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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skybot: All Your High Rise Windows Should Be Washed By Us (Israel)

One job I probably would not enjoy is that of a window washer cleaning the glass of skyscrapers. While the view may be impressive, the potential of falling off would not be (making this job very dangerous).

Fortunately it looks like a new mechanical beast may not only help eliminate the need for workers to risk their lives for cleaner sky scrappers, but it may also help reduce the cost as well.

(Israel 21st Century) [S]ince window-washers - and hopefully their employers - want the work done in as safe a manner as possible, cleaning must take place during daylight hours, preferably in fair or good weather. If it's too windy or stormy, the work just won't get done - meaning an extra expense for building management, who have to pay staff, and schedule delays in getting important maintenance work done.

According to Skybot's Yoram Barmohay, it's far more efficient to use robotics. Skybot's system, "combines the most advanced artificial intelligence technology and plain low-tech common sense," Barmohay tells ISRAEL21c. "The robots allow a fully automatic and consistent cleaning process, much more efficiently and better than any human team can accomplish." [...]

As the system cleans an area of the building, it can also dry a previously treated area - making Skybot quicker than human alternatives. "Our system can clean a surface of 500 square meters in an hour, compared to 250 square meters a human team can cover on a workday," says Barmohay.

According to the article, Skybot can operate in any type of weather condition, as well as handle wind speeds up to 45 mph (which is a little over 72 kilometers).

The company has tested their robot in Tel Aviv as well as Europe, although there is no word on when their window cleaning machine will hit the US.

(Image Credit: Skybot Gallery)

Kosher iPhone App: Did Somebody Say Shofar?

While their are many kosher iPhone apps (such as iBlessing and ParveOMeter), readers may find this one to be a true delight (although I can not say the same of your boss/professor/rabbi when they are giving a speach).

Simply called Shofar, this iPhone app was developed by Rusty Brick who is (at least for the time being) giving this app away for free for shofar lovers everywhere.

Note: Be sure to check out Rusty Brick's other creations, especially the Shabbat Shalom app (which Rabbi's living abroad may really enjoy).

Israel: Turning Animal Waste Into Fuel?

(Image Credit: Henrico County, VA)

This is not the first time someone has used animal waste to keep the lights on (and it probably will not be the last either).

But what makes this situation unique is that Dr. Sobhi Basheer of SB Biotechnologies is using enzymes instead of relying entirely on our silicon friends (aka machines).

(Israel 21st Century) With his latest project, SB Biotechnologies, Basheer is working to transform "waste" animal and vegetable oil into diesel fuel, using genetically engineered enzymes that produce diesel in a clean, environmentally friendly manner - unlike the current popular production methods that spew out many pollutant by-products. Considering that many countries, including all members of the European Union, have mandated that all diesel fuel sold contain as much as 25 percent biodiesel, the company has already begun lining up clients.

Using Basheer's methods, they save money by avoiding the need to dispose of the pollutants, and polish their reputation for being environmentally-friendly too. "It's a revolutionary idea, so much so that we were included in this year's Israel President's Conference on new technologies," Basheer tells ISRAEL21c.
Depending on the price tag, Basheer's technology could go a long way on easing the cost of energy throughout the European continent (whose prices for fuel are usually higher than America's), as well as potentially providing a new source of energy for developing nations (who can not afford to import gas and oil).

Belated: Israeli's Heart Africa (Again)

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

Whether its turning Nigerian deserts into gardens, shipping medical supplies to Kenya or simply building schools in Ethiopia, Israel continues to display an active role in African continent.

Now, it looks as if an organization called Jewish Heart for Africa seeks to improve life conditions for the continent by providing electricity to rural villages via solar power.

(Jerusalem Post) Borowich, 30, founded Jewish Heart for Africa about 10 months ago and today she has projects running in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. [...]

"Four months ago, we installed solar panels in a village in Tanzania to provide electricity for the clinic. Seven thousand people rely on that clinic. We installed 14 lights, 10 inside and four outside. The panels also produce enough electricity to run a 66-liter refrigerator.

"We returned there two weeks ago and the doctor showed us how many kids have now been vaccinated [vaccines have to be kept chilled]. The villagers can find the clinic in the middle of the night because it is lit and the doctor no longer has to work at night by candlelight.

While one of the purposes of Jewish Heart for Africa is to improve the lives of residents within Africa, their secondary goal is to also improve the Jewish states image in the world (especially in less than fortunate countries).

Note: The organization is currently seeking volunteers (not to mention donations), so if you have some spare time, skills or pocket change, feel free to contribute in anyway that you can.

Update: Satellite image of continent added.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Cities: If You Build It, Will They Come? (Israel)

(Hat Tip: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Image Credit: Gal "beivushtang" Forenberg)

Mount Gilboa seems to be attracting more attention these days--and no I am not referring to the Jewish state's attempts at constructing an Israeli-Palestinian industrial park or the cool green kibbutz that resides in the area.

