Sunday, February 14, 2016

Trump Goes Code Pink on George W. Bush

20160214_Grunwald_TrumpBushIRaq.jpg
The Republican front-runner echoes Democratic talking points on 9/11, Iraq and Bin Laden.
By MICHAEL GRUNWALD February 14, 2016

POLITICO
It was weird that an angry Code Pink-style protester interrupted last night’s Republican presidential debate with a barrage of familiar Democratic talking points about George W. Bush—that he lied the country into a disastrous war in Iraq, failed to prevent the September 11 attacks, and even whiffed on an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden. It was especially weird that the protestor was one Donald J. Trump, who happens to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Trump didn’t just call the Iraq war a mistake. He called it “a big fat mistake.” And he didn't call it an inadvertent mistake because of faulty intelligence. “They lied!” he thundered. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction…and they knew there were none.” Trump even groused that the war cost $5 trillion that could have helped rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, a common Democratic attack line that sounded like a canine talking point at a feline convention, especially in military-heavy South Carolina.


Maybe Trump believes there’s an untapped GOP anti-war contingent. Maybe he’s still plotting to run as an independent. Maybe he just enjoys tweaking the Bush family, since he spent much of the night mocking George’s brother Jeb as a weak, incompetent, lying loser. But Trump’s extended Bush-lied-people-died diatribe, featuring repeated scoffing at Republican Bush-kept-us-safe dogma, was the most surreal stretch of a debate that generally could have been scripted by Salvador Dali.

“I’ve got to tell you, this is just crazy, huh?” John Kasich said after a scrap over Trump’s foray into Dennis Kucinich-ism. “This is just nuts, OK? Jeez, oh man!”

Trump boasted about his opposition to the Iraq war early in the debate, claiming that he warned at the time that it would destabilize the Middle East—a claim for which there is no evidence—but his real blast into the past began, as his blasts so often do, as a non-sequitur attack on Jeb Bush, who had just made some points about Russia. “Jeb is so wrong,” Trump scoffed. “If you listen to him, that’s why we’ve been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven’t won anything.” He then began lampooning Jeb for spending $44 million to come in fifth in New Hampshire, and it looked like the back-and-forth over Iraq was over.

But then moderator John Dickerson asked Trump about an old quote where he had suggested that President Bush should have been impeached over Iraq, which gave Trump another excuse to carpet-bomb the Bush family.

“Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right?” he said. “It took Jeb Bush, if you remember when he announced for president, it took him five days—it was a mistake, it wasn’t a mistake, it took him five days before his people told him what to say, and he ultimately said it was a mistake…Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty.”

When Dickerson asked Trump again whether the president should have been impeached, Jeb tried to interrupt—“I think it’s my turn, isn’t it?”—but Trump steamrolled ahead. “You call it whatever they want,” he said. “They lied.”

When Jeb finally got a word in edgewise, he basically whined about the constant bullying he has endured on the national stage. “Frankly, I could care less about the insults Donald Trump gives me. It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it,” Bush said, accurately. “I’m glad it makes him happy. But I am sick and tired of him going after my family…While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe.”

That’s when Trump barreled back into the fray: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that,” he said. “That’s not keeping us safe.” That sounded more like a canine talking point at a fire hydrant convention, pure heresy in a Republican context.

Then came the funniest moment of the debate, when Jeb tried to ignore the smackdown and continue his don’t-mess-with-the family soliloquy. “He has had the gall to go after my mother,” Jeb said. “I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago, looked up, and saw my mom. My mom is the strongest woman I know.”

“She should be running,” Trump deadpanned.

After Trump finished giving Jeb that verbal wedgie, it was left to Marco Rubio, to deliver the standard Republican defense of Jeb’s older brother. “I just want to say, on behalf of me and my family, I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore,” Rubio said. “I think you can look back in hindsight and say a few things, but he kept us safe.”

When Trump went back on the warpath, again noting that the 9/11 attacks happened on Bush’s watch—“That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe.”—Rubio went back to the Republican playbook, blaming Bush’s predecessor for the attacks.

“The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance,” Rubio said.

Trump didn’t let that pass, either, raising bin Laden’s escape at Tora Bora during the Bush administration. “By the way, George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA,” Trump said to a chorus of boos. At this point in the metaphor, the canine was basically biting the audience of whatever convention he was addressing, and probably chewing on the furniture, too.

There were no actual Democrats on stage to point out that Bush’s successor as president eventually did authorize the killing of bin Laden. But overall, the night was a Democratic dream, with the Republicans not only pushing each other to the right on issues like abortion, gay rights, immigration and foreign affairs, but ripping each other to shreds. While Jeb and the audience focused their ire on Trump, Rubio and Trump both called Ted Cruz a liar. “This guy will say anything,” Trump said.

