4/2011 "What's New? How Is the World Treating You?"
Table of Contents for the Fourth Quarter of 2011
The New Year's Day concert of the Vienna Philharmonic has been a tradition since 1939 and is one of the most famous concerts in the world. Tickets for the event are in such demand that the sponsors have instituted a lottery system with registration occurring a year in advance. Waltzes and other compositions from the Strauss family appear in all of the programs, and for years the performance has ended with the Radetzky March by the elder Johann Strauss. In a display of gaiety uncommon for stayed concert goers, everyone claps to the chorus of the piece.
PBS will broadcast the concert live on Sunday, 1 January 2012. Check local listings to verify broadcast times for individual markets, but the concert will begin at 2.30 PM Eastern Standard Time with a repeat broadcast performance at 7.30 that evening. THIRTEEN in New York will broadcast the concert at 9.00 PM. For more information about the event, see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/from-vienna-the-new-year%E2%80%99s-celebration-2012/about-the-program/1219/.
Have a wonderful 2012!
President Medvedev removed one of his top aids, Vladislav Surkov, the individual credited with forming the United Russia party, creating its youth organization, Nashi, and tightening control over state television. He also has a reputation of being a spin doctor. Surkov now will be deputy prime minister for economic modernization and innovation, a position that is far less powerful.
President Medvedev announced today that Russia has completed tests on its new Bulava ICBM that it will deploy on its new generation of nuclear submarines (bulava in Russian meas mace, a club-like weapon). The missile is unique in that it can perform maneuvers in flight to dodge intercepting missiles.
Protests against fraud in the 4 December State Duma elections have occurred on 24 December throughout Russia. In some cities, there were only tens of demonstrators, but in Moscow there were tens of thousands, and some reported well over 100,000. Despite a few arrests, there was no widespread violence.
Similar demonstrations are taking place in Belarus, where protesters claim that President Lukashenko’s recent reelection was based on fraud.
There is an excellent collection of photographs of Havel’s funeral at http://news.yahoo.com/photos/vaclav-havel-dies-at-75-1324221575-slideshow/. A 13-part video of Havel’s funeral from ČT 1 is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=f8JBwrJmp-Q.
In his fourth and final state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed changes in the Russian electoral system. He wishes to restore elections for regional governors that Vladimir Putin had abolished when he was president. Mr. Medvedev also hopes to ease the process of registering political parties, to require fewer signatures for those wishing to run for president, and to introduce proportional representation for the State Duma. Another item on Mr. Medvedev’s agenda is to have serious talks with the West regarding missile defense should the West be open to such a discussion.
Recently the French passed a law making it illegal to deny that the Turkish death of up to 1.5 million Armenians after the First World War was genocide. The Turks now have responded by labeling as genocide the French killings of Algerians after the Second World War. At the root of the spat between the two countries is not only the issue of the Armenian question but also the pending admission of Turkey into the European Union. France and Turkey also are important trade partners and are both in NATO.
An appeals court in Kiev upheld the seven-year sentence of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine, on charges that she improperly negotiated an energy deal with Russia. Tymoshenko is boycotting the Ukraine justice system, which she maintains is under the control of President Viktor Yanukovych, and has turned to the European Court of Human Rights.
The historic focal point of demonstrations in Prague, Václvaské náměstí, or Wenceslas Square, was where the Czech people expressed their sorrow at the loss of the playwright, former dissident, and first president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. On the National Museum was a large portrait of Havel, while candles and pictures of Havel adorned the base of the statue of St. Václav.
From the Pen of Václav HavelInformation for this entry came from http://www.ceskatelevize.cz:8003/ct24/domaci/158022-online-statni-hymna-a-salvy-z-petrina-zakoncily-havluv-statni-pohreb/; http://zpravy.ihned.cz/cesko/c1-54277860-ostatky-vaclava-havla-prenesli-vojaci-do-katedraly-sv-vita; and contacts in Prague. Click here for a report about Havel's death on this web site. NPR report of Havel’s funeral is at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/12/23/144177849/vaclav-havel-hero-of-the-velvet-revolution-laid-to-rest?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111223.
I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
If a handful of friends and I were able to bang our heads against the wall for years by speaking the truth about Communist totalitarianism while surrounded by an ocean of apathy, there is no reason why I shouldn't go on banging my head against the wall by speaking ad nauseam, despite condescending smiles, about responsibility and morality in the face of our present social marasmus.
See the AP feed at http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/12/communists-fabricated-documents-against-walesa/2026516.
The Russian government has announced plans for the 2015 release of a 100-ton ballistic missile dubbed Satan. It completed testing of a short-range interceptor missile. Finally, it also announced the development of a new generation of jet fighters to be in service by 2025 that include stealth technology.
With a somewhat conflicting message, the Russian defense minister, Anatoly Serdiukov, stated that Russia will not upset the current strategic balance.
See http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/moscow-eyeing-u-missile-defense-plans-announces-100-194904097.html; http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/22/62704394.html; and http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/16/62322292.html.
Read more at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=144127230.
News about Havel’s death and funeral from Radio Prague are at http://www.radio.cz/en/news#2 and http://www.radio.cz/en/static/vaclav-havel-1936-2011/. See also the AP release at http://news.yahoo.com/vaclav-havels-coffin-transported-prague-castle-074744881.html. A slide show about Havel is at http://news.yahoo.com/photos/vaclav-havel-dies-at-75-1324221575-slideshow/;_ylt=AgkPzizPrNXcsffLZDcYZFDyWed_;_ylu=X3oDMTRra2l1MTV0BG1pdANBcnRpY2xlIFJlbGF0ZWQgQ2Fyb3VzZWwEcGtnAzQ4ZGEyZmY4LTgxNmQtM2U2My1hM2EzLTRhOTgwZTg2YWUwNQRwb3MDMQRzZWMDTWVkaWFBcnRpY2xlUmVsYXRlZENhcm91c2VsBHZlcgNmMTAxODAxMC0yYmMzLTExZTEtYjNlZi1lM2Y0MTcxNGQ2ZjI-;_ylg=X3oDMTM1anB1Mms5BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDMjE0NzZiNTEtYzJmMy0zOWQ1LThlMjUtNzNkYzExNGZmNDBkBHBzdGNhdAN3b3JsZHxldXJvcGUEcHQDc3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3.
