"What's New? How Is the World Treating You?"
Table of Contents for the Third Quarter of 2012
http://www.radio.cz/en/news on 28, 29, and 30 September 2012.
A brief article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is at http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/13-4-of-students-defaulted-on-loans-within-3-years-of-repayment-u-s-says/49810?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en. The official release is at http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr.html, and the press release is at http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/first-official-three-year-student-loan-default-rates-published.
See the AP feed at http://news.yahoo.com/town-debates-future-house-hitlers-birth-162253013.html (note the inaccurate translation in the article for the inscription on the granite memorial).
See http://news.yahoo.com/spain-greece-launch-austerity-plans-secure-aid-183921633--finance.html; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443916104578021882943321370.html?mod=googlenews_wsj; and http://euobserver.com/economic/117686.
Beginning tomorrow, sales of hard alcohol will begin again with new seals for the bottles. The problem of illegal alcohol remains in the EU, however, because of high taxes on legally-purchased products.
SOURCES: http://praguemonitor.com/2012/09/26/bootleg-alcohol-claims-26th-victim-czech-republic; http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/czechs-ease-alcohol-ban-1.1390699#.UGPBDq7FCSI; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/22/czech-republic-alcohol-ban_n_1905743.html; and Radio Prague news releases in Czech.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19712203, and information on the situation in Athens is at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/26/161800263/tear-gas-rocks-fly-at-anti-austerity-protest-in-athens?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120926.
In Florida, the funding per student declined 19 percent during this period, despite the fact that Florida ranks second behind California in the number of public research institutions. The state ranks thirty-fourth out of all states in terms of student funding, even though enrollment has increased 20 percent. California’s decline in funding per student may have been greater than Florida’s, but California historically contributed more dollars per student than Florida. Therefore, even after the decline, California ranks sixth in the country for student funding.
Unfortunately, decreased state funding has resulted in tuition increases that come when family incomes have dropped. In addition to increased tuition, universities have had to rely more on private funding, which may stifle scientific advances because it steers research to serve the interests of the corporate donors.
Although the NSB study focuses on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, the implication is the same for the humanities and social sciences. Although one might attribute recent cuts to the economic crisis, that does not explain the historic trend. As a result, it is apparent that lawmakers have disregarded the connection between education and overall economic prosperity and the fact that fate does not distribute intellectual capability to children whose parents are privileged or prosperous. The declining funding trend not only harms the amount and creativity of research in America’s universities but access to higher education.
To read the entire report, see http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/sei/companion2/index.jsp.
On the background to the elections, see http://news.yahoo.com/belarus-holds-elections-boycotted-opposition-050852641.html. For the election results, see http://news.yahoo.com/belarus-elects-entirely-pro-government-parliament-084059471.html and http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0924/In-Europe-s-sketchiest-election-Belarus-votes-in-entirely-pro-government-parliament-video.
Guest Pages, the latest feature of CentralEuropeanObserver.com, bring to readers the experiences of specialists in a number of fields, including Central European, Balkan, and Eurasian affairs. This series begins with two contributions. The first is from a retired American diplomat, Dr. William Harwood, who wrote a brief article about the dangers he and other diplomats faced in light of the death of Ambassador Stevens on 11 September 2012 in Libya during a terrorist attack. Dr. Stanslav Perkner, a professor of social studies and director of the Library and Learning Center at Humphreys College, Stockton, CA, was the dean of the School of Journalism at Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in the 1980s and emigrated to America after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. He has written the first article in a four-part series about his experiences as a student and professor in communist Czechoslovakia and his career as an academic in America.
See http://euobserver.com/economic/117620; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9558771/Greek-troika-report-delayed-by-US-elections.html; and http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/20/us-greece-austerity-troika-idINBRE88J1BZ20120920.
The US National Archives recently announced that the Germans had permitted two American POWs to see the bodies and to write reports to US military authorities. The two men reasoned that the Soviets must have been responsible for the deaths because of the extent to which the bodies had decayed. The Americans, like the British, did not make an issue of the incident during the war because they did not want to increase tensions with their Soviet allies.
National Archives records regarding the Katyń massacre are at http://www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/katyn-massacre/selected-records.pdf. See also http://www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/katyn-massacre/ and http://www.archives.gov/legislative/guide/house/chapter-22-select-katyn-forest-massacre.html. The announcement of the release of the documents is at http://www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/katyn-massacre/.
Padraic Kenney, professor of history and director of the Polish Studies Center and the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, commented on the newly-available documents at http://hnn.us/articles/katy%C5%84-history-written-blood-and-tears.
Bergsten’s remarks are concise answers to eurosceptics and suggest another reason why there is so much discussion in Europe, America, and elsewhere about the impending doom of the euro and the European Union. Certain individuals, investment firms, and political parties have much to gain form a collapse of the Euro or a reversal in the progress the Europeans have made toward political unity. Confidence in the US dollar would increase dramatically. In Europe, the British pound would benefit from the end of the euro, and a new German currency would appear as one of the strongest on the continent. Financial investment firms in Manhattan, The City, and Frankfurt would stand to profit from an economic crisis in Europe, and it appears as though some individuals and think tanks in various quarters hope to nudge Europe to the brink by eroding public confidence for opportunistic reasons. Finally, the eurosceptic parties, which have had steady support but have not seen clear victories, anticipate winning strong majorities were their dire predictions to come true.
Bergsten’s comments are in the Star Tribune at http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/169241736.html?refer=y.
UPDATE: On 13 September, as the death toll from the methanol rises, Radio Prague reports that the eighteenth victim in the Czech Republic has died and coroners are revising autopsies in light of the methanol problem. Police also have found a warehouse in Zlín with illegal alcohol and counterfeit labels and seals for alcohol. See http://www.radio.cz/en/news.
UPDATE: On 14 September, the Ministry of Health in the Czech Republic has banned the sale of beverage in any form that contains more than 20 percent alcohol in an effort to prevent more deaths from methanol poisoning. See the AP feed at http://news.yahoo.com/czech-bans-spirit-sales-amid-wave-poisonings-200238783.html.
The controversy between Macedonia and Bulgaria remain, although on a much subdued level. Most recently, Bulgarians have complained that Macedonians are hijacking Bulgarian history by presenting Bulgarian literary accomplishments as Macedonian.
Iran’s Press TV has a very good basic report on the current issue at http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/09/02/259523/bulgaria-macedonia-tensions-high/. An announcement about the exhibition from Macedonia is at http://www.mia.com.mk/default.aspx?vId=96766266&lId=2. An example of the Bulgarian response appears at http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=f3007.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19550809 and http://euobserver.com/enlargement/117486.
http://euobserver.com/economic/117498 and the report at http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/09/10/getting-people-in-from-the-shadow-in-eastern-europe.
Despite Gazprom’s clout and the fact that it can count on the support of the administration of Vladimir Putin, the public is sensitive to bad news, and the day after the investigation began, Gazprom stocks dropped on the Moscow market. In the end, the EU’s best weapon might be bad publicity about Gazprom and the threat of lower profits. If the European Commission determines that Gazprom has acted unfairly, it could require the company to renegotiate its contracts, charge Gazprom a fine, or negotiate some other type of settlement. In the past, the EU has managed to wrest concessions from Gazprom and may do so again.
In a statement, Gazprom denied any wrongdoing. The Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, also dismissed the investigation, denied that Gazprom has broken any international law, and cited politics as the reason for the probe. He mocked the European Commission, stating that it "can look into anything it wants: whether there is life on Mars or whether there are some irregularities in Google or Gazprom or Microsoft.” When he noted that Russia wants to avoid a “gas war” with the EU, one must wonder whether Chizhov’s remark was meant as a threat. No doubt, Chizhov would prefer that the EU view Gazprom in light of the opening words of the 2009 unofficial anthem of Gazprom: “Don't bother trying, you'll never ever find a surer friend than Gazprom.”
For information about the Gazprom song, composed and performed by Vladimir Tumayev, the former president of a subsidiary of Gazprom, soccer player, and soccer official, see http://observers.france24.com/content/20090119-gazprom-extremely-kitsch-anthem-russia-energy-giant-vladimir%20tumayev or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGbI87tyr_4.
On the Gazprom investigation, see the Wall Street Journal article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444273704577635472004750402.html?mod=googlenews_wsj and the New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/business/global/gazprom-objects-to-european-antitrust-inquiry.html.
