Current Events

EU’s Move Towards a World Power

The Telegraph wrote on October 7:

“EU draws up plans to establish itself as ‘world power’… The European Union has drawn up secret plans to establish itself as a global power in its own right with the authority to sign international agreements on behalf of member states… Confidential negotiations on how to implement the Lisbon Treaty have produced proposals to allow the EU to negotiate treaties and even open embassies across the world… According to one confidential paper, the first pilot ’embassies’ are planned in New York, Kabul and Addis Ababa.

“The move is highly symbolic in Britain… Mark Francois, Conservative spokesman on Europe, said that the deal showed why the British should have been given a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. ‘As we have long warned, the Lisbon Treaty increases the EU’s power at the expense of the countries of Europe,’ he said. ‘The new power a single legal personality would give the EU is a classic example’…

“The decision… will mean a new European diplomatic service with over 160 ‘EU representations’ and ambassadors across the world. Lorraine Mullally, the director of Open Europe, described the move as ‘a huge transfer of power which makes the EU look more like a country than an international agreement’. ‘Giving the EU legal personality means that the EU, rather than member states, will be able to sign all kinds of international agreements – on foreign policy, defence, crime and judicial issues – for the first time,’ she said.”

A Democratic Time-Bomb Is Ticking…

The EUObserver wrote on October 21:

“… the major visible part of Lisbon will be the posts the Treaty creates: a European President and Secretary of State…  events will drive whoever holds that position [of Secretary of State] towards a prominent role on the world stage and perhaps into a potentially damaging power struggle with the President.

“The occupants of these posts will… have a great effect on how Europe is portrayed on the world stage and in international relations… de facto they will be the faces of post-Lisbon Europe…

“What these posts will do, however, is to shine a spotlight on the EU’s democratic deficit… A democratic time-bomb is ticking… A chasm looms…”

Sarkozy Distances Himself from Blair and Condemns Klaus

The EUObserver wrote on October 16:

“French president Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated that British ex-prime minister Tony Blair may not be acceptable as a future president of the European Council because the UK remains outside the eurozone…

“When asked by French daily Le Figaro whether Mr Blair is a good candidate for the job, Mr Sarkozy said: ‘… Personally I believe in a Europe that is politically strong and embodied by a person. But the fact that Great Britain is not in the euro remains a problem.’

“Sixteen of the 27 member states are members of the eurozone. Mr Sarkozy does not elaborate on whether eurozone membership is a general consideration when the president of the European Council post comes up for a discussion. Of the 11 countries not sharing the common currency, most are central and eastern European states, including Poland, as well as Denmark, Sweden and the UK…

“Mr Sarkozy also used the Le Figaro interview to threaten Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who is holding out against signing the Lisbon Treaty. He called Mr Klaus’ stance ‘unacceptable’ adding ‘decision time is coming for him and it will not be without consequence. And whatever happens, this issue will be resolved by the end of the year.'”

Czech President Throws in Towel

The Daily Mail wrote on October 19:

“The last faint hope of blocking the Lisbon Treaty was dashed yesterday when the Czech president threw in the towel. With it went any real prospect of Britain having a referendum on the treaty that critics say will rob nations of their sovereignty. Vaclav Klaus had been the only EU leader still refusing to ratify it and the Conservatives had hoped he would hold out until next year’s General Election. They have promised a referendum if they are elected, but only if it has not been ratified by all EU member states…

“But President Klaus said yesterday: ‘I do not consider the Lisbon Treaty to be a good thing for Europe, for the freedom of Europe, or for the Czech Republic. However, the train has already travelled so fast and so far that I guess it will not be possible to stop it or turn it around, however much we would wish to. I will not and cannot wait for the British election. They would have to hold it in the coming days or weeks.’

“The treaty is expected to be ratified within weeks. President Klaus will sign if as expected the Czech constitutional court throws out a challenge to it brought by a group of senators.”

Coming Power Struggle for EU Positions?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 19:

“Now recalcitrant nations are finally signing the Lisbon Treaty, the EU may get a phone number. And there are several candidates waiting to pick up the phone. But will it be the president or the foreign minister who does so?… The person who picks up the phone is to be called the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. That’s what stands in the Lisbon Treaty, which was approved by the Irish on Oct. 2 and ratified by the Poles just a few days later. If the Czechs now sign as well, the European Union will finally be able to operate according to those new rules…

“When it comes [to] a collective EU foreign policy, the British and French have very different ideas from the Germans. Going against the wishes of the German government, they pushed through a second new post in the Lisbon Treaty: a full-time President of the European Council, the body that represents member nations. Among other things, this president’s duties would include coordination of foreign and defense policy for 27 different countries.

