Adonis Diaries

Jewish diaspora angry as Netanyahu scraps Western Wall mixed prayer plan

Decision to abandon landmark deal described as a ‘slap in the face’ and prompts charity to cancel gala event with Israeli PM

A high-profile body that liaises between Israel and the Jewish diaspora has reacted with fury at a decision by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to in effect abandon a plan to allow men and women to pray together at the Western Wall.

The Jewish Agency has cancelled a gala dinner with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and is to discuss the ramifications of the decision at a meeting this week.

The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday to scrap a compromise agreement made 17 months ago, which was intended to resolve a battle lasting more than a quarter of a century over equal rights for women praying at the Western Wall. (In 1967, both genders prayed together)

Netanyahu came under intense pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition government and the religious authorities that manage the site, the holiest place that Jews can pray.

The plan would have created a new area for worship at the Western Wall for men and women to pray together. At present, prayer areas are segregated, with a small stretch of the wall of the ancient temple reserved for women.

The deal, made in January 2016, was welcomed by liberal and reform Jews, and the feminist group Women of the Wall, which has mounted monthly protests at the Old City site since 1989. The gatherings frequently ended in physical tussles and arrests.

Women of the Wall also demanded an end to ultra-Orthodox bans on women praying aloud, reading from the Torah and wearing traditional prayer shawls, known as tallit.

The compromise followed three years of intense negotiations between liberal Israeli and American Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities and was seen as a significant breakthrough in promoting religious pluralism in Israel, where ultra-Orthodox authorities govern almost every facet of Jewish life. (If this lame issue needed such intense negotiation, what the Palestinians should expect from the right parties in Israel?)

But opposition from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious establishment has prevented the agreement from being implemented

Speaking after Sunday’s announcement, Moshe Gafni, the leader of the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party, said: “We are happy about this, and thank the holy one, blessed is he, on this great success.”

But Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, accused Netanyahu of reneging on a “historic” agreement with liberal Jewish denominations.

“This is a bad day for women in Israel,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The Women of the Wall will continue to worship at the women’s section of the Western Wall with the Torah scroll, prayer shawls and phylacteries until equality for women arrives at the wall as well.” (If there is No equality in praying, what kind of liberal and democratic system are we talking about?)

Natan Sharansky, a former government minister and chairman of the Jewish Agency, who helped broker the original deal, said the move was a “deep disappointment”.

The agreement would have established “a dignified space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall,’’ Sharansky said. “[The] decision signifies a retreat from that agreement and will make our work to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together increasingly more difficult.”

The Jewish Agency’s board of governors, which is meeting in Jerusalem this week, said: “In light of [Sunday’s] decisions by the government of Israel, the board of governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel will be changing its entire agenda for the remaining two days of its meetings in Jerusalem, in order to address the ramifications of these decisions.

“The scheduled dinner with the participation of the prime minister has been cancelled.”

A ceremony to mark the opening of the board of governors at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Monday was also cancelled

Salai Meridor, a former head of the Jewish Agency and former ambassador to the US, said the decision was “a slap in the face to world Jewry” and the Western Wall “belongs to all Jews”.

The American Jewish Committee said the decision would weaken ties between American Jewry and Israel.

“The Kotel [Western Wall] belongs to all Jews worldwide, not to a self-appointed segment,” said its chief executive, David Harris. “This decision is a setback for Jewish unity and the essential ties that bind Israel and American Jews, the two largest centres of Jewish life in the world.”

The cabinet decision came before a deadline set by Israel’s high court of justice on Sunday for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the agreement.

Thousands of Jews pray every day at the site, the last remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, pushing scraps of paper bearing handwritten prayers into the cracks between stones.

The wall also attracts thousands of tourists and international dignitaries, with Pope Francis, Donald Trump and Madonna among global figures who have visited.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices in Israel such as weddings, divorces and burials.

