Friday, August 19, 2016

From Ian:

Five Things You Need to Know About World Vision
The allegations against World Vision's man in the Gaza Strip are lethal to the organization's credibility. World Vision collects money through a child-sponsorship program in which donors give money to assist and benefit individual children and here is Halabi allegedly confessing to turning these donations into some sort of terrorist-sponsorship program.
What makes the accusation so bothersome is that World Vision has a well-documented tendency to portray Israel as singularly responsible for the suffering of children in the Gaza Strip (and for the Arab-Israeli conflict) while giving Hamas a pass.
Here are a five things that people need to know about World Vision.
1. World Vision is a conglomeration of local affiliates that operate in countries throughout the world. Its umbrella organization, World Vision International (WVI), is not just a humanitarian agency, but a church.
2. World Vision's affiliates have a troubling tendency to use stories of Israeli villainy as part of its fundraising narrative. It has also supported anti-Israel propaganda in a number of different venues.
3. World Vision's reticence is not restricted to Hamas. Staffers in the Middle East have historically spoken in much harsher terms about Israel than they have about bad actors in the region, such as Bashar Al Assad or ISIS.
4. If the allegations against Halabi are proven in court, World Vision will undoubtedly hear from its U.S. donors in a big way.
5. Experts who pay attention to the humanitarian aid industry have repeatedly documented how humanitarian organizations working in war zones have been corrupted by the circumstances in which they operate. Diversion of goods provided by humanitarian organizations is inevitable in places like the Gaza Strip. It is part of the business. That being said, the allegations against Halabi are beyond the pale, way beyond the pale.

UEFA probing Celtic for Palestinian flags at Hapoel match
The European soccer’s ruling body UEFA is to hold an investigation into Scotland’s Celtic soccer club, after its fans waved hundreds of Palestinian flags during a Champions League game in Glasgow against Israeli team Hapoel Beersheba on Wednesday.
UEFA’s regulations ban “any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature,” the BBC said Friday.
According to the BBC, Celtic has been penalized eight times in five seasons for poor behavior by its fans.
Scotland’s Daily Record news website said UEFA will hear the case on September 22, and Celtic could be forced to close one of its stands if the governing body decides to take a hard stance over the incident.
NZ Advertising Watchdog Reaffirms Defence of Propaganda Lies
The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority appeals board has reaffirmed its original ruling that maps are just opinion. The historic and geographic facts are of no relevance to the industry watchdog. It seems content to undermine its own Code of Ethics and allow anyone to publish an advert, no matter how misleading or inaccurate, as long as they claim their image is the expression of a political perspective.
Last December, the “map of lies” billboard in Auckland was taken down after one day. The Advertising Standards Authority said “this is the best outcome we could hope for”, presumably because they, and the advertising company which removed the billboard, understood how misleading the maps were.
Since then, the billboard reappeared in the Auckland CBD. Unlike Ad-Vantage, Go Media refused to remove the billboard, saying they had been threatened with legal action from the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign (PHRC). The ASA has now ruled that the maps are ‘robust opinion’ and allowable because:
"when it comes to strong political perspectives, there are no absolute truth or lies, just political standpoints”
NZ Advertising Standards Authority decision 11/085

This statement will no doubt come as a shock to any serious cartographer.

A grotesque attack on a brilliant writer
However, the piece in question – ‘Michael Weiss and the Iran-U.S. Hardline Nexus That Led Iranian-American to Evin Prison’ by Richard Silverstein – has become a special case, owing to its rapid circulation far beyond the neglected neo-Nazi gutters of the Internet to something alarmingly close to the high table of polite society. Yesterday, WikiLeaks shared it with their 3.4 million Twitter followers. The writer Glenn Greenwald beamed it out to his 723,000 Twitter followers, by means of re-tweeting one Trita Parsi, who described it to his own 43,000 followers as a “MUST READ” [his capitals]. The author Reza Aslan re-tweeted the same to his 182,000 followers.
These are big names, and big numbers. Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize winner, while Aslan’s 2013 book Zealot debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. So just what is this article they agree is such a “MUST READ” all about? The kindest thing that can be said for it is it’s a nasty work of racist conspiracy theorizing. Its subject, the author and The Daily Beast editor Michael Weiss, is portrayed as a bloodthirsty Muslim-hating warmonger bent on manipulating American foreign policy at the behest of Israel, in the mould of what Silverstein calls the “court Jews” of “European rulers [in] the Middle Ages.” You read that right – Weiss, an atheist of partial Jewish descent, is likened by the article’s author to a medieval “court Jew.” In a tweet clarifying this terminology Thursday, Silverstein explained, “Weiss does the bidding of oligarchs & the powerful much like court Jews once did for rulers.”
