Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Republic: Ukraine is NOT Ordering Its Jews to Register

By Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe 

Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill: apparently, the People's Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new "authorities," or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel, who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and, today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers as "grotesque."

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as "a provocation," which it clearly is. "It's an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry," says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. "I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east."

Why? The Russian government has been playing up the (real but small) role of fascists and neo-Nazis in the victory of the EuroMaidan in Kiev. The Ukrainian government, utterly powerless to fight off the Russians and their local stooges, have had to rely on other methods, like leaking taped phone calls of allegedly local separatists getting their commands from Moscow. This may be just another tactic to smear the so-called anti-Maidan in the east of Ukraine: you think we're fascists? Well, take a look at these guys.

Indeed, the Russian web chatter has sniffed the hand of the Dnipropetrovsk city government. (Dnipropetrovsk is another eastern Ukrainian city, but one that has been spared this chaos, in part because of the firm hand of its new regional governor, Jewish businessman Ihor Kolomoisky. One (Jewish) blogger said he received a similar looking flier from an official in the Dnipropetrovsk city administration.

On the other hand, says Vladimir Fedorin, an independent Russian journalist working in Ukraine, we shouldn't totally dismiss these fliers. "I think the fliers are fake, but the anti-Maidan crowd is a collection of the hardcore 'alternative' variety and criminals, so it's possible some of them are capable of this." To wit, there were also reports of teenagers distributing these fliers.

So, in conclusion: the Jews of Donetsk and eastern Ukraine may have been asked by a leaflet to register, but it has not been enforced nor are any Ukrainian Jews registering themselves. If that changes, I'll be all over it, but so far, you can breathe easy. No Holocaust 2.0 just yet.


Here is what USA Today reported: Leaflet Tells Jews to Register in East Ukraine

Monday, April 21, 2014

From The Brilliant Report

Might the following apply to your learning of a foreign language? Pienso que si....para muchos (no todos) de mis estudiantes.

Making stories come alive
Physically acting out a written text—as an actor would walk himself through the gestures and emotions of a soliloquy during rehearsal—is an effective way to commit that text to memory, as I wrote in a previous post on the Brilliant Blog. For adults, this process of enactment imbues abstract words with concrete meaning, fixing them more firmly in our minds.

For children, acting out words on the page can also yield benefits. Especially for beginning readers, physically moving objects or one’s own body can provide a crucial bridge between real-life people, things, and actions, and the printed words meant to represent them. Fluent readers take this correspondence for granted, but many children find it difficult to grasp.

In everyday life, after all, the words “dog” or “cup” are usually encountered when there’s an actual dog or cup around. But inside the pages of a book, words must be understood in the absence of such real-world “referents.” The research of Arthur Glenberg, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, has demonstrated that when children are given the opportunity to act out a written text, their reading comprehension can actually double.

In one of his studies, Glenberg asked first- and second-graders to read stories about life on a farm. The children were also given farm-related toys, such as a miniature barn, tractor and cow. Half of the kids were directed to simply read the stories a second time. The other half were instructed to use the toys to act out what they were reading.

After reading the sentence "The farmer drove the tractor to the barn,” for example, the child would move the toy tractor over to the toy barn. Youngsters who acted out the sentences were better able to make inferences about the text, and they later remembered much more about the stories than those who merely reread them.

In other studies, Glenberg has found that the acting-out technique can help children solve word problems in math, too: elementary-school mathematics students who act out the text in word problems are more accurate in their calculations and more likely to reach the right answer. (In one such investigation, for example, students were asked to act out a zookeeper’s distribution of food to his animals while figuring out how many fish the hippos and alligators need.)

In these experiments, it seems that enacting the “story” told within the math problem helps students identify the information important for its solution: enacting made them 35 percent less likely to be distracted by irrelevant numbers or other details included in the problem.

Eventually, fluent readers become capable of “enacting” these scenarios in their heads (as I wrote in this post, our brains appear always to be drawing on our experiences of bodily sensations and movements as we read, creating mental simulations of the stories on the page). But while they’re still learning, less adept readers can benefit from seeing and feeling those printed words come to life under their hands.

Friday, April 04, 2014

White House Defends ‘Cuban Twitter’ Created To Undermine Communist Government


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Thursday defended its creation of a Twitter-like Cuban communications network to undermine the communist government, declaring the secret program was "invested and debated" by Congress and wasn't a covert operation that required White House approval.

But two senior Democrats on congressional intelligence and judiciary committees said they had known nothing about the effort, which one of them described as "dumb, dumb, dumb." A showdown with that senator's panel is expected next week, and the Republican chairman of a House oversight subcommittee said that it, too, would look into the program.

An Associated Press investigation found that the network was built with secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank. The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform.

First, the network was to build a Cuban audience, mostly young people. Then, the plan was to push them toward dissent.

Yet its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them, in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes.


Posted: 04/03/2014 8:27 pm EDT Updated: 04/04/2014 12:59 am EDT

Y un periódico cubano, Granma, publicó hoy...

Autor: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
4 de abril de 2014

La agencia estadounidense Associated Press (AP) reveló este jueves un complejo plan del gobierno de los Estados Unidos para promover la subversión en Cuba a través de las nuevas tecnologías.

El objetivo de Zunzuneo era lanzar una red de mensajería que pudiera llegar a cientos de miles de cubanos usando “contenido no controversial”: noticias de fútbol, música, huracanes y publicidad. Cuando lograran su meta enviarían mensajes de contenido político para incitar a los cubanos a crear convocatorias en red, concentraciones masivas que pudieran desencadenar una “primavera cubana”.


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