Current Events

Human Infects Pig with Swine Flu

The New York Times wrote on May 3:

“On Saturday, Canadian health officials said that the virus had been found in sick pigs on one farm in Alberta… Previously, there had been heated debate about whether the virus could infect pigs, even though its genetic makeup clearly points to its having originated in swine at some point.

“But people were infecting each other, and until Saturday, no pigs had been found with the virus… But researchers, busy with human cases, were not really looking for the disease in pigs.

“The news from Canada changes things. But it has a somewhat unexpected twist: a person appears to have spread the disease to the pigs, and not the other way around. A worker at the farm had traveled to Mexico, fallen ill there and unknowingly brought the disease back to Canada last month…

“’One of the reasons for watching this very closely is the potential for the virus passing back from the pigs to human beings,’ David Butler-Jones, the chief public health officer of Canada, said…

“Despite assurances from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian agriculture officials [that eating pork is allegedly safe], some countries banned imports of pork and pork products from Canada even before Saturday’s announcement.”

The Associated Press added on May 3:

“Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.

“The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen…

“Canadian officials announced Saturday that the virus had infected about 200 pigs on a farm — the first evidence that it had jumped to another species… Experts say pork — even from infected pigs — is safe to eat…”


Will HIV and Swine Flu Virus Mix?

Reuters reported on May 2:

“People with HIV are at high risk from the new flu strain that the World Health Organisation said is on the verge of a pandemic… HIV and the new flu strain could also mix together in a dangerous way, as has occurred with HIV and tuberculosis, the WHO said… According to WHO estimates, there are 33 million people infected with immune-weakening HIV worldwide.”

Has Swine Flu Mutated More?

Reuters reported on May 6:

“A second strain of influenza, one of the seasonal strains, may have mutated and may be complicating the picture in Mexico, Canadian researchers reported on Wednesday. They have found a strain of the H3N2 virus that appears to have made a shift and could have complicated the flu picture in Mexico, epicenter of an outbreak of a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus.”

Beware of Politically Motivated Mass Immunizations Against Swine Flu

On April 28, 2009, published an interesting article about the governmental and pharmaceutical reaction to a perceived swine flu outbreak in 1976 (That outbreak never happened). It warns that we must not rush into producing vaccinations and advocate mass immunizations, which might do more harm than good. We are quoting the following excerpts:

“1976 was the year of the U.S. Bicentennial. 1976 was a presidential election year. 1976 was two years after Watergate caused Nixon’s resignation, and one year after the fall of Saigon. The U.S. government, both Republicans and Democrats, had never been held in such low esteem. Practically every elected official felt an overwhelming itch that patriotic year to do something to get the public thinking of them as good guys again. A swine flu pandemic was an opportunity on a plate. What better way to get into the good graces of the voters than to save them from a plague?

“Between March 13 and March 24, the U.S. government dealt with the perceived flu emergency at fever pitch. The vaccine request… reached the president’s desk in less than a week. On March 24, the day after he lost the North Carolina primary to Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford welcomed the top virologists in the nation to a meeting in the White House and asked them if the nation was facing a swine flu epidemic. Would mass vaccinations be necessary? The doctors all said yes…
“The president heralded the impending flu plague and asked Congress for $135 million to investigate the development of a swine flu vaccine, with the goal of vaccinating the citizenry… Congress, with few exceptions, raced to support the bill. Knowing the Republican president would not, could not veto a bill he requested, the Democratically controlled House attached $1.8 billion dollars in welfare and environmental spending to the flu bill. President Ford signed the bill on April 15, 1976, and incorrectly remarked to the press that the Fort Dix swine flu was identical to the deadly 1918 variety. He announced the immunization program would begin in October…

“The scientists began to come to their senses. By July, they were pretty much agreed that a flu pandemic in 1976 would not lead to 1 million U.S. dead… But the U.S. government was unstoppable. Congress began to pressure the drug companies to work faster toward development of a swine flu vaccine. The drug companies insisted that proper vaccine development required years of experimentation and clinical trials…

“President Ford went on television [on August 5] and delivered a speech to the nation, telling Americans that Congress will be to blame for your deaths when the flu season begins in October. Congress caved in, and on Aug. 15, President Ford signed the National Influenza Immunization Program (NIIP). This set as a goal the immunization of at least 80 percent of the U.S. population [and] indemnified the drug companies…

“On Oct. 1, 1976, the immunization program began. By Oct. 11, approximately 40 million people had received swine flu immunizations, mostly through the new compressed air vaccination guns… Three senior citizens died soon after receiving their swine flu shots [in Pittsburgh]… The government had long feared mass panic about swine flu — now they feared mass panic about the swine flu vaccinations.

