Good News From Israel – Week of Dec. 8th 2013

alcobra-logothe highlights include:  Two major Israeli discoveries that could revolutionize treatments for Alzheimer’s.  A new Israeli treatment for Attention Deficiency Disorder.   Israel won an international award in recognition of the number of women in Israel’s parliament.  Israeli humanitarian work is expanding in both Syria and in the Philippines.   An Israeli company is building Honduras’ first geothermal power plant. Apple buys Israeli gesture technology company PrimeSense for $350 million  The world’s oldest wine cellar has been unearthed in the Galilee.

 

 

ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Chemical stops brain from aging.  Researchers at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem and Israeli startup TyrNovo have discovered that a unique compound, named NT219, selectively inhibits the process of aging in order to protect the brain from neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.
Regulating proteins in the brain.  In May, Tel Aviv University researchers discovered that too much of the “bad” protein Tomosyn led to Alzheimer’s disease in mice.  Now they have identified lists of microRNA molecules that regulate proteins that are either good or bad for brain performance.
Israeli fibroid treatment is now in use across the UK.  The ExAblate focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) from Israel’s Insightec is already in use in London, destroying uterine fibroids that cause pain and infertility.  MRgFUS has now been installed at Solihull’s Spire Parkway Hospital in the West Midlands of England.
Israeli exoskeleton on CNN.  The “robotic trousers” from Israel’s ReWalk that help paraplegics to walk, have attracted interest from the TV channel that usually doesn’t have very nice things to say about the Jewish State.
Better calcium to treat osteoporosis.  (Thanks to Uri) Israeli biotech Amorphic has developed Amorphous Calcium Carbonate (ACC) that the body absorbs far better than the crystalline form.  Amorphic produced synthetic ACC after studying the crayfish, which uses natural ACC to build its bones in low calcium conditions.
New treatment for ADD.  Israeli start-up Alcobra set out to develop a pill that would reduce blood alcohol but came up with a treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder.  Alcobra claims metadoxine has all the benefits of Ritalin, Concerta, and Strattera without their drawbacks.
How Israel eradicated malaria.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is running a conference this coming week to analyze how Israel eliminated malaria from pre-State Palestine.  Lessons learned could help remove the scourge of malaria prevalent currently in Africa.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israel wins international women’s rights prize.  The Women in Parliament Global Forum awarded Israel with its prize for progress at the European Parliament in Brussels. According to the OECD, Israel is among a minority of 9 percent of developed countries with gender-sensitive institutions in the seat of government.
Israel and Syria:  Israel has been sending water and baby food to besieged Syrian villages.  The IDF has also been using its groundbreaking freeze-dried plasma innovation in its field hospitals – to save wounded Syrians from blood loss.
Still working in the Philippines.  Although the IDF mission has returned to Israel, the IsraAID delegation continues to provide relief to the typhoon victims in Ormoc and its surrounding municipalities.  The team is dealing with trauma and physical health problems, extending its role as other countries pull out.
Israeli wins prize for Japanese book.  The Japan Cultural Institute has awarded Professor Ben-Ami Shillony of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem its annual prize for promoting the understanding between cultures.  The JCI’s Foundation for Furtherance of International Cultural Ties selected Prof Ben-Ami’s book “The Secret of Japan’s Strength” (recently translated into Japanese) ahead of 74 other works in Japanese.
UN passes Israeli resolution on agriculture.  The UN on Tuesday passed an Israeli-sponsored resolution on “agricultural technology for development,” a bill dedicated to sustainable agricultural advancements for developing countries.  138 countries voted “Yes” whilst Arab states abstained.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Eilat to be energy independent in 2 years.  An eight-megawatt medium-sized solar field has been installed at Kibbutz Neot Smadar – the second major solar site in the Eilat area.  Within 2 years, new sites will increase local capacity to 160MW, well above the current 120MW consumption level.
Geothermal power for Honduras.  Israel’s Ormat Industries is to build and operate the first-ever geothermal power plant in Honduras.  The 18-megawatt renewable energy plant will begin operations in 2016.
Building a power station for Peru.  Kallpa Generaction, a subsidiary of Israel Corporation, has been awarded the Peruvian government tender to build a 593MW dual-fuel open cycle power station (natural gas and diesel) that will support the country’s grid.  The agreement is for 20 years and is worth $1 billion.
Israel to restore Mexico’s aquifers.  (Thanks to Israel21c) The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico has signed a cooperation agreement with Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot for the development of strategies for the purification and protection of groundwater quality in Mexico.
