Israeli engineering students volunteer in Africa

Tel Aviv Engineering Students Bring Clean Water Solution To Tanzania

By NoCamels Team January 21, 2015

Reprinted from No Camels

Like many good stories, this one began with food. A group of students at TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering organized a campus beer and bratwurst sale to kickstart fundraising for a volunteering project in Africa. Many sausages later, and with a lead donation from Arison Group’s Shikun & Binui construction company, a TAU team arrived in Tanzania to build a system that would provide hundreds of students at a local high school with clean drinking water.

Leading the TAU delegation was electrical engineering student Eran Roll, the director of TAU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), which initiated and supervised the project. EWB is an international organization dedicated to bringing engineering solutions to disadvantaged communities.


Roll explained that the project’s genesis went back to 2007, when engineering alumnus Itai Perry saw the hardship caused by contaminated water during a TAU-affiliated volunteer trip to the northern Tanzanian village of Minjingu. The residents’ drinking water was saturated with exceptionally high levels of fluoride, causing skeletal deformities and severe dental problems among the local children. Seven years later, Roll and four others came to Minjingu to build and install a 48,000-liter rainwater harvesting and advanced filtration system that would allow the 400 students and staff members at Nkaiti Secondary School – the only high school in the region – to drink and cook with clean, safe water. They also trained school officials and volunteers on how to operate and maintain the system, and they kept in touch with local residents to ensure that any bugs would be worked out. The team created the system with the help of Israeli rainwater harvesting expert Amir Yechieli.

      SEE ALSO: Award-Winning NGO Brings Israeli Innovation To Africa

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Israeli startups in demand

Amazon Buys Stealthy Israeli Chip Startup Annapurna Labs

by Jason Verge on January 23, 2015

Reprinted from Data Center Knowledge

Amazon has acquired Israeli startup Annapurna Labs for an estimated $350-$400 million, according to The Wall Street Journal and other sources. The semiconductor development firm has been in stealth mode since 2011, so not much is known about the company. It develops networking chips and designs to make data centers run efficiently and has close to a hundred employees.

Amazon Web Services, the company’s public cloud infrastructure services business, aims to run as efficiently as possible leveraging economies of scale and in-house engineering. One potential reason for the acquisition could be to further improve data center efficiency.

AWS revenue is in the billions (cloud revenue isn’t broken out in earnings). With increasing cloud pricing pressure from the likes of Google and Microsoft, Annapurna’s technology might help Amazon stay a step ahead by improving margins.

The cloud war is dependent on the data center. Google is known to be investing deeply in the data center, which recently prompted Fidelity Contrafund to cut its stake in the Internet giant.

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Muslim who saved Jews is honored

Grocery worker hailed a hero during Paris attacks is made a French citizen

Published on Jan 21, 2015 3:23 AM

Reprinted from The Straits Times

Lassana Bathily, a man of Malian origin described as a “hero” after he helped hostages at a Jewish supermarket hide during last week’s Paris attacks, holds his French passport following a ceremony on Jan 20, 2015 at which was awarded French nationality in Paris. — PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) – The Malian grocery worker hailed as a hero for saving hostages’ lives when an Islamist militant attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris this month was made a French citizen on Tuesday.

Lassana Bathily, 24, was joined by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a packed naturalisation ceremony.

“I am so happy to get dual nationality,” said a smiling Bathily, who also received a medal for his actions.

“Long live freedom, long live solidarity, long live France.”

Bathily, who arrived in France from Mali in 2006 and received his working papers five years later, has been credited with saving many lives in the Jan 9 attack that killed four people at the kosher store in eastern Paris.

Previous militant attacks that week killed 13 others, most of them at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper.

Hailed by Cazeneuve and Valls as a model of decency and Republican values, Bathily tried for years to obtain French nationality and was even turned down in 2011 before he was handed his passport by Valls.

The inventory worker was in a storage room in the rear of the market when Amedy Coulibaly, the Islamist militant later killed by police, burst into the store.

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Alibaba invests in Israel

Alibaba invests in Israeli start-up Visualead

Alibaba Group

20/01/2015, 11:16

Globes correspondent

Visualead has developed a QR Code solution, and operates in the Chinese market.

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has entered the Israeli market: according to reports on foreign websites, Alibaba will invest in Israeli start-up Visualead, which operates in the Chinese market and has developed a QR Code solution.

This is Alibaba’s first ever investment in an Israeli company. Before the current investment, Visualead had raised $2.4 million in two fund raising rounds.

