Saturday, September 16, 2017

From Ian:

The Islamic State’s Fourth Attack in Britain in 2017
At 8:20 on 15 September 2017, a bomb detonated in a rear carriage of a tube train at Parsons Green station in London. The passengers on the packed, rush-hour train described a flash “fireball” that travelled down the train. Thirty people were injured, some horribly burned, but there were no fatalities and the main explosive clearly did not detonate.

The creation of a bomb is a more sophisticated operation than a stabbing or vehicle-ramming attack, but it is important to maintain perspective: the device used in this case was primitive. On examination, the crude device—a bucket containing the mixed chemicals and nails, left in a Lidl bag—proved to contain triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and to have been on a timer. For reasons unclear, it is likely that “only the initiator or a fraction of the main charge had exploded”, leaving the bucket intact.

TATP is sometimes said to be a “signature” of the Islamic State (IS), which is not quite right. TATP has shown up in a number of IS attacks in Europe and it is evidently a competency of theirs to handle this notoriously-volatile substance. Still, similar devices have been seen before.

The 21 July 2005 attempted follow-on attack to the 7 July massacre on the London transport system by al-Qaeda saw four TATP-based devices not unlike the Parsons Green one detonated on three tube trains and a bus with results akin to what happened yesterday. The wiring used to create the timer on the bomb appeared to include fairy lights, of the kind used on Christmas trees, and this was seen in the Boston bombing on 15 April 2013.
UK experts say London bomb didn’t detonate properly, could’ve left dozens dead
British counterterror specialists said the bomb detonated on the London Underground on Friday could have been more deadly than the explosives used in the 7/7 attack if it had detonated properly.

Despite the crude appearance of the bomb, which was placed in a bucket inside a shopping bag, a former counterterror investigator with the Metropolitan Police Service said the explosive device was in fact quite sophisticated.

“Whoever built this was not an amateur – it has many of the hallmarks of devices used by terror groups, but the use of the timer to set off the initial part of the device is something we have not seen before in the UK,” David Videcette said, adding, “Had it gone off successfully it would have caused a huge loss of life.”

In an opinion piece for The Independent, Videcette said the bomb’s failure to detonate was likely due to a lack of testing to ensure all the parts work and not a lack of expertise on the bomb maker’s part.

“This person has researched what they’re doing and possibly been taught by someone else. They have also been able to collect all the component parts of an explosive device, assemble it, and deliver it to its target without detection by police and Security services,” he said.

He also said the placement of the bomb in a shopping bag showed those behind the bomb had a clear understanding of how to handle explosives and that the use of the bag should not be viewed as primitive.
Man arrested in connection with London train bombing
British police arrested an 18-year-old man in the southern port of Dover on Saturday in a "significant" development in the hunt for the people behind a London commuter train bombing that injured 30 people a day earlier.

Prime Minister Theresa May put Britain on the highest security level of "critical" late on Friday, meaning an attack may be imminent, and soldiers and armed police deployed to secure strategic sites and hunt down the perpetrators.

The home-made bomb shot flames through a packed commuter train during the Friday morning rush hour in west London but apparently failed to detonate fully.

"We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning," said Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing.

"Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical."

The arrest was made in the port area of Dover, where passenger ferries sail to France.

The blast on the London tube train at the Parsons Green underground station was the fifth major terrorism attack in Britain this year and was claimed by Islamic State.
On Battle of Britain Day: if German blitz on London were reported like Islamic terror attacks
Today is Battle of Britain day. With another terrorist attack in London today and the standard mainstream media and political response it is worth considering this ......

‘Netanyahu to present Trump with specific plan to nix or fix Iran nuke deal’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to present US President Donald Trump in their meeting Monday on the sidelines of the 72nd annual session of the United Nations General Assembly with a proposal for rolling back the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran signed by the Obama administration and other P5+1 powers.

According to a Channel 2 report Saturday, Netanyahu is preparing a specific formula for either scrapping the historic deal or amending it. His proposal will detail how “to cancel or at the very least introduce significant changes” to the accord, the report said.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu said Israel wanted to see the two-year-old deal — which offered Iran relief from punishing sanctions in exchange for having it roll back its nuclear program — either amended or canceled altogether.

“Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” said Netanyahu in Buenos Aires on Tuesday during a trip to Latin America.