It looks as if Israel is seriously considering constructing an ecologically friendly town and is looking for a few hundred green men (and women) who would not mind living within it.

(Israel 21st Century) If you're planning on living in Nurit, says Danny Atar, chairman of the Gilboa Regional Council, you're by definition willing to go out of your way to save water, avoid excess waste, and in general reduce your carbon footprint. "Otherwise, Nurit is not for you," he says. [...]

And, after intense study and consultations with environmental experts around the world, the town is ready for prime time; work has begun on infrastructure, and the first 100 homes will be ready next year. By 2012, there will be 400 families living in Nurit, Atar says.

Located on Mt. Gilboa itself, Nurit will take advantage of the mountain's wind and sun to generate power, and will install dozens of wind turbines and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, enough to provide electricity for all the public buildings in Nurit - and then some. [...]

"Together with turbines to generate electricity from wind, we expect that the electricity we generate will be enough to light most of the schools, offices, streetlights, and park lights in Nurit - as well as save homeowners money on their energy bill, since they can get credits for the power their roof PV systems generate that they don't use, selling it back to the IEC." Atar says.
Hopefully this green initiative will not stop with houses and offices, and will extend extend its way towards cars (whether through Project Better Place or biofuel  from algae)--not to mention converting garbage dumps into energy as well.

While Nurit may not be the first city to embrace green energy on a massive scale (Eilat previously announced that they were courting solar power), it is good to see the government work with businesses (and the community) in order to make green living a reality.

Video: Modern Day Miracle? Israeli Astronaut's Diary Survives Columbia Tragedy

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

Ilan Ramon, an Israeli astronaut who was blessed to see the stars above Earth's atmosphere before tragically perishing in the Columbia Shuttle disaster was somehow survived--without scientific explanation--by his thoughts on paper which his family is now displaying towards the world.

(New York Times) A little over two months after the shuttle explosion, NASA searchers found 37 pages from Ramon's diary, wet and crumpled, in a field just outside the U.S. town of Palestine, Texas. The diary survived extreme heat in the explosion, extreme atmospheric cold, and then ''was attacked by microorganisms and insects'' in the field where it fell, said museum curator Yigal Zalmona.

"It's almost a miracle that it survived -- it's incredible," Zalmona said. There is "no rational explanation" for how it was recovered when most of the shuttle was not, he said. [...]

The U.S. space agency returned the diary to Ramon's wife, Rona, who brought it to forensics experts at the Israel Museum and from the Israeli police. The diary took about a year to restore, Zalmona said, and it took police scientists about four more years to decipher the pages. About 80 percent of the text has been deciphered, and the rest remains unreadable, he said.

Even though only a few pages will be displayed, it is good for the public to remember Ramon's thoughts while he was alive, and to celebrate the holy land's first Israeli astronaut into space.

Note: Hopefully his legacy will inspire others to follow in his foot steps, as it would be good to see Israel develop its own manned space program.

Video: Iranian Boy Treated In Israel

(Hat Tip: Stand for Israel)

For those of you who have not been following this story, Israel has allowed a 12-year old boy from Iran suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (aka GBM)--a common form of brain cancer--despite the fact that the child is a citizen of a nation whose leader has not been making unkosher speeches regarding his (falsely assumed) future plans about the Jewish state.

(Jerusalem Post) The boy, whose family speaks only a few words of English and who received special permission for entry from the Shin Bet security service, is being treated by Sheba as a "charity case." The hospital has not made payment a precondition for care and does not have information about the parents' professions or financial condition. [...]

Toren told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that tests the unit had conducted since Guy's arrival showed the cancer was in both sides of his brain and had spread to the spinal cord, which did not mean a good prognosis.

"But you never know. Sometimes therapy can suddenly improve the quality of life," he said.

This is not the first time Israel has reached out to help out kids from unfriendly nations (although it is a first for Iran).

Whether or not this helps bring a about a new relationship between Israel and Iran only time will tell.

Either way, be sure to keep this kid in your prayers, as well as the family and the doctors treating him. You can click on the image below in order to watch the video.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sarah Palin Supports Moving US Embassy To Jerusalem

With the US elections "all the rage," it looks as if both parties are once again promoting themselves as Israel's best friend.

During the Vice Presidential debate between Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden, the former briefly mentioned her desire to move the US embassy currently located in Tel Aviv to Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem.

(Israel National News) Republican vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin, in a televised debate Thursday night with Democratic nominee Senator Joe Biden, called for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, echoing Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain's policy. [...]