“The success of the Lisbon Treaty depends very much on who is appointed to these roles. And the relationship between the foreign minister and the Council president is not prescribed by the treaty. Who is the captain and who is the first mate? This will become clear when the men who [are] appointed to these posts have developed their roles, having fought for power and influence…

“Leading politicians in Berlin are worried that instead of producing a common foreign policy, these new positions will only lead to a power struggle.”

Power Struggle Between Catholic and Anglican Churches

Deutsche Welle reported on October 20:

“The Vatican has announced the creation of a new structure that will allow whole Anglican congregations to convert to Catholicism. The move reveals a power struggle between the Catholic and Anglican churches. A new Catholic structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will allow Anglicans, including married clergymen, to enter full communion with the Catholic Church…

“A joint press conference was held at the Catholic church headquarters in London in response to the Vatican announcement, hoping to ease concerns that relations between the heads of the 1.1-billion member Catholic Church and the 77-million Anglican communion would be affected by the Vatican’s move. The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Catholic archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols sat side by side in a show of unity…

“There have indeed been a number of individual conversions from Anglicanism to Catholicism in the past forty years, but this marks the first time since the 16th century Reformation that entire Protestant communities will be able to reunite with Rome. Catholic bishops in Britain have previously warned that attempts to draw in former Anglicans appeared to take advantage of the divisions within the Anglican Church…”

The Wall Street Journal added on October 21:

“A newly created set of canon laws, known as an ‘Apostolic Constitution,’ will clear the way for entire congregations of Anglican faithful to join the Catholic Church. That represents a potentially serious threat to the already fragile world-wide communion of national Anglican churches, which has about 77 million members globally…

“The Anglican Communion has been strained by fights over its relations with other Christian denominations and the church’s growing acceptance of gay and women clergy and same-sex marriage. The 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the movement, has sharpened those tensions. The move comes nearly five centuries after King Henry VIII broke with Rome and proclaimed himself head of the new Church of England after being refused permission to divorce.

“… the announcement appeared to catch Anglican leaders off guard… ‘I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage…’ Archbishop Williams wrote… The Right Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, the Anglican Bishop of Winchester and co-chair of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, said the new measures went outside the ‘mainstream’ of Vatican-Anglican dialogue, adding that he, too, was told of the measures at a ‘very late stage’…

“The new measures also raised questions in Rome… leading some Catholic canon lawyers to question how Pope Benedict will square Anglican and Catholic teachings. The Vatican has at times provided dispensations to non-Catholic married priests on an individual basis, including Anglicans and Lutherans. Eastern Rite Churches, which are in communion with the pope, ordain married men as priests.

“Still, relaxing rules on priestly celibacy for a group as large as the Anglican Communion is more dramatic, said Eduardo Baura, a professor of canon law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and a consultant to the Holy See’s Congregation for Bishops.”

Run-Off Election in Afghanistan

Der Spiegel Online reported on October 20:

“On Tuesday, the Election Commission in Afghanistan decided against President Hamid Karzai — thus joining the United Nations-supported Electoral Complaints Commission, which had found that around one-third of the votes cast in the country’s August presidential elections were invalid. Karzai will now face a run-off election against his challenger Abdullah Abdullah on Nov. 7…

“The US sent Senator John Kerry, chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, to Kabul in an effort to reach a rapid solution… French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also made the trip and numerous heads of state and government telephoned Karzai and urged him to back down…

“US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday evening that the US administration can’t afford to postpone sending additional troops to Afghanistan until the government problem has been solved. But if Obama were to go ahead and get the reinforcements moving, he would have to explain why he wants to support a corrupt government.”

Deutsche Welle added on October 20:

“Although there had been some talk of a power-sharing agreement between Karzai and Abdullah, a runoff was practically inevitable after grotesque irregularities were reported in almost every aspect of the election process… Karzai’s image in the West has greatly suffered since he officially took office in 2004. But in some cases, ironically, that fact may have helped him on the domestic front…

“The large numbers of civilian casualties resulting from the US-led aerial bombardment of the Taliban have created increasing resentment toward the presence of foreign troops. And that, together with endemic corruption within the Afghan government, may be working to the advantage of the West’s enemies… Few observers doubt that Karzai will win the runoff. Indeed, it’s questionable whether anything will change in Afghanistan regardless of the outcome.”

Turkey Moves Further Away From Israel

Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 19:

“Turkey has recently sought to secure a new role as Middle East mediator. But fallout from postponed military exercises has seen it move further from Israel and closer to Syria. Israelis are concerned, Syrians are celebrating and the Turks are guardedly diplomatic.