Of course, if you had to pick a guy who will say anything, you’d probably pick the guy who spent much of a Republican debate trashing the last Republican president in a Republican state. (Honorable mention might go to Ben Carson, whose closing statement featured a fake quotation from Josef Stalin.) Throughout the Republican primary, Trump has broken all the rules of politics and defied all the conventional wisdom. No matter what he does—question the president’s birth certificate, denigrate John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam, call Mexicans rapists, skip a Fox News debate—he only seems to rise in the polls.

But those are Republican primary polls. Trump has become the dominant figure in the party, and it’s not yet clear whether that’s a good thing for the party.

“We’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” Kasich said last night. So far, nobody has figured out how to stop the guy who will say anything.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

McCain: It's up to Serbians to decide on NATO membership

(Tanjug)
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Friday welcomed and met with U.S. Senator John McCain, who led a delegation of the U.S. Congress.

SOURCE: BETA, TANJUG FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Vucic said after the talks said that he and the senators discussed global issues, including the migrant crisis, and that he told them "Serbia will not raise walls in the future, either, because that is neither a European, nor a civilized solution."

Vucic said he was convinced today there are "very few or almost none at all" obstacles to creating a better environment and even better relations between Serbia and the United States.

Vucic said that he urged American officials to help Serbia in the preservation of peace and stability which are crucial for economic development.

According to him, anyone who thinks that Serbia can remain on the European path and make economic progress without America's support was "not serious and irresponsible" and described the EU bid as a strategic goal of the country.

"I could be showing muscles and utter a bad word because of 1999, but I wonder what would be the result, will more investors come, will more people get jobs...," Vucic said, responding to questions from reporters, in an apparent reference to NATO's 1999 air strikes against Serbia.

He pointed out that "Serbia wants good relations with the U.S." and is "not ashamed of such a responsible policy, but proud of it."

Asked to what extent "the alliance of Serbia and the United States in two world wars may help cooperation" Vucic said that Serbia "remembers the friendship from these wars - which was then lost in 1999."

"It is time to invest a lot of effort and energy in order to restore that trust, and I am grateful that senators do, and we will do that too," said Vucic.

He added that Serbia's goal is to have good relations with all major powers, and that he would "at the same time always protect the interests of our country."

John McCain addressed reporters during a joint press conference to say his country "recognized Serbia's efforts to normalize relations with Kosovo, the progress made in relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, economic progress, as well as the commitment of Serbia to join the EU."

Serbia's military neutrality and possible NATO membership is a matter that Serbia and the Serbian people will decide on, he noted.

"NATO membership is a decision that is up to Serbia and its citizens, Serbia's priority is EU accession, " McCain said.

Asked "how he sees Serbia's military neutrality, its stepped-up military technical cooperation with Russia and potential NATO membership," McCain said that he is afraid that the Middle Eastern crisis will involve various peoples in one way or another and that, over time, Serbia will have an increasing role in humanitarian operations.

Anything more than that is something that Serbia and the Serbian people will decide on, he said.

Asked if the U.S. foreign policy will change "also toward Serbia and the region" after the presidential election in that country, he responded affirmatively.

Earlier in the day, McCain toured migrant reception centers in Adasevci and Sid, and told reporters there he would ask that the United States gives additional assistance to Serbia in coping with the refugee crisis.

"Serbia needs additional aid in the migrant crisis. Upon my return to the States, I would ask my colleagues to make this possible," he said, adding that the migrant crisis "requires a lot of money" and thanked the Serbian government "for doing an amazing job in very difficult circumstances."

Serbian ministers of labor and internal affairs Aleksandar Vulin and Nebojsa Stefanovic showed McCain the accommodation provided to migrants and the registration process in Adasevci, where there were around 1,000 migrants at the time.

US State Department Releases Some 550 Hillary Clinton's Emails

 People walk past the US State Department building July 6, 2011 in Washington, DC
© AFP 2016/ Karen BLEIER
US
23:00 13.02.2016
The US State Department has released the latest batch of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, publishing 551 emails.

Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the US Department of State will release about 550 emails by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by February 13, and will complete the releasing of documents by February 29.

Release of Clinton’s Emails to Continue Saturday, End on February 29
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — As many as 81 messages were  reportedly classified, while three were branded secret.
The US State Department will complete the release of Clinton’s emails by February 29.

In March 2015, Clinton has come under severe criticism for using her personal email account and server for official purposes while serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Subsequently, the authorities discovered top classified material in at least several of her emails.

A US District Court judge ordered the State Department to make public all of approximately 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emails by January 2016.

The State Department, however, renegotiated the deadline because of the massive snowstorm that hit the Washington, DC area in January, and caused the US federal government to close, in addition to affecting internal processing.