Havel’s death has prompted observers of Central Europe to look back to the events of 1989 and the development of democracy in the region since the end of Communist rule. An article by Vanessa Gera for AP considers the successes of the Czech Republic and Poland in light of the challenges to democracy in Latvia and Hungary. See http://www.salon.com/2011/12/22/with_havels_death_his_legacy_faces_new_threats/.
See more at http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/russian-aid-convoy-crosses-kosovo-15172738#.TvNvbFbYGhM.
The case of the second war criminal dates from the Second World War. A US district judge in Ohio has denied John Demjanjuk American citizenship based on the fact that Demmjanjuk had lied about his activities during the Second World War. A German court convicted Dejmanjuk, who is a 91-year-old retired auto worker from Ohio, of war crimes for his actions at the Sobibor Concentration Camp. Dejmanjuk has been sentenced to five years in prison but has spent most of his time since his conviction in hospital. See the article on this web site referring to Dejmanjuk as well as http://news.yahoo.com/ohio-judge-denies-nazi-war-convict-us-citizenship-235251265.html.
For an earlier post on Ms. Tymoshenko on this web site, click here. For information on the Association Agreement, check the European Union web site at http://eeas.europa.eu/ukraine/index_en.htm.
Havel had suffered from cancer and a number of other ailments. Recently, he had contracted a virus that weakened him. Havel became frail and planned on spending the weeks before Christmas at his home outside of Prague. Just days ago, the Dalai Lama came to the Czech Republic on Havel’s invitation and stated that Havel’s “condition is quite weak so . . . I recommended some Tibetan method.” The Dalai Lama continued: “I told him now I'm acting like a Tibetan physician to my long-time friend.” Havel at the time was in a wheel chair. The Dalai Lama’s visit was not only a spiritual and physical healing but a farewell. Havel died at his summer home in the presence of his second wife, Dagmar, and a nun who had been assisting him.
Havel leaves behind a legacy of activism and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. Despite his success in helping to end totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia and his years as president, he remained humble. When accepting the Sonning Prize in 1991, Havel said: “Jsa u moci, jsem si permanentně podezřelý”–“Being in power, I am permanently suspicious of myself.”
Links reporting Havel’s death are at:
BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16236393 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13845327
New York Times: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/vaclav_havel/index.html
Pictures of the Dalai Lama with Havel on 10 December 2011 are on the Dalai Lama's web site at http://www.dalailama.com/gallery/album/0/215.
Havel’s quotation is at http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CFIQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Farchive.vaclavhavel-library.org%2Fkvh_search%2FviewCast.jsp%3Fid%3D397%26docid%3D940&ei=nPrtTu3pFrTr0QHTw4jECQ&usg=AFQjCNEIlDyqB-3Rjr6mBepm1EBX_3EXCA.
Quotations from European leaders about Havel's death are at http://news.yahoo.com/quotes-death-vaclav-havel-165606850.html.
At the time this entry was posted, Havel’s web site still contained no information about his death. See the recent post about Havel on this web site here.
PHOTO: Havel on 22 March 2011 at http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/18/world/europe/czech-republic-vaclav-havel-obit/?hpt=hp_t3.
See the beer at http://www.novinky.cz/ekonomika/253853-ostravsky-sladek-uz-nevi-co-by-reze-pivo-24karatovym-zlatem.html?ref=ostatni-clanky.
Photo: FOTO: Jaroslav Ožana, ČTK
There also is news that the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) that functions under the auspices of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) stopped a Russian convoy with humanitarian for Serbs in Kosovo. The Russians are claiming that the EULEX has no reason to hold up its delivery. EULEX has presented alternatives for the convoy, but the Russians have found none acceptable. The details are at http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=12&dd=13&nav_id=77768. The brief Voice of Russia news release on the incident is at http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/14/62212169.html. Note that the AP report at http://news.yahoo.com/russian-aid-convoy-stuck-serbia-kosovo-border-114633965.html appears to have identified mistakenly the troops stopping the convoy as being from the United States. All other reports indicate that they are from the European Union.
For details about Cameron’s speech, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/dec/12/liberal-democrats-goaded-tory-europe?newsfeed=true. Also see the entries of 12 December 2011 and 11 December 2011 on this web page.
Last week’s talks made it clear that the Conservatives in Britain desire to keep the EU at bay. They were more important because 26 out of 27 EU leaders demonstrated their commitment not only to bolstering the Euro and preventing another debt crisis but also to strengthening Europe as a whole. The leaders still must implement their agreement, and three–Czech Republic, Hungary, and Sweden–must have their legislatures approve the plan, but their display of support for European unity is another indicator that the idea of Europe is sound. Certainly, the markets will agree. The only losers are Britain, at least for now, and the Eurosceptics.
See the excellent Reuters report at http://news.yahoo.com/insight-day-europe-lost-patience-britain-002610685.html. See the entry immediately below for more information on last week’s talks.
here). Clegg indicated that not only were the Germans and French unwilling to compromise to meet Cameron’s position but that some in the Conservative party have an “outright antagonism to all things European.” Labour party leader Ed Miliband remarked that “the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party has effectively taken over and that isn't good for the national interest.” Perhaps detecting a means of prying loose the government coalition, Miliband added: “What I say to Liberal Democrats and others is that we will work with anybody who thinks this position can not stand. We must find a better way forward for Britain.”
Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16129004.
See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9990400 and http://www.salon.com/2011/12/11/medvedev_orders_probe_into_reported_election_fraud/.
9 December 2011 entry on this web site). The questions that remain are whether the opposition can unite and if will find a strong candidate to challenge Putin.
See http://www.npr.org/2011/12/10/143484423/russians-hold-day-of-protests-against-election-fraud?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111210 and http://www.salon.com/2011/12/10/russias_stunning_protests_end_with_hint_of_change/.
While the difficulties of HDZ in Croatia were apparent, the victor of Slovenia’s election was unanticipated. The Slovenian Democrats (SDS) were expected to win the election and unseat the Social Democrats party (SD) of Borut Pahor. Instead, the victor was the center-left party Positive Slovenia (LZJ-PS) of Zoran Janković (born 1953). From 1995 to 2005, Janković was the chairman of Slovenia’s largest retailer, Mercator, and was twice mayor of Ljubljana. The victory was not decisive: Positive Slovenia won 28 seats in the 90-member National Assembly, while the Slovenian Democrats won 26 seats, and the Social Democrats 10 won seats. Four other parties also entered the legislature. Talks to create a coalition are underway, and the new government will have to tackle high debt and unemployment.
