World History

Man Of The Year 2016

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Sep 12, 2016

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s acceptance speech after receiving the “Person of the Year” award [full text in English]

September 7, 2016, Krynica-Zdrój

Good evening, everyone. May I ask your permission to speak my wonderful native Hungarian language?

Allow me to welcome the Prime Minister of Poland, President Kaczyński, the honourable members of the Polish government and representatives from Polish politics and Polish business. I listened to the laudation: if my father were here, he would be proud of me; if my mother were here, she would have believed every word.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When one receives an award, the first thing one must do is look around to see if there was some mistake. It seems that there was no mistake, and this award was indeed intended for me. This is despite the fact that, had you asked me about this, I would have been able to suggest a number of other excellent candidates, as the past few years have signalled the great initial steps of Central Europe finally finding its feet and the beginning of its renaissance. There are some excellent colleagues of mine in the V4 who could have been the person of the year – but without doubt I am the most senior of them, as I have been a Member of Parliament for twenty-six years and have been Prime Minister for a combined total of eleven years. So I gratefully accept the award with the greatest respect.

We must then ask the question: why was the person honoured in this way given the award? I am convinced that while awards are given to individuals, they are, in fact, given in recognition of causes: certain specific causes. And it is in the nature of causes that they can be represented through individuals. We have heard many things just now. I myself have trouble listing all the causes to which I have rallied over the past three decades: national independence, “Soviets, go home”, freedom, finding our way back to the West. But if I consider more carefully exactly why I have been given this award now, and what cause you have acknowledged with this award, I feel you must have acknowledged the cause of Central Europe. I am convinced that the cause which I stand for is that the Central European nations must preserve their identities, their religious and historical national identities. These are not just outdated pieces of clothing that one should discard in the modern era, but armour which protects us, in which we may engage in battle, which helps us to survive, and which may eventually make us successful. Believe me we are on the verge of some great times, and our whole continent is undergoing a process of transformation. The communities which will be successful, survive and be strong are those with strong identities: religious, historical and national identities. This is what I stand for, and this is what I am trying to protect. I regret to say that we must do so from time to time not only against the faithless and our anti-national rivals, but also from time to time we must do so against Europe’s various leading intellectual and political circles. But we have no choice: we must protect our identities – Polish, Hungarian and Central European identities – in the face of everyone; because otherwise there will be no room for us under the sun.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the award I see recognition of this cause. If you will allow me, I would say one other thing as a Hungarian to the Polish people. I am a country boy, and this has protected me from a lot of things in life, and a lot of trouble – but most of all from seeking to make politics unnecessarily complicated. Those who say that politics is about interests, calculation and cunning are right – and there is some truth in this. But let me tell you that politics does not work without friendship – not in your own party, in your own country, or in Central Europe. Polish-Hungarian relations will not be good if there is no friendship behind them, and if there are no personal friendships between the two peoples and the leaders of the two peoples. We Hungarians greatly appreciate friendship, as here in Europe we are an alien nation, without relatives: no one speaks our language, no one can read our literature, no one understands our culture; we are a strange people without relatives. A nation like this can indeed appreciate friendship. This is why, despite all difficulties, the Hungarian people value the Polish people’s friendship more than any of the friendships they have with the nations of the world. So while I appreciate that this award is given in recognition of a good cause, as far as I am concerned and as far as the Hungarian people are concerned, the value of this award is greatly enhanced by the fact that I have received it from the Polish people, and as a token of friendship.

Categories: Hungary | Leave a comment

America Week, Veszprem Hungary 2016

The Father of The America Week Program is Dr. Scott M. Campbell, Professor and Chair in Philosophy, Director of the American Studies Program in Arts & Sciences, at Nazareth College, Rochester, New York.

