Current Events

A Deeply Divided Iran

Der Spiegel wrote on June 15:

“Protesters took to the streets of Iran this weekend to vent their frustration and dismay at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s landslide election victory… However, the 63 percent with which Ahmadinejad trounced his rival’s 34 percent — and avoided a run-off — left many questioning whether there had been irregularities in the vote and subsequent count…

“While Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, initially endorsed the result, he has now ordered an investigation into the claims of vote-rigging and has called on [main challenger] Mousavi to pursue his appeal ‘calmly and legally.’ The powerful Guardian Council said on Monday that it would rule within 10 days on the complaints it had received.

“Protests by thousands of dismayed Mousavi supporters over the weekend have marked the most blatant show of discontent in Iran in years… Ahead of the elections, the hardline Revolutionary Guard had already warned that it would not tolerate a ‘velvet revolution’ in Iran…

“German newspapers on Monday are agreed the results point to a deeply divided Iran…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘…The Islamic Republic has become increasingly militarized in recent years. Ahmadinejad has deliberately strengthened the Revolutionary Guard and they won’t hesitate to use force if they get the order.’…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran was never a true democracy and it didn’t want to be one. The hardliners always made sure that only candidates loyal to the regime could stand for election… The armed forces are the ones with the power… With Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic… is slowly becoming an authoritarian military dictatorship…'”

Not Without Cheating…

Die Welt Online wrote on June 13:

“Iranian and Western analysts abroad greeted the results with disbelief… ‘It doesn’t augur well for an early and peaceful settlement of the nuclear dispute,’ said Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies… Trita Parsi, president of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, expressed astonishment at the wide margin in Ahmadinejad’s favour. ‘It is difficult to feel comfortable that this occurred without any cheating,’ he said…

“‘If there was a shadow of hope for a change in Iran, the renewed choice of Ahmadinejad expresses more than anything the growing Iranian threat,’ Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a statement. ‘The international community must stop a nuclear Iran and Iranian terror immediately.'”

Reports from Iran…

The Iranian state-run publication, Press TV, reported on June 14:

“The landslide victory of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 presidential elections has garnered a mixed response in the World political scene. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was among the first world leaders to congratulate his Iranian counterpart…

“Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai conveyed their separate congratulatory messages to President Ahmadinejad on Sunday. In the Arab world, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa congratulated Ahmadinejad on his historic election win, saying that he hopes his re-appointment would promote better relations between Iran and Arab countries.

“The Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, also lauded Ahmadinejad’s re-election as Iranian president. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a congratulatory message to his Iranian counterpart on Saturday, in which he wished the prosperity and wellfare of the Iranian people… Palestine’s Hamas Resistance, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah Movement, hailed President Ahmadinejad on his victory in separate messages…

“The Israeli officialdom, however, was quick to voice concern over Ahmadinejad’s election victory… US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also responded rather cautiously to Ahmadinejad’s landslide win. The European Union… has said it is concerned about the status in Iran…”

To their credit, Press TV also published numerous critical comments from readers. We are bringing you the following interesting samples:

“Iranian Taliban stole the peoples’ vote. This is worst than the Shah regime, and you [are] talking about other cultures? You brag about how much you are better than Israel and Wahabi Arabs! This is the worst theft in the history of Iran! Shah stole money. The Taliban Ahmadi and your so-called supreme leader are stealing the future of a generation of the Iranian people! This is a sad, sad day for Iran! Poor people of Iran!

“Something isn’t adding up and the press was declaring Ahmadinejad the victor less than an hour after the polls closed. It took the Americans days to count 100 million votes, how did we manage to count 40 million in a few hours?

“As an Iranian who lives in Tehran I can see that there is a real fraud in our election. Most of the people vote for Mr Mousavi even in Tehran. Over 10 million vote for him, but look at the result.

“What [is] the Corrupt Regime… going to do next? Taking away the short wave radios from people? Or perhaps disconnecting the telephones thus Internet?

“Mousavi lost in his own hometown? That alone shows this election was a fraud.”

USA Today added on June 18:

“The Iranian government has directly accused the United States of meddling in the deepening crisis. A statement by state-run Press TV blamed Washington for ‘intolerable’ interference. The report, on Press TV, cited no evidence.”

Iran’s Attempts to Control the Media

The Associated Press reported on June 14:

“Iranian authorities have asked some foreign journalists – in Iran to cover the elections – to prepare to leave. Nabil Khatib, executive news editor for Dubai-based news network Al Arabiya, said the station’s correspondent in Tehran was given a verbal order Sunday from Iranian authorities that the office will be closed for one week. No reason was given for the order, but the station was warned several times Saturday that they need to be careful in reporting ‘chaos’ accurately.

“Iran restored cell phone service that had been down in the capitol since Saturday. But Iranians could not send text messages from their phones, and the government increased its Internet filtering in an apparent attempt to undercut liberal voices. Social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter were also not working. The restrictions were likely intended to prevent Mousavi’s supporters from organizing large-scale protests…

“Mousavi’s newspaper, Kalemeh Sabz, or the Green Word, did not appear on newsstands Sunday. An editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the paper never left the printing house because authorities were upset with Mousavi’s statements. The paper’s Web site reported that more than 10 million votes in Friday’s election were missing national identification numbers similar to U.S. Social Security numbers, which make the votes ‘untraceable’…”

BBC News added on June 13:

“Riot police have used batons against a crowd of about 3,000 supporters of Mr Mousavi… The authorities had earlier sealed off Mr Mousavi’s campaign HQ, preventing his supporters from holding a news conference. Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli said that any demonstrations needed official permission, and none had been given… One opposition newspaper has been closed down and BBC websites also appear to have been blocked by the Iranian authorities.”

Bild Online reported on June 16:

“The Iranian government has begun clamping down on the foreign media. It has banned all foreign journalists from leaving their offices and reporting from the streets of the country. Journalists may only report from their desks and not interview members of the public or send any eyewitness accounts back home. The clampdown follows a ban on websites such as Facebook and the BBC’s Persian service.”

Violence Breaks Out in Iran

The Associated Press reported on June 15:

“In a massive outpouring reminiscent of the Islamic Revolution three decades ago, hundreds of thousands of Iranians streamed through the capital Monday, and the fist-waving protesters denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim to victory in a disputed election. Standing on a roof, gunmen opened fire on a group of protesters who had tried to storm a pro-government militia’s compound…

“Angry men showed their bloody palms after cradling the dead and wounded who had been part of a crowd that stretched more than five miles (nearly 10 kilometers) supporting reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi…”

Iran Orders Partial Re-Count

The Wall Street Journal reported June 16:

“Pro-government and opposition demonstrators poured into the streets of Iran’s capital Tuesday for a fourth day of sometimes-violent rallies, as the country’s religious leaders agreed to a partial recount of Friday’s disputed presidential vote. Amid the unrest, and more shooting by government-backed militia, authorities arrested prominent opposition leaders and clamped down on media covering the crisis.

“The demonstrations came hours after state media reported the top religious oversight council would examine Friday’s vote… Such a recount appears to be unprecedented, and it wasn’t immediately clear when it would begin, or how many voting sites would be included.

“Mr. Mousavi and the other two candidates announced the recount wouldn’t be acceptable to them. Representatives of the three candidates had met with the spokesperson of the Guardian Council on Tuesday morning and asked that the results be annulled and new elections be held. Alternatively, they asked that an independent committee, made of up of clerics, lawmakers and experts, review the charges of vote rigging.”

Mass Demonstrations Against Iran’s Government–While Obama “Plays It Safe”

Reuters reported on June 18:

“Tens of thousands of Iranians, wearing black and carrying candles, marched on Thursday to mourn those killed in mass protests against a presidential election they and defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi say was rigged… Chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greatest), they massed in downtown Imam Khomeini Square, responding to Mousavi’s call for people to gather in mosques or at peaceful rallies to show solidarity with the victims and their families.

“Days of public fury over the disputed election led Iran’s top legislative body, the Guardian Council, to invite Mousavi and the two other candidates beaten by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss their complaints on Saturday. The election has provoked Iran’s biggest and most violent demonstrations since the 1979 Islamic revolution, rocking the world’s fifth biggest oil exporter which is also caught up in a dispute with the West over its nuclear program.

“Iranian state media has reported seven or eight people killed in protests since the election results were published on June 13. Scores of reformists have been arrested across the country and authorities have cracked down on both foreign and domestic media… Other banners told protesters to stay home on Friday, when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is due to lead prayers in Tehran, but to gather again the next day in the capital…

“Ahmadinejad supporters are expected to show their strength when Khamenei leads Friday prayers at Tehran University. Iran has denounced foreign criticism of the election, although U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has muted its comments to keep the door open for possible dialogue.”

Der Spiegel Online added on June 17:

“Barack Obama is taking a cautious approach to the disputed Iranian elections and has even said there is little difference between the candidates. The US president knows the ayatollahs wield the real power in Tehran — and doesn’t want to jeopardize negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.”

“Permission to Lie About the Election”

The Australian wrote on June 15:

“AN Israeli analyst who had predicted widespread electoral fraud in Iran says the results amounted to the appointment of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by clerics rather than a victory at the ballot box. ‘This was planned well ahead of time,’ said Menashe Amir, who has monitored the Iranian media for more than 20 years as head of the Persian desk at Israel Radio.

“‘Ahmadinejad was chosen to erase the democratic changes that have occurred in Iran over the years and return the country to the era of the Islamic revolution 30 years ago. ‘Mr Amir quoted a leading ayatollah as saying: ‘It is permitted to lie about the election results to bring victory to Islam.'”

Germany Takes the Lead

CNN reported on June 14:

“Germany is summoning the Iranian ambassador Monday to explain the disputed presidential election in the Middle Eastern nation, particularly the ‘brutal handling’ of protesters, the German foreign minister said. The move is noteworthy because global reaction to the Iranian election has been guarded [This changed subsequently, with the notable exception of President Obama.]

“In addition, Germany is one of Iran’s biggest trading partners and has taken the lead in trying to persuade it from developing a nuclear program. ‘I have already prompted Iran, together with European colleagues today, to quickly shed light on what has happened there — if one can take the announced election results there seriously or not,’ Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told German public television station ARD on Sunday.”

No Big Difference

Der Stern Online wrote on June 17:

“U.S. President Barack Obama does obviously not have a high opinion of Iranian challenger Mir-Hussein Mussawi. The differences for a political change between Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his challenger are not as big as commonly assumed [according to Obama]. Independent from the outcome of the election, the US would have to face in both cases a regime which is hostile towards the US, which has caused some problems in its neighborhood, and which wants to produce nuclear weapons, Obama told the US channel CNBC.”

With this assessment, Barack Obama might very well be correct. For more information, please view our new StandingWatch program on YouTube, titled, “Will Iran’s 2009 Elections Change Anything?”

Is Improvement in the Middle East Possible?

The Associated Press wrote on June 15:

“The re-election of Iran’s hardline president and a tough speech by Israel’s hawkish prime minister signaled an increasingly difficult road ahead for President Barack Obama’s hopes for ending Tehran’s nuclear threat and brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians. A setback on either foreign policy front would have been unwelcome in the Obama White House, but difficulties on both issues – which are deeply entangled – were likely to slow progress on the president’s ambition of changing the landscape across the Middle East…

“In Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in an unusually open dispute with Obama over the path to peace with the Palestinians, the Israeli leader gave a major speech that was bound to have found a disappointed White House audience…

“Hamas is strongly backed by Iran and, like Ahmadinejad, calls for the destruction of Israel. Netanyahu and his backers see Israel as threatened on three fronts, all of them arising in Tehran. The Islamic regime’s perceived drive to build a nuclear bomb is viewed by Netanyahu as an existential threat to Israel. Lesser but more immediate dangers are seen to lie with Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s other proxy organization in the region. The two groups have routinely conducted harassing rocket attacks and incursions on Israel from Gaza in the south and Lebanon to the north, respectively.

“Counterbalancing the weekend’s discouraging news, however, was Hezbollah’s major and unforeseen setback in Lebanese elections last week. There also is growing concern in the larger Arab Middle East about Iran’s nuclear program. While both the Arabs and Iranians are Muslims, the Arabs are predominantly Sunni, while the Iranians are nearly all Shiite. Beyond that, Iranians are ethnic Persians and have been historically at odds with the Arabs.”

Hillary Clinton Does Not Rule Out Pre-Emptive Israeli Strike on Iran

The Times reported on June 8:

“Hillary Clinton refused yesterday to rule out a pre-emptive Israeli military strike on Iran. It was the first time that a senior member of the Obama Administration had openly discussed such a possibility. The US Secretary of State… also warned that [Iran] would face retaliation if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel…

“Mrs Clinton appeared ready to unnerve the Iranian leadership with talk of a pre-emptive strike ‘the way that we did attack Iraq’… Mrs Clinton… said that it was US policy that a nuclear attack by Iran on Israel would be seen as an attack on the US.

“’I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that were Israel to suffer a nuclear attack by Iran, there would be retaliation,’ she said, though she did not spell out who would retaliate.”

Netanyahu’s Speech Defied Obama’s Demands

The Times reported on June 14:

“Binyamin Netanyahu tonight endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state after weeks of pressure from Washington, but defied President Obama’s demand for a halt to all settlements. In a high-profile speech that the Palestinian administration of Mahmoud Abbas said ‘hobbles all efforts to save the peace process’, the Israeli Prime Minister said that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ and that any future Palestinian state had to be demilitarised…

“Mr Netanyahu also ruled out a complete halt to settlement activity and said that Palestinian refugees dating from the 1948 creation of Israel, and their descendants, would not be resettled inside Israel’s borders…

“The former US President Jimmy Carter told the Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday that Israel risked a head-on collision with Washington over the settlements. Washington provides Israel with $2.4 billion of annual military aid as well as diplomatic support, making the United States its most important ally. Mr Netanyahu faces a delicate balancing act in responding to American pressure, as most in his largely right-wing ten-week-old coalition oppose US demands on settlements and would probably quit the Government if he caves in to the pressure…”

Reactions to Netanyahu’s Speech

The Jerusalem Post wrote on June 15:

“Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday saying ‘Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is ruining the chance for peace…’ Mubarak further added that ‘not Egypt, nor any other Arab country would support Netanyahu’s approach.’

“Earlier Monday, a Syrian government newspaper slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech, and likened Israel’s policies towards Palestinians to those of the Apartheid government in South Africa towards black people…”

In a related article, the Jerusalem Post reported on June 15:

“Former US president Jimmy Carter, visiting in Israel, said on Monday that Binyamin Netanyahu has placed ‘several obstacles on the road to peace’, in response to the prime minister’s speech Sunday evening… ‘He insists on settlement expansion, demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state even though 20% of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish,’ the former US president said…

“Meanwhile, the European Union on Monday joined US President Barack Obama in expressing support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ‘endorsement’ of the goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel…”

Haaretz reported on June 14:

“The Palestinian Authority on Sunday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly anticipated foreign policy speech, in which he called for immediate peace talks and endorsed the creation of [a] Palestinian state without military capabilities. An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the speech ‘sabotages’ regional peace efforts, due to Netanyahu’s refusal to accept an influx of Palestinian refugees into Israel and his unwillingness to compromise on the status of Jerusalem…

“In the Gaza Strip, Hamas representatives vehemently rejected Netanyahu’s address. ‘In his speech, he … erased the Palestinian refugees’ right of return,’ said senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan, adding that the prime minister also did not ‘recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the independent Palestinian state… What needs to be done immediately is to sever all ties with Israel.'”

Not Enough for EU

Haaretz reported on June 15:

“European Union foreign ministers welcomed on Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conditional endorsement of a future Palestinian state, but said it was not enough to raise EU-Israel ties to a higher level. The ministers… questioned conditions cited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for backing a Palestinian state and also his defence of Jewish settlements on occupied land…

“‘That’s good but it’s only a first step,’ Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country [takes] over the EU presidency in July, said before the talks in Luxembourg. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said it was ‘not sufficient. Nothing was said on the settlements … but this stopping of the settlements is essential,’ said Kouchner, who in an earlier statement rejected any pre-conditions to peace negotiations.

“The EU and Israel have agreed in principle to upgrade an ‘association agreement’ defining their ties, a move that would bring trade benefits for both sides. But the 27-nation bloc has put the upgrade on ice and says it wants a firm commitment from Israel to seek a so-called two-state peace accord with the Palestinians.

“‘We must say quite clearly today there can only be talk of an upgrade when the peace process is on its way, and for that we need a few steps more,’ said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. Asked if Netanyahu’s move was sufficient for the EU to upgrade ties with Israel, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said: ‘No’…

“U.S. President Barack Obama called Netanyahu’s shift on Palestinian statehood an important step forward. But aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the speech sabotaged negotiations by restating Israel’s refusal to share the city of Jerusalem or accept Palestinian refugees.”

North Korea Defiant–Threatens with Nuclear War

The Guardian wrote on June 13:

“North Korea declared it would turn its plutonium stocks into weapons material and threatened military action against the US and its allies after the UN security council imposed new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for last month’s underground nuclear test.

“The country’s foreign ministry today acknowledged for the first time that North Korea was developing a uranium enrichment programme and said it would be ‘impossible’ to abandon its nuclear ambitions. [When enriched to a high degree, uranium can be used for weapons-grade material. Plutonium can be used in atomic bombs]…

“The warning came a few hours after the security council unanimously passed a resolution banning all weapons exports from North Korea and the import of all but small arms [The resolution also authorized searches of North Korean ships suspected of transporting illicit ballistic missile and nuclear materials] …

“The regime is believed to have enough plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs… ‘An attempted blockade of any kind by the US and its followers will be regarded as an act of war and met with a decisive military response,’ the regime said.

“There was no attempt to expand the sanctions to exports and imports of non-military goods. This is partly because China and Russia would have been opposed, but also because of fears a collapse of the North Korean economy would result in a flood of refugees into South Korea.”

Will North Korea Fire a Missile Toward Hawaii?

The Associated Press reported on June 18:

“North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese news report said Thursday, as Russia and China urged the regime to return to international disarmament talks on its rogue nuclear program. [Subsequent reports in Mail-On-Line, dated June 18, state that the missile may be fired on Independence Day, July 4, 2009].

“The missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea’s Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast… The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said. While the newspaper speculated the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, it said the missile would not be able to hit Hawaii’s main islands, which are about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.”

The “Gay Rights Movement” in the USA

On June 3, 2009, Christian Today India reported the following:

“President Obama has declared June ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month,’ becoming the first U.S. president to include bisexual and transgender in the proclamation’s title. In a difficult-to-find declaration posted on the White House Web site on June 1, Obama praised LGBT Americans for their continual ‘great and lasting contributions’ that ‘strengthen the fabric of American society.’

“He vowed to support measures to ‘bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans,’ including enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions, ensuring gay adoption rights, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, and ending the current ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the military…

“Obama follows in the footsteps of former President Bill Clinton who also issued a similar proclamation in 1999 and 2000. But Clinton did not use the term transgender in his version. He did, however, reference bisexuals. President George W. Bush, in contrast, did not issue any LGBT proclamation during his eight years in office.

“Several Christian leaders have criticized the proclamation, including Bob Stith of the Southern Baptist Convention. Stith told Baptist Press that the proclamation encourages ‘pride in what God clearly says is sin’…

“June is traditionally recognized by the homosexual community as ‘Gay Pride Month’ in commemoration of the Stonewall Inn incident in June 1969. On June 28, 1969, gays and lesbians fought against a police raid that took place at Stonewall Inn in New York City. The incident is widely held to be the first time that the gay community fought against a government entity in American history, and is considered the starting point of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

“In the proclamation, President Obama lauded the LGBT rights movement for their determination that has allowed more LGBT Americans to live openly today than ever before. He also said he is ‘proud’ to be the first president to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration.”

The Associated Press reported on June 16:

“President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees… The decision is a political nod to a reliably Democratic voting bloc that in recent weeks has grown frustrated with the White House’s slow movement on their priorities.

“Several powerful gay fundraisers withdrew their support from a June 25 Democratic National Committee event where Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak. Their exit came in response to a June 12 Justice Department brief that defended the Defense of Marriage Act, a prime target for gay and lesbian criticism. Justice lawyers argued that the law allowed states to reject marriages performed in other states or countries that defy their own standards.

“The legal arguments — including citing incest and sex with minors — sparked rebellion among gay and lesbian activists who had been largely biting their tongues since Obama won election…

“In the meantime, the administration has tried to make small, quiet moves to extend benefits to gays and lesbians. The State Department has promised to give partners of gay and lesbian diplomats many benefits, such as diplomatic passports and language training.”

The Associated Press added on June 17:

“President Barack Obama signaled to gay rights activists Wednesday that he’s listening to their priorities by extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. But he didn’t give them even close to everything they want, bringing growing anger against the president to the surface.

“Obama aides urged gays and lesbians to have patience with the new White House’s slow-and-steady approach to the politically charged topic. But his critics – and there were many – saw Wednesday’s incremental move to expand gay rights as little more than pandering to a reliably Democratic voting bloc, with the primary aim not of making policy more fair but of cutting short a fundraising boycott…

“Obama has refused to take any concrete steps toward a repeal of a policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, even though as a candidate he pledged to scrap the Clinton-era rules. He similarly has refused to step in and block the dismissal of gays and lesbians who face courts martial for disclosing their sexual orientation.”

The “Gay Rights Movement” in Israel

Der Stern Online reported on June 13:

“The biggest gay parade in the Middle East was conducted in Tel Aviv. Ten thousands of gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and onlookers marched through the streets of Tel Aviv. The Branch of Tourism declared Tel Aviv in its advertisements as the Gay Capital. The religious Schas Party had asked the local government to prohibit the Gay Parade…

“[Also, Interior Minister Eli Yishai had called unsuccessfully on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to cancel the parade.] In 2001, Israel, as the only country in the region, adopted an ‘anti-discrimination’ law. Marriages of homosexual couples, which were conducted in foreign countries, can be registered and acknowledged in Israel.”  

Haaretz wrote on June 13:

“Five gay couples wed Friday in a ceremony held on the Tel Aviv beach at the end of the city’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade which saw thousands of people from all walks of life join in celebration on the city’s streets. The… same-sex couples walked up to the Chuppah, the Jewish wedding altar, while gay Israeli pop star Ivri Lider sang.

“The ceremony was performed according to Jewish marriage rites, with each couple exchanging rings and Hebrew vows before breaking the glass as the crowd erupted in applause. MK Nitzan Horovitz (Meretz), the Knesset’s first openly gay parliamentarian attended the wedding, where he told Haaretz, ‘I hope that from this day, weddings like this can happen in every place in Israel and not just in Tel Aviv. Weddings for everyone, man and woman, man and man, and woman and woman, and this will be the end of the monopoly of the ultra-Orthodox over our lives in Israel.’

“Gay Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox… told Haaretz, ‘It’s a very important and historic day. It’s very exciting and in the end the good guys won.'”

How Some Democrats Want to “Improve” Healthcare…

Bloomberg reported on June 13:

“Health-care overhaul legislation being drafted by House Democrats will include $600 billion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid… The measure’s cost is reaching well beyond the $634 billion President Barack Obama proposed in his budget request to Congress as a 10-year down payment for the policy changes.

“Asked whether the cost of a health-care overhaul would be more than $1 trillion over a decade, [Committee Chairman Charles] Rangel said, ‘the answer is yes.’ Some Senate Republicans… say the costs will likely exceed $1.5 trillion… Democrats in the House and Senate are crafting legislation that would require all Americans to have health insurance, prohibit insurers from refusing to cover pre-existing conditions and place other restrictions on the industry…

“The legislation would establish online exchanges for individuals to purchase insurance and would require employers to provide health benefits to workers or pay a penalty… Rangel said Democrats are still considering options for tax increases that might be in the bill, including a possible end to the income tax exclusion for employer-paid health benefits…

“Rangel said that while House Democrats will likely release more details about health policy changes in their legislation next week, the package of offsetting tax increases and spending cuts likely will come later. Democrats, he said, want to put forth the more-positive aspects of an overhaul first. ‘We have a problem in not wanting to attract enough negative attention to the bill in terms of the pay-fors,’ he said.”

… While Other Democrats and Republicans Oppose Healthcare Proposals

Reuters wrote on June 14:

“President Barack Obama’s health secretary on Sunday pushed for a new government-run healthcare program, an idea facing skepticism even in his own party, and a senior Senate Democrat flatly said votes are lacking in Congress for the proposal. In addition, Vice President Joe Biden opposed proposals being discussed by some lawmakers to tax health insurance benefits provided to people by employers…”

“Doctors’ Boos Show Obama’s Tough Road”

The Associated Press reported on June 15:

“For all the young president’s popularity, the response he got Monday from doctors at an American Medical Association meeting was a sign his road is only going to get rockier as he tries to sell his plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system. The boos erupted when Obama told the doctors in Chicago he wouldn’t try to help them win their top legislative priority—limits on jury damages in medical malpractice cases… The doctors were only Obama’s first house call. He’ll be making his case to the other groups—and to the nation at large—in an increasingly energetic campaign to get a bill passed by the end of his first year in office…

“Doctors have special reasons to be wary of the president’s plans to overhaul the health care system. Not long ago, doctors’ decisions were rarely questioned. Now they are being blamed for a big part of the wasteful spending in the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system. Studies have shown that as much as 30 cents of the U.S. health care dollar may be going for tests and procedures that are of little or no value to patients.

“The Obama administration has cited such findings as evidence that the system is broken. Since doctors are the ones responsible for ordering tests and procedures, health care costs cannot be brought under control unless they change their decision-making habits… But Obama did not blame the doctors. Instead, he tried to woo them, much as he has done with recalcitrant foreign leaders.”

That wasteful prescriptions and unnecessary tests ordered by doctors ARE partially responsible for outrageous healthcare costs is a FACT and cannot be denied. Whether President Obama’s proposals will solve this problem without creating new ones is the issue of hot debate.

