Good News Friday

Welcome to the next installment in my Good News Friday series.

My first item is from the health field once again, this time focusing on a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s, that dreaded disease that devastates individuals and families.

The Israeli company NasVax announced on Wednesday that testing has shown that administering the BBS antibody to animals reduces levels of the tau and amyloid beta proteins, strengthening cognitive abilities and reducing brain inflammation. Cognitive impairment and brain inflammation are typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

NasVax holds the exclusive development license for the BBS antibody, which was discovered by Professor Beka Solomon, head of the neuro-immunology laboratory at Tel Aviv University.

Alzheimer’s is considered to be one of the most serious old-age diseases, as it leads to complete loss of memory and ability to function independently.


“The publication of new research and clinical data, as well as actual clinical proof, are particularly encouraging to [NasVax],” said Professor Itamar Shalit, a NasVax director. “The company’s antibody has shown a mechanism of action that is similar to a natural human mutation, indicating a resistance to Alzheimer’s disease. We are now engaged in developing an innovative protein for humans for use in clinical trials.”

If this treatment actually works it would be a G-dsend for all those millions of sufferers and their families.  Kol Hakavod to the scientists and developers at NasVax, עלו והצליחו – may you succeed quickly.

PM Netanyahu with Microsoft CEO Stephen Ballmer

PM Netanyahu with Microsoft CEO Stephen Ballmer

The next item comes from the hi-tech field:  Microsoft will be signing a cooperation deal with Israel in the near future:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in Jerusalem on Monday morning to discuss strategic cooperation in the field of teleprocessing technology.

The cooperation deal will be finalized in a matter of days when Ministry of Finance’s Chief Information Officer Carmela Avner and Microsoft Israel CEO Danny Yamin are expected to sign a memo of understanding. The memo will define the parameters of the strategic cooperation and include mechanisms for exchanging information and know-how in a number of fields, as well as the development of joint infrastructure intended to encourage investment in the field of international teleprocessing.

Within this cooperative framework, the sides will also work to promote and develop technological innovation, launch government policies, implement technology to reduce bureaucratic burdens, better handle large databases, improve information security and privacy protection, improve access to government services, exchange information, launch community projects in Israel and advance Israeli technology and start-up companies.


According to Ballmer, “This is my fourth visit to Israel and I am always thrilled and draw inspiration from the Israeli public and its entrepreneurs’ remarkable inventive abilities, which is the main reason why Israel is such an important market for Microsoft. Since the 1990s we have made significant investments to make our products accessible in Hebrew.”

Ballmer went on to say, “Technological innovation and incubation are the driving force behind Israel’s dynamic economy. Microsoft is proud to work in this environment, which cultivates innovation and has created such a large number of successful technology companies. We continue to be committed to our investment in Israel and to our role in helping people and businesses realize their full potential.”

Kudos to Microsoft for recognizing Israel’s enormous potential, and kol hakavod to Israel’s hi-tech sector.  Let the BDS-ers gnash their teeth to smithereens!

Waze in Sandy recovery efforts

Waze in Sandy recovery efforts

My third item is also from the hi-tech sector, but touching on Israel’s humanitarian side too. Israel was not only physically helping survivors of Hurricane Sandy on the US’s East Coast, but an Israel app, Waze, helped focus aid efforts and bring them to precisely those places where it was needed most. From Israellycool:

Not only was Israel physically helping it’s ally the USA recover from Hurricane Sandy with delivery of gas, food, batteries and generators, but the ingenuity and problem-solving pedigree also created the first crowd-sourced hurricane relief program.

Close to 30 million mobile app users turn to Wazeto tap its crowd-sourced data for car directions. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the White House saw an opportunity to use the app in a new way, following widespread gas shortages due to Hurricane Sandy.

The government agencies called up Waze Friday night and asked for help in figuring out where to send gasoline trucks in New Jersey. Since many gas stations were out of power or were unable to open, the challenge became understanding where to send the fuel and who needed it most.

Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze’s VP of platforms and partnerships, told me that within an hour, Waze had a simple system up and running that allowed users who visited a gas station to get a system message that allowed them to report the conditions there. The users were able to leave a chit-chat message explaining if there was gas available, how the lines were and how long the wait was. The Waze app also displayed pins on its maps for local gas stations that were open.

Waze relayed hundreds of chit-chats back to both FEMA and the White House and sent the data along to Google’s Crisis Maps, which collected disaster resource information. After opening up a line of communication with New Jersey residents, Waze heard from users in Staten Island and Long Island, who also complained of gas shortages. Waze then expanded its reporting program Saturday night to those affected areas and turned over that information to the government, helping them target more gas stations.

Eisnor said it’s unlikely that the government would have turned to Waze even a year ago. But after growing rapidly to about 30 million users, up from 13 million users six months ago, the app has sufficient reach to mobilize people and gather good data.