Dr. Campbell’s teaching and research interests focus on the philosophy of life. He was a Fullbright Scholar at Pannon University in Veszprem, Hungary.

 https://www2.naz.edu/dept/american-studies/faculty-staff/scott-campbell

Being a Fulbright scholar in Hungary led to:

  • The creation of Nazareth’s master’s program in American Studies (with the option to study abroad at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Pannonia in Veszprém, Hungary)
  • Connecting Nazareth education students with opportunities to gain teaching experience in Hungary
  • The creation of America Week at Pannon University,  an annual international conference on American Studies that continues to draw Nazareth faculty and students to Veszprem, Hungary to present papers. The first America Week Celebration was in 2007.
    This year marked the 9th America Week in Veszprém, Hungary.
  • Attracting Hungarian faculty and students to Nazareth. In 2013, Nazareth hosted 20 Hungarian students and three Hungarian faculty. The head of the Institute for English and American Studies in Veszprém, Dr. Szilárd Szentgyörgyi, received a Fulbright award to go to Nazareth for the August 2015- May 2016 academic year. His Project Title is Developing American-Hungarian Relations via Teaching.

    Developing American-Hungarian Relations via Teaching – See more at: http://www.cies.org/grantee/szilard-szentgyoergyi#sthash.BqWIxyIo.dpuf

  •  http://www.cies.org/grantee/szilard-szentgyoergyi

The above symbol speaks volumes. It visually represents the goals of the American Corners and the desire of the U S State Department spread American Culture all over Hungary.

The  main focus is to strengthen international relations between Hungary and the United States of America through its American Corners, America Week Celebration, and other programs.

The America Week is helping to create “a foundation of trust” between the Hungarian people and the American people.

This foundation can be built upon to form social, political, and economic ties to the Hungarian people. We wish to combat the notions perpetrated by Hollywood movies and the pop culture hip-hop and rap artists that the average Americans are shallow, violent, and godless. We wish to foster the notion that Americans have such values as loyalty, patriotism, family, faith, and the desire for education in common with the Hungarian people.

We wish to reach every level of Hungarian Society, and particularly the influential members of that society, who can not be reached through traditional diplomatic means , channels, and functions.

We want to encourage the use of the English language to communicate in every day discourse, and promote the reading of English books for leisure and for scholarship. Through the weekly Conversation Clubs and Book Clubs this is regularly and routinely promoted. All of these efforts combine and coalesce during the America Week with a special emphasis so as to grow together into a single mass.

An all-star cast cannot guarantee a blockbuster show. It helps, but the purpose and fundamental reason for the show must never be forgotten. It was a good week but not a great week.

America week should be great and memorable. It should be great because of who was there; and, it should be memorable because of what was said. It should be a life changing experience,  a rite of passage, something that people and students will talk about for years to come. It should be a high point of a student’s college education experience. 

One student at Pannon University once told me that she had decided that she wanted to be a lawyer because of something that I had said at an America Week presentation. And, she was already finishing up her second year of collage. 

Not every student will have that great of an experience; they might not experience a rapture or an epiphany, but they should take away something greater than what they experience from their regular curriculum, something  that they cannot experience in the normal nine to twelve months of classes and activities. 

Their America Week experience should be something they will remember a long time if not forever. It should be remembered like “Woodstock” or like the “Montraux Jazz Festival”. They should be able to calibrate their memories by what they did or heard at, for example, the 2010 America Week, or at the 2015 America Week. They should be inclined to talk of fun memories and reminisce, as in  “where we you in your life during the 2012 America Week?”; or, what do you remember most about the year that Ambassador Colleen Bell spoke at the America Week Celebration about the need for a new generation of bold and beautiful women to step out onto the world stage.

This was the 9th America Week Celebration in Veszprém, Hungary. This year’s program was most notable by who was not at the celebration than by who was.The appearance of the American Ambassador or the Charge’ de Affaires highlights the importance given to America Week and the significance that the American State Department attributes to the program. Including accomplished and high level personnel in the program adds even more symbolic importance to the basic concept of this concentrated week of cultural exchange.

Dr Scott Campbell, Dr Monica Weiss (pictured, below), and no other professors or teaching assistants from Nazareth College were there.

    (Dr. Monica Weis, SSJ from Nazareth College)

America Week should be more than just business as usual. The programs should not be more of the same. The classes, clubs and school visits that are standard fare and randomly occur on an ad hoc basis all year long should not be served up during this hyper-emphasized week as a feast.

