Reactions to European Summit
European Unification Unstoppable?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 23:
“Europe can breathe a sigh of relief after a marathon night of negotiations ended in a deal. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the stakes by threatening to go ahead without Poland, Warsaw was finally placated with a number of concessions and all 27 countries agreed to move forward with a new draft treaty to replace the defunct constitution… EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the deal was vital: ‘I think now we have made a great step forward.’ He praised Merkel for a success that many had thought impossible, and presenting her with a bunch of flowers, thanked her for all she had done for Europe… British Prime Minister Tony Blair said ‘I don’t think there is anything that can derail the process now.’…
“The agreement is crucial for the EU… Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had been determined to revive the plans to streamline the EU when Berlin took over the presidency in January… And she finally succeeded. The member states have agreed to an intergovernmental conference which will give the deal a legal framework. The treaty will then be ratified by the member states and should come into force by 2009…”
… But Many Serious Problems Remain for Europe…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 23:
“All of Europe’s internal divisions were revealed at the Brussels summit. Once again, selfish national interests were promoted with tricks, threats and embarrassing haggling. Nevertheless, the result is a step forward for the European Union.
“Of course, in the end there were only winners. Angela Merkel, Germany’s new superwoman, chancellor in Berlin and, as a side-line, Europe’s savior, summed up. She said, ‘everything that we wanted was achieved.’ France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that it was ‘very good news for Europe and for France: Things have been taken care of.’ Of course he had played a big part in it. As had British Prime Minister Tony Blair and many others.
“Even Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski, who had continuously threatened to torpedo the European Union summit, saw himself as a winner too. The solution that had been found for the EU Council voting system was ‘more favorable for Poland than the square root’…
“… The 27-member EU club is full of internal conflicts. A large group of members would like to work even more closely together, but there is a handful of countries which want to prevent that. And to ensure that the handful doesn’t regularly block everything, they have to be regularly compensated.
“That is exactly what happened at this meeting of the EU leaders. In reality, this summit was less about finding political compromises with partners who had different opinions and concerns. Rather it was yet another brazen attempt on the part of some to use tricks and threats to achieve the maximum for their selfish national interests. Poland and Great Britain were the main offenders, but others weren’t far behind…
“The British rejected everything that could affect their national sovereignty or that could make the island nation more continental. They don’t want the euro, or traveling on the right-hand side of the road, and, above all, not too much cooperation. The message was: We are different from you, and that is how things should stay. The main thing is that the City in London continues to make money out of Europe…
“The European foreign policy chief will be appointed in 2009, though he will be called the ‘High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ rather than minister out of respect for Britain. The creation of the post will give the EU a single voice in the world for the first time…
“Only the citizens will not be treated any better than before. Europe, or at least the political and bureaucratic institutions, which think of themselves as Europe, doesn’t trust its own population. So that the French and the Dutch don’t notice that the new text has much of the same substance as the old constitution, which they have already killed off in referenda, the authors of the new treaty have hidden and encoded anything controversial to such an extent that no one can read the treaty or even understand it. People just have to blindly believe…”
Europe Angry With Poland
Prior to the EU Agreement, Europe looked with anger at Poland and–to a lesser degree–Britain.
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 22:
“When Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski chose to bring up Poland’s suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany on the eve of this week’s EU summit, most of Europe was shocked. German commentators fired back on Friday… Kaczynski told Polish radio on Tuesday that his objection to a proposed new voting formula in the European Union went back to the country’s suffering under German occupation. ‘We are merely demanding what was taken from us,’ he said. ‘If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million.’ Poland’s current population is 38 million…
“Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it was an unfortunate statement and a distraction. ‘It’s an absurd idea to base today’s decisions on a very tragic history,’ he said. Estonia’s Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said Europe could not continue ‘living in the past.’
“Hans-Gert Pöttering, current president of the European Parliament, and a German conservative, said he found Kaczynski’s words ‘very painful.'”
