"What's New? How Is the World Treating You?"
Table of Contents for the Second Quarter of 2012
Congress voted to freeze the current interest rates for student loans, but other action actually hurts students. There now are semester limits on Pell Grants, and qualifying for them is more difficult. Graduate students now must pay interest on their loans before they get their degree. It appears that Congress is bent on passing measures that mean savings for students when it comes to high-profile areas while they hope that the public will not notice other changes they make to increase the cost of education. Students should be satisfied, however, that the changes only will cost them approximately $2 billion each year over the course of the next decade. Read more at http://www.npr.org/2012/06/30/156024236/the-flip-side-of-the-federal-student-loans-deal?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120630.
An example of the progressive deepening of the European Union occurred on 29 June when EU heads of state agreed to establish a patent court in Paris with branches in London and Munich. Once it is operational by the end of this year, those seeking patents will no longer have to file in each state, a process which made the cost of a patent as high as €32,000, approximately 70 percent of that cost being translation services. A patent in the United States costs approximately €1,850. The change will have a positive impact on research and creativity in businesses and universities throughout the EU. It took thirty years of negotiating to reach an agreement. It will need the ratification of all Member States, which may involve a referendum in some. More details are at http://euobserver.com/19/116819.
European Union leaders have agreed to dedicate €120 billion ($149 billion) to spur growth in the poorest Member States. As a result of the plan, the EU Investment Bank has received additional funding, and infrastructure projects have received unused EU aid. Many feel that the amount is far too small to be effective. Italy and Spain held up the process in order to win measures that will help ease their financial crises. Along with the growth package, the EU leaders agreed to have bailout funds recaitalize banks directly and to buy bonds for countries that are making progress on fiscal reforms but are facing pressures from the market.
Jeffrey R. Young of the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Bill Gates about the future of college education. The complete article and some film clips are available at http://chronicle.com/article/A-Conversation-With-Bill-Gates/132591/.
After the Syrians shot down a military jet on 22 June during a training mission that the Turks claimed had entered Syrian air space accidentally, the Turks has called on NATO diplomats to discuss the situation. The mood of the member states appears to be that they must avoid direct conflict with Syria at all costs. For more, see http://euobserver.com/13/116743 and http://www.npr.org/2012/06/24/155655716/turkey-jet-downed-by-syria-was-not-spying?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120624.
Nachum T. Gross, who specializes in Holocaust studies in the Polish regions, has sparked more controversy with his book Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, 2012). He argued that Poles participated in the persecution of Jews in order to benefit economically as a result of their exclusion from society and because of anti-Semitism. Many in Poland denounce his claims. And the former Polish President Lech Wałęsa harshly described Mr. Gross as "a mediocre writer . . . a Jew who tries to make money." For more, see http://chronicle.com/article/A-Polish-Historians/132499/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en.
Archaeologists have found bones on the island of Sveti Ivan in the Black Sea that once were believed to be those of St. John the Baptist. Although the carbon dating places them as being from the time of Jesus and DNA research demonstrates that they are from the Middle East, there is no proof that they actually are those of St. John the Baptist. Read more at http://news.yahoo.com/mysterious-bones-may-belong-john-baptist-230719990.html.
Construction workers digging for a new metro in Thessaloniki, Greece, have unearthed a Roman road and a Greek road under it that predates the Roman road by 500 years. The marble slabs of the Roman road are in tact, and the road will be on display after the metro is opened.
Antonis Samaras, the head of the conservative New Democracy party, is the new prime minister of Greece. His coalition, which includes members of the Socialist and Democratic Left parties, has a majority of 179 out of 300 seats. The leaders of the coalition have not yet released the full details of the cabinet’s makeup. Samaras will have to lead Greece through more austerity measures and privatizations, but he also plans on renegotiating some of the terms of the bailout. He also will have to find economic solutions for a country with 22 percent unemployment and growing poverty. Syriza, the second strongest party in the parliament, is in the opposition to the government and the EU bailout.
The former Romanian prime minister, Adrian Năstase (born 1950), attempted to commit suicide today after a court upheld his two-year sentence on corruption charges linked to his 2004 electoral campaign for the presidency. Năstase served as premier from December 2004 to March 2006 as head of the Socialist party. He brought Romania into NATO and negotiated the entry of Romania into the European Union, which occurred in 2007. Năstase resigned as a result of the corruption charges, which he vehemently denied, claiming that they were politically motivated. After the verdict, Năstase shot himself in the neck at his home just as the police came to arrest him, and he is now in the hospital. See http://news.yahoo.com/ex-romania-pm-shoots-self-courts-sentence-213521467.html. As of 21 June, Năstase is in critical condition. The bullet passed through his neck without striking his vocal cords or any major arteries. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-romania-corruption-idUSBRE85K0XO20120621.
Gunther Fehlinger, an Austrian economist living in Albania, and Ekrem Krasniqi, journalist who was born in Kosovo but lives in Brussels, propose that Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia develop an arrangement like the Benelux countries in order to spur investment and speed entry into the European Union. For their proposal, see http://euobserver.com/7/116669.
Given the importance of investment and finance to European, American, and world politics, it is useful to have a reliable source for certain terms, such as sovereign wealth funds. Investopedia at http://pro.benzinga.com/, which provides financial news, is a good source for such information.
The conservative New Democracy party is continuing to negotiate with the Socialists and the small Democratic Left party about forming a cabinet. The premise of the talks is the support of the EU bailout, although the parties are considering some adjustments. The far-left Syriza party, which renounces the bailout, refuses to participate in the talks. See the AP news feed at http://news.yahoo.com/greece-enters-2nd-day-power-sharing-talks-074006486.html.
The Romanian prime minister and minister of education have been accused of plagiarism, and the charges have many questioning the government’s ability to eliminate corruption in the country’s university system. See http://chronicle.com/blogs/global/2-top-romanian-government-officials-grapple-with-charges-of-academic-plagiarism/33463?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en.
The New Democrats, who support the EU bailout, have won the Greek parliamentary election, gaining 30 percent of the votes and 130 out of 300 seats in the legislature (83 percent of the votes are counted). The second strongest party was leftist Syriza party, which opposed the bailout, and garnered 26.6 percent of the votes and 71 seats. Third was the Socialist party, which helped negotiate the bailout, with 12.5 percent of the votes and 33 seats. Fourth was the extreme-rightist Golden Dawn party with 6.9 percent of the vote and 18 seats. Fifth was the Democratic Left with 6.1 percent of the votes and 18 seats.
