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Friday, July 29, 2016

Has Falluja Fallen?

I am trying to understand if the much heralded campaign by the Iraqi army to take Falluja (60 km from Baghdad) has succeeded or it is still Islamic State country. For example, Iraq  has started to dig a giant trench around Fallujah with the goal to force all traffic onto a single road, in and out of the city, to allow for better screening of vehicles. Source. Apparently, after a year of campaign, Falluja is not in the hands of the Iraqi government. ISIS inspires terror.

A Hard Day

A colleague passed me an urgent restaurant project in Dizengoff Center, an iconic mall in downtown Tel Aviv. It will take the place of a toy shop and a large kid's playground. I have to draw up a plan to place somewhere in the lowest level a grease interceptor and connect it to the city sewage system, passing through a labyrinth of underground floors, pipes and cables. The mall was the first one in Tel Aviv, built 50 years ago by Pilz and Platto Sharon, and modified by many long dead/forgotten tradesmen. Working without drawings, I had to build up a tri-dimensional map in my mind to find a viable route for the piping. It was 40-42 degrees Celsius in the street; fifteen-twenty meters underground (pic) it was hell. Arrived home dead tired, after a two hour drive during the working week's peak hour.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Booming Medicine Business

In the sluggish US economy, the goods-producing sector has been in decline since late 2014, but sales in its biggest sub-sector are booming: medicines.

Drugs are a physically small part of the goods-producing economy. But in terms of dollars, they’re the elephant in the room: According to the wholesales report by the Commerce Department, total drug sales by manufacturers to pharmacies, hospitals, and others in the distribution chain jumped 11.3% from a year ago (not seasonally adjusted) to $54.3 billion.

That was the largest of the wholesale categories in the report: larger than “Groceries” ($51.5 billion), “Electrical” ($45.0 billion),”Petroleum” ($43.4 billion), and Automotive ($36 billion). Drug sales accounted for 12.2% of total wholesales.  Source

One is always learning. Did you know that medicine business was larger than the car or the oil industry?

No More Sausages, Schnitzel and Sauerkraut

The Merkel refugees are already making their contribution to the German kitchen. And not only washing dishes. Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Palestinians sueing Sykes, Picot and Lord Balfour

The Arab League meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania, has been asked by the Palestinian Authority to prepare a legal file against the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration  100 years ago.

Excellent idea!

My own estimate of how much Egypt owes us for the unpaid labor building those pyramids: 100,000 Hebrew labored 15 years equals about 375 million slave-days. Paying current minimum wage rates in Israel (US$ 2000 per month) they owe us 36 billion US$. Plus interest, of course, 4000 years at 3% p.a. = US$  80.3 ^ 36  - in words, a lot of money. Pic.: An incriminating document.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Miracles on the Road to Mabo Horon

Yesterday, I had a meeting in a factory in Mabo Horon and got lost and ended in an unpaved road in the Valley of Ayalon. It is a wide, green valley, the site of Joshua Bin Nun's battle against five Amorite kings. It was there where he ordered the sun to stop till the battle was over:  "O sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and you, O moon, in the Valley of Ayalon" (Joshua 10:12). 

I found myself looking at a signpost indicating that I was in Nicopolis - the City of the Victory in Greek. I found no Greeks in the nearby, but French monks of the Emmaus monastery. They run a liquor shop at the gas station. Here another miracle took place: Jesus joined his disciplines on the road to Emmaus and shared a meal with them, reciting the Orthodox bracha (blessing) of the bread:

 "ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם · המוציא לחם מן הארץ".

They were walking down from Jerusalem (30 km) where he had already been crucified. Thanks to a lesser miracle I arrived at time at Mabo Horon. Pic.: A Christian miqweh, or baptistery at Emmaus. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Soft and Green Anti-Zionism

The venom that the fishwrap HaAretz vomits on Israel and Shabat-keeping Jews provoked, at last, some reaction. Apparently, the fishwrap, worried about the negative public sentiment it has created, is softening and camouflaging its message. Its Friday supplement attacks Zionism from the ecology angle: Why the Zionists, eighty years ago, destroyed the Hula swamp? Wasn't it a wondrous sanctuary of painted toads, snakes and other sacred wildlife?

The veiled answer is clear: Zionist are imperialist destroyers of the eco-system, like the Unobtainium mining corporation on the moon Pandora.

This is a very ugly slander of one of the most heroic Zionist enterprises in Israel. The Hula was a pestiferous malarial swamp that being unfit for human habitation could be purchased by the Zionist movement. No one wanted it, no Arabs were living in the area. The first settlers (that happened to be Russian Subbotnik peasants) died like flies. The average lifetime of the Zionist pioneers was two years. Yet the Zionist movement persisted and slowly they sanitized the land, draining the swamp by hand-digged canals. Between fighting Arab invading armies and providing a living to the million refugees from Europe and the Arab world, the Zionist leadership launched a grandiose seven-year project to transform the swamp into agricultural land. That horrible Hula toad and the deadly malaria mosquito were to pay the price.

My admired boss in TAHAL Water Engineering Co., Haim Ben Ezra,  and his friend Arieh Gissin, made their career in the Hula Project. The reclaimed swamp land was poor and difficult to cultivate, so they devised innovative methods and introduced new crops like peanuts. I knew them intimately. They were idealists trying to provide employment and to feed the refugees that were arriving.

HaAretz suggests that after the war (when the project was near completion) the mosquito infestation had become manageable thanks to the discovery of DDT.  Meaning that the Hula swamp-draining project was not only destructive but superfluous.

In retrospective, it may have been so. I could name a few other hydraulic projects in Israel and the world that from today's perspective should have been never done. But painting Golda Meir and the suicidal pioneers as enemies of Mother Gaia reveals HaAretz's sneaky  ill will. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Nyahururu Jews

I am in two places: my habitual residence in Kever Benjamin and in Nyahururu, Northern Kenya, spending the Shabbat with the local Jewish community. They are friendly people with a deep attachment to Israel. Their  wooden synagogue sits 300 and it fills up for services. My daughter prepared for the faithful a kosher natural organic vegetarian omelette, on open wood fire. 

We shall be heading towards Lake Turkana, traveling in caravans escorted by the army. The area is the ancestral homeland of the Homo erectus. It is also famous for its giant Nile crocodiles.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

3,000 Black Lives Lost Trying to Reach Europe

Last summer the media was full of news about thousands of Africans sailing from Libya and being rescued by the Italian Navy or dying on sea.  One does not see those pics anymore - did the wave has stop? No, Italian authorities have reported a jump in the number of migrants who have left Libya this week on overcrowded boats. More than 2,500 people were rescued on Tuesday and one body was recovered, 600 were saved on Wednesday. As of Monday, 79,861 migrants had arrived in Italy by sea so far in 2016 compared with 83,119 during the same period last year. Almost 3,000 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean in the first seven months of this year. It is an epic migration of peoples. Once more, Europe's population is being replaced.

Europeans are getting used to not seeing the process. As soon as they land, the Africans disappear in restaurants' dish washing back rooms.

In these days, I am climbing (by way of my metempsych alter ego) the highest mountains of Kenya.

I am following the steps of Stanley and Livingstone when they discovered the Mountains of the Moon, the source of the Nile?

The porters must be behind. They have to carry the White Girl's Burden.