The Vatican’s POLITICAL Role
The Guardian wrote on December 10:
“The pope is responsible for the Vatican’s growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU, previously secret cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome claim. In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, spoke out against letting a Muslim state join, although at the time the Vatican was formally neutral on the question…The cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Ratzinger was the leading voice behind the Holy See’s unsuccessful drive to secure a reference to Europe’s ‘Christian roots’ in the EU constitution. The US diplomat noted that Ratzinger ‘clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe’s Christian foundations’…
“Roman Catholicism is the only religion in the world with the status of a sovereign state, allowing the pope’s most senior clerics to sit at the top table with world leaders. The cables reveal the Vatican routinely wielding influence through diplomatic channels while sometimes denying it is doing so. The Vatican has diplomatic relations with 177 countries and has used its diplomatic status to lobby the US, United Nations and European Union in a concerted bid to impose its moral agenda through national and international parliaments…
“The then US ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney, briefed Washington in 2006, shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, that ‘the Holy See hopes that Poland will hold the line at the EU on “life and family” issues that arise’ and would serve as a counterweight to western European secularism once the country had integrated into the EU… In 2001 another American diplomat to the Vatican stated: ‘The Holy See will continue to seek to play a role in the Middle East peace process while denying this intention.’”
The New York Times wrote on December 11:
“Recently released diplomatic cables show the Vatican fighting to shore up its eroding control over sexual abuse scandals in the United States and Ireland, highlighting complex tensions between the Vatican hierarchy, local bishops and civil authorities. The cables… provide a telling glimpse of how American diplomats often rely on the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide network of prelates for intelligence…
“A cable sent that year by the United States Embassy to the Holy See said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Pope John Paul II’s last secretary of state, ‘took the bulk of his initial meeting’ with Ambassador James Nicholson ‘to register his displeasure with the several lawsuits filed in U.S. courts that have been served at the Vatican.’ It added that Cardinal Sodano ‘complained about the “aggressive attorneys” who had started in on the Vatican with the sexual abuse scandal and had also filed suits about Nazi-era gold allegedly acquired by the Holy See. It’s one thing for them to sue bishops… but another thing entirely to sue the Holy See.’ Cardinal Sodano urged Ambassador Nicholson to help defend the Holy See’s sovereignty.
“In 2005, the State Department argued that Pope Benedict XVI should be immune from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiracy to hide abuse because he was a head of state. A federal judge later dismissed the case. The sovereignty issue emerged again more recently in Ireland, where two government-appointed commissions released reports in 2009 revealing a widespread cover-up of abuse, shaking the Irish church to its core. According to a cable sent in February from the American Embassy to the Holy See, requests by Irish investigators ‘offended’ many in the Vatican ‘because they saw them as an affront to Vatican sovereignty.’…
“Other cables show the Catholic Church to be deeply involved in local politics worldwide and a useful source of information for American diplomats, especially in places like Cuba and Venezuela. One cable from 2006 said that a Venezuelan clergyman might be a good source on President Hugo Chávez. The Holy See has also had full diplomatic ties with Iran for decades…
“A 2002 cable said that ‘despite the real progress’ under John Paul in the Vatican’s relations with Judaism, some in the hierarchy still ‘manifested remnants of anti-Semitic sentiments.’ It cited…[a] curial official [as saying] some lawsuits against the Holy See ‘were the result of “Jewish judges having too much influence.”’
The EUObserver wrote on December 13:
“Freshly-published cables from the US mission to the Vatican have shed light on the inner workings of Europe’s most secretive diplomatic corps… ‘The Vatican is second only to the United States in the number of countries with which it enjoys diplomatic relations… and there are Catholic priests, nuns and lay people in every country on the planet. As the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide and enjoying respect as well from non-Catholics, the Pope wields an unparalleled moral megaphone,’ a 2009 US note ahead of President Barack Obama’s meeting with the pontiff says. ‘Private comments from Vatican officials to European diplomats also carry some weight – particularly in the traditionally Catholic countries,’ a 2006 cable says.”
The book of Revelation describes in vivid terms the political role of the Catholic Church in the world. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
The Queen Is Dead—Long Live the Queen…
NPR wrote on December 11:
“Though she suffered a major setback in the Middle East peace process this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she’s not giving up. She says the U.S. will remain active trying to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians — even though their leaders aren’t even talking to each other now… The secretary told the audience that she regrets that the two sides are still far apart. She used her speech to warn Israelis and Palestinians that the status quo is not sustainable…
“Israelis argue that it was a mistake to make a settlement freeze a precondition for talks…Palestinians don’t like the idea of an interim deal and have been considering a different route to statehood — through the United Nations. Clinton argued Friday night that unilateral efforts at the U.N. are ‘not helpful and undermine trust.’”