Germany’s mass tabloid, Bild Online, minced no words. It wrote on June 22:
“Are these Poles mad? What else do we have to take from the Poles? Nobody in Europe has done more for Poland than we Germans… We paid over 6 billion euros in reparation costs after the war, and we forgave them their debt in an amount of six billion deutsch marks. Without German help, Poland might not even be a EU member… But where is their thanks?… Especially now, as Germany is in charge of the EU Parliament, Poland forsakes Angela Merkel in her fight for a united Europe. Responsible for the hatred against Germany and Europe are the Polish twins… They only know life outside Poland from TV. In Brussels, they suffer from an inferiority complex–they feel alienated, expelled, persecuted.”
Europe’s Back to Its Old “Undemocratic Tricks”
The Wall Street Journal wrote on June 25 about the European Summit as “The Summit of All Fears.” The paper pointed out:
“Europe is back, the papers and politicians tell us, thanks to a ‘Reform Treaty’ agreed in Brussels in the wee hours of Saturday morning…
“Europe is back, all right — back to its old tricks and undemocratic sleights of hand… the stillborn Constitution has been largely transposed to the new Reform Treaty, which the EU hopes to ratify in all member states by 2009.
“A few items were excised from the rejected 2004 document, such as plans for a common anthem (Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’). But others persist. The planned ‘Union Minister for Foreign Affairs’ is replaced by a ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,’ as if adding a few words would make it sound less threatening to national sovereignty. The new office of EU President remains a go…
“There will be enormous pressure on all EU leaders not to allow mere citizens to muck up the plan devised in Brussels. Mr. Sarkozy himself shows no inclination to hold a repeat referendum in France. He and others on the Continent will lobby Gordon Brown, who takes over as British Prime Minister this week, to follow suit and avoid putting the treaty to voters. Bowing to Brussels, Mr. Brown has indicated that he’ll ask Parliament to ratify, not British voters.”
Britain’s Surrender of Its Powers
Britain’s mass tabloid, The Sun, wrote on June 23:
“Tony Blair last night agreed to surrender swathes of British power to the EU — in a deal to keep control of foreign policy and shop-floor laws. The PM signed away Britain’s veto in 52 areas of policy in a new Brussels treaty in his last act as Premier. There will be NO referendum for voters. But Mr Blair claimed VICTORY as he safeguarded control over just four of his ‘key’ areas.”
The EU’s “Undemocratic Ruthlessness”
Britain’s Daily Mail had this to say, on June 24, about the EU Summit and Mr. Blair’s role:
“What actually happened in last Saturday’s pre-dawn diplomatic brawl in Brussels was that Mr Blair’s red lines turned into the colour of fudge and then faded from sight altogether. The supposed safeguards he secured on the core issues of foreign policy, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, economic policy and criminal justice are simply not worth the paper they are written on. For the new treaty doesn’t just extend the EU’s powers. It turns it into a constitutional freak, a bureaucratic Frankenstein’s monster without a shred of democratic legitimacy, which will destroy what remains of our powers of self-government and make Mr Blair’s apparent ‘opt-outs’ absurdly irrelevant.
“For example, the EU is now to have its own foreign minister… What’s more, member states will be forced to support that policy ‘actively and unreservedly’ – and will be barred from launching military strikes or declaring war that might be thought to damage the EU’s standing. In other words, we would be forbidden from defending our own interests and would be forced instead to do whatever the EU collectively decides…
“Just as devastatingly, Mr Blair has surrendered Britain’s power to block a European police force and public prosecutor, and the European Court of Justice will get enhanced powers to tell us how to run our justice system and determine our immigration policy… And even worse than all of this is the outrageous provision by which this treaty can be amended in future without the need for any further treaties. So we are not merely signing away all the powers listed in this treaty; we are also surrendering our ability to thwart any future attempt by Brussels to extend its power over us yet further in any way it might decide…
“This is the EU constitution in all but name. To describe it as an ‘amending’ treaty is demonstrably untrue. It grants the EU a single legal personality whereby it can sign treaties and international agreements in its own right. It thus brings into being a totally new global entity – a superstate – which changes the legal relationship between Britain and the EU into one to which the British people have never agreed. The way it is being pushed through, moreover, takes the undemocratic ruthlessness of the EU to new depths.”
