A Balanced U.S. Budget–Maybe Never Again!
CNN.COM reported on March 29, 2012:
“The House has passed the Republican budget plan submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan, but some budget experts believe that [the] federal government is so far in the red that it may not balance the budget again in our lifetime.
“‘We may never, as a country, have a balanced budget again,’ said Marc Goldwein, policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. ‘And you know what? We don’t have to.’
“Goldwein is a bit of a budget wunderkind who was also a staffer for the Bowles-Simpson Commission, established by President Obama to address the nation’s fiscal problems, and for the congressional super committee. He and the nonpartisan think tank where he works used to push vehemently for a balanced budget.’
“But no longer. Now the bumper sticker hanging in his cubicle reads, “Stabilize the Debt”…
“The Ryan budget, despite its cuts and aggressive fiscal moves, does not balance the budget for at least 23 years, according to the House Budget Committee and the Congressional Budget Office.
“‘This just shows you how deep of a hole our country is in,’ Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Budget Committee, said when asked about the 2035 budget balance date.”
This stunning admission reflects on a society that is “throwing in the towel” on all of the difficult issues–such as abortion, drug abuse, illegal immigration and now, even the future stability of the nation’s economy.
A Difficult Union
From Reuter’s, April 2, 2012:
“As the euro zone debt crisis forces the currency area to integrate more closely to survive, those outside the bloc but in the European Union are worried that they will be left as junior partners without a say.
“The euro zone’s response to its public debt crisis has created layers of new agreements and mechanisms that affect the EU’s 10 non-euro countries, who are shut out when deals are done and only learn later of the decisions of the 17.
“Strategies to bring all EU countries together on overarching economic issues have had unintended consequences by creating divisions because not everyone can agree, threatening efforts to implement policies to revive the region’s depressed economies…
“Many EU officials concede that things are getting unwieldy, even for experts who struggle to decipher the structures intended to unify the EU’s 500 million citizens.
“‘We are building a fiscal union in a complicated way,’ Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said of the euro zone at a gathering of students in Copenhagen.”
The article concludes:
“But if an overarching integration strategy emerges, it must also go beyond monetary and economic affairs.
“‘The concurrent circles in the EU will always differ according to the subject,’ said Karel Lannoo of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. ‘Today economic policy is most important, but tomorrow it may be defense.'”
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French Election Targets Immigrants
The Globe and Mail published on March 30, 2012:
“’There is an obsession with immigrants in this election,’ said Ms. Ghali, one of only three Arab members of France’s senate, ‘but there’s no talk, even within my own party, of doing anything to help them. All we have is an increase in tension directed at Muslims.’
“That’s because the tightly-fought presidential election, with the first round set for April 22, was upended last week when one of France’s young Arabs, Mohammed Merah of Toulouse, murdered seven people, including three Jewish children, in a calculated series of terror acts. In the week since Mr. Merah was killed in a standoff with police, President Nicolas Sarkozy made speeches across the country calling for restrictions on legal immigration, laws to make it illegal to browse Islamist websites or visit training camps, and for tougher policing and more deportations. He famously said, on the day of Mr. Merah’s first killing, that there were ‘too many foreigners’ in France…
“But on the campaign trail, he is also adopting some of the language of Marine Le Pen, the head of the ultra-right-wing National Front, a party with a history of Holocaust denial and an absolute opposition to immigration. Ms. Le Pen seized on the Merah killings, asking in a speech this week, ‘How many Mohammed Merahs are arriving on boats and planes each day, filling France with immigrants? How many Mohammed Merahs are among the children of our immigrants?'”
The bottom line is that the most recent terrorist attack inside of France has fueled a resurgence for Mr. Sarkozy in his attempt for re-election–all at the cost of inflaming the extreme left and far right contingents seeking to govern the nation.
The Next President of Egypt?
CNN.COM reported the following on April 2, 2012:
“The political arm of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has announced plans to run one of its leaders in the country’s presidential elections in May, reversing an earlier pledge to stay out of the race.
“The once-banned Islamist movement will be represented by Khairat al-Shater, a longtime financial backer, the Brotherhood announced over the weekend. Al-Shater has resigned from his post as deputy chairman to join the already crowded field of presidential candidates, the group said.
“The jail terms he served under ex-Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak had been an obstacle that would have kept him off the ballot. But the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, pardoned him Sunday, his lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood, told CNN.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has pledged repeatedly that it would not field a presidential candidate. But candidates from its political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, won the largest share of seats in Egypt’s parliamentary elections in December. And Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said Saturday the new Egypt ‘is under a serious threat’ because its current, military-led government ‘has failed to represent the will of the people.'”
As we have learned in the United States, elections do have consequences, and so will, it appears, the Arab Spring.
Nuclear Israel–A Threat…
Haaretz.com reported on April 5, 2012:
“German Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass published a poem Wednesday in which he said that Israel’s nuclear program is a threat to world peace.
“In his poem, the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. Grass’ poem calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.
“The poem, entitled ‘What must be said,’ will be published on Wednesday in the Deutsche Zeitung and La Republica. In the poem, Grass writes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a ‘big mouth,’ and that the intentions of the Iranian nuclear program are not proven.
