How Israel’s “Iron Dome” works


ISRAEL has long been protected by its famed “iron walls”. Now those walls have a rooftop. Israel’s arms manufacturers have devised an anti-missile system, offering what they call an “Iron Dome” overhead. Iron Dome’s manufacturers claim it is the fastest and most reliable such system to date, able to shoot down missiles with a launch-to-impact time of 15 seconds. The $1-billion programme, subsidised by the United States, has served Israel well in Operation Protective Edge, its recent campaign against Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian militants have lobbed almost 1,000 missiles into Israel, but Iron Dome’s interceptors have struck down 87% of their targets, according to the Israelis, allowing life in Israel’s cities to proceed more or less normally. How does it work?


Iron Dome is the short-range component of Israel’s three-tier anti-missile defences. The other two elements are David’s Sling, still under development, which is intended to shoot down targets in the atmosphere, including over the Mediterranean; and the Arrow system, designed to intercept longer-range ballistic missiles in space. As soon as enemy rockets are launched, Iron Dome’s radar tracks their trajectory, calculates their impact point and launches a missile which within seconds locks onto the rocket and shoots it down. Each interception costs about $60,000, but its architects claim to have saved Israel billions in physical damage and economic impact, as well as loss of life.


The system has overcome many teething problems. Initially, Israel’s defence planners were wary of deploying it over airports, lest it respond to aircraft and target them too. Commanders have since developed a country-wide network identifying all friendly airborne traffic, ensuring the Iron Dome’s missiles target only the unknown. Other problems remain: even when rockets are successfully shot down, potentially lethal shrapnel falls from the sky. “Whatever goes up, must come down,” says Uzi Rubin, a designer of the Arrow system. And the country’s highways and rural areas remain exposed. Farmers, often migrant workers from Thailand, cower among their crops. Israel’s 200,000 Bedouin, many of whom live in shanty towns, have nowhere to hide. Labourers expanding Israel’s infrastructure look to the sky and pray. On July 14th a rocket seriously injured a ten-year-old girl in her shack in the shanty town of Lakiya. Even over cities, one in ten incoming projectiles slips through.


Some wonder if Iron Dome’s main problem is in fact a political one. The system’s success means that Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has been able to use Iron Dome to maintain his policy of conflict management, with less fear of retaliation. “Iron Dome has altered the calculus of Israel’s political echelons in ways they have yet to understand,” says a former senior official. “It allows Israel to resist internal public and military pressure for a quick end to the conflict, and keep bombing Gaza.” It also provides some degree of immunity against other neighbours armed with missiles, such as the Lebanese Shias’ Hizbullah militia, or Syria, perhaps making the agreement of a lasting peace settlement seem less urgent. Nonetheless, as air-raid sirens sound, most Israelis are glad to have the protection of the Iron Dome.



What can we do about climate sceptics?


“Climate change is nonsense.” When De Telegraaf – the largest newspaper of the Netherlands – asked its readership last month to either agree or disagree with this statement in its daily readership poll, the result: 61% agreed. Eight out of ten respondents to the poll even said not to worry about the possible consequences of climate change.

These results are similar to a recent Gallup poll in the United States that ranked climate change, along with the quality of the environment, near the bottom of a list of 15 issues that Americans are worried about. Only 24% admitted that they worry about it a great deal, while twice as many said they worry a great deal about the size and power of the federal government.

Nearly 60 years since the Gilbert Plass 1956 study The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change accurately predicted the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate, many people are still not convinced that it is our unabated increase in CO2 emissions that is heating the planet and causing climate change.

The Dutch football coach Louis van Gaal once proclaimed at a press conference: “Am I the one who’s so smart, or are you so stupid?” It is tempting to bang your head on the table on hearing such numbers and move on because, hey, we are the ones who are right!

But perhaps it is worth investigating why there are still so many people who don’t believe that climate change is real as that may also explain inaction from politicians. The scientific proof seems overwhelming. Two weeks before De Telegraaf conducted its poll, a survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers found that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by humans.

But would this actually change the thinking and behaviour of the 61% who said that they think climate change is nonsense?

The doomsday scenarios, the overly scientific way of describing the issue and a lack of consensus in the climate change message are not helping.