“The deaths in Pittsburgh… were a strong setback to the program. The death blow came a few weeks later when reports appeared of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing neuromuscular disorder, among some people who had received swine flu immunizations. The public refused to trust a government-operated health program that killed old people and crippled young people; as a result, less than 33 percent of the population had been immunized by the end of 1976. The National Influenza Immunization Program was effectively halted on Dec. 16.

“Gerald Ford’s attempt to gain credit for keeping America safe was busted. He lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter that November. The 1976 to 1977 flu season was the most flu-free since records had been kept; a condition that was apparently unrelated to the vaccination program. The Great Swine Flu Epidemic of 1976 never took place.”

Many Americans Think Abortion Should Be Illegal in Most or All Cases

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported the following on May 1:

“In August 2008 only 41 percent [in the USA] believed abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, while 54 percent [now] thought it should be illegal in most or all circumstances… In August 2008 53 percent of men generally supported legal abortion, while in April 2009 only 43 percent did. About 46 percent of men said abortion should generally be illegal… The percentage of women who believed abortion should be illegal in most or all cases remained steady at 42 percent, but the number of women supporting legal abortion declined from 54 to 49 percent…”

Unconstitutional Hate Crime Legislation–Is One Life More Valuable Than Another?

CNA reported on April 30:

“By a vote of 249-175, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to expand federal ‘hate crime’ laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical disability. Current law limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to assaults based on race, color, religion or national origin. President Barack Obama asked Congress to pass the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, saying it would ‘protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance’…

“During debate on the bill, Rep. Lamar Smith argued the bill was discriminatory. ‘All violent crimes must be vigorously prosecuted,’ Rep. Smith said. ‘Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — “equal justice for all.” Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim… It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime’…

“House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said that all violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, but argued the legislation ‘places a higher value on some lives compared to others. That is unconstitutional, and that is wrong. Republicans believe that all life was created equally, and all life should be defended equally.’

“He said he was particularly concerned about the implications the legislation would have on religious groups expressing their beliefs. ‘Simply put, this bill is not only a threat to the constitutional principle of equal justice under the law, but to religious freedom of speech as well,’ he added.”

Responsibility Has Shifted to President Obama

The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 3:

“In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country. Every president inherits a tangle of problems from his predecessor. War and recession, natural disaster and foreign crises. And for some undefined interval, new presidents argue that they should not be accountable for the troubles that arose on another’s watch.

“But inevitably, responsibility shifts. And for Obama, that time came last week, bringing both greater opportunities and greater risks. On the economy, Obama won approval Wednesday of a $3.5-trillion budget plan that aims to help pull the country out of the worst recession in decades. It also smoothes the way for one of the president’s signature domestic priorities — overhauling the nation’s healthcare system. At the same time, the budget projects a whopping $1.2-trillion deficit in 2010, undercutting Obama’s ability to bemoan Bush-era red ink… As Obama’s imprint on the economy grows, so does his ownership of the issue.

“That ownership became almost literal as Obama moved more deeply into the banking and auto industry crises… on Thursday, Obama announced he was pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy. He may take another corporate icon, General Motors, down the same path. As a kind of shareholder in chief, the president now is responsible for guiding companies with thousands of union workers and investors — firms that remain vital to the economies of states that stretch across the nation’s industrial heartland, from Pennsylvania to Illinois and south into Kentucky and Tennessee. Though the auto industry was in crisis before Obama reached the White House, his team has been in charge of the rescue effort for the last four months…

“On the political front, the decision by Pennsylvania’s senior senator to join the Democrats moved Obama to the brink of a 60-vote majority in the Senate, which could prevent Republicans from blocking his initiatives by filibuster. One of the people instrumental in persuading Specter to abandon the GOP was Vice President Joe Biden, reinforcing the appearance of White House influence on Capitol Hill. All that raised expectations that Obama should be able to win congressional approval of his core agenda. Yet Specter insisted he would not be a rubber stamp for the president. He promptly voted against the Obama budget. And although Democrats have a strong majority in the House, their control of the Senate is still far from absolute…

“As for the Supreme Court, David H. Souter’s announcement Friday that he was stepping down gives Obama a chance to start putting his mark on the court, one of the most lasting elements in a president’s legacy… No matter whom he chooses, Obama will be judged by the selection. And there is no guarantee that his pick will turn out as planned. Souter was chosen by Republican President George H.W. Bush, and in the end he disappointed the GOP base.