Turkey bombing Kurdish areas in Aleppo


13.02.2016 20:53

Turkish forces have begun shelling Kurdish-held areas, including an airbase, in Syria’s Aleppo province, sources had told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) reported on Saturday that Turkish artillery targeted their positions in Menagh airport and a village near Azaz, which were recently captured from the Syrian opposition.

An Al Jazeera reporter in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the Syria border, said the timing of the attack is "interesting", as it comes at a period when the YPG and their allies have been capturing rebel-held territory, taking advantage of an ongoing government offensive in Aleppo.

"Now, we can only speculate - was this a warning from the Turkish authorities who do not want to see the YPG expand control in Syria?" Khodr said.

"In the past, Turkey has fired shells across its border but usually in retaliation - after a shell lands on Turkish soil, or if fighting is getting closer to its border they fire shells as a deterrent."

The shelling came after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday that Ankara would, if necessary, take military action against fighters from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

"We can if necessary take the same measures in Syria as we took in Iraq and Qandil," Davutoglu said in a televised speech in the eastern city of Erzincan, referring to the bombing campaign last year against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq on their Qandil mountain stronghold.

"We would expect our friends and allies to stand by us," he added.

Turkey considers the PYD and its YPG militia to be branches of the PKK, which has waged a decades-long armed campaign against the Turkish state.

Source: Al Jazeera

Joint Declaration of Pope Francis And Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russiaa


Joint Declaration
of Pope Francis
and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia
12 February 2016
 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).
  1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.
It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.
  1. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.
It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.
  1. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet3:15).
  1. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.
  1. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn17:21).
  1. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!
  1. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.
  1. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.
  1. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.
  1. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.
We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.
  1. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.
We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet4:12–13).
  1. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor14:33).
  1. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.
  1. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.
  1. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.
  1. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.
  1. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor1:27–29).
  1. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.
  1. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.
21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10). The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan. 22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.
23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf.Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.
24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism. We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).
25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.
26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.
27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.
  1. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.
  1. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk12:32)!
Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).
30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!
Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow
and all Russia
Francis
Bishop of Rome,
Pope of the Catholic Church
Department for External Church Relations, www.mospat.ru
All Rights Reserved ©2016 - Any Republication for the Glory of God is Permitted with the reference
"The Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA - www.mospatusa.com"
 

‘Greeks will have to become migrants’: 10,000 farmers protest EU-imposed reforms in Athens

Farmers are seen on a tractor during a protest against planned pension reforms in front of the parliament building in Athens, Greece February 12, 2016. © Alkis Konstantinidis
READ MORE: 800 Greek farmers storm Agriculture Ministry in Athens, police fire tear gas (VIDEO)
The protesting farmers, who have come from across the country, were joined by worker unionists on Syntagma Square. Police estimated that around 10,000 demonstrators were in attendance. The mass then carried flags in a procession that was led by 20 tractors honking their horns.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s formerly left-wing government plans to raise pension contributions and taxes to deal with Greece’s budget deficit.
A farmer carries a Greek flag in front of the parliament during a protest against planned pension reforms in Athens, Greece February 12, 2016. © Alkis Konstantinidis
Protesters told RT’s Ruptly agency that if the measures are passed, they will be force to leave Greece, as life would no longer be sustainable.
“We cannot let the government pass these catastrophic measures. If they pass, we are going to have to become migrants, either within the country or abroad,” Ruptly TV cited Antonis Bitsakis, a member of the coordinating committee of the farmers of Creta, as saying. “They are a catastrophe. We are going to stay here till the end. We cannot let them pass.” 
Some fires were lit and a number of protesters even brought tents in anticipation of a stay lasting for up to ten days. “We are determined to stay here 10 days, we’ve brought tents,” farmer, Stavros Haralas, told AFP.
READ MORE: Anti-democratic, unaccountable EU unfazed by Cameron’s reforms – Yanis Varoufakis
The farmers are most concerned about the hike in their social security contributions, which is part of the pension reform. They are also against getting rid of benefits, including cheaper fuel.
The government prohibited the use of tractors in the rally, as they have previously been used to block dozens of roads in Greece, including the border crossings to Bulgaria and Turkey. However, the demonstrators got a permit for 20 tractors to participate in Friday’s march.
Greek farmers from the region of Crete clash with police during a protest against planned pension reforms outside the Agriculture ministry in Athens, Greece, February 12, 2016. © Alkis Konstantinidis
Earlier in the day, around 800 farmers pelted the Agriculture Ministry with stones, as police used tear gas to disperse the rally. They smashed windows and threw tomatoes at the officers before the police managed to push them back.