On Croatia, see http://news.yahoo.com/exit-poll-opposition-leads-croatian-vote-181037590.html and http://news.yahoo.com/opposition-wins-croatian-vote-over-incumbent-230853768.html. On Slovenia, see http://news.yahoo.com/conservatives-expected-win-slovenia-vote-093822283.html, http://news.yahoo.com/slovene-center-left-party-surprise-election-victor-230503028.html, and http://www.rtvslo.si/strani/glasovi-po-listah-na-ravni-drzave/4046.
Earlier reports about the government crisis in Belgium on this web site are dated 21 November 2011 and 10 April 2011.
For more information, see http://news.yahoo.com/belgiums-government-sworn-541-days-184355045.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16042750. Biographical sketches of Di Rupo are at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15983739 and http://www.premier.be/en/biographie.
Jonathan Zimmerman, a historian at New York University, has written a piece that assesses Newt Gingrich’s work as a historian at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-1201-history-20111201,0,6031584.story.
A NPR reporter, David Greene, is traveling across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. His reports are now tweets, but he will begin broadcasting traditional reports in January 2012 on NPR once he returns to Washington, DC. The first installment is at http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/12/02/143016643/russia-by-rail-setting-off-from-moscow?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111202.
A BBC report is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16021010.
See http://www.npr.org/2011/12/08/143417692/official-new-euro-accord-wont-include-full-eu?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111209 and http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/12/09/143440035/europe-redux?ps=rs. For reasons why European unity is important for America, see http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/12/04/why-america-should-care-about-the-collapse-of-european-unity.html.
the enemies of the world's peoples, these enemies including capitalism, globalism, and even Islam, operate on an international level. Isolated individual peoples have barely a chance against the power of the one-world strategists. It is high time that nationalist forces of free peoples around the world link up with one another and join forces. More than ever the peoples of the world recognize that they have a critical question before them which they must answer, whether they want to live in a “multi-cultural conglomerate” or in individual and culturally unique countries.
The Constitutional Court rejected an attempt in 2003 to ban the party, but prosecutors this time are hoping that the link to terrorism will seal the fate of the NPD.
See http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,802014,00.html and http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,801312,00.html. For other articles related to the NPD, see http://www.spiegel.de/international/topic/national_democratic_party_of_germany/. The NPD’s English web site is at http://www.enpd.de/.
There were indications that Putin and Medvedev’s party was losing popularity before the elections, and exit polls showed that United Russia was in trouble. As the balloting took place, there were reports of election fraud designed to secure a majority for United Russia, including ballot box stuffing and the distribution of free food for votes. The web site of Golos, an independent election monitor, was hacked before and during the election, but it was able to send out observers. Golos is being accused of taking funds from the US Department of State based on leaked e-mails (3).
Putin has taken the election results in stride, commenting that “yes, there were losses, but they were inevitable. . . . They are inevitable for any political force, particularly for the one which has been carrying the burden of responsibility for the situation in the country.” He viewed his majority as stable (4).
Even in established Western democracies, there are voting irregularities and stolen elections, but the perception of widespread fraud in the case of Russia has led noted individuals to issue statements. A spokesman of the former Soviet president, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, told the BBC that “Gorbachev is very concerned about how the situation in Russia is developing” and that the “people do not believe that the will of the people is reflected in the results” (5). While visiting Vilnius, Lithuania, on 6 December, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, stated that “Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation” (6). This and similar statements from Clinton prompted Putin to observe: “We have information that sometimes opposition rallies in Russia are incited by certain political forces from abroad. Recently, US State Secretary Hilary Clinton called the parliamentary elections in Russia ‘unfair and unjust.’ Some opposition leaders took it as a signal for rallies. We have information that the US State Department actively supported them” (7). Given the tense relations between the United States and Russia over the NATO radar shield in Europe and the new Russian radar shield in Kaliningrad, the statements of Clinton and Putin at first glance appear to be heightening the tension between the two countries. Nevertheless, politics in the US demands that Washington not ignore election fraud anywhere, and Putin is savvy enough to understand that. Still, he must respond. This sort of critical exchange can occur in relations between states, but the US must be cautious about not giving the perception that it truly is interfering in Russian affairs. The tenor of a Voice of America report of 10 December on the protests appears to approach that line (8). In reality, while election fraud likely occurred, those opposed to United Russia may perceive it to be more extensive than it actually is. The observer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for example, claimed that the elections were fair, despite the number of complaints he had received, which he claimed were typical for a country as vast as Russia (9).
The day after the elections, between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters, depending on the source, took to the streets in Moscow to demonstrate against the results, and 300 faced arrest. They represented various groups, including the Communists (10). Nevertheless, the official approach of the Communist party is that it will not protest the election on the streets and instead will work in the courts and with the ultranationalist LDPR in the Duma (11). As of 9 December, 600 protestors have been arrested in Moscow and 550 in St. Petersburg for not having the proper permits for demonstrating (12). On Saturday, 10 December, a massive protest is scheduled to take place. A total of 30,000 protestors are permitted to attend, but the organizers expect double that number. The Ministry of Interior has at least 50,000 police ready to maintain order (13).
Much hinges on the 10 December protests. Should they be relatively peaceful, most likely the next stage of the political struggle in Russia will take place on 4 March 2012, when Russians return to the polls to elect a president. Putin is running to replace Medvedev. Should the protests on Saturday turn violent, political tension throughout Russia most likely will mount to dangerous levels. An embattled Putin could strengthen his position by turning to nationalism and play on the underlying suspicion of the West in many segments of the population. Such a scenario would not only serve to cool US-Russian relations further but could increase the chances that the two countries would begin strengthening their militaries.
1. For the Central Election Commission statement, see http://en.rian.ru/society/20111209/169521668.html.
2. For a graphic presentation of the Duma seats, see http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20111206/169397626.html. An interactive map displaying the elections results is at http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20111208/169491066.html.
3. See http://news.yahoo.com/russias-ruling-party-wary-nation-votes-000103984.html. The English version of the Golos web site is at http://golos.org/news/4370. The US Department of State press release regarding the harassment of Golos before the election is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/02/statement-nsc-spokesman-tommy-vietor-russian-government-harassment-golos. On the leaked e-mails, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/09/61921669.html.
4. On Putin’s comments, see http://news.yahoo.com/russias-putin-less-party-support-inevitable-115230926.html.
5. On Gorbachev, see http://www.dailybbcnews.com/gorbachev-calls-for-new-russian-elections.html.
6. Clinton’s statement is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/hillary-clinton-russia-elections_n_1130992.html.
