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Abu Ala Warns Anarchy May Topple His Government


PA Prime Minister Abu Ala stated Tuesday that if his government does not gain control and the state of anarchy vis-à-vis weapons held by PA residents continues, the current administration may fall as a result. The senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official spoke from Ramallah, warning that the current situation cannot continue and a lack of law and order may mark the end of the government of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

Israeli Patent Blocks TV Commercials


Sick and tired of commercials? Israeli students have come to the rescue. Three Tel Aviv third-year computer science students managed to develop a software that allows television viewers to record commercial-free shows and mutes the sound during ad time, newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday. "We were looking for a project for a school assignment that would also be practical and help the public," said Tal Sharasta, one of the developers. "Then we realized that just as we start flipping channels the moment there is a commercial break, the entire nation does the same."

This realization led to the innovative idea, namely creating software that can spot commercials and circumvent them. The software developed by the students works by spotting the TV station's logo, which disappears once a commercial break starts. This allows the device to mute the sound once a show goes into a commercial break, and turn it on again once the show resumes.

The software can also be used through the Internet, so viewers can control the way they record their favorite shows even while at the office. The developers, however, are still grappling with one problem - teaching the software to recognize promos for other shows and block them out, too.

Meanwhile, the software passed all the tests successfully and was presented to school officials a week ago. Now, the students hope to find an investor that would help them turn the patent to a commercial product to be offered in stores.

Large Underground Reserve of Hot Water Discovered in North

By Ha'aretz

The Water Commission discovered a large reserve of hot water on Tuesday at a depth of over 3,250 feet. It was conducting drillings near Kibbutz Shamir in the north. The Water Commission decided to search for water in the lower lairs of the Jura rock. The water, at the temperature of 45 to 47 degrees Celsius, was found to contain high concentration of sulfate. It burst out of the ground at a pressure of 750 cubic meters per hour.

Ze'ev Achifaz, a commission official said that the water was not potable but could be filtered for agricultural use. The water could also be used for fish pools or to create a tourist center, he said. Although there are no precise estimates of the size of the reserve, it is believed the reserve could supply several millions of cubic meters per year.

Will the Dutch Buy Settler Greenhouses?


The National Security Council and Vice Premier Shimon Peres' office have been working on a deal whereby Holland would purchase greenhouses belonging to Gush Katif settlers slated for evacuation. The Dutch would later grant the greenhouses to Palestinians, according to the plan.

The money paid to the settlers is supposed to offer them an incentive to leave their greenhouses behind and assist them in beginning a new life in the post-pullout era. Notably, the government is not offering the settlers compensation for agricultural and farming-type businesses.

The additional compensation funds received from the Dutch would give the settlers the privilege of not having to transfer the greenhouses during the relocation, leaving them behind for the Palestinians' benefit. It is feared that should the deal fall through and the settlers would not receive added monetary compensation, they would opt to transfer the greenhouses in their entirety or disassemble them and transfer only the portable parts during relocation.

The greenhouses, according to the plan that is taking shape, would be handed to the Palestinians as a gift. But what is holding back the plan currently on the table is the Dutch concern that the Palestinians would refuse it if it includes giving money to settlers for businesses established on conquered territory. Government officials explained that there's no possibility of a similar transfer of settler homes to the Palestinians. "Regarding the homes, the state will be compensating the settlers in full. It's only the businesses that will not get full compensation," an official said. "The homes become state property, while the businesses stay with the settlers."

The value of the greenhouses and one dairy barn included in the initiative are valued by professionals at $15 million. The officials estimate that not all the settlers would be interested in transferring the greenhouses, so not all of them will be moved. Still, they warn of the sensitive nature of the deal. "If no one comes and puts an offer on the table in the next two or three weeks, the discussion will be left hanging, unfinished," an official said.

Ynet has learned that, during the various attempts to advance the special compensation initiative, those involved with the deal turned to the World Bank and other European organizations and countries, such as Norway. However, only the Dutch signed on. Regarding the homes of the settlers, there was supposed to be a cabinet debate on the issue last week.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, taking the defense establishment's advice not to demolish the homes to heart, cancelled the cabinet discussion in order to try to coordinate a position with the Palestinians. Sharon also sought to discuss the topic with international actors, such as Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn. At present, there is no agreement with the Palestinians, who are themselves divided on the topic. Some want to demolish the homes, while others want to preserve them, or at least some of them.

