One Universal Ethical Basis For Us All

בסיעתא דשמיא

The world's existence is preserved through 3 things;Torah study, Prayer & Kind Deeds. For society to flourish mankind as a whole must come to appreciate the importance of, Truth, Justice & Peace & conduct itself accordingly. Within the great Family of Man, each individual has his or her path within a path. Yet there is ONE Universal ethical basis for us all. Accept upon yourself the responsibility for peace & oneness in our world - world peace as a value goal. That will herald in a new era & a renewed world. A world of truth, wisdom, harmony & peace!

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it ."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding - William And Kate Fairytale Marriage

Kate Middleton Marries Her Prince Watched On By An Estimated 2 Billion Around The Globe

Just before 11am, a car from the royal fleet slipped along an unassuming London street. Inside was a young woman travelling to meet her destiny.

It was a journey that began eight years ago in a small Scottish town and which was finally bringing Kate Middleton to the High Altar at Westminster Abbey, to marry her Prince in front of her Queen, her country and a global audience of billions.

In the grey English morning, as the car purred along, the world got its first glimpse of the bride. Through the polished windows, we saw the serious glitter of a Windsor tiara, the sheer fall of a simple veil, eye-socking diamond earrings and a lily of the valley bouquet, complete with stems of myrtle, planted by Queen Victoria herself.

The sweep of history, important jewels and the incandescent, frosty beauty of a lovely young bride, all gift wrapped in one incredible royal package.

With her father Michael at her side, his handsome face occasionally dappled with nerves, Kate was driven through streets thronged with crowds waving Union flags.

Down the Mall, through the arch, past pavements frilled with a blur of red, white and blue, the bridal smile did not falter, nor did the matching royal wave — a cheerful yo-yo flipper not yet iced over with formality and restraint.

On her day of days, Kate wore her gorgeous chocolate hair in a half-chignon, with make-up she had applied herself. She looked peachy-lipped and beautiful, despite the slightly ageing effect of so much of her favourite kohl and rusty blusher.

Yet this determination to be herself, to do it her way, is what will stand her in good stead. One can understand the impulse to have a little bit of control on a day that changed her life. From now and for ever more, the security blanket of at least being in charge of her own mascara is all that stands between Kate and the scrutiny of the world.

As they got out of the car at Westminster Abbey, the full glory of the dress was revealed for the first time. It was indeed a dress worthy of an abbey, a pooling train of well-behaved cream silk, wasp-waisted, elegant and aristocratic. It could have been so wrong, but it was a sensation.

It is worth noting that Catherine is the first top-tier royal bride in decades to get it exactly right, which says a great deal about her. And it is entirely to her credit that despite its finely-tailored opulence, Kate wore the dress, not the other way around.
There was an incredible moment when father and daughter first stood together at the Abbey doors. ‘Are you ready?’ he asked.

‘I am,’ replied Miss Middleton of Bucklebury, the commoner who will one day become queen. This cool reply exemplified the remarkable confidence of a royal bride whose mother was born into a council flat in Southall, West London, and whose recent family roots go back to the coalfields and poverty of the North-East of England. She is amazing, a credit to them all.

Pausing only to wave to the crowd with a regal ease, she took her father’s arm and began the long walk down the aisle to claim her Prince. The rest of her life had begun.

Kate Middleton once said that Prince William was ‘lucky to have me’ and through this wonderful wedding day, surrounded in a blaze of pomp and circumstance and accompanied by the roar of trumpets, she proved over and over again how right she was. When her moment of truth came, she was more than ready for it.

Of course, brides always create goodwill, but you have to admit, hers was a royal debut of high-wattage star power.

Her poise was incredible, her self-possession did not waver. Unlike the galumphing younger royal princesses in their ghastly get-ups, or half a dozen clodhopping duchesses anyone could name, Kate has a natural dignity, she carries herself so well.
And in contrast, it was the old hand, Prince William, who looked the more nervous of the pair.

In the Abbey, he seemed distracted; there were moments when he was almost fraught. As his bride approached, William’s gaze was fixed straight ahead; he hardly dared to turn around. And when he finally did, his appearance was an interesting mix of both his mother and father; his head lowered in that bashful Diana way — while it has become apparent that the older he gets, the more the Windsor strain lays claim to his looks.

In the end, Prince William only seemed to calm himself properly when his bride glided alongside him and stood at his elbow, smiling her steady smile. ‘You look beautiful,’ he told her.

Despite being a serving RAF officer, William decided to marry in the far more glamorous scarlet tunic of the Irish Guards. Together, the couple looked young and vibrant — how sad that they have been saddled with the dull, middle-aged titles of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge instead of being known as prince and princess. They sound like a pair of downmarket pubs!

