It’s been raining all day, ever since I first woke up this morning.
God, I think I could go right back to sleep, even though it’s almost five in
the evening.
I have to get up at O’Dark:30 all this week, because I’m working from 07:00
to 15:30.
Admittedly, getting up will be difficult, but I’ll like the fact that I’ll
be getting home early enough to watch a couple of episodes of Star Trek TNG
in the afternoon.
I love that show.
It’s the best of the Star Trek series.

Radhika Panjwani Mississauga News – Ontario, Canada Nov 9, 2006

The digital world has not kept pace with the needs of the disabled, and some
Mississauga advocates are calling on the technology giants to catch up.

Yesterday in Brampton, at the Region of Peel’s 3rd annual Day of the
Disabled Person, many in attendance said that today’s fast-paced society is
passing them by.

Visually-impaired Rabia Khedr said assistive technology for the disabled is
outdated and expensive, which makes it frustrating for users such as
herself. For instance, she said, the computer software she uses to help her
read, although useful, has limitations.

Khedr wants big companies such as Microsoft to remember people like her.

“Technology that is there to enhance access is usually behind the times,”
Khedr said. “It (assistive technology) is always trying to catch up. We need
accessibility in the age of information technology. It is built-in to a
degree, but it is not enough.”

A recent survey by the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres
(CAILC), an organization that supports the disabled, revealed more than
369,000 people with disabilities in Canada use or require augmentative and
alternative communication systems, such as larger computer screens, special
keyboards, voice recognition software and other systems. However, finding
money to buy the technology is also a huge roadblock.

The survey revealed that, unlike other forms of technologies such as
personal computers, the cost of assistive devices and software is

Jutta Treviranus, director of the Adaptive Technology Research Centre at the
University of Toronto and yesterday’s keynote speaker, said software
companies and other digital stakeholders must address issues of
E-accessibility at the onset of creating their software or product. They
must take into account the needs of the disabled.

She suggested companies develop more technology that is useful for all
segments of society.

Treviranus pointed to the introduction of closed captioning on television as
an example. She said it was originally developed to assist those with
hearing impairments, but is now found to be useful in noisy bars and fitness
centres as well. Treviranus believes if hi-tech industries can be innovative
in this way, the results could be commercially viable and, at the same time,
benefit everyone.

You can reach Radhika Panjwani at

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I’m getting around to this now before I forget.
It’s time to open up the floor for anyone who has anything to show off.
Just link to this post, and send a trackback, (the trackback URI now appears in the section of the post containg the information, like a link to the comments), and your links will appear in the content of this post.
If your blogging platform doesn’t accept/support trackbacking, (I.E., LiveJournal, Blogger), you can use this standalone trackback pinger.
If you’re looking for more OTB posts for Thursday, or the rest of the weekend, Linkfest Haven has more.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Rabbi Raymond Beyda

Negative financial news strikes fear in the hearts of common men. How low can it go? What steps must one take to survive? The smiling face is replaced by a concerned countenance, and the friendly “good morning” passes from a daily ritual to a once-in-a-while occurrence. Serious thought is given to the lifestyle changes one must make to avoid falling deeply into debt. It is not a pleasant situation, to say the least.
It is sad that when a person is under pressure and cannot think clearly, time-proven methods for bettering his or her situation may be missed.
However, it often happens that one who can only see gloom and doom consults with a helpful outsider and finds a simple solution that he or she would not have found alone.
Two steps taken by many people when the going gets rough are said by our Sages to be counter-productive. There are those who feel that the appropriate first step to take when experiencing concern about the future financial well-being of one’s business is to cut charitable contributions. Yet this move can really reduce the possibility of bailing out of trouble. The Torah teaches that one who gives is blessed. Furthermore, one is challenged by Hashem to “test Me with this”-i.e., Hashem promised: give and you will get and remember, you have the right to test His promise!
Secondly, many cut out time from their Torah learning schedule in order to devote more time to business. True, one’s business may need more hands-on attention, but one must find that necessary time without decreasing the time already dedicated to learning and self-improvement. The Torah, says the Gemara, protects and saves and so reducing the time spent learning reduces one’s protection and security.
If you, unfortunately, are in a situation where you are forced to consider making changes in order to deal with hard times, include the advice of our wise predecessors in your calculations. Give, and you will get. Torah protects and saves. These are simple solutions for complex problems.