“Throughout last week, Obama also had to cope with fears of a global swine flu pandemic…

“The public’s reaction to Obama’s assertive steps points up the potential gains and risks of being seen as clearly in charge… An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed that 47% of those surveyed believe ‘government should do more,’ compared with 46% who believe ‘government is doing too many things.'”

Will President Obama Give in to Gay Activists?

The New York Times wrote on May 7:

“President Obama was noticeably silent last month when the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. But now Mr. Obama — who has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a ‘fierce advocate of equality’ for gay men and lesbians — is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change.

“Two of Mr. Obama’s potential Supreme Court nominees are openly gay; some advocates, irked that there are no gay men or lesbians in his cabinet, are mounting a campaign to influence his choice to replace Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring. Same-sex marriage is advancing in states — the latest to allow it is Maine — and a new flare-up in the District of Columbia could ultimately put the controversy in the lap of the president.

“Mr. Obama’s new global health initiative has infuriated activists who say he is not financing AIDS programs generously enough. And while the president has urged Congress to pass a hate crimes bill, a high priority for gay groups, he has delayed action on one of his key campaign promises, repealing the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule…

“Many [gay activists] are still seething over [President Obama’s] choice of… Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who opposes same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, and remain suspicious of Mr. Obama’s commitment to their cause…

“The White House, aware of the discontent, invited leaders of some prominent gay rights organizations to meet Monday with top officials, including Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s deputy chief of staff, to plot legislative strategy on the hate crimes bill as well as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Among those attending was Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who said afterward that while the gay rights agenda might not be ‘unfolding exactly as we thought,’ he was pleased. ‘They have a vision,’ Mr. Solmonese said. ‘They have a plan’…

“If Mr. Obama were to embrace same-sex marriage, he would be seen as reversing a campaign position and alienating some moderate and religious voters he has courted. And if he appoints a gay person to the Supreme Court, he would be viewed by social conservatives — including many black ministers, another of his core constituency groups — as putting a vote for same-sex marriage on the highest court in the land. Two gay women, Kathleen M. Sullivan and Pamela S. Karlan, both of Stanford Law School, have been suggested as potential nominees…

“Mr. Obama has chosen a number of openly gay people for prominent jobs, including Fred P. Hochberg as chairman of the Export-Import Bank and John Berry to run the Office of Personnel Management. And he is the first president to set aside tickets for gay families to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll…

“In addition to calling for the repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the military, Mr. Obama supports a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that said states need not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states…”

President Obama’s Questionable Nomination of Liberal Judge to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

On May 7, Newsmax published the following comments:

“Breaking tradition with President George W. Bush, the Obama administration declined to host an event celebrating the National Day of Prayer this year. This adds another snub to the pro-faith community, since President Obama continues to push his recent nomination of the anti-Christian, anti-Life Judge David Hamilton, the same judge who issued controversial rulings banning public prayers offered ‘in Jesus name,’ and hastening the abortion of unborn children. If confirmed by the Senate, Hamilton will soon be promoted to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that overruled his… liberal decisions for years…

“Judge Hamilton ruled in 2005 to ban the practice of opening the Indiana legislature with prayers mentioning Jesus Christ or using terms such as ‘Savior.’ He said that amounted to state endorsement of a religion… Judge Hamilton wrote: ‘The injunction orders the Speaker… that the prayers should not use Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal… If those offering prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives choose to use the Arabic “Allah” …the court sees little risk that the choice of language would advance a particular religion or disparage others’… [In 2007, the] Indiana Attorney General… appealed to the 7th Circuit Court [which issued a] 2-1 decision overruling Hamilton, restoring the right to pray ‘in Jesus name’ in Indiana…

“In 2003, Judge Hamilton struck down part of an Indiana law on abortion [which…] had required abortion clinics to… give women information about alternatives to abortion in the presence of a physician or nurse, 18 hours before the procedure… [The] 7th Circuit Court… reversed Hamilton’s… decision in that case…
“Judge Hamilton is [one] of Obama’s 15 new liberal appeals court appointees. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals covers Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Since most cases never reach the Supreme Court, the federal appellate circuits often provide the last word on cases affecting life and liberty.