It’s extremely tempting to leave things there. Need any more time be wasted on a piece so nakedly manured with textbook anti-Semitism? Will anyone be prepared to stand up and say, ‘Sure, some passages rather whiff of the Protocols, but otherwise it’s a cogent critique’? Actually, it turns out they are, yes. Someone named Kevin Rothrock, editor of a website called RuNet Echo, who tweeted the article more than once to his nearly 9,000 followers, found himself able to declare that, “The “court Jews” comment is disgusting, but my Twitter interest is in media focused on Russia, hence my focus in [sic] the funding rumor.”
Richard Behar: Is Reuters’ Jerusalem Bureau Chief Luke Baker Biased Against Israel?
Mr. Plosker’s beef pertained to a series of tweets by a British journalist named Luke Baker, who in July 2014 became Reuters’ bureau chief in Jerusalem. In that role, he oversees a 60-strong multimedia team covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Given the immense global reach of Reuters, Mr. Baker is one of the most powerful and influential foreign journalists (undoubtedly among the Top 10) in what is one of the world’s top hotspots.
Mr. Plosker wished to direct Mr. Adler’s attention to a post on the HR website that criticized seven tweets made by Mr. Baker. The pro-Israel media watchdog group believes that the tweets are evidence of “open disdain and dislike for Israel” — in violation of the wire service’s Trust Principles.
We’ve never communicated with Mr. Baker, until he rejected our request three days ago to discuss the claims against him by HonestReporting. (Reuters executives also declined.) Mr. Baker’s unwillingness to engage on these subjects with his professional peers is disheartening, particularly since he zestfully clashes swords on Twitter with pro-Israel activists.
While I [Behar] know Reuters’ chief Steve Adler professionally, I nonetheless suggested to HR’s Mr. Plosker that he instead direct his complaint to Alix Freedman, who I also know. Since 2011, she has served as Reuters’ Global Editor, Ethics and Standards. “I would contact Alix and be sure to tell her I recommended it,” I wrote him. “She will take you seriously. I have great respect for her from her WSJ days.”
Ha'aretz Calls Andrew Breitbart an Antisemite
The left-wing Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz has accused Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart of being an antisemite.
In an article Friday by Chemi Shalev, the newspaper claims: “Breitbart and other Jews working for his website exemplified the kind of radical right wing Jews who hate their liberal co-religionists most of all: in many ways, they are auto-anti-Semites.”
Shalev avoids the term “self-hating Jew,” because he rejects that term when it is used against leftists — such as Ha’aretz itself, which even Obama-friendly Jeffrey Goldberg accused of anti-Semitism.
Yet Shalev has no problem using the same tactic against conservatives, even though he acknowledges that Andrew Breitbart was Jewish, and was partly inspired to start after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Like everyone else who has made the false charge, Shalev relies on a single headline in an op-ed by David Horowitz — one written by the author himself — calling Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew” for hurting Israel by effectively helping Hillary Clinton.
Shalev also makes the false claim that a “senior editor” has been “drawing a salary from both” Breitbart News and the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump. He also carefully notes, and echoes, Hillary Clinton’s lie that Breitbart News is “racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic.”
He ignores Clinton’s many disturbing associations with antisemitism, as well as her troubling record on Israel, to smear Andrew Breitbart and the Jews who work, and have worked, for his company.
The Donald Trump video every Jew MUST watch! (h/t Rab iBurns)

Following New Jersey's lead, California passes anti-BDS law
The Israeli American Council marked a significant achievement this week when the California legislator passed a bill barring all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities, Israel Hayom learned Thursday.
The bill prohibits state bodies from investing in companies "engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel, or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel."
The bill was the result of considerable lobbying efforts by the IAC, which seeks to counteract the BDS movement on legal, technological and public diplomacy levels.
Likewise, on Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill banning the state's pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel.
Similar legislation, the Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts Act, was passed by Rhode Island's General Assembly in June and is currently pending Gov. Gina Raimondo's signature.
"This bill sends a significant message: The hatred the BDS movement seeks to spread will have no room in California," Shawn Evenhaim, of the IAC-affiliated Israel American Coalition for Action, told Israel Hayom Thursday.