A good technique for deciding whether to do something or to refrain: When one has to decide, one should imagine that another person asked his or her advice on the matter. Usually, when one is advising another, one sees clearly, without personal interest and prejudice to cloud the issue. What you would advise another is how you should act yourself. (Sefer Hasidim 155)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Geostrategy-Direct,, November 8, 2006

ABU DHABI – Hizbullah has become the rage in Sunni Gulf states.

Take Saudi Arabia, ruled by the sternest of Sunnis. In the Saudi port of
Jeddah, the hottest product is a brand of fireworks called “Hizbullah.”

Yemeni traders hawk a rocket that measures a meter and sells for about $40.
The firework explodes like dynamite and emits a rainbow of colors. A smaller
version is called “Bin Laden.”

Saudi authorities have banned the Hizbullah fireworks as too dangerous. But
that hasn’t stopped thousands of Hizbullahs – produced in China – from being
ignited throughout Jeddah on Ramadan nights.

In the aftermath of its war with Israel, Hizbullah has become a hit in the
Gulf Cooperation Council. To Sunni youngsters, Shi’ite Hizbullah represents
the promise of Muslim strength.

“The recent war in Lebanon could become a significant factor leading to a
transformation within the Salafi movement in the Arab world,” said Abdul
Hameed Bakier, a researcher for the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation.

“The conflict may also have a similar impact on Salafis as did the Gulf War
of 1991.”

Bakier envisions a crisis within the Sunni Al Qaida network as supporters
question Hizbullah’s success. The Hizbullah capabilities have also alarmed
GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia, which fears a revived insurgency

The Hizbullah success in the Sunni Arab world comes after Saudi Arabia
managed to quell Al Qaida strikes. Islamic sources said Saudi authorities
killed senior Al Qaida operatives while co-opting their religious guides,
who in some cases ended up opposing the movement they helped found.

As a result, Sunni Islamists have been split over Israel and the United
States. Traditional so-called Salafis support Arab policy that says a truce
with Israel was permissible.

“Resorting to peace, reconciliation or political and peaceful solutions with
the Jews is needed at this time for the lack of Islamic might to liberate by
force what is righteously theirs,” said Sheik Abdul Mohsen Al Obeikan, a
leading conservative cleric.

But Hizbullah success in the war against Israel has undermined the
conservative Salafi position supported by the Saudi royal family. Islamic
sources said over the past few weeks, Hizbullah Secretary-general Hassan
Nasrallah has become more popular among Sunnis than Bin Laden.

“The analogy was that Nasrallah is a nationalist leader with political
legitimacy who is fighting the direct enemy Israel,” Bakier said in a report
for Jamestown. “Bin Laden, on the other hand, is a global leader who is
fighting the indirect enemy, the United States, without credible political

Al Qaida and satellite groups have responded by expressing greater
belligerence against Israel. Al Qaida’s No. 2 Ayman Zawahiri, in a message
on Sept. 11, urged Muslims to fight the “Zionists and crusaders.”

“The conservative center-wing faction has refused to support Hizbullah and
the Shi’ites, while the more traditional center-wing faction has supported
Hizbullah in its latest conflict with Israel,” the Jamestown report said.
“The division in the center-wing was manifested in a fatwa issued by Nasser
Al Omar prohibiting support for Hizbullah.”

Al Qaida publicists have urged supporters to adopt Hizbullah’s tactics while
warning of the Iranian takeover of the Middle East. An article published in
the London-based Al Bayan magazine is entitled, “Let’s Be Frank, Salafi is
the Last Defense Line.” In it, Hizbullah is portrayed as a tool of Iran and

“With each new conflict in the Middle East, the Salafi movement has
experienced divisions, which have created new strains within the movement,”
Bakier said. “Yet, as each new strain forms, it becomes more radical in
nature and closely resembles the ideology of the Salafi-Jihadis. The
conflict in Lebanon furthered this trend, and the intensifying sectarian
violence in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites is also playing an important
role that will only increase tension over time.”