The way climate change has been and is being communicated – the IPCC definition of climate change is no less than 123 words – is failing to convince the sceptics. And in Western democracies, politicians usually don’t act unless a sizeable majority backs them. This is, after all, how democracy works.

Perhaps the answer lies in neuroscience; what happens in our brain when we receive information? Professor Richard Boyatzis, of Case Western University in Ohio, has conducted extensive research in how the brain responds to negative and positive messages.

His research suggests that when hearing a negative message, parts of the brain are activated that are associated with narrowing attention, less compassion and more negative emotions. Arousal of strong negative emotions stimulates a part of our brain that invokes cognitive, emotional and perceptual impairment.

At the same time, positive emotions activate the part of our brain that stimulates well-being, better immune system functioning, and cognitive, emotional, and perceptual openness, and increases creativity.

Convincing people that climate change is real is perhaps a start, but it is not enough. Collective and decisive action is required, not only from governments and companies but also from consumers. To effect real change, we need a shift in behaviour.

People need to be inspired as well as convinced. To achieve that, perhaps the best brains in the marketing and advertising industry could figure out a way of reaching the climate sceptics in a positive, hopeful reflection of a desired future – a future without floods, severe weather events, rising food prices and other consequences of climate change.

Those messages should not be about the measures that need to be implemented or the metrics that need to be achieved, such as a certain-percentage cut in CO2 emissions.Research from Boyatzis has shown this confuses people and results in them shutting down cognitively, emotionally and perceptually.

We need to figure out a way to discuss the overall purpose, not the individual targets, of fighting climate change. The politicians can discuss the numbers.

Remember the Kyoto protocol? Well, CO2 emissions have increased 50% since then. Yet, we have failed to act.

We are the first generation to feel the full impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. It is time for the best brains in the marketing, advertising, branding and communications industries to come together and develop an inspiring message, less dominated by science, on the greatest challenge we have ever faced.

Herman Betten is Communications Director for Royal DSM. Follow him on Twitter at@hermanb

Image: Graffiti art is seen on a wall next to the Regent’s Canal, in Camden in London December 22, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The rise of the right wing!



“The world is round and politics takes us around”. The year is 2014 and the last established mainstream religion is 1400 old. Just when we thought that science and reason is getting entrenched in the public discourse, people have more spare time to create and innovate, compared to what our antecedents had 100 years back. The majority of the population is living in cities which are highly globalized, more people die of obesity related diseases than of hunger and famine. Education amongst the masses is heralding and virtually becoming free (MOOC) that is if you don’t consider the conventional education the only form of education. This is the era of trade, Internet, social media, free trade, information and that the world is one big home. Just when you thought the world is beautiful place to live in, which indeed it is, some organization don’t seem to be much gruntled with our close to good condition.
Right wing parties are on the rise, these political gangs are like a mosquito which ignores the immaculate body and sits on the wound, they make you portend and scare you, they are the “big brother” Geogre Orwell mention in his dystopian work 1984.
After the world war II which was caused by bigoted right wingers, the world witnessed unfathomable devastation that can be incepted by a meager ideology and the effects it can lead to are beyond human comprehension. After  the massive devastation caused by the war, the world witnessed some shifts in the global contours, the geometrical division of middle east, division and independence of India, the change of the world order and then the world came to an almost peace like situation, the developed world concentrated more on trade, making developing world a consumer of its production, technological innovation was on a rise and in order to supplement the growing desires of the developing world the developed world open its gate to immigrants to meet the labour shortage due to the ever increasing demand of goods and products, cultural cross pollination had begun, this was the era globalisation .

The developing world was soon keeping in pace with the developed, the military might of the countries was supplanted by the economic might. GDP’S started playing a more dominant role over nuclear arsenal.

The global economic meltdown lead to the (re)emeregence of right wing in Austria after the fall of the iron curtain this bores testimony to the fact that the politically hungry right wing had been waiting for an opportune time to prey upon the economically vulnerable people as the economic insecurity gives rise to populism, the media savvy right wing started its job from an Austrian news report, which stated “40,000 Romanian immigrants waiting on the border to enter Austria”, the indigenous population became more wary of the fact of losing their jobs, national security, their cultural and religious tradition as they were made to think by the right wing that these could be compromised, the right wingers  schmoozer built a state of fear amongst the people, like the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that India is home 10 million Bangladeshi immigrants in the capital city of new Delhi. The right wingers use any weak thing as scapegoat by building fear, they arbitrarily define or construct an in-group and demonize pluralism and that is how they come to power but their power is more to do with siphoning of taxes paid by the people and propagating their bigoted agendas and corporate cronyism.