An update is available from NPR at http://www.npr.org/2012/06/18/155263974/greek-parties-to-hold-coalition-talks?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120618.
For an excellent article on the 12 June protests in Moscow against President Putin, see http://en.rian.ru/society/20120612/173983880.html. The demonstration was peaceful, and there were no difficulties with the police. Officials claimed that 18,000 were present, but various organizers and Putin opponents cited numbers between 25,000 and 100,000.
Greeks go to the polls tomorrow in an attempt to provide politicians with more decisive results than those that came out of the May elections. Two strong parties appear to be even in the voters’ sentiments: the right-of-center New Democratic party, which supports the EU bailouts, and the leftist Syriza, which wants to renegotiate the deals, even though it would mean Greece would default on its loans. Given the divided nature of Greek politics at the moment, it is quite possible that once again no one party will gain enough seats in the parliament to govern alone and will have to form a coalition with smaller parties. For more, see http://euobserver.com/843/116638.
Giovanni Battista Piranes (1720-1778) is in many respects the father of historic preservation because his etchings of Rome sparked an interest in antiquities throughout Europe and inspired Italians to preserve their cultural heritage. He also was famous for his imaginative scenes of dark prisons. Art historians wonder why he made the etchings, but perhaps to obtain an answer, they should examine Piranes’s works with those of his younger contemporary from the literary sphere, Marquis De Sade (1740-1814). For an excellent article on Piranes, see http://chronicle.com/article/Behind-Historic-Preservation/132119/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en.
Amnesty International released a report on 13 June 2012 titled “S.O.S. Europe: Human Rights and Migration Control” that criticizes the European Union for focusing on protecting its borders instead of being concerned about the lives of those who attempt to enter illegally. Most of the report focuses on the problem of people illegally escaping from Libya to Italy. AI is critical of the practice of returning these individuals to Libya, where they often are mistreated. The report concludes that “states must be held accountable for the human rights abuses committed in the context of externalization” (p. 17). AI calls on the Italian government to renegotiate repatriation terms with Libya after Libya demonstrates that it will not abuse asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. The organization also recommends that all agreements regarding these matters become public. AI wants the EU to make sure that its policies do not result in human rights abuses, that all human rights agreements and procedures are honored, that those rescued trying to enter the EU have adequate care and the right to request asylum, and that search-and-rescue efforts in the Mediterranean are augmented. Details about the recommendations are on p. 18.
One of the 700-year-old vampire skeletons recently discovered in Bulgaria will go on display at the National History Museum in Sofia. The original story on this web site is here, and the announcement of the exhibition is at http://news.yahoo.com/bulgaria-vampire-skeleton-going-display-160432425.html.
The Czech supermodel Petra Němcová has agreed to be an ambassador at large for Haiti, joining Sean Penn and other celebrities who help promote Haiti. Němcová received the honor because of her work to aid children and construct schools through her Happy Hearts Fund, which she established after surviving the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed approximately 280,000 people. See http://news.yahoo.com/czech-supermodel-petra-nemcova-named-ambassador-large-promote-232150324.html.
To mark 12 June, known as Russia Day, when the Russian state declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, protesters planned to demonstrate against President Putin. The demonstrations took place, but opponents of Mr. Putin were well aware of the new tripled fines for illegal demonstrations and the fact that the police had raided the apartments of demonstration leaders, many of whom they had detained. See http://news.yahoo.com/russian-police-search-protest-leaders-apartments-103748861.html.
Albania has a new president, Bujar Nishani, but not everyone is celebrating. He is a former interior minister and member of the Democratic party, which also heads the government. During the presidential election in parliament, the Socialists refused to vote, and tensions between the two parties runs high. Albania is in NATO and hopes to join the European Union, but the political tension in the country makes EU leaders hesitant about Albania’s progress toward strengthening democratic institutions Read more at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/11/us-albania-president-idUSBRE85A1EB20120611 and http://news.yahoo.com/albania-elects-president-despite-protests-172717784.html.
Each year in the spring, there are some killings on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and this year has been no exception. Still, the tensions between the two countries have not resulted in open conflict, as they did between 1988 and 1994. Much of the problem is due to the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan that has declared its independence. Read more at http://euobserver.com/24/116579.
Lithuanians are divided over a murder that resulted from a custody case, and the matter is exposing deficiencies in the justice system For more, see http://news.yahoo.com/lithuania-vigilante-case-exposes-social-divides-120656655.html.
Kemal Atatürk’s cult of personality in Turkey is the subject of an excellent AP article located at http://news.yahoo.com/turkey-tweaks-cult-national-founder-062548426.html.
In a brief article, the economist George Irvin argues that the Greek exit from the euro already is underway. Those who favor it include the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who would like to see the Greeks serve as an “encouragement to others” and even French President François Hollande, who successfully could advance his plan for eurobonds or project bonds if the Greek crisis ends. Furthermore, an orderly exit now would be more beneficial to the Greeks than a disorderly exit, which also could destroy faith in the euro throughout Europe. Irvin believes that the process of orderly exit has begun because Greece is not receiving the bailout money the EU has promised and instead is accepting Emergency Liquidity Assistance, which the Greek state, already on the swift road to default, is guaranteeing. Irvin’s article is available at http://blogs.euobserver.com/irvin/2012/05/30/ecb-initiates-greek-exit/.
A farmer in Egilsstaðir, Iceland, has video taped what he claims is a Lagarfljóts Worm in the lake near his home. Biologists decided that it was not alive and perhaps was a fishing net. Viewers can decide for themselves at http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/giant-worm-icelands-loch-ness-monster-16531170 or http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/major-victory-for-9-11-first-responders-29608135.html.
Unlike last year, when ultra-conservatives threw rocks and other items at gay pride marchers, this year’s march in Zagreb had no difficulties. The reason was most likely a strong police presence to protect the marchers. For an AP report on the event, see http://news.yahoo.com/croatian-gay-pride-event-passes-without-incident-172422664.html. See also the report on gay marchers in Poland and Latvia here.