The ultra-Orthodox religious establishment sees itself as responsible for maintaining traditions through centuries of persecution and assimilation, and it resists any inroads from liberals it often considers to be second-class Jews who ordain women and gay people and are overly inclusive toward converts and interfaith marriages.

Note 1: Saudi Kingdom cannot appreciate any Israeli policy Not satisfying gender discrimination and contemplate full support to Israel. Kushner demanded this restriction too.

Note 2: Erecting new settlements by American Jews are matters of doing business and illegal tax dodging on lands robbed from Palestinian owners

This is what the Syrian refugees did to our Egyptian economy

Tuesday, the world celebrated the World Refugees Day.
United Nations and its organizations above them UNHCR as well many countries in the world used that day to highlight their efforts to help the refugees around the globe.
The world is facing the worst refugees crfisis problem that it has not seen before since the WWII.
Back in our corner of the world, there has been one hell of silence when it comes to the Arab governments or Arab media.
In a sad irony, the Middle East or rather the Arab world is the Source of more than the half of refugees around the globe now.
Aside from Palestinian refugees who have been in limbo since 1948 and 1967, we have got Syrian refugees, Iraqi refugees, Yemeni refugees, Sudanese refugees and Somali refugees.
The media is busy with Ramadan TV season and at the same time the internal Gulf crisis as far as I could tell.
In Egypt, we got also Ramadan TV season, bad economy and a worse political situation with the ongoing Tiran and Sanafir Islands Saga.Yet I have not forgotten about this important day.It is never too late to post something about the refugees in Egypt or any other place in the world.

Earlier this month, I have read interesting facts that made me love the Syrian refugees in Jobs Make difference report published by UNDP, International Labor Organization “ILO” and World Food Programme “WFP.

For example; the inflow of Syrian direct investments headed to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey as things escalated from revolution to civil war in an easy way.

The report says that Syrian refugees in Egypt injected in those years not less than $800 million.
Yes, $800 million were injected into our economy through Syrian investors and businessmen who moved to Cairo.
The $800 million could have been more if it were not for the restrictions on foreigners to invest in Egypt as they lack to access to credit and banking.
They also must have Egyptian partners.

Two Syrian young men working in ful and falafel restaurant
Two Syrians working in a falafel and beans shop at the Syrian street in October City
in 2016. See more photos here 

I believe the source of those millions is the textile factories. Yes, Syrian textile factories that found a huge demand in Egypt.

In 2016, there have been only 450 Syrian textile factories in Egypt producing fine products carrying the label “Made in Egypt by Syrian hands” and creating job opportunities for both Syrians and Egyptians.

The success of that sector in our country made the ministry of the industry think of making a Syrian industrial zone in Egypt in 2017

Both Pre-existing Syrian community in Egypt and the Syrian business association in Cairo played a huge role in giving support to other Syrians fleeing the countries with their money.

Greek refugees in Syria in 1942
ِAn old Palestinian magazine from 1942
on its cover, a Syrian lady giving clothes
to Greek refugees from kids in Syria

In other words, the Syrian refugees contributed positively to our Egyptian GDP and our Egyptian economy in very difficult and hard times.

Both the Egyptian and Turkish markets have been open to Syrian businessmen and investors who hired nationals as well Syrians than other countries in the Middle East region.

The report says Egypt and Turkey allow Syrians to provide services to other Syrians like teachers and doctors.

The Egyptian government allowed 2,000 Syrian teachers to work in Syrian community schools in Cairo, Giza and Ismailia governorates.

I must add that in Egypt, Syrian doctors also provide services to Egyptians as well especially dentists in October City and New Cairo suburbs.

According to UNHCR in April, there are 122,228 Syrian registered in Egypt officially with the UN refugees organization.

According to Egyptian official estimations backed by NGOs and activists, there are not less than half million Syrians staying currently in Egypt aside from the refugees who consider the country as a transit station to Europe.