7. Putin’s comments are at http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/08/61869823.html.
8. The VOA article is at http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Moscow-Braces-for-Anti-Putin-Rally-135313948.html.
9. See http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/09/61935445.html.
10. Information on the protests on 5 December are at http://news.yahoo.com/protesters-accuse-putins-party-rigging-vote-202448688.html.
11. The position of the Communists is at http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/05/61399728.html.
12. On the protests, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/08/61869823.html.
13. On Saturday’s protest, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8947103/Russia-protests-tens-of-thousands-expected-in-Moscow.html.
http://news.yahoo.com/photos/70th-anniversary-of-pearl-harbor-1323186385-slideshow/sailors-motor-launch-rush-rescue-survivor-water-alongside-photo-150105594.html. For photographs from Life, see http://news.yahoo.com/photos/rare-unseen-photos-aftermath-of-pearl-harbor-1323195947-slideshow/. An excellent article on the commemoration from NPR with additional links is at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/12/07/143258341/pearl-harbor-attacks-70th-anniversary-memories-moment-of-silence?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111207.
See the BBC article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15931683. For a report from the Voice of Russia, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/29/61215002.html.
For more information, including a picture of the radar system in Russia, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/29/61206889.html (note the related articles at the bottom of the page). The more substantial ITAR-TASS report is at http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c39/283362.html. The AP feed is available at http://news.yahoo.com/medvedev-radar-demonstrates-russias-might-112355870.html.
See http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ante-markovic-former-yugoslavias-last-prime-minister-dies-at-87/2011/11/28/gIQAA0o45N_story.html and http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=11&dd=28&nav_id=77523.
A noted Russian news anchor, Tatiana Limanova of REN-TV in Moscow, raised her middle finger on 14 November when she read the name of President Obama during a newscast. She was stating that "Dmitry Medvedev has become the chairman of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization today. This position was previously taken by US President Barack Obama." Ms. Limanova claimed that her gesture had been intended for her crew, who had been joking with her, and that she thought she had been off camera. Pravda reported that her response had been the result of a malfunctioning prompter, although she clearly was reading from a printed script. YouTube removed postings of the video, claiming that they infringed on REN-TV copyrights, but thousands of viewers managed to see the clip. As of 01.44 CST, the video was available through the online version of USAToday at http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/11/russian-tv-anchor-fired-for-flipping-bird-after-obamas-name/1. REN-TV immediately fired Ms. Limanova, who stated in the Russian press that "I am very sorry that I could offend anyone with that. I never would have done that intentionally because it is unprofessional."
Whether Limanova's action was intended as a joke or not, Americans will be outraged; however, Limanova's gesture was the indiscretion of one individual, not the official position of the Russian government. Far more dangerous were the words of the American President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) on 11 August 1984 when testing a microphone: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." The conservative Soviet leader at the time, Konstantin U. Chernenko (1911-1985), put the Red Army on alert, and the United States quickly had to issue a formal apology. A brief report on the Reagan's remark is at http://www.youtube.com./watch?v=b7VEAlitCUc. Twenty-five years after the event, it is noteworthy that the news caster, Anya Fedorova, who moderates "Primetime Russia" on RT television in Moscow, recalled Mr. Reagan's words in a lighthearted way. In time, Ms. Limanova's famous gesture no doubt will assume a similar place among the indiscreet bloopers of broadcasting.
For the AP feed, see http://news.yahoo.com/serbia-arrests-17-alleged-human-traffickers-130705214.html.
here) has hit a temporary snag. Only two-thirds of the bond issues the German government offered this week sold. Those watching the markets have reached various conclusions about the poor showing, citing skittishness about the buyout package for Greece, the debt crisis in Italy, the future of the euro, and even the fate of the European Union. Most likely, buyers were hesitant about any sort of investment in light of the news that the American Congress could not reach an agreement over debt reduction in the US. Given the volatility of current markets, good news, be it political or economic, will encourage investors, while reports of economic difficulties and dysfunctional governments cause investors to overreact, turning markets downwards.
For reports on the German bond sale, see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/business/global/Euro-Fears-in-Markets-Spread-to-Germany.html and http://news.yahoo.com/strains-german-economy-trouble-europe-205528020.html.
Income and wealth disparities become even more absurd if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation’s earners– rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%–about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million–are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.
It’s crystal clear that the Bush tax reduction on capital gains and dividend income in 2003 was the cutting edge policy that has created the immense increase in net worth of corporate executives, Wall St. professionals and other entrepreneurs.
For the entire article, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlenzner/2011/11/20/the-top-0-1-of-the-nation-earn-half-of-all-capital-gains/.
See the Huffington Post article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/belgium-government-formation_n_1105853.html and the AP feed at http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/QPeriod/20111121/belgium-government-talks-negotiations-stalemate-111121/.
Noticeably absent from the cabinet is the former prime minister, George Papandreou, as well as the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras. Given the controversy surrounding Papandreou and the demands of New Democracy that he step down as prime minister, it is not surprising that he is not in the government. The lack of a cabinet post for Samaras may have been part of a compromise designed to reduce political tensions between the Socialists and New Democracy.
After the states which use the euro approved a bailout for Greece at the end of October, Papandreou surprised Europeans, Greeks, and even members of his own party when he called for a referendum on whether Greece should stay in the European Union. Papandreou appeared to be prepared to go through with the referendum, confident that the Greeks would vote to continue EU membership because of its many benefits for Greek citizens. The referendum also was a ploy to force the hand of New Democracy. Its leader, Samaras, had been calling for new elections and had opposed the deal the government had reached with the EU. Once Samaras agreed to back the bailout, Papandreou agreed to withdraw the referendum and open talks with the major parties about the future of his cabinet. During the negotiations, Papandreou promised that he would not seek a post in the new government.
The new government will implement the terms of the bailout, which includes privatizations and the dismissal of 30,000 civil servants. Once it has completed its task, Greece will hold elections, perhaps as early as February 2012.
For media articles on the new government and the talks leading up to its creation, see http://news.yahoo.com/official-greek-govt-announced-wednesday-000521931.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/state-tv-new-greek-cabinet-named-with-finance-minister-evangelos-venizelos-retaining-key-post/2011/11/11/gIQADxhzBN_story.html, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/11/10/142205267/greece-names-lucas-papademos-its-new-prime-minister?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111110, and http://news.yahoo.com/five-myths-greek-crisis-151500373.html.
Brief reports on the meeting are at http://news.yahoo.com/balkans-seeking-around-700-million-refugees-134150843.html and http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=11&dd=07&nav_id=77223.