What the EU Agreed To
Der Spiegel Online summarized on June 25, what the EU Summit agreed upon. We are setting forth the most important agreements in the light of Biblical prophecy:
“The agreement reached at the summit is to establish the framework for the EU Intergovernmental Conference which will transform Saturday’s agreement into a treaty. Later this year, EU leaders will meet once again to sign the treaty. It will take effect in 2009, in time for EU elections… The European Council (made up of heads of state or government from EU member states) is to be directed by a specially appointed president for two- and- a-half years at a time… Countries such as Great Britain can withdraw from EU resolutions on issues such as closer cooperation in the areas of justice and policing… If no agreement is reached within a period of four months, those states that so desire can take the lead — a so-called ‘two- speed’ Europe.
“… The EU foreign minister, who operates in agreement with individual governments, will be called the ‘High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,’ as requested by Britain. He is also the vice president of the European Commission…The new top diplomat will also be in charge of a new European diplomatic service.
“… For the first time, the EU treaty officially allows countries to leave the EU — something that was already possible unofficially, as shown by the case of Greenland which elected to withdraw from the European Economic Community after receiving autonomy in 1979. Countries that wish to join the EU must respect its values and commit to promoting them.
“… The Charter of Fundamental Rights is no longer part of the EU treaty. But the treaty will refer to it and will declare it as binding. An exception will be made for Britain, which has no constitution and is concerned the Charter of Fundamental Rights could effectively become a constitution imposed from outside… The EU symbols once mentioned in the European Constitution — the flag and the hymn — will not feature in the revised treaty. But they will effectively continue to exist.”
German Reactions to New EU Treaty
Der Spiegel Online reported on June 25:
“The European Union hammered out a compromise deal on a new treaty early Saturday morning in Brussels, after Poland, Britain and the Netherlands won a number of concessions. As the dust settles, many German commentators wonder if the compromise deal has left Europe even less harmonious than before…
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘A union that needs to mobilize its last reserves, including the threat of a split, just to come to a half-way acceptable reform compromise, has a deep-seated problem… Under these circumstances, it was a respectable achievement on the part of the German EU presidency. For Europe it was a stroke of luck that Angela Merkel has a deep European conviction along with strategic skills and a remarkable courage to take risks…’
“The conservative daily Die Welt writes:
“… ‘Angela Merkel solved the almost unsolvable… But the conflict is not over. The interests of the old and new EU member states, are too different…’
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“… ‘In Brussels the EU member states revealed, shamelessly, how much at odds with each other they are on fundamental issues and how relentlessly they pursue their own interests… In the East … there are still powerful resentments against Germany… This is particularly surprising in Poland’s case. Obviously the pro-Polish policies of German governments since (Willy) Brandt couldn’t prevent the Kaczynskis and their supporters from using labels from the Nazi era… The Brussels summit has once and for all refuted the claim that it is possible to expand and deepen the EU to the same degree’…
The Financial Times Deutschland writes:
“…’the political substance of the failed constitution has been kept — with far-reaching consequences for the EU … Germany as the most populous country, has the biggest voting weight… Europe’s fate rests on how it organizes its relationship to its immediate neighbors. That includes a lasting peace in the Balkans, [a] balanced relationship with Russia and a close link with Turkey. The EU also has to represent its interests in relation to the other powers in the world, such as the US and China. This is where the new EU foreign minister will play a central role, even if the British insist he is only to be called “high representative.”
Germany Unhappy with Poland and Britain
Deutsche Welle wrote on June 24: “The German press on Sunday slammed Poland and Britain for putting obstacles on the road to the deal reached on guidelines for a new European Union treaty at the bloc’s summit this week.
“Bild, the mass-circulation tabloid and country’s top selling newspaper, reserved its harshest criticism for neighboring Poland, calling the Kaczynski twins who hold the posts of Polish president and prime minister ‘poison dwarves.’ ‘It would have been better if this summit had failed,’ the newspaper said in an editorial, adding that the bitter dispute over Poland’s voting rights has shown that there is little hope for unity in the EU. ‘That would have prevented the creation of a Europe of two speeds and two classes. The sickening double game played by the Polish brothers Kaczynski should make it clear to any fan of Europe that this is now inevitable.’…
“‘Warsaw is on board. But the treaty should not yet be considered saved,’ Der Tagesspiegel newspaper said. It warned that the upcoming intergovernmental conference to finalize drafting the treaty and the ratification process present ‘the next obstacles.’ The Berliner Morgenpost agreed, saying that ‘disaster has been averted, for now. It is annoying to see to what extent the nationalistic, egotistical blocking tactics of Poland and Britain paid off,’ it added…
“Welt am Sonntag described the haggling that preceded the deal as ‘torture’ and said despite its eventual success the summit will be remembered mostly for Britain and Poland’s ‘egotistical’ behavior.”