Here is a graph showing the number of Syrian refugees registered with the UNHCR as well the total number of refugees in Egypt since 2011. You will notice that there was a huge jump from 2011 to 2012.

FYI, the total number of registered refugees in UNHCR in Egypt in 2016 was 263,426 people.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian government claimed that the number of refugees in Egypt reaches to 5 million.

The report also says that the unemployment rate among the Syrian Refugees community in Egypt reached 20% compared to 13% of Egyptians.

Now to the alarming facts.

54% of the Syrian Refugees community in Egypt lives under the poverty line whereas 26% of the Egyptian population lives under the poverty line.
The labor force participation rate in Egypt was not available. I think this goes to the fact that many hire Syrians in an informal way to avoid work licenses ..etc.
The unemployment rate among Syrian refugees reached 25% according to the report estimations.

By the way according to the UNHCR report on Funding issued earlier June, the current funding gap for the Syrian crisis response for 2017 is $1 Billion only.
I think both Saudi Arabia and UAE as well Qatar can pay this sum very easily instead of all those fancy weapons they buy. In fact, they can support the refugees and improve their lives and buy crazy weapons.
Heavens forbid I ask them to help in stopping the wars they are part of it directly and indirectly.
I won’t even speak about the League of Arab States because it is a dead organization, only used by Egypt or Saudi Arabia now when it is needed.

Anyhow, all I want to say to the right wing all over the world especially in Europe and North America that the Syrian refugees won’t steal your jobs as they will create their own jobs if you allow them.

Eid al-Fitr: Muslims around world celebrate end of Ramadan fast

Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of fasting

This weekend, Muslims all over the globe begin celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan.

The name translates as “the festival of breaking the fast” as during the month of Ramadan, Muslims perform one of the five pillars of Islam: the fast.

Food, water and sexual activity are all banned until after sunset.

eidegypt.jpg

Egyptian Muslim men and women are separated from each other as they gather for a prayer in the village of Dalgamon, Tanta, some 120 kilometres north of Cairo, Egypt (EPA / Khaled Elfiqi)

Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is believed that the Quran’s first verse was revealed during the last 10 nights of this month.

The exact date of Eid depends on the lunar cycle, and it is traditionally celebrated for three days – although from country to country, the festival can last anywhere from one to four days.

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Muslims offer prayers outside the Grande Mosquee de Paris (Great Mosque of Paris) (AFP / Zakaria Abdelkafi)

Muslims in the UK generally celebrate Eid for a single day.

eidsaudi.jpg

Saudis and foreigners perform prayer at the al-Masmak grand mosque of Prince Turki bin Abdulla palace in Riyadh (EPA / STR)

It’s not to be confused with Eid al-Adha, the “sacrifice feast” – so-called to honour Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael – which takes place two months later and coincides with the annual Mecca pilgrimage.

eidsyria.jpg

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (3rd R) attends prayers on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, inside a mosque in Hama (SANA Handout via Reuters)

To commemorate Eid, prayers are offered in the morning at the mosque, with readings from the Quran.

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Pakistani residents offer Eid al-Fitr prayers on the outskirts of Peshawar (AFP/Getty Images)

Celebrations then take place with friends and family, as well as among the whole community.

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Bangladeshi Muslims travel home for celebrations on a crowded ferry in Dhaka (Rex Features / Sony Ramany)

Children often receive new clothes and their first pocket money, and parents exchange gifts and pastries.

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Afghan children ride swings during celebrations in Herat (EPA / Jalil Rezayee)

 

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In Albanian capital Tirana, prayers take place on recently renovated Skanderbeg Square (AP / Hektor Pustina)

 

eidegypt2.jpg

Egyptians try to catch balloons released after prayers, in a public park outside Cairo’s El-Seddik Mosque (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

This year marks the first time since 1996 that the White House will not host a celebratory iftar dinner to commemorate Eid.

