Current Events

Bush and Clinton on Pope’s Legacy

The Associated Press reported on April 8, 2005, that “President Bush on Friday said that attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II was ‘one of the highlights of my presidency’ and made clear that he disagrees with former President Clinton’s assessment that the pontiff leaves a mixed legacy. Bush, the first U.S. president to attend a papal funeral, led a U.S. delegation to the 2 1/2-hour funeral Mass… Bush talked about his time in Rome in extraordinarily personal terms, saying it strengthened his own belief in a ‘living God.’ … As he viewed the pope’s body, Bush said, he felt ‘very much at peace’ and ‘much more in touch with his spirit… I knew the ceremony today would be majestic but I didn’t realize how moved I would be by the service itself,’ the president said. ‘Today’s ceremony, I bet you, was a reaffirmation for millions… No doubt in my mind the Lord Christ was sent by the Almighty,’ Bush said.”

Russia, China and India?

The Russian newspaper, Pravda, reported on April 12, 2005, that “India, China and Russia [are desirous] to create [a]new alliance to challenge USA’s supremacy.” Even though the article pointed out that especially India is reluctant to create such an alliance, as it does not want to jeopardize its friendly relationship with the USA, an extremely important trading partner, the article continued: “It was reported on Monday, however, that India and China concluded a strategic partnership agreement. Details of the new document were not exposed, although it is known that the parties came to agreement on the issues of the long-standing border dispute, bilateral trade relations and… economic cooperation. Indian and Chinese prime ministers stated that the document would boost diplomatic and economic links between China and India and help the two states resist ‘global threats.’ For the time being it is not known if Russia is going to have at least something to do with the ‘strategic partnership’ of India and China.”

Outbreak of Deadly Marburg Disease in Angola

The New York Times reported on April 9, 2005, about a new deadly virus in Angola. The article stated: “The death toll in Angola from an epidemic caused by an Ebola-like virus rose to 174 Friday as aid workers in one northern provincial town reported that terrified people had attacked them and that a number of health workers had fled out of fear of catching the disease. International health officials said the epidemic, already the largest outbreak of Marburg virus ever recorded, showed no signs of abating. Seven of Angola’s 18 provinces have now reported suspected cases and several neighboring countries have announced health alerts. ‘It’s becoming a huge problem,’ said Dick Thompson, a spokesman for the World Health Organization… ‘We clearly don’t know the dimensions of the outbreak.’ …

“There is no cure or vaccine for the highly contagious virus. Victims suffer a high fever, diarrhea, vomiting and severe bleeding from bodily orifices and usually die within a week…. The disease is spread through bodily fluids, including blood, excrement, saliva and vomit… Allarangar Yokouidé, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, told reporters that more than 80 percent of those who contracted the virus in Angola had died, a mortality rate that surpassed previous Ebola epidemics in the region. ‘Marburg is a very bad virus, even worse than Ebola,’ he said. .. A cousin to the Ebola virus, Marburg is named for the town in Germany where it was first identified in 1967 after laboratory workers were infected by monkeys from Uganda. … Scientists do not know the source of the virus or how the current outbreak began, but they suspect that the virus was transmitted from an animal, possibly a bat. Health experts say that to control the epidemic, medical workers must check everyone who had contact with a victim after the first display of symptoms. That can mean 10 or 20 people to follow for each suspected case, each of whom should be checked once a day… In one Ebola outbreak, he said, epidemiologists had to track 3,000 people a day… The task may be especially daunting in Angola, with its rutted dirt roads, teeming townships, remote villages and countryside still littered with land mines from decades of conflict.”

U.S. Trade Deficit at All-Time High

The Associated Press reported on April 12, 2005, that “The U.S. trade deficit… soared to an all-time high of $61.04 billion in February… Trade deficits of this magnitude have raised worries among economists about America’s ability to continue to attract the foreign financing needed to cover the shortfall between exports and imports…. Demand for foreign petroleum products shot up 10.3 percent to $18.2 billion, the second highest level on record, surpassed only by $19.6 billion in imports of petroleum last November. The February increase reflected higher prices as crude oil climbed to $36.85 per barrel, compared to $35.25 in January, offsetting a drop in the volume of oil imports. Analysts said America’s foreign oil bill is likely to climb even further in months ahead, reflecting further increases in global oil prices.”

Volcano Eruption in Indonesia

As AFP reported on April 12, 2005, “A volcano spewed into life on Indonesia’s disaster-blighted Sumatra island, spreading new panic after the recent tsunami and earthquakes and driving thousands from their homes… More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from the volcano’s slope.” Reuters added that “Mount Talang’s eruption was likely triggered by a series of earthquakes that have rocked Sumatra in recent weeks, including one on March 28 that killed more than 600 people on outlying islands… The mountain is among at least 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation. The country is part of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ – a series of volcanoes and fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.”

Lebanon in Crisis

Reuters reported on April 12, 2005, that “Lebanon slipped deeper into a political vacuum on Tuesday after bickering among officials held back the formation of a new government and made a delay in general elections set for May almost inevitable… The United Nations and Washington have led calls for the polls to be held on schedule after Syria finishes withdrawing its military and intelligence forces from Lebanon by the end of this month.

“A senior military source said 10,000 troops had left Lebanon since the withdrawal began on March 8. He expected the remaining 4,000 soldiers to return home before April 30. Top pro-Syrian officials failed again on Monday to form a government, six weeks after Prime Minister Omar Karami resigned under popular pressure over the killing of his predecessor. But he was reappointed days later and tried, but failed, to persuade Lebanon’s anti-Syrian opposition to join a unity cabinet alongside pro-Syrian loyalists.”

EU Constitution in Jeopardy?

The EUobserver reported on April 12, 2005, that “A top German economist has warned of serious economic consequences if there is a No to the EU Constitution in the 29 May referendum in France.The chief economist at Deutsche Bank, Norbert Walter, told FT [Financial Times] Deutschland that a French No might cause a currency crisis in the new member states… ‘One problem is that the EU has absolutely no strategy about how to react to a failure in the Constitution referendum,’ Mr Walter indicated. He added that a debate about closing the eurozone to any more new members is also conceivable. Several countries are planning to have a referendum on the Constitution. Successive polls have predicted that the Treaty will fail in France and beyond, but the importance of France as a pioneer of European integration means that a French No could have grave implications for the 25-strong bloc.”

Earthquakes in California

Edison International issued the following press release on April 11, 2005: “April is Earthquake Preparedness Month… Southern California Edison (SCE) is reminding its customers that April is Earthquake Preparedness month and a good time to plan for disaster preparedness. ‘California is not only known for its golden beaches and snow-capped mountains, but for its earthquakes, which can create widespread damage and extended power outages,’ said Rose Pearson, manager of consumer affairs. ‘We’re encouraging our customers to take steps now to ready their families should a strong earthquake strike.'”

On April 12, 2005, around 4:00 a.m., an earthquake with the magnitude of 4.0 on the Richter scale struck Southern California. It was centered near the city of Santee, close to San Diego.

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