Current Events

EU, Russia Sign Co-operation Accord

As reported on May 10, 2005,

“Russia and the European Union have signed an agreement to forge closer trade and political ties. The accord was signed at a summit in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the agreement would help create a Europe without dividing lines. The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said the accord would provide a new impulse to relations with Moscow. A Russian foreign ministry statement said the two sides had agreed to hold further consultations aimed at easing visa regulations.”

Russia and Germany

Earlier this week, reported that “Russian President Vladimir Putin says he supports Germany’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In an interview with the German daily newspaper Bild, Putin said Russia would support a stronger role for Germany at the UN, including a permanent Security Council seat.”

Germany and the Pope

On May 7, 2005, published an insightful article about Germany and the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope. The article was written by Nicholas Boyle, professor of German literary and intellectual history, University of Cambridge, and author of “Goethe: the poet and the age,” published by Oxford University Press. The author stated:

“The first thing the British may be surprised to learn from this election is how Catholic a country Germany is, and not just the Bavaria that provided the rural and small-town folk-religion in which Joseph Ratzinger grew up. The Germany in which he spent his entire clerical career until his translation to Rome… was the Western zone of occupation and the Bonn republic, dominated for 14 crucially formative years by the Rhineland Catholic Konrad Adenauer. It was the first state bearing the name of Germany to be a majority Catholic country… British assumptions that Germans look to a European identity because they are embarrassed about their own touch only a part of the truth. Catholic Germany has always been European in its perspectives… Germany is currently the third largest economy in the world, and it has achieved that position through extraordinary efforts made during the years when Professor, and then Archbishop, Ratzinger was based within it.”

The Uncertain Future of Europe

On Saturday, May 7, 2005, the International Herald Tribune published an article, titled, “Can EU, born from war, survive peace?” In the article, it was pointed out:

“Amid the devastation left by World War II, Europe looked around after 1945 for a way to make sure such a disaster never happened again, and found an answer in the European Union. Over the next 50 years, the EU would become an unprecedented experiment… As a result, Europe’s once-warring nation-states are now so closely knit through the institutions, laws and councils of the EU that war across Western Europe has become unimaginable… The 1957 Treaty of Rome… [set up] the European Economic Community, a customs union…[Subsequently] the EEC [was extended] into new areas, such as the single market, the formal establishment of the EU, and, by 2002, the single currency, the euro… Germans in particular adopted the cause of European integration as a source of a new identity, replacing… traditional German nationalistic identity…The stability has been exported, the EU extending geographically to admit countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain in the 1980s. Nations without robust democratic traditions, they were taken into the West European fold and set on the road to democracy, as, even more dramatically, were the nations of the former East bloc that emerged from decades of Soviet domination and communism to join the EU in 2004. Since that enlargement, the biggest in the Union’s history, the EU now includes more than 450 million people in 25 nations.”

However, the article continued to correctly point out:

“But the EU cannot claim to have brought peace to millions on its own… Nor has the EU banished all the dark shadows from half a century ago.”

Religious Discrimination at the Air Force?

On May 6, 2005, the ABP Washington Bureau reported about possible religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy, referring to “several months of allegations about an atmosphere of religious harassment and discrimination at the Colorado Springs, Colo., institution.” The article, which was posted on, stated:

“Attorneys for Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force officials the 14-page document which detailed several allegations of constitutional violations by top officials and upper-class cadets at the academy. Among AU’s allegations were that large numbers of top administrators, chaplains and faculty members openly and regularly advocated on behalf of evangelical Protestantism, often using coercive means.”

According to the article, here are some of the report’s allegations:

“Christian cadets who wish to attend off-campus religious services on Sundays are given special allowances to do so that are not extended to members of minority faiths or Christian groups that observe the Sabbath on other days of the week…. Cadets of minority faiths or no faith are regularly harassed, discriminated against and frequently subjected to religious epithets at the hands of Christian cadets.”

The article pointed out, too, that “The Pentagon press release said the allegations ‘are being taken very seriously by the Air Force.'”

Putin and US Democracy

According to an article by the Drudge Report on May 6, 2005, “A combative Vladimir Putin tells Mike Wallace [in his TV show, “60 Minutes”] he should question his own country’s democratic ways before looking for problems with Russia’s. The Russian president also says the U.S. shouldn’t try to export its democracy, as it is trying to do in Iraq.” In his televised interview, Putin also said: “India is called the largest world democracy. But their governors have always been appointed by the central government and nobody disputes that India is not a democracy.”

