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'History will not repeat itself', Obama vows on 70th anniversary of liberation of Dachau

WJC, US President Barack Obama commemorated the more than 40,000 people who were killed at the Nazi concentration camp Dachau, near Munich, which was liberated by American forces on 29 April 1945.

Obama said in a statement: "On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.

"From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners – opponents of the Third Reich. It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for SS camp guards. As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial.

"Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau. As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers – to win victory over oppression. Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp: 'You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world', we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again. History will not repeat itself."

The Nazis set up the camp in Dachau only weeks after Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. More than 200,000 people had been detained there by the time US troops liberated it.

PM Netanyahu speaks with President Obama

A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. It would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to President Obama and expressed Israel's strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel.

Just two days ago, Iran said that 'The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable,' and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.

This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond. Such a deal would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it. It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.

The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved."

Obama: Risk of Widespread US Ebola Outbreak 'Very, Very Low'

VOA News, President Barack Obama says the risk of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States is 'very, very low,' if all the proper protections are taken.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Ebola Wednesday, Obama called for an emergency federal medical team to be immediately deployed to any hospital where an Ebola case is diagnosed, to ensure that those preventative steps are taken.

"If we do these protocols properly .. the likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low," he said.

He stressed the need for a more robust global response to Ebola and more aid to the three countries that are at the epicenter of the outbreak -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Earlier, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement saying the world has failed to adequately respond to West Africa's Ebola crisis.

The bodies 15 members called Ebola a threat to world peace and security, and urged all U.N. members to "dramatically expand" providing resources to fight the disease.

Frontier Airlines flight

Obama canceled his travel plans Wednesday for the emergency cabinet meeting after news that the second U.S. health worker infected with the Ebola virus took a flight within the United States a day before developing symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the health care worker, a nurse, Amber Vinson, 29, took a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, airport on Monday.

Officials said Vinson took the flight just one day before she reported developing symptoms of infection, U.S. and airline officials said.

CDC director Tom Frieden said Wednesday that a person being monitored for Ebola will not be allowed to travel on a commercial flight.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says she should not have been allowed to travel on a commercial airplane.

"The CDC guidance outlines the need for what is called "controlled movement. That can include a charter plane and car, but does not include public transport. We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement," said Frieden.

CDC officials have said there is "very low risk" to any of the passengers who were on the flight, as Ebola spreads by direct contact with infected body fluids, like vomit or blood, and not through the air, like flu.

Despite the low risk, the agency and the airline say they are reaching out to all 132 passengers who were aboard. Crew members said the health care worker did not show any symptoms on the flight.

Vinson contracted the virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who became the first person in the United States to die of the virus last week.

Vinson's news comes just days after another nurse from the same hospital, 26-year-old Nina Pham, became the first person infected by Ebola in the United States while caring for Duncan during much of his 11 days in the hospital. Duncan died on October 8.

Pham released a statement Tuesday saying she is "doing well" and wants "to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers."

Moving Vinson to Emory

The CDC also said Vinson is being moved to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday for treatment.

Emory is one of the country's hospitals that is equipped to handle Ebola patients. Two American missionaries infected with Ebola were successfully treated at Emory in August after being flown from Liberia in isolation bubbles.

“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said on Wednesday.

Rawlings said Vinson's apartment, where she lived alone with no pets, is being decontaminated.

Union reports issues

Meanwhile, the head of a national nurses union, RoseAnn DeMoro, said she had reports saying the hospital in Dallas lacked the proper protocols to deal with an Ebola patient.

DeMoro said a group of nurses from the hospital contacted her with complaints that Duncan's case had not been handled safely.

The union said the nurses, who would not give their names for fear of retribution, complained that Duncan was not isolated for several hours once admitted to the hospital, that hazardous waste was allowed to accumulate inside the building, and that there was no mandated training for hospital workers on how to handle infected patients.

The nurses' union said these complaints were conveyed to the CDC in Atlanta.

There was no immediate comment from the CDC, but officials have said they are committed to the safety of health care workers.

CDC response

Dr. Tom Frieden said he has been hearing "loud and clear" from health care workers that they are worried about Ebola and do not feel prepared to take care of a patient with the disease.

Frieden said the CDC team currently on the ground in Dallas is making sure those caring for Pham do so "safely and effectively."

He said putting "a more robust" infection control team in place when the first patient was diagnosed in Dallas might have prevented her from getting infected.

At least 75 other health care workers who might have come into contact with Duncan are being monitored for fever or other symptoms.

Another 48 people exposed to Duncan before he was hospitalized have passed the period of greatest risk, and Frieden said they are now unlikely to develop Ebola.

Still, Frieden issues an ominous warning.

"We are planning for the possibility of additional cases in the next couple days."