First held in the White House in 1805, Hillary Clinton made the ritual an annual tradition in 1996 after learning more about it from her daughter Chelsea.

eidafghanistan.jpg

An Afghan woman and her son beg at a Kabul mosque on the first day of Eid (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)

The White House issued a statement on Saturday evening: “Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honour these values.”

The statement ends with the traditional greeting: Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid).

 

Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane.

By James Delbourgo.

Allen Lane; 503 pages; £25. To be published in America by Belknap in July; $35.

JOINED-UP words and sentences with verbs are not enough to describe Sir Hans Sloane. An Anglo-Irish physician, collector and naturalist

Only a list can do justice to this man, who was both quite remarkable and, to some, a little touched.

Over the course of a lifetime, he managed to accumulate 3,516 volumes of manuscripts, as well as books of prints, which together amounted to 50,000 volumes; 32,000 medals and coins; 5,843 testacea and shells; 173 starfish; 12,506 vegetable substances and 55 mathematical instruments.

This is just a selection from Sloane’s collection, much of which he eventually catalogued himself.

Or try this: “a set of surgeons’ instruments made from fish-skin; inks and inkhorns; face-paint; medicinal powders and pills; women’s shoes made of leather and silk; gold and silver pins and needles for the practice of acupuncture; tobacco pipes; several portable Buddhist ‘idols’; gilded rhinoceros horns; ‘metallick burning glasses’ and ‘a ball of several colours to be thrown into the fire to perfume a room’.” These are some of the objects Sloane acquired from Japan.

The Anglo-Irish physician, collector and naturalist was not a man of small ambitions. He aimed for universal knowledge, available to all humankind, with a serious play for personal immortality thrown in.

He did not make such a bad fist of them: his acquisitions became the foundation of the British Museum, as well as the collections of the Natural History Museum and the British Library.

He would surely be irritated that his name endures more strongly in London’s topography than in universal understanding.

There are a dozen or so Sloanes and Hanses listed in the city’s “A to Z”, because Sloane had the presence of mind to buy up most of Chelsea in the course of his long and prosperous life.

He was born in Ulster in 1660 and died at 92 with a cunning plan to leave a permanent mark on human civilisation.

He had set himself up in London as a physician and made himself the undisputed king of the capital’s medicine men, attending the best bedsides for the best prices. He married money and enjoyed the revenues from vast slave-plantations in Jamaica.

Sloane was president of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society but he was not exactly a man of ideas.

What he liked was stuff. He was a man of the Enlightenment, but not a man remarkable for enlightened thought. An enemy called him “master of only scraps”.

In his early days Sloane spent a year in Jamaica, working as a physician just as Britain was concentrating on acquiring an empire.

Prudently he stuck to water while his patients drank themselves to death on Madeira wine. This was the time when he began to get serious about collecting.

After he had accumulated his Jamaicana, he returned to London and set about collecting the rest of the world.

In this he had the assistance of a large fortune, a vast network of contacts—he was reckoned to have 1,793 correspondents—and a limitless curiosity, or perhaps a limitless appetite for curious things.

Sloane sold the lot to the nation posthumously, for £20,000 (worth about £4m, or $5.2m, now), which he reckoned was a quarter of its value, to be paid to his two daughters. Had the nation turned down this offer, his executors had instructions to offer the stuff to St Petersburg.

He was a curious man in every sense. His biographer has struggled with a shortage of anecdotal and humanising material.

That gives “Collecting the World” a somewhat static feel, like a cabinet of curiosities. Little of Sloane’s stuff remains on display in London, though there is still a store of his Jamaican specimens in the Sir Hans Sloane herbarium at the Natural History Museum.

It is a reminder of that great tradition of learning, based around museums and libraries and emblematic of what the British Museum would come to describe as being, “for the benefit of all studious and curious persons, native and foreign”.

This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline Hoarder extraordinaire

Unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism

Rolling Stone magazine drew the ire of journalists across the country last week when the owner, Jann Wenner, named his 22-year-old son, Gus, the head of the magazine’s website.