Gov. Palin opened up the foreign policy part of the debate with support for the two-state solution and a statement that "Israel is our strongest ally." She added, "We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel…. We will support Israel [and] a two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem--those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements."
While her "two-state" solution may not exactly come off as kosher for Israel lovers, her desire to finally move the embassy is good to hear (as both President Clinton and President Bush have delayed moving it, citing security concerns).

US To Israel: Lets Drop That Visa Requirement, Okay?

Their is nothing more annoying rewarding than contacting a foreign government in order to haggle for a Visa so that you can visit that country in the near future (provided the government does not make you wait for several months).

Joking aside, it looks as if US is seriously thinking about removing the Visa requirement (after briefly considering it last year).

( The U.S. may waive its visa requirement for Israelis, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit during their meeting in Washington Thursday.

"I received a positive readiness from Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff, and also from Under Secretary of State William Burns. Their agreement is necessary for the initiative to advance, and both of them support the idea," said Sheetrit. "All that remains is approval to bring Israel into the track that the U.S. has opened in the past for a few other countries [under visa waiver agreements]," he added.

Sheetrit spoke to Haaretz while in the U.S for talks aimed at achieving a visa-waiver agreement for Israelis.

Other countries (like Russia) have already removed Visa requirements for Israeli's, and it is good to see the US government pursuing a similar path as Israel does not require American's to request a Visa in order to visit the holy land.

Hopefully this process is sped up, as it would allow many Israeli businessmen (and women) in the medical, green energy and software technology fields to visit the land of opportunity in order to benefit both countries (and their economies as well).

Will Israel's MCS Replace Anticoagulants? (Med Tech)

Anyone who has ever suffered a severe stroke (or have friends or family who have or may have in the future) may have heard of a type of substance called anticoagulants which basically prevents the blood from clotting within blood vessels (a very bad thing if one is not cut or bruised).

While anticoagulants can help prevent random clots from forming (especially during surgery), they also have the side effect of "keeping the blood flowing," which could increase the overall risk of bleeding complications.

In order to get around this problem, Medical Compression Systems (or MCS) from Or Akiva, Israel has developed a device called ActiveCare Synchronized Flow Technology that may help prevent random blood clots from forming (minus the potential side effects of "non-stop bleeding").

(Israel 21st Century) The device, called ActiveCare+SFT (Synchronized Flow Technology), combines a mobile unit with calf and foot compression sleeves that can be easily wrapped around the patient's leg or foot during and after surgery. [...]

The unit identifies a patient's venous blood flow pulses and synchronizes itself to these natural rhythms. It compresses the limb sleeves, automatically applying the correct pressure and inflation rate.

According to Dr. Jacob Barak, the company co-founder and chief scientist, this gentle pressure delivers an optimal hemodynamic profile tailored to the patient's specific physiology. "Its higher blood flow speed, compact size, and the fact that it can be worn 24/7 give it a definite advantage over comparable products," he tells ISRAEL21c. [...]

Barak says the device's unprecedented mobility has resulted in a dramatic 50 percent increase in patient compliance compared to standard IPC (intermittent pneumatic compression) systems, which have poor compliance rates among patients, particularly those who start to walk, but are not yet fully mobile. Using MCS's device, patient compliance is actually monitored on the LCD screen, providing feedback for caregivers, physicians and patients themselves.

MCS's ActiveCare device is already attracting the attention of some medical clinics in the US, with a few according to Israel 21st Century deciding to replace anticoagulants with ActiveCare+SFT entirely!

MCS's device has already received FDA approval which means that American doctors can contact the company directly for immediate use of ActiveCare+SFT (instead of having to wait many moons or ask their European friends for information regarding this medical device).

(Image Credit: Medical Compression Systems)

Watchout Iran! Azerbaijan (Your Northern Neighbor) Loves Israel

After cementing ties with Iran's northern neighbor last year, it looks as if Azerbaijan is looking to strengthen more than just economic ties with the kosher state.

(Israel Hasbara Committee) Israel and Azerbaijan have taken new steps to deepen military, cultural and economic ties. On Friday, 26 September 2008 the countries announced a new arms deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The deal is significant since Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country, borders Iran to the south. [note: It is actually located on Iran's northern border]

Of the items to be sold to Azerbaijan, ammunition, mortars and radio equipment are included in the package, which will be represented by several Israeli defense firms.

The signing of the agreement was the latest in several steps aimed at improving the relationship between Jerusalem and Baku.

According to the Israel Hasbara Committee (or IHC), Azerbaijan was actually willing to help out Israel evacuate its citizens trapped in Georgia after Russia invaded the country.

Having another friendly country in the region besides Turkey is a good thing for Israel. (although Iran may not appreciate being half way surrounded by friends of the Jewish state) :-)

(Image Credit: Lonely Planet)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

IsraMedTech: Defeating Muscle Atrophy Via Electric Shocks?

For all of those who have ever broken a bone or sprained an arm/leg/foot, one thing that is quite annoying is seeing your muscles wither away after months of non-use because they sat in a hard, itchy cast.

While the only (current) method of dealing with this is to simply exercise ones muscles in therapy, an Israeli company called StimuHeal has come up with a unique way to stimulate those muscles without endangering your fragile bones.

(Israel 21st Century) An Israeli company believes it has the ultimate solution to keep your muscles strong, even when you are immobilized, and your bones broken. The six-year-old company StimuHeal has invented an electrical stimulation device - the MyoSpare - that sits under your cast, stimulating your muscles to stay strong, even when your biggest workout is switching the channels on the remote control. [...]

Using existing equipment on the market, StimuHeal identified the technical and clinical limitations of activating the muscles underneath casts using Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), a well-recognized tool in the American healthcare system.

If electrodes were to be inserted under the cast, the company recognized, prolonged sweating would be a problem. They also had to develop the perfect stimulation regime so the lactic acid and CO2 wouldn't build up in the muscles, causing pain and discomfort. StimuHeal solved this by developing a microprocessor that calculates a cycle for the muscles to rest.

StimuHeal plans on selling Myospare for about $300 USD (once approved), which may make it attractive towards the sporting industry (who is always trying to find ways to help star players heal faster after an injury).

MyoSpare is currently available in both Israel and Europe, although it is still awaiting FDA approval in the US (perhaps StimuHeal's biggest potential market).

(Image Credit: StimuHeal)

Google: Translate From English To Hebrew (And Back Again)

It looks as if the search engine giant has struck again! After previously releasing Hebrew versions for both Blogger and Gmail, it looks like the Google is now attempting to conquer the untamed realm of English-to-Hebrew translation services.
(Globes Online) Google Inc. [...] has the followed the recent launch of the Hebrew version of its Gmail service with the launch of its new translation service Google Translate, which supports translations of texts to and from 30 languages including Hebrew. The program also aligns paragraphs to the left or right margins of the page depending on the direction of the language.
This should definitely help me out with my Hebrew lessons, as I have previously been using Milon (another excellent translation service), a site that helps me understand words (but unfortunately not whole sentences).

Google Translate even allows you to translate whole sites (as one can see from this link of IsraGood in Hebrew, although I am not exactly sure if all of the words are in the correct order).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Israel: The Chinese Invasion Has Begun (Tourism)

(Image: Chinese tourists preparing to visit Israel. Credit: Alsion Klayman of JTA)

It looks like the kosher state in the middle east will now be entertaining guests from the far east as Israel is preparing for the first wave of travelers from China, many who have a fascination about Israelis (and their way of life).
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency) At a pre-departure session for China's first tour group to Israel, manager Wu Jianguo from China Travel Service answered many questions from his pioneering clients: Will all the shops be closed on the day of rest? Are there Chinese restaurants in Israel? Where can we buy a menorah? Should we not bring any snacks with pork? [...]

The trips are the first fruits of an agreement signed last October by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and then-Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi that landed Israel on the list of more than 100 countries to have China's "Approved Destination Status."

This designation makes it easier for Chinese tourists to travel to Israel, and Israel is hoping this will ultimately lead to a tourism boom. Now the Chinese domestic market for Israel travel is mostly businesspeople, about half of whom make up government delegations, according to El Al's sales manager for China, Helen Huang.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), China is already a hot spot for many Israeli travelers, as its one of the few nations that has a long history with the Jewish people, most of it positive (if not all).

Israel and China are already exploring ways to increase trade between their respective countries, which will hopefully blossom into a deeper relationship in the future (note: especially since China is now a space power).

Belated: Holocaust Archives To Enter Israel (Via Steven Spielburg?)

Steven Spielburg, a director/producer often known for creating some of the best films shown on the big screen (like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park) has recently committed to helping thousands of video testimonies from Holocaust survivors make it into the hands of Yad Vashem.

( [T]he joint project by Yad Vashem and the global storage company EMC [...] are collaborating on bringing more than 200,000 hours of video to Israel. The images include 52,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors, prepared and stored by the Shoah Foundation Institute, a Steven Spielberg creation at the University of Southern California (USC).

The testimonies will be added to a Yad Vashem collection of about 10,000 accounts that have been filmed on video since 1989, and some 5,000 films dealing with the Holocaust produced all over the world. The collections will be made accessible to the public within the next few days.
Spielburg is once again making an impact in the middle east, and hopefully his transfer of testimonies will make it easier for Yad Vashem to preserve a living record of what happened during one of the worst tragedies to ever take place on our planet.

Note: Yad Vashem previously made a decision to digitally broadcast these testimonies, as many people (both old and young) are now receiving video from their computer rather than through their DVD player.