Israel's Good News Newsletter to 21st Dec 2014

(Still in the UK helping my parents; next Newsletter in 2015)



In the 21st Dec 2014 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:

·         Israeli scientists have developed an early test for brain damage from trauma.
·         Israel is the first country in the world to recognize the Arameans.
·         Israeli high-school students have proved that life develops slower in outer space.
·         In Israel, prices are falling and productivity is rising.
·         UNESCO has named Tel Aviv as a creative city.
·         More evidence of 2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in the Judean desert.

Page Down for more details on these and other good news stories from Israel.


ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Israeli MRI detects brain damage earlier.  Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University’s Brain Imaging Research Center have developed a method that can detect damage to the brain much earlier than previously thought.  Detection, soon after a trauma, means that the damage might still be reversible.

Generic blood pressure treatment.  Israel’s Teva has launched a generic version of Exforge HCT – a popular treatment of high blood pressure.  Teva’s generic products save money for patients and health services.

Life expectancy rises again.  In Israel in 2013, men had an average life expectancy of 80.3 years while women had 83.9 – an increase of nearly five months for men and three months for women in comparison to 2012.

50,000 wear Israeli remedial shoes.  Israel’s AposTherapy has developed a treatment for knee and back pain using unique individually calibrated shoes.  AposTherapy currently treats 50,000 patients and has just raised $15 million to help expand its business in the US market.

New test for foreign matter in lungs.  (Thanks to San Diego Jewish World) Scientists at Tel Aviv University have developed a new technique for detecting hazardous particles in the lungs.  The test can be used in emergencies such as fire rescues or as a warning of high pollution levels.

New cancer center is a communal success.  (Thanks to Stuart) The Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel is one of many successful stories showing how ethnic groups in Israel can successfully work side by side.  Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze raised funds together for a new cancer center, via an inspiring radio campaign.


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

Israeli women are making hi-tech history.  Shecodes, a network of around 4,000 female programmers in Israel has grown so fast in its first year it hasn’t even had time to finish its own website yet.  Its goal is that 50 percent of Israeli programmers will be female within a decade.  It has just held its inaugural 3-day hackathon.

Captain Cohen gets her ship.  The Israeli Navy has selected Captain Or Cohen to become the first woman appointed as an IDF Navy ship’s commander. Cohen will be first appointed as deputy commander of a navy vessel, and following that will go on to take the Navy’s advanced commander’s course.

Israeli hi-tech for good.  “Tech for Good,” is an Israeli organization that promotes technology development to solve social problems. To actualize its goals, the group last week inaugurated The Rally, Israel’s first “social tech” accelerator that aims to solve social issues like obesity, cyber-bullying, teen pregnancy, and much more.

A network for dog-owners.  Israeli start-up app Dogiz is a social network for dog owners and it's building a marketplace where you can find a veterinary, dog walker, hair dresser and more.  It is described as a community app for people who love their dogs.

Israeli Arabs prefer Israel to the PA.  A new poll conducted by the Statnet Research Institute, headed by Israeli Arab statistician Yousef Makladeh, reports that 77 percent of Israeli Arabs preferred to live under Israeli rule than under the Palestinian Authority.  It confirms the results of a survey by Haifa University in late 2013.

Israel recognizes Arameans.  Israel is the first country in the world to recognize the Arameans as a separate nationality.  There are 130,000 Aramean Christians in Israel – up from 60,000 in 1948.  The global estimate of Arameans is 1.65 million.

Israel “ticks” all the freedom boxes.  British Prime Minister David Cameron fired back at critics of Israel's "Jewish State Law" in parliament Wednesday, noting that Israel is one of the only countries in the Middle East which actually grants equal rights to all its citizens.  See the video at 17 min in response to an anti-Israel MP.

Israel welcomes four new ambassadors.  New ambassadors from Angola, Jamaica, the Philippines and South Sudan presented their diplomatic credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.  Many Israelis are involved in trade and/or humanitarian work in all four countries.


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Hi-tech clothing.  The WearSheva! Hackathon at Ben-Gurion University was a 28 hour marathon in which 210 developers and designers had to come up with a new, innovative wearable technology product.  The winners were a student feedback system, a wearable locator device and a real-time translator.

