Saturday, September 30, 2006

WHO: DEADLY BIRD FLU VIRUS MUTATING

WHO: Deadly bird flu virus mutating


Associated Press

GENEVA - The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu which has killed at least 148 people is showing signs of being able to mutate and develop resistance to the most effective anti-viral drugs and any possible vaccines yet to be produced, a WHO scientist said Thursday.

The H5N1 virus is splitting into genetically different groups, said Mike Perdue, a team leader with WHO's influenza program who took part in a two-day bird flu conference earlier this week sponsored by the U.N. health body.

No vaccine for the H5N1 virus has been produced yet, but scientists are confident they will develop one in future.

However, the virus has now been shown to mutate like seasonal flu viruses that require new vaccines every year. "We are going to have to come to the realization that these viruses are genetically variable," Perdue said. "The vaccines that we have predicted to be protective today may not be protective a year from now."

The two most effective anti-viral drugs currently in use are also in danger of losing their potency, according to influenza experts.

"We know from surveillance studies and from hospital clinical studies that resistance to the two primary anti-viral drugs, the Tamiflu and Amantadine drugs, have already occurred," Perdue said.

Monday, September 25, 2006

THE POPE'S MESSAGE FOR JEWRY

The Pope's message for Jewry - By Caroline B. Glick

We ignore it at our own peril

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Pope Benedict XVI has become political Islam's newest excuse for rioting. Mobs from Rawalpindi to Ramallah are burning him in effigy. Muslim leaders from Gaza to Indonesia to Qatar, to Turkey to Washington and London are attacking the pope and demanding that he apologize to Islam for what they consider to be a heinous attack against their religion by the leader of the Catholic Church.

To recap what has been exhaustively reported in recent days, the pontiff's "crime" against Islam occurred in the course of a scholarly lecture at the University of Regensburg in his native Germany earlier in the month. Benedict quoted from a dialogue between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian scholar of Islam circa 1391 where the emperor criticized harshly the Islamic practice of forcibly converting non-Muslims to Islam.

In the pope's words, the Byzantine emperor, "addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'

"The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of G-d and the nature of the soul. 'G-d,' he says, 'is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to G-d's nature.'"

As Benedict explained, the harsh judgment that the Byzantine emperor rendered on Islam stemmed directly from his Christian understanding of G-d as a reasonable deity. That is, according to Benedict, the reason a Christian leader was able to judge Islam, and so conduct a meaningful inter-cultural discussion of the merits of Islam and Christianity, was because he had a clear understanding of how his religion construed the G-d-created world and conceived of man's relationship to G-d.

Expanding on this theme, the pope told his audience that European civilization itself is a fusion of Christian faith and Greek philosophy of reason. Europe's current cultural drift, he argued, stems from the cultural separation, which began with the Reformation and went on through the Enlightenment between faith and reason. By relegating faith to a sub-culture that has no place in discussions of practical human endeavors, he said, Europeans have rendered themselves incapable of understanding who they are and of defending themselves and their values in a manner that the Byzantine emperor, in the pre-scientific era was able to do so stalwartly.

It could be said that the Islamic world's hysterical and violent reaction to Benedict's use of the 600-year-old dialogue only serves to reinforce the Byzantine emperor's impression that Islam does not perceive G-d as being a reasoning deity. But limiting an analysis of Benedict's lecture to the Muslim world's hysterical reaction it would ignore the pope's central point. Benedict's overarching message in that lecture was that to survive, a culture must be willing to embrace its identity, for if it does not, it won't even be capable of understanding why it should survive.

While Benedict's specific message was to his fellow Christians, the Jewish people should take heed of his general message for ourselves. Today, the Jewish people, in Israel and throughout the world find ourselves under attack from all quarters. The rise of anti-Semitism globally, and particularly in the Islamic world, finds us in a period of grave self-doubt. Like the Europeans, our ability to defend ourselves against the swelling ranks of our haters, is dependent our ability as a people and as individual Jews to embrace our identity as Jews.