Netanyahu rejected recent reports claiming that Israel and Saudi Arabia were no longer interested in scrapping the landmark deal. Reuters reported Tuesday that US officials familiar with discussions about the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), said Israel and Saudi Arabia would rather the pact remain intact.
In New York, Netanyahu says Israel will not tolerate Iranians on northern border
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the main message of his upcoming speech at the United Nations for the annual gathering of world leaders at the 72nd session of the General Assembly would be that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria, now in its seventh year of a brutal civil war.

Speaking to reporters from his hotel in New York on Friday, after wrapping up a historic trip to Latin America, Netanyahu said that the central message will be that “Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on our northern borders. An [Iranian] military presence endangers not just us, but also our Arab neighbors.”

He added that Israel was “obligated to act against this.” These days, he added — in an apparent reference to previous Israeli military intervention in Syria and Lebanon — “Israel, and what it says, is taken seriously. That’s how it should be.”

Netanyahu hosted Shabbat dinner at the hotel.

He is due to address the UN on September 19 and meet with US President Donald Trump a day earlier.

The meeting will be the two leaders’ fourth together since Trump assumed office. The two met once in February when the Israeli premier visited the White House, and twice in May when the American president traveled to the region, which included a two-day stop in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Trump too is slated to address UNGA on September 19.

Netanyahu’s remarks on Iran came a day after a senior Israeli official denied reports that Russia rebuffed Jerusalem’s demand to ensure that Iranian forces and Iran-backed Shiite militants not be allowed to operate within 60-80 kilometers of the Syrian frontier with Israel in the Golan Heights.
US extends nuke sanctions relief but hits targets accused of cyber attacks
The United States on Thursday agreed to continue for now to exempt Iran from nuclear-related sanctions but slapped new measures against targets accused of cyber attacks or fomenting militancy.

President Donald Trump’s decision will be seen as a victory for opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, who have called for tough action against Tehran’s alleged destabilizing role in its region.

On October 15, Trump is due to decide whether Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear agreement, and critics fear he may abandon an accord they think prevents Tehran from building a nuclear bomb.

But supporters hailed Thursday’s move, in which the US Treasury announced new sanctions on non-nuclear issues even as Trump’s administration grudgingly maintained sanctions relief.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the waiver “a holding action,” warning that no decision had been reached on the long-term future of the deal.

“This is the action that the US is taking in the interim,” he said, “while the president and his cabinet come to final decision in consultation among themselves and in consultation with allies.”
Former IAEA Deputy Director: Iran Inspection Regime ‘Less Intrusive’ Since 2015 Nuclear Deal
A former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned this week that data released by the organization showing an increase in inspections at Iran’s nuclear facilities conveys a greater pattern of cooperation on the Tehran regime’s part than is actually the case.

“A closer examination of the new data suggests there may be aspects of the inspection program that have become less comprehensive and less intrusive since the implementation of the JCPOA (the technical name for the Iran nuclear deal of July 2015,” Dr. Olli Heinonen wrote in a briefing for Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank.

Heinonen — a Finnish national who served in variety of high-ranking positions during a three-decade career at the IAEA — based his criticisms on the agency’s claim that international inspections have doubled since the JCPOA was implemented in 2016.

The issue of nuclear site inspections is of key importance in terms of certifying that Iran is abiding by the terms of the JCPOA. Over the last month, US officials including UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, have expressed concern that the IAEA’s inspection regime was not intrusive enough, as the Trump administration weighs whether to certify Iranian compliance with the deal on October 15 — as it is legally required to do every 100 days.

Heinonen argued that a true picture of the IAEA’s insight into Iran’s nuclear activities could not be gleaned simply from the number of inspections. “We should look at the total number of work days on the ground that inspectors spent during visits to various sites and facilities,” he wrote.

“Here, the statistics reveal a different picture,” Heinonen observed. In 2015, IAEA inspectors spent 2,170 work days in Iran. In 2016, once the JCPOA was implemented, the number fell to 1,042.
Israeli consulate in New York receives suspicious envelope
The Israeli consulate in New York City was closed down for a short time on Friday afternoon (local time) after it received an envelope containing white powder and a threat to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli media reported.

Consular staff were ordered to remain in the building, and the suspicious material was examined. The all clear was given about an hour later.

