Current Events


Reuters reported on May 14, 2004:

“The Vatican warned Catholic women on Friday to think hard before marrying a Muslim and urged Muslims to show more respect for human rights, gender equality and democracy. Calling women ‘the least protected member of the Muslim family,’ it spoke of the ‘bitter experience’ western Catholics had with Muslim husbands, especially if they married outside the Islamic world and later moved to his country of origin. The comments in a document about migrants around the world… said the Church discouraged marriages between believers in traditionally Catholic countries and non-Christian migrants.

“It hoped Muslims would show ‘a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the state are principles that cannot be surrendered.’ When a Catholic woman and Muslim man wanted to marry, it said, ‘bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for.’ It said one possible problem was with Muslim in-laws and advised future mothers that they must insist on Church policy that children born of a mixed marriage be baptized and brought up as Catholics.”

The article continued:

“Pope John Paul has broken ground in dialogue with Muslims and even prayed in a mosque in Damascus. He won plaudits in the Muslim world for his strong opposition to the Iraq war. But Vatican officials and leading Catholic prelates have expressed increasingly critical views about the spread of Islam and the challenge this poses for Catholicism.”


According to an article by the Associated Press on Friday, May 14, 2004, “Austrians Praise Schwarzenegger in U.S.”
The article stated: “When Austrians vent about the United States, the key word nowadays is ‘no’ to things American, with only a few exceptions — including praise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. ‘Except for Arnie, that country has a real problem,’ says Robert Biber, echoing sentiments across Austria roused by images of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. ‘How can anyone ever believe them again when they say they are the guardians of democracy and fairness?’

“With its foreign policy and pop culture clout, the United States’ overwhelming world presence has left Austrians and other Europeans dependent on — but mildly resentful of — their trans-Atlantic ally for decades. The invasion of Iraq and perceptions of a blatantly pro-Israeli Middle East policy heightened that unease over the past year. But it took the prisoner abuse scandal to turn the love-hate relationship into outright anti-American sentiment.

The article continued: “The Republican governor’s father was a member of the Nazi party, but the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician has always distanced himself from that part of his background. On a recent visit to Israel, he described Austria as ‘a country where we have seen a history of prejudice that resulted in terrible atrocities.’ Official Austria has turned in the past two decades from depicting itself as a victim of Hitler to acknowledging its major role in the Holocaust.”


As the San Diego Union Tribune reported on May 14, 2004, “The Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs has issued a pastoral letter saying that Catholic Americans should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who defy church teachings by supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, euthanasia or stem-cell research. Several U.S. bishops have warned that they will deny Communion to Catholic politicians [such as Senator John Kerry, a Catholic who has consistently favored abortion rights] who fail to stand with the church, but Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs is believed to be the first to say he would extend the ban to Catholic voters.”


Der Spiegel Online, Bild Online and Focus Online published very disturbing articles to the effect that American and British soldiers might have tortured Iraqi prisoners to death. Focus Online stated that the information has been obtained from Amnesty International, and that at least four Iraqis were tortured to death. Der Spiegel Online conducted its own investigation and broadcast its findings on Sunday, May 16, on German television (over RTL). The 10 minute report has been posted, in German, on the Website of Der Spiegel Online. The report showed pictures of an Iraqi prisoner who died in American custody. The pictures appeared to show drastic signs of torture. The reporter interviewed an Iraqi who claimed to have been a witness of the alleged torture. Der Spiegel Online stated in its report that they had asked the Pentagon for comments, but that the Pentagon did not respond.

Focus Online stated in its article that the reputation of President Bush has reached an all-time low in Germany. According to a national poll, 75% of all Germans have little or no confidence in President Bush. In addition, only 12% have a positive impression of the United States, while 44% have a negative impression. 69% think that U.S. influence on German politics, economy and culture is too high, while only 4% think that the influence is appropriate. 47% feel that the American torture of Iraqi prisoners is the main reason for the negative German impression of America.


