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Mitchell Offers Swap of Israeli Population Centers for Arab Ones


U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell sounded out the Palestinian Authority on a land swap that would allow Israel to retain large population centers in Judea and Samaria in return for the PA's receiving land that includes Arab cities.

He broached the idea in his meeting Wednesday morning with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, according to the BBC. The PA has not confirmed or denied the report.

Neo-Nazi Who Hated Jews Opens Fire at US Holocaust Museum

By VOA News, & Ha'aretz

An elderly gunman known for his anti-Jewish views opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington Wednesday afternoon and killed a security guard. The shooting triggered a major security alert in the nation's capital, but authorities reported no sign that the 88-year-old gunman had any accomplices.

President Barack Obama said he was saddened by the shooting, and the Israeli Embassy in Washington issued a statement deploring what it said was a shocking attack.

Witnesses said the gunman brought a rifle into the museum inside his coat and opened fire before passing through a security screening. A uniformed guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns was mortally wounded but returned fire, wounding the attacker, who remains in critical condition. Police have not yet formally charged him.

Law-enforcement officials identified the gunman as James von Brunn, 89, and linked him to a website filled with anti-Jewish and white-supremacist statements, along with his view that there was no slaughter of Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of Washington's best known tourist sites, said it would close Thursday to honor the memory of security guard Johns, and paid tribute to his heroic actions.

Von Brunn said on his website that he served 6.5 years in prison for an offense in the past, but no details of that were immediately available. A law enforcement official said Von Brunn's vehicle was found near the Washington, D.C. museum and tested for explosives.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter told CNN a third person was hurt after being cut by broken glass.

The museum normally has a heavy security presence with guards positioned both inside and outside. All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.

The museum, located just off the National Mall near the Washington Monument, is a popular tourist attraction. It draws about 1.7 million visitors each year. Roads surrounding the museum were closed just after the attack.

Stephanie Geraghty, 28, who had been visiting the museum, said the shooter appeared to be a white male carrying a silver gun. "I heard the first shot, it sounded like something had been dropped from the upper stories down," she told Reuters. "The next two came really fast - bam bam. At that point everyone took off, chaos, running."

A woman whose teenaged daughter was visiting the museum at the time of the shooting said that the children heard several gunshots before they were evacuated from the building. Sandy Perkins says her daughter, Abigail, called her shortly after the shooting and said some of her friends were much shaken, but otherwise were fine.

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic website and wrote a book called Kill the Best Gentile. In 1983, Von Brunn was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.

Holocaust Survivor Wiesel: Jail Ahmadinejad


Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has called for the jailing of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying he was "the No. 1 Holocaust denier in the world." Speaking during an interview with Newsday, Wiesel said that Ahmadinejad should be arrested and taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

He also warned of Iran's nuclear aspirations. "This man wants Iran to become nuclear so that he could destroy the state of Israel. This man should be arrested for incitement, crimes against humanity. He should not be president of the state. He should be arrested and brought to be charged by the international court."

In a related story, Ahmadinejad accused his political rivals in Friday's presidential elections of slandering using propaganda methods reminiscent of those employed by Adolf Hitler. Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust on many occasions, most recently last week at a campaign speech when he called the Holocaust a "big deception."

Ahmadinejad on Wednesday accused his election rivals of adopting smear tactics used by Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler and said they could face jail for insulting him. Ahmadinejad was speaking at a rally in Tehran on the final day of an increasingly bitter and hard-fought election campaign, in which he faces a growing challenge from moderate former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi.

Mousavi and the two other candidates say Ahmadinejad has lied about the state of the economy which is suffering from high inflation and a fall in oil revenues from last year's record levels. Ahmadinejad said his rivals had broken laws against insulting the president.

"No one has the right to insult the president, and they did it. And this is a crime. The person who insulted the president should be punished, and the punishment is jail," he told supporters outside Tehran's Sharif University.

"Such insults and accusations against the government are a return to Hitler's methods, to repeat lies and accusations ... until everyone believes those lies," Ahmadinejad said. Insulting senior officials, including the president, is a crime in Iran carrying a maximum two-year jail sentence.

Friday's election will not change Tehran's nuclear policy, which is decided by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but a victory for Mousavi could herald a less confrontational relationship with the West.

Egyptian Airport Follows Israeli Lead, Screens for Swine Flu


Egyptian officials are following the lead of Israel's Health Ministry and have begun to screen incoming travelers for symptoms of the swine flu as they disembark at Cairo Airport, according to The Media Line.