“The poem drew sharp criticism in Germany, Israel and among Jewish organizations. The Israeli embassy in Germany said that the poem was in line with the ‘tradition of blood libel ahead of Passover.'”
Nationalpost.com adds on April 4, 2012:
“German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest Wednesday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace…
“Mr. Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel The Tin Drum, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS — a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany.
“The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism. The website of news weekly Der Spiegel wrote, ‘Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliche-ed way.’”
Israel Teams With Azerbaijan
The Algemeiner reported on April 5, 2012:
“Much has been made of Mark Perry’s recent piece in Foreign Policy Magazine, which claims that Israel has been given access to at least one Azerbaijan airfield for use during a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Azerbaijan borders Iran to the north, which would allow Israeli planes to refuel on the ground instead of in the air.
“Israeli-Azeri relations have developed rapidly s’nce Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This is mainly due to both countries recognizing “Iran as a major, even existential security threat’. According to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, his country’s relationship with Israel is ‘nine-tenths … below the surface”…
“According to four anonymous U.S. senior diplomats and military intelligence officers, Israel now has access to Azeri airfields. The Sitalcay airstrip is considered to be suitable for Israeli aircraft due to its distance from Azerbaijan’s capital and its existing facilities. Israel may also have “electronic listening stations” along the border with Iran.
“Although Azerbaijan’s defense minister refused to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from Azerbaijan, he ‘did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike’ or ‘…rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country.’”
North Korea Continues to Taunt
BBC.CO.UK reported on March 30, 2012:
“Japan says it will shoot down a North Korean rocket if necessary, as new satellite images appeared to show preparations for the launch next month.
“Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka issued the order to intercept the rocket if it threatened Japan’s territory.
“Pyongyang says it will launch a satellite on a rocket between 12-16 April.
“Satellite images taken on Wednesday indicate that work at the launch site is under way, says a US university.
“Mr Tanaka had issued an earlier order on Tuesday to the country’s defence forces to prepare ‘destruction measures against ballistic missiles’.
“On Friday, he told reporters in Tokyo that he had received cabinet approval to shoot down the rocket if necessary.
“The country began preparing missile defence systems last week.”
Also, from The Telegraph, April 3, 2012:
“Reconnaissance satellites have identified the huge missile at a government research and development facility in Pyongyang, South Korean government sources told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
“Analysts estimate the weapon to be around 130 feet long and, equipped with a more powerful booster unit, capable of delivering a warhead more than 6,200 miles.
“Unveiling the missile will raise new fears in neighbouring countries, already alarmed by Pyongyang’s insistence that it will go ahead with the launch in mid-April of a rocket to put a satellite into orbit…
“Tokyo is taking the threat posed by the planned launch of the North Korean rocket, announced for between April 12 and 16, seriously and is sending 450 troops to the southern island of Ishigaki to man Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles.
“The Japanese government has stated that it will shoot down the rocket if it threatens Japanese territory.
“Tokyo is also deploying state-of-the-art Aegis warships in the East China Sea to monitor the launch. The vessels will be protected by F-15 fighters.”
A Catholic Revival in Cuba
Caribbean 360 wrote on April 3, 2012:
“Good Friday, April 6, will be celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba for the first time since the early days of the 1959 Cuban Revolution when Fidel Castro abolished religious holidays in that country.
“This follows President Raul Castro’s granting of a request by Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s three-day visit to Cuba last week.
“The government said in a communiqué that the decision was made in view of the success of Benedict’s ‘transcendental visit’, adding that the Council of Ministers, Cuba’s supreme governing body, will later determine whether to make Good Friday a permanent holiday.
“Havana’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega referred to Benedict’s visit as a ‘Springtime of faith’. It came 14 years after Pope John Paul II’s groundbreaking trip in 1998, which many Cubans say was the beginning of the thaw in church-state relations. During this visit, then President Fidel Castro honoured John Paul’s request to restore Christmas as a public holiday.
“While Fidel Castro received the pope warmly in 1998, his brother and current president Raul Castro was even more attentive on this latest papal visit, attending the two Masses celebrated by Benedict, seated in the front row.
“’The fact that the Cuban authorities quickly welcomed the Holy Father’s request to President Raul Castro, declaring Good Friday a non-work day, is certainly a very positive sign,’ said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi in a statement.
“’The Holy See hopes that this will encourage participation in the religious celebrations and joyous Easter festivities, and that following the visit of the Holy Father will continue to bring the desired fruits for the good of the church and all Cubans,’ he added.”
On April 4, 2012, the Catholic News Service posted these summary comments given by Pope Benedict XVI regarding his visit to both Mexico and Cuba:
“‘I encouraged the Mexican people to let their deep Christian roots inspire their efforts to overcome violence and to work for a better future,’ he said.
“And in Cuba, ‘I prayed for a rebirth of faith, openness to God’s love and respect for the truth about our human dignity and freedom revealed in Christ,’ he said.”
Admittedly, this current pope has not seen the popularity of his predecessor, John Paul II; however, Benedict’s reception in Mexico and his impact on Cuban society have been significant. With a strong Catholic revival of former Communist bloc nations, Catholicism is gaining a renewed influence in both the religious and political realms.