“The Judicial Confirmation Network quickly opposed Hamilton’s nomination… He was nominated to the district court bench by President Clinton even though he had no judicial experience and was rated as ‘not qualified’ by the American Bar Association.

“On April 1st and… on April 29th, Senator Orrin Hatch led all Republicans to walk out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in protest against the Democrats’ ‘rush job’ to confirm Judge Hamilton.”

German Commentators Disappointed With President Obama

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 4:

“Many had hoped that US President Barack Obama would undo all the damage done by his predecessor. Now, it looks like he might continue the Bush-era practice of trying terror suspects in military tribunals. German commentators are disappointed.

“When US President Barack Obama entered office in January and promptly pledged to shut down the US prison at Guantanamo and suspended all further military tribunals of the kind used by his predecessor George W. Bush, human rights groups across the country and the world were relieved. Finally, they thought, America would cease locking away terror suspects without recourse to the justice system… Any return to using such military commissions would be a major disappointment to human rights groups who were hoping that Obama’s election signalled a new era in America’s handling of terror suspects. As German editorials show on Monday, frustration across the Atlantic is equally high.

“In an editorial entitled ‘Obama’s Great Mistake,’ the center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… Obama is… discrediting both himself and the US…’

“The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:

“‘The US government has asked Germany to accept former Guantanamo prisoners. Exactly the same government is apparently planning to continue the military commissions to try those prisoners. One could hardly be more contradictory. It is the same tactic that President Barack Obama has already used when it came to the torturers from the CIA — punish with one hand, stroke with the other. Whenever he takes a step forward, he stumbles backwards as well.

“That will likely be enough to disappoint all those Europeans who had expectations that Obama would be an almost messiah-like healer. It was expected that he would demolish all of the ugly monuments from the Bush era and then, together with Al Gore, plant a Garden of Eden over the top, through which he would drive fuel-efficient compacts from Chrysler. And now… [he] is no longer floating above the political lowlands, the swamps of compromise. He is walking directly through them and getting dirty in the process.'”

Highly Secretive Globalist Bilderbergers Meet

WorldNetDaily wrote on May 5:

“The 57th meeting of representatives from Western European and North American countries known as Bilderberg Group will be held next week at a five-star hotel in Greece, reports Daniel Estulin, an investigative author who has written a defining book on the secretive annual gathering. Estulin says his sources in Greece have confirmed the meeting will be held at the Nafsika Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni from May 14-17.

“The Bilderberg Group is an elite invitation-only conference of influential members of the business, media and political community. Past attendees have included Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair.

“While the group claims its purpose is to facilitate discussion amongst western powers, many see the group as a means toward globalization. This year, according to Estulin’s sources, the meeting’s talking points will focus on finances, namely the future of the U.S. dollar, the economy and unemployment levels.

“Estulin also claims in a statement to have obtained a pre-meeting booklet sent out to attendees that presents a discussion of two economic options: ‘Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty … or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.’

“The Bilderberg Group meets at luxury hotels and resorts throughout the world. Last year’s conference was held at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Va. Every four years the conference is held in the U.S. or Canada. The group has an office located in Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands. The highly secretive meeting is off limits to press, but past reports from sources that have managed to penetrate the high-security meetings have stated that the meetings emphasize a globalist agenda and dismiss national sovereignty as regressive.

“The BBC declared it to be one of the most influential organizations in the world. ‘It’s officially described as a private gathering,’ BBC reported, ‘but with a guest list including the heads of European and American corporations, political leaders and a few intellectuals, it’s one of the most influential organizations on the planet.’

“Attendees of the Bilderberg conference are not allowed to speak a word of what was discussed in the meeting outside of the group. The group has no website and no minutes are kept of the meetings to ensure secrecy. Last year, however, the Bilderberg Group made a press release available listing topics of discussion and providing a general overview of the gathering. ‘Approximately 140 participants will attend, of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America,’ the release stated. ‘About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds are from finance, industry, labor, education and communications. The meeting is private in order to encourage frank and open discussion.'”