Oberlin’s Anti-Semitic Professor Still Doing Anti-Semitic Things on Facebook
When we last left Oberlin professor Joy Karega, she had been placed on paid leave while the college investigated her questionable conduct on social media. That conduct, as has been extensively reported, included sharing anti-Semitic material on Facebook that accused Israel and Jews of being behind 9/11, ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo attack, and much else. Perhaps most notoriously, Karega, who taught “social justice writing” to undergraduates, shared a meme in which Jewish banker Jacob Rothschild is depicted as saying, “We own your news, the media, your oil, and your government.”
One might have thought that while her record was being scrutinized for anti-Jewish bigotry, particularly on social media, Karega would have held off engaging with any more anti-Semitic content on Facebook. But one would be wrong.
Earlier this week, Karega posted a press release from her spokesman under the headline, “Oberlin College Has Engaged In A Relentless Persecution Of Joy Karega.” Predictably, the link quickly drew supportive comments from Karega’s Facebook friends. Also predictably, it drew anti-Semitic comments from those friends:
CBC Puffs Up 9/11 Troofers As Activist Supporters Of Teacher Who Praised Murderers Of Jews As Martyrs
Nadia Shoufani is a teacher with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board currently suspended with pay for having, as the CBC describes it, given a “pro-Palestinian speech”.
Sounds pretty tame, except Shoufani didn’t vault into public scrutiny for giving a mere speech while attending the Al-Quds day hate fest.
She earned public censure for describing the terrorist murderer of a 13 year old girl as having been “executed” as if on a whim by those nasty Israelis, carefully omitting that messy child killing part. Shoufani described such terrorist murderers as martyrs, and called for the destruction of Israel by any means possible.
For some reason the CBC article detailing the plight of poor Ms. Shoufani, Mississauga teacher suspended after pro-Palestinian speech wins support of activists, doesn’t mention any of those nasty details.
The CBC then lends weight to poor Ms. Shoufani’s defense by quoting not 1 but 2 retired university professors, Michael Keefer, a “retired University of Guelph professor”, and Graeme MacQueen, “a retired McMaster University religious studies professor” no less.
Well with the support of such worthy scholars Ms. Shoufani must certainly be guiltless! In fact a victim of Zog!
Except both MacQueen and Keefer are fringe nutters, 9/11 Troofers in fact. Read about Keefer, here, and about both MacQueen and Keefer in this article, Academics examine the events of 9/11, carried in our nation’s leading magazine devoted to the batshit crazy, The Canadian Charger.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine Issued Written Warning Over Recent Violent Anti-Israel Protest on Campus
An anti-Israel student group responsible for a violent protest at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) has been issued a written warning, following the conclusion this week of a three-month investigation, The Algemeiner has learned.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), perpetrators of the demonstration in May, was among students and staff who received an email, obtained by The Algemeiner, from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas A. Parham, reading, in part:
After a thorough review, the student conduct investigation is now complete. The investigators found that SJP, the group that organized and led the protest, violated Student Conduct Policies regarding disruption: ‘Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities.’ As a result, SJP was issued a written warning, effective immediately and continuing until March 29, 2017. As part of the sanction, SJP must host an educational program by November 18, 2016.
This decision was reached after weeks of interviews with multiple witnesses and a thorough review of pertinent information…The decision is subject to appeal and the outcome of the appeal is final.
Grassroots Group Teaches Students to Transform Anti-Israel Campus Pressure Into Defensive Action on Behalf of Jewish State (INTERVIEW)
Pro-Israel students belonging to a campus advocacy grassroots organization gathered this week in Minnesota to strategize on how to transform the pressure felt from anti-Israel groups into action, the head of the movement told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
“Today, pro-Israel students feel a lot of pressure and face a lot of challenges from the anti-Israel movement,” said Ilan Sinelnikov, founder and president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI). “We are working with our student members to take that pressure and turn it into productivity to stand up for Israel.”
SSI wrapped up its second annual conference on Tuesday, which took place at the University of Minnesota, a place of special significance to the organization as it is where the grassroots movement was first founded. According to Sinelnikov, 28 different colleges were represented at the conference by approximately 68 students.
This year, SSI partnered with many campus organizations — with which Sinelnikov said the group is “proud to work” — including the IAC-IDC Center, StandwithUs, David Project, Hasbara Fellowships, Lawfare Project, Hillel on Campus, Chabad on Campus, Americans for Peace and Tolerance and Turning Point USA.
Sinelnikov said, “This year’s conference was a huge success and our work was noted by important officials,” such as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and US Congressman Erik Paulsen — “who took their free time to congratulate SSI for its work, which was very meaningful to the students.”
Festival in Scotland Celebrating Culture of Jewish State ‘Triumphs’ Over Disruption by Anti-Israel Protesters (INTERVIEW)
A festival in Scotland on Wednesday celebrating Israeli culture was a “triumph,” one of the event organizers told The Algemeiner, despite the presence of a vocal crowd of anti-Israel demonstrators outside the venue.
Nigel Goodrich, founder of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS), told The Algemeiner on Thursday that around 150 such protesters — waving Palestinian flags, chanting anti-Israel slogans through megaphones and playing the sounds of exploding bombs through a PA system — tried to disrupt the International Shalom Festival, whose aim was “to promote diversity; the culture of Israel, which is an ancient yet modern country; and to spread a message that co-existence is the best method for achieving peace.”
Goodrich said he was not surprised by the protest. “We totally expected a demonstration — a loud, aggressive presence — and that’s exactly what we got,” he said. “Israeli acts have appeared in the past [at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival], and two years ago, one was hounded out of the venue by protesters who ran amok during the performance. What we wanted to do was bring Israeli art and culture back to the Fringe, to give people an opportunity to enjoy it.”
Around 800 people turned out for Wednesday’s event, which featured a number of different Israeli artistic and cultural acts. The day’s program was carried on as planned, said Goodrich, despite the protest outside.
Revisiting a BBC story from 2002
During the Second Intifada, on September 9th 2002, BBC News reported the arrests of three Jerusalem residents in an article titled “Palestinians ‘planned to poison diners’“.
This week the ringleader of the would-be poisoners was released after completing a fourteen-year prison sentence and photographs of his reception in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber show that the BBC’s use of the word “alleged” with regard to Sufian Bakri Abdu’s links to Hamas was superfluous.
Over the last couple of years, BBC reports have variously told audiences that terrorists hailing from Jabal Mukaber were “ground down by the occupation“, angered by the demolition of houses of other terrorists or enraged by “threats to an important Muslim site“. Audience understanding would of course have been enhanced had BBC also covered the topic of the long-standing links of some residents of that Jerusalem neighbourhood to proscribed terrorist organisations and carried out some serious reporting on the much neglected issue of Hamas’ efforts to boost its infrastructure in PA controlled areas.
Baltimore cuts ties with lawyer after neo-Nazi links revealed
The City of Baltimore cut ties with a lawyer after an advocacy group exposed his links to neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial groups.
The office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake terminated its contract with Glen Keith Allen, effective immediately, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported Thursday afternoon.
The SPLC posted on its website documents showing Allen paid dues to the neo-Nazi National Alliance. He also paid a $25 fee to attend a 2007 conference of Holocaust deniers.
According to the SPLC, Allen also told Iran’s Press TV in 2012 that he believed that Israel’s Mossad spy agency was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Allen was representing the city in a lawsuit filed by an African-American man who served 19 years on a wrongful murder conviction. Baltimore recently was the subject of a scathing US Justice Department report describing police abuses against the city’s minorities.
Swastikas, Anti-Semitic Graffiti on Ukraine Synagogue
The front doorway of a synagogue in Kolomia in western Ukraine was sprayed with a swastika and anti-Semitic slogans Thursday night, an official of the local Jewish community has told TPS. The official, Jacob Zlishiker, said the identity of the perpetrator is not known, and added that these things are routine in this city, and police are treating them very seriously.
The local Jewish cemetery also sustained some damage overnight.
Kolomia, which used to be the most developed city in the region before the war, boasted a large Jewish community, with about 19,000 Jews out of a general population of 43,000. The Jewish community was “culturally vibrant and complex,” influencing the Jewish culture of Galicia, according to the website Jewish Galicia & Bukovina. Before the war there were some 50 synagogues in Kolomia, among them the magnificent Hoiche Shul, a Yerushalmi synagogue, several Hassidic kloizes and even a Zionist synagogue.
In 1941, all of the Jews of Kolomia and its environs were concentrated in a ghetto that was divided into three separate sections. In 1942, these sections were burned and the entire population of the ghetto was annihilated: some were murdered in the city streets, others were taken to the Belzec extermination camp, and the rest were shot in the forest outside the village of Sheparivtsy, near the city.
Dutch Jewry can no longer sustain itself, local leader warns
The effects of the Holocaust in the Netherlands and Jewish emigration have made Dutch Jewry’s communal institutions unsustainable, a key figure of that community said.
Michel Waterman, the director of the Crescas institute for Jewish culture, made the unusual statement during an interview published Tuesday in the Het Parool daily ahead of his retirement this year from Crescas, which is the country’s main organization of its kind.
“We used to have Jewish schools, Jewish hospitals, old age homes, shops. Today’s Jewish community is too small to sustain its own infrastructure,” Waterman said.
The Netherlands used to have 140,000 Jews but the Nazis killed more than 75 percent of them — the highest death rate in Nazi-occupied Western Europe. Thousands of Dutch Jewish families immigrated to Israel, or made aliyah.
US National Gallery returns drawing to Holocaust victim's heir
The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC has returned a 200-year-old drawing to the heirs of an Austrian woman who had to sell it during World War II and later died in the Holocaust.
"A Branch with Shriveled Leaves" by the German artist Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld had been owned by the artist's descendants until Marianne Schmidl sold it under duress in 1939.
Although Schmidl was a Christian, her father was born Jewish and she was declared Jewish by the Nazis after they annexed Austria. Her family last heard from her in 1942 after she was deported to a holding point for a concentration camp in Poland, and she was declared dead in 1950.
Over the last few years, museums have returned roughly 15 pieces of art to Schmidl's heirs, said her grandnephew Johann Schiller, who represents the family in negotiations over its lost artwork. The exquisite drawing of decaying leaves was one of the most important works the family has been able to reclaim, he said.
"My mother would sometimes say, 'I wonder where the shriveled leaves are,'" he said.
Melbourne Couple Waits Till 50th Anniversary to Tell Children They Fell in Love at a Nazi Concentration Camp
A couple in Melbourne, Australia did not tell their family that they met and fell in love at a Nazi concentration camp until the day of their 50th wedding anniversary, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Sigi and Hanka Siegreich, 92 and 91 respectively, had kept their personal story a secret from their children.
“We grew up surrounded by so much love and we knew they had met in the war but we were definitely surprised by the circumstances,” said Evelyne, the couple’s eldest daughter. “We knew they had some kind of dark secret somewhere, we saw how much they loved us and each other but knew it was strange that we didn’t have grandparents, it was just the four of us. We asked them why we didn’t have other but they just never wanted to talk about it and would just say they were lost in the war.”
Sigi and Hanka first met on New Year’s Eve in 1944, inside the Czestochowa concentration camp in Poland. Men and women were typically banned from speaking at the camp, but that night, the guards allowed them to spend time together. Sigi recalled looking like a “skeleton” after years of incarceration in the camp, but he said that when he first saw his future wife, “I was struck by lightning. I just knew right then that she was the one. I still get the same feeling when I look at her now. Always, she is beautiful.”
Israeli startup brings tech to museums for fun & games
Museum-lover Nathalie Half had made a habit of bringing her children along on visits to so that they too could enjoy the displays of art. That was possible when her kids were young, when they happily tagged along and listened. But it became a problem once the children hit their teens. Then, it became mission almost impossible: they lost interest and refused to join her on her visits.
That’s when she got the idea of founding Museloop, a Tel Aviv-based startup that aims to make museums a fun, interactive and learning experience for all ages. Together with co-founder Keren Berler, she developed a gaming app for cellphones that, once downloaded, allows users to walk through a museum, find the artwork and start playing.
Users of Museloop’s app are asked, for example, to find the difference between the image on the phone and the real artwork in front of them. Once they tap the correct answer on their screen, they get an interesting factoid about the artist or the artwork, and then they can move on to the next exhibit. Another game is I Spy, which asks users to find specific items in the painting, or to reconstruct a broken up puzzle depicting the painting. Users of the app can also play a game of trivia or look for hidden clues in the artwork. Each right answer provides a piece of information about the artwork.
“The games get visitors to really look at the art and focus on its details, and on the way they learn something about the artist and the painting,” said Berler in an interview. “We have had extremely positive reactions from the museums and end users.”
India to Buy Israeli Radar System to Detect Terrorists in Forests on Border With Pakistan
The Indian military plans to equip itself with an Israeli radar system that will enable Indian troops to detect terrorists hiding in dense forests, India Today reported on Thursday.