The problem is, any trust in the USA is pretty much gone. It is obvious that Israel and the Palestinians are looking towards other powers to help them to solve their dilemma. Especially the Palestinians look to Germany and the EU for support. The next article may show some of the reasons.
Influential Ex-EU Leaders Advocate Sanctions Against Israel
BBC wrote on December 10:
“A group of 26 ex-EU leaders has urged the union to impose sanctions on Israel for continuing to build settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In a letter sent on Monday, they said Israel ‘like any other state’ should be made to feel ‘the consequences’ and pay a price for breaking international law. The signatories include the former EU foreign affairs chief, Javier Solana…
“The letter sent to European governments and EU institutions, asks EU foreign ministers to reiterate that they ‘will not recognise any changes to the June 1967 boundaries and clarify that a Palestinian state should be in sovereign control over territory equivalent to 100% of the territory occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem’. It also asks ministers to set the Israeli government an ultimatum that, if it has not fallen into line by April 2011, the EU will seek an end to the US-brokered peace process… The EU should… ban imports of products made in settlements; and force Israel to pay for the majority of the aid required by the Palestinians, it adds… ‘Time is fast running out’, the letter warns, because ‘Israel’s continuation of settlement activity… poses an existential threat to the prospects of establishing a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state.’
“In addition to Mr Solana, the letter was signed by 10 former leaders of European countries – including Romano Prodi and Giuliano Amato of Italy, Richard von Weizsaecker and Helmut Schmidt of Germany, Mary Robinson of Ireland, Felipe Gonzalez of Spain and Norway’s Thorvald Stoltenberg – 10 former ministers and two former EU commissioners.
“In a letter of response to the former leaders, sent on Tuesday and seen by EUobserver, Baroness Ashton said the EU’s approach to Jewish settlement expansion would remain unchanged for the time being… ‘The European Union will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to advance the peace process and engage with both the Palestinians and the Israelis to find a way to resolve the conflict,’ her letter reportedly said… she [also] said: ‘The EU position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Recent settlement related developments, including in East Jerusalem, contradict the efforts by the international community for successful negotiations.’”
In any clash between newcomer Baroness Ashton and highly prestigious influential personalities such as Helmut Schmidt or Richard von Weizsaecker, it should be obvious who will ultimately prevail. In addition, as the next article points out, a violent clash between the Israelis and the Palestinians appears to be inevitable.
Israel Won’t Share Jerusalem with Palestinians
The Associated Press reported on December 12:
“Conflicting claims to east Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dispute over the area, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, has derailed past peace talks and spilled into violence. Palestinians claim the sector as the capital of their future state.
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaffirmation of his intention to hold on to east Jerusalem… was likely to increase friction with the Americans… Netanyahu’s defense minister, Ehud Barak… called for sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians. But a government official said Barak’s idea does not reflect the government’s view.
“’Mr. Netanyahu is distancing himself not from Barak, he is distancing himself from international consensus, he’s distancing himself from international resolutions and distancing himself from international law,’ said Palestinian spokesman Husam Zomlot. ‘And most importantly, he’s distancing himself from any possible negotiated settlement based on the two-state solution.’”
Desecration of the Sabbath Causing Destruction?
On December 4, 2010, the Jerusalem Post wrote:
“Shas Council of Torah Sages Head Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said on Saturday night that the devastating Carmel fire was a result of insufficient Shabbat observance in the area. ‘Fires only happen in a place where Shabbat is desecrated,’ he quoted from the Babylonian Talmud Shabbat tractate in his weekly sermon. ‘Homes were ruined,’ he continued, ‘entire neighborhoods wiped out, and it is not arbitrary. It is all divine providence. We must repent, keep Shabbat appropriately. When the People of Israel repent, God safeguards them with a wall of fire,’ but not of the incinerating type, Yosef added.”
This position is of course overreaching, even though it cannot be denied that God is unhappy with the desecration of His Sabbath. One must be careful, however, that one does not fall into the trap of Pharisaical rules and regulations pertaining to the Sabbath, which Christ, the Lord and Creator of the Sabbath, strongly condemned.
Merkel and Sarkozy Pledge to Protect the Euro
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 10:
As German troops officially took up their first symbolic post on French soil since WWII, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed their commitment to the eurozone.
“Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed their commitment to the single European currency and to the fiscal solvency of the eurozone at a meeting in the German city of Freiburg on Friday. ‘There is a spirit that is uniting us all,’ the German chancellor told reporters during a break in the talks. ‘If the euro fails, the European Union fails, too.’ President Sarkozy, meanwhile, pledged that Germany and France ‘will defend the euro, because the euro is Europe.’…
“’Without agreement from France and Germany – the historic motors of European integration and two economies that make up half of the eurozone’s gross domestic product – nothing very important is possible,’ Professor Henrik Uterwedde from the Franco-German Institute in Ludwigsburg told Deutsche Welle…
“While Sarkozy and Merkel discussed the harmonization of economic policies like labor and taxation laws, saying this would improve the eurozone’s coherence as an economic bloc, military leaders just across the border were preparing a more visible symbol of Franco-German cooperation. The first German battalion to be stationed on French soil since the Nazi occupation in World War II officially took up their post near the border-city of Strasbourg on Friday. German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and his French counterpart Alain Juppe attended a ceremony to mark the event…
“‘I was always surprised that the Franco-German Brigade only consisted of French soldiers in Germany,’ Sarkozy said. ‘We are two sovereign nations, two countries at peace, two countries that founded Europe.’”
The historical relationship between Germany and France has been a rocky one, but both countries are predestined to play a leading role during the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire. Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V and Napoleon, who are widely viewed as French and German leaders, did in fact revive in the past the ancient Roman Empire. Angela Merkel’s comments that a spirit is uniting them all is very remarkable. As this report and the next articles show, the concept that the euro would fail and that as a consequence Europe would break apart, is just in total contradiction to biblical prophecy. The Bible does show, however, that a core Europe will develop WITHIN the European power bloc and that it will lead the greater Europe. To an extent, this core Europe or “two-speed Europe” is already developing, as the next article suggests:
A Two-Speed Europe
The Financial Times wrote on December 14:
“With Alliance Trust’s European Equity Fund celebrating its first year anniversary on Tuesday the German and Swiss markets are set to play a central role in the fund’s ongoing success. Fiona MacRae, fund manager of the European Equity Fund, … said: ‘We are currently experiencing a two-speed Europe. There is a strong centre led by Germany, filtering out to a much weaker periphery.’”
“The Euro Won’t Fail”
The Local wrote on December 11:
“German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Saturday warned speculators on the financial markets not to bet against the euro, as European leaders prepared for a summit next week to shore up the embattled currency. ‘Whoever bets his money against the euro will not succeed,’ Schäuble [said]… ‘The euro will not fail,’ added the minister, amid speculation that debt crises in some countries of the 16-nation zone could bring down the currency. ‘All those in charge in Europe are agreed: The euro brings us all advantages. And therefore we will successfully defend it,’ Schäuble added… ‘Even if one of the small countries were to leave [the eurozone], the consequences would be incalculable,’ Schäuble said.”
Of course, Wolfgang Schäuble is absolutely right. In addition, note this excerpt from an article which was published by the EUObserver on December 13:
“… Schaeuble has said… that the next decade is likely to see Europe take significant steps towards closer political union… ‘In 10 years we will have a structure that corresponds much stronger to what one describes as political union,’ he added.”
According to the Bible, Europe’s economic union will lead to a political and military union.
Euro-Zone’s STRONG Performance
The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 14:
“The euro-zone economy looks set to achieve a healthy fourth quarter, with an ongoing strong performance in the core member states expected to limit the likely poorer outcome from the smaller, peripheral economies. The German ZEW expectations survey, released Tuesday, rose for a second straight month in December as investors’ confidence was buoyed by an increasingly broad-based strong economic performance. The expectations element of the survey rose to 4.3 from November’s 1.8, and above the 4 forecast. The harder official data also suggested the euro zone started the fourth quarter on a strong footing.”
The paper added the following in a related article:
“German economic expectations improved for the second consecutive month in December, rebuffing immediate concerns about a deepening debt crisis in the euro zone’s periphery.”
Majority of Germans for the Euro
The Local wrote on December 10:
“Sixty percent of those polled said they preferred the euro, while one-third said they longed for the return of the Deutsche mark, the survey for broadcaster ARD found. The nostalgia for the former German currency was highest among less-educated. Forty-nine percent said they wanted to fill their wallets with the mark once again after 11 years with the euro. Meanwhile 80 percent of the highly educated participants said they were against the reinstatement of the old bills and coins…
“Though it remains considerably stronger versus the US dollar than the mark was back in 1998, the euro’s precipitous decline has sparked concern in Europe’s largest economy.”