And while the ceremony and the celebrations were on a fantastical and grand scale, it still turned out to be a big day full of little magic moments; proof that love and romance will out, even when the world is watching.

Taking their vows, the couple looked deep into each other’s eyes, there was no mistaking the silent outpouring of emotion that flowed between them. Kate seemed to smirk at the ‘for richer for poorer’ line, but unlike Diana, she did not stumble over her royal groom’s long and complicated name.

There were many sweet glances between the couple, and the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge listened carefully to the words of advice dished out in the Bishop of London’s sermon. At this point, sitting at the side of the Abbey, you could see a moment when the bride allowed herself a glance around the old place in utter wonderment.

Then there was her first public curtsey to the Queen as she walked past the Royal Family. There was Princess Anne in a pair of old curtains from the downstairs lav, the Queen in acid primrose with a Liquorice Allsort on her head, Prince Philip looking almost sweet.

It was past Elton John — concertinaed into a morning suit — past Posh looking like a furious dormouse, past the diplomats and the battalions of women in fascinators that failed to fascinate.

Outside, the Prince buttoned his white gloves, put on his cap and the couple climbed into the 1902 landau. Behind them, London erupted in a glorious explosion of Abbey bells, trotting horses and wild, wild cheering.

After getting into the carriage, Kate said to Wills: ‘Well. Are you happy?’

Wills replied ‘Yes! Yes! It was a beautiful service! It really was. It was amazing! I am so proud. You are my wife.’ And as they journeyed to the Palace, there were a few moments when it almost got too much. You could see the bride trying to compose herself. She bit her lip and looked down at her lap. Nerves made her look solemn. Then William took her hand, and they took strength from each other again.

As a couple, they are very relaxed with each other. One can see, more and more, why William chose her.

Harry can lark about with nightclub babes and party girls, but it’s different for William. He comes with baggage, with a different and difficult set of rules. He has a huge weight of responsibility, his destiny is to serve. He doesn’t need a wife who wants to be in the limelight, who might be tricky. He needs someone he can depend upon and trust.
And there was something about his young bride, in her solemn radiance, which suggests that in their years together she has grasped what is expected of her. She takes it seriously.

So in many ways, Kate is the answer to the Royal Family’s prayers. She is stunning, she is regal, she has a grace and charm that cannot be faked. We know very little about her views on anything, which means that she is the perfect royal vehicle. In short, the new Kate Cambridge is amazing.

As the grey morning melted into a sunny afternoon, the nation was left with the memory of someone who was the right girl in the right dress at the right time. A real princess, in all but name. And we can’t ask for any more than that. []


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking Refuge From A Hostile World

Dealing With The Flood
There are a variety of strategies for coping with difficult situations, both in the life of an individual and also in that of the community. The story of Noah's Ark helps us evaluate these. The Flood came as God's response to the abyss of evil into which humanity had fallen, with every kind of violence and licentiousness. First came a Divine warning to Noah that the Flood would take place. Then he began building the Ark. The Sages tell us that for a hundred and twenty years he worked on this project. During this long time, it might be hoped, he would convince other people to change their ways. In this way, he would prevent the Flood from coming, he would save the world.

However, although Noah was dedicated to his task, he did not save anyone outside his own family. We could say that the fact that he saved his three sons and their wives was itself an achievement. And of course, his Ark was a refuge for thousands of species of animal and bird. Indeed, although many people mocked him, Noah was not deterred. However, he was not able to help the rest of humanity. We do not even see him making an attempt to do so.

The rain began to fall. According to the Sages, it began gently. If the people of his generation would have repented, the rain would have been rain of blessing. Unfortunately, they did not repent. The rain became stronger. Noah and his family went into the Ark, together with the stream of animals and birds which came to it of their own accord.. The torrential rain became the Flood, destroying everything. Noah and his family were saved, and as a result, the line of humanity and of animal life continued through the millennia. But had Noah really succeeded? According to the Sages: No. He did what he was told, he saved himself and his immediate loved ones; but he did not try to save everyone else.

When there are serious problems ones response is to build an Ark and hide oneself away in it. One takes refuge from a hostile world. This can be a very spiritual refuge, it can even be deeply holy, like Noah's Ark. This itself is an important step, and is a skill one needs to learn. The word "Ark" in Hebrew is tevah which also means "word."  One can take refuge in them in a secluded environment and transcend all problems.