“It is likely that this increase will result in added strength to the
Salafi-Jihadi movement and this may cause severe security problems for the
Gulf States when these veteran Salafi-Jihadis begin returning to their home
countries,” Bakier added.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Geostrategy-Direct,, November 8, 2006

NICOSIA – The Lebanese government has approved a surveillance plan for
Hizbullah-dominated areas of Beirut.

The Lebanese Cabinet has agreed to install surveillance cameras throughout
Beirut in a $12-million program. The Cabinet ordered the cameras to be
attached to telephone lines and placed in Hizbullah-dominated neighborhoods
of southern Beirut.

“It agreed unanimously to use all necessary means to control the security
situation in Lebanon,” Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said.

Aridi said the cameras would monitor numerous areas throughout the Lebanese
capital in the first step towards a comprehensive security program.

But the minister stressed that the southern suburbs of Beirut would not
receive cameras until a much later stage. He said damaged neighborhoods
would first require reconstruction following the war with Israel, which
ended on Aug. 14. During the 34-day war, Israel targeted Hizbullah
headquarters and suspected weapons arsenals in southern Beirut.

Thousands of cameras would be installed throughout Beirut and linked to a
command and control center. They center would be manned by representatives
of the army and police to facilitate rapid response to emergencies.

Hizbullah ministers oppose the installation of the security cameras in
southern Beirut. They said the reconnaissance system, linked to a satellite,
could be subject to Israeli intrusion.

“Linking cameras to satellites could allow Israel to violate our security,”
said Energy Minister Mohammad Fneish, a Hizbullah member.

In the first stage, officials said, data from the sensors would be relayed
over telephone lines. Police stations throughout Beirut would be linked to
the system with a central C2 center established in the Helou police barracks
in Corniche Al Mazraa.

Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said Lebanon would introduce other security
measures in the greater Beirut area. Fatfat said the campaign would include
army and police reinforcements.

“This will continue until mid-January,” Fatfat said.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Geostrategy-Direct,, November 8, 2006

Saudi leaders cannot decide whether Iran is more of a threat than is Israel.

Saudi King Abdullah believes that Iran represents the greatest threat to the
Gulf Arab kingdom and must be fought at any cost. The king regards Iran as
intent on taking over the Sunni oil sheikdoms in the region, with Saudi
Arabia being the biggest prize.

Abdullah sees Iran’s leadership as intent on forming a Shi’ite arc that
would dominate the Middle East and destroy the Sunni world. Already, Iran
has in his view effectively taken over Iraq, Lebanon and Syria while making
serious inroads in such countries as Bahrain, Jordan and the Palestinian

As a result, Abdullah wants to form an alliance with Israel and Jordan to
prevent a Shi’ite takeover. The king’s idea is for the three countries to
cooperate against Iran both on its home court as well as in Iraq, Lebanon
and Syria. The United States could be counted upon to support such an

The king’s half-brother, Crown Prince Sultan, opposes this strategy. Sultan
has not ignored the Iranian threat, but he believes that Riyad must keep
away from Israel at any cost and prepare other options against Iran. The
crown prince is unclear about what those alternatives are.

At the bottom of the dispute rests a naked power struggle between the two
elderly royals. Abdullah has appointed a commission to decide on succession
and whether Saudi monarchs are fit to rule. This has frightened the ailing
Sultan, who badly wants to succeed Abdullah and eventually transfer power to
his eldest son.

The United States leans toward Sultan. The U.S. intelligence community has
assessed that the crown prince, who is also defense minister, would take
greater account of American interests than any other successor.

But a British Defense Ministry report provides a glimmer of insight into
Sultan’s character. In a cable written in the late 1980s from then-British
Ambassador William Morris, Sultan was described as corrupt, “not highly
intelligent, inflexible and imperious, and drives a hard bargain.”

King disturbed by reports of orgies in Wahabi Saudi Arabia

As a modest and pious man, Abdullah has good reason for seeking major
reforms in Saudi Arabia. The king has been hearing steady reports of a sharp
decline in morals in the country.

An immediate danger is the breakdown of the Saudi family. Young Saudis are
often forced into marriage by their elders. But once behind closed doors,
there is no pretense of any commitment.

In Jeddah, the Mawadda Social and Family Reconciliation and Counseling
Center has been processing requests for help from thousands of married
couples on the verge of breaking up. The threat is not divorce, heavily
frowned upon in the kingdom, but of the husband establishing a second home
with a concubine or prostitute.

