Current Events

Bush Speech

President George W. Bush addressed the Republican Convention on September 2, 2004. We are bringing you the following excerpts from his speech:

“We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America and nothing will hold us back… I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy… In this world of change, some things do not change: the values we try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and purpose. Our society rests on a foundation of responsibility and character and family commitment….

“Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida’s key members and associates have been detained or killed.

“In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can to intimidate people yet more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the October presidential election — a resounding endorsement of democracy. Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong Prime Minister, a national council, and national elections are scheduled for January. Our Nation is standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because when America gives its word, America must keep its word… Our allies also know the historic importance of our work. About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq… America is grateful, and America will not forget….

“The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily, or all at once. …To everything we know there is a season — a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty’s century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America… Now we go forward grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth.”

Clinton Speech

Former President Bill Clinton is presently recuperating from a complicated quadruple heart bypass surgery. Many are praying for his speedy recovery. On July 26, 2004, Mr. Clinton gave a highly recognized speech at the Democratic Convention. We are quoting the following excerpts from his speech:

“The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges and serious problems, from AIDS to global warming to the continuing turmoil in the Middle East. But it is also full of amazing opportunities to create millions of new jobs and clean energy and biotechnology, to restore our manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy… To build that kind of world, we must make the right choices…

“Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all just wanted to be one nation. Not a single American on September 12, 2001, cared who won the next presidential election… All we wanted to do was to be one country, strong in the fight against terror, helping to heal those who were wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones, reaching out to the rest of the world so we could meet these new challenges and go on with our democratic way of life….

“America just works better when more people have a chance to live their dreams. And, secondly, we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot possibly kill, jail or occupy all of our potential adversaries. So we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists…

“In the early days of the republic, America was divided and at a crossroads, much as it is today, deeply divided over whether or not to build a real nation with a national economy and a national legal system. We chose to build a more perfect union. In the Civil War, America was at another crossroads, deeply divided over whether to save the union and end slavery. We chose a more perfect union. In the 1960s, when I was a young man, we were divided again over civil rights and women’s rights. And again we chose to form a more perfect union…

“Now, again, it is time to choose. Since we’re all in the same boat, we should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters, to the calm seas and the clear sides of our more perfect union. That is our mission.”

EU vs. Great Britain

As Associated Press reported on September 3, 2004, “The European Union’s executive will take Britain to the Court of Justice of the European Communities in a dispute over the controversial nuclear power plant at Sellafield, EU officials said.” The article continued: “The European Commission had told Britain in March to give EU inspectors unfettered access to the Sellafield site or face legal action, in a stern warning welcomed by environmental campaigners. The European Union executive’s patience had run out after repeatedly asking British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) to open up access, under a European agreement, to a facility on the site in northwest England that stores spent nuclear fuel. Under the terms of the 1957 Euratom Treaty, EU inspectors have the right to enter nuclear facilities in member states to ensure that material is being stored safely and cannot end up in the wrong hands. But for several years, inspectors have been unable to gain access to a pond at Sellafield called B30 that stores irradiated fuel because of high radiation levels and poor visibility, Brussels complained.”

Attacks on Iraq’s pipelines

AFP reported on September 3 about serious and heavy attacks on Iraq’s pipelines. The article stated: “Saboteurs exploded a bomb on the strategic pipeline at 6:30 pm Wednesday by the town of Riyadah 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Kirkuk, Iraqi officials said. They called it the most serious attack on the north’s oil infrastructure since the US-led invasion of Iraq.” The article continued: “Repeated sabotage of Iraq’s oil industry has cost the country more than a billion dollars in revenue. In particular, exports from the lucrative Kirkuk fields have been brought to a virtual standstill by insurgents for well over a year. A recent string of attacks has also damaged several pipelines in southern Iraq. That area accounts for 90 percent of exports from the country, which sits atop the world’s second-largest oil reserve.

What’s Happening in Russia?

While Russia’s leader, Putin, is blaming the terrible fiasco at a southern Russian school on terrorists, questions are being asked by some as to what happened — especially in light of the fact that Russia’s dealings with “Chechen rebels” have ended in tragedy before. Associated Press published an article on September 4, 2004, stating the following:

“More than 340 people, including 155 children, were killed in the violence that ended a hostage standoff with militants at a southern Russian school, a prosecutor said Saturday. President Vladimir Putin accused the attackers of trying to spark an ethnic conflict that would engulf Russia’s troubled Caucasus Mountains region.”

