So this is another example of what I was talking about last weekend. This is the type of thing that can and does make diaspora Jews and diaspora Jewish institutions complicit and guilty of Israeli crimes.

Here we have UCLA’s Hillel, an on-campus organization that probably serves hundreds of students, spending significant financial resources to defeat a resolution demanding the university divest from American companies that profit off of the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Think about that for a second. Think about the level of dehumanizing discourse that took place at this Hillel to the point where they agreed the best course of action was to support the companies that engaged in human rights violations.

By leading his organization in a fight to perpetuate the status quo, Rabbi Aaron Lerner has Palestinian blood on his hands. The students who gave their presentation against divesting from these — again — American companies are equally complicit. The other students and staff at this Hillel have a moral obligation to speak out against these actions. These are the undeniable facts. 

I’m aware of Open Hillel and their efforts to get Hillel to take a neutral stance on Israel, but it’s important to recognize that this goes way beyond just Hillel. During the summer massacre on Gaza, Chabad urged its members do to “do a Mitzvah for Israel” and “write to an IDF soldier.” The JCC Association maintains extensive ties with Israel, including conducting regular trips and seminars in occupied Palestine, such as this “solidarity” visit.

Such is the dehumanization of Palestinians in many Jewish institutions that B’nai Brith — an organization dedicated to community service — launched a full-fledged PR attack on the Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh for the crime of serving Palestinian food with messages from Palestinians on the wrapping paper. The Anti-Defamation League’s national director Abe Foxman justified the racist blanket surveillance of Muslims and their mosques, arguing that it’s driven by a fear for safety and security. His organization along with the American Jewish Congress led a deeply cynical and racist misinformation campaign against Muslim graduating students at the University of California Irvine, simply because they wanted to wear Islamic graduation stoles.

This is to say nothing of the political advocacy organizations that are explicitly committed to defending and supporting Israel, such as the Friends of the IDF, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, AIPAC, J Street and many others. 

Look, every community has its bad apples. That’s not what this is about. Rather the theme throughout all of this is that incidents like UCLA Hillel’s disgusting support for American corporate complicity in Israeli crimes keeps happening over and over and over and over again and again, and nothing ever happens to the people involved. Rabbi Aaron Lerner’s job is not threatened, or if it is, it isn’t because his leadership showed callousness towards Palestinian wellbeing. Bnai Brith hasn’t faced any censure for its actions, nor has Abe Foxman or his ADL or the AJC, and so on and so on. The organizations I talk about here enjoy widespread support. That’s a major problem, and anyone who denies the severity of this problem cannot claim to be an ally or supporter of the Palestinian people. I don’t know the best way for the issues I bring up in this post need to be addressed, but they need to be addressed. Period.

First, when a white person claims to be the victim of racism, what they are really doing is expressing their fears that their privileges might be taken away. Second, they are saying that they experience the same form of oppression that people of color face. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no system that actively works to oppress and subjugate white people in order to treat them as inferior. To say that a white person has experienced racism just like any person of color assumes that the playing field was level to begin with.
A peanut in the middle of our galaxy

It turns out that the center of our galaxy resembles the shape of a peanut according to new research.  UCLA’s R. Michael Rich is looking to map this dense inner region of the Milky Way. It can be thought of as a big metropolitan area with “stellar suburbs” of stars at the edges that can be anywhere from a few million years old to some 12 billion years old.

The way he plans to do this is to use images taken from a 500 megapixel camera - To put that in another way, an image taken from this camera would need 250 computer screens to view. So a supercomputer will then parse through that data and reduce the images for viewing.

Rich hopes to use this study to better understand how our galaxy has formed and evolved over time.

Read more about the project →


You get a lot of action at UCLA. Staircase action.

Today, for example, I climbed about 32 flights of stairs. This is typical. Some days are a little less, some days more (who am I kidding, most days it’s much more). And this is not including little 3 or 4-step stairs or all the straight walking on campus. I’m just talking about hardcore stair-climbing.

Parking garage stairs (concrete) (set of 3) x2

Janss Steps (brick) (set of 3) x2

Boelter Hall (green) x20

== 32 flights of stairs


Harnessing Creativity

Dave Arnold uses gymnemic acid to flip our understanding of sweet foods

Dave Arnold gives the audience gymnemic acid to block their sweet taste receptors and then challenges them to try sweet treats like sugar, honey, strawberries and chocolate. He explains that erasing sweetness enables the taster to examine how other factors like texture and acidity influences the experience of sweet foods.

Arnold says this analytical approach to food is important: “Even if you have no idea why something happens, if you have a hypothesis … and you keep adapting and recording what your results are… you can get to the right place.”

After a few weeks my piercings began to heal and I slowly started to look at my body in a completely new manner. When I would undress, I was no longer interested in critiquing every curve in my body. Instead, I would take the time to admire all of the things that made my body unique, starting with those two little metal additions to my breasts. Over time, I started liking my thick thighs, wide hips, slightly rounded stomach, and uneven breasts. I began to understand that my body was my own and I could not expect it to look perfectly airbrushed as I once hoped.