Putin’s Latest Push — “The North Pole Is Ours!”
The Daily Mail reported on June 28:
“Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic, giving himself claim to its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth. His audacious argument that an underwater Russian ridge is linked to the North Pole is likely to lead to an international outcry. Some commentators have already observed it is further evidence of growing Russian assertiveness under its authoritarian president…
“A diplomatic source said that Russia was ‘seeking to secure its grip on oil and gas supplies for decades to come. Putin wants a strong Russia, and Western dependence for oil and gas supplies is a key part of his strategy. He no longer cares if his strategy upsets the West.'”
Religious Persecution in Germany and Europe
“The Brussels Journal” wrote on June 23, 2007:
“Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for ‘Volksverhetzung’ (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe’s official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are ‘undemocratic’ and ‘a threat to human rights.’
“Without legalized abortion the number of German children would increase annually by at least 150,000 – which is the number of legal abortions in birth dearth Germany. Pastor Johannes Lerle compared the killing of the unborn to the killing of the Jews in Auschwitz during the Second World War. On 14 June, a court in Erlangen ruled that, in doing so, the pastor had ‘incited the people’ because his statement was a denial of the holocaust of the Jews in Nazi-Germany. Hence, Herr Lerle was sentenced to one year in jail. Earlier, he had already spent eight months in jail for calling abortionists ‘professional killers’ – an allegation which the court ruled to be slanderous because, according to the court, the unborn are not humans.
“Other German courts convicted pro-lifers for saying that ‘in abortion clinics, life unworthy of living is being killed,’ because this terminology evoked Hitler’s euthanasia program, which used the same language. In 2005, a German pro-lifer, Günter Annen, was sentenced to 50 days in jail for saying ‘Stop unjust [rechtswidrige] abortions in [medical] practice,’ because, according to the court, the expression ‘unjust’ is understood by laymen as meaning illegal, which abortions are not.
“Volksverhetzung is a crime which the Nazis often invoked against their enemies and which contemporary Germany also uses to intimidate homeschoolers. Soon, the German authorities will be able to use the same charge against people who question Darwin’s evolution theory… According to a report of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly, creationists are dangerous ‘religious fundamentalists’ who propagate ‘forms of religious extremism’ and ‘could become a threat to human rights.’ The report adds that the acceptance of the science of evolutionism ‘is crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies.’
“’Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon,’ the report says. ‘Today creationist theories are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states. […] [T]his is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism, synonymous with attacks of utmost virulence on human rights. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights. […] The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy. […] If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists… While most curricula in Europe today unashamedly teach evolution as a recognised scientific theory, the same does not apply to the United States…’
“In Germany, believing abortion to be as murderous as the holocaust is a crime, and educating your own children is a crime too. In France, saying that ‘homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity’ is a crime, and so is the distribution of pork soup to the poor. In Belgium, speaking out against immigration is a crime.”
… Prompting Poland to Fire Back and Anger Germans Even More
On June 27, Der Spiegel Online reported:
“In a radio interview, Poland’s prime minister issues an ominous warning about Berlin, implying that contemporary Germany is comparable to the time that saw Adolf Hitler rise to power. One day after a Polish magazine published a cover illustration showing the German Chancellor Angela Merkel breast- feeding the Kaczynski twins, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is again busy shouting insults at Berlin… The prime minister, however, did not elaborate on exactly what is happening in Germany…
“Germany wants to ratchet up diplomacy with Warsaw by resuming regular summit meetings between Germany, France and Poland — a proposal that came out of the EU meeting in Brussels aimed at drawing Poland deeper into the EU and also striking more conciliatory tones.
“But some observers see different motivations coming from the Kaczynskis, including the editorial writers at the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, who note: ‘All the prime minister cares about with his venomous and bile-filled attacks against Germany … is to help shore up his diminishing popularity in Poland.'”
