2005-06-17

emergency medical service news

Franklin explores fire service to Carlisle
Middletown Journal - Middletown,OH,USA
... Council's safety committee members said Thursday they want to explore the possibility of creating a joint fire and emergency medical service department that ...

Low risk of weekend riptides, National Weather Service says
PensacolaNewsJournal.com - Pensacola,FL,USA
... Emergency Medical Service dispatchers said the emergency call came in at 1:45 pm The incident occurred at the family's mobile home in the 200 block of Stinnis ...

Trenton Rescue gets 'backup' ambulance
Middletown Journal - Middletown,OH,USA
... Hobbs. "I just think we should leave the EMS (emergency medical service) as it is for the time being," Wilham said. "Further ...

EMS News

Wyse Fork opens new EMS station
Kinston Free Press - Kinston,NC,USA
... Thanks to the untiring effort of hundreds of volunteer firemen, EMS volunteers, and community members that cross Jones and Lenoir counties, the station has a ...

Fire and EMS Groups at Odds Over Proposal for Federal EMS ...
Firehouse.com (subscription) - USA
The concept of creating a federal EMS administration has been discussed by some EMS leaders for years, but recently garnered national attention when it was ...

Suspicious Material Turns Up At Israeli Embassy
NBC 4.com - Washington,DC,USA
... powder. Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter says it was accompanied by what he terms "a threatening note." He did not elaborate. News4 ...

Fire and EMS Groups at Odds Over Proposal for Federal EMS Administration

 



 

HEATHER CASPI
Firehouse.Com News

The concept of creating a federal EMS administration has been discussed by some EMS leaders for years, but recently garnered national attention when it was recommended by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute.

In a report titled "Back to the Future: An Agenda for Federal Leadership of Emergency Medical Services," the HSPI proposes moving EMS leadership from it's current place in the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security, where it would be an equal but separate entity alongside the U.S. Fire Administration.

The paper has garnered support from the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the EMS Labor Alliance, the International Association of Flight Paramedics, and state associations including Florida, Georgia and New Jersey.

What's missing is support from nationally recognized fire service organizations, which propose addressing EMS issues from within the current framework of the United States Fire Administration and its Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services.

In a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, several fire service groups outlined their disagreements with the report and its recommendations. These included the International Association of Arson Investigators, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Fire Service Training Association, the National Fire Protection Association, the National Volunteer Fire Council and the North American Fire Training Directors.

They agreed there is a need for better EMS funding and coordination, but argued that the report's recommendations would redirect limited homeland security money to for-profit EMS agencies, balkanize emergency response and diminish the role of the United States Fire Administration.

"Every report published since 9-11 by various task forces and commissions has advocated consolidation and integration in homeland security strategies," the letter states. "This idea of a new EMS agency contradicts the consensus opinion of the Congress, administration and think tanks alike."

HSPI co-chair Paul Maniscalco said the problem with the current EMS committee within the USFA is that it has no budget or authority.

He said the HSPI report does not discuss EMS delivery at the local level or support independent EMS delivery over fire-based EMS delivery - it simply addresses the need for a separate and distinct funding stream to enhance capability. He stressed that the recommendations are not intended to take money away from the fire service.

"Taking money away to address those EMS needs would be inappropriate and unacceptable," Maniscalco said. Instead, arranging separate federal funding for EMS would create two sources of funding for fire departments to go after, and lessen the burden on fire department budgets. "It benefits EMS across the board," he said.

In response to concern from the fire service that some funding would go to for-profit and hospital based transport agencies, which already receive some reimbursement for services from Medicare and other insurance coverage, Maniscalco said these reimbursements don't even come close to reflecting cost recovery for provision of services.

"What's happened is the provision of EMS has become a burden on local communities," he said, "and the level of readiness that is in question here could mean the increase of mortality and morbidity because we don't have the ability to respond effectively."

Part of the problem is that fire and EMS organizations disagree on what percentage of EMS provision is fire-based as opposed to independent or private.

"Actually, we don't know," Maniscalco said, because the federal government does not keep statistics.

Maniscalco cited not only a need for better statistics, but for protective gear for EMTs and paramedics, and for better ambulance standards.

"There's a whole host of serious operational issues that are taking place involving EMS," Maniscalco said. "By having one single advocate that can be a champion for EMS, and collaborate with everyone but have budget authority, it just makes sense. And it's not a bad thing for the fire service, it's not a bad thing for the third service, it's not a bad thing for the not-for-profits, and it's not a bad thing for America. Because In the end, we're going to have a better prepared EMS, and better prepared response to Mrs. Jones heart attack on Main street."

IAFF Assistant to the General President Lori Moore said the fire service is already working to address the lack of EMS statistics, and that starting over with a new administration would only set EMS back.

She said the report also neglects to mention ways in which EMS already is represented at the federal level. In addition, she said, "The people who wrote that report didn't do enough homework to recognize how much EMS is truly integrated into the fire service."

She said the fire service organizations clearly recognize EMS as a part of the fire service and engage it as such.

"I would agree that we need to do better data collection, and we need to do better analysis of good data. You bet we do," she said. "Do we need to do better reporting? You bet we do. But that's recognized throughout the country, and not only is it recognized, but actions are being taken to facilitate those things occurring," she said.

Moore said that since 1997 the IAFF and IAFC have been working to develop performance measures for EMS systems, including software development to report key indicators of performance.

"Only after we have good data collection can we go forward to make a case for what improvements and funding are needed," she said.

Along with other fire service organizations, Moore said the IAFF and IAFC are also involved in larger work being done by the DOT's National Highway and Traffic Safety Association, where EMS is currently housed - the development of the National EMS Information System, or NEMSIS.

"What we are advocating is that we need to work within the federal agencies that are already involved in EMS," she said, rather than thwart the efforts that have been underway for years.

Another voice in the discussion is that of 25-year fire service veteran Nathan Williams of Columbia, Missouri, a spokesman for the non-profit organization Advocates for EMS.

"I would say that there were some good things about the GW report, and there were some things that would probably be less than favorable for EMS in the long run," he said.

Although he agrees with many of the issues raised, including the need for EMS funding, Williams said he does not support the proposal to move EMS to the Department of Homeland Security. "I believe that that is not the best solution to this problem," he said. He suggests it would lead to turmoil in the immediate future and less than optimal coordination between the first responder communities.

However, Williams believes it is premature for either side to come to a conclusion on the best direction for EMS, because more information is needed. "We need to have critical questions answered, and we haven't done that yet," he said. He is waiting for an upcoming report by the Institute of Medicine to be published in the fall. He said they did a comprehensive two-year study on EMS, which he believes will come closer to answering the nation's questions on EMS than any other study done thus far.

Only after further study can both sides sit down and decide if creating one agency to oversee all of EMS is the prudent way to go, he said. And if they do, he said, "We will have done it based on research and fact."

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paramedic news

Mentor paramedic accused of stealing painkillers
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Cleveland,OH,USA
Mentor- A city paramedic is accused of stealing painkillers from an ailing man he treated on a rescue call, police said. Eric Latz ...

'I can't imagine doing another job' says star paramedic
ic Berkshire.co.uk - Reading,England,UK
... The paramedic of the year award went to Samantha Coyle, who spent six years at Bracknell Ambulance Station before moving to Wexham two years ago, where she is ...

ambulance news

Killen Leaves Trial in Ambulance
WLBT-TV - Jackson,MS,USA
... Just after Bender left the stand, Killen was taken by ambulance to nearby Neshoba County General Hospital, where he was being held overnight for treatment of ...

Burglary suspect back in custody after escaping from ambulance
KESQ - Palm Desert,CA,USA
A burglary suspect who had jumped out of an ambulance and eluded Marin County authorities throughout most of the day yesterday is back in custody. ...

SISTER ACT HELPS AMBULANCE
Carlisle Business Gazette - Carlisle,England,UK
By David Siddall. TWO sisters who heard about the Air Ambulance being grounded through a funding shortage decided to do something about it. ...

Ambulance Chasers - No, Car Chase Followers
News Hounds - Newport Beach,CA,USA
While anxiously waiting for some news on the hearings on the Downing Street Memo, which I knew were going on today, I turned on Studio B with Shepard Smith to ...

Fair chance to buy ambulance
ic SouthLondon.co.uk - Reigate,Surrey,UK
A SUMMER fair is being organised by a home for severely disabled and chronically ill adults to buy them an ambulance. The British ...

cyclist news

Aussie cyclist banned after assaulting coach
Independent Online - Cape Town,South Africa
Adelaide - Controversial cyclist Jobie Dajka was suspended on Thursday for three years by a Cycling Australia disciplinary tribunal that determined he had ...

Race cyclist dies
This is London - London,England,UK
Italian cyclist Alessio Galletti died by the roadside after passing out on a climb on the final stages of a 162km race in northern Spain. ...

Inside Top Cyclist's Success
CBS News - USA
... He studied Armstrong for years, starting before the cyclist's first Tour de France victory. Coyle shares his findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology. ...

Gold-medal cyclist is giving drag racing a real go
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
... Bazemore, who spoke by phone from Columbus, Ohio where he competed in the Pontiac Performance Nationals in late May, is an amateur cyclist, and his love for ...

Final spin of the wheels for cyclist
ic SurreyOnline.co.uk - Surrey,England,UK
By John Geoghegan. That is the message from 82-year-old D-Day veteran Ernie Oakford, from Redhill, who will be taking part in the ...

bicycle news

Sheriff: Suspect fled on a bicycle
Biloxi Sun Herald - Biloxi,MS,USA
HARRISON COUNTY - A store clerk's report of an alleged shoplifter who fled on a bicycle led deputy sheriff's to a wooded area where Charles McLaurin Jr. ...

Ricky Morgan, who was seriously injured in a bicycle accident in ...
Fredericksburg.com - Fredericksburg,VA,USA
By BILL FREEHLING. HE WASN'T RACING down hallways or cracking jokes, but from his wheelchair Ricky Morgan was still the life of the ...

Accident victim, 6, identified in Belton
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
... Police said Carissa was on her bicycle and was crossing to the other side of the road when she was hit by a 20-year-old Belton man. ...

Gold-medal cyclist is giving drag racing a real go
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
Nothstein, a Trexlertown native who grew up on the bicycle racing track of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, spent four hard years training after winning a silver ...

Bicycle safety fair on Monday, June 20 in Rehoboth to include a ...
Cape Gazette - Lewes,DE,USA
... in bicycling and of Sussex Cyclists and the Delaware State Police to promote safe cycling by educating those interested in how to operate a bicycle safely in ...

emergency medical services news

Northumberland Cty. - Colborne to lose standby service
Stirling Community Press - Stirling,Ontario,Canada
... below the county goal of 15 minutes at 10:36, and Alnwick/Haldimand's response time above at 15:44, Northumberland Emergency Medical Services is recommending ...

Duke's mock emergency to help professionals think about ...
Durham Herald Sun - Durham,NC,USA
... "Chang Hospital, how many open beds do you have?" Unfortunately, Chang Hospital, named for Emergency Medical Services trainer Jim Chang, was also too full to ...

Ocean Rescue Promotes Rip Current Awareness
Lumina News - Wrightsville Beach,NC,USA
... A C-130 transport plane from Coast Guard Fort Macon, Emergency Medical Services and AirLink also responded. "The search was suspended," Baker said. ...

Could blackout happen again? Entergy official doesn't rule it out
Conroe Courier - Conroe,TX,USA
... Allen Johnson, director of emergency medical services for the Montgomery County Hospital District, said off-duty EMS personnel were brought in to man ...

Magen David Adom News

Magen David Adom retains top charity rating
Cleveland Jewish News - Cleveland,OH,USA
For the third consecutive year, Magen David Adom (MDA) USA, the American fundraising arm of the Israeli emergency medical relief organization, has received a ...

EMT News

Bradford County EMT arrested for sex offense in UC
Bradford County Telegraph - Starke,FL,USA
Jimmie William Clark, 19, of Starke was arrested after a 12-year-old child told the Union County Sheriff's Office (UCSO) that Clark had been touching the ...

Frontier and FMH hold EMT training courses
Daily Clay County Advocate-Press - Flora,IL,USA
Many think once an EMT is licensed, their training is finished, but in reality they must continue their education and training to keep their license current. ...

Valley EMT testifies murder victim identified assailant
KTUU - Anchorage,AK,USA
... grandmother. Ross Crawford, a former Valley firefighter and EMT, was one of the first people to arrive at 5840 Dewberry on March 26, 2003. ...

Man Arrested For Impersonating A Firefighter
KUTV - Salt Lake City,UT,USA
2New's Kathryn May joins us live to explain why. When you have an emergency and call 911 for an EMT, you expect them to come from a fire station like this one. ...

Seed of extinct date palm sprouts after 2,000 years

 
San Francisco Chronicle
- Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, June 12, 2005

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Kibbutz Ketura, Israel -- It has five leaves, stands 14 inches high and is nicknamed Methuselah. It looks like an ordinary date palm seedling, but for UCLA- educated botanist Elaine Solowey, it is a piece of history brought back to life.

Planted on Jan. 25, the seedling growing in the black pot in Solowey's nursery on this kibbutz in Israel's Arava desert is 2,000 years old -- more than twice as old as the 900-year-old biblical character who lent his name to the young tree. It is the oldest seed ever known to produce a viable young tree.

The seed that produced Methuselah was discovered during archaeological excavations at King Herod's palace on Mount Masada, near the Dead Sea. Its age has been confirmed by carbon dating. Scientists hope that the unique seedling will eventually yield vital clues to the medicinal properties of the fruit of the Judean date tree, which was long thought to be extinct.

Solowey, originally from San Joaquin (Fresno County), teaches at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, where she has nurtured more than 100 rare or near-extinct species back to life as part of a 10-year project to study plants and herbs used as ancient cures.

In collaboration with the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, named in honor of its Southern California- based benefactor, Solowey grows plants and herbs used in Tibetan, Chinese and biblical medicine, as well as traditional folk remedies from other cultures to see whether their effectiveness can be scientifically proved.

In experiments praised by the Dalai Lama, for example, Borick Center Director Sarah Sallon has shown that ancient Tibetan cures for cardiovascular disease really do work.

The San Francisco Chronicle was granted the first viewing of the historic seedling, which sprouted about four weeks after planting. It has grown six leaves, but one has been removed for DNA testing so scientists can learn more about its relationship to its modern-day cousins.

The Judean date is chronicled in the Bible, Quran and ancient literature for its diverse powers -- from an aphrodisiac to a contraceptive -- and as a cure for a wide range of diseases including cancer, malaria and toothache.

For Christians, the palm is a symbol of peace associated with the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The ancient Hebrews called the date palm the "tree of life" because of the protein in its fruit and the shade given by its long leafy branches. The Arabs said there were as many uses for the date palm as there were days in the year.

Greek architects modeled their Ionic columns on the tree's tall, thin trunk and curling, bushy top. The Romans called it Phoenix dactylifera -- "the date-bearing phoenix" -- because it never died and appeared to be reborn in the desert where all other plant life perished.

Now Solowey and her colleagues have brought this phoenix of the desert back to life after 2,000 years.

The ancient seeds were found 30 years ago during archeological excavations on Mount Masada, the mountaintop fortress on the shore of the Dead Sea where King Herod built a spectacular palace. When the Romans conquered Palestine and laid waste to the Temple in Jerusalem, Masada was the last stand of a small band of Jewish rebels who held out against three Roman legions for several years before committing mass suicide in A.D. 73.

Archaeologist Ehud Netzer found the seeds, which were identified by the department of botanical archaeology at Israel's Bar-Ilan University. Then they were placed in storage, where they lay for 30 years until Sallon heard about the cache.

"When we asked if we could try and grow some of them, they said, 'You're mad,' but they gave us three seeds," she said.

Sallon took the seeds to Solowey, who has cultivated more than 3,000 date palms and rarities like the trees that produce the fragrant resins frankincense and myrrh. Solowey admits she was skeptical about the chances of success with this project.

"When I received the seeds from Sarah, I thought the chances of this experiment succeeding were less than zero," said Solowey, cradling the precious seedling in a specially quarantined section of her nursery on the kibbutz. "But Dr. Sallon insisted and I took this very seriously. Lotus seeds over 1,000 years old have been sprouted, and I realized that no one had done any similar work with dates, so why not give it our best shot -- and we were rewarded."

The three seeds were long and thin, grayish-brown in color. Solowey soaked them in warm water, and then added gibberellic acid, a potent growth hormone used to induce germination in reluctant seeds. Next, she added a special rooting hormone for woody plants called T8 and an enzyme-rich fertilizer to supplement the natural food inside it. She then planted it in sterile potting soil on the Jewish festival of trees, which this year fell on Jan. 25.

Solowey placed the pots in her nursery and tended to them each day for a month, not expecting anything to happen.

"Much to my astonishment, after five weeks, a small little date shoot came up," she says. "It was pale, almost whitish green. The first two leaves were abnormal-looking. They were very flat and very pale. The third leaf started to have the striations of a normal date plant. Now it looks perfectly normal to me.

"The only difference between this date seedling and any other date seedlings I've seen come up is the length of the third leaf. This is very unusual," she said, pointing out one very long, thin leaf growing out of the pot.

"It's certainly the oldest tree seed that's ever been sprouted. Wheat seeds from pharaohs' tombs have been sprouted, but none of the plants have survived for very long. Before this, the oldest seed grown was a lotus from China, which was 1,200 years old," she said. "I'm very excited. I wasn't expecting anything to happen. I'm really interested in finding out what the DNA testing is going to show. I know that date seeds can stay alive for several decades. To find out that they can stay alive for millennia is astonishing."

Date palms are either male or female, but it's too early to tell the sex of Methuselah. Normally, female trees begin to bear fruit after about five years.

"We have to figure out where we can put it so it can grow to maturity. Then we'll hope that it grows up and flowers so we can figure out whether it's male or female, and then it has offshoots and seeds so we can propagate it. It's very exciting to think that maybe someday we can eat 2,000-year-old dates, but there's a 50 percent chance that it's a male, in which case that won't happen," she said.

Sallon trained as a pediatrician and gastroenterologist, and she once worked with Mother Teresa at the Sisters of Charity orphanage in Calcutta. She founded the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center 10 years ago and is a world-renowned expert on the medical properties of plants. "It feels remarkable to see this seed growing, to see it coming out of the soil after 2, 000 years. It's a very moving and exciting moment," she said.

The two researchers hope the reborn tree will provide valuable information about the Judean economy and society at the time of Jesus.

Once the seed sprouted, samples of seeds excavated from the same cache on Masada were sent to the University of Zurich for radio-carbon dating. The results came back last week, showing the samples were 2,000 years old, plus or minus a margin of error of 50 years, placing them during or just before the Masada revolt.

"Perhaps one of our ancestors was sitting there on the battlements of Masada eating his dates while the Roman armies were preparing for the final siege and perhaps nonchalantly spitting out a pip," said Sallon. "Two thousand years later, here I am at Kibbutz Ketura and it's grown."

The sixth leaf has been sent to the Volcani Centre, Israel's agricultural research institute, for DNA testing by date palm expert Yuval Cohen.

"I find it remarkable," said Cohen. "Two thousand years ago, during the Roman Empire, Israel was known for the quality of its dates. They were famous throughout the Roman Empire. But date growing as a commercial fruit export stopped at the end of 70 A.D., when the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. From then, the tradition was lost.

"It's an interesting question what were the ancient dates like. We hope by genetic analysis, we can learn more about the character of the ancient date population."

When the Romans invaded ancient Judea, thick forests of date palms towering up to 80 feet high and 7 miles wide covered the Jordan River valley from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the shores of the Dead Sea in the south. The tree so defined the local economy that Emperor Vespasian celebrated the conquest by minting the "Judea Capta," a special bronze coin that showed the Jewish state as a weeping woman beneath a date palm.

Today, nothing remains of those mighty forests. The date palms in modern Israel were imported, mainly from California. The ancient Judean date, renowned for its succulence and famed for its many medicinal properties, had been lost to history.

Until now.

Page A - 1
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/06/12/MNGJND7G5T1.DTL


©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

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Why is Bush so stingy?

Jewish World Review June 16, 2005 / 9 Sivan, 5765

Amity Shlaes

Amity Shlaes


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | After all, the U.S. president owes the British prime minister. Tony Blair joined him in the unpopular Iraq war as others fled. "Yes, Tony," should be the reply that comes from Washington to any big request after that stupendous gift.

Sure, the pair concluded a recent agreement on debt relief— international organizations will cancel the debt obligations of 18 countries. But that move still leaves Blair standing alone on two topics dear to his heart: expanding aid to poorer countries and global warming. The risk is humiliation at the forthcoming summit of leading nations in Gleneagles, Scotland. In the minds of news editors, the headline is already written: "Bush shames Blair in Scotland as Putin watches!"

But the headline is too harsh.

There are reasonable explanations for President Bush's behavior. Overall, Bush is disagreeing with Blair not because he is a poor friend but because he is a good one.

Consider the reasons for disagreement. Yes, during war Bush is the commander in chief, but the three-branch system is still the law. Even if Bush wanted to go along on more extensive aid, Congress might not go along. The same holds true for regulatory concessions on global warming. The Senate punished President Clinton for daring to consider the Kyoto treaty by voting overwhelmingly against the very concept of the treaty.

But there are deeper reasons why Bush will not back Blair. The U.S., along with other countries, has signed a declaration to increase aid to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product, something like $80 billion in the American case. Other countries have criticized the Bush administration for not producing a plan to show how it will meet that goal. But the administration believes that democracy is the best form of aid in the long run, and that it is in Iraq or Afghanistan to bring about democracy. It believes these things so strongly that it is willing to send soldiers to corners of Iraq and Afghanistan from which even the most courageous aid groups have already withdrawn. The Senate recently passed legislation for additional military spending. The amount of that spending was $80 billion. In other words, Washington is doing its part.

The second reason for Bush's hesitation, at least when it comes to government-to-government aid, regards efficiency. Since Sept. 11, 2001, a pious conviction has overcome the developed world. Its belief is that because the stakes are now higher (Al Qaeda, tsunamis), the failures of aid may be ignored. In the case of Blair, the view seems to be that it is un-Christian—i.e., unforgivable—not to spend more on aid.

But here Bush, so disparaged for his emotional displays of faith, is acting rather logically. He is demonstrating awareness that Sept. 11, for all its horrors, cannot fix the essential flaw of state aid: that governments use it for purposes for which it is not intended. "When the World Bank thinks it is financing a power station, it is really financing a brothel," as Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, the great economic scholar, once put it. In his first term Bush therefore created the Millennium Challenge, according to which the U.S. would give more only if there were concrete improvements in donor countries.

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An illuminating report, "Aid and Development: Will it Work This Time?" published by a network of international think-tanks—including African ones—provides support for Bush's position. Fredrik Erixon, its author, systematically reviews aid projects of the last half century and finds that heavy aid has correlated with slower growth in Africa.

In other words, everybody is being consistent. Bush is not going along with Blair in regard to aid because he does not agree with him. Blair went along with Bush in regard to Iraq because he did agree with him. In Britain, the general assessment is that Blair looked the fool because of later revelations about Iraq's nuclear capabilities. The conventional wisdom also holds that Blair must pay because the Iraq outcome hurt the Labor Party in recent elections.

In American eyes, by contrast, Blair's willingness to defend unpopular positions means that he ranks even higher. Indeed, some Americans rate Blair above Bush. When the Pew Research Center polled citizens in May, it found more Americans believed that Blair would "do the right thing" in confronting an international challenge than believed Bush would.

In short, the Blair-Bush alliance is not born out of mutual weakness but rather out of mutual strength. Bush and Blair are friends because they have something in common: They both believe in principle. Is that not the strongest kind of friendship?

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JWR contributor Amity Shlaes is a columnist for Financial Times . Her latest book is The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It. Send your comments by clicking here.

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Africa genocide shows we didn't mean it when we said ‘Never Again’

 

Jewish World Review June 16, 2005 / 9 Sivan, 5765

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We were in Poland talking about Africa. It seemed fitting.

Last month, I joined an interfaith pilgrimage to the killing places of the Holocaust years, a handful of the sites where homosexuals were slaughtered for being homosexuals, communists for being communists, Jehovah's Witnesses for being Jehovah's Witnesses and, most infamously and most prodigiously, Jews for being Jews.

Six million Jews, 5 million others. And the world, 60 springs ago, struggled with the sheer magnitude of the slaughter and said never again, never, never again would it stand quietly by as people were butchered for being what they were. Not for what they did, not for what they said, but simply and cruelly, for what they were.

So how could you go to Holocaust sites and not end up talking about Africa, the place — the latest place — where the world's solemn vow has been unmasked for a lie? This was the evening of the day we walked through Krakow's old Jewish Quarter where there is anti-Semitic graffiti on some of the walls. It was the day after we walked through Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau where more than a million Jews were sent to die. We were dining, members of the tour group and I, at a restaurant in the Quarter when some of us fell to talking about Sudan, where black Africans have been killed for being black Africans.

Some of us thought the ultimate solution to such genocide was in making Holocaust education more prevalent internationally in hopes that yesterday's horror might dissuade tomorrow's mass murderers. Others — I was in this group — thought that was fine, but not immediate enough. We advocated formation of a standing multinational U.N. force that would, upon a finding of genocide, enter the offending nation, not to conquer, but for the sole purpose of making the killing stop.

But one thing was obvious as we debated the efficacy of our ideas. Namely, we were having a discussion that people at home, the vast majority at least, were not having — a discussion we ourselves might not have had if not for where we were and what we had seen. Back at home, the Michael Jackson trial would have seemed more important, the runaway bride more pressing. And "never again" would have seemed too long ago and too far away.

Sixty years ago, the Holocaust came as a surprise to most Americans, the malevolent coda to a nightmare in which the world had been trapped for years. Though some in authority were apparently aware the Germans were committing wholesale murder, the average Jane on the street, the average Joe at the water cooler, was shocked to learn the enormity of the crime. We did not know, they said, the inference being that if they had known they would have done ... something. At the very least, they would not have witnessed in silence.

Sixty years later, wandering the killing places, you wonder if you can believe that. Sixty years later, we have no excuse.

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We can read the paper, turn to CNN, go online, to learn that tens of thousands of people have been murdered in Sudan and 2 million have been left homeless. We can read the courageous eyewitness dispatches of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff, an outraged outcry against the murder of men and the rape of women. Sixty years later, we can know.

Or we can do what we did with Rwanda. We can look away, refuse to own what we know. After all, Brad and Angelina have a movie out and Paris is getting married. Our culture provides ready distractions that exact no emotional toll. So why not look away? Few things are more daunting, more likely to make you feel impotent, than grappling with the inhumanity of human beings.

Frankly, if there is a failsafe way to stop us from slaughtering us because of tribe, color or faith, it eludes me. But I do know the first step.

You start by refusing to stand silent witness.

You start by giving a damn.

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Warm and cool allies

 

Jewish World Review June 16, 2005 / 9 Sivan, 5765

By Victor Davis Hanson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is busy trying to strengthen the American alliance. In recent months, members of his government have announced new joint military arrangements with the U.S. and announced to the South Koreans that, unlike Japan, they are not to be trusted with sensitive American intelligence.

Meanwhile, France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroder have been doing just the opposite. They proudly talk up an all-European military force to vie with NATO and insist their stagnant economies will not resort to the American model.

Of course, we saw these markedly different approaches to relations with the U.S. most starkly over the war in Iraq. Japan sent troops immediately, while Germany and France actively opposed American efforts to topple Saddam Hussein.

Japan, however, hasn't always been so warm nor Europe so cool to the U.S., and current global strategic realities largely explain their quite different attitudes to America. Like the trans-Atlantic relationship, the Japanese-American partnership arose from the ashes of World War II, and in the 1970s and 1980s Japan was every bit as prone to fits of anti-Americanism.

Japanese leftists once pushed for withdrawal of American troops. The right in Japan used to lecture us about the superiority of Japan Inc. and brag of a new defiant generation "that could just say no" to American nagging about fair trade.

Fury over our bases in Okinawa always seemed to exceed the European inconvenience about American troops in Germany. Japan had far less cultural resonance with the United States than did Europe.

Why, then, is Japan suddenly warm while Europe is so cool? Is the Bush administration clumsy in Berlin and adept in Tokyo?

No. Rather, the answer is the rise of China and the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the Japanese government, China and its nuclear patron, North Korea, are not abstract threats. Indeed, they are within tactical missile range.

If Europeans dream that Chinese break-neck capitalism means only lucrative business, the Japanese fear that such dynamism will more likely lead to a new bully in their own backyard.

If Japan was once experiencing bouts of anti-Americanism when its neighbor China was sleeping, then Europe was relatively friendly to us when we kept out 300 Soviet divisions from its borders.

The moral? Trashing the United States can be a fun sport for some when one nearby Communist enemy disappears but not so for others when another is ascendant and close by.

Of course, domestic politics, trade issues and clumsy American diplomacy also help to fashion the image of the U.S. abroad. Still, a government's anti-American rhetoric is often predicated on its perceived self-interest.

For all the furor over George Bush's "smoke 'em-out" rhetoric, there are a variety of historical and geographical factors beyond our control that determine the relative popularity of the U.S internationally.

The small countries Denmark and Holland were invaded twice last century by a German-speaking Reich. Eastern Europe was swallowed up and nearly ruined by the nearby Russians. As a result, these places will always be more receptive to the U.S. than a larger and more secure post-Cold War France and Germany.

New Zealand, meanwhile, tucked safely behind a shielding Australia tends to embrace anti-Americanism. If a naked New Zealand faced Communist China, Islamic Indonesia and Malaysia and nuclear North Korea, then it might be more receptive to the visits of U.S. warships.

In calmer times, South Korea heralded its "Sunshine" policy of engaging the North. Predictable anti-Americanism followed.

But after a failed policy of appeasement, the shocking disclosure of North Korean nuclear capability and some scary rhetoric by Kim Jong Il, trashing the United States fell out of fashion in Seoul. That South Korean about-face was understandable when the U.S. announced it was sending some American soldiers off the DMZ and down to Pusan — or home.

Perceptions of the U.S. are also in constant flux. Greece, for example, was once the most anti-American state in Europe, nursing understandable wounds over past American support for creepy dictators in Athens.

But the European Union is no longer a cash cow and still without military muscle — and thus of dubious value in a scrape. At the same time Greece's age-old rival, Turkey, shows disturbing signs of Islamic fundamentalism, conducts provocative flights in the Aegean, and talks tough on Cyprus. Suddenly for the Greeks, the conciliatory and militarily powerful United States and its Sixth Fleet don't seem so hegemonic after all.

Then there's India, once the Third-World reservoir of anti-Americanism. But given easily imported American jobs, fears of a rival China and worries about radical Islam, both at home and across the border in nuclear Pakistan, India no longer views the United States as a potential adversary.

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Through all of this vacillating, the behavior of the American superpower stays about the same. And despite all the shouting and angry editorials, a nation that is strong, democratic and willing to help does not look too bad.

After Iraq, we think that the loud hostility of Germany, France and the Arab autocracies represents a global consensus. It doesn't.

The world changes as we speak. With new economic powerhouses like China and India, universal concerns about terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism, and the public recognition of how weak both the European Union and the United Nations are in a real pinch, expect easy, fashionable anti-Americanism to recede.

Indeed, it had already has. Just ask a warm Japan — and look soon for the same change of mood in a once cool but now increasingly vulnerable and worried Europe.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Comment by clicking here.


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Jewish inaction in Bolton fight highlights groups’ policy dilemmas

 
 
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Office of John Bolton
John Bolton, President Bush´s choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
By Matthew E. Berger
WASHINGTON, June 16 (JTA) — The White House is pressing American Jewish organizations to speak out in favor of John Bolton, President Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as Republicans push for votes to approve him.

While Bolton has been criticized by Democrats, he has been well received in the Jewish community, predominantly because he was the architect of the 1991 repeal of an infamous 1975 United Nations resolution denigrating Zionism as racism.

But Jewish groups have not expended much energy on Bolton's behalf. That has angered Bush administration officials who say that Bolton's philosophy on U.N. reform is in line with Jewish community views, and that the community should be backing a nominee who can help Israel in the international body.

The administration also hopes Jewish community support will counterbalance lingering questions about Bolton's past statements and work style, and help him win the necessary votes for Senate confirmation. No date has been set for a vote.

"We are surprised at the half-hearted efforts by Jewish organizations who know that John Bolton is exactly the right guy to bring reform to the United Nations, which is an institution desperately in need of reform," a White House official said.

The lack of effort on Bolton's behalf highlights the dilemmas Jewish groups face in taking policy positions.

While Bolton may appeal to some groups, speaking out for him would pit some Jewish groups against liberal colleagues who are concerned about some of Bolton's actions, and even against some of their own members, who have been reluctant to support a White House appointee because of Bush's stances on domestic policy issues.

When asked about efforts for Bolton, several Jewish groups said they don't take positions on nominations, viewing them essentially as partisan battles.

Jason Isaacson, director of government and international affairs at the American Jewish Committee, said his organization finds nomination battles "personal and political" and said they don't necessarily advance the AJCommittee's agenda.

"But we're certainly on record in the past as having been grateful to John Bolton on positions he has taken on 'Zionism equals racism' and highlighting non-proliferation," Isaacson said.

Republicans have been unable to garner the Senate votes needed to move the nomination forward amid allegations that Bolton tried to exaggerate U.S. intelligence about Syria and Cuba and that he bullied subordinates at the State Department.

A new cloture vote — a procedural move to end debate that requires 60 supporters — is expected within the next week.

Democrats have been seeking additional information about Bolton's knowledge of several countries' weapons programs, but also have suggested that his criticism of the United Nations might make him an inappropriate choice as U.S. envoy.

They have tired to block his nomination by voting against cloture — in effect, filibustering. Republicans need five Democrats to back cloture in order to shut off debate, but they lost a May 26 vote by a count of 56-42.

The White House has been watching Jewish groups' engagement on the issue for several months, since Bolton's nomination became controversial. But they have become more proactive in recent weeks, calling Jewish organizational officials to ask what they're doing to back Bolton.

The White House wants Jewish figures to reach out to senators, especially Democrats, extolling Bolton's pro-Israel record. But that has not happened.

Many Jewish organizational leaders said their support of Bolton is known; indeed, some issued press releases praising his nomination when it was announced in March.

"They know we are supportive of Bolton," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The conference met Thursday with congressional leaders of both parties, but Bolton was barely discussed.

One Senate Democratic staffer said prominent Jewish donors have praised Bolton's support for Israel, but that Jewish organizations have done no lobbying for him.