Netanyahu, who visited Latin America this week, was scheduled to arrive in New York from Mexico on Friday, ahead of the UN General Assembly next week.

In addition to addressing the General Assembly, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet President Donald Trump while in New York.
Washington Post: With Recent Strike on Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility, Israel May Have ‘Done a Service to Humanity’
US President Donald Trump should heed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent warnings about the danger posed by Iran’s effort to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, the Washington Post said on Thursday.

The editorial called on the US to take “its own steps to block the Iranian ‘entrenchment’ in Syria that Mr. Netanyahu spoke of.”

“Diplomacy might achieve some of that, but military steps should not be ruled out,” it went on to say.

The paper also praised the Sept. 7 airstrike — reportedly carried out by the Israeli Air Force — that targeted an Assad regime chemical weapons facility in Syria’s Hama region.

“If it slows the production of those deadly weapons, Israel’s attack will have done a service for humanity as well as itself,” the Washington Post said. “It also should have served as a wake-up call for the Trump administration. Mr. Trump has been slow to recognize that the United States has vital interests in Syria beyond eliminating the Islamic State — and that those interests don’t coincide with those of Russia, which has been working in tandem with Iran.”

On Friday, US Ambassador to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Iran was “not going to be in charge” of a post-ISIS Syria.
Nikki Haley on Trump’s U.N. Speech: ‘He Slaps the Right People, He Hugs the Right People’
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley gave a preview of President Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly next week, telling reporters Friday that in the address, Trump “slaps the right people [and] hugs the right people.”

Haley made the remarks at the White House press briefing, in which she and national security adviser H.R. McMaster briefed the press on the administration’s schedule and hopes for next week’s General Assembly. Trump will address the Assembly on Tuesday and is scheduled to host a U.N. reform meeting on Monday.

Haley said that the reform efforts will be on the back of a new shift at the U.N., led by the U.S.

“It is a new day at the U.N., the U.N. has shifted over past several months, it’s not just about talking it’s about action,” she said. “The members are starting to get used to acting, whether it’s Security Council resolutions, whether it’s with U.N. reform, whether it’s peacekeeping, we are seeing a lot of changes at the U.N.”

Haley noted that the U.S. has trimmed half a billion dollars from the U.N. peacekeeping budget by making the efforts smarter and focusing on political solutions rather than just “throwing troops” (many of them ill-equipped) at problems.

McMaster indicated the message of the U.S. at the U.N. will focus on the goals of promoting peace, sovereignty, accountability, and prosperity.
US urges Iraqi Kurdistan to call off independence vote
The United States Friday urged Iraqi Kurdistan to call off plans for an independence referendum later this month, warning the vote was distracting from the fight against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers voted earlier Friday to hold the referendum on September 25, in the face of bitter opposition from Baghdad and protests from neighboring Iran and Turkey, which fear it will fan separatism among their own Kurdish minorities.

“The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas,” the White House said a statement.

“Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing,” it added.

“We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate.”
Israeli ambassador: Business ties with Lithuania thrive as BDS is MIA
Business deals and trade ties are booming between Israel and Lithuania, Israel’s envoy to the country said, and few if any activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are active in the country.

Ambassador Amir Maimon spoke on Thursday to a small delegation of Israeli journalists touring the country’s start-up and hi-tech scene as guests of the Lithuanian Economy Ministry.

“Trade between Israel and Lithuania has been positive and has shown consistent, if not very fast, growth between the two over the last decade,” Maimon said over lunch at a posh restaurant in the capital, Vilnius, adding that Israeli tourism to the Eastern European country had increased by nearly 25% since 2016.

Bilateral trade stood at around €270 million (NIS 1.1 billion) in 2016, with around two-thirds pertaining to military hardware and cybersecurity software.

With Lithuania facing the threat of Russian aggression on its border – the country was under Soviet occupation for nearly 50 years – and as a member of the European Union and the NATO military alliance, Lithuania is a major buyer of Israeli arms. Contracts with Israeli companies such as Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems were valued at €180m. (NIS 760m.) last year.

Many ordinary Lithuanians express affinity with Israel for being surrounded by enemies and forced to improvise and innovate, and the country just reconstituted mandatory military service for men in 2015.
Egyptian court sentences ex-President Morsi to 25 years for spy case
An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to 25 years in prison in a final ruling over a case accusing him of spying for Qatar, judicial sources said.