“How the German Catholic Church Protected a Pedophile Priest” for Years

Der Spiegel Online reported on April 24:

“The German Catholic Church has been sheltering a priest convicted of child abuse for years. Now the pedophile, who refuses to undergo therapy, has hired private detectives to try to get his former victims to retract their testimony… This is not just a surprisingly audacious course of action for a servant of God, whose sentence was most recently upheld by Germany’s Federal Court of Justice in 2001, but it also highlights a culture of looking the other way that still prevents the Catholic Church from effectively addressing the problem of child abuse within its ranks — and apparently even encourages a number of pedophiles to act out their proclivities under the protective cloak of the church.
“Until recently, Father Weiss could depend on the support of his fellow priests. Even though the Archdiocese of Würzburg had to assure the court that Weiss would never be allowed to come into contact with children again, he recently delivered sermons and celebrated mass with other Franconian priests who are friends of his — in services that included altar boys. Despite reports to the police, parents’ complaints and more convictions, Weiss was merely quietly transferred from one place to another…”

Violent “Demonstrations” in Germany

Welt Online wrote on May 2:

“Riot police fought with stone-throwing left-wing militants in Berlin for more than five hours in May Day clashes that stretched into the early pre-dawn hours on Saturday. The rioting in Berlin and Hamburg came after a long day of protests and scattered violence across Germany as thousands vented anger on the Labor Day holiday over the global financial crisis…

“Authorities had braced for violence with tension running high over the economic crisis and rising unemployment. More than 5,000 riot police from across Germany were deployed in Berlin…

“Rioting on the May 1 Labor Day holiday had been on the wane in the past three years… However, the economic crisis has aggravated public anger at the growing disparity in wages. Germany is facing its worst recession since World War Two with the economy forecast to contract by 6 percent in 2009.”

Czech Senate Approves Lisbon Treaty–“No More Concessions for Ireland”

The EUObserver wrote on May 6:

“The Czech Senate on Wednesday (6 May) approved the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon, a move that was greeted with relief in Brussels and that ups the pressure on Ireland, facing its second referendum on the document. Fifty-four of the 79 senators voted in favour of the new institutional rules, which introduce an EU foreign minister, a permanent president of the European Council and widely extend the powers of the European Parliament. The lower house passed the document in February. The vote, which was preceded by six hours of debate, opens up the possibility that the treaty could come into force by the beginning of next year, a timetable pushed by France and Germany…

“For the ratification process to be completed, the treaty still has to be signed by the country’s eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus. He has previously indicated he would not sign it no matter what the outcome of the parliamentary votes. In a reference to Mr Klaus, the commission president said he hoped the remaining ‘constitutional requirements’ would be completed as quickly as possible…

“The Czech move significantly ups the pressure on the Irish government, which is hoping to secure a Yes vote in a referendum in the autumn after Irish voters rejected the treaty last summer. Speaking earlier on Wednesday, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said: ‘We’ve gone as far in our concessions to Ireland as we can…’ He indicated that member states’ ‘solidarity’ would run out if Ireland voted ‘no’ for a second time.

“Germany and Poland have also not finished ratification of the treaty, with the presidents in both countries not having signed the document. Germany’s Horst Koehler is waiting for the outcome of a legal challenge to the treaty, while Poland’s Lech Kaczynski has said he wants to await the outcome of the Irish vote before putting pen to paper.”

The German paper, “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” added the following remarks on or about May 6:

“Now it is up to the other member states of the EU to give the Irish a concrete plan, rather than just promises. The EU cannot wait until the cows come home. To be precise, the treaty must be approved by the end of October when the period of service of the current commission ends. The Irish vote will need to happen by mid-October. If that doesn’t materialize then the reforms will be put off for at least another five years — and that would mean the end of the treaty.”

The German financial daily, “Handelsblatt,” stated the following in its article, on or about May 6:

“Curiously, this breakthrough [in the Czech Republic] is partly due to the financial crisis. When a major storm rattles the global markets it becomes clear just how much security the EU offers its smaller members. The euro has protected Ireland from a powerful speculative attack on its currency. Hungary, Romania and Latvia, meanwhile, have benefited from extensive help from Brussels to deal with their balance of payments problems.

“This successful development does not mean, however, that the EU has won its battle against its opponents. In the forthcoming European elections, parties from both the right and the left are campaigning to push Europe’s emphasis back towards individual nations. They will not fail to criticize EU institutions in any way possible. In this light it is more important than ever that the national political elites stop their polemic tirades against Brussels and stand behind Europe.”