Last month, a delegation from Alibaba visited Israel and met Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, who made a presentation on the local high-tech market. “Expanding commercial ties with China is a strategic goal for the Ministry of the Economy and the State of Israel. The Chinese market is undergoing rapid growth, and in the past year we have taken several steps to make it easier for Israeli companies, such as Visualead, to enter this market. I am sure that Alibaba will find interesting investment opportunities in Israel and that we shall see many more collaborations between them and Israeli companies,” Bennett said.

Confirming the report, Visualead released a statement today as follows:

“Visualead, an Israeli O2O (Offline to Online) startup and pioneer of Visual QR Code technology, announced today that it has secured B-round funding from Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA, “Alibaba Group”). Alibaba Group and Visualead also entered into a strategic cooperation agreement for the use of Visualead’s patents and technology across Alibaba Group’s ecosystem. Visualead will use the proceeds from the funding to develop next generation of O2O technology.

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Israel haters are misguided

The delusional thinking of Israel-haters

In fact, Israel does its best to behave in a humane and fair way in the face of continuous provocations from the violent extremists that control Palestinian society, and indeed have a dominant influence over almost all of the Arab and Muslim world. Israel behaves this way because it is essentially a tolerant, liberal democracy.

By Vic Rosenthal, January 2015

It’s often said that Jew-hatred is irrational, and this is obviously true when you look at the absolutely insane beliefs of Jew-haters. For example, Muslims in Paris suburbs believe that Jews, even “a hybrid race of shape-shifters” were responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, “to make Muslims look bad.” Right.

But exactly the same kind of delusional thinking characterizes obsessive “critics of Israel.” Several years ago there was a scandal over the master’s thesis of one Tal Nitzan at the Hebrew University, in which she argued that the fact that there are no reported rapes of Palestinian Arab women by Jewish IDF soldiers is ‘evidence’ that Israelis are racist. Nitzan argued that they deliberately do not rape them because their racism makes Arab women undesirable to them! Nitzan’s thinking is clearly irrational, but she received a high grade and a prestigious award for her thesis.

But we all know that academics are often, shall we say, different from the rest of us. So we can chalk this up to academic silliness. Not so for the next example, which appeared in the New York Times. A writer named Sarah Schulman popularized the term ‘pinkwashing’, “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”

Schulman’s argument was that Israel’s LGBT-friendly policies, rather than being evidence for its being an advanced liberal and tolerant democracy, were actually a “public relations tool.” Never mind that Israel is in fact one of the best places in the world (and by far the best in the Middle East) for people with non-traditional gender identities, and that gay Palestinians often flee to Israel to escape persecution. One is not allowed to mention these facts because it will obscure the oppression of Palestinians.

If this isn’t enough, the same argument is recycled for the growing Israeli vegan and animal rights movements by Shawndeez Davari Jadali, who is a research assistant for the “Islamophobia Studies Journal” – yes, there is such a thing – at UC Berkeley of course.

Nitzan, Schulman and Jadali seem to believe that Israel is so evil that it is forbidden to point out any of its good qualities. It is only legitimate to vilify it for its alleged oppression of Palestinian Arabs.

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Jew hatred lives in France

Why Don’t Jewish Lives Matter?

In recent years Jews have been the target of harassment, threats, mugging, beatings, kidnapping and torture, and murders

Lev Raphael, Huffington Post 

Posted: 01/18/2015

The Charlie Hebdo massacres highlighted two different cultures to Americans. The first was already way too familiar: Islamic fundamentalism that drives disaffected young men and women to insane violence, in this case the massacre of cartoonists who they felt mocked their religion.

The second was something much more recondite: a French tradition of vulgar, obscene, juvenile satire that’s completely unlike anything we know (or would likely be comfortable with) here in America. South Park isn’t remotely close and seems mild by comparison.

Trying to explain this no-holds-barred satire, the same phrase keeps cropping up in editorials, commentaries, and blogs with nauseating regularity: “They were equal opportunity offenders.” In other words, there wasn’t anyone they weren’t willing to take on. Wow.

It sounds very fine, doesn’t it? I mean, who could be against equal opportunity, even when it comes to offense? And yet….


“I’m marching, but I’m aware of the situation’s confusion and hypocrisy.” (Dalia Ezzat via Twitter)

There are only about 500,000 French Jews in a country of 66 million and France is no longer a safe home. In recent years Jews have been the target of harassment, threats, mugging, beatings, kidnapping and torture, and murders. Those are generalities, but here are some specifics from CNN International about incidents in 2014 which are up almost 100%:

Among the anti-Semitic incidents were reports of Jewish teens, who wore traditional Jewish items like yarmulkes, being assaulted with Tasers, tear gas and pepper spray. A Jewish teacher leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris was attacked, his nose broken and a swastika drawn on his chest. Two teens and their grandfather were chased by a group, including a man wielding an ax, as they walked to synagogue in Paris. Two French teenage girls plotted to blow up a synagogue in Lyon. A kosher restaurant in Paris was firebombed. A kosher supermarket was set ablaze in Sarcelles.

