Yes, even after another bad week like the one that has just passed, there is still good news to be found, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.
My first item relates to the current festive season – here is a a picture of something that you will really only see in Israel. (h/t Zvi) 😀
My next item is from a couple of weeks ago, but it is still relevant, particularly in light of the current Palestinian violence: Israel ranks as the 18th best place to live in the world according to the UN Human Development Index!
Using the UN’s index, Israel ranks 18 out of a 188 countries in human development, earning the classification of one of 49 countries with “Very High Human Development.” In this unique index, which ranks countries into four different tiers, Israel scores 0.894, which is well above the 0.867 index for EU countries, and also above the 0.882 index for OECD countries.
Israel’s index number soared over the last 25 years ago. Based on its 1990 score, it would have only placed 57th on the current list.
When adjusted for inequality in the parameters measured across the population, Israel moves down nine spots, to 27th place. The US, by comparison, would drop 20 places, from eighth to 28th.
Israel remains at 18th place regarding gender equality. A particularly interesting statistic in that index is that Israel has the second lowest rate of maternal mortality in the world, with only 2 deaths for every 100,000 births. Belarus leads the world with only 1 death per 100,000 births. In the US, this figure is 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.
According to these figures, Israel has the highest fertility rate of any country in the “Very High Human Development” category, with 2.9 births per woman. For developed countries, the replacement fertility rate is considered to be 2.1 children per woman. According to the UN Index, not one of the 28 EU countries, nor the US with 2 births per woman, reach replacement rate.
I doubt most of us living here need the UN to tell us what we already know, but it is nice to have it confirmed! 🙂
It’s not surprising that Israel ranks so high when you consider the amazing medical and technical advances that sprout forth from Zion. A fascinating new start-up is “The Right Cup” – the cup that makes plain water taste like fruit without any additives!
… Israeli entrepreneur Isaac Lavy has invented a unique cup that eliminates sugar from our beverages – without compromising the flavor. Through an ingenious mechanism, the Right Cup, which looks just like any other plastic cup, will trick your brain into thinking you are drinking fruit-flavored soda when, in fact, all you are drinking is 100 percent pure water.
Lavy was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 30 years old: “My doctors told me to drink only water, but I hated the taste.”
The mechanism of the Right Cup seems pretty simple: The same FDA-approved substances that make our sweet drinks delicious are positioned inside the cup itself – not in the drink. When sipping water out of the Right Cup, the nose will transmit to the brain the same signal that the tongue would send if it tasted something sweet. The basic idea is that the sense of smell is responsible for 80 percent of our taste experience, which explains why when we have a cold we can hardly taste any flavor.
It almost sounds too good to be true. Could the human brain be tricked so easily? The founders claim it really works: After five years of research and development, the company tested the prototype and also recorded some of the reactions on a video; people seem to struggle to believe that all they are drinking is pure water.
In November 2015, at the conclusion of the testing phase, the founders launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that has been incredibly successful. Aiming to raise $50,000, this miraculous cup more than tripled its inventor’s original goal, raising $163,000 in three weeks.
What a brilliant idea! I know several members of my own family who could make use of this cup (including myself!). Kol hakavod Isaac Lavy and his team for this ingenious idea.
Insulin injections, soon to be a thing of the past?Since we’re on the subject of diabetes, an Israeli startup aims to end the necessity of insulin injections by using tissue engineering:
Diabetes patients face many inconveniences in their daily lives, including a dependence on insulin injections. Betalin Therapeutics aims to change the paradigm – to find a cure instead of a temporary treatment, using tissue engineering.
The idea behind the new solution was born in the labs of Prof. Eduardo Mitrani at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. VP of Operations Moni Heuser explains: “There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, which make insulin. That insulin moves glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, to create energy. Type 2 diabetes is also a resistance to insulin, caused by excessive use of the insulin-creating cells, mostly due to the modern Western lifestyle. In both cases, patients require an external source of insulin – regular injections.”
Shapiro’s treatment – the “Edmonton protocol” – allowed doctors to transplant cells from the new pancreas to the patient’s liver, in the hope they would create insulin there. “But these cells undergo trauma, meaning this is not a comprehensive solution,” said Heuser, “After five years the patient goes back to needing the injections. Essentially, from the moment of the procedure, 80% of the cells don’t make it, meaning we would need the donations of three pancreases from three different donors to treat one patient. That solution costs close to $200,000.”
And that is where Betalin’s solution fits in. Prof. Mitrani’s development takes into consideration the environment of the cells – to make them feel at home. “He started out with the assumption that no cell is an island. They are always in a pile that creates tissue, and that creates an organ,” said Heuser.
Betalin’s solution sets itself apart because of how it manufactures the micro-tissue. “It undergoes a process in which the living cells are extracted, leaving behind the tissue scaffolding, into which the beta cells are inserted. Now the need is for only one donor,” emphasized Heuser. “The technology was licensed under an exclusive world-wide agreement with Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University.”
Read the rest of the article for more scientific details. This is potentially a life-changing development for millions of sufferers world-wide. Kol hakavod to Prof. Mitrani and the entire team developing Betalin. Let’s hope it fulfills its potential – Israeli bio-medicine improving the lives of people everywhere.
The above developments show how ridiculous and pointless is the boycott effort against Israel. Nevertheless BDS has had some minor gains. An Israeli initiative to counter BDS and to promote a “buycott” has formed, called Lev Ha’olam. The group of activists works to promote Israel’s heartland, i.e. Judea and Samaria, and its products. You can follow them on Facebook. Here is a great promotional video that they produced which showcases their work:
And here is another video describing that most demonised sector in the whole world: cue… scary music…. The Settlers! 😈
And to conclude, loath as I am to engage in schadenfreude (OK, I lied), this little item caught my eye jsut a few minutes ago: A bus load of “Breaking the Silence” anti-Israel activists was just stoned – by Palestinians – in the region of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron in Judea. I will not add one more word. 😈 I am glad that no one was seriously hurt but maybe they will reconsider their warped actions and thinking.
And on that profound note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!