The Scotsman reported on May 15, 2004:

“British troops in southern Iraq are braced for a fresh wave of suicide bombings after the country’s holiest Shia shrine was damaged in fierce fighting between United States troops and supporters of the rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the city of Najaf. Sadr’s representative in Basra, Sheikh Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, said he would form suicide squads to carry out attacks against coalition forces, and urged residents to register for the squads. In the British-run city of Amarah, a Sadr representative, Farqad al-Mousawi, warned Iraqi police and civil defence corps members that they risked assassination if they helped coalition soldiers fight the cleric’s Mahdi militia. Fighting erupted in the heart of Najaf early yesterday morning as US commanders finally lost patience with Sadr and ordered troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships to assault his stronghold in the Iraqi holy city. Despite weeks of warnings from British commanders that an attack on the shrine of Imam Ali, Shiite Muslims’ most sacred site, could trigger widespread unrest throughout southern Iraq, the golden dome of the mosque was hit several times as US forces and militia traded fire.”

On May 17, 2004, it was reported that the chief of the Iraqi Governing Council was assassinated in a homicide car bombing Monday near a U.S. checkpoint in central Baghdad. Six other people apparently died in the blast; one of them apparently the bomber, according to a doctor at Yarmouk Hospital. Six Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers were injured in the explosion near the U.S.-led coalition headquarters, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. Three cars waiting in line at the headquarters were destroyed. Meanwhile, fighting between coalition troops and insurgents — particularly those who are part of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s army — continued in the southern cities of Nasiriyah, Karbala and Najaf, according to Fox News. The news agency stated: “Meanwhile, fighting persisted the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq, where American jets bombed militia positions in the city of Nasiriyah early Monday after fighters loyal to al-Sadr, the radical cleric, drove Italian forces out of a base there. Residents said seven fighters were killed in overnight battles.”


On May 14, 2004, published an interesting editorial by Rich Lowry, titled, “The Other Prison Outrage.” In it, he stated: “If we insist on having an orgy of self-flagellation about the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, we might as well gain something from it. That something [should be] reform of the ongoing scandal that is the U.S. prison system… Our prisons… tend to be pits of sexual violence, madness, and drug abuse. They are at once too brutal and too lax. Fixing them is not something we owe the international community or anyone else — besides ourselves… How do we improve our prisons? The most important change has to be in our attitude… A message should be sent from the very top, i.e. governors, that the abuse of prisoners, by fellow inmates or by guards, will not be tolerated. It is especially important that… acts of abuse by guards be punished, even if powerful look-the-other-way prison-guard unions don’t like it. Overcrowding, which overwhelms guards… should be alleviated. Meanwhile, as criminal-justice expert Eli Lehrer argues, while prisoners are under our control we might as well try to do some good for them. Work programs in prison can get prisoners in the habit of working and reduce recidivism. More than ten percent of prisoners test positive for drugs at any given time. Coercive treatment programs should attempt to wean them of addiction. Finally, prisoners tend to be simply dumped on the streets when they are released. More intensive post-prison monitoring can help keep them from going back. It is understandable that Abu Ghraib has raised such an outcry. The abuses there will get more American soldiers killed. But there is something odd about a country that gets more exited about the treatment of foreign prisoners than the treatment of its own.”


On May 15, 2004, WorldNetDaily published an article about the terrible school system in many public schools in the United States, titled, “U.S. Public Schools: Where Rebellion Rules.” In the article, it was pointed out:

“This past week, a nationwide survey was released showing how rowdy and undisciplined students are interrupting the learning environment in many public schools… Yet, what makes this situation in today’s public schools different from the previous classroom environments in American history is how parents are now supporting the behavior of their unruly children… Yet, discipline is required! In a proper learning environment, students must be disciplined. For a teenager especially, they need to hear who’s boss. When teachers let up, the classroom transforms from a learning environment into a rowdy circus… Adding to these problems is a society that exalts rebellion. Teens pick this up in the lyrics streaming through speakers, the tube in the living room and the flicks projected onto the wide screen. America’s young people also pick this up from uninvolved parents. The very reason some teens are unruly is because their parents aren’t involved. More than that, because their parents are not involved, many don’t want to deal with the punishment, so they allow their kids to continue. The key aspect of this breakdown is how some parents will back their unruly kids up with litigation — which is setting precedents that will begin to turn schools into completely unproductive institutions… Whatever the case, the exaltation of rebellion in the life of an average teen, the teachers who won’t or can’t discipline, the uninvolved parents and the legal support of disruptive students are all breaking down American schools. When will it end?”

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