But this is not the final goal. The true aim is to change the world. To try to make sure that no Flood will come, for anyone. Or at least, to make the attempt. The Sages comment that Noah could have prayed to God on behalf of everyone else, he could have communicated directly with others and sought to transform the society around him. He should not have given up. They compare him unfavorably with Abraham, who did try to change people and the world. When God told him that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed, Abraham argued with God on their behalf, trying to save them. He did not give up on humanity: instead he taught it Monotheism, a vital element in world civilization.

The different approaches of Noah and Abraham are relevant to our lives, and as individuals. On the one hand, we have to be able to stand up for what is right, even when all around us are doing wrong, and create our own positive and healthy environment. But at the same time we need to realize that we have the power to affect others for the better, to change their direction, especially after our unique empowerment at Sinai . Ultimately, every individual can change the world. [Tali Loewenthal]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lessons From Japan

A Powerful Energy Center
The recent nuclear emergency in the Fukushima reactor in Japan underscored a truth we have known for some sixty-five years, namely, the incredible power of the infinitesimal. The atom, too small to be visible to the naked eye, was once dismissed as insignificant, but no longer. Today we understand the enormous power this inconspicuous, tiny thing can unleash.

It has power for the good and God forefend,the bad. When channelled in a safe and constructive way the atom can energise an entire city, but when directed otherwise, it can literally annihilate a city.

The Fukushima power plant contaminated foods and the water supply and placed thousands at risk. In times of distress our first priority is to avert disaster and help the victims. But when we have done what we could and sit back to reflect we realize the message this event portends. Like the atom, the human spirit has enormous power just waiting to be unleashed; for the good or God forefend, the opposite.

It is a basic tenet of humanism and a central doctrine of Jewish teaching that every human is unique; no one is dispensable or replaceable. Every human can shine,in ways no one else can,if only given the chance. Ask a doctor to build a bridge and you can expect her to fail, but put her in an operating room and you will see her shine. Ask an engineer to perform heart surgery and he will fail miserably, but ask him to build a bridge and he will be a first rate success.

Given the right conditions, every human has an enormous capacity to bloom. Whenever we confront a wilting spirit it is our task to help them find the right framework; never to dismiss them. They might appear insignificant and undeserving of notice, but so did the atom. Give them the right opportunity and they will show you the energy that pulses and the capacity that thrives just beneath their surface.

A Child
This thinking dominates the philosophy of early childhood education. In every class there are those, who stand out and those, who melt into the background; failing to draw attention to themselves. The former grab their teacher’s attention, but the latter are the teacher’s special challenge. Teachers must find the way to these children’s’ hearts and guide them to choices that will let them thrive.

Neglect is not an option because children do not remain neutral for long; they could lose faith in themselves, plunge into negative habits, make undesirable friends, and descend into the nether world of addiction, obsession, masochism and even self hate.  They could soon exude a negative energy that traps them and others in the grip of a vicious vortex.

On the other hand, given the proper attention, nurtured with respect and provided with care and self validation, they grow to believe in themselves, learn how to cater to their strengths and work to excel in their projects of choice. These kids become a force for the good; they build families, become pillars of their communities,uplift with their energy and inspire through their example.

Human begins, large and small, are never static, we are powerful energy centers.We always exude energy; whether positive or negative depends on the guidance we receive.

Earth Quakes
Yet no matter how sound our foundation, we are vulnerable to the insecurities brought on by earthquakes. In every life there is a quake; a shattering moment when our careful constructions are imperilled. It can be the loss of a loved one, a debilitating injury or even a catastrophe that robs us of livelihood and career. At such times we are vulnerable to the insidious influence of self doubt and self blame; emotional venoms that,left unchecked,can spread like a cancer.

Like the heroic workers in the Fukushima power plant, who worked tirelessly to shore up the vulnerable reactor, we too must be available to our friends in their times of need. We need to shore up their strengths and plug the holes that can drain their vitality and drag them down. Left unchecked such poison can spread. First it triggers an internal meltdown and then seeps out to contaminate others in their vicinity.

No matter how vociferously a friend in crisis and vulnerable to depression denies the need for support, we must be there to prop them up. Yes,we risk exposure to their ire and might even provoke them further, but like the heroic workers at the Fukushima power plant, who cast caution to the wind and jumped in to avert disaster, so must we. Otherwise, what are friends for?

The crisis in Japan sparked debate about international energy policies. In the course of this debate we learned about the safeguards and failsafe measures that are built into reactors to avert disaster. The risk of disaster always remains, but the effort to incorporate safeguards continues for that is the only way to provide a measure of safety.

If this is true of nuclear reactors, it is true of the human spirit. Even when disasters shake our foundations we can avert breakdowns by investing in proper precautions. The greatest threat to our confidence and equilibrium is the crushing feeling that we don’t matter; the debilitating sense that we are insignificant and lack the capacity to make a difference.