“It was a good week for Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem. Last Tuesday, he was part of a group of Syrian and Turkish politicians that met at Oncupinar, a border crossing between Syria and Turkey, to mark the removal of entry visa requirements between the two countries.

“It was a big step. As recently as the late 1990s, the two neighbors were on the verge of conflict due to Syrian support for Kurdish resistance fighters in Turkey. Parts of the Turkish-Syrian border are still mined. Times, though, have changed: These days, the two countries cooperate on joint military maneuvers and have created a High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

“Indeed the fact that Ankara and Damascus are planning to work together militarily shortly after signing the visa exemption agreement is nothing short of spectacular… the gathering on the Turkish-Syrian border would likely have generated little attention were it not for the news that immediately preceded it: Israel, a sworn enemy of Syria, was uninvited from a planned international military exercise on Turkish territory.

“… it was rumored that the Turks were angry with the Israelis because of the late delivery of unmanned Heron surveillance planes. And then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the fray, indicating that the exclusion of the Israelis was indeed politically motivated — a response to Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip… His people, Erdogan assured viewers, ‘were rejecting Israel’s participation.’ Additionally Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu noted that Turkey cannot afford to be seen as Israel’s military partner at a time when there are no efforts being made for peace.

“These are strong words — and cause for unease in Israel. Israel is too small to conduct air force exercises of its own, and the relationship with Turkey — Israel’s only Muslim ally in the region — is vital… the Turkish-Israeli relationship is worse now than it has been in a long time,..”

The Jerusalem Post wrote on October 15:

“Once the apotheosis of a pro-Western, dependable Muslim democracy, this week Turkey officially left the Western alliance and became a full member of the Iranian axis. It isn’t that Ankara’s behavior changed fundamentally in recent days. There is nothing new in its massive hostility toward Israel and its effusive solicitousness toward the likes of Syria and Hamas. Since the Islamist AKP party first won control over the Turkish government in the 2002 elections, led by AKP chairman Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the Turks have incrementally and inexorably moved the formerly pro-Western Muslim democracy into the radical Islamist camp populated by the likes of Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, al-Qaida and Hamas.

“What made Turkey’s behavior this week different from its behavior in recent months and years is that its attacks were concentrated, unequivocal and undeniable for everyone outside of Israel’s scandalously imbecilic and flagellant media…

“As for the Obama administration, since entering office in January it has abandoned US support for democracy activists throughout the world, in favor of a policy of pure appeasement of US adversaries at the expense of US allies. In keeping with this policy, President Barack Obama paid a preening visit to Ankara where he effectively endorsed the Islamization of Turkish foreign policy that has moved the NATO member into the arms of Teheran’s mullahs.

“Taken together, the actions of the Bush and Obama White Houses have demoralized Westernized Turks, who now believe that their country is doomed to descend into the depths of Islamist extremism. As many see it, if they wish to remain in Turkey, their only recourse is to join the Islamist camp and add their voices to the rising chorus of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism sweeping the country…

“For its part, as the lone Jewish state that belongs to no alliance, Israel had no ability to shape internal developments in Turkey. But still, Turkey’s decision to betray the West holds general lessons for Israel and for the free world as a whole… Turkey is lost and we’d better make our peace with this devastating fact.”

FDIC Insurance Fund Will Stay in Red Through 2012

CNN wrote on October 14:

“The government insurance fund designed to protect consumer bank deposits will likely stay in the red through 2012… The fund has come under severe strain in recent months amid the recent surge in bank failures. Ninety-eight banks [by now 99 banks] have failed so far this year, which has reduced the fund’s value to $10 billion from $45 billion a year ago.

“Last month, the agency painted an even more dire picture, estimating that the fund is currently in the red after taking into account future bank failures it anticipates will happen.”

America’s Depleted Insurance Fund and Its Hundreds of Problem Banks

The Associated Press reported on October 17:

“Regulators shut down San Joaquin Bank in California on Friday, marking the 99th failure this year of a federally insured bank… the deposit insurance fund has fallen into the red. The FDIC board recently proposed to have U.S. banks prepay about $45 billion of their insurance premiums – three years’ worth. That plan isn’t a long-term remedy for the depleted fund. But it would spare ailing banks the immediate cost of an alternative idea: paying an emergency fee for the second time this year. And the FDIC still has billions in loss reserves apart from the insurance fund…

“The 99 failures may not fully reflect the depth of banks’ travails. Many more banks – perhaps hundreds – are so weak they could have been shut down already, experts say. Many vulnerable banks are in limbo. Regulators have threatened to close them unless they shore up their balance sheets, but the recession has made it difficult to raise capital or sell assets. The number of banks on the FDIC’s confidential ‘problem list’ jumped to 416 at the end of June from 305 in the first quarter.”