Morsi, democratically elected after Egypt's 2011 revolution, was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, now the president, following mass protests against his rule. He was immediately arrested.

Egypt's Court of Cassation reduced Morsi's sentence in the Qatar case to 25 years in its final ruling, from an original 40 years.

Morsi is already serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted for the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012.

Since toppling Morsi, Sisi has clamped down on dissent. Mass trials have been held for thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and hundreds have received death sentences or lengthy prison terms.
Michael Totten: Why Turkey Will Never Be Part of the European Union
The notion that Turkey might conceivably fit inside the EU has always been a bit of a stretch, and it has been especially ludicrous since last summer when a botched coup attempt triggered a Stalinist spasm in Ankara. Within just a couple of weeks, Erdogan fired more than 20,000 private-school teachers and almost 10,000 police officers. He suspended nearly 3,000 judges and arrested more than 10,000 soldiers. He canned tens of thousands of officials from the Ministry of Education and ousted 1,500 university deans. He closed more than 100 media outlets and suspended more than 1,500 officials in the Ministry of Finance.

And from there, it only got worse. In April, Turkish voters narrowly decided to scrap their parliamentary system and replace it with one that gives vast new powers to the president. . . .

One Westerner after another [had nonetheless] convinced himself that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was a Western-style socially conservative capitalist party, an Islamic version of Germany’s Christian Democrats or the Republicans in the United States. (Many of the same people made the same mistake about Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its ill-fated president Mohammad Morsi.) . . .

Erdogan isn’t . . . in the same time zone as Islamic State. He is, however, in the same time zone as Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez, minus the Bolivarian socialism, and as Vladimir Putin in Russia and Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. All are (or in Chavez’s case were) authoritarian demagogues with just a veneer of democratic legitimacy, the kind of rulers often produced by nations that are influenced in part by the West while at the same time standing outside it.

European officials almost certainly know, to a person, that Turkey can never join Europe after what happened last year. . . . Westerners kidded themselves about Erdogan and Turkey for years.
UC Berkeley Faculty Calls for Campus-Wide Boycott of Class
Over 200 University of California, Berkeley professors and faculty are calling for the shutdown of classes and activities during "free speech week," an event scheduled Sept. 24 to 27 that features some "alt-right" speakers.

In an open letter to Berkeley community and campus members, the group called for the boycott of classes and for the closing of all buildings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Therefore, as faculty committed to the safety of our students and our campus, we are calling for a complete boycott of all classes and campus activities while these Alt-Right events are taking place at the very center of UC Berkeley's campus," the letter said.

The faculty believes the university should not ask students and staff to choose between "risking their physical and mental safety," and coming to campus for class or work.

"As faculty we cannot ask students and staff to choose between risking their physical and mental safety in order to attend class or come to work in an environment of harassment, intimidation, violence, and militarized policing," the letter said.

The Berkeley Patriot, a conservative campus publication, is responsible for inviting a number of speakers connected to Milo Yiannopoulos to the four-day event. The student group has not filled out all appropriate paperwork for the event, but campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof did confirm the group has reserved the Sproul Plaza steps for the event. Speakers include Yiannopoulos, Anne Coulter, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Convicted terrorist and immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh to be deported September 19
Rasmea Odeh, the convicted killer of two Israeli students in a 1969 bombing, was convicted in federal court in Detroit of immigration fraud. As part of her plea deal, Rasmea was to be deported and stripped of her U.S. citizenship.

Rasmea’s supporters portray Rasmea as the victim in this saga, but they are fools or liars, and in some cases both. Virtually every talking point in support of Rasmea has been thoroughly refuted, including the demonstrably false claim that Rasmea was convicted of the bombing only because she falsely confessed after 25 days of sexual torture.

I also gave a detailed explanation in my interview, The Lies of Rasmea Odeh and Her Supporters Exposed.

Rasmea never would have been allowed to enter this country had she not lied about her terrorist past on her visa application, and then again on her naturalization application. The law finally caught up with her. Better late than never.

An Israeli newspaper reported that Rasmea would be deported on September 19 to Jordan. But I was unable to confirm that, until now, because ICE refused, on security grounds, to confirm when and where Rasmea would be deported.

