The Train Is Back In Business

A nightly negotiation prevented the strike we all dreaded. Some passengers missed the news, while others changed their plans accordingly. Passengers are pleased about the outcome but suspicious about other strikes in the future. “Both sides aimed to high and the ones left with the bill are us, the passengers” says an irritated passenger about the negotiation outcomes.

According to the agreement between the and the board of the train, the train’s maintenance will be outsoared to a private company and tow additional cargo and commerce subsidiary companies will be formed, in addition for respect the workers’ rights according to the Collective bargaining. In return the workers agreed to “industrial peace” and will avoid strikes within the next three and a half years.

The workers are to enjoy a 25% raise in salary – “depending on reforms”. According to the Histadrut, the train workers will be included in the 2013 salaries agreement in the public service, which will increase their current salary by 30%. The negotiation also produced a onetime grant of 40 thousand NIS for every worker and the board’s cooperation in hiring 140 new staff members, mostly cashiers, within the Collective bargaining.

Surprisingly, it was decided to withdraw the suspension of that took part in assaulting the train’s CEO a few weeks ago in the train station in Lod.
The current agreement is almost identical to the previous agreement offered to the board by the Histadrut. The previous one was rejected immediately and fully, in response the workers embarked on a full strike protected by the Histadrut’s support. The generous flexibility shown by the board is almost too good to be true. It is uncommon for a strike to achieve such a bountiful agreement, one must wonder if all measures where Kosher.

The public is relived about enjoying the train one more “It’s hard not to use the train once you get use to it, I’m glad they figured out striking isn’t the answer” said a passenger in Tel Aviv. The Israeli public is not blind to the suspicious process in which the agreement was signed “I’m pleased the strike is over but I’m not thrilled and expect additional strikes” said another passenger. “It’s wrong to allow Gila Edri to remain in position. I think she conducted herself in a poor manner, forcefully and inappropriately” said passenger.


Israeli Law Bans Underweight Models

Foreign media reports of the new Israeli targeted to fight eating disorders are flooding world news. “It’s fantastic!” said plus size model Emme to CNN. Israel is the pioneer, hopefully others soon will follow. The Modeling Bill passed second and third readings and echoed around the world. News networks around the world are speculating whether or not this precedent will inspire other governments to pass bills of this nature.

According to the modeling law, passed a few days ago, male and female that are clinically will not appear in commercials in the state of Israel. Furthermore, the usage of editing or retouching using programs like Photoshop in order to take in body measurements must be pointed out in bold noticeable writing. These terms will also apply on advertising produced abroad with foreign models that are imported to Israel.

The daily telegraph’s section reported the passing of the bill and mentioned Israel is the first country that has prohibited under weight among professional models. “This looks like the first attempt by a government to fight the fashion industry accused of encouraging eating disorders by putting extreme thinness on a pedestal. This law could inspire other countries battling the Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa epidemics, especially among young women”.

The American CNN network also addressed the new law. American plus size super model Emme said in an interview to the network that the law is sure to encourage other countries to implement similar measures in the battle on eating disorders and prohibit underweight models to appear in advertising.

“I think it’s fantastic! So many men and women are struggling to achieve an appearance that is both unrealistic and unhealthy”, said Emme. The American model also pointed out that the British government has also been vigorously active in stopping advertising agencies that alter girths in photographs and use photographs that present models in an unrealistic manner. News of the groundbreaking bill even reached The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet Daily News, which has addressed the new law.

According to the bill, the minimum BMI (Body Mass Index) for models is 18.5, under which it will be illegal for models to appear in advertising. Body mass index is defined as the individual’s body mass divided by the square of his or her height. The agency hiring the model will have to refer the model for a medical examination that will determine weather or not he or she are eligible according to the new criteria.


Mount Dov: IDF Soldiers Rescue Calf

During routine training at the foot of Mount Dov, soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps and the Givati Brigade came across a calf trapped in a three meters deep cement ditch within the compass of the range. The training was stopped and the soldiers stepped up to the animal.