Photos of today’s parade are here. The earlier post regarding Unity Day is at http://www.centraleuropeanobserver.com/-what#TOC-Nationalists-March-in-Moscow-4-Nove.
The distribution of seats in the 300-member Greek Parliament according to the most recent elections, which were held in October 2009, are: Socialists (PASOK), 153; New Democracy, 85 (a center-right party); Communists, 21; Popular Orthodox Rally, 16; Coalition of the Radical Left, 6 (a lose grouping of interests on the left); and independents, 16. New Democracy is the most important party with which Papandreou is negotiating about forming a new government. Its leader, Antonis Samaras, has called for early elections.
Papandreou’s victory should stabilize European markets and bring the EU a step forward in completing the Greek bailout project. A new national government that would demonstrate broad political consensus over the austerity measures and the terms of the EU bailout would do even more to strengthen the confidence of EU leaders and investors, and it may help calm some segments of the Greek population. Given the nature and extent of the austerity measures the Greeks have had to accept, however, it is unlikely that a broad coalition uniting parties to the left and right would be enough to please the Greeks the new taxes and cuts have effected the most.
The Reuters news feed is available at http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/greek-pm-wins-vote-of-confidence/story-e6frf7jo-1226186437308. The electoral statistics are from http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/Vouleftes/Ana-Koinovouleftiki-Omada/.
http://news.yahoo.com/thousands-russian-nationalists-march-moscow-103619646.html. On the holiday, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/04/59870280.html.
See an image of the diary at http://livingstone.library.ucla.edu/1871diary/. A press release from UCLA is at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/dr-livingstone-s-lost-1871-massacre-218211.aspx.
https://www.cia.gov/news-information/press-releases-statements/press-release-2011/cia-marks-50th-anniversary-of-the-berlin-crisis.html. The documents are available at http://www.foia.cia.gov/BerlinWall.asp. Links to other electronic documents from the CIA are at https://www.cia.gov/library/index.html.
Since the blog below was posted at 7.00 AM CDST, there have been some small developments in Greece, where three Socialist ministers not only reject Prime Minister Papandreou’s call for a referendum on the EU but also may not support him in a confidence vote. See the Reuters report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15552524. Furthermore, NPR reports that Papandreou has withdrawn plans for a referendum and is now meeting with opposition party leaders. Perhaps his strategy all along has been to force the opposition and the citizens of Greece to unite behind the EU bailout plan. See http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/11/03/141974666/greek-prime-minister-under-pressure-to-resign.
When the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, called for a referendum on whether Greece should remain in the EU after European leaders had agreed to provide additional finances for a Greek bailout, there seemed to be some logic to his decision. Protests in Greece had been mounting, and Papandreou understood that they were not against the European Union or the bailout but the harsh austerity measures the government had to impose to deal with the economic crisis as well as the policies that had lead to Greece’s dire financial situation. Since Greeks support the EU, they likely will vote in favor of a referendum to remain in the EU and take the steam out of the protests.
European leaders were shocked at Papandreou’s call for a referendum and announced that the bailout money for Greece would not be available until after the vote, which would occur in early December. One difficulty is that Greece will default in the middle of November without the bailout money. Now another problem has emerged with the referendum idea. It appears that Papandreou’s announcement was a surprise not only for European leaders but also for Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), including Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek finance minister.
Venizelos and many Socialists disapprove of the referendum, and there are calls, even among Socialists, for a new national coalition government in Greece. Such a scenario is possible because as some Socialists are distancing themselves from Papandreou over the referendum proposal, the chances are greater that his government would not survive a confidence vote in the Greek Parliament.
Perhaps Papandreou considered this alternative. When he proposed the referendum, it is logical that he had confidence in the fact that the Greeks would vote for continuing their association with the EU. The other possibility was that Papandreou used the proposal for a referendum to shock the members of his own party and the leadership of other parties into rallying around the EU, the bailout, and the austerity measures as a means of unifying the country and ending the protests. Of course, the price Papandreou might pay for seeing the later scenario come to fruition might be his own position as prime minister. He even may have been prepared for that possibility when he announced his referendum idea.
For a recent AP article on the situation, see http://news.yahoo.com/greek-government-teeters-over-bailout-referendum-093654136.html. An earlier report is at http://www.npr.org/2011/11/02/141926272/greek-referendum-plan-sends-sarkozy-scrambling?ft=3&f=1001&sc=nl&cc=nh-20111102.
See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/world/asia/almazbek-atambayev-set-to-win-kyrgyzstan-election.html?_r=1 and http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/world/asia/kyrgyzstan-says-united-states-manas-air-base-will-close.html.
The AP feed with raw footage of the landing is at http://news.yahoo.com/polish-pilot-felt-huge-relief-safe-landing-131505620.html. An update on the flight dated 3 November 2011 is available at http://news.yahoo.com/polish-monk-threatened-flight-thanks-god-pilot-175803710.html.
See the AP feed at http://www.suntimes.com/news/world/8522751-418/bosnias-abstention-in-un-security-council-jeopardizes-palestinian-hopes-for-statehood.html.
One topic of conversation was the establishment of a NATO training base in Pardubice, Czech Republic, for helicopter pilots. The Czechs already train Afghan pilots at the location. In some respects, locating the new NATO training center in the Czech Republic would be compensation for losing the radar intercept base that the George W. Bush administration had proposed to locate in the Czech Republic and Poland. There was a great deal of opposition in the Czech Republic about having the base on Czech soil, and the Russians argued that, given its location, the system was aimed at them instead of the Middle East. The Obama administration scrapped the plan. Mr. Nečas stated that “we invested a lot from the standpoint of strategic cooperation between the Czech Republic and the United States [and] a lot politically in our involvement with the antimissile defense system. Afterward, when that project actually was cancelled, it was to an extent our fault that we did not have prepared some range of other possible steps and strategic projects with which we could have supported the strategic partnership between the Czech Republic and the USA, and now we have to correct that.”
The two heads of state also spoke about the offers the Czech government is considering to repair the Temelín nuclear power plant located in Southern Bohemia. The American-based but Japanese-owned Westinghouse Electric Corporation put in a bid as well as a French firm and a Russian-Czech consortium. Mr. Nečas remarked to reporters that “I unequivocally assured President Obama that the Czech Republic will examine the bids fairly and transparently, that we expect three quality quotes, and that the best will win.”
Information for this news item came from the Czech report by Radio Prague at http://www.radio.cz/cz/zpravy#4.