No Senate Consensus on Health Care Reform

The Associated Press reported on June 17:

“Hoping to make history, the Senate set off on its major overhaul of the nation’s health care system Wednesday, but its first steps were quickly overtaken by fresh cost concerns and partisan anger. An ambitious timetable that called for completing committee action in early summer seemed in danger of slipping away…”

How ABC Plays Politics

The Drudge Report wrote on June 16:

“On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm…

“ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House. The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, EXCLUDE OPPOSING VOICES ON THE DEBATE… Late Monday night, Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay fired off a complaint to the head of ABCNEWS:

“‘…As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC’s astonishing decision to EXCLUDE OPPOSING VOICES on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform ‘town hall’ at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news ‘will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda’…

“‘Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. OUR REQUEST WAS REJECTED… I find it OUTRAGEOUS that ABC would PROHIBIT our Party’s opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

“‘In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to PROMOTE THE DEMOCRATIC AGENDA… President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that HE WANTS A BIPARTISAN DEBATE. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime…’

“ABCNEWS Senior Vice President Kerry Smith on Tuesday responded to the RNC complaint, saying it contained ‘false premises’:

“‘… ABCNEWS alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.'”

To add insult to injury, according to an article in the Drudge Report, dated June 16, “ABC is refusing to air paid ads during its White House health care presentation… including a paid-for alternative viewpoint!”

More Money for War

The Washington Post wrote on June 16:

“The House today passed a $106 billion bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, as House Democrats backed President Obama despite misgivings among the ranks about his strategy in Afghanistan.

“The 226 to 202 vote came after Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had called some reluctant Democrats during the day imploring them to back the bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi… had strongly pressed her colleagues in a closed-door meeting to vote for the bill in a show of support for Obama, even if they oppose his strategy for increasing troops in Afghanistan.

“In the end, 221 Democrats voted for the bill, while 32 opposed it. All but five Republicans opposed the bill… 19 House Democrats backed the bill who had opposed it the first time, although some cited loyalty, not agreement with Obama’s plans, as their reason.”

How to Spend Stimulus Money

The Associated Press reported on June 13:

“The United States is about to spend $50 million in stimulus money on fish food… The money could provide algae to nourish clam and oyster larvae along the Pacific coast, fill the bellies of tilapia in Arizona and feed catfish, trout and gamefish in the Midwest and South…

“Much of the money is likely to end up in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — the nation’s largest catfish producers. Catfish accounts for one-third of the nation’s $1.4 billion aquaculture industry.”

Saving Money by Bulldozing 50 U.S. Cities

The Telegraph wrote on June 12:

“Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic ‘shrink to survive’ proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline… The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County… Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government…

“Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities… as potentially needing to shrink substantially… They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis. In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.”

This proposal is interesting in light of the fact that cities in the Millennium, under God’s rule, MIGHT be designed in this way.

British Airways in Deep Trouble

CNN reported on June 16:

“British Airways is asking thousands of its staff to work for free for up to four weeks… In an e-mail to all its staff, the airline offered workers between one and four weeks of unpaid leave — but with the option to work during this period. British Airways employs just more than 40,000 people in the United Kingdom. Last month, the company posted a record annual loss of £400 million ($656 million)…

“‘I’m 30 years in this business and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is by far the biggest crisis the industry has ever faced,’ said Willie Walsh, British Airways’ chief executive. A spokesman for one of Britain’s biggest unions said its workers could not afford to work for free for a month… Walsh said British Airways’ woes were inextricably linked to the downturn in the global economy and that there had been no sign of any ‘green shoots’ of recovery.”

Swine Flu Virus in Humans Long Before Outbreak

ScienceDaily wrote on June 13:

“A new analysis of the current swine-origin H1N1 influenza A virus suggests that transmission to humans occurred several months before recognition of the existing outbreak. The work… provides evidence that new genetic elements in swine can result in the emergence of viruses with pandemic potential in humans…

“Dr Oliver Pybus of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology [said:] ‘Our results show that this strain has been circulating among pigs, possibly among multiple continents, for many years prior to its transmission to humans.’… The team conclude that ‘despite widespread influenza surveillance in humans, the lack of systematic swine surveillance allowed for the undetected persistence and evolution of this potentially pandemic strain for many years.'”

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