“The first floor of the building sustained damage, it is fortunate that no staff were hurt,” Agriculture Minister Evangelos Apostolou said at a media briefing.
Apostolou added that there had been some “extreme” elements in the protesting crowd.
READ MORE: Greek farmers hold mock 'ISIS' execution to protest austerity taxes
Protesters argue that they are not extremists, but that the government’s decisions are pushing them towards extreme behavior. “The left government calls some of us ‘far-right extremists.’ We are not far-right extremists, but with their actions they push us towards the extremes,” farmer G. Papageorgakopoulos told Ruptly.
Overall, ten officers were injured, with two requiring hospitalization, the junior interior minister for police, Nikos Toskas, told journalists.
READ MORE: EU gives Greece 3 months to fix borders or risk Schengen suspension
The protests were organized as part of a larger movement against austerity measures concerning pensions.
A protester is seen by a fire set by angry farmers outside the parliament during a protest against planned pension reforms in Athens, Greece February 12, 2016. © Yannis Behrakis
Last week, the police and protesters clashed on Syntagma Square in Athens during a general strike. Some youths threw stones and petrol bombs as officers responded with stun grenades and tear gas.
The Greek government is trying to secure a third tranche of an international bailout, but in order to do so it needs to implement further cuts and tax hikes. This round would mark the 11th cut to pensions since 2010.
READ MORE: It takes a Greek to save Europa (OP-ED)
On Wednesday, Tsipras spoke of a compromise during a televised address. “We are open to a substantial, honest dialogue with the farmers,” he said. “There is significant room for improvement on their social security contributions, on the issue of when the measures take effect, and generally over the need to protect their income.”

Francis: Brother, finally! Kirill: “Now things are easier”


The meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at Havana airport has begun. It is a historic meeting that has been twenty years in the making and is an important step in ecumenical dialogue  after a period of separation that lasted almost one thousand years
 Pope Francis meets Patriarch Kirill at Havana airport.

12/02/2016
in havana
 
Francis and Kirill embraced and kissed one another. On this sunny day, they met for the first time ever at the entrance to a room with dark wood panelling in Havana airport. The meeting took place a long way from Europe and its divisins, on an island that is both a crossroads and a symbol.


“Hermano, hermano, brother, brother, somos hermanos (we are brothers Ed.) ,” Francis said to Kirill, “finally!” The Pope and the Patriarch sat in two big white upholstered armchairs, the scene dominated by a wooden crucifix. “Now things are easier,” Kirill said. “It is clearer now that this is God’s will,” the Pope said.


This is how their conversation began. The two religious leaders held their private meeting in the presence of their interpreters, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and Metropolitan Hilarion, the Patriarchate of Moscow’s “foreign minister”.


 At the end of the meeting, the Pope and the Patriarch are expected to make their way to another room where they will be met by Cuba’s President Raúl Castro. Here, they will sign a lengthy and clearly worded joint declaration. Francis and Kirill are to follow this up with two brief speeches before taking their leave from one another. After this, Francis will set off on a three hour flight bound for Mexico.

Friday, February 12, 2016

US Navy Ready to Respond to European Demand for Protection Against Russia

Adm. John Richardson delivers remarks during the commissioning ceremony of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785) at Naval Station Norfolk.

© Flickr/ Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations
World

US Chief of Naval Operations said that US Navy stands ready to respond to the changing demands of the European theater in response to concerns from its NATO counterparts.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) The US Navy stands ready to respond to the changing demands of the European theater in response to concerns from its NATO counterparts, US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said on Friday.
"We will play a role in…responding to further demands that the [European] theater imposes, and I will be in close touch with our Navy commanders out there," Richardson said at an American Enterprise Institute conference.
He added that his European counterparts have raised "concern with this resurgent Russia, particularly in the eastern Mediterranean…the Black Sea, even the Caspian Sea."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nuland to Visit Albania for Bilateral Discussions

Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in Kiev


Victoria Nuland will travel to Poland, Germany and Albania on February 10-14, where she will hold series of bilateral meetings.

Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the Maidan Square in Kiev
© Sputnik/ Petr Zadorozhny
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland will travel to Poland, Germany and Albania on February 10-14, where she will hold series of bilateral meetings and attend a security conference, US Department of State said in a press release.
"On February 10, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland will travel to Warsaw, Poland," the press release stated on Wednesday.
During the visit, Nuland will discuss bilateral and regional issues with senior government officials, leaders of political parties and members of civil society, according to the State Department.
On February 12-13, Nuland will participate in the Munich Security Conference in Germany together with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
After the Munich conference, Kerry and Nuland will visit Albania for further discussions with the country’s leadership about Tirana’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

Meeting of Pope and Patriarch may avert WWIII


Iben ThranholmIben Thranholm examines political and social events with focus on their religious aspects, significance and moral implications. She is one of Denmark’s most widely read columnists on such matters. Thranholm is a former editor and radio host at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), at which she created a religious news program that set a new standard for religious analysis in the newsroom. She has traveled extensively in the Middle East, Italy, the United States and Russia to carry out research and interviews. She has been awarded for her investigative research into Danish media coverage of religious issues. 
 