Rasmea’s supporters have confirmed that information. Rasmea will be deported September 19 from O’Hare airport.
Michael Lumish: KPFA Retraction
This retraction was aired on the Pacifica Evening News this past Monday 9/11/17 at 6 pm.

"On September First the KPFA Evening News aired a report on an ongoing controversy over a mural at Reem's, an Arab bakery in Oakland's Fruitvale District. We reported the owner, Reem Assil, obtained a restraining order against a protestor, Michael Lumish. That was an error. The owner twice asked the Alameda County Superior Court for a Temporary Restraining Order against Lumish and was twice denied. We regret the error."
Canadian School Teacher Defends Notorious Terrorists in Toronto Area-Based Holocaust-Denying Newspaper
A teacher at a Catholic school in Ontario, Canada has once again defended two notorious terrorists, this time in an Arabic-language newspaper known for peddling Holocaust denial and describing Judaism as a violent faith.

Nadia Shoufani of the St. Catherine of Siena Separate School wrote in an article published in Meshwar on Sunday that she will “not stop quoting the words of Ghassan Kanafani,” and “will not stop demanding freedom for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah,” according to the advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada.

Kanafani served as the spokesman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist group — blacklisted by the Canadian government — which organized the 1972 Lod Airport massacre that killed 26 people.

Abdallah was sentenced to life in prison by a French court in 1987 over his role in the murders of American and Israeli diplomats, as well as an assassination attempt against an American consul.

Meshwar, which is based in the greater Toronto area, has previously published articles claiming that “Jews are the real terrorists” and calling the Holocaust “the biggest lie in history,” according to the watchdog group Honest Reporting Canada.
Hurricane Irma ‘Hot Cop’ in Trouble for Posting Holocaust Jokes, Praise for Hitler
This is why we can’t have nice things: Michael Hamill, who shot to Internet fame earlier this month as one of a trio of “hot cops” helping the victims of Hurricane Irma, went viral again for sharing—drumroll—a Holocaust joke, as well as some warm thoughts about Hitler.

Sworn in as a Gainesville Police Department officer last October, Hamill enjoyed his fifteen seconds of fame when his selfie with two fellow officers became a meme shared and liked by hundreds of thousands of Americans. But when some of these new fans checked out Hamill’s own Facebook page, what they found was less than wholesome.

“Who knew that reading jewish jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep better as well,” mused Hamill in one post from 2013. “Here is one for everybody, ‘What’s the difference between boy scouts and jews?”’ Anybody know? Well it is because ‘Boy scouts come back from their camps.’”

A few years earlier, in 2011, Hamill displayed the same subtle sensibility when it came to the Jews. “So I find it funny that people will talk about how our government needs to do something about our economy and in reality it’s YOU who needs to stop taking advantage of our system and get a life and do something with your life,” he wrote. “Gotta love reality when it hits you in the face. Stupid people annoy me. Put them in an oven and deal with them the Hitler way. Haha.”
Attacks on German synagogue ‘may have been anti-Semitic,’ police say
Weeks after two attacks on a synagogue in Germany, police in the city of Ulm say the motive may have been anti-Semitic.

State security officials are investigating incidents on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 in which one or more perpetrators kicked at the facade of the New Synagogue and later rammed it with a metal post, breaking through the outer wall. According to reports, repairs will cost several thousand dollars.

On Tuesday, an Ulm police spokesman said that anti-Semitism was not out of the question, but added that investigators were looking into all possibilities. There are no suspects.

Rabbi Schneur Trebnik told the Juedische Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s Jewish weekly, that authorities routinely play down reports of anti-Semitic incidents, and that community members are fearful of being recognized as Jewish on the streets.

In this case, he said, local Jews are upset that no one who saw the attack in progress called police.
10 Israeli innovations that will outsmart superbugs
Antibiotics are one of the most effective ways to treat bacterial infections. However, they have been overprescribed and misprescribed for years, leading to the development of bacterial strains that are resistant to specific antibiotics.

The World Health Organization considers this one of the biggest threats to global health because antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections kill more than 700,000 people worldwide every year.

Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs are approaching the problem from various different perspectives. Here are 10 promising advances.

The SNDA-AST diagnostic system, developed in the biomedical engineering lab of Prof. Shulamit Levenberg at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, enables rapid and accurate antibiotic customization for each patient.