The ministers in the EU Council have made changes to the spirit of the Schengen Agreement that regulates the internal borders of the EU. Now, each Member State can close its borders for six months for ongoing difficulties, 30 days for serious threats, and 10 days for urgent cases (previously the limit was five days). Furthermore, the European Commission can recommend controlling borders for states that are contiguous with a Member State that is unable to guarantee its borders. These changes have infuriated the European Parliament because it restricts the freedom implicit in the Schengen Agreement but also because the ministers removed the ability of the European Parliament to have any input in the matter. The European Commission likewise is upset because of its exclusion. There is talk about having the matter settled in court. For more, see http://euobserver.com/22/116545.
Only 17 percent of Hungarians support the conservative Fidesz party, according to a recent poll, and 81 percent of the people have a negative view regarding the country’s future. The Socialist party, which is the main opposition to Fidesz, rose in the polls from 13 to 15 percent, suggesting that Hungarians are not terribly enthusiastic about the alternative to the current Fidesz-led coalition. See http://www.euronews.com/newswires/1543208-hungary-government-party-support-lowest-in-over-a-decade-poll/.
Politics can be ugly, but an event in Greece on 7 June 2012 showed the extent to which individuals in a heated debate and under an incredible amount of political strain can lose their tempers. A left-socialist politician from the Syriza party, Rena Dourou, was questioning Ilias Kasidiaris about an upcoming trial regarding his involvement in a 2007 attack on a student. Kasidiaris is a member of Golden Dawn, an extreme nationalist party that won 21 out of 300 seats in the last Greek election and hopes to do better in the elections in June. In the midst of the exchange, Liana Kanelli, a member of the Communist party, branded Kasidiaris a fascist, and Kasidiaris called Kanelli, who is 58, an “old commie.” Kasidiaris further lost his temper and threw a glass of water at Dourou. As the moderator tried to calm the situation, Kanelli threw some papers at Kasidiaris, who proceeded to strike her across the face three times.
Articles about the incident are at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/07/world/europe/greece-politicians-fight/ and http://news.yahoo.com/greek-extremist-party-member-tv-assault-075138071.html. The scene is also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjVsaEUM2Ws.
Alexander Kwasniewski, the former Polish president and communist who has long-standing ties with Ukraine, as well as Pat Cox, the former Irish television personality and EU Parliament president who is a supporter of EU enlargement, are heading the EU task force to monitor Yulia Tymoshenko's appeal in late June. Tymoshenko’s daughter, Eugenia Tymoshenko, is concerned that the regime in Ukraine will sway the opinion of the task force. According to the terms to which EU and Ukrainian officials had agreed, there was to be a medical monitoring team to check on Yulia Tymoshenko while she is in prison, but that part of the plan remains unimplemented because she now has a German doctor.
EU-Digest posted the following blog regarding the differences between European and American healthcare:
Europe Not US Has the Right Model on Health Care
Posted: 06 Jun 2012 10:56 AM PDT
Barack Obama's once boasted that Americans have better health care than the best India can throw at them. This is both true and pointless. It is not as if this stunning fact was spotted accidentally by a window cleaner. If the United States is spoiling for a punch- up on health policy, it should pick on somebody its own size and come out in the open. America's real challenger is not India, but Europe.
Though Europe has done extremely well by all health parameters, it has not been able to broadcast its model effectively. In fact, every time medical expenses as proportion of Gross Domestic Product (or GDP) goes up by even a tiny bit, either in Sweden, Italy, France or Luxembourg, influential policy makers in America, as well as in India, use it to discredit the European medical system.
Notwithstanding nips and tucks, the bare fact that Europeans live longer than Americans should have settled the contest long ago. In America only 12.6 per cent cross the age of 65 whereas the figure is 16.7 per cent and 21.5 per cent in Europe and Japan respectively. What is more, the European model is also cost effective.
The United States spends about 16 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health, whereas the European average is around 9 per cent. Europe delivers better medical care at cheaper rates because it has limited the role of the private sector in this field. This makes it harder for ants to run away with the picnic.
Has state sponsored universal health delivery undermined medical care in Europe? No. While there are just 2.4 beds for every thousand in the United States, in Europe the figure is 3.1. On this parameter alone, America would rank a lowly 23rd amongst other European countries. Neither is the tale of the tape flattering when we compare the availability of beds for acute care between America and Europe. In Europe there are 3.7 beds per thousand dedicated for this purpose, whereas in America it is just 2.8.
America's status falls further when we consider infant mortality rates (IMR) - an important public health index. With an IMR of 6.75 per thousand live births the USA would rank 27th in Europe. Even Cuba does better on this account.
Infrastructure wise, there are other bits of bad news from America. In terms of practicing physicians, for example, Europe easily outdoes the USA. Whereas there are 2.4 such professionals for every thousand in America, the number rises to 3.1 when we look at OECD countries.
No matter what opinion one has about healthcare, it is important for any specialist in European affairs to have a general idea of the differences between the two healthcare systems, especially when the information presented is not a product of the overly politically-charged American scene. The text is available at http://www.eu-digest.blogspot.com/.
Recently an auction took place at Alexander Historical Auctions (Stamford, CT) of reports about Adolf Hitler’s health from his physicians that include 225 pages of written material, x-rays, and other items. The documents reveal that Hitler “had ‘uncontrollable flatulence,’ used cocaine [to clear sinuses–DEM], and received injections of bull semen to bolster his sexual vitality,” according to an article in the Huffington Post. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/hitler-medical-records-auction-cocaine-flatulence-semen_n_1477821.html.
For a better understanding of the success and the leadership of Germany’s Pirate party, see the NPR story at http://www.npr.org/2012/06/06/154388897/a-party-on-the-rise-germanys-pirates-come-ashore?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120606.
Vampire mania occurred in the Balkans in medieval times, so those deemed evil had a stake driven through their heart when they were buried to prevent them from becoming vampires. Archaeologists have found many examples of the practice in the past, but two more have arisen (perhaps unearthed might be a better term, but then again!) in a Bulgarian village by the Black Sea. These two so-called vampire skeletons will join the hundred or so that have emerged (enough already!) in Bulgaria through the efforts of archaeologists.
While posthumously awarding the Second World War hero, Jan Karski (1914-2000), the Medal of Freedom in Washington on 29 May 2012, Mr. Obama made a reference to “Polish death camps.” The Poles were upset because Nazis, not Poles, operated the camps, which were on Polish soil. Subsequently, Mr. Obama sent an official letter of apology to the Polish president. In reality, many writers have referred to the “Polish camps” as a geographic term without any implication that the Poles were killing Jews and others.