© patriarchia.ru
The meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba on February 12 may turn out to be not only the most significant ecclesiastical event, but one of the most momentous political events in recent years.
Since the schism of 1054 when the church separated into an Eastern and Western part, the differences have been irreconcilable and the two have not engaged in any dialogue. Leaders, political and military, know the strategy of divide and conquer. Although the Eastern Church, as well as its Western sister, has seen enormous development after the schism and has created cultural progress, the rule that division weakens an entity also applies to Christianity.
The church in Russia was oppressed and weakened under the Communist regime, and the Western church has been engaged in a struggle against the tide of secularization and the religion of scientism since the Enlightenment. In recent times both parts of the church have been under pressure, culminating now in persecution of Christians on a massive scale.
This trend is global, but is particularly severe in the Middle East, where ISIS commits horrible atrocities against Christians, as well as monasteries and churches. The persecution even threatens to remove Christianity from the lands whence the faith originated.
The persecutions in the Middle East are the immediate cause of the meeting. According to the Pope’s spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi and Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, the meeting has been considered for a number of years. Nonetheless, the announcement was a surprise when it was made, just one week before it was to take place. As recently as January this year, Hilarion denied that a meeting was being planned. Now it seems the political situation in the Middle East, the horrible persecution of Christians and the threat of destruction of the Christian community in the region have compelled the Pope and the Patriarch to agree to meet as soon as possible.
The meeting is intended to produce a joint declaration signed by both church leaders. Its character will not be theological, as dialogue in this area is held within the framework of the International Commission for dialogue between the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches. It will be a statement on the various aspects of cooperation and shared testimony that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church can offer the world today. In particular, it will address the problem of persecution of Christians in the Middle East, but also the issues of secularization, the protection of life, marriage and the family.
This means that the meeting springs from the need and desire of the churches to form a joint front, or joint ministry to a world disintegrating before our eyes: moral decay, political depravity and dissolution of values. World War III looms like darkness threatening to engulf us all with the rising tension in Syria and Turkey, Western proxy wars and Russia’s intervention. Not to mention the growing tensions between the West and Russia springing from the crisis in Ukraine.
Read more
The Syrian Christians, father and daughter, are visiting their house abandoned them during the military action in the center of Homs. © RIA Novosti  
Russia – a game changer for global Christianity
The two leaders present an example to the entire world when they meet, because they choose to set aside ecclesiastical disagreement to achieve a greater good. The churches have had their own Ukraine crisis for years.
When the Communist regime started falling apart and loosening its grip in the late 1980s, the Russian Orthodox Church emerged once more to play the role in society it had once held, but there were complaints that the Roman Catholic Church had begun proselytizing in the traditional Orthodox areas. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that it made no active efforts to convert members from other Christian communities, which is the definition of proselytizing. No proof of aggressive proselytizing has ostensibly been presented, but the question of the presence and work of the Greek Catholic Church in the traditional Russian Orthodox area of Ukraine has remained problematic, and the controversy persists.
The ability of the patriarch and the pope to rise above their disagreements to address the far more serious problem of persecution of Christians offers an example to be emulated by politicians. Uniting to overcome a greater evil is the solution the global community ought now to pursue. A fragmented Western world will be fatally unable to stand up to radical Islam. Which other Christian voice can now speak with the authority needed when liberal democracy is becoming increasingly feeble in its struggle against radicalized Islam?
A church united on this matter can therefore achieve enormous political impact without casting the Patriarch or the Pope in the role of world politicians. The Pope is the head of over 1.25 billion Catholics and the Patriarch is head of about 164 million Orthodox Christians, whose conscience, faith, hope and charity these two leaders influence. Their message is not political, their message is moral and spiritual and has an enormous impact on the way society develops and people act towards other people. The spiritual and moral factor in social affairs and world politics is crucial when it comes to averting war, solving conflicts and ending dictatorial regimes, quite possibly more so than political initiatives. If churches divided for more than a millennium show themselves capable of surmounting their differences, they provide a powerful testimony to the world that is difficult to ignore, its influence must be felt. This reconciliation brings renewed hope of peace and reconciliation of an order that no merely political system would be able to provide.
The Church has already demonstrated in recent history that it has the ability to have an impact on history and end totalitarian regimes. Today, leading historians agree the Berlin Wall would not have come down the way it did without former Pope John Paul II. While Communism still held sway, this Pope – who made great efforts to reconcile the divided church – visited Poland on several occasions, at which he reminded Poles of their Christian identity and faith, with the Gospel’s familiar message: “Fear not!”. The moral and spiritual strength this gave the people was the factor that gave them strength to bring down the Wall. The churches in DDR also provided a forum of free speech that eventually caused the demise of the regime. Similarly, the celebration of the millennium anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988, permitted by Gorbachev, provided significant impetus for the end of Communism and the Soviet Union. The regime in the Kremlin met its final collapse during the week when the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Even Joseph Stalin had to obtain the support of the Orthodox Church to achieve victory over Nazism in the Great Patriotic War.
No matter how tragic the cause of the summit meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope, the savage slaughter of Christians, it must be remembered that the church in ancient Rome grew strong and achieved influence on society on the basis of the testimony and blood of the martyrs. In a similar way, the Christians sacrificed by ISIS now help heal more than a thousand years of schism between the two churches. The foundation of the Christian faith is that sacrifice brought in love brings the fruit of peace, reconciliation and healing. This historic meeting – with the good will brought by the Patriarch and the Pope – may help transform the world and snatch peace from the jaws of the chaos that currently threatens to engulf us all. The significance of the meeting therefore vastly exceeds the relationship between Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. A strong Christian voice and a united church is what world needs now to avert a third world war, at a time when politicians are exposed as bankrupt and impotent in the face of evil.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Migrant Crisis May Cost Greece $680 Million This Year