SiSense wins World Technology Award.  Eldad Farkash of SiSense won a top prize at the World Technology Awards gala in New York City for his invention of In-Chip big data analytics technology. The Israeli-run company’s software allows users to analyze vast amounts of data at huge speeds using minimal hardware.
Preventing soil erosion.  Ben-Gurion University is establishing a center for excellence on fertile land erosion.  The project has been made possible due to a grant from the chief scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture.
Top Israeli companies at AgriVest.  Two new stars at Israel’s AgriVest agricultural conference included Rootility, which has a root-growing platform that substantially increases crop yields.  Also EggDetect, which ensures incubation of only fertile eggs and prevents unnecessary production of male chicks.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Unemployment falls to 5.9%.  Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 5.9% in October from 6% in September.  The number of Israelis participating in the work force rose to 3,704,000, up 0.4% from the previous month.
All-time record for currency reserves.  The total of Israel’s foreign currency reserves reached a new record of $80,589 million in November.
Israeli economy gets more ‘A’s.  Fitch announced this that it has affirmed Israel’s ‘A’ rating and raised the country’s outlook to ‘positive’. It also affirmed Israel’s long-term foreign and local currency ratings at ‘A’ and ‘A+’ respectively. The agency also raised the outlook on the foreign currency debt from ‘stable’ to ‘positive’.
Apple buys Israel’s PrimeSense for $350 million.  After 18 months of talks, Apple Inc confirmed that it has acquired Israel’s PrimeSense. PrimeSense’s gesture recognition hardware and software is embedded in Microsoft’s Kinect system used in Xbox 360 game consoles.
Three of the fastest growing companies are Israeli.  Deloitte’s EMEA Fast 500 ranks three Israeli companies among the ten European technology companies with the highest rates of growth.  MyThings (advertising) was placed second, Trusteer (IT security) was fifth and MyHeritage (family trees and genealogy) was tenth.
Mini-golf project gets good publicity.  Newsletter subscriber Grant Crankshaw’s Headstart campaign to build a Bible-themed mini-golf venue in Ra’anana has been featured in top media articles.  Here it is on Israel21c.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Anemone voted Israel’s national flower.  The bright red calaniot (anemones) that cover the country’s southern fields each spring have now become Israel’s national flower.  In an online election campaign held by the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) and Ynet, the anemone attracted 28 per cent of the vote.
100 years of aviation in Israel.  (Thanks to Jacob Richman) In 1913 French aviator Jules Vedrines landed his Bleriot XI in the pre-State Land of Israel, near the beach in Tel Aviv.  New Israeli stamps celebrate this event, plus two of the Israeli aircraft developed since, the Zukit and the Heron I UAV.
Gary Numan to perform in Israel.  British new wave and punk legend Gary Numan will arrive in Israel this winter to perform at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club on February 10.  Numan’s first song as a solo artist, “Cars” was released in 1979 and made it to the top of the charts. Over the next decades he released more than 20 albums
“Me and you will change the world”.  Arik Einstein, who died last week, was Israel’s most popular singer and songwriter.  We learnt his iconic song “Ani v’Ata” (Me and You) at ulpan (Hebrew language school).
Israel ride raises $500,000.  132 cyclists rode from Jerusalem to Eilat to raise money for the Arava Institute and the Hazon charity.  Five days of cycling took the riders through 350 miles of beautiful Israeli scenery.
THE JEWISH STATE
The world’s oldest wine cellar.  Archaeologists have discovered a 3700-year-old wine cellar in Tel Kabri, in the Galilee.  Forty intact jars were found in the cellar, which dates to 1700 BCE. Each of the jars would have held fifty liters.  The cellar is estimated to have held 2000 liters of the strong sweet wine.
The first night of Hanukkah in Jerusalem.  A glimpse of Israel’s capital in the glow of the first candle lit during the festival of lights. Prime Minister Netanyahu lit for the IDF delegation returning from the Philippines.
Hanukkah miracles.  Blinded in a Gaza terrorist attack last month, 2nd Lieutenant Ahiya Klein has recovered enough sight in his left eye to return home and light Hanukkah candles.  And, two-year-old Avigail Ben-Tzion is smiling again after suffering serious head injuries when Arabs threw rocks at her family’s car in Jerusalem.
Hasmonean era house discovered.  For the first time ever, the remains of a Hasmonean building are being excavated in Jerusalem.  Coins found in the ruins of the house date the building to the 2nd Century BCE – the time of War of the Maccabees against the Syrian-Greek rulers that led to the Jewish festival of Hanukah.
World’s largest Hanukkiah.  On the last (8th) day of the Jewish festival of Hanukah, Israel Electric Corporation switched on the 8th candle on the largest Hanukah candelabra in the world. It is made from nine aerial platforms, reaching a height of 28 meters and can be seen from all over Tel Aviv.