In Ukraine the west supported the neo-Nazis and they came to power after massive defiance. In the Middle-east the emirs and oligarchs retain the power by instilling a western fear amongst the masses by keeping them deliberately poor and uneducated to fulfill their vested interests. In India the rise of the BJP is also because of the abysmal situation of the economy leading to high rate of unemployment amongst the youth, In Sweden, Denmark, France, Finland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Immigrants and purported as a major fear by the right wingers and thereby consolidating vote of the intimidated they run the countries or to rightly say they run the “Republic of fear”.

Hedonic Adaptation – How to keep Happiness from fading

How to Keep Happiness From Fading

By: Heidi Grant Halvorson

No matter how miserable you are feeling at the moment, if you look back, there have surely been events in your life that have made you happy.  Maybe the time you bought your first car, or the time you received that long-desired promotion.  Or the time you lost fifteen pounds and were able to get back into your favorite jeans without cutting off your circulation.  When good things happen, we feel positive emotions – like excitement, relief, pride, and of course, happiness.  These feelings are essential for our well-being.

But the problem is, happiness doesn’t usually last.  The excitement of that first car purchase wears off, the thrill of the promotion gives way to the anxiety of handling the responsibilities that came with it.  Sure, you think, it’s nice to be a size 8 again.  But it would be really great to be a size 6…

Psychologists call this phenomenon hedonic adaptation – the idea is that no matter how good something makes us feel (or, for the record, how bad), most of the time we drift back to where we started, emotionally-speaking. One often-cited study famously showed that despite their initial euphoria, lottery winners were no happier than non-winners eighteen months later.  The same tendency to return to “baseline” has been shown to occur after marriage, voluntary job changes, and promotions – the kinds of things we usually expect to change our happiness and well-being for the better in a permanent way.

Why can’t we make the happiness last?  Psychologists (and renown happiness experts) Kennon Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky argue in a recent paper that our hedonic adaption occurs for two reasons.

When a positive change first occurs (say, you move into a great new house), there are usually lots of positive events happening as a result.  You get to break in that new six-burner range, take a long bath in your first soaking tub, and appreciate the roominess of your new garage. But over time, there are fewer positive events to experience, because you get used to all the home’s features, and after a while you just don’t notice them anymore.  With fewer positive events, and thus fewer positive emotions (excitement, pride, happiness), your newfound well-being can’t be sustained.

The second reason happiness fades is that even when positive events continue – if, for instance, your fitness and healthy eating habits leave you looking great, and this results in lots of new opportunities for romance on a regular basis –  the change begins to simply be seen as the “new normal.”   And as a result, your aspiration level shifts – you feel like you need to look even better.  Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has referred to this process as a kind of “satisfaction treadmill.” Because we continuously shift our standards upward once we’ve reached them, we’ve got to keep running in order to feel satisfied again.

But don’t despair – it is possible to make happiness last, by slowing the adaptation process, or even halting it all together.  Sheldon and Lyubomirsky found in a recentstudy that two anti-adaptation tools were effective in sustaining gains in happiness over time:  variety and appreciation.

Variety is, as we all know, the spice of life.  But it’s also a potent weapon against  adaptation, because we don’t get “used to” positive events when our experiences are novel, or unexpected.  When, on the other hand, a positive experience is repetitive – when you know exactly what to expect – you don’t get the same kick out of it.

Positive changes that are experienced in a variety of ways are more likely to lead to lasting happiness.  So you’ll be happier with your new spouse if you spend time doing new things together, rather than getting stuck in a boring routine.  You’ll be happier at your job if you are able to tackle new tasks and challenges – if there is some day-to-day variety in what you do.   You’ll be happier with your soaker tub if you run out and get yourself some new bubble bath, or try lighting candles (or maybe ask someone to join you in it.)

The happiness you get from doing anything will fade if you do it the same way every day, so mix things up.  Think about this before making a change because you believe it will make you happier – will you be able to experience whatever it is in a variety of ways?   Because if the answer is no, don’t expect the happiness to last.