The article continued: “Two major hostage-taking raids by Chechen rebels outside the war-torn region in the past decade provoked Russian rescue operations that led to many deaths. The seizure of a Moscow theater in 2002 ended after a knockout gas was pumped into the building, debilitating the captors but causing almost all of the 129 hostage deaths. In 1995 – during the first of two wars in Chechnya in the past decade – rebels led by guerrilla commander Shamil Basayev seized a hospital in the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk, taking some 2,000 people hostage. The six-day standoff ended with a fierce Russian assault, and some 100 people died.”

In addition, Reuters published an article on September 4, titled, “Moscow Angered at EU Demand.” The article explained: “Russia denounced today as ‘blasphemous’ a request by the EU’s Dutch presidency for an explanation for the bloody end to a mass hostage seizure at a school by Chechen gunmen. But Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot, who made the request in a statement yesterday on behalf of the EU presidency, said he had been misunderstood… In a statement issued in the name of the EU presidency yesterday, Bot said all countries should work together to stop such tragedies, adding: ‘We also would like to know from the Russian authorities how this tragedy could have happened.'”

Questions are also being raised about Russia’s treatment or mistreatment of journalists. Associated Press reported on September 7, 2004:

“The detention of several journalists traveling to and from the deadly school siege in Russia is raising new concern about press freedom in the country, media watchdogs said Tuesday. There are also accusations that a prominent Russian journalist and critic of Moscow’s campaign in Chechnya, Anna Politkovskaya, was victim of a deliberate case of food poisoning…. Some analysts fear the Russian government may tighten its grip further following the school siege and other attacks in recent days blamed on Chechen separatists. ‘The fear of the Russian population will be used to justify further restrictions on the media,’ said Luitgard Hammerer, of Article 19, a London-based free speech group. … Chechnya is the most taboo subject, watchdogs say. ‘There is a complete blackout of information on what’s happening in Chechnya,’ Blatmann, of Reporters Without Borders, said. ‘In this critical moment, the Russian population has the right to receive independent and complete information.’ … Press freedom organizations say that in recent years Putin has been exercising strict control over much of the media, particularly broadcasters.”

The Bush Administration pointed out its different position regarding Putin’s “handling” of the Chechnya situation. As Associated Press reported on September 7, 2004, “The Bush administration differed Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that only a political settlement could end the crisis between Russia and the breakaway region of Chechnya.” But Putin’s hard course was again manifested, as the article continued to point out: “In an interview Monday with a group of foreign journalists and academics, Putin rejected Western calls for negotiations with Chechen rebel representatives, Britain’s Guardian and Independent newspapers reported. ‘Why don’t you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?’ the Guardian quoted Putin as saying sarcastically.”

In a related article, the Washington Times wrote in its editorial of September 7, 2004: “Vladimir Putin’s government, which has had trouble getting its stories straight every time there’s a massacre, now says it has determined that at least 10 of the 30 or so intruders who took more than a thousand hostages were Arabs, and the others were Chechens and Ingush who were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Survivors of the massacre said some of their captors spoke Arabic, and Russian security agents confiscated notebooks in the rubble, inscribed in Arabic script.”

The ongoing consequences of this act of terrorism show how swiftly seemingly isolated events can cause major international difficulties. As reported by, 9/9/2004, “The European Union, already at odds with the Bush administration over pre-emptive military strikes, reacted warily to a warning from Moscow that it too reserved the right to neutralize terror threats anywhere in the world.” The article continued: “Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, said Wednesday that ‘we will take all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world.’ “

This article also showed that the prevailing position of the EU in matters such as this was against such pre-emptive strikes: ” ‘For us, it is by its nature a question that must be debated under the European framework, in the Group of Eight and of course in the United Nations,’ spokesman Herve Ladsous told reporters.”

Is Schwarzenegger Changing History? published an article on September 4, regarding statements about Austria, as uttered in a recent speech by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Austrian historians are alleging that Schwarzenegger inaccurately described Austrian history. The article pointed out:

“Historians criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger for telling the Republican National Convention that he left a ‘socialist’ country when he moved away in 1968, noting that Austria had conservative leaders during the entire time he lived there. Some also were doubtful about Schwarzenegger’s remark that he saw Soviet tanks as a child, since he lived in an Austrian region occupied by British troops after World War II… In his convention address Tuesday, Schwarzenegger said: ‘As a kid, I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left’ in 1955 and Austria regained its independence. But Austria was governed by coalition governments that included the conservative People’s Party and the liberal Social Democratic Party, Martin Polaschek, a law history scholar and vice rector of Graz University, told the Vienna newspaper Kurier. Between 1945 and 1970, all the nation’s chancellors were conservatives — not socialists. And when Schwarzenegger left in 1968, Austria was run by a conservative government headed by People’s Party Chancellor Josef Klaus, a staunch Roman Catholic and a sharp critic of both the socialists and the communists ruling in countries across the Iron Curtain.”