Cost could rise further if many migrants are blocked by Balkan border closures

WSJ 

ATHENS—Greece will have to spend some 0.3% of its gross domestic product, or €600 million ($677.82 million), to deal with the refugee crisis this year, according to a report conducted by the Bank of Greece.
At the same time, the Greek government is bracing itself for the Balkan border closures, which would potentially block asylum seekers’ exit from Greece and push up the country’s costs even further.
According to a senior Greek official, the country’s central bank has conducted a survey, which hasn’t been made public, to calculate the amount of public money needed to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees.
Some 35.7% of the total funds will be used to operate reception facilities, while the search and rescue cost amounts to 26.3% of the whole budget. The report said that the portion of costs covered by European Union funds is still to be determined.
Greece is the main gateway to Europe for hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries, as well as large numbers of other migrants from Asia and Africa, who set off from Turkey.
About 857,000 refugees and other migrants entered the EU through Greece in 2015, risking a dangerous sea crossing that has led to almost daily drownings. Another 68,000 people have landed in Greece so far in 2016.
Europe is increasing pressure on Greece to better manage the influx of migrants, as the continent struggles to avoid a repeat of last year’s massive wave of migration. But as plans to stem the human influx flounder, the possibility of Balkan border closures increases.
Greece’s government is preparing itself and public opinion for that possibility. On Wednesday, Greece’s Vice President Yannis Dragasakis and Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that the country should be prepared for migrants to be trapped in the country because of border closures by its neighbors.
“We have to be prepared for every scenario, even for borders closing,” Mr. Dragasakis told local TV.
Mr. Mouzalas said that this would be a “unilateral action,” but it would be a manageable problem, as flows would immediately be reduced and he estimated that no more than 50,000 refugees and migrants will be trapped in Greece.
“Those building up fences are wrong; by closing the borders at Idomeni, we lose the only way to control refugees flows in Europe,” the minister added.
The commission also warned Greece Wednesday that borders may be sealed off completely if the flow isn’t reduced and demanded “better control of the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”
On Thursday Mr. Mouzalas told parliament that the amount of money required to deal with the refugee crisis might rise to €1 billion in 2016. The minister said the EU funds allocated for Greece have yet to be received due to bureaucracy at national and EU level, and claimed that the delay in disbursement is being used to pressure Greece to accept a far greater number of migrants and refugees.
He added that these funds, when received, will be enough to build and operate the required registration centers for six or seven months.
But apart from that, according to the Bank of Greece report, the country will have to deal with additional costs that are hard to quantify in advance, such as the effects it would have on the country’s economic activity and especially on the tourism sector.
The large migrant flows led to cancellations of flights to the Aegean islands, where asylum seekers first set foot in Europe, by tour operators last year.
According to the report, this is expected to continue in 2016 and have spillover effects on tourism in other regions of the country.
Restrictions in the cross-border traffic of products are expected to weigh on trade, leading to further economic uncertainty and adding another risk factor to Greece’s outlook. It could also further avert possible foreign investments in the region.
Further costs may arise from the need to further expand the capacity of the reception facilities to accommodate refugees and migrants, as many will have to remain in Greece.
The Bank of Greece report also notes that steps need to be taken to integrate migrants and refugees into the labor market. In order for that to happen, a proper evaluation system of the asylum seekers’ skills should be adopted. Those remaining in Greece should also be distributed across the region after taking into consideration the labor market needs and their qualifications.
Write to Nektaria Stamouli at nektaria.stamouli@wsj.com

Russia’s PM Medvedev Warns of New War if US, Arab Troops Invade Syria

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

© Sputnik/ Dmitry Astakhov
Russia

As Turkey and Saudi Arabia edge closer to sending ground forces into Syria at the behest of the United States, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that an escalation of the conflict could lead to world war.