In two chapters, the study considers armed conflict throughout the world and efforts to restore and maintain peace. Three chapters cover arms production, international sales, trafficking, and military expenditures. The state of nuclear forces throughout the world is another chapter as is the efforts to control nuclear arms. There also are chapters on chemical and biological weapons, conventional arms control, and intervention.
The world’s eight known nuclear powers–China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, USA, and UK–have about 19,000 weapons, of which about 4,400 are deployed. This and more information about the current number of nuclear weapons throughout the world are in chapter seven. The eight chapter considers nuclear proliferation, including information and analysis about developments in Iran, North Korea, and Syria. The United States and Russia are working to reduce the numbers of their nuclear weapons, but both sides are modernizing their arsenals.
The web site of SIPRI is http://www.sipri.org/.
http://euobserver.com/19/116426 and http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_20749147/polish-economy-grew-3-5-pct-first-quarter.
Some of us have second-hand knowledge of the dubious academic behavior of an author, and a few of us have encountered it directly. Seldom do we drag these cases before the public, so the recent open debate surrounding the noted Russian specialist, Orlando Figes, is shocking for historians, in part because the charges others have brought against him are an embarrassment for the profession. Nevertheless, the incident demonstrates that diligent historians can weed out the less reputable practitioners and send a message to students and the public that the academy can successfully maintain its integrity.
At issue is a book Mr. Figes published on the horrors of the Soviet regime under Joseph Stalin titled The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia (Picador, 2008). According to the historians Peter Reddaway and Stephen F. Cohen, it contains misquotes, fabricated statements, and factual inaccuracies that one can verify through an examination of interviews available at the Memorial Society, which documents human rights abuses in Russia. Cohen and Reddaway reveal other difficulties with Figes’s methods that suggest a pattern of deception.
The full article by Cohen and Reddaway is at http://www.thenation.com/article/168028/orlando-figes-and-stalins-victims.
The study is available at http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/05/29/european-unity-on-the-rocks/, and an article about the results is at http://news.yahoo.com/europeans-dislike-euro-survey-finds-111423074--finance.html.
See http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2012&mm=05&dd=26&nav_id=80443; http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/serbian-leader-meets-putin-at-united-russia-convention/459333.html; and http://rt.com/politics/serbia-russia-nato-eu-crisis-377/.
http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/05/27/eurovision-2012-swedens-loreen-wins-in-politically-charged-azerbaijan/. Information about the protest is at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/world/europe/azerbaijani-police-arrest-protesters-at-eurovision-rally.html.
A commemoration of the assassination of Gestapo chief and governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich is taking place at Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday, which marks the 70-year anniversary of the event. The commemoration, which is under the auspices of Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra and deputy chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka, aims to raise awareness of the importance of the fact that plans to extinguish the Czech nation were thwarted by the assassination. Other commemorative events are being held across the capital.
The targeted killing of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in the Operation Anthropoid took place in Prague on May 27, 1942. British-trained Czech commandos parachuted into the Nazi-held protectorate and severely injured Heydrich by tossing a bomb into his car. He died as a result from the injuries suffered in the attack. The Gestapo chief's assassination became a symbol of Czech independence and was later hailed as an important moment in the resistance movement. His death led to a wave of revenge acts, including the Lidice massacre.
A BBC story with photographs about Jan Kubiš, the person who threw the bomb that mortally wounded Heydrich, is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18183099. A photograph of the memorial at the church where the assassins sought refuge is at http://prague-stay.com/lifestyle/review/252-national-memorial-to-the-victims-of-post-heydrich-terror/. Efforts of Heydrich’s son to restore the chateau near Prague where the family had lived are at http://praguemonitor.com/2011/03/25/reinhard-heydrichs-son-wants-restore-czech-chateau.
An investigation had determined that two towns, Lidice and Ležáky, had assisted the assassins. The authorities ordered their destruction and planned gruesome fates for their inhabitants. There were 503 inhabitants of Lidice, and the Germans shot all 184 men. The 156 women and children went to concentration camps, and the authorities selected a few children for resettlement in German homes. Only 153 women and 17 children survived the war. Of the 54 inhabitants of Ležáky, only two children survived the war. The web page for the memorial to Lidice is at http://www.lidice-memorial.cz/default_en.aspx, and the web page for the lesser-known town of Ležáky is at http://www.lezaky-memorial.cz/default_en.aspx. The administration that cares for the Lidice and Ležáky memorials also is responsible for the Lety concentration camp site in Bohemia were the Nazis interned Gypsies. Its web address is http://www.lety-memorial.cz/default_en.aspx.
http://www.aacc.nche.edu/AboutCC/21stcenturyreport/index.html. The essence of the report is that the number of Americans completing higher education is declining, and America ranks sixteenth in the world for the number of graduates per capita from institutions of higher education. The report calls on community colleges to be more attentive to the quality of education because
student success rates that are unacceptably low, employment preparation that is inadequately connected to job market needs, and disconnects in transitions between high schools, community colleges, and baccalaureate institutions. Community colleges, historically underfunded, also have
been financed in ways that encourage enrollment growth, though frequently without adequately supporting that growth, and largely without incentives for promoting student success (p. viii).
The report outlines steps community colleges should take to make the educational experience of their students more useful. According to the report, reform is the only way community colleges can help preserve the American dream of having a strong middle class.
The recommendations of the report on pp. 26-29 indicate a future emphasis on jobs skills in the community colleges and partnerships with schools to increase the preparedness of students entering community colleges:
Recommendation 1: Increase completion rates of students earning community college credentials (certificates and associate degrees) by 50% by 2020, while preserving access, enhancing quality, and eradicating attainment gaps associated with income, race, ethnicity, and gender.
Recommendation 2: Dramatically improve college readiness: By 2020, reduce by half the numbers of students entering college unprepared for rigorous college-level work, and double the number of students who complete developmental education programs and progress to successful completion of related freshman-level courses.
Recommendation 3: Close the American skills gaps by sharply focusing career and technical education on preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs in regional and global economies.
Recommendation 4: Refocus the community college mission and redefine institutional roles to meet 21st-century education and employment needs.
Recommendation 5: Invest in support structures to serve multiple community colleges through collaboration among institutions and with partners in philanthropy, government, and the private sector.
Recommendation 6: Target public and private investments strategically to create new incentives for all institutions of education and their students and to support community college efforts to reclaim the American Dream.
Recommendation 7: Implement policies and practices that promote rigor, transparency, and accountability for results in community colleges.
