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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

Sandy Flooding Closing Forward Offices ‘For Months’

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

A Manhattan office building that houses the Jewish Daily Forward may be closed for several months due to flood damage sustained from Hurricane Sandy.

Citing an unnamed disaster recovery company official involved with the building, where the newspaper has an office on the eighth floor, The New York Times reported Monday that 125 Maiden Lane may remain closed for months while transformers, boilers and other equipment are replaced.

Forward publisher Samuel Norich reportedly said he heard from building management that 8 million gallons of water were pumped from the basement of the building.

“We had prepared for an emergency,” Norich told The New York Times. “The emergency we had prepared for was an act of terrorism, not this.”

Forward reporters who had power at home worked remotely throughout the hurricane and into the weekend, and managed to publish its Yiddish and English paper the weekend after the storm.

Makom Hadash, an office sharing-initiative led by the Jewish environmental group Hazon, has leased space in the Forward’s office since 2010. The initiative’s partner organizations, which also are affected by the building’s closure, include Limmud NY, Moving Traditions, Storahtelling, Nehirim, B3: The Jewish Boomer Platform and the Jewish Greening Fellowship, an initiative of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

JTA, whose New York-based employees have been operating remotely since shortly before Labor Day, is expecting additional delays in moving into its new Manhattan office on West 30th Street.

Several synagogues, Jewish day schools and other Jewish organizations sustained serious flood damage when Hurricane Sandy swept through the greater New York area on Oct. 29.

Among the organizations that sustained damage to their facilities from direct flooding were the Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE), the Mazel Day School and the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, all in Brooklyn, as well as the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach on Long Island.

Russia, Syria Blast Turkey for Forcing Plane Landing to Search for Arms

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained by the forced landing of a Syrian passenger plane which Turkey said it need to inspect for smuggled military equipment.

Moscow has said Ankara endangered the lives of Russian passengers when it commanded the Syrian plane to land, and Damascus said the interception was akin to piracy.

Moscow has been providing military assistance to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey and Syria’s border has been heating up, with Syria attacking Turkish border towns and Turkey offering asylum to Syrian nationals associated with the opposition.

Turkey issued military jets to escort the planes after receiving intelligence that “non-civilian cargo” was aborad the Airbus A0320 bound for Damascus.  There were 30 Russian passengers aboard the plane, 17 of whom were denied requests to meet with Russian diplomatic services.

No arms were found aboard the plane.  Some cargo was seized and the plane and passengers continued to their destination.

Focus on Israeli humanitarianism: Eye from Zion

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Eye from Zion, established in 2007 by Israeli businessman Nati Marcus, is a humanitarian organization dedicated to giving the gift of sight to poor people in developing countries.

Israeli volunteers travel anywhere they are needed to treat patients, sending experienced ophthalmologists, advanced equipment, and operating room nurses to cities in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Myanmar and dozens of other countries around the world.

Eye from Zion doctors also instruct the local health professionals in developing countries they visit in modern medical techniques – while also donating medicine and equipment – enabling the local medical teams to eventually function independently.

Nati Marcus explained to me, via email, his motivation for starting Eye from Zion:

Each person to whom we restore sight, especially the children, is a world unto itself.

Along with my usual work, we built an organisation that has restored the sight of thousands of blind people across the globe by performing eye operations by instructing medical groups in developing countries. I succeeded.

I am a businessman, but four years ago I decided to something more serious with my life that could change the life of people across the world.

Video about Eye From Zion’s work:

Hagiang, Vietnam

Ethiopia

Careroon

Monks in Myanmar after surgery

Girl in Myanmar after surgery

Eye from Zion founder Nati Marcus

Visit CifWatch.com.

The Staggering Costs of a Special Needs Child

Friday, September 21st, 2012

“It’s a boy!”

While these three words can be a source of one’s greatest happiness in life, it can also be bittersweet for those who give birth to children with special needs, when the parents think about the emotional challenges they and their children will face throughout their lives.

The spectrum of special-needs children ranges from mental to physical to psychological and sometimes all three. A 2008 study by the United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 14 percent of children in this country fit into this category, and about 20 percent of families have at least one special-needs child. The definition of a special-needs child can range from one who is diagnosed with a mild learning disability to one who has a life-threatening condition, such as cystic fibrosis. This article will focus on the more severe categories.

Aside from the emotional toll it takes on these families, the financial strain such a diagnosis puts on the family is often overlooked. Goldie S., a mother of a special-needs child, says that the list of added expenses seems endless. Tuition, for instance, costs a great deal more at special-needs schools than at mainstream institutions. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that special-needs children be provided by the local school district with a “free and appropriate education (FAPE),” the provisions that are offered to parents often fail to meet their child’s needs. This compels parents to enroll their child in a private school, or sometimes fight to move their child to a school in another district. This is what happened to Goldie S., whose district was unwilling to transfer her child. While she fought successfully to have the child moved, she had to pay significant attorney fees in the process.

Similarly, children are often entitled to various therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech. Sometimes, though, the district evaluates a child and denies the child these services. Parents who feel that their child needs extra help are then forced to pay the therapists out of their own pockets.