The article continued: “The Russian leader then points to what he believes are drawbacks to America’s own brand of democracy, including the Electoral College system. ‘In the United States, you first elect the electors and then they vote for the presidential candidates. In Russia, the president is elected through the direct vote of the whole population. That might be even more democratic,’ Putin says. ‘And you have other problems in your elections,’ he tells Wallace. ‘Four years ago your presidential election was decided by the court. The judicial system was brought into it. But we’re not going to poke our noses into your democratic system because that’s up to the American people.’ Putin also believes the U.S. democratic system does not travel well and that is precisely why he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. ‘Democracy cannot be exported to some other place. [Democracy] must be a product of internal domestic development in a society,’ says the Russian president.”

The Pope and the Bible

The Associated Press reported about some revealing past comments by Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, which were republished on May 7 by WorldNetDaily. According to the publication, “in a 1988 lecture at a Lutheran church in New York, Ratzinger chided fundamentalism, saying it’s ‘useless to take refuge in an allegedly pure, literal understanding of the Bible.’… A 1993 Pontifical Biblical Commission statement on Bible interpretation [by Ratzinger]… denounced fundamentalism as ‘dangerous’ and ‘a kind of intellectual suicide.’ It said fundamentalists place ‘undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts’ and naively confuse the Gospels as finally edited with ‘the words and deeds of the historical Jesus.'”

Germany and World War II

On May 8, 2005, reported:

“On a stage under Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, during ceremonies marking VE Day – the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe – German President Horst Koehler Sunday proclaimed that ‘racism and right-wing extremism have no chance’ in a modern Germany. About a mile down Unter den Linden, a path central in Adolf Hilter’s plans for the capital of the Third Reich, as Germany was called under Hitler’s rule, as many as 3,000 neo-Nazis in a fenced in area applauded as a singer noted, ‘Our hearts are with our heroes, like Rudolph Hess,’ Hitler’s deputy. A speaker added: ‘Stop 60 years of liberation lies. Stop the cult of guilt.’ He was referring to Germany’s repeated expression of remorse for German actions during World War II.

“Despite Koehler’s statements, the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany and other parties commonly associated with the neo-Nazi movement are gaining support in his country. In the state parliament of Saxony, voters recently elected 12 NPD [party members]. More than 300 local German politicians today are from nationalist parties. In February in Dresden, 5,000 neo-Nazis marched during ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of the allied bombing of that city. ‘The person who hasn’t learned from history is sinning against their own nation,’ Koehler said Sunday. ‘There are still a few un-teachable in this country, but racism and right-wing extremism have no chance here today.'”

However, the article continued to state about the demonstrators:

“…speakers criticized the betrayal of the German people by the 1919 Versailles Treaty that settled World War I – a common theme struck by Hitler during his rise to power – and said the horrors of the Third Reich were exaggerated. That’s a common theme of people who deny the Holocaust, when six million Jews were murdered in Nazi death camps. In a new twist, some in the crowd held signs saying, ‘Liberate the world from the United States,’ and speakers talked of how America had planned World War II to belittle the German people. They said the allies subjected Germans to the worst horrors of the war.”

Russia’s Press Libels President Bush

On May 9, 2005, Russia’s daily newspaper, “Pravda,” published a strong article against President Bush. It described Mr. Bush as “provocative and aggressive instead of conciliatory and diplomatic.” In comparing President Putin of Russia with President Bush, Russia’s pro-government paper stated:

“Let us compare for one instant the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America. On one side, we have a President whose policy is directed towards improving relations with the international community in a climate of friendship and peace (principles which guided the foreign policy of the USSR) and in tandem with the norms of international law as stipulated by the UNO. On the other, a roving cowboy, taming the wilderness with his gun and his Bible, with an absence of tact and diplomacy.”

The article continued:

“On the eve of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory over Fascism in Europe, instead of being conciliatory to Russia, George Bush waltzes into Latvia, a country with a deplorable human rights record, complete with concentration camps during the Fascist occupation and with a revisionist tendency to glorify its Fascist part in the country’s history and declares that the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe was one of the ‘greatest wrongs of history.’

“So, what was the Soviet Union supposed to do, after 25 million of its citizens had been killed in the most vicious fighting in the war, after a quarter of a million of its citizens had lost their lives killing between 75 and 85% of the Nazi troops in the Second World War? Allow the USA to occupy its resources and install disgusting fast food restaurants before colonizing the country with pornography, filth and depravity?

“The Soviet Union liberated eleven countries from the yoke of evil, just as the Americans and their allies liberated nations in the west. But for George Bush, this liberation, coupled with a commitment of the Union’s resources to develop the three Baltic states and bring them into the front line of development in the areas of education, security, health care, social benefits, to name just a few, was no more than ‘a long vigil of suffering and hope.'”

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