During an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Medvedev warned of dire consequences if the United States and its allies abandon Syrian peace talks in favor of deploying ground forces.
"All ground operations, as a rule, lead to permanent wars," he said. "Look at what is going on in Afghanistan and a number of other countries. I don’t even mention the ill-fated Libya.
"The Americans must consider — both the US president and our Arab partners — whether or not they want a permanent war."
All sides should instead focus on implementing peace talks.
"We must make everyone sit down to the negotiating table, and we can do it by using, among other things, the harsh measures that are being implemented by Russia, the Americans, and even, with all reservations, the Turks, rather than start yet another war in the world."
Any direct involvement by foreign players on behalf of the Syrian opposition will only worsen the violence.
"We may differ in our opinions of certain political leaders but it is not a good enough reason to begin intervention or to stir up unrest from within."
Moscow has long-stressed the need to support the legitimate government of President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against terrorism. Working alongside the Syrian Army, Russian airstrikes have had a severe impact on Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State.
"…We must sit down at the same table, but our partners avoid this," Medvedev said. "That is, there have been some occasional meetings, telephone conversations and contacts between our militaries. But in this situation we should create a full-scale alliance to fight this evil."
The Prime Minister also criticized Europe’s handling of the migrant crisis. The continent is facing an increased risk of terrorist attack because of its decision to open its borders, and this only highlights the need for international cooperation against terrorism.
"Some of these people — and it’s not just a few strange individuals or utter scoundrels, but hundreds and possibly thousands — are entering Europe as potential time bombs, and they will fulfill their missions as robots when they are told to," he said.
"We are not trying to rule the world or impose our regulations on it, though we are accused regularly of having such ambitions” he added. “That is not so — we are a pragmatic people who realise that no one can shoulder responsibility for the whole world, not even the United States of America."

Russia's Rogozin banned from entering Montenegro


Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, invited by the opposition DEmocratic Front (DF), "will not be able to visit Montenegro."
Source: Beta
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
This has been announced by the Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations, who said Rogozin was on a list of Russian citizens banned from entering Montenegro, based on the government's decision to join EU's anti-Russia sanctions.
It has also been stated that Rogozin was invited to Montenegro by DF representative Milan Knezevic, "without any consultations with competent organs of Montenegro."

Beta agency is reporting that "Montenegro accepted the sanctions introduced against Russia by western countries over the Ukrainian crisis," and that Rogozin "in the past on several occasions made threatening statements toward Montenegro due to its orientation to join NATO."

EU Hypocrisy + Refugees = Balkanization?

As the refugee crisis drags on, the Balkans are being crushed between authoritarian Turkey and dithering Europe. by Martin Ehl 11 February 2016 Former Portuguese European secretary Bruno Macaes escaped after the fall of his government to write a book on political philosophy in which he probes the difference between Europe and Asia.

Currently he is traveling through the countries on the border between the two continents. Arriving from Tehran and on his way to Baku, Macaes was a guest of the Germia Hill conference, a small international gathering in Pristina last week, where he advanced the following thesis: “Maybe Western and Central Europe is now converging with the Balkans, but it should be the other way around.”

The word “balkanization” has been trotted out quite often in the vocabulary of international relations for some time. The reason is that the Balkans look even more overburdened with historical conflicts than our good old Central Europe.

But now most of the Balkan peninsula (the western Balkans in euro-jargon for the former Yugoslavia plus Albania) is again a key region for European security as fearful politicians watch the oncoming stream of migrants through those countries.

And Central European post-communist politicians are much more eager than their more politically correct Western colleagues to help Balkan countries build a wall against the tide, which they see as a surprisingly robust threat to European unity.

Balkan countries like Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania are in a delicate situation.

Over the years they have been promised membership of the European Union and NATO as a reward for their reforms. But quite often they lack basic, independent public institutions and are not able to offer their citizens a decent standard of living.

It is almost forgotten that last year’s refugee wave started in January and February with approximately 50,000 Kosovans traveling through Hungary to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, seeking the better life enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of their relatives already there.

But now Kosovo and other Balkan countries are declared to be safe – allowing Germany and other countries to send back their failed asylum seekers – and furthermore, they have become partners in the task of protecting the EU, which is again exporting its need for security somewhere else instead of facing the challenge head-on.

Three billion euros to Turkey is a big and very visible package of aid to help dampen the refugee crisis, while Balkan smugglers in Macedonia or Albania are already preparing for big business and EU flags are nowhere to be seen there when it comes to managing the massive influx of people.

EU members are helping Macedonia and other post-Yugoslav countries on a bilateral basis, sending equipment and police and hoping it will be enough to stop the nightmare.