According to the report, India plans to use the radar system along its disputed border with Pakistan in the Kashmir region.
Senior Indian security officials told India Today TV that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had approved the acquisition of the Israeli radar system. The officials said the system includes highly sensitive sensors that can track human and vehicle movement in areas of thick forestation.
The report said a Border Security Force team will visit Israel later this month to receive training on how to use the radar system.
Citing official sources, India Today reported that India is bolstering its defenses along its border with Pakistan in a project — called “Operation Chakravyuh” — that is modeled on Israeli security methods.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported on Thursday that a group of Israeli Air Force F-16 pilots will travel to India next month for a working visit with an Indian Air Force squadron. Three months ago, Indian Air Force personnel visited Israel.
Taiwan’s GMobi buys Israel mobile ad giant MassiveImpact
Taiwan’s General Mobile Corporation (GMobi) on Thursday announced that it was buying out Israel’s MassiveImpact, one of the largest performance advertising firms for mobile in the world. Terms of the sale were not announced.
Sources in the Taiwanese media said that the acquisition “took billions of Taiwan dollars and one and a half years to complete. The purchase is made up of cash and stock.” One Taiwanese dollar is worth 32¢ at current exchange rates.
MassiveImpact, which has a major presence in China – the world’s largest mobile market – was established in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneur Sephi Shapira. According to GMobi, MassiveImpact reaches over 1 billion users in 190 countries, and works with top tech, retail and gaming brands inside China and elsewhere, including Gameloft, Citibank, AIA, Tencent and Baidu.
In a performance-based advertising system, the ad platform doesn’t get paid until the customer takes action – such as responding to an ad, performing an in-app purchase, etc. The platform promotes those actions to customers on behalf of clients, and according to Shapira, his company probably does that promotion better than any other – especially in the Chinese market.
Transport giant Uber buys Israeli startup Otto for $680 million
Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies has recently finalized a $680 million acquisition of Otto Motors, an Israeli startup specializing in converting normal trucks into autonomous ones, Israel Hayom learned Thursday.
Otto was founded by former Google, Apple, and Tesla employees, among them Israeli entrepreneur Lior Ron. The company develops artificial intelligence, cameras, and sensors that are attached to the vehicle, giving the truck full driving capacity without need of a driver. Otto trucks are currently undergoing trial stages in the San Francisco Bay area
According to the Bloomberg news agency, the San Francisco-based multinational online transportation network, whose service are available in 66 countries and 507 cities worldwide, inked its deal with Otto in July. Some 90 of Otto's employees hold 20% of the company's shares and will receive $136 million as part of the deal.
According to the report, Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski will head Uber's self-driving division, comprising both Otto's self-driving truck unit and Uber's own fast-growing autonomous unit, reporting directly to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
Kalanick called Anthony "one of the world's leading autonomous engineers," having helped create "Ghostrider," an autonomous motorcycle on display at the Smithsonian. The partnership, Kalanick said, will help advance self-driving car technology. This, along with a partnership with Volvo that Uber announced along with the Otto deal, will develop technology that will be a crucial part in curtailing one million yearly deaths from accidents on roads, he said.
Louis C.K. gets down and dirty in the Holy City
After 24 hours in Jerusalem, Louis C.K. already gets it.
“It’s very nice to be in Israel, in Jerusalem, but it’s weird,” he said Thursday, during the first of two stand-up shows on the same night at the capital’s Payis Arena. “Everyone I talk to who lives here says it’s crazy.”
“That’s what we all think of you in the rest of the world,” even though he said it was somewhat surprising to hear Jerusalem’s residents admit it was true. But as any Jerusalemite will admit, it’s a weird place, in many ways the perfect – though somewhat surprising – locale for C.K.’s crass, crude and obscene 75-minute set.
Clad in a suit and tie, the veteran comedian touched on everything from naps to suicide, parenting, Jesus, Greek mythology and – of course – sex.
And those are just the things I’m able to commit to print.
Miming more sex acts on stage than might be expected at a low-rent strip club, C.K. garnered raucous laughter from the 10,000 people – many kippa-clad patrons among them – who packed the first show.
As he mimed an ISIS beheading on stage, he paused for a moment and looked out at the crowd, realizing just where he was.
“I can’t change the show because of where I am, I’d have to edit the whole thing,” he said. “I’m just gonna do what I did in Amsterdam last night.”

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