9th graders’ ground-breaking experiment in space.  On the International Space Station, astronauts have conducted an experiment designed by four 14-year-old girls from an Israeli high school.  The experiment showed that low gravity slows the development of living organisms.

Hats off to the smart baseball cap.  I featured Lifebeam’s smart cycling helmet in March 2013.  Now non-cyclists can wear the hi-tech head-covering that measures heart-rate, calorie usage, walking posture and more.

The Weizmann Institute goes where no one has gone before.  A gala celebration of Weizmann Canada’s 50th anniversary raised $5.7 million for the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.  One honored guest was Canada’s William Shatner, better known as Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

One hand movement to control them all.  The onecue system by Israel’s eyeSight lets users interact with almost any device in their homes just by moving their hands.  The system uses gesture recognition technology to operate any device with a control system, from the TV to the cable box to the thermostat.

Whatever happened to Yo?  In June 2014, the smartphone app “Yo” was the fourth most popular app in the App Store.  But then the novelty wore off.  After all, who really needs something that just sends a message “Yo” to a friend?  But now the Israeli developers of Yo are planning a comeback.

Protecting our energy.  The Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) is investing $4 million into five joint US-Israeli projects that seek to commercialize clean energy technologies.  The projects also will help enhance the energy security of Israel and the United States.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS

More flights this winter.  Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority expects an extra 106 weekly flights to and from Israel this winter.  The main reason is the first stage of the Open Skies agreement between Israel and Europe.

New car sales soar.  One indicator shows an improvement of confidence in the Israeli economy – sales of new cars for 2014 are 14% higher than the same period in 2013.  229,294 were delivered from Jan to Nov 2014.

Israeli prices are falling.  Israel’s annual consumer prices declined for the third straight month in November as commodity prices fell worldwide.  Prices dropped 0.1 percent from a year ago, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. November prices fell by 0.2 percent.

Productivity is rising.  Israeli wages may be low compared to the US and Europe, but latest research from the Hebrew University shows that Israeli productivity is on the rise – contrary to previously disputed statistics. http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-productivity-is-rising-while-wages-are-being-eroded-1000990332

Jerusalem – the startup capital.  Over 800 investors and entrepreneurs converged at OurCrowd’s Jerusalem offices to participate in its startup conference.  OurCrowd manages a network and website that has raised $80 million for hi-tech Israeli startups, with investors able to place $10,000 or more in each new enterprise.

A solar field for Georgia.  Israeli solar company Energiya has won a $30 million contract to build a 17.68 MW solar field in the US state of Georgia.  It is the first of a dozen projects the company plans to launch in southeast USA.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

Tel Aviv is now a UNESCO creative city.  Tel Aviv was among 28 cities designated by UNESCO as new members of its creative cities network, with a focus on media arts.

Haifa’s festival of festivals.  (Thanks to Stuart) For the past 21 years, thousands of visitors have been attending the annual Holiday of Holidays Festival in Haifa.  The festival falls on the crossroads of Hanukka, Id al-Adha and Christmas and has come to stand for coexistence and multiculturalism with theatrical and musical performances, vendors and art exhibits.

Five Israeli swimmers in Qatar.  Five Israeli swimmers have qualified for this year’s world short course swimming championships in Doha, Qatar.  The organizers promised there would be no recurrence of the incident at Doha’s last event when the Israeli flag was erased on the display monitors.


THE JEWISH STATE

When the Mayflower docked in Haifa.  Remarkable recent account of a historic sea voyage by two lone soldiers to the fledgling Jewish State in 1948.  The Mayflower was a former US Presidential yacht; it previously served in the Spanish-American War and had later been sunk and raised from the sea bed.

Coffee for a shekel – to help drivers stay awake.  Hundreds of intercity gas stations in Israel will lower their coffee prices to one shekel ($0.26) between midnight and 6:00 a.m. The one shekel coffee initiative will last until April 2015 to encourage late-night motorists to remain more aware on the road.

Discoveries at King Herod’s palace.  Archeologists have uncovered an elaborate entrance to King Herod’s 2000-year-old palace at Herodian in the Judean desert.  They also found hidden tunnels used by Bar Kochba’s army, used in the 132-136 CE revolt against the occupying Roman forces.