The second item is an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that appeared on 22 April 2012 by Jennifer González titled “Education for All? 2-Year Colleges Struggle to Preserve Their Mission.” It is available at http://chronicle.com/article/2-Year-Colleges-Fight-to-Save/131608/%E2%80%99, but since it is only available to subscribers, so a summary of its contents appears here.
Ms. González reported that community colleges are becoming more restrictive with respect to admission in this era of budget cuts and pressure to produce well-qualified graduates. The result is that the open-door policy of community colleges is closing to students who need remedial training because such courses are expensive. As a result, prospective students who appear unlikely to graduate do not gain admission, while community colleges seek those students who are better prepared from high school to tackle the challenges of college-level courses. Gary D. Rhoades, who is a professor of education at the University of Arizona and is with the Center for the Future of Higher Education, stated that “community colleges are being hammered to increase graduation rates. One way to do that is to change the sort of student you serve.” Ms. González reasoned that “such a shift would profoundly affect the millions of low-income and minority students who look to attend community colleges every year, many of whom need remedial education first.” Matthew Wetstein, the interim vice president for instruction at San Joaquin Delta College, noted that “to me, it’s like we are turning our back on the students most likely to benefit from our help.” The Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teacher College reported that more than 60 percent of students at two-year colleges must enroll in developmental education, but González claimed that now community colleges are scrapping GED and ESL courses, telling would-be applicants to seek such courses at “public schools, libraries, nonprofits, and local government agencies.” Also at risk are courses for senior citizens, community music and art programs, and continuing education as the community colleges focus their resources on job training and preparation for transfer to baccalaureate programs.
Neither the González article nor the Reclaiming the American Dream report truly tackle the root of the problem: poor performance of the grade schools and high schools that result in students who are unprepared for basic classes in colleges and universities. Anecdotal evidence from university and four-year college professors across the country suggests that math, writing, and critical-thinking skills are declining and that students are dismayed when professors do not parrot information that is on PowerPoint presentations and in assigned texts. Study habits are lax, and notetaking is becoming rare. These difficulties mean that universities are forced to increase the number of their remedial courses to assist the poorly-prepared students from high schools and community colleges. The reduction in remedial programs at the community college level, as Ms. González reported, will intensify the need for them at the university level. The result will be the breakdown of higher education so that America attains the point that one radio commentator in the 1970s predicted would emerge: children should be born with bachelor’s degrees so that they can go on to higher education. Averting this potential crisis at the university and community college levels is counterproductive. The need is to strengthen the fundamental skills of grade school and high school students. That means scrapping “No Child Left Behind,” abandoning the reliance on standardized tests as a measure of intelligence and skill, reducing the funding for non-academic programs in the schools (that may infuriate the scholastic sport industry and its fans), paying teachers realistic salaries to attract highly-qualified individuals to the classroom, protecting educators with responsible unions, and allowing the teachers to be professionals instead of individuals who need only execute a lesson plan and control a classroom.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/21/russia_s_surprisingly_liberal_new_cabinet. For other views, see http://valdaiclub.com/politics/43000.html and http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/spinning-medvedevs-government/459071.html.
• on average, only one out of two Roma children surveyed attend pre-school or kindergarten;
• during compulsory school age, with the exception of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, nine out of 10 Roma children aged 7 to 15 are reported to be in school;
• participation in education drops considerably after compulsory school: only 15 % of young Roma adults surveyed complete upper-secondary general or vocational education.
• on average, fewer than one out of three Roma are reported to be in paid employment;In health:
• one out of three Roma respondents said that they are unemployed;
• others said that they are homemakers, retired, not able to work or self-employed.
• one out of three Roma respondents aged 35 to 54 report health problems limiting their daily activities;In housing:
• on average, about 20 % of Roma respondents are not covered by medical insurance
or do not know if they are covered.
• on average, in the Roma households surveyed more than two persons live in one room;Poverty:
• about 45 % of the Roma live in households that lack at least one of the following basic housing
amenities, namely indoor kitchen, indoor toilet, indoor shower or bath and electricity.
• on average, about 90 % of the Roma surveyed live in households with an equivalisedDiscrimination and rights awareness:
income below national poverty lines;
• on average, around 40 % of Roma live in households where somebody had to go to bed hungry at least once in the last month since they could not afford to buy food.
• about half of the Roma surveyed said that they have experienced discrimination in the past
12 months because of their ethnic background;
• around 40 % of the Roma surveyed are aware of laws forbidding discrimination against ethnic minority people when applying for a job.
Dezideriu Gergely, the executive director of the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest stated that EU Member States have not used approximately 70 percent of the funding from the EU that is available to them in the period of 2007-2013 to help improve the lives of the Roma. These funds do not come from their state budgets. The evidence suggests that there is the lack of political will among some politicians to eliminate the inequalities that the Roma face. Member States have strategies to aid the Roma, but they vary widely in scope. Commenting on the report, Viviane Reding, the EU justice minister, stated that “we need more than strategies that exist on paper.”The web site of Mitas is http://www.mitas-tires.com/?PHPSESSID=eoxnbtmgtnq. Information for this news item came from http://www.northiowatoday.com/?p=17573; http://wcfcourier.com/business/local/mitas-breaks-ground-in-charles-city/article_10c8193f-20a4-5cf7-be14-b116e84808a3.html; http://www.radio.cz/en/section/economic/business-news-2012-04-27; and http://www.radio.cz/cz/rubrika/zpravy/zpravy-2012-04-26 (in Czech).
The report is available on the Internet at http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/FRA-2012-Roma-at-a-glance_EN.pdf. The announcement for the publication is at http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/research/publications/publications_per_year/2012/pub_roma-survey-at-a-glance_en.htm. The comments of Reding and Gergely are at http://euobserver.com/851/116355.
To discover more details about the issue, see the comments of Harry Vinters, a UCLA neurologist, and Lev Lurie, a Russian journalist and historian living in St. Petersburg at http://news.yahoo.com/killed-lenin-stress-didnt-help-poison-eyed-040437016.html.
The neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, which wants to mine Greece’s borders and deport all illegal immigrants, did well enough in the elections in early May to gain 21 seats in the 300-member parliament, despite the Greek authorities’ visible efforts to step up arrests before the polling. Illegal immigration continues to be a major issue in Greece, in part because the traditional parties hope to prevent Golden Dawn from attracting more votes and seek to weaken the party’s position.