Act Two: At a NATO seminar in 2004 in Budapest, Hungary, an Azerbaijani lieutenant, Ramil Safarov, entered the bedroom of an Armenian soldier, Gurgen Markarian, who allegedly had insulted Safarov, and slaughtered him with an ax, striking him 16 times and nearly decapitating him.
Act Three: the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, who succeeded his father as president in 2003 and who has removed term limits on the presidency, is about to stand for reelection next year. Recently, there have been protests against Aliyev and restrictions on the freedom of the press.
Act Four: Safarov, the ax murderer, was to spend 25 years in a Hungarian prison for his crime, but the international situation may have worked in his favor. On 31 August, Hungarian authorities sent Safarov to Azerbaijan, where President Aliyev pardoned him, presented him with a new apartment, promoted him to major, and gave him back pay for defending Azerbaijani honor, as one official described it.
Who Done It?: The motive for the killing might be apparent, but the reason the Hungarian government released Safarov is unclear. There is speculation that the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, sealed the deal when President Aliyev promised that Azerbaijan would purchase Hungarian bonds. That would provide money for the Hungarian government, which is under pressure from the EU for weakening its democratic institutions and has had difficulties securing loans.
Act Five: Condemnation has focused on Aliyev and has come from some surprising quarters. The United States, Russia, and the European Union have expressed their concern about Aliyev’s actions. Armenia, understandably, is furious, and angry crowds of Armenians have pelted the Hungarian embassy with eggs. In an odd twist, Hungary also has condemned Aliyev, claiming that he had promised to keep Safarov in prison.
Act Six: The script writer is still at work, but one of the scenarios is that increased tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan ends with a war over Nagorno-Karabakh that invites Russian interference in the affairs of the two countries.
Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/world/europe/pardon-reignites-azerbaijan-armenia-tensions.html and http://euobserver.com/foreign/117404.
For more on this story, see http://euobserver.com/economic/117415.
The strong overall performance of the Slovak economy and the health of the vehicle and electronic sectors mask the 13.8 percent unemployment in the country. The difficulty is that manufacturing is concentrated in certain areas. For example, Bratislava (Volkswagen), Žilina (PSA Peugeot Citroen), and Trnava (KIA) are key vehicle production cities, and all are located in the western part of the country. Smaller facilities, often concentrating on supplying parts for vehicle assembly, are scattered throughout the country, with some concentrated in Vráble, which is just east of Trnava, and Košice, which is in the eastern part of the country. Most of Slovakia’s unemployment is in the rural areas.
In comparison with Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary are in recession. Slovakia’s use of the euro is one of the factors that attract European investors looking for cheap yet qualified labor (Vaňo cites that in his report). The Czech Republic continues to use the crown, and its president, Václav Klaus, is a notorious eurosceptic.. Hungary’s deteriorating democracy makes investors hesitant, and it continues to use the forint. Poland, once a bright spot in the in the constellation of EU economies, is beginning to dim. It also is not in the eurozone and continues to use the złoty.
More on Vaňo’s report is available in the Financial Times article at http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/08/28/slovakia-gains-as-manufacturers-transfer-jobs-from-western-to-central-europe/#axzz25PLSvmvv. For information on Slovakia’s vehicle manufacturing, see the 2010 report available at https://www.unido.org/foresight/rwp/dokums_pres/automotive_industry_slovakia_263.pdf.
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/24/159925435/zap-cartoonist-raises-1-million-for-tesla-museum?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120824. The web sites containing information about donating to the creation of the museum are at http://www.indiegogo.com/teslamuseum, http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla, and http://www.teslasciencecenter.org/.
Documents recently discovered in Košice, Slovakia, provide new evidence against the alleged Nazi war criminal, László Csizsik-Csatáry. During the war, Csatáry was the commanding police officer in the Jewish ghetto in Košice, where he allegedly committed atrocities against Jews and was involved in transporting more than 15,000 to their deaths at Auschwitz. After the war, a Czechoslovak court sentenced him to death in abstentia. He had fled to Canada, and after he lost his citizenship there in the late 1990s, he secretly returned to Hungary. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is hoping that a new trial will convict and sentence Csatáry, who has claimed he is innocent of all charges. See http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4270422,00.html.
http://euobserver.com/economic/117238. Unfortunately for Mr. Samaras, Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and the head of the Euro Group that controls the euro, indicated today that nothing can be done until the EU Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF release their so-called troika report in late September that assesses Greece’s progress in the area of fiscal austerity and that determines whether Greece will get the next €130 billion in bailout funds. See http://euobserver.com/economic/117302.