The first step is to reassure ourselves of the many significant roles we play with the people to whom we matter. It is difficult to lose faith in ourselves when we know how many depend on us. We are unlikely to feel unappreciated when we provide a service enjoyed by many and even critical to some. Finding the areas in which we excel is not only the path to emotional security, but an insurance policy against meltdowns in times of crisis.

The ultimate sense of security derives from remembering that we matter not only to select individuals, but to the most important being of all, namely God. Surprising as it is, despite His infinitely busy calendar, God reserves time to examine our conscience, moral compass and emotional stability.

He cares so much for us that He wants to hear from us every day; three times a day. Every human being matters on a cosmic scale and in the greatest scheme. We are not only significant, but infinitely so. What happens to us is important to Him. Remembering that will help us believe in ourselves in even the most difficult of times. [Lazer Gurkow]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Japan Raises Nuclear Crisis To Highest Level - The Same As Chernobyl

Threat: Fire and smoke are seen at a building for sampling from seawater near No. 4 reactor in this image taken today

When you look at Japan today, they're not only recovering from the earthquake, but also from a major nuclear crisis.

The severity Of Japan's Nuclear Crisis level now matches Chernobyl.

Now radiation in Japan is as bad as Chernobyl as crisis level is raised to 7 for only the second time in history.

The level 7 signifies a 'major accident' with 'wider consequences' than the previous level, according to the standards scale.

*Spread of radioactive particles is 'out of control'
*Further earthquakes could worsen problems at the Fukushima plant
*Total radiation released 'could exceed Chernobyl', officials admit

Japanese officials admitted today that the spread of radiation from its crippled nuclear plant was out of control and that the government had raised the crisis level to the worst on the international scale.
With radioactive substances pouring out a 'wide area' the crisis level had been raised from 5 to 7, posing a threat to human health and the environment. Level 7 has only been applied to the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union in 1986

A fresh 6.3-magnitude aftershock rocked the plant today, forcing Tokyo Electric to pull out their workers as a precaution.

They have been working round the clock since the 9.0-magnitude megaquake on March 11 but have been impeded by the continued aftershocks. An unnamed official from Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) said the amount of radiation leaking from the nuclear plant was around 10 per cent of the Chernobyl accident.

The level 7 signifies a 'major accident' with 'wider consequences' than the previous level, according to the standards scale.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yuki Edano said as it was revealed the level was being raised: 'This reconfirms that this is an extremely major disaster. 'We are very sorry to the public, people living near the nuclear complex and the international community for causing such a serious accident.' But he said there was no 'direct health damage' so far from the crisis. 'The accident itself is really serious, but we have set our priority so as not to cause health damage,' he added. Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear physicist at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, said the revision was not a cause for worry, as it was about the overall release of radiation and not directly linked to health dangers.

He said most of the radiation was released early on in the crisis and that the reactors still have mostly intact containment vessels surrounding their nuclear cores. Nisa spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said: 'We have refrained from making announcements until we have reliable data. 'The announcement is being made now because it became possible to look at and check the accumulated data assessed in two different ways.'
He added that unlike at Chernobyl there have been no explosions in the reactor cores - although there have been hydrogen blasts. 'In that sense, this situation is totally different from Chernobyl,' he said.

Tokyo Electric is still estimating the total amount of radioactive material that could be released, company spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. He acknowledged that, if leaks continue, the amount of radioactivity released might eventually exceed the amount emitted by Chernobyl.

On March 18, a week after the earthquake and tsunami which destroyed towns and villages on the east coast and severely damaged the Fukushima plant, Nisa estimated the crisis level at the nuclear complex to be at level 5, the same as the accident at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.
But level 7 has only been applied to Chernobyl in 1986, when hundreds of thousands of terabecquerels of radioactive iodine-131 were released into the atmosphere with dire consequences for the health of people hundreds of miles around.

Officials are gravely concerned that another major earthquake in the region will cause further problems at Fukushima - and might also damage other nuclear plants on the east coast.
A strong earthquake - of magnitude 7 - hit the Fukushima Prefecture at a depth of four miles on Monday, shaking offices and homes, but an initial tsunami warning was lifted.

Several minor quakes followed later but officials have warned of further strong aftershocks in the days and weeks to come. What the government fears is that another earthquake or tsunami could cripple other nuclear plants, increasing the spread of radiation in the air and in the sea. Meanwhile, setbacks continued at the tsunami-stricken nuclear power complex.Workers discovered a small fire near a reactor building today. The fire was extinguished quickly, the plant's operator said. Tokyo Electric, which operates the disabled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, said the fire at a box that contains batteries in a building near the No. 4 reactor was discovered at about 6.38am local time and was put out seven minutes later.