Tool #2, appreciation, is in many ways the opposite of adaptation – it’s going out of your way to focus on something, rather than taking it for granted or letting it fade into the background.  Appreciating can mean paying attention or noticing, but it is even more powerful when you take it further – when you savor something, delighting in its qualities and relishing how it makes you feel, or when you experience gratitude, a sense of being fortunate for being in your current circumstances compared to others, or compared to where you have been in the past.  When we appreciate our positive experiences, when we turn our mind’s eye toward them again and again in joy and wonder, we don’t just make our happiness last – we kick it up a notch, too.

Human beings spend a lot of time trying to figure out what will make them happy, but not nearly enough time trying to hang on to the happiness they already have.  In a way, this is like focusing all your energy on making more money, without giving any thought to what you’ll do with the money you’ve already earned.  The key to wealth, like the key to happiness, is to not only look for new opportunities, but to make the most of the ones you’ve been given.

“Zamane ki raftar se bekhabar…” Asar Lakhnavi se phir se mulaqat

Vahshatedil's Blog

Yeh zaahir hai ke koi bhi adeeb apne vaqt ke halaat se mutaasir zaroor hota hai, aur inki aks uske kalam mein kisi na kisi tareeqe se nazaar aati hai.  Kuch aise hote hai jo aas-paas aur us waqt ke halaat par hi apna tawajju dete hai, jab ke aise bhi shakhs hote hai jinhe aisa karne ka iraada bhi na ho, lekin unke hosh aur zehn ke kai benishan jazire mein yeh jazbat base rehte hai aur apne se nikal kar unke fan mein aa jaate hai….

Aur doosre taraf aise hote hai jinhe aapne halaat ki koi parva hi nahi rehti hai…… Is shumar mein ahm maqaam rakhte hai Nawab Jafar Ali Khan Asar Lakhnavi.

Zamaane ki raftar se bekhabar hai
Yeh Nawab Jafar Ali Khan Asar hai …….

Majaz ne inke baare mein apne mjukhtalif andaaz mein unke baare mein farmaya tha, aur kafi saheeh the…

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Get Ready for a Russo-German Europe : The Two Powers That Will Decide Ukraine’s Fate — and the Region’s



The last few weeks have revealed some important truths about Europe. Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, most Americans and Western Europeans had become used to a Franco-German Europe. In this version of Europe, which was designed after World War II to dampen one of the greatest state rivalries in history, France and Germany made the decisions, and Europe’s center of gravity was squarely in the West. But, these days, the real action happens further east. Ukraine, looking to overcome its Soviet past, was taking its first steps toward becoming one of the European Union’s largest and most populous members until Russia made its move to derail those plans. And Poland, for years considered a junior member of the European team, has risen as a leader by shepherding negotiations between former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition. In this new Europe, the Franco-German engine has been replaced by a Russo-German one: as the European Union moves eastward, settling its future borders and borderlands, it is Germany and Russia that will decide who is in and who is out — and under what terms.

To a large extent, the battle for Ukraine has become a battle over the shape that this Russo-German Europe will take. Russia, through its geopolitical boldness, aggression, and sense of entitlement, has proved willing to annex the territories that it wants, building up a Eurasian bloc to balance against the European Union. Ukraine is an essential part of that plan, and Crimea is the leading edge. Russia is very likely to keep what it has now seized, as it has in all other regional conflicts, and continue trying to use its position in Crimea to destabilize Ukraine. That will help Russia as it attempts to draw a sharp line between its values, culture, politics, and economy, and the West’s.

Thanks to Germany’s role as a key state in the European Union and its deep ties to Russia, it is the only country that could thwart or contain Russia’s grand geopolitical ambitions. It was particularly clear during European negotiations this week over possible sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea that Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, would ultimately decide how much to pressure Russia and how to balance Europe’s desire to punish the country against its desire to bring Russia closer through economic engagement. Germany held the line against jumping too quickly to sanctions and, instead, channeled Western anger toward Russia into an “off-ramp” solution, in which Russians and the new Ukrainian government would hold direct talks about the future of Crimea, with international mediation.