Sending special-needs children away for the summer is another great expense. A six-week stay in one upstate New York camp can cost about $12,000, which is three times more than the average sleep-away camp. This is due to the one-on-one care that is often required, as well as the additional medical staff.

Additionally, often these children require expensive equipment and medications. While the family’s medical insurance may cover some costs, parents often find that much of what their child needs is not covered by their plan, and that they need to fight their insurance company to pay what they feel they are due.

Beyond this, some of the extra expenses that are often perceived to be insignificant are the ones that can make a family’s financial situation unbearable. For example, special-needs children require more frequent doctor visits than most children. This means that one or both parents will frequently end up missing work, with a possible impact on their pay, in order to take their child to the hospital and medical offices. Furthermore, if these visits are far from one’s home, out-of-pocket transportation costs can also quickly add up, between gas, tolls, and parking.

In addition, they may require many specialists in many fields. If the child has an abundance of medical issues, it is hard to find the right fit with these specialists and often parents have to go “out of network” with their insurance companies in order to use these doctors. The costs of out of network co-pays can become significant.

Parents of wheelchair-bound children will also incur significant added costs. The wheelchairs cost several thousand dollars apiece, and there is often the need to install custom-built ramps in and around the home to make it wheelchair-accessible. A specialized van with a powered wheelchair ramp or lift installed costs about twice as much as a standard one.

Even mobile special-needs children can generate significant additional expenses. If, for instance, the doctor recommends specialized exercise equipment, the parents find that the cost can add up quickly.

Goldie S. points out that food can be a major expense when a child is placed on a special diet. One who is lactose intolerant will need to drink other types of milk, which is more expensive than cow’s milk. For children on gluten-free diets, the cost for many food staples, including bread, cake and pasta and products, run typically at about double the price of the common wheat-based varieties.

Should the US Remilitarize Military Procurement?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The US military is facing potentially catastrophic funding cuts due to last year’s so-called “sequestration” deal between the President and the Republicans in Congress. If Congress and the President fail to agree on future tax and spending policy, on January 1, 2013 automatic cuts will automatically begin, which will result in an almost $50 billion dollar cut from the 2013 defense budget. It is also estimated that over the course of the next ten years the act will, in theory, cut as much as $492 billion from the defense budget.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has described these cuts as “catastrophic.” Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D Hawaii) has agreed with Panetta, calling them “devastating and disastrous.”

Pressure has never been greater to ensure that the defense procurement system works at maximum efficiency. Ideally, this means that the procurement system should provide the armed services with high quality, reliable and affordable weapons and equipment, on schedule and without unplanned cost increases.

Unfortunately, at present there is little sign that either the Obama administration or Congress are ready to make the dramatic, comprehensive reforms that are needed for America’s complex and confusing Federal Acquisition Regulations which govern the procurement system. Today’s economic problems, however, are serious enough so that they might open the way for reforms that would make a significant difference to the way the system works.

Ever since the early days of the Reagan build-up in the early 1980′s, there has been a lively and, at times, nasty debate over military procurement reform. The bureaucratic system, which the US Department of Defense uses to design, develop and produce the seemingly infinite number of military weapons and equipment required, is widely recognized as broken. Almost all new weapons and new equipment are delivered to our troops late, and these items almost always seem to end up costing far more than originally planned. Often, a new weapon which had been in development for years, is cancelled because the leadership of the Defense Department decides that it has grown too expensive, as shown below. The cancellation then results in wasted billions that have already been spent .

In the 1950′s, the Pentagon may have had some significant problems, but the procurement system itself was not one of them. As one former Air Force General said, “Procurement decisions were made by the highest ranking officer technically qualified to make the decision.”

In the early 1960′s, under then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a new management system was put into place. McNamara removed authority for major procurement decisions from the Army, Air Force and Navy and gave it to senior political appointees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Essentially, the decision-making power was given to a group of civilian political appointees and analysts who owed their positions to McNamara and no one else. These civilians were known as the “Whiz Kids.” Their ideas were neatly summed up by Charles Hitch, McNamara’s Comptroller of the Defense Department when he said, “We regard all military problems … as economic problems in the efficient allocation and use of resources.”

By reducing the role of the men and women in the military to the mere fulfilling of a set of economic, statistical requirements, Secretary of Defense McNamara not only eliminated the role of traditional warrior virtues in the conduct of US military operations, he also removed officers with real-world experience from the procurement process. Many of the failures experienced by the US military since the McNamara era have been due to the excessive use of business management principles and techniques instead of reliance on strategy and doctrine based on military experience.

The McNamara system has undergone several minor reforms since the early 1960′s, notably the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This legislation strengthened the role of the nation’s senior military officer, namely, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It made him the principal military advisor to the President and thus no longer just the “first among equals.” Regrettably, the Goldwater-Nichols Act Act failed to give the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs solid authority over the procurement process. Even worse, as former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman put it, “The intention of the legislation was to get uniformed people completely out of procurement.”

