Baby Formula Firm Comes Clean
A German company admitted that its baby formula, implicated in the deaths of three Israeli babies, didn't contain Vitamin B1. Representatives of Humana said the missing vitamin, also known as thiamine, was the result of human error. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed in Israel against Humana, which is majority owned by the American H.J. Heinz Co.
U.N.: Fence to Disrupt 600,000 Arabs
Israel's security barrier would disrupt the lives of 600,000 Palestinians, a U.N. report said. But Israel said it is still determining how many Palestinians would be directly affected by the fence, which is being erected in an attempt to thwart terrorist infiltration into Israel proper. The U.N. report said the fence as planned would put about 15 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side. The U.N. General Assembly has passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop building the fence, and the United States has called its route a problem.
Arafat Offers Olive Branch
Yasser Arafat offered Israel an olive branch as the Palestinian Authority Parliament approved a new Cabinet.
"We do not deny the right of Israelis to live in security alongside the Palestinian people in their own independent state. Let us end the cycle of fighting," Arafat said on Wednesday in an address that dwelled on Israeli military crackdowns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The speech made no mention of Palestinian terrorism. Dore Gold, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, rejected the call as insincere.
"You can't hold an olive branch in one hand and a ticking bomb in the other," Gold said.
Israeli officials are disappointed that Arafat has won a power struggle to maintain security control in the new government of P.A. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. In his address to Palestinian lawmakers, Qurei vowed to rein in the "chaos" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but stopped short of announcing steps against terrorism as required by the "road map" peace plan.
Ten Commandments Judge on Trial
A trial got under way of an Alabama judge who refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state building. If Roy Moore, chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, is convicted of violating judicial ethics, he could face penalties ranging from fines and suspension to removal from office. A federal court ordered the monument removed on the grounds that it violated the Constitution's ban on government promotion of religion. The case became a cause celebre for Christian activists.
Court to Rule on Pollard March
Israel's Supreme Court will rule on whether supporters of Jonathan Pollard should get a permit to march in Jerusalem. Police wanted the supporters to curtail the march, which would take place Sunday during the United Jewish Communities' General Assembly, in order to prevent traffic jams. Supporters of the Pollard march argued that police are allowing participants in the assembly to march through downtown Jerusalem on Monday.
Jenin Film Cleared
Israel's Supreme Court overturned a ban on a documentary-style film accusing Israel's army of atrocities in a 2002 battle in Jenin. "Jenin, Jenin," directed by Israeli Arab actor Mohammed Bakri, was banned by the country's Film Ratings Board following complaints by families of 23 soldiers who were killed in the West Bank refugee camp in April 2002. The Supreme Court agreed with Bakri's appeal that the ban violated free speech legislation.
A U.N. investigation determined that no massacre took place in Jenin and found no evidence to support charges sounded in Bakri's film, including one that the Israeli army dug a mass grave in the camp. Israeli critics have pointed out other glaring factual errors in the film that they claim are politically motivated.
Study: Don't Cut Circumcision
Circumcision has significant health benefits for both men and women, a new Australian study says. Circumcision protects men from HIV and lowers the chance of cervical cancer in their partners, researchers at Melbourne University said. Following a report from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians which said there was little benefit, but a chance of harm, in circumcision the rate fell to 10 percent of males born in Australia. In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics found the procedure's potential health benefits are "not significant enough" to recommend the routine circumcision of newborns.
New Term Coined
A Washington Post columnist jokingly coined a new term to describe children of mixed marriages. In his humor column, Gene Weingarten says his term "julatto," for people who are half-Jewish and half-Gentile, describes "many excellent people of my acquaintance, including my own children, the Czar's children, Pat the Perfect's children, the Auxiliary Czar's children, and no less formidable a figure than Tom the Butcher, the editor of my column," Weingarten wrote. He added, "You just know it is going to spread, because We control the media."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency