2013 Israel’s Good News Week of Jan. 6th

israel_flag3-400x220 In the 6th Jan 2013 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include: Israeli discovery that a medication for Parkinson’s turns sufferers into artists and poets. Order of British Empire (OBE) given to Israeli educator for services to the teaching of English. 13% of Israeli exports go to Arab countries.Israelis have developed the basis for computers that can anticipate human needs. Israel is growing frankincense for the first time in over 1500 years. Israel bans cosmetics that involve testing on animals. Accidents and fatalities on Israeli roads are the lowest for 50 years.  Good news for man’s best friend – a life-saving vaccine and a TV channel.

ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Israeli neurologist discovers positive side effect.  A study by Israeli neurologist Dr. Rivka Inzelberg has identified that patients taking dopamine-stimulating medication (to control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease) have contracted artistic or literary creative skills.  Reducing the medication suppresses these new skills.
Calcium control prevents brain diseases.  Hebrew University researchers have discovered that the protein Calphotin regulates the amount of Calcium contained in the body’s cells.  Loss of Calphotin (e.g. due to aging) causes Calcium levels to rise and accelerates cell death. In the brain this leads to diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Approval for Israeli tumor test.  The US Food and Drugs Administration has approved the MarginProbe breast cancer test from Israel’s Dune Medical.  Surgeons performing lumpectomy operations use MarginProbe to ensure that the whole tumor has been removed, thus avoiding the need for further operations.
More power to the brain. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Max Planck Society of Germany are to build a 3 million euro Brain Research Center on the Hebrew U’s Givat Ram site in the nation’s capital.  It is hoped that the research will lead to improved treatment for destructive neurological diseases.
New vaccine for dogs.  (From Israel21c) Two Hebrew University veterinary scientists have developed the first vaccine effective against canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME), a sometimes fatal tick-borne disease in dogs.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
More help for educating minorities.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is creating a program for students from minority backgrounds to encourage access to higher education. To lead these efforts, the University has appointed Prof. Nayef Jarrous as the Minority Affairs Advisor to Hebrew U President Menahem Ben-Sasson.
Penny gets Queen’s honor for the Queen’s English.  (Thanks to Israel21c) English-born teacher, lecturer and writer Penny Ur from Moshav Amnon has just been awarded the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List for her work promoting English language-teaching methodologies.  She made Aliya in 1967.
Asperger’s Birthright tour.  20 young North American Jews with Asperger’s Syndrome have just experienced Israel together on a special Taglit-Birthright tour.  They also met Israelis with Asperger’s at Shekel, an umbrella organization for Israelis with special needs.
Arab states love Israeli produce.  A major Lebanese supermarket chain is selling Israeli goods, contrary to the 64-year-old Arab boycott of the Jewish State.  Amazingly, according to a Tel Aviv University report, Israel’s exports to Middle Eastern markets in 2011 were over $6 billion, about 13 percent of overall Israeli exports.
Only Israel.  Excellent article that sums up the upside-down world we live in.
Israel is one with Newtown.  The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School invoked much empathy from Israeli leaders and organizations.  Both President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu sent condolences.  Israel Humanitarian Aid donated boxes of fresh food to first responders in Newtown.  And Hadassah has raised funds to plant a grove of 3,000 trees in Beersheva River Park, Israel, in memory of the 26 victims.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Two Israeli apps are among Apple’s “Best of 2012”.  Two Israeli applications have made the Apple App Store’s Best of 2012 list.  Any.Do allows users to manage a task list using voice commands or touchscreen technology. GroupShot allows group photos to be edited so that everyone looks their best.
Israel introduces “perceptual computing”.  Using a unique platform developed at Intel’s Haifa center, it will soon be possible for computers to anticipate the needs of their owners.  Intel is offering developers $1 million in prizes to come up with the software of tomorrow, in the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge.
Waze can help reduce accident numbers.  Ben Gurion University researchers have analyzed data from Israeli GPS navigation application “Waze “to highlight traffic trouble spots where police can be deployed more effectively. The data highlighted slow police response times and unmonitored busy intersections.
The first frankincense tree for 1500 years.  Dr Elaine Solowey of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies has grown a new sapling of the rare and fragile tree at Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev.  Frankincense production at Ein Gedi by the Dead Sea was a major industry until the Romans wiped out the settlement.
Purifying wastewater in Brazil.  Israeli start-up Mapal Energy has completed a project in Brazil for the supply and installation of floating fine-bubble aeration units in the state of São Paulo.  Mapal’s units replaced the existing mechanical aerators, saving 50% of the energy while maintaining the quality of the treated water.
