eNews For The Week Of May 22, 2012
In This Week’s Issue
- Soccer and the G-8's Greek Quandary - (Read)
- There Is No Flesh Eating Epidemic - (Read)
- In Memory: A Memorial Day Tribute - (Read)
Important News Headlines
A new Gallup survey out today finds the percentage of Americans who identify them selves as supporting legalized abortion has dropped to a record low.
"The 41 percent of Americans who now identify themselves as 'pro-choice' is down from 47 percent last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009," the polling firm noted. On the other hand, 51 percent of Americans call themselves pro-life, one percentage point away from the record high. The percentage of Americans identifying themselves as pro-life has trended higher since 1995, when the partial-birth abortion debate began in earnest and ultrasound technology made it so pictures of unborn children were the first baby pictures most parents saw.
World powers and Iran began negotiations in Baghdad on Wednesday, aiming to make progress towards resolving a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, diplomats said. Iran wants to win reprieve from economic sanctions as a result of the talks, while the six global powers - United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - hope to win concessions over its uranium enrichment efforts they suspect are meant to produce weapons. "They have just gone into the first plenary," said one Western official.
Diplomats have said the Baghdad round of talks, only the second since diplomacy resumed in April after more than a year, may yield initial concessions from all sides. But a breakthrough could still be far off.
Religious tensions set to soar as court acquits eight Muslims, sentences 12 Christians for protest deaths.
An Egyptian court has sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison and acquitted eight Muslims in a case that is likely to stoke religious tensions in the country's south. The Christians were found guilty of sowing public strife and shooting dead two Muslims in April of last year in Minya province after a scuffle with Muslim protesters.
The Jerusalem cabinet held a special meeting at the capital's Ammunition Hill memorial site to mark Jerusalem Day and the 45th anniversary of the Six Day War, when Jerusalem was reunited. Tourism in Jerusalem dominated the agenda at the meeting, where the cabinet approved NIS 350 million over the next seven years to develop sites and infrastructure in the capital, with a focus on biblical tourism. Israel hosted 2.8 million foreign visitors in 2011. "[The money] will enable us to build biblical sites in the city that will enhance and explain our link to the land of the Bible, to Zion, and also allow millions of people, no less, millions of people to have a direct appreciation of Israel's heritage as it finds expression in the Bible," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
The Jerusalem Post
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Articles And Commentary
SOCCER AND THE G-8'S GREEK QUANDARY
There was no shortage of inebriated Chelsea fans on Saturday as Didier Drogba scored the final penalty kick after 30 roaring minutes of overtime to beat the German football (soccer) team Bayern Munich. The G-8 leaders took a break from harrowing questions about Greek's potential exit from the European Union to watch the European Champion's League Final. A White House photo shows British Prime Minister David Cameron shooting up his arms in the excitement of a London victory, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel stares in stunned German defeat.
It would be nice if all the troubles of the world could be resolved in the relatively bloodless battles of sports matches. As serious as Europeans can get about soccer, however, the eight world leaders had to turn away from rejoicing Chelsea fans and face the matters that will determine the future of the European Union.
The Euro is close to its lowest 2012 level in the markets due to uncertainty about whether Greece will stay in the European Union. The Greek population has not fully embraced the austerity measures required by its lenders, and upcoming elections June 17 will give the Greeks the chance to choose leaders who will push for continued frugal spending – or not. At stake is another bailout which Greece needs to keep from defaulting.
Former Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos said Wednesday that "the risk of Greece leaving the euro is real," creating even greater uncertainty in the markets. Papademos insisted that Greece needed to stick to the austerity measures or face a much worse situation. The Greeks are not in a convenient position. T hey must either knuckle down and stick with the heavy budget cuts and structural reforms their leaders agreed to as conditions for their more than $300 billion in bailout loans during the past two years, or leave the euro altogether, which could decimate the already hurting Greek economy.
A front-running candidate in Greece, Alexis Tsipras from th radical left Greek coalition Syriza has tantalized many with arguments that Greece neither has to embrace the austerity measures nor leave the eurozone. Tsipras makes the case that Europe needs Greece to stay in the EU lest the whole eurozone collapse. The fact that Greece is an expensive ball and chain that has long engaged in spending that exceeds its income apparently doesn't matter to Tsipras. He wants to renege on the conditions for the past two bailouts, keep the money, remain in the EU, and tell Germany and the rest of Europe to eat it.
Greece is facing hard times. Tsipras blames the austerity measures for the terrible state of the Greek economy with unemployment up over 20 percent. At the same time, Germany has managed its money well over the years and yet is expected to keep pulling this heavy freeloader out of its hole just to hold the EU together. Now that France's Nicolas Sarkozy no longer provides a conservative partnership with Merkel, Tsipras sees an opportunity.
France's new President Francois Hollande wants measures to help the Greek economy grow, rather than force Greece to grin and bear lower governmental spending. The new French president wants all of the eurozone to jointly issue bonds to generate money that could be used to give a little gas to the economies of hurting countries. Germany wants to stick to the austerity measures, however, and force troublesome countries like Greece to get their books order so they don't continue to be a drag on the entire union.
"Talk is cheap. True reform, whether it assumes the shape of austerity or growth, will be expensive on both an emotional and financial level," said Bonnie Baha, portfolio manager at DoubleLine, which has $34 billion in assets under management.
The 27 countries of the European Union will meet briefly on Wednesday to briefly discuss matters and offer their ideas. There is no simple, pain-free route out of the mess.
There are advantages to having a common currency throughout Europe, primarily in the ease of trade and travel it offers. However, Greece has been disadvantaged by the lack of freedom to raise and lower the value of its money. Europe has been disadvantaged by having to deal with heavily indebted countries strapped to its ankles. It requires great effort to hold multiple disparate nations together, complete with their various weaknesses, and it has proved a constant challenge for those 27 countries to reach an agreement when problems arise. These things demonstrate the dilemmas intrinsic in too-large of governments and should give serious pause to anybody who thinks that a global government wouldn't be – at the least – a bureaucratic nightmare.
At the same time, the whole thing could be resolved by a nice little game of football. Greece has soccer players aplenty. If the Greeks win, they get the bailout money regardless. If Germany wins, Greece has to submit to the austerity measures. Football could offer so much more than a coffee break in the headache-load of discussions facing the G-8. Or not.
THERE IS NO FLESH EATING EPIDEMIC
A fearful slough of stories about flesh-eating bacteria have sloshed through the media, and people are scared. When a zipline accident resulted in the amputation of 24-year-old University of West Georgia student Aimee Copeland's hands, foot and leg due to necrotizing fasciitis, many assumed that a new germ army had invaded, ready to destroy us all. Yet, the bugs that have been eating Ms. Copeland are not new, wild-running bacteria out of control. Most cases of necrotizing fascitis are caused by the same brands of troublemakers that cause strep throat and certain rashes, and only under very rare conditions do they rapidly kill off human flesh.
Aimee Copeland's homemade zipline snapped as she zoomed over the rocks in the Little Tallapoosa River in Georgia May 1st. Less than three weeks later the psychology student would have to deal with the loss of all her limbs and maybe her life. Most people who get cuts or bruises heal within a reasonable amount of time. In a small group, however, the circumstances are just wrong enough that the body cannot fight off the resulting infection. It spreads, killing the host cells as it goes.
The specific bacterial criminal that attacked Copeland, Aeromonas hydrophila, is normally a fish pathogen that has been isolated since the 1950s. In other words, it's nothing new. It is a water-loving Gram-negative, rod shaped bacterium that produces a tissue-damaging toxin, and it resists most major antibiotics available today. At the same time, A. hydrophila does not tend to harm healthy humans. It can cause eczema on the skin, or a troublesome stomach illness if ingested. If it enters the skin through a wound like Aimee Copeland experienced when she fell from that zipline, the toxins it releases can cause blood to stop flowing to infected cells, resulting in gangrene – tissue death.