It wasn't clear whether the fire was related to a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that shook the Tokyo area on Tuesday morning. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

'The fire was extinguished immediately. It has no impact on Unit 4's cooling operations for the spent fuel rods,' said TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda.

The plant was damaged in a massive tsunami March 11 that knocked out cooling systems and backup diesel generators, leading to explosions at three reactors and a fire at a fourth that was undergoing regular maintenance and was empty of fuel.

The earthquake that caused the tsunami immediately stopped the three reactors, but overheated cores and a lack of cooling functions led to further damage.

Engineers have been able to pump water into the damaged reactors to cool them down, but leaks have resulted in the pooling of tons of contaminated, radioactive water that has prevented workers from conducting further repairs.

In Chernobyl, Ukraine, a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing a cloud of radiation over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

A zone about 19 miles around the plant was declared uninhabitable, although some plant workers still live there for short periods and a few hundred other people have returned despite the government warning them to stay away. []

Is There A Logical Proof That There's Only One God?

God has no borders, so how can there be more than one God? Where would one God end and one begin if there is no dividing line between them?

I accept that some sort of "Higher Being" created the Universe. But why couldn't there be many such beings? Is there any logical reason to say that there is only one God?

The definition of God is: "a Being without definition." God cannot be defined, because if I define Him then I limit Him. And something limited is not God. By defining something, I give it borders. If for example I define an apple as a sweet, round fruit that is green or red, then when I find a long purple fruit, I know that it can't be an apple. An apple is limited to being round and red or green. That is its definition.

God can't be defined, because by defining Him you are saying that there's something He can't be; but this could not be true, because God is unlimited.

That's why there can be only one God. Because if you don't have a definition, then there is nothing outside of you. There can be no "other".

An example: two neighboring countries can only be called two countries when there is a border in between them. But if a country has no borders, if there is no defined place where it ends and another country begins, how can you say that there are two countries?

God has no borders, so how can there be more than one God? Where would one God end and one begin if there is no dividing line between them?

The act of creation is the act of making borders and drawing definitions: this is an apple and not a banana, this is land and this sea. Creation has definitions. The Creator doesn't have a definition. That's what makes Him God. And that's why there can only be one. [Aron Moss]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Japan - The Fragility Of Our Knowledge Of The World And Its Workings

The tragedy in Japan revealed the fragility of our knowledge of the world and its workings.

Japan's Black Swan - What could go wrong? The significance of unexpected events in history.

A black swan isn't just a ballet role played to perfection by Natalie Portman that won her an Oscar for best actress.

As developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his masterful scholarly work The Black Swan, praised by many as one of the most important books of the century, the black swan is a metaphor about the significance of unexpected events in history. As he explains it, it is an event with three attributes. First, it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
Simply put, black swans are things we were certain could never happen.

And recent tragedies that have captured world headlines have been perfect illustrations of experiences that were supposedly out of the range of possibility.

Japan is today struggling to cope with its largest disaster since the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Years ago, architects and engineers joined to create quake-proof buildings and planned backup generators and thick containment vessels at nuclear plants. Nothing could ever go wrong they assured their countrymen. Their mantra was that humankind had triumphed over risk. Technology had finally achieved mastery over the vicissitudes of nature.

Recent events make clear how wrong they were. They had foreseen the possibility of an earthquake, but not one of a magnitude of 9.0. They built a sea wall to protect against an expected tsunami, but not one that rolled six miles inland, devastating towns, obliterating villages, and causing partial meltdowns at three major nuclear reactors.

This disaster was not a failure of human engineering, but of human imagination. No one dreamt it could happen; that made everyone certain that it was impossible.

The tragedy in Japan revealed the fragility of our knowledge of the world and its workings. The wisest fell back on the lame excuse, “But no one could have expected this…” Black swans happen. We choose to disregard them due to hubris, human arrogance that prevents us from acknowledging that with all of our knowledge we are still not divine masters of the universe. Surely, we all thought, the engineers and the scientists and the weather forecasters and the technicians and the nuclear specialists were intelligent enough to make proper plans to stave off catastrophe. But they weren't. And human mastery of events was not as total as we presumed. The experts were wrong.

Hurricane Katrina also couldn't happen. We built walls around New Orleans to contain raging waters. We felt secure because we arrogantly told ourselves we were so smart the forces of nature no longer threatened us. And we were similarly mistaken.

