Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remembering: Israeli Independence Day

May 14, 1948 Israel gains independence, becoming the first and only democratic republic in the Middle East. Most of the world was quick to recognize the new state, except the Arab countries. They declared war.

In a series of conflicts, with short ceasefires between, the young Israeli nation successfully fought off the hordes of invaders. On March 10, 1949 a cease fire was signed, which recognized Israeli independence, and set borders.

The road since has not been an easy one. Many struggles have faced the nation, including more wars and attempted invasions.

To this day, the country is randomly attacked by rockets from it's neighbors. Suicide bombers, are a constant threat. Regimes in other countries pledge to eradicate Israel. Even when not being fired upon, their borders are being threatened by international negotiations to form a Palestinian state.

Yet somehow, the Israeli people not only survive, but thrive. They continue to grow a culture that is one of the most appreciative of life, that the world has ever seen.

Israel marks their independence day as being the 5th of Iyar, from the Jewish calendar. Due to laws, it is often celebrated on the 4th and 6th of Iyar instead.

Remembering: Chernobyl

April 26, 1986, an explosion rocks the Soviet nuclear plant at Pripyat, Ukraine, known as Chernobyl.

Scientists at the plant attempt an experiment, for which none of them are trained, and a near worst case scenario results.

Thirty-two are killed, and thousands are poisoned by the radiation that the explosion spreads. Millions of acres of forest and farmland are poisoned as well.

At first the USSR tried hiding the explosion, but Swedish scientists publicly announced their readings of the radiation cloud.

The plant wouldn't be fully shutdown until 2000.

TSA Screeners Caught Taking Bribes

Seven people, including two currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration, have been charged with narcotics conspiracy.

Three of them were drug runners, who successfully bribed TSA agents to look the other way when they came through with their drugs.

The other four are current and former TSA screeners, who took the bribes. They could face life in prison for their crimes.

Bribes were in amounts of up to $2,400. All five of the incidents took place at Los Angeles International Airport. As much as twenty kilos of cocaine was smuggled through at one time.

One of the couriers mistakenly went to the wrong check point, was caught, and then informed on his co-conspirators. After which the DEA used their own agents to bribe the TSA agents, and then arrested them.

Limbless Man to Swim The World

Philippe Croizon, the first quadruple amputee to swim the English Channel has announced his next goal.

He and friend, Arnaud Chassery, will spend this summer swimming between the continents, and therefore around the world.

Croizon swims with the aid of prosthetic devices, specially designed for swimming.

"We are going to symbolically link the five continents, two little people like us, two little men, we're going to be able to build a bridge between the continents. That means that we're going to bring them together. Which means no one is very far from each other. So even if we have different political opinions, or skin colors, or even with our disabilities, we all live on the same planet. And that's the clear message we want to send."

They will connect most of the continents (except Antarctica and South America) by swimming across straits that separate them. The first target will be between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, there by connecting Asia and Australia. Later, they will cross the Red Sea, Asia to Africa; the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa to Europe; and the Bering Strait, Asia to America.

The swimming routes cover over fifty-three miles, and will take them about forty-five hours total swimming time to complete.

Explosion Kills 70 in Hama, Syria

A large explosion, on Thursday morning, took out an entire building in Hama, Syria, killing as many as seventy people. Rescuers continue to dig through the rubble in search of survivors and the dead.

Opposition groups claim that security forces either shelled or launched a rocket at the site. Whereas, the government claims that the explosion was by an accident amongst anti government bomb makers.

International human rights groups are unsure what actually occurred, and asked the UN observers to investigate. No word yet from them.

It is actually quite possible that, that government forces did shell the building, causing a bomb being made by anti government forces to detonate. Whatever the truth, we may never know. Either way it continues to show how little peace there actually is in the country.

Wednesday, brought reports of as many as twenty-five being killed around the country. That total includes civilians, opposition fighters, government troops, security forces, and a member of the Red Crescent.

France has suggested to the UN that the time is past for observers, and that international troops are necessary to enforce peace.

Burger King Promises 100% Cage Free Eggs and Pork

On Wednesday, Burger King announced that by 2017, it will get its egg and pork supplies, from 100% cage free animals.

So far only 9% of the company's supplies are cage free. It is unclear how the company expects to accomplish the remaining 91% in under 5 years.

Burger King is the world's second biggest fast food chain, and it's big promise will force other companies to make similar jumps.

Both McDonald's and Wendy's had already announced that they would work to the same goal, but neither of them set a time table.

Companies such as Wal-Mart and Costco, have already moved their private label eggs to 100% cage free. Hellmann's, Sonic, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, Kraft Food and ConAgra Foods have all pledged to work towards it as well.

Studies have shown that it costs one cent more an egg, for cage free eggs. A study has not yet been completed to find the difference in cage free pork.