Different photographs and reports are at: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20111027-38455.html, http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/roman-military-camp-found-in-west.html, and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/8853054/Lost-Roman-camp-that-protected-against-Germanic-hordes-found.html.
The ČTK press release on the meeting is reprinted at http://praguemonitor.com/2011/10/27/obama-meet-ne%C4%8D-focus-czech-nuke-plant-extension.
An article about the opening as well as links to photographs and more stories about the Bolshoi are at http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/10/25/59315725.html. Another series of photographs is available at http://news.yahoo.com/photos/russia-s-bolshoi-theatre-set-for-grand-reopening-1319556669-slideshow/visitors-walk-newly-refurbished-foyer-moscows-bolshoi-theatre-photo-143829526.html.
A report on Hitler’s temporary blindness is at http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/mental-illness-not-british-attack-blinded-hitler_737842.html.
In Switzerland, the conservative and nationalist People’s party (SVP) and the Greens on the left suffered slight losses in the elections to the National Council to two moderate parties, the Conservative Democratic party, which broke from the SVP in 2007, and the Green Liberal party, which broke in 2007 from the Greens. Despite its loss, the People’s party, which sponsored referenda banning the construction of new minarets and approving the expulsion of immigrants who become convicted criminals, remains the largest party in the parliament. Voters seem to have taken exception to the strong anti-foreign stance of the People’s party. The Social Democrats are still the second strongest party in the National Council. Now the party leaders are negotiating the distribution of cabinet seats.
For the elections in Bulgaria, see http://bnr.bg/sites/en/News/Pages/231011B22.aspx. Information about the Swiss elections are at http://news.yahoo.com/moderates-stall-rise-swiss-nationalists-194234715.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/23/swiss-election-nationalist-party-result?newsfeed=true.
The AP release announcing Bielecki’s death is at http://news.yahoo.com/pole-spirited-jewish-woman-auschwitz-dies-180734612.html. An AP story from 2010 on the couple’s daring escape is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/20/auschwitz-survivor-recall_n_652521.html.
A summary of Bauer’s article in German is at http://www.ifz-muenchen.de/vfz_2_2011.html#c2. The AFP report in English on the research is at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g2meELSrE3aBko3kbqIiS30dd2nw?docId=CNG.339e36e1d75721f93c1ca8cb6b037173.381.
http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=133139. For the mayors, see http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=133159. The AP report on the elections is at http://news.yahoo.com/hard-pressed-bulgaria-vote-president-111435716.html.
Lithuanian prosecutors refuse to examine the issue of whether that country served as a destination for extraordinary renditions of prisoners the United States held at Guantanamo Bay. The Lithuanian prosecutors claim that the government offered prison space to the United States, which it did not use and that the new evidence from Amnesty International and Reprieve claiming that at least one prisoner actually came to Lithuania is inconclusive. See http://news.yahoo.com/lithuania-wont-reopen-cia-prison-probe-153751887.html.
Russia has adopted a waiting period of two to seven days before a woman can have an abortion, and it will not permit abortions after the twelfth week of pregnancy or the twenty-second week in instances when the woman claims economic hardships. The Orthodox Church supported the measure and had called for even stricter abortion limits. Many state officials hope that the abortion restrictions will help reverse the country’s declining birth rate. See http://news.yahoo.com/russia-parliament-adopts-law-restricting-abortions-151245645.html.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that his country prepared to declare the Polish officers the Soviets executed at Katyń in 1940 during the Second World War innocent of anti-state activities. The families of the victims are only seeking rehabilitation, not compensation, and they have appealed to the European Court, which is considering their request. See http://news.yahoo.com/moscow-declare-katyn-massacre-victims-innocent-163044610.html.
For Lavrov’s comments on Katyń and other matters, see http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/10/21/59131536.html. Information on the story from Polskie Radio is at http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/51252,European-tribunal-to-reopen-Katyn-cases.
http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/12/8292525-berlins-festival-of-lights courtesy of Reuters. The event began on 12 October and will continue until 23 October 2011. The official web site with amazing photographs is at http://festival-of-lights.de/en/.
The purpose of the Niš Humanitarian Center is to serve as a base for responders to natural emergencies and other disasters. EMERCOM has taken part in more than 70 international operations and cooperates with the United Nations and other NGOs. It also has experience in land mine clearing, and one of the tasks of EMERCOM in Niš is to remove cluster bombs remaining from the 1999 NATO bombing.
Russia opposed the installation of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic on the grounds that it actually was designed as a threat to Russia, even though the US claimed that it was to intercept missiles from the Middle East. The plan collapsed when the Czech Republic pulled out of the agreement, an act which the government claimed was because of the Czech Republic’s minor role in the project. In reality, the Czech population was against the agreement, and there were constant protests to halt the project. The Russians also object to the missile shield’s relocation to Romania and Turkey.
The EMERCOM web site is http://www.emercom.ru/main_e.html. The 2009 announcement about the creation of the Humanitarian Center at Niš is at http://reliefweb.int/node/330056. An AP report on the opening of the center in Niš is at http://news.yahoo.com/russia-denies-facility-serbia-spying-131155035.html. A US Department of State press release on the final September 2011 agreement to place a missile base in Romania, which the two countries initially announced in early 2010, is at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/09/172258.htm.
One can extend Tusk’s logic. If Belgium does not solve its political crisis and appoint a government before the end of the year, Belgium should continue with its caretaker government, which on 26 April 2010 began serving in that capacity. After all, Belgium already holds the world’s record for the country which has gone the longest period of time without a government.
Several leading politicians are unhappy with Tusk’s proposal to delay recasting his cabinet. One is the president of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, whose relationship with Tusk is cordial at best. Another is Janusz Palikot, whose Palikot Movement, which placed third in the October elections, received more votes than the Polish Peasant’s party, which is in fourth place. Palikot wants to join the cabinet, but he proposes that a government of experts guide Poland, allowing the country to preserve its image of stability in the eyes of the EU while the party leaders construct a political government.
It is possible that Tusk’s true motive is to avoid recasting his cabinet in the hopes that the status quo will remain. Otherwise, if Tusk must consider giving the Palikot Movement some role in his cabinet, waiting also might enable the liberal and anticlerical Palikot to solve the controversy he has started by demanding that the Polish Sejm remove the Catholic cross from its chambers. The Palikot Movement also has given Poland its first gay deputy, Robert Biedron, and its first transgendered deputy, Anna Grodzka. Biedron, however, is to stand trial for assaulting a policeman during a demonstration, which puts the Palikot Movement at the center of another controversy. Jarosław Kaczyński of the Law and Justice party, which came in second in the polling and has strong conservative and Catholic sentiments, opposes the Palikot Movement and wants the cross to remain. With the Palikot Movement in the government, the Law and Justice party’s opposition likely will become noisier.