The financial collapse of 2008 and 2009 couldn't happen. Our Wall Street wizards were too brilliant to allow for a financial meltdown. The people who annually received multimillion dollar bonuses couldn't have created prime loan strategies that would prove worthless. The real estate market couldn't collapse forcing an untold number of foreclosures when "those in the know" assured investors there was absolutely no risk involved. And yet they too were all wrong.

The oil industry finally figured out how to pump liquid gold from beneath the ocean without any fear of spillage or contamination - or so they assured us. Until the BP catastrophe last summer proved them wrong. Again, it couldn't happen because that's what the experts told us - until it did, with all of the horrible consequences. The collective wisdom of the marketplace and the scientists proved wanting. It was yet another Black Swan.

Black swans remind us that in spite of all of our achievements, we are still ultimately mortals.

The unexpected overwhelms us because our egotism doesn't allow for considering the possibility of human error.

The ancient Greeks understood overweening pride as the underlying cause of man's downfall. Human hubris, they said, "is the pride that comes before the fall". The greatest antidote to man's exaggerated sense of self-importance was, for the longest time, a religious sensitivity that acknowledges a Higher Power. Recognition of God could at least place a limit on man's ego. But a contemporary world that could make Christopher Hitchens's book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything an international bestseller is a world that suffers from the delusion that we are all self-made heroes who have no need to worship anything but ourselves. As Dorothee Sölle put it so beautifully in The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, “With the disappearance of God, the Ego becomes the sole divinity.”

Without faith, we worship our own truths as if they were the sole reality. Without faith, we believe we are the sole captains of our destiny. Without faith we put our trust in the works of our own hands and confuse our talents with divine perfection, our limited knowledge with the possession of infinite wisdom.

That is why we continue to be stunned by black swans. They starkly remind us that in spite of all of our achievements, we are still ultimately mortals. And if the many tragedies we have endured in the past decade can teach us that lesson, perhaps we may, in spite of their horrific consequences, salvage a measure of blessing from them. [R Benjamin Blech - Aish]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Harmony Between Families And Communities And Nations

It is not the tranquility of a home that makes it peaceful; it is the life within. Harmony at home, within a family, translates into harmony between families and communities and nations.

The Importance Of Home & Family:

Your home and family are your nest, the center of your life, the hub from which all your daily experiences extend. Both as children and adults, our home and family are where we should feel most comfortable in the world. They determine how you make your life decisions; they shape your attitudes, your awareness, your self-esteem. A healthy home life is obviously a vital ingredient in the pursuit of a meaningful life.

There are three key elements in building a peaceful home life: the relationships between family members, the atmosphere of the home itself, and the way the home is run.

When a family shares principles and values, they grow together. The home becomes a foundation for the family’s shared sense of purpose while providing a springboard for each member to pursue his or her own goals. In such homes, families stay up late talking heart-to-heart about what’s on their minds. Children crowd around grandparents to hear stories. Teenagers debate meaningful issues with each other and with their parents. The whole family gets together -- and not just on holidays -- for evenings of songs, games, and reminiscing. The home becomes alive, a source of energy and hope, of urgency and love. It is not the tranquility of a home that makes it peaceful; it is the life within.

The ultimate beauty in a home is its emotional and spiritual warmth. There are many ways to beautify your home spiritually, to invite God into your home. Place a charity box in each room. Talk with your family about God and our responsibilities as good-hearted people. Invite guests into your home, and allow it to be used as a place of study and prayer, or to hold charitable functions or community meetings.

Each healthy home is a macrocosm of the entire universe, helping make the entire world a home for God. Harmony at home, within a family, translates into harmony between families and communities and nations. When there is no harmony between people who are related by blood, how can we expect to create harmony between strangers?

After many centuries of exhausting journeys, it is time for all of us to come home - to ourselves, to our families, to God. After the thousands of years of civilizing this world, after the millions of spiritual seeds that human beings have planted through acts of kindness, the time has come for this world to sprout like a garden - God’s garden, a universe filled with goodness and knowledge.

Make your home truly beautiful by introducing spirituality into your home, welcoming guests, and talking with your family about our responsibilities as good hearted people.
Your children will grow up to remember their home as a place of warmth and kindness, where people felt comfortable to gather and talk about things that mattered to them. In all likelihood, these children will grow into adults who will create the same sort of home.

A beautiful home must also be free from influences that can pollute its wholesomeness and spiritual grace - television, for instance. People today recognize the damaging effects that television has on impressionable children, and, for that matter, on teenagers and adults. A television must not be allowed to rule the home.