No Equal Satus for Islam in Germany
Deutsche Welle wrote on June 25:
“The Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) harshly criticized the Christian churches after high-ranking German [Catholic] clergyman [and head of the German conference of bishops] Cardinal Karl Lehmann last week spoke out against Islam enjoying equal status to Christianity… Germany’s 3.2 million Muslims are not represented by a single umbrella organization, but by many smaller ones. Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, agreed with Lehmann that Islam should not be granted the same legal standing as Christianity. ‘Unlike Christianity, Islam is not in Europe’s cultural center and is not reflected in everyday life in the same way,’ Pofalla said in a statement.”
… And More Religious Persecution in Germany
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 26:
“Germany’s Defense Ministry has said it will ban the Hollywood makers of a film about a plot to kill Hitler from shooting scenes at military sites in Berlin because its heartthrob star, Tom Cruise, is a Scientologist. Filming is expected to start in July on ‘Valkyrie,’ a drama about a failed plot hatched by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg to kill Hitler using a briefcase bomb.
“Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer, cited by Reuters, said the filmmakers ‘will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult.’… According to Reuters, Cruise’s producing partner, United Artists Entertainment CEO Paula Wagner, issued a sharp rebuke, saying that the actor’s ‘personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie’s plot, themes or content.’
“… Blumenthal [the appointed so-called “cult expert” for the governing conservative Christian Democrats]… has remained undeterred in her campaign against the actor and the cult, whose beliefs are based on the science fiction writings of L. Ron Hubbard. ‘We have to present a united front against Scientology,’ she said. Blumenthal accused the organization of spreading views in the tradition of National Socialism – ‘and I find it, to say the least, odd that someone who represents this organization would be able to film at the site of a memorial to resistance against National Socialism of all places.’…
“A party spokesman for the Christian Democrats in the city of Berlin took the statement even further, telling the paper: ‘Resistance against the National Socialist dictatorship must not be abused for the PR purposes of a dangerous and totalitarian brainwashing organization like Scientology.'”
New Controversial US Travel Security Restrictions for EU Visitors
The Associated Press reported on June 25 about additional measures to be implemented soon by American airports and border patrols involving EU visitors. These measures will constitute, in the eyes of European visitors and their countries, further harassment against them by the American government. The article stated:
“Visitors from European nations traveling with visas or visa-free to the United States will soon have to give 10 digital fingerprints when entering the country, a senior U.S. Homeland Security official said Monday. Border checks could also soon include other biometric data, such as facial and eye retina scans… a pilot project at 10 major U.S. airports would be launched in late 2007, expanding the current program that calls for taking prints of two fingers and facial photographs…
“U.S. travel security restrictions have caused increased opposition in EU nations, amid demands from Brussels that Washington expand its visa-waiver program to include all 27 EU nations…
“Airports chosen for the initial pilot project include Boston Logan International, Chicago’s O’Hare, George Bush Houston Intercontinental, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Miami International, John F. Kennedy International, Orlando International, San Francisco International and Washington Dulles International.”
Further Deterioration of German-US Relationship
Der Spiegel Online reported on June 25:
“The arrest warrants German authorities have issued against 10 CIA agents have burdened German-American relations. Now, prosecutors in Munich want the agents extradited to Germany so they can stand trial for their alleged roles in the illegal kidnapping of terror suspects… Officials in Washington have… realized that the German investigation is more than just a symbolic act…
“There is general agreement within the government in Berlin that the request should be promptly delivered to the Bush administration, which would be tantamount to an official request for the arrest of the men being sought…
“At a recent lunch in the German Embassy in Washington, Michael Hayden, the new CIA director, complained about the ‘bottomless criticism’ from Europe that the US government faces for abducting suspicious Islamists. One US diplomat calls Germany’s approach the ‘German double standard.’ On the one hand, he says, the Germans seek to benefit from information gleaned by the CIA. On the other, they are careful to keep their hands clean. According to US diplomats, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made it clear to her German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that the investigations of the agents present a serious problem.