The point-of-care system, not yet commercialized, quickly analyzes bacteria isolated from urine samples and assesses their level of resistance to specific antibiotics. This enables the doctor to choose the most effective antibiotic immediately, rather than starting treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics – which can cause AMR and kill “good” bacteria — while awaiting lab results from traditional cultures.
Technion, Hyundai to Partner in Automotive Technology Incubator
Israel is fast becoming a powerhouse in the development of advanced automotive technology and international companies and governmental bodies are taking notice.

The latest partnership to be announced is between the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, and KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).

Dubbed the HTK Consortium, it will conduct joint R&D projects around future mobility technologies, including autonomous driving, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The Technion will act as the bridge between Hyundai Motor and Israel’s growing number of emerging automotive-tech companies. The consortium will incubate these startups, helping them to bring their products to market – starting first (but not exclusively) with Hyundai’s automotive product line.

“By identifying, nurturing and boosting the work of the best startups, we plan to accelerate our global leadership in future mobility,” Tae-won Lim, head of the Technology Innovation Center at Hyundai Motor, said.

Hyundai laid the groundwork for the new collaboration with the opening of the Technology Innovation Center in February 2017. The center oversees all of the company’s research in future technology from AI, advanced materials, energy and robotics, to the next generation of information communication technologies.

“Israel is known around the world for the quality of its startups, so with Technion and KAIST’s combined expertise, Hyundai Motor will be well placed to lead the development of the next generation of automotive technology,” Lim added.
Chicago mayor signs water and innovation deals in Israel
Chicago has abundant water, from the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. Israel is situated in the desert-like Middle East where water is a precious commodity. But it is water that has brought the city and the country together in several new ventures.

Chicago Mayer Rahm Emanuel visited Israel this week to sign agreements with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology focusing on water research.

The Technion agreement is with Chicago’s “Current,” a platform for positioning the Windy City as “a global leader in developing and deploying technology for the next-generation of water infrastructure.”

The Technion will collaborate with Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Department of Water Management.

Emanuel said he wanted Chicago wanted to partner with Israeli institutions because of the country’s high level of expertise in water reclamation, recycling, desalination and purification.
Israeli designer’s unique 3D book printed on space station
To mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the first prototype of Genius: 100 Visions of the Future — the world’s first entirely 3D-printed book printed and bound in one piece — was produced on the International Space Station in zero-gravity conditions 400 kilometers above Earth.

The project was conceived by Rami Kleinmann, head of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University. Einstein was one of the founders of the university, which has two campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. When Einstein died in 1955, he left his estate and intellectual legacy to the university.

The limited-edition book (300 copies) was designed by Ron Arad, the Israeli-born preeminent industrial designer, architect and modern artist based in London.

The prototype was produced in coordination with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Association of Space Explorers president and astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and 3D Space Book project manager Yifat Sharon.

Genius: 100 Visions of the Future features laser-cut pages formed in the silhouette of Einstein. Each of its single-sided 100 pages is devoted to the vision of one distinguished contributor, among them Zubin Mehta, Shimon Peres, Barbra Streisand, Deepak Chopra, Wynton Marsalis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Francine Prose, Salman Rushdie, David Suzuki, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Frank Gehry and Nobel laureates including Professors Dan Shechtman, Aaron Ciechanover and Robert Aumann of Israel.
Real Sociedad using Israeli 4D treadmill to rehab players
It looks like a high-tech treadmill, something you might see in the exercise room at your local gym. But step on and get ready for a walk that deliberately tries to knock you off balance. The treadmill jolts to the left, then to the right; it stops and starts.

That’s all on purpose. The treadmill – called BalanceTutor – is not some sort of mini-roller coaster ride but a serious rehabilitative technology developed in Israel that’s now been adopted by the Real Sociedad football (soccer) team in Spain.

BalanceTutor aims to help players improve their balance and dexterity, especially after an injury.

That’s a big deal for Real Sociedad: A player becomes injured every two matches, explains José Manuel Gonzales de Suso, a sports medicine specialist working with the team.

