Saving the Environment

Much has been written about the environment and it is an act of faith, and some would say of fact, that the environment is undergoing a possibly irreversible transition.  Global warming seems to be increasing rapidly and there seems to be no way to stop it.  The world’s population continues to grow, and the energy being used continues to increase.  Yet, there may be several simple ways to attempt to stop the dreadful decline.

  1. Stop eating meat.  Cows produce the largest amount of methane in the atmosphere that is the most effective greenhouse gas causing global warming, far more effective (x30) than carbon dioxide.  Switching from fossil fuels (carbon sources) of producing energy (such as burning coal, oil or natural gas) to alternative means, such as wind, solar or wave power, will reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but significantly reducing the number of cows on earth will do much more.  The only way to do this is for people to stop eating meat.  I know it’s much to ask, but that is the simple fact.
  2. Use Led lights.  Light emitting diodes (Leds) are widely available and although more expensive than the old tungsten fiber bulbs, they are much more efficient and longer lasting, and so more economical.  Since they use about one eighth of the power required to produce the same amount of light, if all the world switches to Led bulbs then the amount of energy being consumed would be greatly reduced.
  3. Reduce plastic use.  The amount of un-degradable plastic in the oceans is a disgrace.  People should not only reduce their use of plastic in general and one-time use in particular (such as plastic bags from stores), but we should all insist on buying only degradable plastic.  If there is public demand there will be supply.  Such plastics as poly-carbonates that are naturally degradable are already on the market.  There simply needs to be much more demand.
  4. Switch to electric cars.  Electric cars produce no fumes or carbon dioxide.  There is an argument that the electricity required to charge and run battery-driven cars produces as much as emissions into the air as from the cars.  But, overall the air in our cities will be less polluted without cars emitting fumes and there will be fewer accidents if in future the cars are self-driving, so that everything is computer controlled and this will greatly reduce speeding and human error.
  5. Tube travel. Elon Musk has introduced the idea of tube travel, where people will sit in a cabin inside a tube and be transported at high-speed by pressurized air.  Of course, this is a new means of mass transit and will take some time to become accepted.  But it will be much cleaner and more efficient than current means of train or air travel between cities.  If people can travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles or New York and Washington in a few hours in this comfortable and efficient manner, then the amount of fuel consumption and pollution will be greatly reduced.

These are only a few of the simple ideas that will help to reduce pollution and may help to improve the environment.  However, it may be too late to actually reverse the effects of global warming.

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Israel on the Moon

Israel is only the fourth country in the world to send a rocket-ship to the moon, after the USA, Russia and China.  Not bad for a small country of 8 million people, founded only 70 years ago.  The Israeli craft is unmanned and contains a large amount of electronic gear. It is a private initiative supported by the Israeli Govt.  The craft is named “Bereshit” or “in the beginning,” the first word of the Torah.

The launch was very early last Friday from Cape Canaveral using a SpaceX commercial rocket, and was monitored at Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and SpaceIL, the companies behind the project.  The spaceship has solar panels that automatically point towards the sun and give it enough energy to keep going.  Currently the spaceship is on an ever-increasing elliptical orbit around the earth that will eventually take it into the gravitational pull of the moon, where is will go into an ever-decreasing elliptical orbit, eventually landing on the Moon’s surface, if all goes well, in about 2 months.

One of the leaders of the project said “this is only the beginning” referring to the name of the craft.  PM Netanyahu who was on hand for the launch stated “This is a great accomplishment for the State of Israel.”

Vikings

I have been binge watching the Netflix series called “Vikings.”  I had decided not to watch it, since many years ago I saw a movie with the same title made in Hollywood with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, which was terrible.  But, someone recommended the series to me, so I started watching and got hooked.  Now I am up-to-date, watching the 5th series.

I would not recommend it to anyone who is queasy about violence and bloodshed, and graphic sex.  The battle scenes are gory and leave nothing to the imagination.  Also, it is not exactly historically accurate, but it tells a truly interesting story based on the Norse Saga about the famous Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons.

Some of the events are historically accurate, for example the first recorded Viking raid on England took place in 793 ce at the famous Monastery of Lindisfarne on the northern coast of Northumbria in England.   Most of the monks were killed and all the precious materials were looted.  This raid was supposed to have been lead by Ragnar Lothbrok, who was the first raider to go West from Norway and cross the North Sea.  Subsequently many such raids took place.  Much of what is portrayed in the “Vikings” series is accurate, for example the Viking sieges of Paris occurred in 845 ce and 885 ce and were led by Lothbrok and they yielded a great deal of treasure.

At that time England was divided into four Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex and a small Kingdom of East Anglia. The name England derives from Anglia after the German tribe called Angles.  Most of the people spoke a dialect of West German, but it was also mixed with Celtic from the original Celtic inhabitants (who were mostly driven into the periphery of Wales and Scotland) and Latin from the previous Roman conquerors (from 55 bce-410 ce).