The illegal immigrant problem extends beyond Greece because Europe’s lack of borders enables many of the newcomers to move from Greece to other parts of the EU. To help maintain the integrity of the Schengen area, various EU states are aiding Greece with equipment and expertise. It turns out that the largest contributor is not Germany, which one might expect, but Bulgaria, which has a strong record of keeping its own border secure.
On the detention camps, see http://euobserver.com/851/116083, and for the wall, see http://euobserver.com/22/115776. The information on EU member states’ assistance to Greece is at http://euobserver.com/22/116340.
Marco Polo Likely Visited China – http://news.discovery.com/history/macro-polo-120423.html
Walter Laqueur: The EU May Not Remain Dominant – http://www.eurasiareview.com/24042012-walter-laqueur-europe-recovery-or-collapse-interview/
Mass Grave from the Thirty Years’ War – http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,830203,00.html
Death of OSS Agent Who Lead Second World War Rescue – http://news.yahoo.com/oss-agent-led-wwii-rescue-500-dies-ny-002540215.html
Munch’s “The Scream” Sold at Record Price – http://news.yahoo.com/scream-fetches-record-119-9m-nyc-auction-000711889.html
Russian General Threatens NATO with Pre-emptive Strike – http://news.yahoo.com/russian-military-raise-ante-missile-defense-104948753.html
Germany Locates 40,000 War Casualties Each Year – http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-tracing-its-war-dead-from-world-war-ii-a-832063.html
Interactive Map for Calculating Travel Times in Ancient Rome – http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/1125-google-maps-ancient-rome-shows-travel-times-2-000-years.html
Mitas already has an impressive share of the European agricultural tire market, with one out of every four tractors and combines sporting their products. The project director, Vladimír Dušánek, noted that “in early 2012, Charles City will start giving a better choice of tractor tires to the U.S. farmer. Mitas will become the third U.S.-based producer of radial agricultural tires.” He added that “the reason for building the new tire factory in Iowa is the proximity to original equipment manufacturers, such as Case IH.”
http://euobserver.com/22/115945.http://news.yahoo.com/moderate-5-6-magnitude-earthquake-shakes-bulgaria-near-023107240.html; and the USGS information at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usb0009uyx.php#details.
Although Nikolić’s Serbian Progressive party has won a plurality of votes in the May 2012 parliamentary elections, the Democratic party and the Socialist Party of Serbia may form a coalition government. Both of those parties have taken a conciliatory tone with respect to Kosovo and actively strive for admission to the EU.
See more at http://news.yahoo.com/nationalist-wins-serb-presidential-runoff-213203377.html and http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2012&mm=05&dd=20&nav_id=80348.
EU upheld its 1988 ban on US beef because of hormone treatments, although it increased the quota for US beef without hormones – http://eu-digest.blogspot.com/2012/03/european-union-parlaiment-votes-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FWwTPi+%28EU-DIGEST%29
EU Parliament approved a controversial measure to provide US authorities with personal data on those flying to the US that infuriates citizens in the EU, where the data is legally protected – http://euobserver.com/22/115947 and http://eu-digest.blogspot.com/2012/04/eu-parliament-caves-in-to-us-pressure.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FWwTPi+%28EU-DIGEST%29
Poland indicted former spy chief over CIA renditions – http://euobserver.com/22/115745 and http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/poland/120331/cia-secret-prison-poland-leaders-break-their-silence
A US court sentenced the Russian “Merchant of Death,” Victor Bout, to 25 years in prison – http://en.rian.ru/world/20120406/172642752.html
Sarajevo two decades after the war – http://www.npr.org/2012/04/05/150009152/two-decades-after-siege-sarajevo-still-a-city-divided?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120405
The European Union has taken on the Lukashenko regime using various sanctions, although it has accomplished little, and Lukashenko seems as entrenched as ever. In March, the EU blackballed two Belarusian business leaders, ten officials, and 29 companies from traveling to the EU. There was a controversial exception for one company that Slovenia kept off the list because a Slovenian firm has a multimillion euro contract to build a luxury hotel in Minsk. Latvia got a similar exemption. A major problem in Belarus is corruption, and a recent report claimed that loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have found their way into the pockets of Lukashenko’s supporters. Despite the tension between the EU and Belarus and the economic sanctions, trade between the two is booming, thanks to petroleum and other goods. In 2011, Belarus had a trade surplus of €2.5 billion, which will aid in reducing its debt of €30 billion.
There were the beginnings of a popular revolt against Lukashenko in December 2011, but it was crushed, and afterward blood clearly was visible on the white snow. In March, Belarus executed two young men, most likely with a gunshot to the back of the head, as is the custom, after a court found them guilty of planting a bomb in a subway that killed 15 people and wounded many more. They supposedly confessed, although one withdrew his confession, and both showed signs of abuse. Many in the EU and throughout the world suspect that the two were innocent, and the fact that Belarus is the only country in Europe with the death penalty worsened the international image of Belarus.
Often appearing on older maps as White Russia, Belarus has a regime that has won it black marks in the West and has left red, bloody stains at home.
An overview of the dictatorship in Belarus is at http://euobserver.com/1023/115635. There is information on the EU blackballing of Belarus citizens at http://euobserver.com/24/115692 and on corruption at http://euobserver.com/24/115342. On the Belorusian trade balance, see http://euobserver.com/24/115413. Read more on the executions at http://euobserver.com/9/115628.
http://euobserver.com/24/116297. See also the earlier report on this web page about the politics of Euro 2012.
http://www.npr.org/2012/05/17/152847414/dire-consequences-if-greece-exits-euro?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120517. For the standpoint of Paul Krugman, professor of economics at Princeton University and the London School of Economics, see his interview on Democracy Now! at http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/17/paul_krugman_on_eurozone_the_whole. On the opinion of the leaders of France and Germany and their determination to keep Greece in the eurozone, see http://euobserver.com/19/116284.
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-05-11/business/sns-bc-eu--germany-merkelselectionwoes_1_merkel-s-christian-democrats-national-elections-north-rhine-westphalia for more information. On Slovakia, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/12/slovakia-left-election-victory.