On Saturday, 18 August, about 10,000 gathered to participate in the Prague Pride parade to support tolerance for the gay and homosexual community. The parade culminated a week of events, and marchers ended their trek through the historic city on Střelecký ostrov, an island in the Vltava River. There groups and vendors set up stands to supply information, food, and products, and two stages supplied entertainment.
The parade had its detractors. The president of the republic, Václav Klaus, had condemned the event earlier, and on the day of the parade, the president’s spokesman reiterated his opinion (many contend that Klaus is a closet homosexual). There were some who marched against homosexuality, but there were no major incidents. Before the steps that descended to Střelecký ostrov from the Most Legií (Legionnaires’ Bridge) stood conservative Christians who passed out literature announcing that the cure for homosexuality lies in the Bible.
Among the groups which set up information booths on the island was LogosCR.cz, an organization of Christian gays, lesbians, and those who sympathize with them whose leaflets announced: “Gay, lesbian, and a believer? It works. Thank God!” (Gay, lesba a věřící? Jde to. Díky Bohu!). Other booths included Charlie, the group supporting homosexuality at Prague’s Charles University, and the Green Party, which passed out stickers in support of equality for homosexuals.
The atmosphere was festive, and some individuals sported colorful costumes that evoked the rainbow of colors that is symbolic of the gay movement. Others were sunning themselves along the banks of the island. Among those who marched and milled around the island were several noted individuals who were openly homosexual and a number of heterosexual supporters of homosexual rights.
For more on the march, see http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/second-prague-pride-festival-draws-thousands-in-czech-capital and http://praguemonitor.com/2012/08/20/thousands-march-prague-pride-parade. On Klaus's opposition to the parade, see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/world/europe/16iht-prague16.html.
Above: Prague Castle with Střelecký ostrov during the parade.
Left: A participant in the Prague Pride festival in costume.
Photos by Daniel E. Miller
Romania's Constitutional Court voted to reinstate the country's president, Traian Basescu, after the court suspended his activities in the wake of a referendum on whether the president should remain in office. Although most of those who voted in the referendum wanted to remove the president, but the number of voters was insufficient. Basescu will continue to face the fact that many voters fault him for having backed wage cuts and increased taxes in 2009 in order to receive €20 billion from the IMF, the EU, and the World Bank. See http://euobserver.com/economic/117236.The members of the Russian band, Pussy Riot, received a two-year sentence for hooliganism linked to "religious hatred" for their spontaneous performance in a Moscow cathedral. The conviction has prompted protests in support of Pussy Riot throughout Europe. See the NPR report at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/17/158976733/coming-up-women-in-russian-punk-band-to-be-sentenced?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120817.
Slovenia is facing poor credit ratings as its economy slips deeper into recession and its government seeks means to bolster its popularity. Meanwhile, Romania is pulling out of its recession, although the economies of the Czech Republic and Hungary are slowing down as part of a European-wide recession. Political difficulties in Hungary and Romania have contributed tot he economic problems. On a more optimistic note, prospects in Slovakia and Bulgaria are good. Slovakia's economy grew at 0.7 percent and Bulgaria's economy by 0.18 percent for the first quarter of 2012. Experts in Bulgaria expect the country's economy to expand nearly 2 percent in 2013.
On Slovenia, see http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=153644. See also http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/08/14/uk-cee-economy-idUKBRE87D0DB20120814 and http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n285091.
Because Yulia Tymoshenko is in prison after being convicted for corruption, the Ukrainian authorities have refused to allow her to stand for election to parliament. Although individuals in the European Union have voiced their criticism, the European Commission agrees with the decision, even though it takes exception to the entire legal procedure against Tymoshenko. See http://euobserver.com/foreign/117221.