Tusk’s proposal to preserve the current governing coalition is at http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/56670,Election-2011-%E2%80%93-Tusk-No-change-in-government-till-New-Year. Palikot’s comments on the government are at http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/56736,Election-2011-Palikot-wants-government-of-experts. On the cross controversy, see http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/56815,Battle-over-cross-looms-in-parliament. On the rainbow character of the Palikot Movement, see http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/56676,Poland-elects-first-openly-gay-MP.
http://politicsandletters.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/occupy-wall-street-iii/. The home page for Politics and Letters is http://politicsandletters.wordpress.com/.
For the intellectual roots of OWS, including the anthropological research in anarchistic decision making in Betafo, Madagascar, by David Graeber, one of OWS’s early organizers, see http://chronicle.com/article/Intellectual-Roots-of-Wall/129428/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en.
An article in the Los Angeles Times summarizes the controversy about the building: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-dresden-military-museum-20111013,0,3134301.story. Views of the museum are available at: http://www.archithings.com/military-history-museum-dresden-germany/2009/01/09/military-history-museum-dresden-germany-1 and http://www.archiscene.net/firms/studio-daniel-libeskind/military-museum-daniel-libeskind/. Daniel Libeskind’s website is http://daniel-libeskind.com/projects.
What makes the diary significant is that Kellner shows that at least some Germans knew of the horrors of mass murders of Jews and others, many were aware of the poor performance of the German military in the East, and not all Germans were supportive of the regime. To historians, these revelations are not new, but the diary presents important evidence about those who took exception to Nazi rule in Germany.
The German title of the diaries is "Vernebelt, verdunkelt sind alle Hirne." Tagebücher 1939-1945 (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2011). The suggested price is €59.90.
Der Spiegel Online has published a review of the diary at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,789900,00.html. The Reuters news release about the diary is at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/12/us-germany-nazi-diary-idUSTRE79B3PN20111012.
Shortly after 5.00 PM Bratislava time (11.00 AM EDST), the Slovak National Council voted in favor of the bail-out program of the European Union, the last country to do so. There was no surprise that the Freedom and Solidarity party voted against the measure since their negative vote on Tuesday had caused the collapse of the government. Also voting against the bail-out, which the Slovaks refer to as Euroval, were the Slovak National party and Civic Conservative party. Since the SaS deserted the coalition, its noted politician, Richard Sulík, who had authored Slovakia’s innovative flat tax, lost his position as chairman of the Slovak National Council to Pavol Hrušovský of the Christian Democratic Movement. The prime minister, Iveta Radičová, is negotiating with Slovakia’s president, Ivan Gašparovič, regarding the details about replacing the SaS ministers in the coalition until early elections take place, tentatively slated for 10 March 2012. Their replacements apparently will be from the remnants of Radičová’s coalition: the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-Democratic Party (SDKU-DS), Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), and Most-Híd.
Information for this article came from the Slovak-language report of Radio Slovakia available at http://www.sme.sk/c/6095543/minuta-po-minute-poslanci-schvalili-posilnenie-eurovalu-a-odvolali-sulika.html and http://www.rozhlas.sk/radio-international-en.
Undaunted, Radičová is negotiating with SMER-Social Democracy, whose leader, the former prime minister Robert Fico, supports the measure to strengthen EFSF but demands early elections as a condition for his party’s support. It is possible that the politicians will reach an agreement by Thursday, when the parliament will meet again.
The reaction to the no-vote in Asian markets has been muted, largely because traders are confident that the Slovaks ultimately will pass the measure that is crucial to secure the bailout for Greece.
Information for this article is from: http://www.rozhlas.sk/radio-international-en/news; http://news.yahoo.com/slovakian-politicians-toward-ok-bailout-214852140.html; and http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/11/markets-forex-idUSL3E7LB4DG20111011.
To see the article on the Slovak vote posted on this web site on the morning of 11 October, click here.
The AP release is at: http://news.yahoo.com/ukraines-tymoshenko-sentenced-7-years-jail-100526378.html. Russia’s response is at http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=132865 and http://www.euronews.net/2011/10/11/putin-calls-tymoshenko-jail-term-unfair/. The American reaction is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/11/statement-press-secretary-ukraine.
Part of Tusk’s success is due to the Polish economy, which has not suffered a recession as a result of the world economic crisis–the only EU country able to make that claim. In fact, the Polish economy has grown 4.4 percent per year in the past three years. The economic progress is partly a result of the USD 97 billion (67 billion euros) of structural aid the country received from the EU to improve its competitiveness with respect to the EU’s stronger economies. The funding began in 2007 and will end in 2013. Another aspect of the economic growth is a high deficit, which was 7.9 percent in 2010. Tusk has promised to reduce the deficit to 3 percent, which the EU requires, and to prevent the debt from reaching 55 percent of GDP, a threshold that would bring automatic austerity measures.
The AP report is at http://news.yahoo.com/polish-prime-minister-holds-talks-coalition-092535588.html. Financial information about Poland is available in the Bloomberg Businessweek report of http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-10/polish-premier-faces-budget-challenge-after-election-win.html.
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/florida-governor-favors-more-state-money-for-math-and-science-degrees/37144?sid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en, and Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones penned a seething response at http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/10/rick-scott-liberal-arts-majors-drop-dead-anthropology. The Washington Examiner article is at http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/10/scott-state-doesnt-need-more-anthropologists.
Were Slovakia facing economic difficulties, then SaS might benefit from not supporting Radičová’s coalition, but Slovakia’s economic outlook is positive. The Statistical Office, for example, just released data showing that the country’s industrial production, buoyed by the manufacturing sector, increased 4.2 percent in August and 5.1 percent in July. Slovak production slumped in 2009, in response to the world economic crisis, but it recovered last year and continues its positive trend.
Meanwhile, the euro is falling because of the hesitation of the SaS. Markets are unnecessarily jittery because Slovakia will support the EFSF measure with or without SaS.
The cabinet meeting began at 7.00 AM EST (1.00 PM in Slovakia), and no news on the outcome of the vote was available at the time this article was posted (7.45 AM EST).