A heavy wait visitor was seen earlier this week within the 769 Brigade’s shooting range area, near Mount Dov, close to the border. A mature calf, most likely lost and separated from its herd, entered the shooting range and fell down a three meters deep cement ditch.

Soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps in the middle of a shooting training suddenly notice the animal’s distress while passing by the ditch at noon. “At first, I received reports from my soldiers of a live cow that has survived the fall down the ditch in the shooting range and is now trapped” says Junior Lieutenant Amit Segal from the 769 Brigade.
Segal mentions that it was decided to cease the training and the shooting and attempt to assist the animal. “There are several herds nearby and we decided contacting the owners in order for them to check the state of the animal” says Segal. “The calf somehow managed to avoid physical damage from the fall, but run all over the ditch unsuccessfully trying to escape. The soldiers fed it grass until the owners arrived”.

Soldiers from the engineering brigade, soldiers from the Rotem battalion of the Givati Brigade and soldiers from the769 Brigade all came to the animal’s rescue. The calf’s owner arrived along with his worker, who went down the ditch and roped the calf.

A group of 12 soldiers began tugging the calf “we started tugging but after a short while, one of the ropes tore under the weight and we had to lower the calf back to the ditch and try again with a different rope”. The combined efforts paid off and the calf was rescued unharmed. “Once we had rescued it, it began chasing us. We had to chase it out of the area in order to resume the training and keep it safe”, Segal wraps the successful rescue.


Backpacking in Jerusalem

For most young travelers setting out with nothing but their backpack and a dream to stamp up there passport with as many countries as possible, the first places they consider visiting are in Western Europe, Eastern Asia, and Australasia, however this is rapidly changing. World travelers and gap year students are looking for more unique places to visit than just the same old stops, which is what makes a place like , Israel so appealing.

Fortunately for backpackers, they are not the only people interested in opening up the Middle East to more travelers. In 2010, one of the first accommodation options designed to meet the needs of budget travelers looking for a cultural, hospitable, and fun place to stay, opened up right in the heart of Jerusalem. Abraham Hostel Jerusalem was built by its founders, who are also travelers at heart, on a vision to help backpackers and tourists truly discover and experience all that the Middle East has to offer. While many travelers worry about terrorism and their own safety in a place like Jerusalem, staying at a hostel like Abraham Hostel offers a fun and safe environment where travelers can get inside information about the best places to visit in the city. Top Israel hostels are becoming more and more popular as travelers discover how fun it is to stay in a place where they can not only save money, but also can meet other backpackers and experience Jerusalem in a whole new way.

From Biblical landmarks to historical destinations and top museums in the world, backpackers will have no trouble finding great places to visit during the day in Jerusalem. The Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount and more are must-sees no matter a traveler’s personal religious views. In the evening however, night life can be a little trickier to find in Jerusalem. Many people suggest just heading to Tel Aviv, which is just an hour away and world-renowned for its night clubs and bars, however with a little effort, backpackers can discover great night life options in Jerusalem. Zion Square offers clubs for dancing and the city center of west Jerusalem is a great place for hip bars and pubs. That being said, the best way to discover music and nightlife in Jerusalem is by just asking the knowledgeable staff at a backpacker like Abraham Hostel for their in-the-know suggestion.

In these unique times of internationalism and the importance of learning about cultural respect, backpackers who are interested in an off-the-beaten track experience can find exactly what they are looking for in Jerusalem.


Russia’s Human Interest in Syria

According to a new report released this week, it appears that the import of foreign weapons to the regime of President increased dramatically in recent years, just before the revolution began in . Compared to the previous five years, the shipments of foreign were much higher, and most of them came from . The report, prepared by (SIPRI) show some impressive numbers as to what the state of military weapons appeared to be.