Czechoslovak authorities starting in the late 1940s and continuing until 1951 created a false Czechoslovak-German border in several places near the actual border to trick would-be escapees. Unsuspecting victims thought they had crossed the border once they saw American flags and had interviews with individuals they thought were American soldiers. In reality, they soldiers were secret police agents who gathered information on contacts who had helped the individual trying to flee. Everyone involved with the escape was arrested and received harsh sentences. In an interview with the Czech on-line newspaper iDNES.cz, Igor Lukeš, a historian at Boston University, explained that at least two of the individuals involved with the so-called Operation Stone still are alive and living very comfortable lives. He called on the Czech legal system to bring the individuals to justice because of the "psychological and physical" abuse the victims endured. For more, see http://zpravy.idnes.cz/policie-vysetruje-provokaci-stb-dos-/domaci.aspx?c=A120808_072853_domaci_jj and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/czechrepublic/9461761/Soviet-era-ruse-that-tricked-escapees-into-think-they-had-fled-Czechoslovakia.html.
Reasoning that no law against war crimes existed at the time, the Australian High Court refused to extradite 90-year-old Charles Zentai to Hungary for allegedly beating a Jew to death in 1944 for not wearing a star of David. See http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/2012/08/15/australia-won-send-war-crimes-suspect-hungary/QJQsZx4diZfaOlpvyoVd8O/story.html.
The Slovak representative of the European Union who oversees Greek privatization efforts has resigned because of links with a corruption scandal that has rocked Slovakia for several months. See http://euobserver.com/institutional/117217.
European Union diplomats have agreed not to retaliate against Belarus by pulling out their diplomats, yet they stand behind Sweden, whose diplomats Belarus expelled over the teddy bear issue, as reported in the last posting. For more, see http://euobserver.com/foreign/117210.
Sweden has sent home the ambassador from Belarus after Belarus expelled the Swedish ambassador for supporting human rights in Belarus. European Union diplomats are meeting today to determine whether to remove all their ambassadors. The difficulties began when an advertising agency in Sweden flew over Belarusand dropped teddy bears with parachutes and messages calling for freedom of speech. Belarus then threatened to shoot down any further unauthorized flights. See http://euobserver.com/foreign/117189 and http://euobserver.com/foreign/117154.
Judges on the Romanian constitutional court have received death threats, and the country's prime minister, Victor Ponta, has called for the removal of certain judges because of their decisions on other matters. On 31 August, the court will decide on the validity of a referendum on 29 August regarding the country's president. The majority of voters want to remove the president, but the number of those who went to the polls was lower than the 50 percent the constitution requires for the vote to be valid. The European Union justice commissioner is following the developments and is concerned about threats to the independence of Romania's justice system. See http://euobserver.com/justice/117188.
A judge in Romania has postponed until September the decision of wheter last Sunday's referendum is valid. More on the story is at http://euobserver.com/political/117140.
The group Pussy Riot went on trial in Moscow for hooliganism for their spontaneous performance in February 2012 in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior that mocked church ritual. NPR coverage of the story is at http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2012/07/30/157606363/feminist-punk-band-imprisoned-for-five-months-gets-next-gig-russian-courtroom.
The Czech Republic will represent the interests of the United States in Syria after Poland, which had been fulfilling that task, pulled its diplomats out of the country. The announcement appears at http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/48582-czech-republic-to-represent-u-s-consular-interests-in-syria.
Researchers have unearthed two statements in capsules beneath the statue of the unknown soldier in Vienna. One is a pacifist message from the sculptor Alfons Riedel (1901-1969), while the second from the sculptor Wilhelm Frass (1888-1968), praises the notion of a greater Germany under the Nazis. The sculptors placed the messages under the monument in the Heldenplatz in 1935, three years before the Anschluß. The BBC report on the discovery is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18909648.
While on a visit to Poland, Mitt Romney received the endorsement of Poland's former president and one-time dissident, Lech Wałęsa. Meanwhile, Solidarity (Solidarność), the non-Communist union Wałęsa once headed, disavowed its former leader's action because of Romney's anti-union stance. Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/polands-solidarity-romney-visit_n_1720054.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012. For more information on Romney's visit to Poland, including his remarks about how Poland's free market capitalism and budget discipline make Poland a model for other countries, see http://euobserver.com/19/117120
The Romanian president, Traian Basescu, is claiming a victory in his political struggle against Prime Minister Victor Ponta when fewer than 50 percent of the electorate turned out to vote in a referendum against Basescu continuing in power. The infighting will continue, however, because a large number of Romanians who support Ponta want to see the resignation of Basescu, who is accused of cronyism and who is unpopular because of budget cuts. See the reports at http://euobserver.com/843/117085 and http://euobserver.com/843/117094.