Naturally, this move has been seen as blatant nepotism. Gus has been working on the website for a whopping six months and is, by most accounts, grossly underqualified for his position. Apparently, privilege has no place in journalism, where the playing field is even and journalists are given opportunities based on merit and hard work alone.

If you’re a journalist nodding along with that last paragraph, then answer this question: does your publication use unpaid interns as the prevalent mode of determining full-time jobs?

If so, then I’m sorry to inform you that your publication is perpetuating a privilege-based upward mobility, and it’s ruining journalism.

As my classmates and I were finishing up our studies at Northwestern’s graduate school of journalism, we were naturally bombarded with stories and speeches from people who were actually successful in the field.

9 out of 10 had the same story: in order to succeed, you have to take an unpaid internship in New York for months or years; you build your resume and eventually land yourself a job.

One senior member of a leading national magazine when asked how someone could pay the bills to affording life in New York while working a full-time internship famously told us that if we couldn’t pull an unpaid internship off, then we didn’t want to succeed badly enough.

When we asked how he pulled it off, he told us about how he lived in his parents’ spare apartment upstate while working his internship.

And therein lies the issue with unpaid internships. The practice of asking recent graduates to spend their days working for free while paying rent and living in a city like New York is a barrier for entry to students from mid- to lower-class backgrounds.

Take these two hypothetical examples:

Two students, one from a single-parent, lower-class household in Gary, Indiana, and another from a wealthy family living in Worcester, Massachusetts whose parents are willing and able to support.

An unpaid internship is much easier to work through for the kid from Worcester, who doesn’t have to worry about earning money with a night job on the side. So many of my classmates decided to just get paying jobs outside of journalism in lieu of slaving away for a couple of years, hoping they’d get a shot at a magazine or website of repute, while classmates with deeper pockets went straight to New York to eat up internships

All of my classmates were qualified to work in any newsroom or publication in the city, but those who could afford the lifestyle got their feet in the door with internships.

Sure, it’s possible for someone to work 40 hours a week without pay while also waiting tables at night, but it sure is easier when you don’t have to worry about earning a living – or paying student loans.

But it’s not like even these “lucky” enough chosen to be unpaid interns have it easy or fair. Oftentimes they work full-time hours without earning any money or receiving any benefits.

Even if they perform well at their jobs, there isn’t a guarantee they’ll actually get hired, so there’s no end in sight for their unpaid labor. Basically, publications employ slave labor for people with degrees.

So why should you, the reader, care about unpaid internships for jobs you don’t want?

These practices have gone a long way to damage the fabric of journalism, and have changed the way issues are reported and the quality of the product you consume on a daily basis.

Recently, I wrote about how stories of crime in New Orleans or Chicago’s Southside are under-reported on the national level, and one of the reasons is the fact that voices from these areas aren’t making it to the national conversation to influence the direction of national discourse.

Media workplaces are becoming populated by those who can afford the jobs. Those who can’t are being shut out.

After the Boston bombings, it seemed like every news station had someone present who could talk about the Boston suburbs. How many outlets had employees at the ready to explain a New Orleans second line, or what it was like growing up during those scary Chicago summers?

As a consumer, I find opinions or perspectives reflecting my own come few and far between.

How many journalists can say they have firsthand knowledge of the mentality of someone from the inner-city? Many of these voices have been muted just because they simply can’t navigate the landscape of privilege that most modern journalism encourages.

The journalists who can tell my story – the story of urban or inner-city America – have taken a job in marketing while disseminating their opinions on blogs, which only small portion of the general public ever see. This is a loss to the art of journalism and its ability to tell the whole American story

Until publications find that more well-rounded reporting is more important than cutting financial corners, they’ll continue to alienate a large portion of the American population, and the stories that lay in the shadows of America’s dark corners will never come to light.