While highly serious, gangrene does not have to be a death sentence. Doctors must remove the dead tissue, but that can generally stop the spread of infection. A. hydrophila can be a nasty bug, but it is not a wildly infectious culprit ready to end the human population. Aimee Copeland's case turned out much worse than normal because the bacteria invaded her fascia, the lining between her muscles. Infections that reach the fascia can move exceptionally fast. The fact that she was infected with a bacterium that releases blood-stopping toxins spelled a lot of doom for the young woman. The flesh-killing A. hdyrophila moved through her fascia, killing off her body's flesh faster than the doctor's could catch it, even after multiple amputations.
Necrotizing fasciitis – "flesh-eating disease" – does pop up now and then, and a quarter of those who develop the disease die. Most cases just don't make the major media. This killer is most often caused by group A streptococcus, the same bacteria that cause "strep throat." While a diligent regimen of antibiotics generally kill strep bacteria, the little bugs can get particularly mean if they "go septic" by invading the normally sterile bloodstream. Only rarely does a systemic infection reach the fascia, the lining between the muscles or the organ systems.
Relatively few people face highly dangerous infections. Generally, those who are most susceptible to serious skin infections are those with compromised immune systems, like diabetics or cancer patients. On particularly rare occasions, a specific set of conditions allow the bacteria commonly in water or soil to do much more damage than they normally would, as happened with Aimee Copeland.
Dr. Steve Holsten, the associate professor of trauma and critical medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University said, "We see massive soft tissue infections all the time." Dr. Jack Austin of University Hospital and the Walton Wound Care Center says he sees about two cases of necrotizing fasciitis each month, but "there is not an epidemic" of these infections.
People should not live in fear of going out into nature, or ziplining, or living their lives to the fullest. Bacteria surround us. Not only is there's no escaping them, but most bacteria are beneficial and serve highly vital functions. Simple first aid is the best mode of protection against the few dangerous strains of these microscopic bugs. Wounds should be cleaned right away and dosed with antibiotic ointment or spray. If an infection does result, wisdom would encourage the wounded to seek medical attention. The most dangerous infections can be beaten most easily if caught early on.
Ultimately, this is a dangerous world, and bad things happen to all of us. Yet, we serve a faithful God who loves us and protects those who trust in Him. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 1:7 "…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Nothing is going to hurt us outside His control. Rather than living in fear, we should grasp the words of David in Psalm 91 and hold them to our hearts, saying with him:
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…" (Psalm 91:1-4).
IN MEMORY: A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE
"The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us. Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan " -General John A. Logan's Memorial Day Order, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic, General Orders No.11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
"It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars afar away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives, the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember " -Ronald Reagan
"Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom. Our wars have taken from us the men and women we honor today, and every hour of the lifetimes they had hoped to live " - President George W. Bush, Memorial Day 2002.
"Siding with tyrants in the name of peace is a recipe for disaster. Empowering of murderers for the sake of human rights is a guarantee of further bloodshed. And the inability to distinguish right from wrong is a prelude to our own destruction " -Lowell Phillips
"The real world requires difficult moral choices. But try as we might, we cannot avoid making them. We should choose to side with those who support our values, however imperfectly, and against those who violently oppose our values. The real world is a dangerous place filled with dangerous people. Severe myopia can be a fatal handicap. Mr. Magoo makes an amusing cartoon character but a poor role model and a lousy statesman. We have eyes with which to see the evildoers in the world. We have ears to hear the cries of those who suffer under tyranny. It is our duty to use them. Otherwise, we are foolish people, and without understanding " -David C. Stolinsky
"Today is a celebration of those who didn't come home with the rest of us. We remember that their lives were cut short, their life's chapters closed in the paddies, jungles and mountains of Vietnam. Perhaps the greatest honor the rest of us can bestow is to regard our own lives as sacred and full of meaning. It is difficult to stay above the quagmire of feelings left from our experiences but what better way to salute our brothers and sisters in arms than to rise above the pain of their deaths and give freely of ourselves to others." -Marine veteran Robert Sasse
"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. " - Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863.
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