“Even before the warrant was issued for the arrest of agent John Koenig, a representative of the US embassy in Berlin had met with German officials at the Chancellery and the Justice Ministry and lodged an official diplomatic protest…
“The German government could have put a stop to the arrest warrants in the first stage. It would simply have had to refer to Paragraph 153c of the German Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that a legal proceeding can be terminated by official decree if this is in the ‘prevailing public interest.’ But a group of senior officials meeting at the Justice Ministry rejected a government veto, arguing that any government efforts to apply the brakes on the investigation would be too difficult for the public to swallow. As a result, the cabinet decided to allow the Munich prosecutors’ petition for the issuance of international arrest warrants to stand…”
Global Distrust of President Bush and America
On June 28, The Times wrote:
“Global distrust of President Bush is mutating into an almost worldwide sentiment of anti-Americanism, according to the world’s most comprehensive poll of international opinion, published yesterday… It found ‘a broad and deepening dislike of American values and a global backlash against the spread of American ideas’ – although US technology and popular culture is still held in high regard.
“Pluralities in most countries now express distaste for notions of democracy promoted by the US, blame it for contributing to global inequality and ‘hurting the world’s environment’, while also disliking the way American businesses operate. Hostility towards the US is strongest in Muslim countries and Western Europe, where people also show little sign of being impressed by alternative world powers such as Russia and China.”
Senate Blocks Immigration Bill
The Associated Press reported on June 28:
“The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush’s plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, likely postponing major action on immigration until after the 2008 elections. After the stinging political setback, Bush sounded resigned to defeat. ‘Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress’ failure to act on it is a disappointment,’ he said after an appearance in Newport, R.I. ‘A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work.’ The bill’s Senate supporters fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and clear the way for final passage of the legislation, which critics assailed as offering amnesty to illegal immigrants. The vote was 46 to 53 in favor of limiting the debate.”
Showdown Between White House and Congress
The Associated Press reported on June 27:
“The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration’s warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans. Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee also is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced…
“The escalation is part of the Democrats’ effort to hold the administration to account for the way it has conducted the war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The subpoenas extend the probe into the private sector, demanding among other things documents on any agreements that telecommunications companies made to cooperate with the surveillance program… The showdown between the White House and Congress could land in federal court… The four parties — the White House, Cheney’s office, the Justice Department and the National Security Council — have until July 18 to comply, Leahy said. He added that… he would consider pursuing contempt citations against those who refuse.”
The Associated Press added on June 28, pertaining to a related situation:
“President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers’ demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors. Bush’s attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor… The Democratic chairmen of the two committees seeking the documents accused Bush of stonewalling and disdain for the law, and said they would press forward with enforcing the subpoenas.”
Will Tony Blair Convert to Catholicism?
The British mass-tabloid, “The Sun,” reported on June 23:
“TONY Blair has met privately with the Pope, fuelling speculation he might convert to Catholicism after he steps down next week. Blair… spoke with Pope Benedict for 25 minutes in the pontiff’s study. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of England’s Roman Catholics, then joined the talks later.
“The Pope and the PM are said to have discussed the international situation, Europe and the Middle East. The Vatican welcomed Blair’s intention to work for Middle East peace and inter-religious dialogue after he steps down on Wednesday, but made no reference to the issue of his possible conversion. Blair is currently Anglican. His wife, Cherie, and their four children are Catholics. Cherie accompanied Blair to the Vatican and was introduced to the Pope at the end of the private talks…
“Blair’s gift to the Pope were original photographs of John Henry Newman, a 19th century Anglican leader who was one of Britain’s most illustrious converts to Catholicism. Blair is believed to have taken communion from the late Pope John Paul during a visit to the Vatican in 2003, although the Vatican has never confirmed this.”
Tony Blair New Middle East Envoy
On June 25, Der Spiegel Online reported the following:
“The Bush administration is considering appointing outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet. If only they had told the Europeans… Blair is a controversial choice for the position, given his role in the Iraq war and his close relationship to Bush, and he is unpopular in much of the Middle East. Politicians in both Berlin and Brussels fear that Blair would be an unacceptable go-between for many Arabs.”
