Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Israel Lobby- Review

In the midst of Capitol Hill, exists an entity so powerful, it can bring down whole governments, impeach presidents and justify war crimes. No, I’m not talking about the Congress or the Senate, although to some extent they probably do share some of the same capabilities. It’s the lobby, and more importantly, it’s the Israel Lobby. The apparent link between Israel and America has deep roots set as far back as the 1950’s when Israel first declared itself a state. Nevertheless, no one has ever been bold enough to formally address the fact that there exists a force within Capitol Hill which has the sole interest of advancing Israel’s socioeconomic and political views. That was until 2002 when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt first coined the term and used it as the title of their first working paper. The paper has had countless revisions and was actually expanded into a book in 2007, but the authors have stuck with the original argument.

I was actually referred to this paper after a discussion on Israel’s involvement in Syria and their attacks on apparent “Islamist Strongholds”. I was shocked that the UN and all the other world police forces with acronymic names stayed quiet, but it wasn’t until I read this paper that I really understood the power of the Israel Lobby on the world’s superpowers.

I’ve never been pro or anti, but this paper, like any well written critique can change your opinion very quickly, so please be weary when you read it. Nonetheless, they provide some solid evidence to show that the special treatment of Israel is as unjustified as the Divine right of Kings. One of the opening lines which shocked me the most, is the fact that Israel is the only nation to receive aide which does not have to account for how the money is spent. Even though this idea shocked me, my first response was that it served some major geo political purpose for America, similar to how Pakistan had served a geographic strong hold for the USA during a period when Communism sweeping over Asia. Even then, Israel’s aide budget dwarfs the Pakistan aide budget which was in the billions for many years until last year when Pakistan finally demanded the FBI stop interfering in Pakistani politics. What makes this point even more antagonising is the evidence that much of this aide has been spent on “defence”, which includes a vehement nuclear warhead program.  From the outset, Mearsheimer and Walt breakdown the smoke and shadows used by the Israel lobby, and delve deep into the workings of the well oiled machine. They even took time to discover private emails which showed the Israel Lobby sending untoward letters to educational institutions such as Colombia and petitioning against hiring Anti Israel lecturers and academics. The fact that this so called Lobby has entrenched themselves as deep as the educational institutions is somewhat worrying.  I do not want to give away too many details here, as some of the discoveries in the paper are truly eye-opening.

After reading some of these shocking revelations and arguments, it seems that the relationship between Israel and America is characterised by a scene from Of Mice and Men: Where George (Israel) is the brains behind the operation and Lenny(America) is the braun.

The authors do make a solid case in terms of the Israel lobby’s prevalent existence in shaping the way democracy is played out on Capitol Hill but at times some of their arguments do seem a bit too hypothetical and farfetched. One of these instances is when they regard the Iraq war as a product of Israel’s pressure on the Bush administration and their own ambitions of striking Iraq. Fair to say that Israel did feel uneasy with Saddam on their door step, but I’m sure that the American war in Iraq had more to do with Bush, Blair and Halliburton laying monetary legacies for themselves rather than fulfilling an instruction of Israel.

Nevertheless, some other claims, like the fact that Israel is virtually unaccountable to the UN or the Security Council, have unfortunately been substantiated following the latest spate of bombings in Syria by Israel.

Even if you are in no way interested in finding out if Israel truly do control the United States, this paper will provide a vital framework for you to discuss and understand the options Congress has whilst we wait for a decision on their involvement in Syria. It also provides a concise and through understanding of the entire conflict in the Middle East, so it’s something you need to read. Links below:

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)  

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Icabz Mobile App: Pre Launch Special

I was recently contacted by some young entrepreneurs who have started off a brand new app called iCabz. After speaking to the guys for a little while, it was clear what the story was; they were sick and tired of having to call a cab drunk and explain to the “brother” on the other side of the phone where they were after a heavy night out. They had the bright idea to make it simple and easy for students and normal humans alike, to grab a cab quickly and easily without the hassle of spelling your name, repeating your phone number, and negotiating prices. It’s so simple it’s funny:

Step One: Unlock Phone,
Step Two: Open iCabz App
Step Three: Click 'order cab'.
Step Four: Continue talking all the drunken nonsense you were until the cab arrives.

So how does it work?

So as a user of the app, all you have to do is search ‘iCabz’ on App Store, Play store or Windows, download it for FREE and enter your mobile number and a name. That’s it, you’re ready to grab a cab! As soon as this is done, the app will use your GPS signal to find your location and show you on a map the closest registered iCabz drivers to your location. You simply hit, “get cab” and the closest drivers receive your location and are asked if they want the job to which they have about 20 seconds to respond, so you’ll have a cab pretty quickly. No more of that waiting around in the freezing cold for ages.
I gave it a trial run this week and it worked relatively well with the only issue being the GPS being off by about 100 yards which is not the end of the world given it’s a soft launch and these minor bugs are still being worked out. The thing I liked most about this app (being and Econ student and an Indian) was the competition based model. With so many cab drivers being contacted with your location and details, you always get the best price which is always handy for students.

The other great thing about this app is that as soon as you order a cab, you can see how far the cab is from your location using the integrated map. This is also a great tool for getting friends and delinquents home safely. We’ve all sad to the cabbie, “Get my mate home safely” and hoped for the best, but with this app you can track the location of the cab until it has reached its final destination.

The third standout feature is something I think everyone will love. We all have had that cabbie who should be a philosopher instead of a taxi driver and maybe you want him to be your personal chauffeur (your closest attempt to be a baller), well now you can. You can save your favourite drivers and if they are within proximity when you order the cab, they will get the first message.

I did voice some concerns over the safety but these guys have covered all the bases. All of the taxi drivers are registered and monitored, so it’s completely safe and it’s not just jumping into a random unmarked car.

I know I know, you can’t wait to hear when this thing goes live. 

The download is available now but will run as a simulator until the live release date when it will automatically update and you will be able to use it. So go and download it right now and see what all the hype is about!

Also check back in a few weeks when our dedicated app tester in Birmingham has a full review and feedback for the app after one month!

This is an awesome idea and is ideal because it helps you save a lot of money whilst making your life a lot easier! This is definitely going to be another tip to add to the wealth of tips in the Save and Create Money eBook we just released!

Give it a go and let us know what you think!

Download NOW!!

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)