“The average for each of the club’s teams is between two to three players injured per day,” he says. That adds up to “around 900 days of sickness and leave per team and per season. Playing soccer places high demands on the cardiovascular and locomotor systems.”
Final crewman from Operation Magic Carpet recounts heroic life-saving mission
Before he launched his decades long investigation into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, but well after he’d flown over 100 US Navy combat missions during World War II, Ret. Cpt. Elgen M. Long was saving lives in the skies over Yemen.

Now 91, Long is the last surviving Alaska Airlines crewmember who participated in “On Eagle’s Wings,” part of Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift that brought 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel between 1948 and 1950.

Both he and Alaska Airlines were honored Tuesday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for their work. Alaska Airlines was presented with the StandWithUs Savior of Israel Award. Additionally, the American Sephardic Federation presented Long with its Maimonides Friendship Award.

“Alaska Airlines flew over enemy territory, facing tremendous risks, just to do the right thing. It’s a display of human courage and dignity, which is worthy of our honor and profound respect and for which Israel, and the Yemenite Jewish community, shall forever be grateful for,” said Shahar Azani, executive director of StandWithUs New York.

The story of how Long came to be a navigator on board the historic humanitarian mission is a story of how one young man, at a very early age, had a desire to serve. And like so many veterans and first responders, this former navigator and pilot, who still moves with military bearing, will tell you he simply did what needed to be done.

“It was important for these people. Their lives depended on it. It was life or death and we were doing the best we could. They needed assistance,” Long said.
Jewish and Christian Zionists Donate $1.5 Million in Gift Cards to IDF Soldiers
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.

The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.

The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement on Wednesday.

The vouchers can be used at some 90 major Israeli retail chains to purchase food, clothing, shoes, sporting goods and leisure products.

Significant media attention has focused on Israeli lone soldiers in recent years, particularly after two American-born soldiers, Max Steinberg of California and Sean Carmeli of Texas, were killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
Balfour Declaration was a ‘humanitarian’ gesture, descendant says
A descendant of Lord Arthur Balfour said during a visit to Israel that his ancestor’s 1917 declaration about favoring a Jewish state was “humanitarian” in nature.

Roderick Balfour, the 5th Earl of Balfour, said Thursday at an event in Jerusalem celebrating British-Israeli ties and the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, in which the British government vowed to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel without jeopardizing the rights of other area inhabitants.

The declaration followed several drafts and extensive negotiations between Zionist leaders and British officials including Arthur Balfour, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary at the time. But it did not say why the United Kingdom viewed favorably the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine.

This led to a still-ongoing debate on whether the declaration was a humanitarian gesture following pogroms in Eastern Europe, the result of a political calculus on Britain’s part during world War I or the expression of a scripture-based belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.
Roderick Balfour (Courtesy)

Favoring the humanitarian view, Roderick Balfour said: “I see it very much as a humanitarian gesture against the background of what was happening at the time.” But, he added, “As a reader of the Bible, it is axiomatic that there is a connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”
The 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress
In late August 1897, some 200 Jews from 17 countries arrived in Basel, Switzerland.

Dressed in festive formal attire, the delegates entered the municipal casino concert hall, which was decorated with blue and white flags for the occasion. They heard three knocks of the gavel that launched the Congress and then watched Dr. Karpel Lippe, the oldest delegate, make his way up the stage. He covered his head, and to the tears of the delegates, recited the sheheheyanu blessing, thanking God for bringing the Jews to this time.

With this blessing, that Sunday morning, the first day of Elul, the Jewish state began its journey.

The journey that was embarked on in the First Zionist Congress was not merely a process that would lead to the establishment of the State of Israel. It was the beginning of a Jewish transformation.

Herzl famously stated: “At Basel, I founded the Jewish state.”

He immediately clarified that such state is not simply a geographical representation, nor a collection of citizens who happen to live in a given territory. He wrote: “The essence of a state lies in the will of the people for a state... A territory is merely the concrete basis. The state itself, when it possesses a territory, still remains something abstract.”

It is that abstraction, that ideology, that Herzl founded in Basel and which continues to serve as the bedrock of the Jewish state.

Herzl outlined such a vision in his opening speech. One of the delegates, Mordecai Ben-Ami, described the reaction: “For a few moments, the hall shook from the shouts of joy, the applause, the cheers and the feet-stomping. It felt as if the great dream of our nation, of 2,000 years, was now solved, and in front us stood Mashiach Ben-David.”
The Jewish Art of Salvador Dali

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