Israel Threatens the EU

Haaretz wrote on April 30:

“A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. The main target of the offensive is EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner…

“Several days ago, the deputy director for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, began calling European ambassadors in Israel regarding the attitude toward the new government… Barak sharply protested the criticism by European ministers and senior EU officials about Israel’s government… Barak concluded by ‘warning’ that Europe’s influence in the area would be undermined by such behavior. ‘Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialog,’ he said. ‘However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the diplomatic process, and both sides will lose’…

“A political source in Jerusalem noted that Ferrero-Waldner was sharply criticized by European officials, and one European foreign minister said in a private conversation that she ‘is causing damage to European foreign policy in her attacks on Israel.'”

War in the Gaza Strip

Press TV wrote on May 2:

“Israeli ground forces have launched an incursion into the Gaza Strip after the military jets bombed ‘tunnels’ beneath the border between the beleaguered sliver and Egypt… Earlier, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza’s southern border with Egypt on Saturday after resistance fighters fired rockets at Israel in response to Israeli bombings of Gaza on Friday, Reuters reported.”

Peres Willing to Hand Over “Holy Sites” to the Vatican

The Irish Times wrote on May 5:

“A week before Pope Benedict arrives on a pilgrimage, President Shimon Peres urged Israel to relinquish control of six Christian holy sites to the Vatican… Interior minister Eli Yishai opposed the idea…

“Israeli and Vatican officials have been arguing about ownership of key holy sites since diplomatic relations were established in 1993 and the dispute is one of the obstacles preventing the upgrading of ties.”

Haaretz added on May 6:

“The Vatican’s longstanding demand that Israel transfer sovereignty of key Christian sites to the Holy See has created dissension among senior officials in Jerusalem. The Interior Ministry has vowed to retain control of the sites, calling relinquishment a ‘sacrifice’ of Israeli sovereignty… The dispute between Jerusalem and the Holy See threatens to cast a pall over next week’s visit to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican officials have made clear they intend to reiterate their demand during the visit that Israel hand over control of the Coenaculum, Army Radio reported.”

Could the Taliban Get the Bomb Before Iran Does?

Haaretz reported on May 2:

“Just when you thought you knew the unthinkable – now there’s this: ‘If the worst, the unthinkable, were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by Al Qaeda and other extremists were to essentially topple the government [of Pakistan] for failure to beat them back,’ Hillary Clinton said at the weekend, ‘then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan’…

“The nightmare scenario of a nuclear Taliban was much in evidence in a Sunday editorial in The New York Times regarding the Pakistani military. ‘And – most frightening of all – if the army cannot or will not defend its own territory against the militants, how can anyone be sure it will protect Pakistan’s 60 or so nuclear weapons?’ the Times asked. Clinton was right, the Times continued, when she warned last week that Pakistan was ‘abdicating to the Taliban.'”

Most Israelis Support Attack on Iran

The Jerusalem Post reported on May 4:

“A vast majority (66%) of Israelis said they would support military action if diplomatic and economic efforts failed to get Iran to stop uranium enrichment, and of that number, 75% would support this action even if the Obama administration were opposed… Regarding the US president, most respondents have an overall favorable opinion of Barack Obama, but are skeptical about his Middle East policies… While a 60% approval rating for Obama among Israeli Jews is high, it is still significantly below the president’s popularity rating among American Jews, where tracking polls conducted through the new president’s first 100 days in office showed that 79% of Jews approved of Obama’s performance so far.”

Russia vs. NATO

The EUObserver wrote on May 1:

“Russia has taken official control of the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a 10-year deal with the two Georgian breakaway regions. The move, made in a formal ceremony at the Kremlin on Thursday (30 April), comes as Nato moves forward with planned exercises in Georgia next week and only a day after Russia and Nato resumed official contacts following the Georgian war last August.

“The European Union alongside Nato and the United States have condemned the development as a breach of the 2008 Russia-Georgia peace agreement brokered by the EU. Under the new deal, Moscow extends its responsibility for patrolling the two republics’ effective borders with Georgia proper.

“The Czech Republic, which currently sits at the helm of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, immediately criticised Russia’s actions… Nato called the move a ‘clear contravention’ of the ceasefire agreement, a characterisation echoed by the US… US State Department spokesman Robert Wood [said] that the deal ‘violates Georgia’s territorial integrity.’