The next time you are sitting in your living room or sharing a meal with your family, ask yourself:  Do I truly feel at home? Am I doing everything possible to build a healthy family and household?  Do guests feel welcome here? And, above all, does God feel comfortable in my home?
[The Wisdom of the Rebbe” by Simon Jacobson]

Work for peace within your family, then in your street, then within the community.
Your home should become a light that illuminates the entire street and community. The love of family is life's greatest blessing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Japan Bodies Of Two Nuclear Workers Found Killed & Missing Since Quake

HO/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Two Bodies Found At Stricken Nuclear Plant

The bodies of two Japanese nuclear power workers killed by the tsunami which wrecked Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant more than three weeks ago have been recovered an official with the plant's owner said Sunday. The plant workers had been missing since the epic March 11 earthquake and tsunami .

Their remains were found last Wednesday but had to be decontaminated before they could be returned to the families.

The men's remains were found in the basement of the turbine building at the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters Sunday.

The pair -- identified as Kazahiko Kokubo, 24, and Yoshiki Terashima, 21, both members of the utility company's operations management department -- were working in that building when the 9.0-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck. The disaster caused damage throughout northeastern Japan, including at the power plant, which is on the Asian nation's eastern coast about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

One of the workers was found floating in a pool of water in the basement, the utilty company official said. Both appeared to have suffered multiple traumatic injuries and severe blood loss.

The bodies were found Wednesday, but the power company did not disclose the news until late Sunday morning.

Tokyo Electric officials explained the information was delayed in getting out because it took time to notify victims' families and discuss how to announce the news.

Company Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata offered condolences for "the loss of two valuable lives."

"It is deeply regrettable that we lose two employees who were trying to protect the safety of the power plant from the earthquake and tsunami," he said in a statement.

Later, Katsumata reiterated Tokyo Electric's vow that every effort is being made to address the crisis at the nuclear plant and this such a situation will never happen again.

"We swear never to repeat this tragedy," he said, "and we making a full effort to resolve the situation as soon as possible." [CNN Tokyo]

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Japan Dog Rescued Found Floating On Roof Three Weeks After Tsunami

A story of survival is lifting spirits in Japan.

A dog found floating on the roof of a house that washed away in Japan's devastating tsunami has been rescued after three weeks at sea.

A small dog was spotted by the Japanese Coast Guard in the Pacific Ocean, about a mile off the coast of Japan.

The dog was spotted on a roof in the middle of a floating island of debris off the coast of Japan  that probably was swept out to sea by the receding tsunami.

The dog was frightened by the helicopter and hid under the roof, forcing rescuers to descend onto the debris pile to try and lure it out. Once on the roof, rescuers had hoped to find more tsunami survivors living inside the house but after tearing the roof open, it was found to be empty apart from the dog.
But the helicopter ran out of fuel before rescuers could reach the frightened animal.

A nearby coast guard boat took over the rescue attempt and eventually saved the dog several hours later.

Despite being out at sea for apparently three weeks, the dog appeared to be in fair condition.

The dog was not wearing a collar. So for now, the dog has a new home aboard the Japanese coast guard ship. Rescuers are hoping the dog will be able to lead them to its owners.

 Photos of dog found stranded on debris:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mother Captures The Magical Moment A Rainbow Forms Over Her Young Son's Head

Stunning: Avena Singh was taking pictures at a botanical garden when a rainbow formed

It is without doubt the picture of a lifetime: a rainbow forming in all its colourful glory as a young boy looks out over the rocks and out to sea.

Avena Singh realised she only had seconds to capture the image as she and her three-year-old son explored the Shore Acres State Park in Oregon. But she managed to fire off a quick photograph before the splash from a wave caused the incredible effect to disappear before their every eyes

Mrs Singh, 35, a college worker and amateur photographer from Oregon, was thrilled when she viewed the photos later to see she had recorded the scene in full technicolour.
'The park is only a few miles from our home and the weather report was for high waves so I knew there was going to be some spectacular shots. The sun was out and the waves were absolutely huge,' she said. 'I had noticed remnants of rainbows once in a while when the waves crashed and was trying to capture them with little success. A couple of photographer friends were with me and got my son, Rishabh, to pose as the waves hit. 'After they took their photos they turned away. I was standing right behind my son and saw the rainbow bend right over him. It was astonishing. I started snapping photos madly hoping to capture it all.

'The remnants of the wave just fell straight down, and the rainbow disappeared as quickly as it had come. My son stood perfectly still in complete awe of what he discovered, his very own rainbow.

'After I took the photo, I realised my friends had been too busy chatting to notice what happened. I was overjoyed when I uploaded the images to my computer and was able to see them in all their glory, it was something I could never replicate.'