BDS Campaign Against Caterpillar Stymied by the Truth and the Palestinian Authority

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

The intense Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Caterpillar Inc. has been dealt a significant blow in recent weeks, after the company issued a stinging rebuke of the campaign’s accusations, and it was revealed that the Palestinian Authority recently bought Caterpillar equipment.

Caterpillar, long a favored target of BDS ire because Israel uses its equipment in Judea and Samaria, undercut the justification for the campaign by exposing a basic falsehood on which the campaign is built in an email exchange between Just Foreign Policy Director and Huffington Post blogger Robert Naiman and Caterpillar Spokesman Jim Dugan on the Huffington Post Monitor website last Friday.

Dugan, responding to a post written by Naiman encouraging divestment of Caterpillar because it “sells to Israel,” wrote that the bulldozers

“that get most of the attention are provided to the Israeli government as part of a program administered by the United States government that supports US allies.”

To remove any doubt about whether Caterpillar sells equipment to Israel, Dugan elaborated on the specifics of the transactional process:

“This is how it works. Caterpillar sells equipment to the U.S. government, which then transfers the equipment to the Israeli government, which then transfers it to the Israeli military.”

Instead of addressing the substance of Dugan’s email, Naiman cites former director of the U.S. Office of B’Tselem and fellow BDS supporter Mitchell Plitnick – who he apparently believes to be more authoritative on the subject of Caterpillar’s business practices – for the proposition that “CAT provides Israel with the bulldozers, specially designed for weaponization.”

An obviously annoyed Dugan responds with a sharp rejoinder:

“Robert,

Please read my post, but if that’s too much trouble, I’ll summarize…

We supply machines to the United States Government.”

He then repeats the process by which Israel procures Caterpillar machinery:

“The facts, not opinion. We sell machines to the United States as part of a program that includes reviews by the State Department, Congress and the Executive Branch.

Fact. As I indicated in my post, we do not weaponize machines used by the IMF [sic, IDF]. Modifications may be done to our machines after they are sold.”

Dugan ends with a scathing remark which he seems to apply not only to Naiman, but to the BDS movement in general:

“It is too bad people keep making claims that are not factual.”

Naiman’s response?

Silence.

Throwing another wrench in the BDS campaign against Caterpillar was the revelation by The Elder of Ziyon blog that “the official Caterpillar dealer in Ramallah transferred several tractors to the Palestinian Authority” several weeks ago [emphasis added].

The blog cited Palestinian Tractor’s website, which boasts a Caterpillar logo and speaks proudly of its status as a Caterpillar dealer:

Palestinian Tractor and Equipment Co. Ltd. was established in 1995 as a sister company to Jordan Tractor and Equipment Co. and as an affiliate Company to M.E. JALLAD the dealer of Caterpillar Inc. in Lebanon and Syria since 1929. It is a part of Caterpillar dealers network established all over the world.

As a Caterpillar dealer, PT&E are able to bring to the country not only the finest quality products but also the expertise and the know how of a world leader in the productive use and management of machines that serve various segments of the market.

[Watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony here]

The response of the BDS movement?

Silence.

Of course, another course of action could have been to boycott, divest, and sanction the U.S. government and Palestinian Authority, but this would have merely distracted the BDS movement from its mission to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

 

Much thanks to Huffington Post Monitor and The Elder of Ziyon  for their research and original reports.

1948 Israel War of Independence Overseas Heroes Honoured by Museum of the Diaspora

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People will be opening a special exhibition to honour the volunteers who made an invaluable contribution towards winning the 1948-49 War of Independence and helped to lay the foundations of the Israel Defense Forces

Many elderly World War II veterans will be making a special journey to Israel to participate in this prestigious honour in the presence of state and military dignitaries, as well as ambassadors and military attaches.

Known as MACHAL (Mitnadvei chutz l’Aretz) which translates as volunteers from abroad, over 4,500 men and women, Jews and non Jews, from 58 countries rallied to Israel’s aid in her struggle against the invasion of 6 well-armed Arab nations.

By July 1948 it looked like the war might be lost. 70% of Israel had been occupied by the invading Arab armies. The Egyptians were 20 miles from Tel Aviv. Without the MACHAL pilots and air crews in their fighter and bomber aircraft, the outcome of the war might have been very different.

In the face of a United Nations embargo on the export of military equipment to Israel, the Machal volunteers were also instrumental in smuggling desperately needed planes and equipment into Israel.

The War of Independence was Israel’s longest, costliest, and most fateful war. 6,300 civilians and military personnel were killed (1% of the entire Jewish population of Palestine). 123 Machalniks (119 men and 4 women) lost their lives.

72nd Command Battalion of Machalniks

The late Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin stated: “You came to us when we needed you most, during those hard and uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The People of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Machal”.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion said: “The Machal Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel”.

In 1993 Stanley Medicks, co-ordinator of the British and European Machal Association and fellow Machal comrades raised the funds for a memorial to be built in Israel in memory of the 123 Machalniks who gave their lives.

http://www.machal.org.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=302&Itemid=357&lang=en

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/1948-israel-war-of-independence-overseas-heroes-honoured-by-museum-of-the-diaspora/2012/05/08/

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