Commenting on the nature of this surge of Jew hatred, the great (non-Jewish) Canadian pundit, Mark Steyn wrote last month in the National Review, "The oldest hatred didn't get that way without the ability to adapt. Jews are hated for what they are — so, at any moment in history, whatever they are is what they're hated for. For centuries in Europe, they were hated for being rootless-cosmopolitan types. Now there are no rootless European Jews to hate, so they're hated for being an illegitimate Middle Eastern nation-state. If the Zionist Entity were destroyed and the survivors forced to become perpetual cruise-line stewards plying the Caribbean, they'd be hated for that, too."

It is crucial that all of us internalize the message that these lines convey. For in recent years, rather than recognize the prejudice of our detractors, we have devoted ourselves to attempting to understand and so justify the hatred they heap upon us.

We tell ourselves we are hated because we are too strong — or because we are too weak. We are hated because we are too religious — or we are hated because we are not religious enough. We are hated because we insist on defending Israel — or we are hated because we are willing to compromise on Israel.

Yet, as Steyn wisely notes, we are not hated because of what we do, we are hated because we are Jews. In light of this, the best way to defend ourselves, the best way to safeguard our freedom and our heritage is to embrace and celebrate our identity as Jews. As Elie Wiesel once explained to me, the key to defending ourselves is to never allow our haters to tell us who we are. "Hatred only defines only the haters," he said.

And indeed, when we look at the manner in which Jews in Israel and throughout the world are being attacked today, we see that the attacks are based not on Jewish actions but on the fact that we are Jews. So it is that in the midst of yet another wave of violent attacks by Muslims against Jews in Norway last month, Norway's Jewish community warned its members not to wear yarmulkes or Stars of David in public.

So it is that in Hamas's charter, the movement which now controls the Palestinian Authority calls not for compromise with Israel but for all Jews to be expelled from the Land of Israel or forcibly converted to Islam in the course of the global jihad.

So it is that attacks against Jewish supporters of Israel in the West target not the substance of their arguments, but their right as Jews to lobby for Israel in their countries of citizenship.

"We Jews," Wiesel explained, "have always defined ourselves as the Children of Abraham, Issac and Jacob." Indeed, at Mt. Sinai, in our acceptance of the Ten Commandments, the Jewish people became the first nation in history to self-consciously define itself. And each subsequent generation of Jews has remade that choice. Jews do not exist, as Jean Paul Sarte ignorantly argued, because anti-Semites exist. The leader of the existentialist movement should have understood; anti-Semites exist because anti-Semites choose to exist.

As Steyn notes, today hatred against Jews is anchored on Israel. Provoked by this new form of Jew hatred, some Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora see Israel as a burden. This is a self-inflicted tragedy. For if we look at Israel, we see that far from being a burden, our Jewish State is one of the most stunning successes of Jewish history.

Today, Israel is the home of the largest Jewish community in the world. More Jews live in Israel today than at any time in our history. And the state in which we live is one of the most vibrant, optimistic, "happening" countries in the world. We have the highest birthrate in the Western world. Rates of entrepreneurship are among the highest in the world.

We are one of the most highly educated societies in the world. Over the past fifteen years, more than a dozen colleges have been established in Israel and last year the government decided to allow two of these colleges to join Israel's nine research universities as full-fledged, independent research universities.

Israelis are among the most patriotic citizens in the world. Our patriotism is expressed in the high level of volunteerism in all age groups. In the recent war, tens of thousands of reservists willingly left their families and jobs to take up arms to defend the country and hundreds of thousands of Israelis volunteered to help our one million brothers and sisters whose homes were targeted by rockets, missiles and mortars.

Jewish life blossoms in Israel as it has nowhere else in our history. The rates of literacy in Jewish learning in Israel are higher than they have ever been anywhere in our history. Israel is the home of some half dozen generations of Jews whose mother tongue is the language of the Bible and the Talmud.