At the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell expressed confidence that the virus will be contained

"We know how to stop this. We have seen this disease since it was first discovered in the 1970's, and we have seen it stopped. We do know what protocols to use and how they work,” said Mathews Burwell.

Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace process

WJC, At a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Israel's leader Benjamin Netanyahu urged US President Barack Obama to ensure that any final nuclear deal with Iran does not leave the Islamic republic at the “threshold" of being able to develop nuclear weapons.

Obama urged the Israeli prime minister to help find ways to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties like those inflicted in the recent Gaza war between Israel and Hamas militants, according to the 'Reuters' news agency.

Netanyahu's visit was overshadowed by word of Israel's approval of the planned construction of more than 2,600 settler homes in the overwhelmingly Arab neighborhood of Silwan, in eastern Jerusalem. The White House said the matter had come up in the two leaders' closed-door talks and warned that it would draw international condemnation, "poison the atmosphere" with the Palestinians as well as Arab governments and call into question Israel's commitment to peace. Netanyahu said in an 'ABC News' interview that the issue had not been raised.

Underscoring Israeli misgivings at a critical juncture in nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Netanyahu made clear that he remains at odds with Obama about the course of international negotiations with Iran. "As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power," Netanyahu said. "I firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen." Netanyahu wants Tehran completely stripped of its nuclear capability while Obama has suggested he is open to Iran continuing to enrich uranium on a limited basis for civilian purposes.

While Netanyahu put the emphasis on Iran, Obama was quick to focus on the bloody 55-day Gaza conflict in the summer. This followed the collapse of US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and Palestinians in April. “We have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes and school children in their schools from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well,” Obama said. The Obama administration had backed Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas cross-border rocket fire, but also voiced criticism of Israeli military tactics as Palestinian civilian casualties mounted.

Without going into detail, Netanyahu said he remained “committed to a vision of peace for two states for two peoples." He suggested to “think outside the box” and recruit moderate Arab states to advance peace in the region, though he offered no specifics.

Within hours of the talks, both the White House and State Department blasted Israel's housing decision, reported by the anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now, to move forward on the settler housing project slated for construction since 2012.

Obama Urges Renewal of US Export-Import Bank

VOA News, U.S. President Barack Obama says more small businesses than ever are selling their products aboard, but that could all change unless Congress takes action.

The president said Saturday in his weekly address that unless Congress renews the charter of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, nearly 300,000 businesses could lose their international markets. The bank provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to foreign buyers of U.S. products.

He said lawmakers have reauthorized the charter 16 times because the bank works and pays for itself.

Some Republicans lawmakers who supported the bank in the past, now want to put it out of business.

President Obama said if Congress fails to act, thousands of businesses will take "a completely unnecessary hit."

In the Republican address, party chairman Reliance Priebus says there will be less government spending, flexible health care and better education under complete Republican control of Congress. The party needs to pick up six seats in the November elections to win back the Senate.

Poll: Israelis Support Military Strike on Iran, Do Not Believe Obama Will Consult Israel on Iranian Nukes

“The Israeli public has a clearly realistic sense of the looming danger posed by an Iranian regime intent on obtaining nuclear weapons…”

Recent poll has shown that clear majorities of Israelis support Israel undertaking military strikes against Iran, should this prove necessary to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. A new Israel Hayom – New Wave Research poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Israelis –– 66% –– favor such a strike, as opposed to a mere 22% who oppose it. The same poll also found that:
Israelis approved of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s United Nations General Assembly speech earlier this month by a margin of 51% to 11%.
• A large majority of 84% of Israelis said they did not believe that the international talks with Iran could convince Iran to abandon its military nuclear program, as opposed to 7% who believe that this will be the result.
• 47% of Israelis do not believe that President Barack Obama would deliver on his promise to consult with Israel on the issue of Iran, as opposed to 38% who believe that he would. (‘Poll: Two-thirds of Israeli Jews back unilateral Iran strike,’ Israel Hayom, October 4, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The Israeli public has a clearly realistic sense of the looming danger posed by an Iranian regime intent on obtaining nuclear weapons.
“Like people everywhere, the Israeli public wants to achieve the ending of the Iranian nuclear weapons program peacefully, but simply does not believe that negotiations will actually produce this vital result. That is why we are seeing today majority support for military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, should this be the only avenue remaining to achieve the desired goal.”


Obama Taps Yellen to Replace Fed Chief Bernanke

Mil Arcega

President Barack Obama has named Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen to head the U.S. central bank after Ben Bernanke steps down at the end of January. The US senate still has to confirm Yellen, but analysts believe she’s a safe choice to steer US monetary policy in troubled economic times.

She’s poised to become the first woman to head the U.S. central bank. And with more than a decade at the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen may be one of the most qualified to run it.

President Obama described her as tough and effective.