Merrill Lynch: 6,600 Millionaires in Israel

By Ynetnews

Some 6,600 millionaires resided in Israel during 2004, marking a 10 percent rise from 2003, according to the 2004 World Wealth Report compiled by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch & Co. and consultancy firm Cap Gemini Group. The report defined millionaires as "high-net-worth individuals" or those with at least $1 million in financial or liquid assets.

Some 70 multimillionaires, or people with at least $30 million in financial or liquid assets, currently reside in Israel, up 15 percent from 2003, the report said. Six Israelis made to the list of the world's 500 wealthiest people. The liquid assets of Israel's richest totaled $24 billion, compared with $20 billion in 2003. Worldwide, there are 8.3 million "high net worth individuals," or 7.3 percent more than in 2003. Their wealth totaled $30.8 trillion, according to the report.

The total number of U.S. millionaires came to nearly 2.5 million, thanks to strong economic growth, low interest rates, tax relief and solid performances by small- and mid-cap stocks, the report said.

Jewish, Single, and Hating It


Revital Vitelzon is a religious Jew, and therefore was expected to marry and have children at an early age. The search for a husband preoccupied her for years, and she felt relieved only after she realized her dream and got married. Now the entertainer is out with a new comedy act based on her experiences from her days as a single religious woman.

Vitelzon says the pressure to get married began around the age of 19 and grew stronger as the years passed. "There was great joy every time one of my classmates got married, "she says. "But eventually we turned into something out of 'Lord of the Flies.' The goal was not to be the last one to get married."

Vitelzon, 25, grew up in the upscale Bavli neighborhood in north Tel Aviv, and before she married and moved out of the city she frequented spinning classes at the local gym more often than she visited holy Jewish sites. She does not cover her hair, although it is customary among married religious women. She often wears pants, and her skirt is fashionable and ends above the knee line.

Vitelzon's one-woman show, performed at religious singles nights and bachelorette parties, deals mainly with the religious bachelorette's exhausting search for a husband. She says single religious women are forced to compromise, because once a woman reaches age 24 and is still not married, she is considered problematic, and if she is 27 or over and still unmarried, she is considered a lost cause, an old maid.

"You agree to go on blind dates with everybody, regardless of whether you have anything in common with the intended bachelor," she says. "He's single? Then go out with him! What's the worst than can happen? If you wear pants, he might not introduce you to his mother'

Vitelzon first began dating regularly at 19, but says the dates were disappointing and drained her mentally. "At the end of my first date, we had to leave a three shekel tip (about 70 cents)," she says. "I put five shekels on the table to appear generous and feminist. He took two of those five shekels, and I asked myself 'What's next?' Is he going to take the teabag, too?"

In her show, titled Queen of the Swamp, Vitelzon talks about the pre-date pressure and the meticulous preparations girls go through to look their best and make good first impressions. "If you wear a dress, he'll think you're a hardcore religious girl who will want to get married within three months, which is true, but he can't know about it," she says. "On the other hand, if you show up wearing pants, he might not introduce you to his mother."

Vitelzon dated secular men as well, and says it is a whole other world than the religious dating scene. While secular men can go to a pick-up bar to meet women, thousands of single religious men and women from all over make a pilgrimage to the Simchat Torah Synagogue in Jerusalem. But they don't dare make any moves while inside the synagogue. "When the Sabbath is out, Jerusalem's cellular phone system collapses," she says. "Everybody is calling everybody, asking who was the cute guy in the white shirt? The problem is there are 3,000 men who fit the description, because religious men only wear white shirts. Now you're back to square one."

In her act, Vitelzon criticizes the religious community and the socialization process that imposes strict family values on community members. She says religious women are pressured to first find husbands and have children, and only then can they get degrees, pursue careers, or focus on their hobbies. "After my engagement, I said to my mother, 'Here, you got your son-in-law, I don't want to hear a word from you about children,'" she says. "But I know she won't rest until there is a bris."

She says she is glad she has a husband who supports her, because this is uncommon within the religious community. "Religious society is ambivalent towards women," she says. "On the one hand they tell you to be very assertive at work, but on the other hand career women are not treated favorably."

Vitelzon wants to begin a master's degree in clinical psychology. In the meantime, she works in a store at the Ramat Aviv shopping mall, the epicenter of upscale secular Tel Aviv residents. She says she comes from a moderately religious family, and does not want to live in a settlement in the territories. "After having lived in Tel Aviv for 25 years, moving to an all-religious settlement, where everyone knows everyone else, will be suffocating," she says. "Let me throw plates at my husband in my spare time; don't bother me."

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