The Vikings became embroiled in the internal struggles between the Saxon kingdoms and eventually Ragnar Lothbrok was murdered there.  It is true that in 865 ce his sons returned with a large army known as the Great Pagan Army, to wreak revenge and in the process killed King Ayeala of Northumbria and Ecbert of Wessex-Mercia and occupied the town of York, which became their capital and which they called Yorick.  I have visited the underground remains of the Danish town there.

The leader of the Vikings at this point was the son of Ragnar known as Ivar The Boneless, because he was crippled, and who was known to be vicious.  Later most of Eastern England fell under their control and was known as the Danelaw or Danegeld and was a part of a Norse Kingdom that included Norway and Denmark, first under King Canute (or Knut).  But, King Alfred the Great (849-899 ce) pacified the Danish area and later incorporated it into a united England.

This all happened just prior to the invasion of the Norman French, lead by William the Conqueror in 1066 ce, who quickly conquered all of England.  The Normans were actually Northmen or Vikings who had conquered parts of France and who spoke French.  Thus the language of Britain became a mixture of Romano-Celtic-Anglo-Saxon-Danish-Norman-French, that over 1,000 years evolved into the English language.

The depiction of Viking life and religion seems accurate and the acting is excellent, particularly that of Ragner Lothbrok, who plays not a super-hero but rather a man with ambitions who has Kingship thrust upon him.  I also liked the portrayal of his first wife Lagertha by a beautiful actress who was an early feminist and of Flocki the boat builder, who supposedly discovered the uninhabited island now knows as Iceland.  I highly recommend this series for those who are adventurous and not squeamish.

The Dishonesty of the Left

The Jussie Smollett case has exposed for all to see the dishonesty and self-deception of the left.  For those who don’t know, Jussie Smollett is a small time Black actor on TV who  claimed he had been attacked at night in Chicago by two white men wearing ski masks who shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him, they put a noose around his neck and they were wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats.  The leftist media and commentators went into overdrive lambasting Pres. Trump for causing racism and dissension in America.  It was clearly Trump’s fault!

The only problem was that the whole incident was staged by Smollett himself, because he wanted to be rich and famous. He thought if he made himself the victim of a racist attack he would receive publicity and be paid higher wages.  You might call this leftist wish fulfillment. But, he was found out.  First of all the Chicago police followed him and his supposed attackers using CCTV cameras and found out where they lived.  They also used phone records and found direct calls between them.  It turned out that the attackers were actually a pair of Black brothers of Nigerian origin who had worked on the same show as Smollett.   After the attack the brothers flew to Nigeria.  But, when they flew back to Chicago they were met at the airport by the police and they soon confessed. Smollett gave them $500 to buy ski masks, etc, and also $3,500 for the actual attack.  The police found all the incriminating bank records and receipts.

Smollett was arrested and charged and hopefully will spend time in prison for his despicable act.  But, what did the same leftist media and commentators say when he was exposed as a fraud, they still maintained that Trump was responsible for white racism in America, and I am sure they sincerely believe it.  Just yesterday Trump hosted a Civil Rights meeting at the White House and in his speech pointed out that the employment statistics for Blacks and Hispanics under his Administration are higher than ever before and the average wage is higher.  These unprecedented figures cannot be ignored by the Blacks and Hispanics themselves, and hopefully some of them will vote for him, rather than genuflect to the leftist bias that falsely attributes white racism to Trump.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Blue and White

Not only are Blue and White colors, and the colors of the Israeli flag, but they are now a political party.  Just before the deadline, the leaders of the two political parties Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid (there is a future) and Bennie Gantz, the former Chief of Staff of the IDF and leader of the new Israeli Resilience Party, announced their merger to form the party to be called ‘Blue and White.’  Yesh Atid is liberal-centrist and the Resilience Party as far as anyone can judge, is center-left.  Their merger they hope will enable them to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu with his Likud center-right coalition in the up-coming Israeli election (April 9).

Israeli politics is an ever-changing series of coalitions, mergers and maneuvers.  This latest center-left merger to form the Blue-White Party gives on paper and in the polls a chance for the alliance to defeat Netanyahu.  Gantz is popular because he was a good leader of the IDF and lots of former soldiers may vote for him.  But, he has talked about a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, and given how disastrous the previous withdrawals were from Sinai, Gaza and Lebanon, I do not see a large number of Israelis voting for this.  Gantz is a bit of a political unknown and I think most Israelis will vote for Netanyahu who they know and mostly trust.

However, the big unknown is the question of whether or not Netanyahu will be indicted by the Attorney General for cases of corruption and accepting bribes that have been pending for over 2 years.  Netanyahu has asked the AG not to proceed with any indictment before the election, but the AG will not commit himself, so this remains a very big unknown in the equation.  Should Netanyahu be indicted, the question arises will he automatically become unfit to be elected or will he still be a candidate.  And if he is indicted who in Likud could replace him.  At present there are several potential alternates, including Gideon Saar, Yisrael Katz and Yuli Edelstein, but none of them have Netanyahu’s experience and international standing.  It will be interesting to see how these issues play out.