And that hints at Germany’s reluctance to abandon its long game: Since the end of the Cold War, the country has emphasized economic engagement with Russia in the hope of ushering Russian society along toward modernization. It has sought to build a strong partnership with the Kremlin to underpin a peaceful order in Eastern Europe, just as it joined with France in Western Europe after World War II to prevent conflict there.

Thanks to Germany’s role as a key state in the European Union and its deep ties to Russia, it is the only country that could thwart or contain Russia’s grand geopolitical ambitions.

The strategy has deep historical roots: during World War II, German armies shot up dozens of Russian towns and cities and laid siege to St. Petersburg, starving over a million civilians there. Russia resisted at huge cost and then raped and pillaged its way back to Berlin for revenge, starving a million German POWs in return. Both armies marched through Ukraine and fought devastating battles there, including in Sevastopol. This terrible shared history brought Germany and Russia closer together after 1991 in an effort not to repeat it; Germany has taken great pains since then to court Russia and prevent the re-emergence of competition and conflict. It has offered its industrial might and know-how to Russia to help with important Russian infrastructure projects and industries. Russia has accepted and appreciated those overtures. It, too, has sought to develop a special relationship with Germany, treating Germany as a great power and providing Germany a direct link to Russian gas through its Nord Stream pipeline. This tight relationship — some say too tight — was symbolized by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder taking a well-compensated job with Gazprom upon leaving power in 2005.

The relationship hit new highs a few years ago, between 2008 and 2012, when Dmitri Medvedev served as president of Russia. Germans loved working with him and tended to regard him as a symbol of what a more modern Russia could be. They exalted him as a Russian political leader who spoke their language and supported liberal rights and freedoms. Europeans saw great promise in his Skolkovo initiative to turn Moscow into a high-tech hub, for example. But in their desperation for a good counterpart in Russia, Germans overestimated Medvedev’s importance.

Putin’s tumultuous re-ascension to power in 2012 — and Medvedev’s demotion back to prime minister — shattered Germany’s hopes. German political leaders saw clearly what some had argued all along — that Medvedev was nothing more than Putin’s puppet, a convenient liberal face to an otherwise autocratic reality. Putin’s eagerness to return to power at a time when many Russians wanted him to stay away, his tough talk, and his crackdown on protests in Moscow in 2011 showed that Russia was not, in fact, evolving. Since then, Germany increasingly has been forced to confront the fact that peaceful engagement and economic cooperation don’t always prevent conflict, especially with a Russia dedicated to authoritarian politics at home and expansionist policies abroad. For instance, in Moldova, Russia has launched an open campaign to prevent that country’s pro-Europe government from signing a European Association Agreement and also encouraged ethnic enclaves to break away. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held the line on Europe’s support for Moldova’s EU ambitions.

As much as Germany has become disillusioned with Russia and would like to isolate it, it now finds doing so very difficult; Germany is inextricably linked to its eastern neighbor as a result of its geography and years of cooperation, competition, mutual benefit, and memories of mutual destruction.

Today, Russia is Germany’s 11th largest export market, after Poland. Russia sells Germany gas and oil and Germany sells Russia expensive cars, machine tools, and manufactured products. A trade embargo or asset confiscations would sting Germany more than any other European power — except Netherlands where Royal Dutch Shell has substantial interests — and far more than the United States. So would a gas cutoff or embargo. But Russia, of course, is far more dependent on the West than the West is on Russia. It needs Europe as a consumer of its oil and gas exports. It is dependent on Germany, in particular, for investment and technical expertise. Economic isolation would be damaging to both sides, but especially to Russia.

And that is why Russia, although it has marched into Crimea, has likely not won the war. Germany, having avoided coming to blows with Russia and having attempted to ease tensions, seems more determined than ever to take Ukraine under its economic wing. As Ukraine develops, it might be in a better position to assert its independence from the Russian empire. For now, German leaders have started to recover from the shock that Russia would disregard international law so blatantly in Crimea. Leaders in Russia and Germany understand the stakes in their competition to regulate European politics and economics. They are devoted to sharply diverging outcomes, but are also interested in finding a common ground to maintain the peace. Although the tussle in Crimea may end in stalemate, both powers will live to play another day and work toward a vision of Europe that is not yet shared, but could be. That Russo-German Europe is the Europe we will live with, for better or worse.

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