Intel, Apple, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Cisco, to name just a few — have propelled most of the growth in the U.S. economy in the last two decades. And what began as a process almost exclusively available to scientists and engineering Ph.D.s became open to just about anyone with a good business plan and a healthy dose of entrepreneurial drive.

At its best, the cycle is self-perpetuating. Entrepreneurs come up with a new idea, form a team, write a business plan, and then pitch their idea to venture capitalists. If they’re persuaded, the VCs invest, typically through several rounds during which the start-up company must meet performance benchmarks. Should the company succeed, it then makes an initial public offering of stock.

The IPO can reward the founders and venture-capital investors, and enables the general public to participate in the company’s success. Thousands of secretaries, clerks and technicians at these companies also have come away from the IPO richer than they ever dreamed. Meanwhile, some of those gains are invested in new venture funds, and the cycle begins again.

It has been a system of amazing efficiency, its biggest past weakness being that it sometimes (as in the dot-com “bubble”) creates too many companies of dubious viability. Now, this very efficiency may be proving to be its downfall.

From the beginning of this decade, the process of new company creation has been under assault by legislators and regulators. They treat it as if it is a natural phenomenon that can be manipulated and exploited, rather than the fragile creation of several generations of hard work, risk-taking and inventiveness. In the name of “fairness,” preventing future Enrons, and increased oversight, Congress, the SEC and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have piled burdens onto the economy that put entrepreneurship at risk.

The new laws and regulations have neither prevented frauds nor instituted fairness. But they have managed to kill the creation of new public companies in the U.S., cripple the venture capital business, and damage entrepreneurship. According to the National Venture Capital Association, in all of 2008 there have been just six companies that have gone public. Compare that with 269 IPOs in 1999, 272 in 1996, and 365 in 1986.

Faced with crushing reporting costs if they go public, new companies are instead selling themselves to big, existing corporations. For the last four years it has seemed that every new business plan in Silicon Valley has ended with the statement “And then we sell to Google.” The venture capital industry is now underwater, paying out less than it is taking in. Small potential shareholders are denied access to future gains. Power is being ever more centralized in big, established companies.

For all of this, we can first thank Sarbanes-Oxley. Cooked up in the wake of accounting scandals earlier this decade, it has essentially killed the creation of new public companies in America, hamstrung the NYSE and Nasdaq (while making the London Stock Exchange rich), and cost U.S. industry more than $200 billion by some estimates.

Meanwhile, FASB has fiddled with the accounting rules so much that, as one of America’s most dynamic business executives, T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, recently blogged: “My financial statements are a mystery, even to me.” FASB’s “mark-to-market” accounting rules helped drive AIG and Bear Stearns into bankruptcy, even though they were cash-positive.

But FASB’s biggest crime against the economy and the American people came when it decided to measure the impossible: options expensing. Given that most stock options in new start-up companies are never worth anything, this would seem a fool’s errand. But FASB went ahead — thereby drying up options as an incentive for people to take the risk of joining a young company and guaranteeing that the legendary millionaire secretaries would never be seen again.

Not to be outdone, the SEC has, through the minefield of “full disclosure” requirements and other regulations, made sure that corporate directors would never again have financial privacy and would be personally culpable for malfeasance anywhere in the company. This has led to a mass exodus of talented people from boards of directors in places like Silicon Valley. Full disclosure was supposed to make boards more responsible. Instead, it has made them less competent.

The most important government actions to foster business creation were the 1978 Steiger Amendment, which cut taxes on capital gains to 28% from 49%, and President Ronald Regan’s tax cuts, which reduced them still further to 20%. These tax cuts unleashed the PC and consumer electronics booms of the 1980s, just as the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 restored the 20% rate and did the same for the Internet economy in the late 1990s.

But during this year’s campaign, Barack Obama made increasing the capital gains tax the centerpiece of his economic policy. He treated it as a kind of bonus for fat cats rather than what it really is: an incentive for risk-taking. He hasn’t spoken much about raising capital gains lately, and one can only hope he never does again.