On June 28, The Telegraph added:
“As Gordon Brown, at last, inherited 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair yesterday took the first step towards life as an ex-prime minister and an international diplomat. Mr Blair overcame Russia’s reservations to be made Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU… However, reservations continued about his ability to act as an honest broker in the Middle East because of his unequivocal support for George Bush in the war in Iraq, and failing to call for a halt to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer… The appointment was officially announced by the Quartet – the US, EU, UN, and Russia – after a day of diplomacy…”
Britain’s New Leaders
The Associated Press reported on June 28:
“Britain’s new leader chose his senior circle of ministers on Thursday, picking David Miliband, the youngest foreign secretary in decades and a rising star who voiced doubts over the Iraq war.
“Miliband, a 41-year-old environment chief, was confirmed as Foreign Secretary, according to a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy… Blair departed Wednesday to rousing applause and tears from lawmakers. He said he was sorry for the perils faced by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but gave no apology for his decisions to back the United States in taking military action…
“Most closely watched will be Brown’s policy toward Iraq. British troop numbers there have rapidly fallen during 2007. Blair left his successor an option to call back more of the remaining 5,500 personnel by 2008 — an opportunity likely to be grasped by a leader with a national election to call before June 2010. Brown confirmed Wednesday the number soon will fall to 5,000.”
German Reactions to Britain’s Change in Leadership and Tony Blair’s New Role
On June 28, Der Spiegel Online reported about German press reactions to the change in Britain’s leadership, and Tony Blair’s appointment as the Middle East Quartet’s special envoy, which “has raised eyebrows around the world”:
“On the day that Blair leaves office, commentators in Germany’s main papers consider what the future holds for Blair, the UK and Europe.
“The left-leaning Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘Once a poodle, always a poodle? Tony Blair has never been able to shake off the image of being Bush’s obedient right-hand man … And who was it who has kicked off the discussion about Blair becoming the Middle East Quartet’s special envoy? George W. Bush. … No one can deny that the name Blair triggers negative reactions in the Arab-Islamic world…’
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes:
“‘The change in leadership could bring significant changes in British foreign policy, and not just in style. Blair’s avowed goal was to lead his country “into the heart of Europe.” Brown does not have this ambition: On the contrary, it was he who presented himself as the guardian of the British pound and prevented the introduction of the euro. … In view of the deep Euro-skepticism of the British, few constructive initiatives can be expected from London for the time being. Under Brown, the UK will distance itself even further from the heart of a pro-integration Europe.'”
The Mysterious Disappearance of Our Honey Bees
The Olympian.com wrote on June 25:
“The decline in honey bee populations in the United States and elsewhere signals a major environmental imbalance that could have far-reaching implications for our agricultural food supply… Many believe our increasing use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which bees ingest during their daily pollination rounds, are largely to blame. Commercial beehives also are subjected to direct chemical fumigation at regular intervals to ward off destructive mites. Another leading suspect is genetically modified crops, which might generate pollen with compromised nutritional value.
“It might be that the build-up of synthetic chemicals and genetically modified crop pollen has reached a ‘tipping point,’ stressing bee populations to the point of collapse. Lending credence to this theory is that organic bee colonies, where chemicals and genetically modified crops are avoided, are not experiencing the same kind of catastrophic collapses, according to the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association.”
Bird Flu Returns to Germany
Der Spiegel Online reported on June 25:
“In the first cases to emerge in a year, officials in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg have reported deadly outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of bird flu… On Sunday, the city reported having found eight dead swans in addition to a duck and a goose which had fallen victim to the disease. All of the dead waterfowl were confirmed to have been infected with the deadly H5N1 virus in the first cases of the disease to be reported in Germany this year.”
Terrible Weather Conditions in the UK
The BBC wrote on June 27:
“Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes amid severe flooding across England and Wales that is now believed to have claimed four lives. Hundreds of families in Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Shropshire have been moved to safety… About 900 people are using emergency shelters in Sheffield, and about 700 have left villages near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, amid fears the nearby Ulley dam could collapse… Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his sympathy to the families of the dead and those displaced by what he described as an ‘extraordinary and very serious event.’…
“The Environment Agency labelled current weather conditions ‘phenomenal.’ The agency’s flood expert, Phil Rothwell, said: ‘We’ve had a sixth of the annual rainfall in 12 hours. Climate change experts tell us that this is the sort of thing we need to expect for the future.’ Of the 21 severe flood warnings in place, 13 are in north-east England, seven in the east of the country and one in the Midlands.”…
… And in the USA
On June 27, Inside Bay Area.com filed this report about the wild fire in the Lake Tahoe area:
“Firefighters battling the northernmost edge of the Angora fire ravaging the South Lake Tahoe area lost control of a back burn Tuesday afternoon… The Tahoe Basin’s worst fire in a century… ignited a scene of chaos as panicked residents waded through smoke while rushing home to meet loved ones, retrieve precious items or rescue pets… Hundreds of residents… were forced to fight or flee the fire, and fleeing became difficult as cars and trucks jammed Tahoe Keys Drive…
“The fire has consumed more than 2,700 acres of forest studded with homes and vacation cabins. It has taken 200 homes and 75 commercial buildings…”
The Associated Press reported on June 28 about rains and flooding in Texas:
“Constant downpours that have claimed 11 lives in the past 10 days are giving Texans in the central hill country little chance to recover. ‘This is the worst I’ve ever seen it in my lifetime,’ said Mayor Raymond Whitman… The downpour and winds were so treacherous early Wednesday that helicopters were forced to halt efforts to rescue people from rooftops… Whitman Branch Creek in Marble Falls, typically 2-3 feet wide, expanded to at least 100 feet. Several nearby buildings were flooded and several vehicles were swept down the creek. The odor of gas and diesel fuel was heavy in the air…
“Rains drenched North Texas as well, causing some creeks and rivers to overflow. About 30 homes were destroyed… It’s the wettest year on record in Austin, where more than 30 inches of rain have fallen since January. Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls also have received near record amounts.”
Ethnic Cleansing of Assyrian Christians in Iraq
The Easternstar News Agency (ESNA) wrote on June 22:
“The Vatican and its representatives try to stop the historical opportunity our nation has in establishing the Nineveh plains administrative area for the protection of the Christian Assyrians in Iraq. Ethnic cleansing is about to be completed in Iraq in front of the eyes of the west. This ruthless slaughter of Christian Assyrians is carried out without the government in Baghdad or the American troops attempting to stop it.
“The Christian Assyrians have been the ones worst affected among all the ethnic groups in Iraq despite the relatively small size of the community. The inferno in Iraq has evolved into a systematic mass murder [of] the Christian Assyrians…
“The Vatican, with… Pope Benedict XVI, has taken a treacherous position towards the proposal to establish an Assyrian administrative area and has thereby taken a position against the Assyrian nation’s survival. The Vatican’s ‘official’ reason… is that Assyrians do not want to move from other parts of Iraq… Either the Vatican has not realised the fact that the Assyrians are being oppressed, assaulted, driven out, kidnapped and murdered on a daily basis or it has deliberately chosen to ignore this fact. The last six months the Vatican has carried out a very intense lobby activity both to divide Assyrians on the question of administrative rights and to persuade the western world not to support the proposal about establishing an administrative area…
“It is obvious that the Vatican’s decision is taken without any regards towards the future of the Assyrians in Iraq. The Vatican seeks to divide the unity that has begun between different churches in Iraq. The Vatican has earlier, through the Pope’s well-known embarrassing statement about Islam in [the year of] 2006, put the Christian Assyrians in a very dangerous situation. Churches in the Middle East were set on fire and Christian Assyrians were murdered as a direct consequence of the Pope’s clumsy statement…
“The Vatican has only one aim with their dangerous and fatal policy; to increase their territory and to extend their specific interpretation of Christianity, irrespective of the consequences for an entire nation’s survival!…
“The Vatican’s foundation should be the Bible. The message in the Bible is intended for the vulnerable, the weak ones and the ones who are being oppressed and who suffer from injustice. Where can one find the Bible’s message of justice and brotherhood in the acts of the Vatican?… For the Assyrians in Iraq, and the ones in exile, it is all about survival. For the Vatican, it is about extending its power. It seems there are no limits to what the Vatican can think of doing to expand its territory, even if it means an entire nation becomes obliterated… Assyrians prefer to live in an ‘Assyrian ghetto’ in the Nineveh plains rather than being slaughtered in the streets of Baghdad.”