Current Events

The United States and Germany

DER SPIEGEL Online reported on September 29, 2003, about the “new-found friendship” between President Bush and Chancellor Schroeder. The magazine commented, as follows:
“… the most important objective of the meeting with Bush already seemed to have been achieved: The Chancellor wanted to reestablish a basis for discussion, something the German government and its most powerful ally, following their heated dispute surrounding the Iraq policy, had lacked for a sixteen-month period. The prevailing opinion at the White House was that it’s about time, and Schröder also felt that it was time to break the silence. He likes to say that nations do not pursue romantic relationships, and in this respect his sentiments echo the words of Otto von Bismarck, former Chancellor of the German Reich, who once wrote in his memoirs that ‘not even the king’ has the right to subordinate the interests of the state to his personal sympathies or antipathies…

“After all, the meeting was poised to begin on a less than positive note. In an earlier meeting, French President Jacques Chirac had given his US colleague an affected lecture on war, peace and international law. According to American sources, George Bush was… [extremely angered] and became all the more so when Chirac railed against a ‘policy of fait accompli’ in his speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations…

“Have German-American relations returned to their former state of normalcy? Schröder and Fischer, at least, would disagree, since they did not in fact abandon any of their prewar positions. On his flight to New York, the Chancellor declared that he was not traveling to the United States as a supplicant, and on his return flight one of his advisors repeated the sentence that was considered a rallying cry just a few months ago, but now describes little more than a state of affairs: ‘German foreign policy is determined in Berlin.’

“… So the relationship between the superpower and the ‘European central power’ (Schröder) has returned to that sober footing where personal sympathy is important but not decisive. In the future, both sides will deal with one another more cautiously and with fewer illusions. ‘There can be no greater error,’ said the first American president, George Washington, ‘than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.’ When seen in this light, Americans and Germans are henceforth partners without pathos.”

BILD Online published a commentary, dated September 23, addressing the deteriorated relationship between the United States and Germany. The commentary stated, “When the United States got rid of one of the worst dictators, Saddam Hussein, we saw anti-Americanism unleashed in Germany. The world power [United States] hit back. That was bad politics. And it will take a long time until the consequences will disappear. But at least — a beginning has been made.”

The United States and Europe

DER SPIEGEL Online published on September 29, 2003, an interview with Washington’s former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, discussing the feud between transatlantic allies, the US role, the Europeans’ failings and perceptions. We are bringing experts of Mrs. Albright’s insightful interview, as follows:

“…What has happened here in the United States as well as in Europe is so painful to me. There have always been times when there were anti-European sentiments in the United States and anti-American feelings in Europe. But when both trends occur at the same time, we have a vicious circle. This is precisely what has happened now. It’s disgusting to watch Europeans gloat over the chaos in Iraq or the recent power outages in the United States, for example. Conversely, should we be pleased when 10,000 people die in a French heat wave? Well, at least the squabblers are talking to each other again. But both sides bear responsibility for letting things get so far out of hand…

“There were some [European leaders] who preferred an entirely different approach to Saddam. There were many attempts in the Security Council, especially on the part of France, to ease the sanctions regime against Iraq. This already complicated the relationship with Europe… Chancellor Schröder could certainly have campaigned for reelection somewhat more elegantly – not exclusively at the expense of the United States. And President Chirac made the situation unbelievably complicated. In truth, both sides prevented the UN from playing an important role before the war. President Bush because he kept saying: ‘I don’t care what they say,’ and President Chirac because he said: ‘I will submit my veto, no matter what.’ Both contributed to the decline in the UN’s significance…

“The Europeans allowed a horrible disaster to happen in Bosnia, and that’s why it was important for us to intervene. But not alone. It’s sometimes difficult to do anything right for the Europeans. If the role the United States takes is too strong, we’re criticized. If we do nothing, we’re neglecting our commitments. It isn’t always easy to be the United States… I’ve always been fascinated by Germany. I was born in Czechoslovakia. When we fled to London, I knew that the bombs that were falling around me were German bombs. Consequently, my impressions of Germany were of course very negative. But in every conversation with Joschka Fischer I sensed that he was quite conscious of Germany’s responsibility for the past. When we discussed the Kosovo conflict and talked about how intellectuals from Pristina had been taken away, he said: ‘Yes, that is exactly what happened with the Nazis.’ I asked him more than once about his days as a street protester. His only response was this: ‘You know, Madeleine, you would have done the same thing if you had literally suspected every single authority figure around you – the police officer, the doctor, the teacher – of having supported the Nazis.'”

New European Plans?

The Guardian reported on September 23, 2003 about a “super region” plan to revive the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. The article pointed out: “Political leaders from three countries, including Austria’s controversial far-rightwinger, Jorg Haider, are pushing for creation of a new European ‘super-region’ that would slice through national boundaries and take in a large part of the old Austro-Hungarian empire.

“The plan is likely to meet a frosty response from Tony Blair and other European leaders who are keen to ensure that power in the European Union stays with nation states.

“Riccardo Illy, recently elected president of the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, told the newspaper La Stampa the projected ‘super-region’ was planned to extend from Austria to Rijeka on the Croatian coast. It would also include his own region and parts of Slovenia.

“He said Mr. Haider, governor of the Austrian state of Carinthia, had been ‘very positive.’ The scheme had won the backing of the mayor of a key Croatian local authority and was under discussion with the Slovenian government… His plan would reunite territories that all formed part of the Austro-Hungarian empire that ended in 1918.” reported on October 2, 2003, that “France and Austria clash over [the proposed European] Constitution.” The article continued, “Austria finds itself at the head of the group of smaller countries arguing for substantial changes to the draft, whereas France — along with the UK and Germany — are wary of unravelling the text drafted by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.”

Water Shortage in Australia

ABC News reported on Wednesday, October 1, 2003, about mandatory restrictions for Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. The article pointed out that “the region’s main water supply, the Googong Dam, is now at 36 per cent capacity. Recent rain has done little to alleviate the region’s water crisis. Even though water consumption is already below the stage three target of 127 megalitres a day, total dam levels are still below 50 per cent. The ACT Government has described Canberra as being on a knife-edge, warning there is no room for complacency, particularly during summer. From today sprinklers are banned, as is washing your car at home. Private gardens can only be watered with hand-held hoses or buckets on alternate days, though pools can be topped up as long as they are covered. Anyone caught breaking the rules could face fines of up to $5,000.”

We are informed that there have virtually never been water restrictions in Canberra before. The Googong dam, about five minutes drive from Canberry, has usually been fairly full. An additional indication for the unusual events in Sydney can be seen by the fact that Sydney usually has high rainfall and is semi-tropical.


Meteorites in India

BBC News reported about a meteorite that crashed in eastern India. Fortunately, only three people had been injured as a result of the meteorite falling to earth. Officials investigating the event say it was part of the most spectacular meteor shower in the country’s recent history, according to BBC News.

The article continued, “Flaming debris from the space rock lit up the sky in Orissa state on Saturday night, and sent villagers running after its burning fragments set fire to their houses. ‘I have never seen a meteor covering such a large area with a huge fireball and roaring sound,’ said Basant Kumar Mohanty, senior director of the Geological Survey of India. According to state authorities, two large fragments of the meteorite, weighing roughly five kilograms each, have been recovered.”

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