“Our youths are not, unfortunately, educated on the importance of leading a
secure married life,” said Hassan Al Shelabi, the center director. “While
the parents are keen to give their children luxury homes, rich food and
fashionable clothing they neglect to prepare the children for a healthy
married life and being good husbands or wives.”

Al Shelabi said his center has received reports of wife swapping, of
husbands pressuring wives to sleep with their friends and of orgies. He said
these requests reflect the influence of Western culture, easily accessible
on satellite television or the Internet.

Not surprisingly, the disdain that young Saudi men have for marriage has led
to a huge increase in single Saudi women. The Saudi men would rather use
their spare time to play house with Western women in Europe or the United
States rather than raise a family back home.

Abdullah regards this phenomenon as part of the corruption of Saudi life
fueled by easy oil money that has wrecked traditional values of honesty and

With the price of oil steadily moving to $100 a barrel, the life for Saudi
youngsters is expected to only get easier.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Geostrategy-Direct, , November 8, 2006

WASHINGTON – Two companies are cooperating to market a laser system to
defeat roadside bombs.

The state-owned Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority and General
Dynamics are partnering to introduce an ordnance neutralization system into
the United States. Executives said the Thor system would use directed energy
from a laser to clear unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices.

“The directed energy from the laser may also be used to ignite combustible
materials, as a standoff cutting torch, and for other combat purposes,”
General Dynamics said in a statement.

Thor combines a high-energy laser and an M2 12.7-mm machine gun to destroy
IEDs. The weapons are mounted on a stabilized weapons pedestal with a remote
operator control station. General Dynamics produces the M2.

“The M2 machine gun ultimately provides accurate, direct fire upon enemy
forces and targets in either an offensive or defensive role,” General
Dynamics said.

Thor includes day/night-sighting sensors to detect suspected ordnance. The
system can be fitted on a range of vehicle platforms. Rafael and General
Dynamics are also partnering to sell explosive reactive armor to the U.S.

Thor has been deployed in tactical combat operations.

“The kinetic energy from the 12.7-mm bullet fired by the M2 functions as a
standoff disrupter, destroying fuzing, thick-cased munitions and booby
traps, also enabling distancing explosive hazards away from the force
route,” the company said.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Geostrategy-Direct,, November 8, 2006

WASHINGTON – Iran is moving in on Syria to the point of encouraging Alawis
and Sunnis to convert to Shi’ite Islam.

Syrian opposition sources said the regime of President Bashar Assad has
given Iran “carte blanche” in Syria. Unlike his late father, Bashar has
allowed Iranian clerics to spread the Shi’ite religion in Syria.

“Syrians have been observing over the last year a dangerous phenomena mostly
witnessed by an alarming number of non-Shia turning to Khomeini-style Shia
in return for financial rewards,” the opposition Reform Party of Syria
stated. “Whole villages and urban areas are adopting the Hizbullah model
whereby clinics, schools and social services are provided by Iran in return
for Syrians to convert to Shi’ism.”

In August 2006, RPS stated, Iran opened two centers in the Syrian port of
Latakia. The centers, which teach Farsi, have been converting Sunni Muslims.

“Assad is logically calculating that if Hizbullah, with its 15,000 fighters
and a God-like following of its figurehead Sheik [Hassan] Nasrallah, can
achieve with $100 million a year the military prowess it exhibited against
Israel then why not turn all of Syria into a larger Hizbullah laboratory in
the hope of attaining the same results?” the Syrian opposition party stated.

Sunnis comprise 70 percent of Syria. About 11 percent of the country
consists of the ruling Alawite community, with the remainder Christians and

Opposition sources said the spread of Shia in Iran has angered many Sunnis,
particularly those aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Sunni clerics
envision a backlash against Iran and its representatives.

“Many [Sunni clerics] have voiced the following logic: We see the next
confrontation in the Middle East along the lines of Israel vs. Iran and we
have no choice but to stand by Israel to protect our religion,” RPS stated.

“This logic emanates from the fact that no Sunni Arab country has the
military competence to stand-up to the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis and also
because Israel, unlike Iran, is not interested in converting Sunni Muslims,”
it said.