Federal Budget Deficit of $1.42 Trillion

The Associated Press reported on October 16:

“What is $1.42 trillion? It’s more than the total national debt for the first 200 years of the Republic, more than the entire economy of India, almost as much as Canada’s, and more than $4,700 for every man, woman and child in the United States. It’s the federal budget deficit for 2009, more than three times the most red ink ever amassed in a single year…

“Treasury figures released Friday showed that the government spent $46.6 billion more in September than it took in…

“The previous year’s deficit was $459 billion. As a percentage of U.S. economic output, it’s the biggest deficit since World War II. ‘The rudderless U.S. fiscal policy is the biggest long-term risk to the U.S. economy,’ says Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor and former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. ‘As we accumulate more and more debt, we leave ourselves very vulnerable.’

“Forecasts of more red ink mean the federal government is heading toward spending 15 percent of its money by 2019 just to pay interest on the debt, up from 5 percent this fiscal year. President Barack Obama has pledged to reduce the deficit once the Great Recession ends and the unemployment rate starts falling, but economists worry that the government lacks the will to make the hard political choices to get control of the imbalances…

“Much of that debt is in foreign hands. China holds the most – more than $800 billion. In all, investors – domestic and foreign – hold close to $8 trillion in what is called publicly held debt… If those investors started dumping their holdings, or even buying fewer U.S. Treasurys, the dollar’s value could drop…

“A lower dollar would cause prices of imported goods to rise. Inflation would surge. And higher interest rates would force consumers and companies to pay more to borrow to buy a house or a car or expand their business. ‘We should be desperately worried about deficits of this size,’ says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s ‘The economic pain will be felt much sooner than people think, in the form of much higher interest rates and much higher rates of inflation.'”

US Dollar Weakness “Unbearable”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 20:

“The dollar continues to weaken against the euro. The result is that European exports — one of the primary engines behind Europe’s fragile recovery — are becoming more expensive in the United States and in a number of Asian countries that have pegged their currency to the dollar. On Tuesday, a euro was going for $1.4976, just off its 14-month high of $1.4994 seen on Monday. Many, though, expect the dollar to continue its fall against the euro with a return to the $1.60 rate…

“The development is of particular concern in Germany, whose economy is heavily reliant on exports. The euro’s strength against the pound likewise pushes up the price of German goods in the euro zone’s largest trading partner, Britain… Henri Guaino, a special counsellor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said the US was ‘flooding the world’ with dollars. He added that dollar weakness may become ‘unbearable’…”

An Alternative World Currency to the US Dollar

USA Today wrote on October 22 about the weak dollar. Although we most certainly do NOT agree with the overly optimistic assessment in the article, we are quoting the following excerpts which accurately relate the facts (even though USA Today then goes on to put ridiculous spins on them):

“Just about every day seems to bring more bad news for the dollar. Recent months have witnessed a steady erosion in the greenback’s value, down 16% since March against the currencies of the top U.S. trading partners. On Wednesday, the euro broke through the symbolically important $1.50 barrier for the first time in 14 months.

“Depending on whom you believe, a dollar hovering near its 52-week low represents either the market’s devastating verdict on the Obama administration’s profligacy or a salutary rediscovery of risk by newly emboldened investors. Maybe it’s a bit of both. But the downbeat drumbeat bangs on. Chinese officials openly worry about taking a bath on their enormous U.S. Treasury holdings. Foreign bankers talk of promoting an alternative global currency, such as the euro, yuan or a new synthetic medium of exchange cooked up by the International Monetary Fund…

“Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank [warned last month:] ‘Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar’…

“Since supplanting the British pound more than 60 years ago, the dollar has reigned supreme in global markets. As of the end of June, the most recent data available, 62.8% of foreign exchange reserves worldwide were held in the form of U.S. dollars. An additional 27.5% were stockpiled in euros… The dollar’s position has eroded in the past five years…

“In the short run, the only currency that could challenge the dollar is the euro. It, too, has a continental-size economy behind it, and a decade after its introduction, the European currency has established itself as a fully convertible, stable store of value…

“The dollar’s long-run prognosis is negative… And with Uncle Sam’s printing press running overtime to cover the government’s trillion-dollar budget deficits, the currency is expected to be further cheapened… In the political realm, the dollar’s weakness is interpreted as a referendum on American decline…”

Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

The Associated Press wrote on October 15:

“A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long… Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist. ‘I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house,’ Bardwell said…

“Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.”

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