Israel's success stems from its serving as a vehicle that allows us to express our heritage in all facets of society. And our Jewish heritage is one of the most precious heritages known to man.

The Jewish people gave humanity the concepts of G-d, liberty and law. Our understanding of the fallibility of mankind has prevented us from being tempted by false prophets who promise us heaven on Earth, and has allowed us to take practical steps towards improving our lot and our world.

All of the ideals that Israel represents both spiritually and physically have for millennia formed the foundations for human progress and freedom throughout the world. Our willingness to retain our loyalty to our identity and our heritage has been the key to our survival throughout the ages in the face of countless foes who sought to destroy us both spiritually and physically.

Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance that precede Yom Kippur. To properly atone for our sins and correct our mistakes, we must understand who we are and what we represent and what we can and should aspire to as Jews. To do this, we must reject the notion that our haters can tell us who we are. To do this we must embrace our Jewish identity and uphold our commitment to our collective destiny.

The fact that hatred of Jews has endured for so long says nothing about the nature of the Jewish people. What does speak volumes about the nature of the Jewish people is that our fortunes throughout the ages have been directly related to our ability to spurn our enemies' distorted portraits of the Jewish people and our willingness to endure and progress as Jews in the midst of that hatred.

Pope Benedict is able to discuss Islam because, secure in his Christian identity, he has a clear basis for judging the goodness or unreasonableness of Muslim values and behavior. Whether we agree with his judgments or not, through his willingness to judge, Benedict capably defends and advances his faith.

When we embrace our moral and intellectual identity as Jews, we are similarly capable of meeting the challenges of our times. It is my prayer that in 5767, the Jewish people will rally around our heritage, history and culture and so pave the way for a secure, peaceful and moral future for our people and our world.
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Friday, September 15, 2006

CROSSFIRE WAR

Crossfire War - Tehran Plans Nuclear Terror Attack Inside US - Ramadan 9-24 - By Willard Payne

Crossfire War - TEHRAN WATCH - North America Theatre: Tehran/Washington - New York - San Francisco; al-Qaeda (Tehran) Planning Nuclear Terror Attack During Month of Ramadan Beginning Sept. 24

Night Watch: TEHRAN - AKI reports that Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, when interviewed over al-Arabiya televison, stated that during his recent trip to Afghanistan he met with Taliban fighters and al-Qaeda (Tehran) members who spoke of a nuclear terror attack inside the United States during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which begins on September 24. That the attack is being planned by Adnan Al-Shukri Juma, an al-Qaeda agent who had been trained in nuclear technology along with other al-Qaeda members. [AKI] Juma's role seems to be similar to the role of Mohammad Atta who lead the first hijacked plane into the World Trade Center on 9/11. The Pentagon was also attacked and it is possible Washington - New York are being targeted again. But I suspect Tehran could also direct al-Qaeda to hit San Francisco in order to destroy the engineering services headquarted there, who were invited to Iran the day after the Gulf War ended, and prevent them from serving the Allied war effort.

According to the Pakistani journalist, explosives and nuclear material have been smuggled into the U. S. through the Mexican border. In September 1997 the CBS program 60 Minutes interviewed former Russian General Alexander Lebed who stated that when the Soviet Union broke up, a lot of suitcase size nuclear bombs were unaccounted for, nearly 200 of them. There was no speculation as to were they went but everyone knew, before the interview, that a lot of what the Soviet Union had did indeed go south including Russian scientists who are no strangers to nuclear material and eager to serve anyone who could pay them more than Moscow, in this case Tehran.

The bombs look like a suitcase and they can also fit inside one. They only weigh 60-100 lbs and if you see a man carrying one it will look like he is carrying a suitcase. I believe it was mentioned than in terms of nuclear energy, the bombs were 1 kiloton. They were initially designed to destroy a large enemy military base but if they are detonated in an urban center it could kill 50,000-100,000 people.