A poll, which was published this week in Der Stern, suggests that many Germans are unhappy with the euro, but that a majority are against a return to the Deutsche Mark.
No Euro-Zone Break-Up!
The Local wrote on December 15:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel moved Wednesday to silence fears of a eurozone break-up, saying that although some members faced tough challenges, Europe’s paymaster would not desert them. ‘No one in Europe will be left alone, no one in Europe will be abandoned. Europe succeeds when it acts together and I would add, Europe succeeds only when it acts together,’ Merkel said in a speech to parliament. Merkel said that some in the 16-nation eurozone faced an uphill task in repairing their public finances but she expressed confidence that the single currency would survive.”
Who Speaks for Europe?
This article shows that there is presently no powerful leader in Europe who could speak for Europe with “one” strong voice, but the Bible predicts that this situation will change soon.
The New York Times wrote on December 15:
“With the euro under siege, European Union leaders will gather Thursday for a meeting aimed at restoring confidence in their monetary union, but threatened by one of Europe’s persistent failings: its inability to speak with one voice… The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, called on the leaders Wednesday to maintain discipline and show ‘that the E.U. is in control of events.’… Despite the pleas to present a united front, the markets are expected to put further pressure on borrowing costs in Portugal and Spain, two euro countries perceived as weak… Once a key conduit between Berlin and Paris, Mr. Juncker [Luxembourg’s leader] has fallen out of favor in both capitals. With diminished influence behind the scenes, he seems to be trying to bolster his reputation among supporters of closer European integration…
“Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was Mrs. Merkel’s foreign minister from 2005 to 2009, and Peer Steinbrück, finance minister in the same period, said Germany should take the lead in pushing for more European integration…”
German Military Conscription to Be Suspended
The Local wrote on December 11:
“With just months to go before military conscription is set to be suspended in Germany, the government is looking toward pay hikes and monthly bonuses to encourage volunteers to join the armed forces… the draft law foresees a triple system of financial and other incentives, including drivers’ licenses, leisure-time perks and continued education opportunities…
“On Thursday, leaders of Merkel’s coalition government agreed on troop reductions in the Bundeswehr, from 240,000 to 185,000 soldiers. Professional soldiers would account for most of that number, with 15,000 volunteers rounding out the ranks.”
Der Stern Online added on December 10 that military conscription will not be totally abolished and that it could be re-instituted in case of necessity. At the same time, Der Spiegel Online reported on December 15, 2010, that commencing March 1, no one will be drafted against his will.
The future will show what the move of suspending military conscription in Germany will do. We do know that Europe will very soon have a powerful common army, and Germany will be heavily participating in the same.
Europe Needs Germany, and Vice Versa
Der Spiegel Online published an highly propagandistic article on December 14, bordering on the ridiculousness, when describing Europe and especially Germany as extremely pacifistic, comparing them with the “peace-loving Venus,” while picturing America as the “warlord Mars.” However, the following excerpts are worth noticing:
“Germany needs Europe, and Europe needs Germany. This is still true today, but for different reasons than in the past. In the first few decades after World War II, our neighbors wanted to contain Germany so that they could tame the German demon. The Germans needed Europe so that they could play a role on the international stage once again… Today Germany can only exert political influence through the EU, and even that is becoming difficult, because of the strong reciprocal relationship between China and the United States… economic strength must go hand-in-hand with political strength, which Germany can only attain through Europe.
“The Germans gave up their beloved deutschmark for the euro. It was the right decision… Another area in which greater European unity would be in Germany’s interests is security policy… it wants to play a role internationally. The best way to achieve this is through a European foreign policy that has at its disposal a European army… it makes no sense at all for each European country to maintain a complete military force…”
The Bible shows that there will be a most powerful European army within a few years from now.
“The Royal Guttenbergs”
The Local wrote on December 14:
“Not used to glamorous politicians, Germans are both dazzled and dismayed by Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and his wife Stephanie… Politicians in Germany aren’t allowed to be attractive or enjoy their jobs. The public immediately becomes suspicious of anyone daring to break either of these rules…
“It’s in this context that Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg travelled this week to Afghanistan to visit German troops ahead of the holidays – but he wasn’t alone. The aristocratic minister was accompanied by his fetching wife Stephanie, two state premiers, and the TV talk show host Johannes B. Kerner. The Bundeswehr base at Mazar-i-Sharif became the backdrop for Kerner’s show, which had one prominent guest: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. A few soldiers were used for garnish.