Sometimes all it takes to accept your flaws is to highlight them in a new way- whether that is with piercings, tattoos, or just a particular article of clothing- because it teaches you to look at them in an entirely new light.

Nipple piercings became my daily reminder that I am in complete control of how I perceive my body- and it is about damn time I learn to start liking it.


The Cost of American Education 

 While countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, and other Western countries offer free a college education to their citizens, in the United States, we’re trying simply to keep them from getting any higher. 

             Barely one week ago, the University of California Regents announced a proposal that would raise tuition 5%, every year for the next 5 years. We’re talking of an average $1500 extra a year, to an already expensive $12,901 tuition per semester (x).  (Article chart will say $12,192, but I am basing it off on my own financial aid account). 

More Articles on the Situation are here: 

                What does this mean to students? Well, obviously, an extra ~ est.  $700  a semester to somehow find out how to pay, taking out bigger loans with interests now higher than credit card interests, etc. But what does this mean to students from lower middle class, working class, and minority backgrounds? This is is direct assault to the students of this demographic, and possibly a fatal one. 

This article goes into a little more detail over money mismanagement by UC Regents:

                  I went to the protest this morning on November 19th, 2014, to have my voice heard. Over 100 students from UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Cruz and more, came to the Board of the UC Regents to express our indignation through a peaceful protest. The goal was to stop the Vote from happening, and that meant not letting members of the board get into the building. 

             Then the UCPD happened. I was right at the door that the UCPD tried to sneak a member in. My best friend and I were in front of it all, and stood our ground. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to link arms with other students in time. They quickly pushed the boys away, and suddenly I have two male officers grabbing my arms and pushing me. One of them even told me to “calm down”, despite the fact that I did not yell, I did not say a word; I simply did not move.  I can’t remember details anymore, but I was grabbed, pushed, and yelled at the entire time. My best friend went through the same experience, only that one officer by the last name Huron had been grabbing her breast the entire time he tried to “move” her.

             It happened one more time, expect that they threatened my best friend with arrest.  

              The entire experience left me shaken, but I didn’t cry until I got home. Here I am, trying to defend this little education so many of us are working hard to attain through loans, multiple jobs, and emotional breakdowns, and it just seems to not be enough for the board. We were called losers by the press, “hoards” by the media; all for trying to defend public education from being privatized.  

              I was just in one situation out of many around the building, so I’m sure you will her more on the news. Despite the few bruises, I do not regret going. We lost this fight unfortunately: 

              I made this post to remind others that education is not a privilege; it’s a fundamental right. The President of the UC Regents, Janet Napolitano, have been targeting the minority, lower middle class, and working class student demographic since the moment she stepped into office. And so has the GOP and every conservative member in U.S. Congress and Senate. This war against education in America is crippling our present and future generations, and could result in nothing short of a national crisis.

              No matter the costs, no matter the risk, defending public education is essential if we are ever to meet the challenges the future might bring. After all; “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can choose to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela 


Crowdsourced dating

Have you ever been on that awkward date where you weren’t sure what to do or say next? What if you had real-time advice from an online audience? Artist and UCLA alum Lauren McCarthy decided to try this out in her latest project.

The idea was to see if she could become more aware of her relationships by getting input from others as the interactions take place. McCarthy setup an online platform where users can tune in to the dates she was going on. Each user can weigh in and submit a message to her in real time to, for example, change the subject to something else or to possibly end the date if things didn’t seem to be going well.

While the project was more of a social experiment, McCarthy is now developing an app that anyone can use. The idea is to be expanded beyond dating to things like job interviews and business meetings.

You can read more about the project here 


How We Taste

Dr. Dana Small Defines Taste

“There’s molecules and ions in the foods that we eat and they bind to cells on these elongated taste receptors [tastebuds]. When enough binds, the cells get excited. They send a signal to the brain that the brain then interprets as a taste … Taste evolved to detect the presence of nutrients and toxics … You’re born knowing that you like sweet and dislike bitter … because you don’t want to have to learn that sweet is energy and bitter is toxin.”

According to The Scientific American, “The victim of a car accident can require as many as 100 pints of blood—that’s blood from 100 generous donors across the country, meticulously matched for blood type and screened for diseases. More than 38,000 blood donations are needed daily in the U.S., but only 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, and of those, only 8 percent actually do.”

Gay and bisexual men are among those 62% of disqualified American donors who are banned by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) from donating. Their reasoning is that men who have had sex with other men are at an “increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.” Interestingly enough, however, women who have had heterosexual sex with an HIV positive partner only have to wait one year before being allowed to donate. NBC News also reported, “In 40 states, a man can even give blood immediately after getting a tattoo.” It seems that this “health regulation” is only applied to gay and bisexual men.

UCLA astronomers solve puzzle about bizarre object at the center of our galaxy

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Nov 06, 2014

For years, astronomers have been puzzled by a bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that was believed to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole. Having studied it during its closest approach to the black hole this summer, UCLA astronomers believe that they have solved the riddle of the object widely known as G2. A team led by Andrea Ghez, professor o
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