A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘israel

[LINK] “The Dead Sea is dying”

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Al Jazeera’s Creede Newton reports on the decline of the Dead Sea, at best slowed down by new proposals.

The Dead Sea, a unique body of water marked by mineral-rich, unusually salty water – nearly 10 times saltier than the world’s oceans – is dying. Its water level is dropping by roughly one metre each year.

“We think that the current situation is an ecological disaster,” said Gidon Bromberg, director of EcoPeace Middle East (EPME), an organisation that brings together Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to protect their shared environmental heritage.

“It’s unacceptable: The unique ecosystem is in severe danger, threatening biodiversity, and you see dramatic sinkholes opening up along the shore,” Bromberg said, referring to the large, unpredictable cavities that have appeared recently. Some are so cavernous that they swallow entire structures.

According to Bromberg, the two main reasons for the dropping water level are mineral extraction by Israeli and Jordanian companies in the artificially shallow southern basin, and the fact that 95 percent of the Jordan River – the Dead Sea’s main source of replenishing water – is being diverted. The river used to provide 1,350 million cubic metres of water each year (mcm), but that flow has dwindled to just 20 mcm.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2015 at 7:31 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that someone built a lego replica of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood circa 1887.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the OSIRIS REx asteroid sample return mission’s launch.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the HD 219134 planetary system, just nearby.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests nuclear fusion is getting measurably closer.
  • Joe. My. God. has more on the man who murdered a teenage girl at Jerusalem’s pride parade.
  • Language Hat notes the attitude of Jabotinsky towards the Hebrew language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the mid-19th century convergence of anti-Communist and pro-slavery attitudes.
  • Marginal Revolution looks forward to an Uighur restaurant in Virginia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on wool.
  • Torontoist reviews all of the terrible food available at the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Towleroad reports testimony about the terrible fates facing gay men under ISIS rule.
  • Why I Love Toronto reports on the blogger’s exciting week.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the accidental release of Russia’s casualty information in the Ukrainian war, with two thousand dead.

[LINK] “Israel releases African refugees without a place to go”

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Tomas Monzon’s UPI article describes the astounding cynicism of the Israeli government. I only hope these displaced refugees can make it in Jerusalem.

Israel began releasing African refugees Tuesday from the Holot facility in its Negev desert, but the refugees are now stranded with no place to go .

A Supreme Court ruling ordered that any refugee that has been held at the facility for more than 12 months must be freed, but the interior ministry has prohibited the migrants from entering or working in the cities of Tel Aviv and Eilat. Both of these are hotspots for Africans in Israel, with many Holot detainees hailing from there.

[. . .]

One such refugee named Faisal told Haaretz that he used to live and work in Tel Aviv but since being barred from there, he has been phoning friends and strangers to try to find a place to stay but has been unsuccessful. He has no money and fears being placed back into Holot as the situations becomes messy. Another refugee from Sudan told Haaretz that he would head to Jerusalem despite not having a place to stay there. He also lived in Tel Aviv, where he worked at a hotel and a restaurant.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 26, 2015 at 7:39 pm

[LINK] “Bukhara Jews Thrive in New York but Are Almost Gone in Bukhara”

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Tara Isabella Burton of National Geographic describes life for the vanishingly small remnant of Bukharan Jews who remain in their homeland of Uzbekistan. The near-totality of the community has emigrated, to Israel and New York City.

Under the secularist Soviet Union, remembers Abraham Ishakov, cantor at the old town’s synagogue, carrying out the yushvo—mourning rituals central to the faith and culture of Bukharian Jews—was strongly discouraged. When his own father died, “we used to have to sneak into the synagogue and pray in secret.”

Now, caring for the dead in Bukhara is no less challenging an affair, albeit for different reasons. There is almost nobody left to mourn them.

Ishakov points out a plaque from 2000, commemorating the donors who paid for the most recent renovation. “Rafael Davidov. He moved to America. Jacob Rafaelkov. Off to Israel. Hasimov Sharimov. Israel. Isaac Abramov. New York. Soson Priyev. USA.”

Once, Central Asia was home to 45,000 Bukharian Jews: an ethno-religious group—speaking a dialect known as Judeo-Tajik—centered in this city. They worked as merchants and craftsmen, trading along the Silk Road.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, waves of Jews emigrated abroad—mostly to America and Israel—some for economic reasons, some because of fear of persecution, should an Islamist government should come to power in Uzbekistan.

