Israel’s Domestic Showdown | Sex & (Un)Happiness | Game of Thrones Meets Apprentice

APRIL 8, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” – Oscar Wilde

“Women fake orgasms and men fake finances.” – Suze Orman




Netanyahu Wants To Fight Another Round: On Tuesday Israel’s 6.3 million registered voters will go to the polls to cast ballots for their parliamentary representatives. The 120 lawmakers chosen for the new Knesset will come from about a dozen main candidate lists, and possibly some 30 others. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in office for 10 years, leads a coalition comprised of his right-wing Likud Party and mostly Jewish religious parties that take a hard line on relations with the Palestinians. The coalition has the biggest bloc in parliament, with 30 of the 61 seats. The opposition center-left Labor Party, led by Avi Gabby, is in second place with 18 seats.

Netanyahu’s main challenger is retired Gen. Benny Gantz, who has positioned himself as a centrist alternative to the PM. Gantz, himself new to politics, heads a new party cobbled together with former senior officers ranging from the center to the right. If Gantz’s Blue and White alliance, with its collection of military figures and an existing centrist party now holding 11 seats in the Knesset, wins enough seats Tuesday to form a government, he could put together a ruling coalition with the center-left Labor Party as well as with right-wing parties.

Under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel has seen dramatic economic growth, sporadic conflict with neighbors, and the formation of what is probably the most solidly right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. Allied closely with President Trump, Netanyahu’s government has passed laws that banned entry to foreigners who support boycotts, and targeted activist groups largely supporting Palestinians. For this he has attracted increased criticism from left-wing Americans and even pro-Israel organizations. Israeli politics traditionally revolves around security, economics and the role of religion in government. But this campaign hinged largely on Netanyahu himself, as some fatigue has set in after a decade of his combative style and an accumulation of scandals surrounding him.

Additional read: “Netanyahu Vows to Start Annexing West Bank, in Bid to Rally the Right.” (NYT)




Run A Virus Scan On The Virus Scanner: Concerned by what they say are serious security weaknesses in medical imaging equipment and networks, Israeli researchers have developed malware that can automatically add realistic, malignant-seeming growths to CT or MRI scans before radiologists and doctors examine them. It can also remove real cancerous nodules and lesions without detection, leading to misdiagnosis and possibly a failure to treat patients who need critical and timely care. The researchers conducted a blind study involving real CT lung scans, 70 of which were altered by their malware, and were able to trick skilled radiologists into misdiagnosing conditions nearly every time. The vulnerability lies in the equipment and networks hospitals use to transmit and store CT and MRI images, which are sent to radiology workstations and back-end databases through what’s known as a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). An attack would work because hospitals don’t digitally sign the scans to prevent them from being changed without detection and don’t use encryption on their PACS networks, allowing an intruder on the network to see the scans and alter them. (WaPo) Additional read: Private Mossad for Hire: Inside an effort to influence American elections, starting with one small-town race. (New Yorker)

Anti-Vaxx Germs and Physical (as Opposed to Cyber) Viruses: For decades public health experts have been warning against the overuse of antibiotics, which has caused the diminishing effectiveness of drugs used to cure bacterial infections. Now an explosion of resistant fungi has added a new and frightening dimension to the phenomenon by evolving defenses to survive modern medicine. Last May an elderly man was hospitalized in Brooklyn for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed he was infected with a newly discovered germ, Candida auris, as deadly as it was mysterious. Three months later the man died, but C. auris did not. Tests showed it was literally everywhere in his room, so invasive and tenacious that special cleaning equipment was needed, and ceiling and floor tiles had to be ripped out. C. auris had been quietly spreading across the globe before reaching New York, New Jersey and Illinois. The CDC has now added it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.” Yet despite outcries by world leaders calling for more restraint in prescribing antimicrobial drugs to combat bacteria and fungi, massive overuse continues in hospitals, clinics and farming. (NYT)

A Cancerous Chemical By Any Other Name…: When President Trump first came to office he appointed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt did lasting damage to the agency during his 17 months in office, before resigning engulfed in ethics scandals. One of Pruitt’s “accomplishments” at the agency was to release a “significant new use rule” allowing asbestos to once again be used in the manufacturing process. Asbestos, of course, is a toxic chemical proven to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma among other diseases. It’s been banned by dozens of developed countries since the 1970s, but the US had only imposed tight restrictions on its use.

Once Pruitt relaxed those restrictions, a young public relations expert working for Uralasbest, a Russian asbestos producer, used the news, along with Trump’s image, for a media campaign to rehabilitate the product’s deeply stained image. Asbestos is mined in Asbest, Russia by exploding charges that stir up thick clouds of dust saturated with asbestos fibers, and while no one is apparently concerned with what the World Health Organization calls a serial killer, Uralasbest has rebranded its product “Chrysotile,” to sound less scary. “I cannot say it is totally safe,” the company’s board chairman says, but “it can be used in controlled situations without danger.” (NBC News, NYT)




Game of Thrones Meets Apprentice: President Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving the administration. Senior administration officials said that Nielsen had a 5 p.m. meeting at the White House with Trump where she was planning to discuss with him the immigration and border issues and a path forward. She had no intention of resigning, according to one of the sources, but rather was going there with an agenda. Nielsen has felt “in limbo” for the last week as she bore the brunt of the President’s anger over the border. Finally, Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable with the President becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests,” an official said. Trump tweeted thanks to Nielsen for her service, then continued: “I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” (CNN)

Hate Burns BrightFires destroyed three historically black churches in southern Louisiana over a ten day span beginning March 26. No deaths or injuries were reported. Federal authorities have joined the investigation, but the cause has not been determined. A spokesperson said officials have not ruled out the possibility of arson or that the three fires were related. In another incident, officials said a fourth fire was “intentionally set” on March 31 at a predominately white church roughly three hours north in Caddo Parish. The fires have rekindled painful memories of the violence that frequently targeted black churches in the South during reconstruction and the civil rights era, and more recently in Charleston, SC in 2015, when a white supremacist fatally shot nine people. (NPR) Additional read: This essay is one of the best ones we read last week, How the South Won the Civil War: During Reconstruction, true citizenship finally seemed in reach for black Americans. Then their dreams were dismantled. (New Yorker)




Why Millennials in 2019 Can’t Party Like It’s 1999 and Y2K Ain’t Gonna Happen: Bobby McFerrin didn’t come up with the expression in 1988 — he just wrote a song about something Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba often said decades earlier: “Don’t worry, be happy.” It’s decades later and most Millennials aren’t having it. In 2018 America, happiness among this group fell to a record low, with just one in four of these young adults reporting being very happy with their life. Even fewer young men — just 22 percent — said they were very happy. It seems, to those who analyze this sort of thing, that people are happiest when their ties with others — friendships, community ties, and marriage — are deep and strong. But despite the rise in regular friend contact over the past few years, something else is falling in frequency that is making people sad — having sex. The Atlantic’s analysis revealed that changes in sexual frequency can account for about one-third of the decline in happiness since 2012 and almost 100 percent of the decline in happiness since 2014. If Americans still had sex like they did in 2008, or even 2012, we might be a much happier country. Better yet, if we still had sex like in Bobby McFerrin’s time, we’d all be euphoric. (Atlantic)




“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.”

“I’ve been popular and unpopular successful and unsuccessful loved and loathed and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.”

– Madonna




Madonna – Crazy For You

Madonna – Live To Tell

Madonna – I’ll Remember

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Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: