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New Technion Mini-Robot Can Operate Inside Body


Israel's Institute of Technology, the Technion, is set to introduce a miniature crawling robot with the potential to treat lung cancer by performing precise medical procedures inside the human body.

The robot, ViRob, can navigate and crawl within blood vessels, the digestive tract, and the respiratory system, move in tight spaces and curved passages, and remain for periods of time within the body.

Netanyahu: Arab States Should Normalize Israel Ties Now

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged Arab countries to make immediate moves toward normalizing ties with Israel and said he would offer concrete steps toward peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu made the plea during a debate in Knesset that came as he tries to balance international pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians with internal calls from within his hard-line coalition not to budge. "We are prepared to make, and we will make, concrete steps for peace with the Palestinians," he said.

He said the Israeli government would abide by the terms of past agreements signed with the Palestinians though it would insist on reciprocity in future peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. "My peace policy will bring results faster than the government which was led by those sitting in the opposition today.

"We will insist on reciprocity in talks with Palestinians," the premier said, "in both the demands raised as well as their implementation. We expect the Palestinians to make such concrete steps as well. And it would be good if Arab countries joined the peace effort and made concrete and symbolic steps toward normalization with Israel, not later, but now," Netanyahu added.

The prime minister also said that he was eager to advance economic initiatives in the agricultural field for the Palestinian territories. His government would seek to attract investments from the Gulf Arab states, Europe, and Asia in an effort to boost the Palestinian economy, Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that President Barack Obama backed his idea for normalization, and called it a "new and refreshing approach that totally matches our views." Netanyahu said the Obama administration would also seek to advance "normalization" of ties between Israel and Arab government.

The prime minister, who was at the White House last week, also said that he and Obama agree the Iranian threat could create an opportunity to bring Arab countries together in a coalition of moderates, Netanyahu said.

The premier told lawmakers and ministers that he had Obama had reached understandings on key defense issues and that the U.S. administration accepted Israel's position on Iran, the prime minister told the plenum.

In reference to Iran, Netanyahu reiterated the importance of "spotting dangers in advance.... Our nation paid a huge price for failing to spot threats in advance," the premier said. "My job as premier is to protect the country's existential interests."

Netanyahu added that he was eager to "bring Arab states into the circle of peace," a goal he says is shared by the Obama administration. Bringing Arab states into circle of peace will strengthen Israel and bring security to the Palestinians as well."

The premier responded to catcalls from Kadima lawmakers by accusing his predecessors in the previous government of failing to bring results in its talks with the Palestinians. In response to criticism of his economic policies, Netanyahu said these were extraordinary times, and that Israel is "functioning better than most countries" under the harsh circumstances of the global financial crisis.

Following Netanyahu to the podium, opposition leader and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni blasted Netanyahu for "a basic misunderstanding of Israel's interests. Netanyahu "missed a golden opportunity" by failing to declare his support for a two-state solution during his meeting with Obama in Washington last week, Livni said.

Clinton Promises New US Proposals for Mideast Peace

By David Gollust (VOA-The State Department)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration would soon present "very specific proposals" to Israel and the Palestinians on how to advance toward a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. She spoke after meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who warned that further delay in peacemaking would cause difficulties extending beyond the Middle East.

Clinton spoke amid a flurry of U.S. diplomacy on the Middle East, with U.S. envoy George Mitchell holding closed-door talks in London this week with senior Israeli officials, and President Barack Obama preparing to meet Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Though Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who visited the White House last week, has not embraced full Palestinian statehood, Clinton said at a joint news event with her Egyptian counterpart that she and Obama are fully committed to a two-state solution and see Egypt as an essential partner in helping realize that vision.

Clinton said the administration is preparing very specific proposals for the two principles, and indicated it will ask Arab states in the region for confidence-building steps with Israel to improve the atmosphere for negotiations. Under questioning, she said the administration wants to see a complete halt to West Bank settlement building by Israel.

"The President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements. Not outposts. Not natural-growth exceptions," she stressed. "We think it is in the best interest of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position that is what we have communicated very clearly not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others."

Study: Israel Could Survive Nuclear Attack

By Philadelphia Bulletin

A new study based on Israeli and U.S. data says the Jewish state could survive being hit by as many as 80 nuclear weapons. According to Middle East Newsline, the study says Israeli casualties could be significantly reduced through the construction of bomb shelters and dispersal of the population.

Titled "Nuclear Threat: The New Challenge to Missile Defense Systems," the report examines the possible effects of a nuclear strike on Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial center. "The atomic bomb does not mean doomsday," said Yehoshua Sokol, author of the report and a member of the Ashkelon-based Academic Forum for Nuclear Awareness and a staffer at Falcon Analytics. "Simple things like bomb shelters and dispersal of the population would help significantly."

This report marks the first disclosed study of the repercussions of a nuclear attack on Israel, as well as recommendations to reduce casualties. The report, presented to the Israel Defense Ministry and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, was assisted by Israeli government engineers and scientists, including from the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, regarded as the Israeli equivalent of the Livermore National Laboratory in the United States.

"If we build a system that stresses the construction of protected rooms [within homes and office buildings] then we could eliminate 75 percent of the casualties," Sokol said. "It's as if we had intercepted 75 percent of the incoming [nuclear] missiles."

The study examined the likely outcome of an attack by a 15-kiloton atomic bomb, similar to that dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. The report estimates an atomic bomb dropped on Tel Aviv would result in 6,000 casualties if residents in the affected area were in protected rooms. Without protection, 25,000 people likely would die.

The study says 7,000 people would be killed if an atomic bomb fell on the less populated Israeli city of Ramle, located east of Tel Aviv. About 1,000 people would be killed if an atom bomb struck Israeli communities in the northern West Bank. In both cases, the study envisioned that the population would not be protected.

The worst-case scenario involved Israel being hit by 80 nuclear weapons. The study envisions 75,000 casualties with a population protected by bomb shelters. If no precautions are taken Israel could suffer as many as 300,000 dead.

Sokol, citing Hiroshima, said the immediate lethality radius from the epicenter of an atomic blast could be no more than 120 feet. As a result, he said, a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv would probably spare most of its residential and office towers.

"To knock out Aziereli (the tallest building in Tel Aviv) or any other big building, you would need a direct or near direct hit by an atomic bomb," Sokol said.

Referring to the American atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sokol played down the prospect of massive casualties from nuclear radiation. Citing U.S. data, he said fewer than 1,000 people died from cancer in the two Japanese cities from 1945 to 1998.About 100,000 people were killed in the combined U.S. nuclear attacks.

As a result, Sokol said, the most likely nuclear scenario was of an electro-magnetic pulse attack on Israel. This would mean using a nuclear weapon that would explode at least 20 miles in altitude and knock out the Jewish state's electronic and electrical grid of the Jewish state. The report concludes Israel needs to prepare by upgrading its electronic and electrical infrastructures.

Next Recalls Underwear After Complaints About 'Hitler Image'


Next, the fashion retailer has recalled a range of men's underwear after complaints it featured an image of Adolf Hitler. A customer complained that the image on the underwear resembled the Nazi leader saluting as planes passed overhead.

Next said that it had investigated the complaint and found the image, among a series of cartoons, was inspired by a picture of Lenin, the former Soviet leader.

But a spokesman told The Sun it was withdrawing the remaining 5,200 pairs of the underwear anyway. He said: "The complaint came in today and by the end of the day all 5,200 will be withdrawn. We have checked with the designer who confirmed the image was inspired by Lenin. Nonetheless, if even one customer is offended or upset we are happy to withdraw the range."

The customer, who complained, Ben Radomski, said he was happy the product had now been withdrawn. Earlier this year Next warned it would raise clothes prices as it is battered by the "double challenge" of a weak pound and the recession.

American Girl's Newest Doll: A 1914 Jewish Immigrant on The Lower East Side

By Ha'aretz

The creators of the American Girl doll have added a new Jewish doll to their line of 14 other historically-themed models. She is Rebecca Rubin, who represents the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants to the United States in the early 20th century.

Rebecca joins the other ethnically-themed dolls in the series, each of which is marketed as 'a girl just like you.' The toy line also includes a Native American doll, a daughter of Irish immigrants and an African-American girl.

The Jewish immigrant doll retails for $95. In the booklet sold with the doll, she is described as a poor resident of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1914. Rebecca officially goes on sale on May 31.

The launch of the Hispanic doll in the series engendered complaints from the Hispanic community in the US, because the accompanying material suggested that the doll represented a girl who lived in a dangerous neighborhood. There has been no advance criticism from the Jewish community about how Rebecca is presented.

The series was said to be designed to provide inspiration to young girls, and Rebecca is not only a good cook and a good friend; she can also, when necessary, deliver a stirring speech about workers' rights.

There has been interest in the American Jewish community in the doll and its potential to encourage children to research their own families' histories. Some of the dilemmas confronting a Jewish girl on the Lower East Side of New York in 1914 are not totally foreign to Jews in the U.S. today. Material included with the doll includes an explanation from Rebecca's grandfather as to why he has to open his store on the Sabbath.

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