“She sounded the alarm early about the housing bubble, about excesses in the financial sector and about the risks of a major recession. She doesn’t have a crystal ball but what she does have is a keen understanding about how markets and the economy work not just in theory but also in the real world," said President Obama.

The 67-year-old economist is being tapped to take the reins of the U.S. central bank when Chairman Ben Bernanke steps down in January. She thanked the president for his trust in her and vowed to preserve the Federal Reserve’s mandate.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do my utmost to keep that trust and meet the great responsibilities that Congress has entrusted to the Federal Reserve, to promote maximum employment, stable prices and a strong and stable financial system," said Yellen.

The president also heaped praise on Bernanke for providing a steady hand - through the worst financial crisis in decades.

“He has truly been a stabilizing force not just for our country but for the rest of the world," said Obama.

Under Bernanke’s leadership, the Fed cut short term interest rates to near zero and has kept long term rates at record lows with an $85 billion a month bond buying program.

Financial markets welcomed the Yellen nomination as a nod to continuity.

Former central bank official Joseph Gagnon says Yellen is likely to continue Bernanke’s policies.

“I don’t see big changes. I think they’re both rather collegial in terms of encouraging, trying to get consensus within a group as much as possible, so I think that will continue," said Gagnon.

Analysts expect an easy confirmation by the Democratic controlled Senate with help from moderate Republicans. But given the sharp partisan divide in Congress, economists say Yellen’s biggest challenges are yet to come.

Netanyahu Warns Obama on Iran

VOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran must dismantle its nuclear program and should face tougher sanctions as it negotiates with the West.

Netanyahu made the comments after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in White House talks Monday. Obama said world powers will negotiate with Iran in a "clear-eyed" manner and will consult Israel closely.

Netanyahu's visit comes three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani conducted the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades.

That telephone call fueled hopes for a resolution of Iran's decade-old nuclear standoff with the West.

Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is peaceful. The U.S. and many of its allies disagree and have helped impose several rounds of sanctions that have battered Iran's economy.

Netanyahu is deeply concerned about eased tensions between Iran and the international community, saying Tehran is using talks to try to lessen the crippling sanctions and to buy more time to build a nuclear weapon.

Many Israelis agree.


Obama Proposes 'Grand Bargain' to Aid Middle Class

VOA, U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States must do better to secure a "better bargain for the middle class" to lay a foundation for stronger economic growth.

In his weekly address Saturday, the president said even before the economic crisis hit several years ago, wealth was unfairly concentrated among the rich, while most families were working harder and harder just to get by. He said reversing that trend must be Washington's highest priority.

Obama said he is proposing a "grand bargain" for the middle class. He said he will work with Republicans on simplifying the tax code, but only if the savings are used to make a significant investment in creating good middle-class jobs. He said he wants to put construction workers back to work and help community colleges educate students for a global economy, all without adding to the deficit.

Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins also addressed the economy in her party's weekly address. She said Obama's health care reforms, known as "Obamacare," are actually discouraging small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new employees. She said she is introducing a bill that would redefine the Obamacare definition of "full-time employee" in order to protect jobs.

Obama Offers Corporate Tax Cuts Linked to Jobs


Kent Klein

WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing a compromise to help break a deadlock with opposition Republicans over his economic plans.

On Tuesday the president went to a giant product distribution center for retailer in the southern city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to announce his latest proposed “grand bargain” on the U.S. economy.

"So today, I came here to offer a framework that might help break through some of the political logjam in Washington, try to get Congress to start moving on some of these proven ideas," he said.

Obama offered to cut corporate tax rates in exchange for more spending on programs designed to create jobs for the middle class.

"If folks in Washington really want a grand bargain, how about a grand bargain for middle class jobs?" he asked. "How about a grand bargain for middle class jobs?"

White House officials have said the president’s proposal will be the first of a series of new economic ideas he will advance in the next few months. He said "serious people" in both parties should accept this deal.

"I am willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle class jobs," he said. "That's the deal."

Republican lawmakers were quick to dismiss the ideas. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Obama’s initiative is nothing new and makes no concessions to Republican demands.

"It is just a further-left version of a widely-panned plan he already proposed two years ago, this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals."

Both the president and Republicans have supported simplifying corporate tax rates. But Republicans disagree with the Obama plan to reform corporate tax policy separately from individual tax rates.

The president wants the revenue generated by the tax changes to be spent on enhancing infrastructure, manufacturing and education.

Tuesday’s appearance in Tennessee was Obama’s fifth trip in seven days to promote his economic plans. With Washington facing budget deadlines in the coming months, the president is trying to build public support for his economic initiatives.

In Washington, policy makers at the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, are meeting. They are considering when they might begin to trim their $85-billion-a-month purchase of securities they have used to pump more money into the U.S. economy, the world's largest. They plan to announce any policy changes on Wednesday.

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