Since the revolution started last year, an estimated 9,000 people died so far, most of them civilians, including many children. The SIPRI reports comes just as the president of the International Committee of the , Jakob Kellenberger, was travelling to Moscow in order to meet with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to help negotiate with the Syrian government so that aid could be brought in the most affected regions of the country. Mr Kellenberger said that the humanitarian situation in the country was most likely to get worse.

Meanwhile the report itself found that Syria’s most important weapons import went up 580% between 2006 and 2011. Their most important seller was Russia with 78% of the arms provided to the regime. These Russian weapons included surface to air missiles, coastal defense missiles, and other small arms. Moscow acknowledged in the past selling arms to Assad, despite a arms embargo proposal. How many weapons were delivered however remained unclear.

In a speech to Russia’s parliament last week, Mr. Lavrov claimed that the weapons sent to Rysia were for external threats only, and had not been used against civilians or demonstrators. However, many humanitarian organizations such as Watch believe otherwise. For example, Russian-made mines were used extensively to block the traffic of people between Turkey and , including many fleeing refugees. Nearly $1 billion worth of Russian missiles and airplanes were apparently sold to Syria in 2011 alone. These included some modern Mig planes along with weapons able to take down any invading aircraft.

Meanwhile, Russia is trying to keep its business relationship with the country intact, and has been supporting the Assad regime all this time, which prompted a lot of worldwide criticism. Moscow wants to prevent an outside intervention in Syria like the one that happened in Libya, where Nato countries used a UN resolution to support rebels against Muammar Gaddafi. Despite calling for Mr. Assad to step down, the western powers have been hesitant to provide arms to rebels, fearing an escalation of the war. The EU has banned arms exports to Syria last year.


Toulouse Jewish School Shooting

UPDATE: , the man believed to be the gunman on a scooter who killed seven people in south-western , is a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian extraction. Police in surround a block of flats in where they say the suspect in Monday’s of a rabbi and three children at a is holed up. The man informed police he wanted to “avenge Palestinian children” and denounced French “crimes” in Afghanistan.

The attack occurred earlier this week at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. According to witnesses, a lone gunman entered the building and shot a teacher and three children dead in the school, also injuring one more teenager. The attacker then fled on a scooter, in a similar fashion as from two earlier incidents in France last week. The same type of caliber was also used in all 3 attacks, a .45 calibre gun, and the search for the killer is under way. This marks a very deadly series of incidents to happen in the country in a very short time frame.

According to sources close to the investigation, CCTV cameras captured the license plate number of the scooter, and the police is searching for this vehicle along with its owner. Meanwhile, a special memorial is being setup for the victims and will be taking place in one of the synagogues in Toulouse. President Sarkozy flew to the city and declared the attack a national tragedy, after speaking with some of the friends and families of the victims. He asked all students in France to observe a minute of silence on Tuesday, and said the hunt for the killer was well under way. All other candidates in the France election campaign have suspended their activities for the week.

The attack Monday occurred at around 8 am, just as school children arrived with their parents. According to witnesses, the gunman apparently pulled up on the black scooter and began shooting at an area where primary-age children would be dropped off by their parents. According to witness accounts, he shot at everybody in the area, including kids and adults. The students fled into the school as the gunshots were heard. Some say he used a 9mm gun, but then the weapon jammed and he switched to a .45 calibre weapon.

Over 60 officers, including some anti-terrorist specialists, were brought on the scene earlier in the week to investigate the other shootings, and were quickly on the scene, but could not arrive in time to stop the suspect. Several helicopters scanned the area for most of the day, while France Prime Minister Fillon said extra security would be put in place at all schools and religious buildings.

This is the third attack in a short time in the southern part of France. On March 11, an off-duty airborne trooper was shot dead in Toulouse, on March 15 two soldiers were killed and one more injured while waiting at a cash machine in Montauban, and on March 19 three children and a teacher were shot dead at the Toulouse school. While there’s no definitive evidence that all 3 attacks were conducted by the same person, that’s what it seems so far. This latest attack was the deadliest attack on Jews in France since a 1982 shooting.