a different side of Israel

Tag: Google

Legions of Pharoah and Google Street View

Al-Youm al-Saba, the Egyptian daily, reported Wednesday that Egyptian citizens have created groups on Facebook calling for “a million-man protest” outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday.

The focus of the demonstration will be the demand to have the Israeli ambassador expelled from Egypt and Israel’s embassy in the capital closed.

The protests come after 5 Egyptian policemen were killed on the border by IDF soldiers in friendly fire, after eight Israeli citizens were killed by Palestinian terrorists. Israel apologized to Egypt for the incident.

For the fifth day in a row, protesters continue to demonstrate outside the embassy holding signs and chanting slogans saying, “Expel the ambassador immediately” and “force the ambassador to leave Egypt”.

Protesters burnt Israeli flags, and threw fire crackers at the embassy building attempting to burn an Israeli flag on a flagpole at the embassy.

In other news, Israel will allow Google Street View cameras to snap 360 degree photographs of its street. They are the first Middle Eastern country to do so. However, there are conditions.

Using the electronic tool to plot terrorist attacks and other privacy issues are concerns which prompted the Law, Information and Technology Authority to develop guidelines with Google for Google Street View. Here are some of the stipulations:

Google must provide citizens with an account of what Google Street View does and means, the rights of citizens and routes the camera crews will follow.

Users will be offered an efficient and reliable way online to blur residences and other objects.

Google must instruct Google Israel to heed legal proceedings in the country, meaning that any civil litigation brought by citizens against the company will be carried out in this country, despite the fact that Google’s main center is in the U.S.

Google has promised not to dispute criminal claims that might be raised against Street View by arguing that the Law, Information and Technology Authority lacks standing to prosecute criminal claims against the company in Israel.

Mazal Tov to LabPixies

Google has announced an agreement to acquire the Israeli start-up Labpixies for an estimated $25 million, in a move which it hopes will strengthen its search pages through the development of Web site gadgets to attract even more users.

“We are excited to welcome Labpixies, they are a natural fit with our Israel team and represent all that is attractive and innovative about the Israeli tech start-up scene,”

Said Yossi Matias, the Director of Google Israel R&D center.

The acquisition is actually the first-ever deal that Google has made in the Jewish Country since its center in Israel was launched in 2005. Google claims that the deal is a strategic step for its Israel research & development center. The Labpixies team, under the terms of the deal, will be integrated into the Google Israel office based in Tel Aviv working across a wide variety of platforms and anchoring the iGoogle search page across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Google said:

“The shared focus on the user and passion for applications made this the right time to come together and an exciting opportunity to do more together for users and developers…The acquisition is an opportunity to learn from each other to bring more applications to users, help developers and improve the overall developer ecosystem.”

Founded in 2006, Labpixies creates interactive gadgets for web environments. These mini-applications are personalized web gadgets, known as “widgets” including iGoogle, Android and iPhone, and are developed in-house, from inception to creation.

LabPixies’ widgets range from handy tools such as calendars, news feeds and to-do lists to entertainment and games.

The start-up, which is run by a tiny team of 10 employees, has until now developed 70 widgets and has over 40 million users. The start-up is financed by private investors and received $1 million in a series round of funding in June 2008. Among the investors is Yaron Carni, who represents a boutique Angel group of high added value individuals from New York and London, who invest privately in a variety of strictly Israeli based companies.

CEO of Labpixies, Ran Ben-Yair said:

“We started Labpixies to create a truly personalized online experience and develop fun widgets that people find useful every day…Working at Google will help us scale to more people as well as giving our team greater opportunities.”

In recent years, the Labpixies and Google team have worked on many projects together, including the launch of global OpenSocial. In addition, Labpixies was one of the first developers to create gadgets for iGoogle, in order to give users greater access to useful everyday information such as news, weather, games and videos as well as email.

Google Babies Made to Order

It’s weird, but it appears to exist. A television program on the Israel Channel 8 Documentary Program brought to light a “service” that appears to be getting more and more popular. Here’s how it works:

A childless couple, after exhausting all efforts to adopt a baby, decide to resort to “other means” to acquire one, including advertisements in the internet for “made to order babies”. If the woman seeking a child cannot provide a healthy ovum, a connection is made with a woman willing to donate one of her ovum (for a small fee of course), and sperm used to fertilize the offspring comes either from the husband of the childless couple or from a male donor. Naturally, the personal health and hereditary histories of all donors are thoroughly investigated, to ensure the birth of a healthy infant. The ovum (which has been deep frozen) is then taken by the couple to India, where both sperm (either from the husband or a donor) and ovum are then planted in a surrogate mother’s womb, where it will grow until the Indian woman gives birth.

All expenses of the process are paid by the couple “ordering” the child (which might also a same sex couple, by the way) including the care and medical expenses for the surrogate mother, including a fee for her services. The total bill for such an “order” can run over $50,000, including plane fares, hotels and other expenses of the “purchaser”.

The process is not cheap by any means, but it appears to more and more people are using this method to acquire a baby. The legal aspects of the process are still a bit hazy, however, but government authorities in India appear to be giving a blind eye to the “service’ which appears to be getting larger in a country where a fee of $ 5,000 will go a long way for an Indian family that usually subsists on less than $1,000 a year (not everyone in the Sub Continent works for a high tech or financial services company). And since the Indian woman is only the “incubator” for the child, she doesn’t have a claim on it since the ovum involved did not come from her.

Surrogate mothers are not a new phenomenon and for years now women have offered to be one, usually for a substantial fee. The only catch is that sometimes she decides she wants to keep the baby herself, resulting in a bit of legal problem. But in the case of the Indian carrying mothers, this problem appears to have been solved. It all shows that the process of having a baby is often taken for granted by those able to have them; especially when all the factors are involved in ordering a “Google baby”.

Israeli Politicians in Quotes

Have you heard about Google’s “In Quotes” service? It was launched two months ago, primarily aimed at helping the American voters find relevant information about the Presidential candidates.

However, the In Quotes database contain quotes by Israeli politicians as well, and it’s very interesting to take a look at what the two leading party leaders, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, have to say about some of the hot topics that bother Israeli people.

Click on the screenshot below to enlarge the picture, or go directly to Tzipi Livni quotes page, or to Benjamin Netanyahu quotes page.

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