For additional information, see the AP release at http://news.yahoo.com/slovak-pm-puts-government-line-ahead-efsf-vote-091130770.html, and Radio Slovakia’s releases at http://www.rozhlas.sk/radio-international-en/news/Breaking-News:-PM-Iveta-Radicova-Links-Vote-on-EFSF-to-a-Confidence-Vote-in-Government?l=2&i=21119&p=1 and http://www.rozhlas.sk/radio-international-en/news/Industrial-Output-in-Slovakia-Increased-by-4.2-percent-y-on-y-in-August-?l=2&i=20950&p=1. On the euro’s drop, see http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-11/euro-falls-versus-dollar-before-slovakia-vote-pound-declines.html.
http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ct24/domaci/138862-paroubek-zaklada-stranu-narodni-socialiste-levice-21-stoleti/. The Czech National Socialist party was established in 1898 and has nothing in common with the National Socialist party of Adolf Hitler.
http://www.forum2000.cz/en/web-tv/cat/2011-2/. Participants include Václav Havel, former Czech President and organizer of Forum 2000; the Polish journalist Adam Michnik; Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of Right Forces, an opposition party in Russia; Cem Özdemir of the Alliance '90/The Greens; Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia; and Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology from Stanford University.
A brief note on the anniversary is at http://www.visegradgroup.eu/news/hungary-slovakia-mark. A view of the damage after the First World War is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/31543309@N04/3139380586/. Current photographs of the bridge are at http://www.espaces-transfrontaliers.org/en/conurbations/terri_doc_ag_esztergom_en.html and http://sturovo.com/fotoforum/displayimage.php?album=18&pid=751#top_display_media.
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/state-union-2011/index_en.htm, and a printed version is available at http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/pdf/speech_original.pdf.
Barroso’s comments elicited a response from the president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, a well-known Eurosceptic. Klaus challenged Barroso’s call for deepening integration as a solution to the EU’s problems on 8 October 2011 while talking to reporters in Visegrád, Hungary, where Klaus took part in a meeting of the presidents of the Visegrad Group, that is, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. Klaus said that he “absolutely disagrees” with Barroso and maintained that Europe’s problems resulted from the rapid process of “more and more Europe.” According to Klaus, Barroso can not see the error in believing that when “more and more of Europe has brought about the current economic problems, so we will attempt to go still further and even more. I think that it is a fatal [and] faulty approach.” Klaus’s remarks appeared in the Czech version of the news from Radio Prague, which is available at http://www.radio.cz/cz/rubrika/zpravy/zpravy-2011-10-09#1. A slightly shorter English version is at http://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/news-2011-10-08#1.
The disagreement between Barroso and Klaus is deeper than the current economic crisis in the EU. As the Czech Republic assumed the presidency of the European Union in January 2009, Klaus challenged Barroso to visit Prague more often so that he could convince Barroso about the negative consequences of the Lisbon Treaty, which the Czech Republic indeed ratified through the course of 2009 and in November 2009 Klaus signed as president. Watch the end of the exchange between Klaus and Barroso at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7MP-G-e_pY.
Meanwhile, the EU has favored deeper integration as a means of solving the economic problems it faces and preventing them in the future as contained in the so-called six pack of reforms. The reforms that passed the European Parliament 28 September and the European Commission on 4 October 2011 contains steps for more coordination, surveillance, and enforcement to prevent future crises. On the European Union’s “Six Pack,” see http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1199 and http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/10/455&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en. On the passage of the measure in the European Commission, see http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/articles/governance/20111004_economic_governance_package_en.htm.
For an AP report, see http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-10-05/germany-nazi-investigations/50665364/1.
Their article, “Casualty Analysis of Climate Change and Large-Scale Human Crisis” is available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in print form or electronically at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/09/29/1104268108.full.pdf+html?sid=d235ccc1-f6bd-49df-a623-43b18c5369da.
Dr. Zhang has been researching the social impact of climate change for some time, and he was the lead author with Peter Brecke, Harry F. Lee, Yuan-Qing He, and Jane Zhang of “Global Climate Change, War and Population Decline in Recent Human History” that appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104/49 (2007), 19214-19219.
An article describing the research is at http://www.livescience.com/16357-human-crisis-climate-change.html (it contains some errors in the publication dates for the articles). A summary is also available at http://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_5664.html. A bibliography of Dr. Zhang’s research is at http://geog.hku.hk/staff_FT_Zhang.html.
See http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishFeatures/Article.aspx?id=240350. A translation of the letter is available at http://www.h-net.org/~german/gtext/kaiserreich/hitler2.html. Information about the letter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center is at http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441467&ct=10863025.
Havel was instrumental in the round table negotiations of November-December 1989 that brought an end to Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, after which the Federal Assembly elected him president of the republic. When it was apparent that Czechoslovakia would disintegrate, Havel resigned in July 1992, stating that he would not preside over the break-up of the republic. After the creation of independent Slovak and Czech states on 1 January 1993, the Parliament of the Czech Republic elected Havel president of the country. In 2003, he completed his second term and could not run for a third. During his time as president of Czechoslovakia, the country worked with other former Soviet bloc allies to disband the Warsaw Pact and underwent the first stages of privatization. Havel was president in 1999 when the Czech Republic joined NATO. He oversaw the efforts to bring the Czech Republic into the European Union, which occurred in 2003, just two months after Havel had left the presidency.
Despite struggles with cancer and respiratory illnesses, results of his one-time smoking habit, Havel has been active in retirement, writing, doing research on human rights, and taking on other activities. He hosts the Forum 2000 conference, which from 9 to 11 October 2011 will consider “Democracy and the Rule of Law.” He published his memoirs as president, Prosím, stručně (2006), which appeared in English as To the Castle and Back (2007), as well as a play, Leaving [Odcházení] (2007), and other works.
After the death of his first wife of 32 years, Olga Šplíchalová (1933-1996), Havel married the Czech actress Dagmar Veškrnová (born 1953). Havel has no children of his own, but Dagmar Havlová has one daughter.
Havel’s web site in English is at http://vaclavhavel.cz/Index.php?&setln=2, and his essays and other writings are at http://vaclavhavel.cz/index.php?sec=2&id=5&kat=2&from=0. A list of publications by and about Havel in English and other languages, aside from Czech and Slovak, is available at http://cr.middlebury.edu/pol_sci/havel/biblio.htm. The English version of Havel’s library is at http://www.vaclavhavel-library.org/en/. The web site for Forum 2000 is http://www.forum2000.cz/.
The blog is available at http://hnn.us/node/142060.