I can relate, having taken unpaid internships (that I had to pay for with college credits) and waiting tables at night. At one internship in New York, my boss wouldn’t let me leave early, even though I had no deadlines, which forced me to work restaurant shifts that often ended at 1-2am.

She was also unforgiving about not arriving promptly at 9am.

This writer has a more important point: these unpaid internships are excluding important voices that represent readers, who as a result feel the news media is out of touch with most Americans.

David Dennis: Media companies that rely on unpaid interns marginalize the voices of low-income communities and minorities
theguardian.com

Whole Foods Deal

Shows Amazon’s Prodigious Tolerance for Risk

JUNE 17, 2017

Joke all you want about drone-delivered kale and arugula.

Amazon’s $13.4 billion bet to take on the $800 billion grocery business in the United States by acquiring Whole Foods fits perfectly into the retailer’s business model.

Unlike almost any other chief executive, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has built his company by embracing risk, ignoring obvious moves and imagining what customers want next — even before they know it.

Key to that strategy is his approach to failure.

While other companies dread making colossal mistakes, Mr. Bezos seems just not to care. Losing millions of dollars for some reason doesn’t sting. Only success counts.

That breeds a fiercely experimental culture that is disrupting entertainment, technology and, especially, retail.

Mr. Bezos is one of the few chief executives who joke about how much money they’ve lost.

“I’ve made billions of dollars of failures,” Mr. Bezos said at a 2014 conference, adding that it would be like “a root canal with no anesthesia” if he listed them.

There was the Fire phone, for instance, which was touted as being crucial to Amazon’s future. It was one of the biggest bombs since New Coke. At one point, Amazon cut its price to 99 cents. That did not help.

For any other company, this would have been a humiliating experience with severe repercussions. Wall Street did not blink, even when Amazon wrote off $170 million related to the device.

“If you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments,” Mr. Bezos explained. “And if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”

It is an approach baked into the company since the beginning — and one that is difficult, if not impossible, for competitors to emulate. Consider how Amazon Web Services began as a small internal cloud computing project to help Amazon’s core business. Then the company started selling excess cloud capacity to other companies.

Before Google and Microsoft realized it, Amazon had created a high-margin multibillion-dollar business that was encroaching on their turf. They are still struggling to catch up.

If the cloud computing business just grew, Amazon Prime was a bold bet from the beginning, the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet for shoppers: Pay an annual fee and all shipping costs for the year are covered. Amazon’s shipping expenses ballooned, but revenue soared so much that no one minded.

“When you have such a long-term perspective that you think in decades instead of quarters, it allows you to do things and take risks that other companies believe would not be in their best interests,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with the investment firm Robert W. Baird & Company.

Amazon began, for those too young to remember, as a discount internet bookseller in 1995.

In the headiness of the late-1990s dot-com boom, it became the symbol of how this new invention called the World Wide Web was going to change everything. Then, like many of the leading dot-com companies, it blew up. The world wasn’t quite ready for Amazon. It came very close to going under.

Mr. Bezos redoubled his focus on customers, largely closed the company off to the media and got to work doing some serious experiments. Amazon developed, for instance, the Kindle e-reader, which for a time seemed likely to kill off physical books entirely.

One thing the retailer did not do was make much money.

In its two decades as a public company, Amazon has had a cumulative profit of $5.7 billion. For a company with a market value of nearly $500 billion, this is negligible.

Walmart, which has a market value half that of Amazon, made a profit of $14 billion in 2016 alone.

But the tens of millions of customers do not care whether Amazon is hugely profitable. They care if it is making their lives easier or better.

“Jeff Bezos is making shopping great,” said Chris Kubica, an e-book consultant and software developer who watches Amazon closely. “He’s made me come to expect better from every checkout counter. Oh, I can scan my entire shopping cart full of groceries in one go, without stopping, as I roll into the parking lot? Yes, please. Where do I park?”