“Is the war trivialised by such visits? Is there room for glamour and entertainment where death and killing is so prevalent? Did Guttenberg exhibit once more his political genius, or did he finally overstep the line separating tact, dignity and humility from obscenity?… The blueblood baron would probably say this division merely separates great minds from small ones… we should be happy to have someone like Guttenberg. He’s stuck to his principles whether the issue was bailing out carmaker Opel or reforming his own ministry. Guttenberg has fearlessly stared down both friend and foe alike on issues such as ending military conscription.
“At the same time, he’s brought a fresh approach to politics – which can both impress and annoy people. But the more he seems to annoy, the more people appear to be impressed by him… Our brutally fickle times demand hero-worship be followed by a precipitous fall. The public instinctively wants to tear people down to its own size – especially those with an aura of aristocracy about them… The Guttenbergs are aware of this and yet don’t seem to care…”
Without perhaps openly admitting it, many Germans are longing for leadership which is respected in the world and which they can be proud of. The “ghost” of the Habsburg empire and “Kaiser Wilhelm” is not dead. And voices can be heard these days to the effect that “not everything that Hitler did was bad. He just shouldn’t have killed all the Jews, but ‘we’ knew nothing about that.”
Freedom in the West Under Attack
On December 13, Der Spiegel Online published the following article:
“Since 9/11, press freedom in the West has come under attack… the hunt for WikiLeaks is a greater danger to democracy than any information that WikiLeaks might reveal…
“Since becoming embroiled in the war against terrorism, the US government has transformed itself into a huge security apparatus… 854,000 people in the US government… hold top-secret security clearances — and this under a president who came into office promising a new era of openness in government…
“In the crisis, the countries of Old Europe are also putting up the barricades. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks, is playing with the fire of anarchy… the hatred he reaps in return is beneath all democracies…
“The US Justice Department[ ] attempt[s] to invoke the controversial Espionage Act of 1917… The period of World War I was a dark time for constitutional freedoms in the US. In its practically hysterical fear of communists and all other critics, the judiciary even prosecuted people who distributed flyers critical of military service, and in doing so ignored all constitutional guarantees…
“For Berlin constitutional law expert Dieter Grimm, it is clear that the whistleblower website enjoys ‘the protections for freedom of the press under Germany’s Basic Law.’ As a judge on the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Grimm played a very important role in shaping the current interpretation of freedom of opinion and freedom of the press in Germany…”
The Local reported on December 16:
“A group of major German newspapers and a human rights advocacy group… published an appeal against the criminalisation of whistleblower website Wikileaks, saying the site deserved as much protection as traditional media… The political and economic pressure put on Wikileaks following its publication of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables has been ‘inappropriate,’ the statement said. While there may be good reasons to criticise the release, taking action against the ‘journalistic medium’ was a form of intolerable censorship, it added…
“Pressure by the US government for large international companies such as MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon to end their cooperation with Wikileaks reveals a ‘shocking understanding of democracy in which freedom of information is only valid when it doesn’t harm anyone.’ ‘Journalism has not only the right, but the duty to check the state and illuminate the mechanisms of government business,’ the statement said, calling on businesses and governments to end their attempts to silence the site.”
U.S. Air Force in Violation of U.S. Constitution?
The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 14:
“The U.S. Air Force is blocking its personnel from using work computers to view the websites of the New York Times and other major publications that have posted classified diplomatic cables, people familiar with the matter said.
“Air Force users who try to view the websites of the New York Times, Britain’s Guardian, Spain’s El Pais, France’s Le Monde or German magazine Der Spiegel instead get a page that says, ‘ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored,’ according to a screen shot reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The notice warns that anyone who accesses unauthorized sites from military computers could be punished.
“The Air Force said it had blocked more than 25 websites that contained the documents, originally obtained by the website WikiLeaks and published starting late last month, in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems…
“‘It is unfortunate that the U.S. Air Force has chosen not to allow its personnel access to the most important news, analysis and commentary,’ a New York Times spokeswoman said…
“One senior defense official questioned the wisdom of blocking the newspaper sites or even prohibiting service members from visiting them on military computers, arguing that the information has spread on the Internet and that sites like the New York Times contain other, useful information. The defense official said blocking the New York Times was a misinterpretation of military guidance to avoid visiting websites that post classified material. The new order doesn’t prevent Air Force personnel from viewing the media websites on nonmilitary computers, one Air Force official said…”
The German and Austrian news agency, news.at, wrote in addition:
“Critics view the blocking as a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech.”