An extra little (or not so little) bonus to Waze:

Waze also hit the news recently when Apple CEO suggested using it, along with others, as a replacement for it’s own dysfunctional iOS 6 maps.

Once again, kol hakavod to Israel’s brilliant hi-tech sector, and more importantly to Israel’s humanitarian efforts in disasters worldwide.

On a personal note, I highly recommend Waze. As someone who is “directionally-challenged” (i.e. I can’t find my way out of a car-park!) it is invaluable not only as a GPS, but for re-routing when there are traffic jams or other blocked roads.

This week I have a fourth item to add to my Good News list.  Having written several posts on the anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that is endemic in Ireland, it is only fair to post a beautiful sweet video made by pro-Israel Irish citizens who have also formed a Facebook page: Irish for Israel.

Before I move on to the video, I wish to point out another Irish pro-Israel website, “Eirael“, run by Rob Harris, a frequent commenter on this blog. (It is linked on my right sidebar).  It has in-depth excellently researched articles on Israel, Ireland and the Middle East, really worth a read.

And now, here is the Irish4Israel video, “Ireland loves Israel”. Enjoy! Shabbat Shalom everyone.


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6 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. peteca1 says:

    re: Alzheimers. A terrible disease.
    But I do offer one hint for you. Quite often when people talk about “herbal cures”, the herbal medicines that are offered are nonsense – or at least their effectiveness is doubtful. Not in this case. If you are at risk from Alzheimers disease, you should include the spice turmeric in your diet. People typically do this by eating Indian curries – the yellow color of the curry comes from turmeric. This is by far the most pleasant way to get turmeric in your food … the spice itself tastes terrible. Studies have shown that in villages of India where people consume a lot of yellow curry – Alzheimers disease is practically nonexistent. This is not a hoax. Scientists believe that something in the turmeric causes the plaque produced by Alzheimers in the brain to be broken up. Good luck!
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Very interesting Pete. I am seeing the disease up close and personal since my mother in law is suffering from it. It is just so awful to see an active intelligent person degenerate to such an extent. Funnily enough I’ve recently started using turmeric occasionally, under the influence of my daughter who makes yellow rice. I just liked the taste and effect, but now there is an added incentive. It certainly can’t harm in any case.

  2. Rob Harris says:

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for much for the ringing endorsement! 🙂 I hope the blog is worthy of your praise. I try to publish more but it takes too long to get pieces together – very often the stories just get too old.

    BTW don’t be worried about the accusations by Thomas/Helen Murphy. Occasionally I see off-colour remarks about the Irish on pro-Israel sites but they occur for one simply reason. Very many Irish people are involved with the systematic delegitimisation of Israel – e.g. they are always heavily represented on the Flotilla endeavours which is remarkable considering the nation is only just over 4 million people. There is a genuine ugliness prevalent in Irish society when it comes to Israel but it is far from the whole story – most don’t care or just don’t know I suspect so its sad to see some hate-filled anti-Semites (mostly) dictating debate of the conflict here. Believe me when I say that the vicious things said about Israelis by a huge number of posters in Ireland does not remotely compare with the worst said about the Irish by those that support Israel on other sites.

    • anneinpt says:

      I feel your blog deserves a wider audience Rob, although I know what you mean about getting a story out before it gets too old, especially in these days of 24/7 news and sound-bites. I don’t have enough hours in the day to blog all I wish so I pick and choose my subjects.

      Re Thomas/Helen, I don’t get upset on a personal level, but I refuse to let their arguments stand unanswered, just in case of “passing traffic”. So it’s a question of either replying or deleting. And you can rest assured that I know that most Irish people are not as viciously anti-Israel or even antisemitic as the flotilla activists would have us believe. As you say, they simply make the most noise and get the most media attention. That’s why blogs like yours and endeavours like Irish4Israel are so important to be publicised.

      I actually had no idea that Ireland’s population is so small. It’s less than Israel’s!

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Re Microsoft, now all we need is for (a) Apple to sign a similar deal with Israeli hi tech companies, and all the open source software people to insist that anyone, anywhere (and to mean that for real) can use, improve, etc, the open source software, and boycotters who mean it will be really (rude words deleted and substituted with) stymied.

    The problem is that these BDS crazies don’t actually mean for these boycotts to apply to them personally: you mean, give up my desktop/laptop/smart phone? Are you crazy or something? It’s for all the other idiots to do that, while I continue to communicate with everyone.

    • anneinpt says:

      We’re ahead of you there with Apple, Brian. Apple is opening its first R&D center outside of the States in Israel. I blogged about it almost a year ago.

      And I agree with your sentiments re the boycotters (swear words included 🙂 ) completely. As you say, the BDS-ers have not thought things through about boycotting Israeli products. I wonder if they would boycott Israeli health-care products and inventions?

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