Current Events

U.S. and Europe Differ on Fight Against Terrorism

Associated Press reported on May 28, 2004:

“Their countries are among the richest, most powerful on Earth. But politically, European leaders heading to the United States for a summit with President Bush are walking wounded. Taking part in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq has hurt the British and Italian prime ministers, Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi, at home. The leaders of Germany and France are burdened by sluggish economies. Only Russian President Vladimir Putin, re-elected in a March landslide, looks strong… France and other opponents of the war have no desire to see Iraq plunge deeper into chaos. Germany is helping train a new Iraqi police force, and European and American security agencies work closely in investigating, tracking and shutting down terrorists. But European governments don’t necessarily agree with Washington that the war on terrorism must be global, encompassing not only Iraq and al-Qaida, but perhaps even Iran and North Korea, countries Bush once labeled ‘an axis of evil.’ On terrorism, ‘there are two completely different visions,’ said Pascal Boniface, director of the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris. ‘We agree on the goal, but disagree totally on how to get there.'”

Europe Condemns U.S. Tortures

Russia’s Pravda ran this article on May 29, 2004: “Latin America and Europe condemn US tortures in Iraq.” It continued: “In a joint statement, leaders from all Latin American and European nations condemned US tortures of Iraqi prisoners… Leaders and top diplomatic officials from 33 Latin American countries and 25 European nations [met] in the Mexican city of Guadalajara to blast the US-led campaign in Iraq. The 58 nations signed a joint declaration which denounces ‘the abuse of prisoners in Iraq’, and delivered criticism of the United States for its refusal to cooperate with the United Nations. As it was expected, neither British Prime Minister Tony Blair, nor his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, attended the meeting. In a declaration… officials attending the Third Summit of Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union condemned unilateral actions contradicting international law and outlined ‘our horror at the recent evidence of mistreatment of the prisoners in Iraqi prisons… We energetically condemn all forms of abuse, torture and other cruelty, degrading and inhumanly treating people, including prisoners of war, in whatever location they occur,’ states the document. ‘We express our horror at the recent evidence of mistreating prisoners in Iraq. These abuses go against international law, such as the Geneva Convention.’…”

The article went on to say: “At a stopover in Mexico City on May 25, on the way to the Guadalajara summit, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder produced some important remarks on the U.S.-British draft UN Security Council resolution on Iraq. Mr. Schroeder said that the current draft version must be modified, and added that Germany wants a ‘real handover of sovereignty’ in Iraq. Germany — together with Russia, France and China — is proposing major changes to the resolution, which would give Iraq’s interim government control over the Iraqi army and police and require the U.S.-led multinational force to consult on military actions except for self-defense. [As Der Spiegel Online reported on June 1, 2004, President Bush called Chancellor Schroeder for support of the U.S. resolution. Details of the phone conversation were not made public]. French President Jacques Chirac, visiting Guatemala before the summit, said the U.S.-British resolution needed to be improved, adding that Iraq should have sovereignty over its armed forces and natural resources starting June 30. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, in turn, when meeting with Mexico’s Vicente Fox, praised Mexico’s ‘bravery’ in refusing to back the Iraq war and lauded Mexico’s calls for multilateral foreign policy actions. Trade issues also dominated the summit’s agenda, with the EU and the four Mercosur nations — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — saying they intend to sign an ‘ambitious’ free trade accord in October. However, they did not agree in crucial points, as the total liberalization of the agricultural trading.”

Earthquakes Linked?

Associated Press reported last week that “a major earthquake that hit Alaska in 2002 set off a flurry of smaller quakes in far-off Yellowstone National Park and changed eruption intervals in several geysers… Scientists say that the Denali fault earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 7.9 and hit in November 2002, is believed to be the first in modern times in North America to trigger large-scale changes in geysers and hot springs so far away.”

U.S. Catholic Church Under Attack?

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on May 28, 2004, “Cardinal Bernard Law was appointed by the pope yesterday to a ceremonial but highly visible post in Rome, outraging many in the archdiocese Law left in disgrace at the height of the clergy sex scandal [Law and other church officials had shifted child-molesting priests from parish to parish for decades] … Bob Bowers of St. Catherine’s church in Charlestown said he was astonished the Vatican would ‘reward’ Law.”

The paper also reported that a watchdog group asked the IRS to revoke tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic diocese in Colorado Springs over the bishop’s threat to withhold communion from those who vote for politicians who disagree with the church’s religious teachings on abortion rights and other topics. The watchdog group claims that “the church uses its resources for political purposes.” It is only hoped that the IRS will not fall for such ridiculous argumentation, lest a church is no longer permitted to teach and engage in its religious beliefs.

The Pope and the Beetle

Zenit reported on May 26, 2004, that “the last Volkswagen Beetle made in Mexico has been given to John Paul II. The car, one of a limited series of 30,000 was given to the Pope today… John Paul II blessed the car… The light blue Beetle, which will have a Vatican City license plate (its initials are SCV), is the last in this series of cars whose origins date back to the 1930s. [In fact, it was Adolph Hitler who was instrumental for and supportive of the mass manufacturing and production of the “bug” or “Volkswagen” — meaning, the “people’s car.”] Some 21 million ‘bugs’ have been produced over the years. Their production stopped in Europe in 1978, but continued in Mexico until last July 30.”

An Example of Futility

The San Diego Union Tribune reported on June 1, 2004, about an unbelievable situation in California and in the United States that punishes the innocent and rewards the evildoers. We speak of the concept of punitive damages in civil suits. As the paper pointed out, “The irony of current tax policy is that while the innocent victims who receive punitive damages must pay taxes on them, the payors — those who commit malice and oppression — can write off the payments as tax deduction… Exxon’s $1.1 billion settlement with the U.S. government over the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation cost Exxon a maximum of $524 million after the oil company’s tax deductions. The Congressional Research Office found that more than half of the civil damages totaling $900 million could be written off on Exxon’s federal tax return.”

Truly, this world has it all backwards…

U.S. Lost in Afghanistan

On June 1, 2004, the San Diego Union Tribune reprinted an interesting article from the Chicago Sun-Times, titled, “Barely holding on in Afghanistan.” While the world’s attention is mainly focused on Iraq, the article pointed out how the situation in Afghanistan is equally troublesome for the U.S. The article explained:

“The handful of valiant American warriors fighting the ‘other’ war in Afghanistan is not a happy band of brothers. They are undermanned and feel neglected, lack confidence in their generals and are disgusted by Afghan political leadership. Most important, they are appalled by the immense but fruitless effort to find Osama bin Laden for purposes of U.S. politics… [The] overlooked war continues WITH NO END IN SIGHT. Narcotics trafficking is at an all-time high. If U.S. forces were to leave [Afghanistan], the Taliban — or something like it — would regain power. THE UNITED STATES IS LOST IN AFGHANISTAN, BOUND TO THIS WILD COUNTRY AND UNABLE TO LEAVE. The situation in Afghanistan… looks NOTHING like a country alleged to be PROGRESSING TOWARD representative DEMOCRACY under American tutelage. Harrid Karzai, the U.S. sponsored Afghan president, is regarded by U.S. troops as hopelessly corrupt and kept in power by U.S. force of arms… The basic U.S. strength in Afghanistan is 17,000 troops of ‘straight-legged’ infantry — conventional forces ill-prepared to handle irregulars…” The article’s conclusion: “Being lost in Afghanistan transcends politics and is a LONG-TERM AMERICAN BURDEN.”

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