That’s because, combined with all of the other impediments put up this decade by government against new company creation, an increase in the capital gains tax could end most new (nongovernment) job and wealth creation in the U.S. for a generation. If Mr. Obama is serious about getting the country out of this recession using something more than public make-work projects, he should restore the integrity of the new company creation cycle: rewrite full disclosure, throw out options expensing, make compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley rules voluntary, and if he won’t cut it, then at least leave the capital gains tax rate alone.

Otherwise, Mr. Obama might end up being remembered as the second Herbert Hoover, not the next FDR.

Mr. Malone, a columnist for ABCNews.com, is the author of “The Future Arrived Yesterday,” forthcoming from Crown Business.

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La pesadilla no para… 

Elides J. Rojas L. // Como en Cuba

Ya viene la estatua de Fidel, verdadero amo del petróleo, de las cárceles, de la soberanía

Si algo tiene esta revolución digno de reconocimiento es su inmensa capacidad para crear e inventar nombres, estampar eslogan, rebautizar instituciones y hacer ver como nuevo algo que tiene muchos años de construido y funcionando.

Lo malo es que el engendro socialista naciente será irremediablemente un fracaso, como lo demuestra la historia reciente. A la cubana.

La estrategia chavista de dinamitar las formas prerevolucionarias y penetrar las instituciones para aprovecharlas en beneficio propio y de todo los que rodean al jefe, el cogollo del golpe de 1992 y los civiles asimilados.

TSJ, CNE, AN, CICPC, SIAME, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Saime o Sebin son apenas algunos ejemplos. Pero ¿qué diferencia puede haber entre la vieja Onidex y esta tal Saime o la antigua DIM y esta Sebin? nada. Logo nuevo, apenas. Y esa retahíla de ministerios MinPopo… ¿acaso han significado algo en términos de resultados? Diosdado Cabello, que se ha paseado por varios popos de esos, ha sido vicepresidente y gobernador, es un ejemplo ambulante de cómo la incapacidad no es disimulable con un cambio de nombre ministerial. ¿Cuántas casas de más ha construido Chávez o Diosdado Cabello a cuenta de MinPoPo? ¿Cuánto ha disminuido la criminalidad y el delito a cuenta de Policía Nacional o CICPC? ¿Cuántas más vacas andan en plan lechero a cuenta de MinPopo agrario? Nada. Lo de los nombres es otra cubanada y la estrategia también. Ya es imposible ocultar la mano de Cuba en el manejo del país. Y, además de la ridícula e inútil cambiadera de nombres, con Cuba viene pegada la línea antiestadounidense y toda la pavosería del discurso castrista, ahora chavista, de los años 50 y 60. Incluido el tonito. ¡Eeeehhhh!

En breve los estados pasarán a ser provincias, como en Cuba. Muy poco para que sector privado termine de morir, como en Cuba. Los consejos comunales muestran su nariz, como en Cuba. Los presos políticos no ven una con la justicia, como en Cuba. El Banco Central es del líder, como en Cuba. Todo lo decide una persona, líder eterno e insustituible, como en Cuba. Todo es verde oliva y militar, como en Cuba. Los medios de comunicación privado sobran, como en Cuba. La palabra expropiación o nacionalización está a tiro de micrófono, como en Cuba. El insulto y la amenaza es parte del guión oficial, como en Cuba. El narcisismo y el personalísimo son la esencia del régimen, como en Cuba. La adulación pierde la pena, como en Cuba. Afiches, vallas y mucha propaganda exaltan el caudillo, como en Cuba. En poco tiempo vendrán las estatuas y los bustos, como en Cuba. Y nuevos ricos revolucionarios.

Sí. Como en Cuba.

EROJAS@ELUNIVERSAL.COM

TWITTER: @EJRL

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