The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has warned the Greeks that they must deliver on their promises connected with the bailout, and he is discontented with the negative comments from other EU states. Read more at http://euobserver.com/19/117078. For an update, see http://euobserver.com/19/117113.
The famous Czech chemist, Antonín Holý, died on 16 July. He was the director of the Czech Academy of Sciences and was the creater of several key antiretroviral drugs, including Viread Hepsera and Vistide Truvada, that doctors use for the treatment of HIV. More about Holý is at http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/groundbreaking-chemist-antonin-holy-dies-at-75.
A report on the latest developments in Romania ahead of Sunday's referendum on the president is at http://euobserver.com/843/117069.
The EU Commission has presented Romania with an 11-point list in order to restore the country’s democratic processes, but the Romanian government has dismissed the EU demands. An article on the list is available at http://euobserver.com/843/116977, and the list that the newspaper Gandul obtained is at http://storage0.dms.mpinteractiv.ro/media/1/186/3927/9859699/4/b9hxhkqi.jpg. In its continuing drift away from democracy, the Romanian parliament voted to remove the power of the country’s constitutional court to rule on internal parliamentary matters. See http://euobserver.com/22/117019 and http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16108944,00.html. In another development related to Romania, EU officials have charged, Adrian Severin, a Romanian member of the European Parliament, with embezzling €436,000 from the EU budget. He also is under investigation for taking bribes. Read more at http://euobserver.com/22/116986. For additional information regarding the situation in Romania and the problem with organized crime and corruption in Bulgaria, see http://euobserver.com/22/117008.
Information from NPR about the bombing on 19 July of a bus carrying Israelis in Bulgaria is at http://www.npr.org/2012/07/19/157019813/bulgaria-bombing-most-likely-suicide-attack?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120719.
Because of the political struggle between the prime minister and president of Romania, the European Union justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, indicated that there may be delays in Romania's bid to enter the Schengen zone. Like his counterpart in Hungary, Viktor Orbán, the Romanian prime minister, Victor Ponta, has been replacing key figures in the state with loyalists from his own party and hasentered into a power struggle with Romania's president. For more, see http://euobserver.com/22/116941.
The History News Network contributor, Aaron Leonard, interviewed Geoffrey Roberts, the author of a new biography of the Soviet General Georgy K. Zhukov (1896-1974). It is available at http://hnn.us/articles/russias-architect-victory-interview-geoffrey-roberts-georgy-zhukov. Random House released Roberts's book, Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov, in the last few weeks.
The Commission of the European Union has warned Romania that it may risk breaching the rule of law in the ruling party's efforts to remove Traian Basescu from the presidency. The prime minister, Victor Ponta and his Social-Liberal Union, which is a combination of the Social Democratic, National Liberal, and Conservative parties, have flaunted the rulings of Romania's Constitutional Court, have removed the ombudsman, and have changed the procedures for referendums in their efforts to oust Basescu, whom they accuse of abusing power in the past. Ponta also dismissed a university committee that had accused him of plagiarizing parts of his dissertation. For more on this story, see http://euobserver.com/843/116896.
Pope Benedict fired Robert Bezak, the bishop of Trnava, Slovakia, for abusing his position. The Vatican gave no official reason for its action, but it is possible that Church authorities did not like the way in which Bezak criticized his predecessor. Pope Gregory has fired several bishops in the past instead of forcing their resignation. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/pope-fires-slovak-bishop-robert-bezak-rare-show-of-authority_n_1642999.html.Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer based in Paris, is going to build a plant in Mobile, AL, to construct its model A320. The plant will employ approximately 1,000 people. For more, read the NPR report at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=156106947. A report on WUWF dated 29 June 2012 by Rick Harper, a professor of economics at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL, is located at http://wuwf.org/news/harper.shtml and http://wuwf.org/news/Harper%20062912.wma.