A Muslim Visits Israel

An article with the title “Why should we hate Israel?” in today’s  Jerusalem Post caught my eye (https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Why-should-we-hate-Israel-581279).  Not only was the title unusual, but I saw that it was written by a Kurdish Muslim, Butan Amedi.  It turns out that a seed of doubt about Arab media propaganda was put in his mind by a teacher in Iraqi Kurdistan where he grew up, who told him that history indicates that the Jews lived in Jerusalem before the Arabs.

After he escaped from Mosul and became a US citizen he decided to visit Israel to see for himself.  Here is a summary of his experiences:

  1. He expected to be taken aside at the airport because in his US Passport it states that he was born in Mosul, Iraq. Indeed he was taken into a side room for questioning.  But, the experience was nothing like his expectations, he was treated politely and respectfully.  He was questioned about his reasons for visiting Israel and he answered truthfully that he wanted to see for himself. He was allowed to go on his way with a pleasant remark.
  2. Immediately on entering the main part of the airport he was astonished to see Arabic directions everywhere.  Also, Arabic was on the banknotes.  He later learned that beside Hebrew, Arabic is an official language in Israel, and is in fact seen everywhere.  He noted that this is how the Israeli State deals with the language of its Arab minority, while no Arab State or Turkey would allow the use of the Kurdish language, even though the Kurds are a large minority.
  3. He was astonished to see Mosques in almost every city,  Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Jerusalem, and being openly used, and further, the belief of all Muslims that the Arab inhabitants of Israel were persecuted and murdered is simply not true, their numbers have increased significantly and they live in affluent towns and villages.
  4. He spoke to Israeli Arab Muslims who openly expressed their preference for living in Israel.  One of them said “where else would you expect us to live, in Gaza under Hamas, or in the West Bank with the corruption of Fatah, or in your country Iraq with its beheadings, or Syria?”
  5. He found Jewish Israelis were pacifists who went out of their way to avoid criticizing Arabs and avoided doing so when he tried to provoke them.
  6. The Islamic Movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood has it center in Umm el-Fahm in Israel, but is banned in the Palestine Authority in the West Bank.  How is it that Israel allows it to operate on Israeli territory when it refuses to recognize Israel?
  7. He was surprised to find that the Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, is of Iraqi Jewish origin from Basra, when he was always led to believe that eastern Jews were discriminated against in Israel
  8. He was immensely impressed by the high standard of living in Israel, and the public services, the roads, water, electricity, and sanitation.  He did not expect these to be on a level with any Western country, unlike the Arab countries.
  9. He found that in dealing with Jews they were honest and generous, totally the opposite of Arab propaganda.
  10. On leaving the airport he told the customs officer that he was so impressed that he might even want to live in Israel.  The response he got was please come back and join us.  He reflected, “and this is the nation that is supposed to hate Muslims.”

My only comment is that these are the experiences of an individual Muslim.  They don’t address some of the more egregious lies promoted by anti-Israel propaganda, that Israel is an apartheid country, that Israelis are killing Arab children and that the Jews stole the land from the Arabs.  These false lies have been repeated so many times that they are widely believed by ignorant and stupid people.  All I can say is that not only are they hateful and wrong, but that anyone can hop on a plane and come here and see for themselves.

UK Political Upheaval

An extraordinary political upheaval is taking place in the UK and no-one can tell where it will lead.  The two major Parties, Labour and Conservative, that have controlled the destiny of Britain for 100 years, are both in the process of splitting. It may be that the reasons for each party to split seem quite different, or it may be that the current system has run its course and a new paradigm will eventuate.

The Labour Party started to split first, over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who has made no secret of his disdain for Israel  and for Jews.  Under his leadership the Labour Party has turned sharply left and anti-Semitism has become institutionalized within the Party.  Those who have complained and opposed this have been subjected to political suppression and personal harassment.  As a result first seven and then another member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, i.e. Labour MPs, have resigned from the Party and have moved into a section of the House of Commons for “independent MPs.”  Some of them are Jewish, but certainly not all of them.

Today three Conservative MPs announced they are leaving the Conservative Party.  Their resignation is due to the way PM Theresa May has handled Brexit, but more than that they see that after her approach was rejected by the House, she has tried to appease her most vociferous opponents rather than  try to work with the main-stream.  It has now become apparent that the Conservative Party at its grassroots has been infiltrated and in some cases taken over by Brexit extremists, including members of the former UK Independence Party (UKIP), and that some Conservative MPs are being forced to vote for a no-agreement Brexit, that could be economically disastrous for the country.

These three former Conservatives have now joined the eight former Labour MPs as an independent group in the Commons.  So far they are far from a political party.  They have no declared common aims or policies and might never be able to agree.  But, they are expecting more MPs to join them and this will be a repudiation of the two-Party system that has controlled British politics since the beginning of the Parliamentary system.   The reforming spirits of both PMs Blair on the left and Cameron on the right have long since departed the scene.  This seems to be only the beginning of a political revolution in the UK.