The Diary

Breaking News: Iraq is Egypt

By Simon Round, July 30, 2009

There HAS always been a theory that the average American is unable to locate any countries on a map with the exception of their own, perhaps Canada and, at a pinch, Mexico.

However, it was always assumed that the American news professionals knew what was where around the world.
Apparently not. On Monday, the US Fox News network displayed a map of the Middle East in which Egypt had crossed the Red Sea and occupied the entirety of Iraq. The map did not show whether Iraq had reciprocally moved to Egypt and what this meant for Israel.

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Barbara’s Boring

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

The tabloids have been jumping over themselves to report the fact that Amy Winehouse has got divorced from husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Not everyone is interested though — Barbara Ellen in the Observer for one. She wrote in her column last week that everyone was bored with Winehouse and that no one cared that she had got divorced.
Then Ellen went on for over 200 words about how bored she was and accompanied the piece with a (boring?) two column-width photo of the not-so-happy couple.

So much for boredom. Imagine how much she would have written had she been interested in Amy?

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Chief means business

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

Chief rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was spotted in conversation with BBC business editor Robert Peston the other day. So is the United Synagogue about to be taken into public ownership? Will the credit crunch be the subject of the Chief Rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah broadcast? Is Peston about to be inaugurated? As licence fee payers, we really should be told.

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Attacking football

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

Israeli mobile phone company Cellcom has provoked controversy with its latest advertisement which depicts a group of Israeli soldiers happily playing football with Palestinians over the security fence which separates Israel and the West Bank.

The advert attracted criticism from both Israelis and Palestinians, who felt it failed to reflect the harsh reality of life in the Territories.
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said: “The advertisement presents the barrier as though it were just a garden fence in Tel Aviv.”

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Stopping S-wine flu

By Simon Round, July 16, 2009

Swine flu has claimed another victim, and this time the casualty is a time-honoured Jewish tradition. In a bid to prevent the spread of infection, the head of the largest Chasidic group in Israel has called for a temporary halt to the 200-year-old custom of congregations drinking wine together from the same cup. Instead, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter has ruled that the community should use individual, disposable plastic beakers when making toasts.

According to the Haaretz.com website, Israel has had more than 750 confirmed cases of what the Orthodox community prefers to term Mexican flu.

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A horrible thought

By Simon Round, July 16, 2009

Just as the Chief Rabbi celebrates his peerage comes news that may chill his fans to the marrow. The BBC is debating whether to open Thought for the Day to non-religious contributors. Sir Jonathan is a regular on the so-called “God slot” on Radio 4’s Today programme, and the possibility of his being replaced by a humanist is just too horrible to contemplate.

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Amsterdam 1 Newcastle 0

By Simon Round, July 16, 2009

The Jewish mayor of Amsterdam has not endeared himself to football fans in the north east. Job Cohen called on Sunderland to be banned from a tournament in his city later this month when it emerged that local rivals Newcastle United would be playing a pre-season friendly at the same time in nearby Utrecht. Mayor Cohen feared that there would be very little friendliness in evidence if the two sets of supporters were to encounter each other. He didn’t get his way, though. The Football Association barred Newcastle from travelling instead.

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Another Wacko story

By Simon Round, July 9, 2009

Here is a woman who is either crazy or has an incredible story to tell. Nona Paris Lola Ankhesenamun Jackson claims that she is Michael Jackson’s widow and the real mother to his children. She also says she is the daughter of a Saudi Arabian prince... and Jewish (presumably on her mother’s side).

So bizarre was Jacko’s life that nothing would surprise us.

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Is Ahmadinejad Jewish?

By Simon Round, July 9, 2009

Could Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad possibly be Jewish?

Well he is certainly very sensitive about the suggestion. A blogger who suggested that he might have some Jewish ancestry has been arrested.

Dr Mehdi Khazali was reportedly detained after writing on his website earlier this year that the president had changed his family name from Saburjian — thought to be Jewish in origin. And during the election campaign, reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi also challenged Ahmadinejad in a live TV debate to give his full name.

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Bottle of dry red

By Simon Round, July 2, 2009

First there was freeze dried coffee — now there is freeze dried blood.

Scientists in Israel are working with the army to turn IDF soldiers’ blood into a freeze dried powder.

The plan is that the powder will be sent to the battlefield with the soldier and in the event that a transfusion is needed, it can be stirred in with a little water to create a lifesaving solution.

Brigadier General Dr Nachman Ash, head of the medical corps, told reporters if the idea proves itself it could also be adapted to civilian life.

Great idea — and much less messy than the liquid version.

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