One report is available at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/05/16/bloomberg_articlesM42V3707SXKX01-M44GL.DTL.
http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/freedom-press-2012. For the European countries east of the Rhine, aside from the Caucasus, and a few other states for comparison, the rankings are:
no asterisk = free * = partially free ** = not free
The survey involved a total of 197 countries and concluded that 66 are free (33.5 percent), 72 are partly free (36.5 percent), and 59 are not free (30.0 percent). In addition to overt censorship, the researchers considered the degree to which a country’s media is concentrated in the hands of a few outlets, the freedom of journalists from official harassment, and the protection of journalists’ sources. It is the last three features that kept the United States from receiving a top rating of 10 (Finland, Norway, and Sweden received that rating and were ranked the top three countries). The report contains regional assessments for Western Europe as well as Central and Eastern Europe/Eurasia.
Because of the imprisonment and mistreatment of Ukraine’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, various political leaders have promised or threatened to boycott the events. Heading the list of those who already announced their intention to boycott the games are Vivianne Reding, the EU justice commissioner, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president. The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, has condemned the boycott, but that does not mean he is silent on Tymoshenko's case. Poland’s president, Bronisław Komorowski, also opposes the boycott, partly because it may push Ukraine toward further economic integration with Russia instead of the EU. Russia’s President Putin is supporting Ukraine but has offered medical treatment for Tymoshenko, obviously giving Ukraine a means of easing the tension Tymoshenko’s imprisonment has caused.
Meanwhile, amid further allegations of mistreatment of Tymoshenko in prison, the leading political party of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, hired Burson-Marsteller, a respected public-relations firm, to improve Ukraine’s image, a task that will involve justifications for judicial actions against Tymoshenko, which many view as politically motivated.
Information on Barroso’s decision not to attend Euro 2012 is at http://eu-digest.blogspot.com/2012/04/eu-chief-barroso-wont-go-to-ukraine-for.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FWwTPi+%28EU-DIGEST%29. For Reding, see http://euobserver.com/24/116084. On the Polish president’s stance, see http://euobserver.com/24/116124. On Burson-Marsteller’s new task as Ukraine’s PR firm, see http://euobserver.com/24/116076.
http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120508/173315363.html and http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120507/173286220.html.
After several rounds of talks to form a government, several parties will make another attempt on Monday, 14 May, to come to an agreement. SYRIZA refuses to attend the Monday talks because its leader promised his constituents that he will not lend his party’s stamp of approval to a government that supports the bailout. New Democracy and the Socialists negotiated the bailout and continue to support it, but together they have only 149 seats, two shy of a slim majority in parliament. Excluding the Communists, ANEL, and Golden Dawn, all of which are too radical, the only other potential party that could join the coalition is the DIMAR, some of whose members came from PASOK. If a ND-PASOK-DIMAR coalition fails to materialize or if a minority government is not created that can garner a majority in the parliament, the current government of experts will continue to rule until Greek voters return to the polls in a month.
Much hinges on the talks tomorrow. The Greek government must continue to fulfill the provisions of the bailout agreement if it wants to avoid default. Furthermore, new elections may further polarize the Greek electorate. The party most likely to benefit would be the anti-system Golden Dawn. Although it went from no seats in parliament to 21 seats, Golden Dawn received merely 7 percent of the votes in the May election, which only gives the party the potential of being a noisy minority in the legislature. Even if it should win a few additional seats in a new round of elections, there would be no reason for alarm, but the thought that any radical party opposing democracy could strengthen its position is disconcerting.
For more on the negotiations, see http://news.yahoo.com/greek-coalition-talks-collapse-elections-seen-likely-010022103.html, and http://www.npr.org/2012/05/13/152606106/greek-politicians-meet-in-final-bid-for-coalition?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20120513.
The chances for Pirate parties achieving electoral successes in the near future are very good. The two Swedish MEPs currently cooperate with the Greens in the European Parliament, but that may change as the Pirate parties discuss creating a new European-wide Pirate party for the European Parliament. New Pirate parties have emerged in Europe, and Malta is the only EU country without a Pirate party since the admission of the Greek Pirate party during the convention (there are about 60 pirate parties throughout the world). Popularity polls put the Pirate party in Germany third behind the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Socialists (CDU-CSU) but ahead of the Free Democratic party (FDP), which often is a member of governing coalitions. The Austrian Pirate party also won seats in the Innsbruck regional election, the first time a Pirate party has been successful on the local level. If the actions of the Pirate party MEPs are any indication, the Pirate parties will play a role not only in Internet issues but also matters concerning human rights and the environment.
No Pirate party in the United States is registered anywhere as a political party, although there are plans to do so. Given the majoritarian system in the United States, it is unlikely that the Pirate party will succeed in having anything more than a local presence. Nevertheless, a strong organization could enable the Pirate party to form a significant interest and lobbying group. That certainly would be anathema for American Pirate party members, but their European counterparts likely felt the same about forming political parties, which, in a multiparty system, can play a role similar to that of interest groups and lobbying organizations in the United States.
For more information, see http://euobserver.com/18/115888, http://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/news-2012-04-14#4. The web site of the US Pirate party is http://us.pirate.is/.
The results are not surprising and are consistent with other surveys that rank the Nordic countries as having the most satisfied citizens in the world. Denmark, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland are the top ten countries (in descending order). The United States is eleventh, after which come Costa Rica, Austria, Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Iceland (no. 20).
The editors of the 158-page report are: John Helliwell, professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia and the Arthur J. E. Child Foundation Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Richard Laylard, director of the Well-Being Programme, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics; and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The report explains how they researchers compiled the information and interpreted the statistics, and there is a chapter pp. 90-97 that describes policy implications.
The report is available at http://issuu.com/earthinstitute/docs/world-happiness-report?mode=window&backgroundColor=%23222222.
The saga of Ukraine’s jailed former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, continues. In March, the Ukrainian parliament accused her of treason for her role in negotiating deals on natural gas with the Russians when she was in office. The United States and the European Union have condemned the charge. Tymoshenko also will stand trial on another charge, this time for tax evasion. Furthermore, the government has claimed that she was involved in the killing of a rival business partner. The renewed attacks on Tymoshenko appear to be efforts to weaken her political party before October’s elections. The European Union had hoped that a new trade agreement with Ukraine would help improve relations between the two political entities, but recent developments in Kiev have dampened optimism in the EU. See the AP feeds at http://news.yahoo.com/jailed-tymoshenko-accused-treason-ukraine-162400745.html; http://news.yahoo.com/ukraines-jailed-ex-pm-stand-trial-2nd-case-145709257.html; and http://news.yahoo.com/ukraines-jailed-ex-pm-stand-trial-2nd-case-145709257.html.