“Russia, for its part, accuses Nato of its own provocation in the region for planning military exercises in Georgia next week. ‘The planned Nato exercises in Georgia, no matter how our Western partners try to convince us otherwise, are an overt provocation,’ said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ‘One cannot carry out exercises in a place where there was just a war,’ he added.”

Will Russia Start Another War?

The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 1:

“Officials in Moscow lashed out bitterly at the West on Thursday, excoriating NATO for expelling two Russians suspected of spying and for pushing ahead with planned military exercises in Georgia. In sharp contrast to the Obama administration’s call for a ‘reset’ of U.S.-Russian relations and the recent thaw in Russian-NATO ties, it was a day of acrimony and veiled threats as Russian officials resorted to some of their toughest talk in weeks.

“Two high-ranking members of Russia’s permanent mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were stripped of their credentials and expelled from Belgium on accusations of espionage… The Russian Foreign Ministry called the expulsions ‘provocative,’ and issued a statement warning NATO to ‘think about the consequences of what happened. We will certainly make our own conclusions from this provocation…’

“Last summer’s war revolved around the fate of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another republic that has broken with Georgia. Moscow has since recognized the two areas as newly formed, independent countries. Only Nicaragua and the Islamic militant faction Hamas joined Russia in recognizing the rebel territories, but an undeterred Moscow continues to treat the two republics as independent, albeit client, states…

“The deals could further destabilize the already fragile cease-fire in the Caucasus, some Russian analysts warned. Skirmishes have already broken out between Georgian and rebel forces. ‘Now if there are any incidents on the cease-fire lines, it will be a direct confrontation between Russia and Georgia,’ Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said. ‘Which, of course, would be a good pretext for resuming the war.'”

Is Russia Trying to Annex Georgia?

Press TV wrote on May 2:

“Russia might take provocative action when NATO war games start in Georgia next week, Georgian ambassador to the US, Batou Koutelia, has said.

“‘When we see at the highest political level, the president of the Russian federation (Dmitry Medvedev) declares that he views these exercises as a provocation directed against Russian interests and they are prepared to act, it raises concerns that there might be some provocations,’ Koutelia told a couple of journalists…

“Georgia launched a military operation in August 2008 against the breakaway region of South Ossetia to bring it back under Georgia’s control. This prompted Russia to send its troops to South Ossetia, where most of the residents hold Russian citizenship. The Georgian diplomat… said this time the Georgian reaction would be different.

“‘If it happens, we are determined to have reactions together with our partners and allies, NATO member countries, United States. And we will have a joint reaction on this,’ he said.”

Die Welt Online reported on May 5:

“Georgia sent tanks to a military base near the capital Tbilisi where it said a rebellion was under way on Tuesday and accused Russia of financing a coup. There was no official reaction from Moscow and it was unclear how many were involved in the uprising at the Mukhrovani base, home to several hundred soldiers, or what its aims were… A Reuters reporter saw around 30 tanks and armoured personnel carriers moving along the main road from Tbilisi towards the base. Police would not allow correspondents to get near the facility…

“Defence Minister David Sikharulidze said the plotters wanted to undermine NATO exercises beginning this week in Georgia… [He]said the commanders of the military base 19 km (12 miles) from the capital had been dismissed and the soldiers ordered to stay in barracks. He told Rustavi 2 television that the rebellion was also ‘an attempt at a military coup.'”

Cigarette Butts Toxic to Marine Life

This week, SDSU posted the following article, dated May 1, on their website:

“Everyone knows smoking cigarettes is hazardous to their health, but a new study shows that cigarette butts can be just as dangerous for the environment. SDSU public health researcher Richard Gersberg evaluated the effects left-over cigarette butts have on marine life and found that the chemicals from just one filtered cigarette butt had the ability to kill fish living in a one-liter bucket of water…

“‘Each year, billions of cigarette butts end up on our beaches, and in our oceans, lakes and rivers,’ said Tom Novotny, chair of CBAG and professor of public health at SDSU. ‘Based on this new research, we believe that cigarettes should be considered toxic waste and new requirements need to be established for how they are disposed.’ According to Novotny’s recent article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an estimated 1.69 billion pounds (845,000 tons) of butts wind up as litter worldwide per year…”

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