During the debates in Pristina last week it was clear that the Balkan countries, with all their flaws and instability, are well aware that the situation could be dangerous for them as well.

Elections are coming up this spring in Serbia and Macedonia. If Europe closes its borders – as some Central European EU member states (and some German politicians) counsel – migrants would begin to back up in those countries. In that scenario it would be only a matter of time before the migrant issue became ripe for misuse during the electioneering.

According to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the EU has only until March to solve the refugee issue before the Schengen passport-free area collapses.

Kosovo and Bosnia are coping with domestic Islamic radicalization and the whole region is watching as the security vacuum left in the Balkans by the West in the last few years is filled by Turkey and its more or less visible presence.

Bruno Macaes’s view on the balkanization of Europe includes one delicate element: The EU’s ability to act is paralyzed not only by its own political fragility and complexity, but also by the frequently fallacious use of politically correct language.

The old members are accusing the new ones and prospective Balkan incomers of rising xenophobia and nationalism – thus helping to re-create the old East-West divide – at the same time as they team up with the authoritarian Turkish president. With Turkey being a long-time EU membership candidate, post-communist politicians might feel that double standards are being applied.

The collision of these two contradictory and hypocritical approaches could occur in the fragile states of the (western) Balkans. That could prolong and deepen the political stalemate in Macedonia between government and opposition or endanger the functioning of the new war-crimes tribunal in Kosovo.

This divisive European approach is not a new one. We saw it applied during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo 20 years ago. Those conflicts were decided by the involvement of American realpolitik, not by Europeans. And we now witness again the same European blindness towards reality on the ground.
Martin Ehl
 
is the foreign editor of the Czech daily 
Hospodarske noviny. He tweets at @MartinCZV4EU.

The Warship To End All Battles


Britain's naval elite design their ideal stealth ship
Courtesy/copyright 2015 Startpoint
In 1906, the Royal Navy rendered all other battleships obsolete when it unveiled the HMS Dreadnought: a steam-powered fighting vessel with 12-inch guns and cement-reinforced armor. This past summer, British naval engineers revealed a vision of its successor, the Dreadnought 2050.
The stealthy, semisubmersible ship is designed to move agilely around a battle zone and remain flexible in any type of mission, says Mark Steel, a manager of the Combat Systems Team at BMT Defence Services, a naval design firm involved in the project.
The battleship could function with a crew as small as 50, as opposed to the usual 200. It would serve as a mobile command center, unleashing and directing armies of drones, missiles, and rovers. “Robotics allows us to operate the ship at range to keep people out of harm’s way,” Steel says.
Here are its components:

1. Moon Pool

The moon pool—a floodable dock area at the ship’s stern—would allow for the rapid deployment of unmanned underwater rovers or Royal Marine divers.

2. Drone Launcher

An extendable flight deck and hangar would enable the launch of remotely piloted drones, many of which could be 3-D-printed on board.
Courtesy/copyright 2015 Startpoint

3. Tethered Quadcopter

Above the ship, a hovering quadcopter would provide 360-degree visibility. Its sensors could capture emissions at frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum to detect enemy ships. A cryogenically cooled tether made of carbon nanotubes would transmit energy from the ship to keep it flying. Also, the quadcopter could be equipped with lasers that could take out close-range threats, such as enemy missiles, craft, or pirates that have slipped past the ship’s other defenses.

4. See-Through Strength

The ship’s hulls would be made of ultra-strong acrylic coated in graphene (the material’s hydrophobic properties cut down on drag). “Smart windows” would change to translucent when a certain amount of voltage is applied, allowing unobstructed views of close-in operations.
Courtesy/copyright 2015 Startpoint
In addition to the main hull, two outrigger hulls, or armas, would contain tubes for launching torpedoes.

5. Stealth Propulsion

To propel the ship, a fusion reactor (or, if that fails to materialize, highly efficient turbines) would drive silent electric motors. Dreadnought would also be the first surface fighting ship able to use ballast to lower parts of the ship below water, making it harder to detect with radar or infrared.

6. Holo-Op Room

Inside the Dreadnought’s control room, commanders could zoom in and out of battles using a holographic command table. This would offer a 3-D view of a battle in real time from any vantage point—in the air, on the ocean’s surface, on land, or even underwater.
Courtesy/copyright 2015 Startpoint

7. Firepower Trifecta

First, the ship would be armed with hypersonic missiles capable of knocking out would-be attackers.
Second, it would have super-cavitating torpedoes. These rocket-propelled weapons move so fast, they vaporize the water around them to create a nearly frictionless air bubble. These could pursue enemy ships at speeds of 300-plus knots.
Third, an electromagnetic railgun could fire projectiles hundreds of miles, comparable to today’s long-range missiles.