Some Jewish officials in Washington suggested the issue was not a priority, while others hinted they didn't want to get involved in such a divisive issue.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which brought 5,000 delegates to Capitol Hill last month, didn't push Bolton's nomination in the group's action agenda, even after former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer backed him in a speech at AIPAC's policy conference.

The White House wants AIPAC to make the nomination a priority, and to count the cloture vote for Bolton as part of the group's assessment of senators' records on Israel.

Jeffrey Berkowitz, White House liaison to the Jewish community, sent an e-mail Wednesday to Jewish leaders highlighting Bolton's support for Israel, his work on non-proliferation issues and his commitment to U.N. reform. A similar e-mail was sent Thursday by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has been actively backing Bolton. The organization, which has stronger ties to foreign policy conservatives than most other Jewish groups, has been reaching out to senators and issuing statements backing Bolton.

"I think he deserves all the support he can get from the Jewish community," said Tom Neumann, JINSA's executive director.

Neumann said Jews have almost an obligation to back Bolton, suggesting he would be in the same mold as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan — strong supporters of Israel — as U.N. ambassador.

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2005-06-16

Mail to G-d

 


The Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch places letters between the stones of the Western Wall as Yossi Shelley, Director General of the Postal Authority, assists.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski


Post worker Yafim Indicator classifies letters addressed to God and Jesus, sent via the Israel Postal Authority, at a Jerusalem post office in Givat Shaul before they are placed at the Western Wall.
Photo: Ariel Jeroazolimski

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Israel Postal Authority zips mail to God


As it turns out, God receives quite a lot of fan mail. At least, that's what thousands of prayers and messages sent from across the globe to Jerusalem suggest.

Thousands of people of various faiths from all over the world send letters to God every year. Such letters are commonly forwarded to Jerusalem, where the staff of a small post office in the Givat Shaul commercial district, a department of the Israel Postal Authority dealing with undeliverable mail, twice a year places them in the Western Wall.

Nearly a thousand such letters collected since the beginning of this year were delivered on Wednesday. After a procession featuring Postal Authority Director-General Yossi Sheli trailed by foreign journalists and a small, intrigued crowd, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch received the messages and personally jammed them into the cracks between the massive stone blocks of the Wall. Mail that eventually falls from the Wall will be placed in a geniza for damaged religious texts and materials deemed unfitting for the dump.

In an interview prior to the Wall ceremony, Sheli described the free "service" provided by the Postal Authority - receiving between 2,000 and 3,000 such letters a year - as a volunteer effort. He does not view the biannual event as a religious service, but rather a postal job.

"We think it demonstrates generosity," he said. When you're dealing with mail, he said, things like politics and religion are unimportant. Sheli even pointed to Kevin Costner's 1997 film The Postman to emphasize his point.

Postal Authority officials stressed the notion of universality, demonstrating that the multi-lingual letters are received from various countries and represent different religious faiths.

Some letters, for instance, are addressed directly to God at the Western Wall, while many others are solely addressed to the Wall. One letter, without a stamp, read, "To God, King of the Universe."

With rows of pigeon holes behind him categorically labelled by type of problem mail including junkmail, "Santa Claus," and "Letters to God," Sheli held an envelope addressed in Hebrew to Jesus from South Africa - one of many letters addressed to Jesus. Another letter was addressed, "Higher Secretary (Christian please!), Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine."

"They all believe Jerusalem is a holy place," said spokesperson Yitzhak Rabihiya, referring to the religious diversity of the mail.

Officials stressed the importance of privacy, explaining that they do not read the letters.

However, a few years ago, before the institutionalization of the event, reading the letters was necessary to send them back, since they lacked return addresses said Rabihiya.

Writers often ask for assistance from God, or any higher power they address. Past letters have involved a woman kleptomaniac asking to be cured. Many others deal with grief and tragedy, or ask for help with disease and cancer. One writer asked for assistance in becoming a police officer.

The event has become a common process for postal officials. Undeliverable letters stream in from a sorting center in Tel Aviv and make it to the small office in Givat Shaul.

As the "Letters to God" procedure has developed and gained publicity over the past few years, explained Rabihiya, officials have seen a marked increase in such mail from all over the world.

Rabihiya attributes the increase to a heightened sensitivity towards the holy mail by the Postal Authority, but also believes that people are simply sending more letters to God.

The amount of mail destined for God also rises throughout the year on holidays, particularly on Christmas and Yom Kippur.

Rabinovitch, before he placed notes into the Wall, said that the service makes sure the prayers of everyone continue on to God, both those of Jews and those of others. Rabinovitch alluded to King Solomon and Joshua the Prophet and the ideals of openness to all peoples that they demonstrated. Jews, he explained, must open a path towards the Divine for other nations.

Despite the universal theme of the event, Sheli and Rabihiya noted that they receive very few "Letters to God" from the Arab world. Because they would not arrive directly, such letters might have gotten stuck in the various countries they would have to go through to make it eventually to Israel, explained Sheli.



--
Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!
elipongo@gmail.com
http://elipongo.blogspot.com/
http://www.cafeshops.com/DoNoHarm
http://www.ellingtonshul.org