This kind of controversial conduct, which even America’s allies perceive as hypocritical, extremely dangerous and a threat to liberty and freedom, is inflicting much additional harm on the USA.
US Is Suing BP
BBC News reported on December 15:
“The US is suing BP and eight other firms for allegedly violating federal safety regulations in connection with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The lawsuit asks that they be held liable without limitation for all clean-up and damage costs.
“The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in April killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil over several months. The oil leak became the worst environmental disaster in US history… In a statement, BP said the filing ‘does not in any manner constitute any finding of liability or any judicial finding that the allegations have merit’… But the justice department said on Wednesday that the investigation into the oil spill was ongoing and that more defendants and charges could be added to the lawsuit.”
The negative US media coverage about BP’s role pertaining to the oil spill has upset many Brits. The lawsuit will only increase Britain’s anger against the USA.
Berlusconi’s Uncertain Future
Deutsche Welle reported on December 14:
“Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in the lower house of parliament, after the Senate also voted in his favor earlier Tuesday. The no-confidence motion was rejected by 314 votes to 311. However, Berlusconi’s government still faces an uncertain future, as its tiny majority will make it difficult for him to pass legislation… Tuesday’s votes come after a year fraught with corruption and sex scandals involving Italy’s premier…
“Italy’s economy [is] in serious trouble, and the country has one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world… Recent surveys show that less than 30 percent of Italians wanted Berlusconi to finish his current term… Italy’s high court will soon hand down a ruling on the constitutionality of a law passed by Berlusconi to protect himself from prosecution while prime minister. If the law is deemed invalid, he will face charges of corrupting a judge. Berlusconi took power for the first time in 1994, winning three elections and transforming Italy’s political landscape. But now, he faces some rocky times ahead.”
In the USA and many other Western European countries, Silvio Berlusconi would have been forced to resign a long time ago. But not so in Italy. Even though differences exist between Berlusconi and Mussolini, still, sad memories of the times under Benito Mussolini do come to mind…
Terror in Sweden
The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on December 13:
“On Saturday two bombs exploded, and a person blew a hole through his stomach for his beliefs… Islamist terror is untamable, because there are vast groups of angry, young men with backgrounds in religious fanaticism who are not able to be mollified. Their targets are random….
Die Welt wrote on December 13:
“Bombs exploding during Advent. Germans security agencies had warned about the possibility. And now it has happened in Sweden…. A society like Israel constantly is experiencing a balancing act between maintaining a heightened state of alert against omnipresent enemies, and, at the same time, enjoying life and personal freedom. This enormous psychological challenge faces Europe if the situation gets any worse.”
The Berliner Zeitung wrote on December 13:
“The attack… reminds us that there aren’t any terror-free islands anymore. Even in a Scandinavia that appeared to be safe, there are fanatics whose wrong-headed ideology doesn’t preclude the murder of innocent civilians… There is no excuse for inhumane terror, nor is there one for pinning a crime committed by a single actor or terror organization on an entire ethnicity or religion.”
The German press reported that, according to captured al-Qaida informants, terror attacks are planned around Christmas time in Europe and the USA, and that the activities in Sweden were already a part of the planned worldwide attacks.
Richard Holbrooke Dies
Der Spiegel Online reported on December 14:
“There is little doubt that he was the embodiment of US diplomacy. Richard Holbrooke, who died on Monday evening at the age of 69, was a widely-respected negotiator, a former US ambassador in Berlin and elsewhere, a key player in bringing peace to Bosnia. Most recently, he was President Barack Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was, in short, a ‘giant of US foreign policy,’ as Obama said on Monday…
“Holbrooke often seemed to be a throwback — a symbol of a time when the US maintained an unshaken belief in its supremacy, a time when China was still in a deep slumber. The proud members of the US Foreign Service were the tools of a Washington that wanted a say in all parts of the globe. Self-doubt was not a widespread characteristic in US embassies around the world… Holbrooke… was a co-author of the Pentagon Papers, the secret report which analyzed how the US became involved in the morass in Vietnam, [and] which… later contributed to the end of the war…
“Holbrooke’s American self-confidence, his conviction that he and his country could solve virtually any problem, never abandoned him… The fact that his aorta ruptured during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — which triggered multiple operations before his passing on Monday — is reminiscent of a soldier dying in the field. And as sad as it sounds, it may also be a fitting analogy to the US involvement in Afghanistan: A determined and energetic fight, but with little to show.”