French Jews aren’t emigrating to Israel, England and other countries. Let’s call it what it is: they’re fleeing a land that’s had a Jewish presence as far back as Roman times, that was the first in Europe to grant Jews citizenship, that has produced many illustrious cultural figures like Proust, Darius Milhaud, Claude Lévi-Strass, Sarah Bernhardt, and Offenbach.

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Killing is wrong revenge

I’m Muslim and I’m Charlie

For meaningful retribution, teach your kids to love Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein so that they will emulate them, instead of destroying the Twin Towers, killing schoolchildren and massacring journalists

Print EditionPhoto by: REUTERS

01/14/2015, Jerusalem Post

Killing is not the way to achieve revenge.

I’ve never been a fan of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that published a series of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but I switched my position during my brief visit to the Voice of America (VOA) building in Washington, D.C., on January 7, 2015.
I left New York for D.C. at 5:00 a.m., along with my son, Soborno Isaac, a two-year-old chemistry genius. He was scheduled to be interviewed by VOA at 11:00 a.m., and we arrived in the capital some 30 minutes late. My heart was racing as I parked my car in front of the Smithsonian Museum.
Wondering if Sabrina Dona would still be waiting for us, I ran toward the VOA elevator, carrying my son. The security officers stopped us and asked us to go through the metal detector. As we were complying, I noticed that many of them were staring at us. Then, when they were searching little Soborno’s body, I realized that something wrong.
My eyes turned to a TV monitor on the wall adjacent to the metal detector. I saw the two terrorist brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, armed with AK-47s, forcing their way into the Charlie Hebdo building. I had seen a similar incident on December 16, when seven terrorists entered a Pakistan Army School and killed over 130 school children. My whole body quivered and my heart dropped; I hoped with all my heart that this time, the perpetrators were not Muslims this time. After all, I am a Muslim. However, not 10 seconds later, I heard “Allahu Akbar,” and my heart broke into a million pieces. The security person who was still searching little Soborno Isaac looked at me and asked, “What does that mean?” I did not reply. I was speechless.
However, that is what I should have said: “Allahu Akbar” used to mean “God is great.” However, today it means violence, blood and terrorism.
It means, “I’m about to fire a rocket from Gaza to Israel to kill innocent people.”
It means, “I’m about to use hijacked planes to fly into the Twin Towers.”
It means, “I’m about to kill hundreds of schoolchildren.”
It means, “I’m about to kill journalists.”
The Kouachi brothers proved me right.
They started shooting while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” killing nine journalists at a meeting, as well as Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer. When I saw them shooting innocent people, I cried out loud, tears trickling from my disbelieving eyes.
I thought: Kouachi brothers, you are not Muslims, you are not human beings; you are animals, you are disgusting bastards.
On my way back to New York later that day, I kept asking myself one question: What lesson did the brothers hope to teach France by killing its journalists? What was it they hoped the French would learn from this terrorism? How could they kill them for making jokes about Muhammad? You killed journalists to make Allah happy? You just made him look worse than Hitler.

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Primitive marine reptile identified

Motorboat-Size Sea Monster Found, Sheds Insight on Evolution

The 170-million-year-old marine reptile comes from a prehistoric period little known to scientists.

Picture of new species of marine reptile Dearcmhara shawcrossi

A new species of marine reptile, Dearcmhara shawcrossi, swims in Jurassic seas in an illustration.

Illustration by Todd Marshall

Jason Bittel

for National Geographic

Published January 13, 2015

Dinosaurs ruled the land during the Jurassic period. But at sea, it was the age of ichthyosaurs—so-called “sea monsters” that looked like a cross between a narrow-nosed crocodile and an ill-tempered dolphin.

Ichthyosaur (pronounced ik-thee-uh-sawr) means “fish lizard” in Greek. These predatory reptiles swam the ancient oceans in roles similar to those of whales and sharks today.

Now, a team of scientists in Scotland has announced the discovery of a new genus of ichthyosaur that was approximately 14 feet (4.3 meters) long, the size of a small motorboat. (Also see “First Amphibious ‘Sea Monster’ Found; Fills Evolutionary Gap.”)

“We’ve discovered a totally new species of big reptile that lived in the ocean about 170 million years ago,” said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh. “It’s also the first ichthyosaur ever found in Scotland”—which is already famous for its mythical sea monster, nicknamed Nessie.

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