Posted by Albert Gersh - July 15, 2014
- Israeli air strikes resume after Hamas leaders reject Egyptian truce, launch dozens of barrages at Israeli population centers
- New Israeli subscription service allows New Yorkers the privilege of drinking unlimited cups of coffee at select cafés
An Egypt-sponsored ceasefire aimed at deescalating hostilities between Israel and Hamas failed to take hold on Tuesday, with the Israelis unilaterally suspending military action against the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip at the designated 9:00 a.m. start time, but with Palestinian fighters subsequently exploiting the lull to launch roughly 50 rockets at Israeli population centers over the next six hours. By 3:00 p.m. Jerusalem had concluded that the truce had failed, and the Israeli Air Force resumed strikes against military targets in the Gaza strip. Secretary of State John Kerry had that morning been unsparing in criticizing Hamas, declaring that he could not "condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a ceasefire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports." Reuters more bluntly described Hamas as "defying Arab and Western calls to cease fire." Tuesday's reporting about Hamas's internal deliberations was at times imprecise, with mulitple outlets suggesting that figures within the organization's so-called political wing had considered accepting the Egyptian proposal. That characterization is strained. Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh - who remains, per CNN, the group's "chief political leader" - went on TV Monday night and rejected the ceasefire, mocking Israel's willingness to halt hostilities as proof that the "Zionists" were losing war. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum, who speaks for the organization's leadership, echoed the stance. So did Sami Abu Zuhri, another top spokesman for the organization. So did Osama Hamdan, Hamas's Lebanon-based director of foreign affairs.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday told reporters in Vienna that “very real gaps” remain between Iran and the P5+1 global powers as the parties work to reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program ahead of the July 20 expiry of the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Kerry’s comments come amid heightened skepticism from both members of Congress and nuclear analysts that Iran is willing to put its atomic program beyond use for weaponization and that a deal will be reached by the weekend. Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, told The New York Times that the plan proposed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, which The Times characterized as being “just enough for both sides to propose extending the talks” past July 20, would “maintain a status quo” that fails to “open any avenues for a deal.” Institute for Science and International Security Founder and President David Albright assessed that extending talks another half year only makes sense "if Iran accepts that the number of its centrifuges must be reduced and the Arak reactor converted permanently,” both of which have been ruled out by Iranian officials in recent weeks. Iran’s Tasnim outlet conveyed statements made earlier this month by an Iranian parliament member rejecting any chances to the Arak heavy-water reactor, and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week announced that Tehran hoped to increase its number of centrifuges. Meanwhile, Reuters on Monday reported on a speech given by Khamenei last week, in which the Supreme Leader, per the outlet, “limited the ability of the Iranian delegation at high-level nuclear talks to make concessions.”
When the Israeli app CUPS was launched in Tel Aviv in 2012, its founders were right to be optimistic. A subscription service that provides users with the privilege of drinking unlimited cups of coffee at selected cafés, the app became a popular fixture among Tel Aviv consumers. Israelis aren’t the only ones who cherish their cappuccino, however, and CUPS has taken off overseas. Launched in April in New York City, it’s been beefing up the Big Apple’s independent coffee shops and small franchises — such as Beans – which haven’t been able to hold a candle to mega-chains Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. So far, CUPS is partnered with more than 50 shops in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, and aims to spread to midtown and other boroughs. It is also in the process of negotiating with coffee shops elsewhere in the United States. The user-friendly app lists member coffee shops according to the user’s location – with the closest cafés at the top of the menu, and the distance to each clearly marked. When you enter one of these shops, you order your coffee and click “checkout” on the app. The server then enters a code on your smartphone. For $45 a month, you get the “American Classic,” which includes all the percolated or filter coffee (and/or tea) you can drink – as long as you wait 30 minutes between cups. The $85 “Foreign Flair” subscription is for fancier lattes and iced drinks. It’s also possible to purchase packages of five, 10 or 20 cups for a three-month period. According to co-founder Gilad Rotem, who moved to New York to head the company’s American staff of four, CUPS is good not only for coffee-lovers, but for coffee-shop owners as well. “For them, it’s a marketing platform,” Rotem tells ISRAEL21c at Pushcart Coffee in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, one of the establishments that honors the CUPS app. “Bringing a customer through the door means getting business they might not have had. In addition, coffee-drinkers also tend to buy other things on the menu, and often meet friends, who also become customers.” (via Israel21c)
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