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Wiesel asks Oprah to visit Israel


U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey said she would accept writer Elie Wiesel's proposal to visit Israel soon as a show of solidarity. Wiesel asked Winfrey to come to Israel on Monday when she was being honored in New York by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity for her contributions in promoting humanitarian issues.

Wiesel suggested that Winfrey visit Israel, where "the major war against terror is currently taking place." In her acceptance speech, Winfrey said she sympathized with Israelis' suffering and that she intended to accept Wiesel's invitation to accompany him to Israel.

Israel Launches Air Strikes on Gaza Amid New Truce Effort

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) & Israel Faxx News Services

Israel has launched fresh air strikes in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least seven Palestinians. The attacks occurred as Palestinian leaders pushed for a new truce.

However, representatives of the various factions within the Palestinian Authority rejected Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' to stop firing rockets at southern Israel. The spokesmen claimed Israel needs to be the one that stops its military operations in Gaza, Judea and Samaria first. "We cannot submit to blackmail while military jets circle above us," said Ibrahim Abu Anja, a spokesman for the factions.

The IAF attacked targets of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas across Gaza including suspected weapons factories and warehouses and other facilities. Now in its second week, the air campaign is aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks. More than 150 rockets have fallen on Israel over the past week, leaving the border community of Sderot a virtual ghost town.

The rockets keep falling despite the air strikes, but Israeli spokeswoman Miri Eisen said a major ground assault on Gaza was not on the table. "The military themselves are very clear on the fact that even a full-scale invasion would not necessarily stop all of the rocket attacks."

In a bid to end the fighting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled from the West Bank to Gaza for unsuccessful talks with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Abbas was reportedly trying to restore a Gaza ceasefire with Israel that collapsed last week after a five-month lull in violence.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the current fighting was not in the interest of either side. "I don't know to whose interest [is it] to undermine the ceasefire?" asked Erekat. "To whose interest [is it] to push back to the cycle of violence and counter-violence?"

The Palestinians have offered to halt the rocket attacks if Israel would extend the Gaza ceasefire to also include the West Bank. But Israel rejects the proposal on grounds that West Bank raids are necessary to prevent suicide bombings in Israeli cities. Palestinian terrorists said that left them no choice but to keep fighting.

Jordan Seeks to Develop Nuke Program


In a recent interview, Jordan's energy czar Khaled al-Shraydeh said that the country had the capability of producing as much as 80,000 tons of uranium for use in a potential nuclear weapons program. He added that it was very likely that the country would pursue a nuclear weapons program in order to alleviate the high cost of energy it is required to import.

Al-Shraydeh added that Jordan was interested in pursuing the idea of a canal between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean in order to generate electricity. He said that the canal water can be used to generate electricity by flowing water on special turbines because of the difference in the levels of the Red Sea and Dead Sea, and that the volume of electricity generated will depend on the flow of water on these turbines. Initial studies show that about 600-800 megawatt could be generated by this project.

Virtual Reality Helps MS Patients Walk Better

By Newswise

Haifa Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have created a virtual reality device that combines auditory and visual feedback to improve walking speed and stride length in patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson's disease.

According to lead researcher Prof. Yoram Baram of the Faculty of Computer Science, the device combines a wearable, cell phone-sized audio component – which measures body movement, processes it and sends feedback to the user through earphones – with a visual feedback apparatus he developed for Parkinson's patients 10 years ago.

The visual component presents users with a virtual, tiled-floor image displayed on one eye via a tiny piece that clips onto glasses worn by the user. This allows the user to distinguish between the virtual floor and real obstacles, making it possible to navigate even rough terrain or stairs.

Baram and Prof. Ariel Miller of the Faculty of Medicine and the Multiple Sclerosis and Brain Research Center at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa examined the effects of the patented device on the gait quality of MS patients.

The researchers found that auditory feedback significantly improved the gait of both MS and Parkinson's patients (though the improvement was less pronounced in Parkinson's patients). With regard to walking speed, patients showed an average improvement of 12.84 percent while wearing the device. There were also positive residual short-term therapeutic effects (18.75 percent improvement) after use. Average improvement in stride was 8.30 percent while wearing the device and 9.93 percent residually.

"Healthy people have other tools, such as sensory feedback from muscles nerves, which report on muscle control, telling them whether or not they are using their muscles correctly," said Baram. "This feedback is damaged in Parkinson and MS patients and the elderly, but auditory feedback can be used to help them walk at a fixed pace."

Results from a small study (14 randomly selected patients with gait disturbances predominantly due to MS) on the device have been published in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

The integrated device – the first to respond to the patient's motions rather than just providing fixed visual or auditory cues – is already in use at a number of medical centers in Israel and the United States, including the University of Cincinnati and the State University of New York.

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