The article published the following retort, in defense of Schwarzenegger: “Schwarzenegger’s spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, said the governor was not referring specifically to the Socialist party but rather to ‘a socialistic style of government and governing that he experienced when living in Austria’… [and] to a visit to the Soviet zone, which was as close as 30 miles to his family’s home. ‘Never in there did the governor reference that the tanks were where he grew up. It was a reference to visiting Soviet-occupied Austria,’ she said.”

The article also briefly commented on the (somewhat sad) reaction of the general Austrian public, as follows: “Many ordinary Austrians seemed in a forgiving mood Friday over any gaffes. ‘Maybe he has a wrong recollection — it’s so many years since he left,’ said Wilma Fadrany, 32, a waitress in Vienna. ‘There must be political reasons for such comments,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to tell the (convention delegates) what they want to hear in order to win them over. Politicians always talk the way it fits into their agenda.'”

Hurricane Frances’ Damage

According to an article of the Associated Press, dated September 6, 2004, “Hurricane Frances did more damage to the Kennedy Space Center than any other storm in history, tearing an estimated 1,000 exterior panels from a giant building where spaceships are assembled, officials said Monday.”

Even as the human and economic toll for Frances is tallied, another more powerful hurricane name “Ivan” is threatening to hit the state of Florida by late this weekend. This dangerous storm has already brought devastating destruction to several Caribbean islands.

Military Deaths in Iraq

Associated Press reported on September 7, 2004, that “U.S. military deaths in the Iraq campaign passed the 1,000 milestone Tuesday, with more than 800 of them during the stubborn insurgency that flared after the Americans brought down Saddam Hussein and President Bush declared major combat over.” The article continued: “The 1,003 figure includes deaths from hostile and non-hostile causes since the United States launched the Iraq campaign in March 2003 to topple Saddam’s regime. The vast majority of U.S. deaths – all but 138 – came after Bush’s May 1, 2003 declaration of an end to major combat operations. ‘Mission Accomplished,’ read a banner on an aircraft carrier where Bush made the announcement.”

IPS reported on September 7, 2004, that “The new outbreak of violence in Baghdad has shattered ceasefire talks between Shia militants and the Iraqi government.”

British Report on Iraq

Associated Press reported on September 7 that a British report concluded: “British Evidence on Iraq Thin.” The article continued: “Intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons was ‘very thin,’ the author of a critical report on the British government’s case for war in Iraq said Tuesday. In his first public comments since publishing the results of his inquiry in July, Lord Butler said the weakness of a government dossier on the threat posed by Iraq had ‘come home to roost’ as no such weapons had been found.”

Germany and the Wall

A somewhat shocking survey was just published in Germany. Reuters reported on September 8, 2004, that “Fourteen years and a trillion euros after reunification one in five Germans would like to see the barrier that split the country during the Cold War put back, a survey found Wednesday. A poll by the Forsa institute found a quarter of western Germans wishing the 15 million east Germans were cut off again by the Berlin Wall, living in a different state, while 12 percent of eastern Germans wanted out of the united Germany….The lingering divisions have erupted in recent months as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government attempts to reduce unemployment and welfare benefits, touching a nerve in the east… Thirty-seven percent of west Germans said the 80 billion euros ($96.28 billion) the government pumps into the east each year was too much. But almost a third of east Germans thought it too little, Forsa said.”

Germany’s Economy

Associated Press reported on September 6, 2004, about Germany’s economy and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s recent state election defeats. The article stated: “Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insisted on Monday that there was no turning back in cutting social programs despite pressure to reverse the unpopular measures after his party suffered a rout in a German state election. Schroeder’s Social Democrats lost 45 percent of their voter support Sunday in the small western state of Saarland, while the conservative Christian Democrats – the main opposition party at the national level – retained control of the local legislature and the governor’s post… Schroeder has staked his political future on the reforms, which he says are needed to boost Europe’s largest economy, reduce debt and fight unemployment. But the latest electoral defeat reignited criticism of his course inside his party and among labor unions. … In Sunday’s vote, support for the Social Democrats plunged to 30.8 percent from 44.4 percent in the last Saarland election in 1999, the party’s worst showing in the state since 1960. Those capitalizing on the backlash included the small far-right National Democratic Party, which came out of nowhere to win 4 percent of the vote with a platform opposed to Schroeder’s welfare-state cuts.”

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