The Turkish military has seen itself as the guardian of secularism and the republic, but the current government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (born 1954), who heads the Justice and Development party, a center-right conservative party that some accuse of advancing Islamist notions, has sought to curtail the military’s potential role in politics. Turkey’s 2010 referendum on constitutional changes, for example, removed the immunity of those responsible for the 1980 coup, which has enabled the trial of the two surviving coup leaders.
See the AP feeds at http://news.yahoo.com/turkey-launches-crackdown-ex-officers-094519838.html and http://news.yahoo.com/2-surviving-coup-leaders-stand-trial-turkey-083719737.html.
Otto von Habsburg (20 November 1912-4 July 2011), the eldest son of the last emperor of Austria-Hungary, Charles I (1887-1922; reigned, 1916-1918), died on 4 July 2011. He resisted fascism as a young claimant to the Habsburg throne and was an opponent of communism. After the Second World War, he was a leading member of the International Paneuropean Movement, an organization that promoted European unity based on Christian principles, and he served as its vice president and then from 1973 to 2004 as its president. From 1979 to 1999, he was a member of the European Parliament representing the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. He received a doctorate in political science from the University of Louvain, Belgium, and published nearly three dozen books and numerous shorter works. Otto von Habsburg had seven children, and his son, Karl von Habsburg (born 1961), is now the claimant to the throne. The body of Otto von Habsburg is interred in the family crypt in the Kapuzinergruft, or the Capuchins’ Crypt, not far from the former royal palace in Vienna, and his heart is in the Benedictine Archabbey at Pannonhalma, Hungary, where Otto had learned Hungarian as a child. Many press reports appeared about Otto von Habsburg’s passing, including http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14181800.
Just this month, the last member of the Ottoman dynasty to have been born in Turkey when the Ottoman Empire still existed, Princess Fatma Neslişah Osmanoğlu (4 February 1921-2 April 2012), referred to as Neslişah Sultan, passed away. Her paternal grandfather was Abdülmecid II (1868-1944; reigned 1922-1924), the last Ottoman Caliph, and her maternal grandfather was Mehmed VI Vahdettin (1861-1926; reigned, 1918-1922), the Ottoman Empire’s last sultan. The Turkish Republic came into existence in 1922, and in 1924, the members of the imperial family had to leave the country. Neslişah Sultan lived with her family in France. In 1940, she married the Egyptian Prince Muhammed Abdel Monem (1899-1979). She lived in Egypt until the creation of the republic in 1953, when she again had to go into exile, returning to France. In 1957, she and her family returned to İstanbul. Her funeral was at İstanbul’s Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque, which a member of the Ottoman dynasty had commissioned in the late nineteenth century, and she is now interred in Aşiyan Asri Cemetery that overlooks the Bosporus. The claimant to the Ottoman throne is Osman Bayezid Osmanoğlu, who was born in 1924 in exile and now lives in the United States. For coverage of Neslişah Sultan’s death and funeral, see http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=276221.
The National Archives in Washington, DC, has discovered two additional volumes that catalog the art the Nazi regime stole from France during the Second World War. An American soldier likely took the books from Adolf Hitler’s Berghof residence in Bavaria.
A relative of Adolf Hitler had the grave stone marking the location of Adolf Hitler’s parents removed from a cemetery in Leonding, Austria, not far from Braunau am Inn, where Hitler was born. The reason for the removal was that neo-Nazis were using the grave site as a pilgrimage. The remains of Hitler’s parents still are undisturbed, but the grave now is available for new occupants. The birthplace of Hitler in Braunau is a small building that has served several purposes over the years. There is a monument in front of the building made of granite from the Mauthausen Concentration Camp that memorializes those the Nazis persecuted. The only way visitors know that the building is the birthplace of Hitler is from a map in the town’s tourist brochure available at the Braunau tourist information center. The edition of the map in this author’s possession identifies the stone as “The Monument (in Front of the House of Hitler’s birth) for the Victims of the National Socialist Regime”–Mahnmal (vor Hitlers Geburtshaus) für die Opfer des NS-Regimes.
In early March, the Latvian government branded as persona non grata two Russian historians, preventing them from entering Latvia and any country within the Schengen zone. The Latvian government took the steps after the historians assembled a museum exhibition that highlighted the war crimes of Nazis and Latvian collaborators. The two historians, Aleksandr R. Dyukov and Vladimir Simindey, both of the Historical Memory Foundation in Moscow, are suing to have the order rescinded.
See http://rt.com/politics/latvia-move-dyukov-exhibition-961/. The Historical Memory Foundation’s website is http://www.historyfoundation.ru/index_en.php.
Two Turkish coup leaders from 1980 stand trial: http://news.yahoo.com/2-surviving-coup-leaders-stand-trial-turkey-083719737.html.
Scientists find 2,300-year-old musical instrument in Scotland that is likely the oldest in Western Europe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17537147.
For more information, see http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/world/kosovo-pm-urges-serbs-to-integrate-546639.html#ixzz1rlcv7iK4 and http://news.yahoo.com/kosovo-pm-integration-only-option-serbs-182110590.html.
The European Commission recently released a report that criticized Hungary’s judicial reforms, claiming that they compromise the right to a free trial. One of the most important criticisms is the powerful president of the National Judicial Office, elected to a nine-year term with a two-thirds majority in parliament. See http://euobserver.com/843/115634.
On 15 March, just days before the European Commission released its report and after the EU froze €495 million in funds to Hungary because of its laws regarding the media, judges, and the central bank, the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, told supporters: "We will not be a colony. Hungarians won't live according to the commands of foreign powers, they won't give up their independence or their freedom." The freeze complicates the already dire financial situation of Hungary, whose bonds now have “junk” status. See http://euobserver.com/843/115613 and http://euobserver.com/19/115561.
If the news from Hungary is not scandalous enough, the president, Pál Schmitt, resigned on 2 April after Semmelweis University revoked his doctorate because of plagiarism. The rector of the university also resigned, although he noted that he did not necessarily disagree with the university senate’s decision in the case of Schmitt. The parliament will meet to select Schmitt’s successor. Schmitt was a member of Fidesz, Hungary’s ruling party, and the party is certain to elect one of its own candidates for the presidential post. See http://chronicle.com/blogs/global/president-of-hungary-resigns-amid-allegations-that-he-plagarized-doctoral-thesis/32720?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en.