After the company’s disastrous foray with the Fire Phone, Amazon could have done what many other also-rans in smartphones do and keep putting out devices that most people ignore in favor of Apple and Samsung devices.

Instead, in 2014 it released Echo, a speaker that looks like a small poster tube. The Alexa intelligent assistant, which runs on it, can play music and tell jokes, and now Google, Apple and Microsoft are copying it.

“Bezos is ahead of the game, always,” said Sunder Kekre, a professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. “Be it drones or Amazon Go” — a grab-and-go shopping experiment that eschews human cashiers — “he is able to craft smart business strategies and position Amazon quite distinctly from competitors.”

As Amazon pushes on with its ceaseless experimenting, however, it risks being seen as less of a cute disrupter of the old and as more of a menace.

It has hired many workers for its warehouses, but it is also betting heavily on automation. Amazon Go, after all, is an attempt to drain the labor out of shopping.

“Amazon runs the risk of becoming too big,” Mr. Kekre said.

Some Amazon critics would like the Whole Foods deal to be the trigger for reining in the company.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a frequent foe of Amazon, noted that the company is “rapidly monopolizing online retail” and that both Prime and Echo “are strategies for locking in consumers and ensuring they don’t shop anywhere else.” Amazon declined to comment for this article.

Where will it all end? Mr. Kubica has thought about this.

Amazon can be understood as a decades-long effort to shorten the time between “I want it” and “I have it” into as brief a period as possible. The logical end of this would be the something Mr. Kubica jestingly called Amazon Imp, short for “implant” and also “impulse,” Mr. Kubica said. It would be a chip inserted under the skin.

“The imp would sense your impulses and desires,” Mr. Kubica wrote in an email, “and then either virtually fulfill them by stimulating your brain (for a modest payment to Amazon, of course) or it would make a box full of goodies for you appear on your doorstep (for a larger fee, of course).”

Every desire fulfilled. “I am sure that Amazon even now is building it,” Mr. Kubica said.

Israel boycott restrictions thrown out by UK’s High Court

Asa Winstanley Activism and BDS Beat 22 June 2017

The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the United Kingdom from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation.

The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in March, and was supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

”We couldn’t be happier that this right has been upheld by the court,” said PSC Director Ben Jamal.

Recent UK polling showed that two in five people consider BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – a reasonable Palestinian response to Israel’s crimes.

“Today is a victory for Palestine, for local democracy and for the rule of law,” PSC Chair Hugh Lanning, said. “Absolutely everyone has a right to peacefully protest Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”

In a judicial review published on Thursday, judge Ross Cranston overturned part of a guidance document issued in September by local government minister Sajid Javid.

The court ruled that the government had acted improperly by seeking to use pension law to pursue its own foreign and arms industry policy.

Freedom to protest

Jamie Potter, one of PSC’s lawyers, said, “this outcome is a reminder to the government that it cannot improperly interfere in the exercise of freedom of conscience and protest in order to pursue its own agenda.”

The full ruling can be read below.

The minister’s guidance had stated that local authorities must not use “pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defense industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.”

Although the document did not specifically name Israel, it was part of a series of measures, launched at a press conference in Jerusalem, explicitly intended to target BDS campaigners.

Although the government trailed it to the media as a “BDS ban”, legal analysis of the new documents showed there was nothing new in them “aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”

BDS gets the goods

Local government bodies in the UK have for years been urged by Palestine solidarity campaigners to divest from companies that are involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

French multinational Veolia withdrew from most Israeli businesses in 2015 after being the focus of a years-long BDS campaign.

Municipalities around the world had dropped it from contracts worth more than $14 billion, according to the BDS National Committee.

Veolia lost contracts with public bodies in London, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Canterbury, East Sussex and Winchester as a result of BDS campaigns.

Councils in Tower Hamlets, Leicester, Swansea and Bristol are among those that have passed resolutions in support of BDS or condemning companies involved in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

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