Current Events

Ebola Virus Found in Pigs

Reuters reported on February 23:

“The Philippines will slaughter 6,000 pigs at a hog farm north of the capital Manila to prevent the spread of the Ebola-Reston virus, health and farm officials said on Monday… The country has more than 13 million heads of swine… The government said 6,000 pigs would be killed, burned and buried as experts sought to determine the source of Ebola-Reston in pigs as well as pig-to-pig and from pig-to-human transmission…

“It is the first time the virus has been found outside monkeys and the first time it has been found in pigs. The virus had previously jumped from monkeys to humans but this was the first case of a jump from hogs.”

Former Chancellor Schroeder Meets with President Ahmadinejad

Deutsche Welle reported on February 22:

“Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after delivering a speech in Tehran criticizing the Iranian leader’s stance against Israel and his denial of the Holocaust.

“The meeting took place on Saturday, Feb. 21, behind closed doors in the president’s offices. A brief statement afterwards said the two had exchanged ideas about regional and international issues. Ahmadinejad also urged global cooperation to solve the world’s problems…

“In Tehran, Schroeder commented that Iran appeared to have good intentions for a new beginning in relations to the West, but developments had not gone as one had hoped…

“Eyewitnesses said the meeting took place in a tense and cool atmosphere… Schroeder, in Iran on a private visit, also met with Parliament President Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. In contrast to the tense meeting with Ahmadinejad, Schroeder’s meeting with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami — who plans to run against Ahmadinejad in the June elections — was congenial.

“The two politicians spoke German, which Khatami learned when he lived in Hamburg as a moderate cleric before the Islamic revolution in 1979. ‘We are good and old friends and when we were both in office, the countries had the best relations,’ Khatami told DPA news service after the meeting.

“Khatami said efforts were in gear to find a diplomatic solution in the conflict over Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which has produced more than 1,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium… The amount, if subjected to further processing, would be enough to create an atomic weapon…

“In Germany, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews Stephan Kramer criticized the Schroeder-Ahmadinejad meeting in an interview with the Hanover daily Neue Presse: ‘Mr. Schroeder is greatly damaging the reputation of Germany and the German government…’

“Iran’s ambassador in Berlin, Aliresa Sheikh-Attar, didn’t think Schroeder’s criticism of Ahmadinejad would damage ties between the two countries. ‘The relations between Teheran and Berlin are too important to be overshadowed by a subject such as the Holocaust,’ Attar said. During his time in office (1998-2005), Schroeder never visited Iran…”

Muslim Anti-Semitism in Germany

Netzeitung wrote on February 23:

“Germany should take anti-Semitic tendencies among its Muslim population seriously, Turkish-German Green party leader Cem Özdemir warned in an interview with daily Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday.

“‘We must unfortunately acknowledge that there are anti-Semitic mindsets not only in the right-wing or among the so-called left-wing anti-imperialists, but also in the Muslim community – particularly among male Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish youths,’ Özdemir, the country’s first leader of a major political party with Turkish roots, told the paper…

“A 2007 study by the Interior Ministry found that Muslim students were far more anti-Semitic than other students, the paper reported…”

A New Plan for a European Army

The Telegraph wrote on February 18:

“A security blueprint charting a path to a European Union army [was] agreed by Euro-MPs on Thursday. The plan, which has influential support in Germany and France, proposes to set up a ‘Synchronised Armed Forces Europe’, or Safe, as a first step towards a true European military force…

“Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, the Conservative European defence spokesman, warned that British ministers are ‘in denial’. He said: ‘They are sleepwalking towards a European army and seem to have little awareness of what is going on’…”

Dire Warning of Deutsche Bank

Netzeitung wrote on February 23:

“Germany’s gross domestic product will likely shrink by more than five percent in 2009, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Norbert Walter told daily Bild on Monday…

“Companies and politicians have sugarcoated the country’s economic situation, the head economist of Germany’s largest private bank said, adding that they are ‘ignoring the truth.'”

U.S. Economy Continues to Go Downward

On February 24, The New York Times published an article with the headline, “Fed Chief Says Recovery May Wait Until 2010 or Later.” In the article, it was pointed out:

“On Tuesday, two barometers of the housing market and consumer attitudes underscored the economy’s downward trajectory. Home prices in the United States plunged at the fastest pace on record in December… signaling that housing was likely to continue declining.

“Consumer confidence also… dropped to a new low of 25 in February, from 37.4 a month earlier, as people fretted about losing their jobs or earning less, and worsening prospects over the next six months.”

President Obama–“The Day of Reckoning Has Arrived… America at the Crossroads”

Bild Online wrote on February 25:

“Barack Obama insisted the ‘day of reckoning has arrived’ when he addressed Congress for the first time yesterday… Obama acknowledged the need for America to take charge on the issue of the global financial crisis: ‘As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead’…

“Obama promised support to the floundering American car industry, saying that the ‘nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it’… Leading US car manufacturers such as Chrysler and General Motors have already asked the government for billions of dollars in aid.

“Obama also offered help to the banking and finance sectors, warning that a rescue programme could cost more than expected. He stressed that the aim was to support the people not the banks…

“The US government is working on reducing the burden of financial debt that the country has found itself in, Obama insisted. He said that the budget deficit will be halved in the coming year. In order to save the money, he said he would ‘eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq and reform our defence budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use’…

“And Obama referred to a new era in international politics: ‘… we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.’”

Who Says the War in Gaza Is Over?

AFP reported on February 25:

“Israeli warplanes launched two air strikes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt on Wednesday as delegates from three Palestinian factions were crossing at a nearby terminal, witnesses said. They said the two air strikes left large craters and caused damage to surrounding homes near the border, where smugglers operate a massive underground network of tunnels to supply goods to the besieged territory…

“An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that two air strikes had been carried out in the area. Palestinian militants had earlier fired two crude homemade rockets into southern Israel without causing any casualties, according to the military.”

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