Iron Dome got even better.  Israel’s anti-missile defense system intercepted 85% of the rockets that Gaza terrorists fired at civilians during Operation Pillar of Defense.  But towards the end of the conflict, Rafael engineers managed to improve this to 100% – and halted the firing of the second (backup) missile.
Dog TV.  Flat screen technology has improved sufficiently for dogs to be able to view TV programs.  Israel’s YES channel has now launched Dog TV.  For NIS 9.90 per month you can leave your pet home alone to watch 3 to 6-minute-long programs of soothing, stimulating and scary content, so as not feel lonely or abandoned.
Beersheba opts for trees over houses.  (Thanks to Atid-EDI) Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich has decided to revoke plans to build 16,000 new housing units in the city’s Ramot Gimel neighborhood in favor of planting a new forest.  The urban forest will span across 1,360 acres and serve as the city’s green lung.
The “BIRD” is flying.  BIRD is a major Israel-US fund for Research and Development projects.  It has just announced that it will be providing $9 million for ten new infrastructure projects that address water technologies, environmental recycling, cyber security and firefighting.
Moses definitely went the right way on leaving Egypt.  Harold Vinegar’s 10-minute talk at December’s Globes Israel Business Conference will tell you everything you need to know about Israel’s shale oil deposits.  250 billion barrels of high-quality oil will change the face of the Middle East.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Tamar’s platform arrives.  Israel has launched an offshore platform for natural gas, a step towards energy self-sufficiency for the first time in history.  The platform, taller than Israel’s highest building, is located at the Tamar gas field, 24 miles west of the southern port city of Ashkelon.  Production is scheduled to start in April.
What do you want for your birthday?  Israel’s Jifiti is the first in-store gifting platform that allows users to select, share and redeem gifts at their favorite stores.  I know that my children will love this app (sigh!).
Modernizing Canadian businesses.  (Thanks to Atid-EDI) Herzliya-based BluePhoenix and Quebec’s WAZ Informatique are converting the out-of-date computer systems of large Canadian companies to modern open standard platforms.  BluePhoenix is the leading provider of legacy IT modernization conversion solutions.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
40 years of “Dry Bones”.  For the past 40 years, Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen has provided profound satire and witty commentary on everyday Israeli news and international events with his “Dry Bones” cartoon in the Jerusalem Post newspaper and on-line.  See Yaakov’s educational project www.Dry-BonesProject.com
Warm up to Jazz in Eilat.  The winter International Red Sea Jazz festival returns to Eilat 17-19 Jan.  Nine ensembles from Israel and abroad will participate in this year’s festival presenting fifteen musical performances.  The hotel venues are the Royal Garden, King Solomon and the Royal Beach, and jamming at the Monkey’s bar.
Fed Cup Tennis.  Sixteen countries (including Britain and Turkey) will compete for the Group 1 Fed Cup in Eilat from 6th to 9th February.  This is the third year in a row that Israel has hosted the European competition.
THE JEWISH STATE
Cleaning up the rivers.  Israel has increased the budget for rehabilitating polluted rivers and streams.  The new total includes NIS 220m for the Kishon River, NIS 300m for the Beersheba River and NIS 178m for the Alexander, the Yarkon, the Taninim Stream, the Shikma Stream and the Tabor Stream amongst others.
Converting garbage dump into homes.  Israel is to transform a disused landfill site in Netanya into a residential area for 2,062 families and 1,100 hotel rooms.  It involves evacuating 2.5 million cubic meters of waste, increasing Netanya’s famous iris nature reserve and providing much needed housing for the seaside city.
They’ve come a long way.  Fifteen Israeli-Ethiopian teenagers have just visited the birthplace of their parents.  During the trip they began to understand where they had come from and all that they had achieved.  For Zahava it was as if a giant puzzle had been completed.  “This was worth everything to me”, she said.
Israeli schools are improving.  More government funding, longer staff hours and teachers for specific subjects are some of the reasons why Israeli children are getting better test results.  The next goal is to reduce class sizes and tackle the problems affecting children from poor families.
Israel bans cosmetics tested on animals.  Israel now officially bans the import, marketing and sale of any cosmetics, toiletries or detergents whose manufacturing process involves animal testing.  Head of the Knesset’s Animal Rights Lobby MK Eitan Cabel said, the law represents “A true revolution in animal welfare in Israel”.
Jewish coins from Biblical Israel.  The Israel Antiquities Authority’s collection of 800,000 coins is one of the largest in the world.  They are solid (often solid gold) proof of the ancient Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.  Jews were even minting coins during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, 2000 years ago.
Israel’s roads are the 10th safest in the world.  It’s true!  The numbers of accidents and fatalities on Israeli roads have been falling steadily in recent years and have now reached a 50-year low.  2012 saw a 25% drop in road deaths.  Reasons include improved infrastructure, technology, publicity and the work of NGO Or Yarok.