The move comes after seven students at the American University in Cairo were diagnosed Sunday with the H1N1 virus – including five who had not complained of any symptoms.

Classes at the university were immediately cancelled for the week, and the entire dormitory was placed under quarantine. All seven patients were American students who are studying in Egypt.

Four days ago, a case of H1N1 virus was diagnosed for the first time in Israel's parliamentary building, the Knesset. The patient was an aide who had recently returned from the United States. More than a dozen more people had been diagnosed with the virus 24 hours later. At least 54 cases of the H1N1 virus have been confirmed in Israel to date.

The State of Israel has had a policy of checking incoming travelers who exhibit flu-like symptoms since the swine flu epidemic broke out late in April. Doctors have been stationed at border crossings and a special clinic was set up at Ben Gurion International Airport in order to facilitate the examinations. Travelers who arrive in Israel feeling ill are immediately checked by a medical professional; those with fever are sent to the emergency room for further examination.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that it may declare the first official influenza pandemic in 41 years. WHO director Keiji Fukuda said it has not done so thus far partly because the agency has tried to avoid the worldwide panic that might result.

The most recent WHO statistics show that 140 people have died from the virus, which has spread to 73 countries and infected 26,563 victims since the first outbreak erupted in Mexico this past April.

IDF Develops Spy Robot Snake with Suicide Capability


The Authority for Research and Development of Weapons in the Defense Ministry has developed a robot snake fitted with video and audio equipment that advances on the ground into enemy positions for intelligence collection. It can be used for Special Forces stealth operations, for crawling through Hamas tunnels or into Hizbullah bunkers. In addition, it could be used for locating survivors inside collapsed buildings after natural disasters or terror attacks.

The six-foot long snake can also be fitted with explosives and detonated inside enemy positions. The snake is currently in the prototype stage of development and has no price tag yet, but the Defense Ministry plans to begin production on a large scale soon.

According to a report on Channel 2, the snake can crawl into enemy positions through sewage pipes, under buildings and through forests. It is operated by one person with a laptop computer.

Some Israelis Insulted By Obama Picture

By Howard (Zvi) Arenstein

Israeli TV newscasters Tuesday night interpreted a photo taken Monday in the Oval Office of President Obama talking on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an "insult" to Israel.

They saw the incident as somewhat akin to an incident last year, when the Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush in Baghdad. It is considered an insult in the Arab world to show the sole of your shoe to someone. It is not a Jewish custom necessarily, but Israel feels enough a part of the Middle East after 60 years to be insulted too.

Was there a subliminal message intended from the White House to Netanyahu in Jerusalem, who is publicly resisting attempts by Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to force Israel to stop any kind of settlement activity in occupied territories once and forever? Whether or not it is true, it shows the mood in Israel. They feel cornered. The reactions out of Israel reflect that feeling.

Netanyahu is making a speech Sunday, in part as a response to Obama's address to the Arab world last week in Cairo. Israel's Channel One TV reported that Netanyahu was told Tuesday by an "American official" in Jerusalem that, "We are going to change the world. Please, don't interfere." The report said Netanyahu's aides interpreted this as a "threat."

60-year-old Becomes First-Time Mom


Forty years of fertility treatments finally give ultra-Orthodox couple their hearts' desire – a healthy baby boy. "I've waited for a baby for so long, I'm so happy," a woman who became the proud mother of a firstborn son at the age of 60, told Yediot Acharonot Wednesday.

The woman and her husband, an ultra-Orthodox couple living in the central Israel community of Kfar Chabad, were married over 40 years ago, and have been trying to have a child for nearly four decades.

The woman underwent numerous fertility treatments, and eight months ago finally became pregnant, but experienced various complications, which Prof. Moshe Hod, head of the High-Risk Pregnancy Unit at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, said were typical of her age.

The woman went into premature labor about three weeks ago. She was hospitalized in an attempt to stop the early delivery, but soon after that doctors had no choice but to deliver the baby, which came into the world in the 34th week of pregnancy and at 4.29 lbs.

"The woman is doing absolutely fine," said Hod. "She's in recovery with her son and she's euphoric. Naturally, she is going to have to be under observation for a while."

At the age of 60 a woman can no longer conceive a childe naturally and the process requires an egg donation. The rest of the process is the same as any other in vitro fertilization and once an embryo has been created and deemed viable, it is transferred into the woman's uterus.

While technically there is no reason for a healthy woman in her 60s – or even 70s – not to become pregnant, such late pregnancies have sparked an ethical debate within the international medical community, with the two main questions remaining the process' fairness of the child – who may be orphaned at a young age; and the question of how much can we really interfere with nature.

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