Today, around 100 Jews are left in Bukhara, the community’s heartland. In the New York City borough of Queens, alone, there are about 50,000.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 5, 2015 at 5:25 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow reflects on Mulcair’s decision to ignore the debates boycotted by Harper, and examines the decline of the Bloc Québécois.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reflects on the social forces pressuring people, especially women, to smile.
  • Centauri Dreams reflects n the pessimism over the potential of interstellar expansion in Kim Stanley Robinson’s new Aurora.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study examining the links between concentrations of elements in stars and their exoplanets, shares art of HD 219134b, wonders about distributions of brown dwarfs in nearby interstellar space, wonders if a lithium-rich giant star known as HD 107028 swallowed its planets, and imagines compact exoplanets made of dark matter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a study of the growth of the state of Tiahuanaco, and imagines what a durable Russian-American relationship could have been.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at dodgy Greek statistics.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the new New Order single, “Restless.”
  • Language Hat celebrated its thirteen anniversary and looked at the ephemeral St. Petersburg English Review of the 19th century.
  • Language Log examines the origins of modern China’s standard language, and looks at the reasons why French texts are longer than English ones.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines settler violence in Israel.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how charity, in an age of global income disparities, is inexpensive, and notes the economic issues of Cambodia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Cilla Black.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at Ossetian demographics and examines the growth of Kazakhs in Kazakhstan after 1991.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle likes the Cosmonaut Volkov heirloom tomatoes.
  • Towleroad reports on a push for marriage equality on the Navajo reservation.
  • Understanding Society examines the concept of microfoundations.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia’s war in Ukraine has been underachieving, argues Ukrainians should not count on change in Russia, reports on a Russian writer who wants the Donbas to be separated from Ukraine as a buffer, looks at ethnic Russian identity and propensity to emigrate in Kazakhstan, and looks at the identity of Belarusians in Siberia.

[LINK] “Israelis Feel Surrounded Yet Alone After Iran Deal”

Writing for Bloomberg View, Daniel Gordis explains coherently the concern of Israelis over the Iran nuclear deal. They feel beseiged on all fronts, it seems.

Our ability to defend ourselves, our knowledge that we are thus different from the Jews who died in those forests — while the world looked on and the U.S. sealed its shores — has been a source of pride to this small country. “Never again” is a ubiquitous phrase.

It is in that context that one needs to understand Israelis’ widespread sadness at the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran that the P5+1 group reached this week. The news reached us on the mountaintop, again on our iPhones. It was no surprise, of course, but the finality was still sobering. The overwhelming sense was one of alone-ness. Few Israelis believe President Barack Obama’s protestations that he has Israel’s back. He wanted a deal and a legacy, Israelis sense, and Israel was the price.

“Iran is now on the map, while Israel no longer is,” read one headline. “Israel has to decide whether to become part of the West with its preference for creative diplomacy,” the Channel 2 article continued, “or to make do in our difficult neighborhood and to announce that we will defend ourselves, even if we remain alone.”

The artillery we could hear as I read the article was a reminder that this is, indeed, a rough neighborhood.

“Even if we remain alone” was the prevailing sentiment. Avi Issacharoff, a moderate Israeli columnist, said that with the agreement, “Obama awarded Iran hegemony in the Middle East,” and suggested that July 14, 2015, may “prove to be one of the darkest days in the region’s history, especially for moderate Arab Sunni states and Israel.” Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s defense minister, called the deal a “massive betrayal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that John Tory supports the decriminalization of marijuana.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers if there might be a hot Jupiter orbiting a pulsating star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales wonders if multicellularity in cyanobacteria three billion years ago helped drive the Great Oxidation Event.
  • Far Outliers notes the 1878 introduction of football to Burma.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes that Europe is muddling through in the Mediterranean versus migrants and observes that even the optimistic scenarios for economic growth in Greece are dire.
  • The Frailest Thing considers the idea of a technological history of modernity.
  • Language Log notes an example of multiscript graffiti in Berlin.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how the Confederate cause won the Civil War despite losing the battles.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that default will do nothing to make the underlying issues of Greece business-wise better.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the intriguing geology of Ceres.
  • Peter Rukavina shows the Raspberry Pi computer he built into a Red Rocket tea tin.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper studying Russian patriarchy and misogyny in public health.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the genesis of the Bloor Viaduct’s Luminous Veil.
  • Towleroad examines the Texan pastor who threatened to set himself on fire over same-sex marriage.
  • Une heure de peine celebrates its eighth birthday.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reacts to the Michael Oren controversy over American ties with Israel.
  • Window on Eurasia warns that Putin’s system in Chechnya is not viable, predicts a worsening of the Russian HIV/AIDS epidemic, and notes that Jewish emigration from Russia has taken off again.
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