She added: 'It felt amazing. Having my son be right in the middle only made it more special. My children are everything in the world to me and had my son not been there it still would not have been as special.' [dailymail uk]


Japan Admits It Has Lost The Race To Save The Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan has finally conceded it has lost the battle to contain radiation at four of its crippled reactors and they will be closed down and be entombed in concrete

The battle to save the Fukushima nuclear power plant now appears lost as the radioactive core from Reactor No. 2 has melted through the containment vessel and dropped into the concrete basement of the reactor structure. This is "raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site," reports The Guardian, which broke the story.

Fukushima Reactors to Be Entombed in Concrete
After a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuke plant, the Japanese government has finally conceded it has lost the battle to contain radiation at four of the plant’s reactors and they will be closed down.

Details of what that will entail have yet to be revealed, but according to Bloomberg, Japanese officials are looking at ways of entombing the Fukushima reactors in concrete.

The government hasn’t ruled out pouring concrete over the whole facility as one way to shutting it down, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a press conference today in Tokyo.

The dramatic announcement that the four reactors, including a partial meltdown of fuel in the No. 1 reactor building are out of control and will have to be decommissioned was made yesterday by Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of the electric company (TEPCO) operating the nuclear complex.

The reason for the admission of total defeat is that TEPCO knew the battle to keep the fuel rods in the troubled reactors cool could not be won. While workers, who were being paid vast sums of money to brave high radiation levels have averted the threat of a total meltdown by injecting water into the damaged reactors for the past two weeks, “the risk to [them] might be greater than previously thought because melted fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing isolated, uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], said at a press conference in Vienna. [via Bloomberg]”

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said however, there’s no possibility of uncontrolled chain reactions. Still, [via Kyodo News] Secretary Edano said Japan and the IAEA agreed that “they would not rule out the possibility of the situation worsening.”

Radiation levels continue to remain extremely high at the Fukushima plant, with water around the reactors emitting a highly dangerous 1,000 millisieverts per hour. Radioactive iodine rose to 4,385 times the regulated safety limit yesterday from 2,572 times on Tuesday.[]

Has Japan 'lost the race' to prevent a total nuclear meltdown?
Nuclear fuel apparently melts through the bottom of a container at one of the Fukushima reactors, heightening fears of a major meltdown.

The disaster at Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is getting worse: Trace amounts of plutonium have been found in the soil outside the plant, the seawater outside the reactors has radioactive iodine-131 at levels 3,355 times above what's considered safe, and, according to former GE nuclear safety researcher Richard Lahey, Japan appears to have "lost the race" to save reactor 2 from a full nuclear meltdown.

Here, a brief guide to the unraveling situation:

How has Japan "lost the race"?
The nuclear cores of four reactors have partially melted, officials believe, but in reactor 2, "the indications we have... suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the [steel containment] pressure vessel" and onto the cement floor, Lahey tells The Guardian. That would escalate the radiation contamination, but even in a worst-case scenario, "it's not going to be anything like Chernobyl."

Where are the leaks coming from?
Experts aren't sure, but the highly radioactive water in tunnels and basements at the plant, and plutonium in the soil, are worrisome. There's "a complex cacophony of different sources that could have contributed to the leaking water," says nuclear engineering expert Robin Grimes. The most likely are cracks in reactor core vessels, or runoff from the water being used in the last-ditch efforts to keep the cores from melting. Journalist Martin Savidge says the radioactive water in the tunnels is probably responsible for the toxic seawater, since the only obstacle in its path is "sandbags to block drainage pipes."

Is anyone still there?
Yes. Japanese workers are reportedly being offered up to $1,200 a day to brave the potentially deadly conditions at the plant. They are sleeping over a lead-lined sheet in an earthquake-proof building. "The working environment is very tough," acknowledged Kazuma Yokota, head of the nuclear inspection office. Not working is Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) President Masataka Shimizu, who was hospitalized Tuesday for dizziness and high blood pressure. Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 71, took the reins.

What will happen to the plants?
When the crisis is contained, at least four of the reactors will be permanently mothballed, Tepco says. Japan's government has called for all six reactors to be shut. In the meantime, the company is exploring ways to contain radiation leaks, including spraying resin on the ground to trap the radioactive particles, and covering the reactors with a special sheet. Japan is also talking about bringing in tanker ships to store the radioactive water pumped from the site.

Is there any good news?
The radiation in the ocean is expected to disperse and become harmless, and the plutonium levels in the soil are not high enough to harm humans, at least not yet. Also, the Japanese government hasn't been sugarcoating the problem, as widely feared, according to Greenpeace. The anti-nuclear group sent scientists to Japan specifically to keep the government honest, but "there is no contradiction between Greenpeace data and local data." []