It is notable, however, that good use was made of Americans living in Hungary while on Fullbright Scholarships as special teaching assistants, such as, Susanne Liaw from San Bernadino, California. (http://smdp.com/smmusd-teacher-wins-fulbright-scholarship/150137)

        ( Above, Ambassador Colleen Bell)

Ambassador Colleen Bell at US Embassy Budapest, Hungary was not present; neither was her Charge’ de Affaires.

When Ambassador April Foley (above) was unavailable, she would send her Charge’ de Affaires, Mr. Jeffrey Levine (below).

Mr Jeffrey Levine even gave special presentations and made himself  available for several days.

The Cultural Attache’, Carolynn Glassman, Cultural Attaché at US Embassy Budapest (below) attended all of the America Week Celebrations during her tenure as Cultural Attache’.

When their duty schedules would permit, they would stay for several days and mingle with the students and other presenters.

 

American Corner Veszprém and the English and American Studies Institute, University of Pannonia, held their annual America Week program series in Veszprém from May 2-6. The programs included presentations on various U.S.-related topics by university faculty and students, a photo exhibition, concerts, a theater evening and more.

                                         

                             

Please see the links to the detailed programs for each day.

  • OPENING CEREMONY

    Date and time: May 2, 2016, 4:00 pm

    Venue: Aula, Building B, University of Pannonia (H-8200 Veszprém, Egyetem utca 10.)

    – Welcoming remarks given by representatives of the University of Pannonia and the American Corner

    – Keynote speech delivered by Christopher MACHIN, Cultural Attaché at US Embassy Budapest

    – Musical performance by Zsolt FARKAS, Snétberger Music Talent Center

    – Opening of an ART EXHIBITION:

    László KONDOR: Architectural Images of Chicago, IL, USA

    Art and life can take strange turns. Hungarian born Kondor is better known for decades in the United States as a conflict and political photographer. This exhibition – a masterly body of vintage photographs from the 1960s-1980s of Chicago public art and architecture – has been long hidden from view.

    It was in 1961 that Kondor arrived in the City of Chicago. The photographer was awe-inspired by the unique and extraordinary architecture of Chicago, the birth-place of the modern skyscraper. He prowled this new landscape for decades, creating a prodigious number of photographs. It was a personal journey of discovery. The images illuminate the quintessential urban worlds. All of them reveal the ferocious curiosity of the outsider in this most American city.

    Courtesy of the Artist, László Kondor, all rights reserved

May 2 program: http://veszprem.americancorner.hu/event/america-week-day-1

  • STUDENT PANEL

    Date and time: May 3, 2016, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

    Venue: Kisfaludy Room, Eötvös Károly County Library (H-8200 Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.)

    – Áron ROZGONYI: “Color Blind or color Brave?” The Cultural Set-up of the National Basketball Association

    Dóra SCHUCK: President Obama’s Visit to Cuba

    Anett TÓTH: The Effects of Social Media on Our Language Use

    Zsófia SZALKAI: Language in Motion: A Multilingual Community

    Kinga DÉR: Teachers in the Harry Potter Series

    Tamás TÓTH: Gothic Settings: From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire

    Bence ZUBOR: The Unprecedented Presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt

    FACULTY PANEL

    Date and time: May 3, 2016, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

    Venue: Kisfaludy Room, Eötvös Károly County Library (H-8200 Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.)

    Dr. Andrea M. NOEL (University of West Hungary, Fulbright scholar): Best practices for supporting the early literacy and language development of young children in US preschools

    Susanne LIAW (University of Debrecen, Wáli István Roma Residential College, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant): “How’d you end up in South Central, miss?”: An urban educator’s perspective on educational trends and equity in the USA

    Boglárka FALUSSY (EducationUSA Adviser): Why study in the US? An introduction to US higher education

    AMERICAN EVENING

    Date and time: May 3, 2016, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

    Venue: Historia Hangvilla Restaurant (H-8200 Veszprém, Brusznyai utca 2.)

    Bianka KŐSZEGI: Working in a Summer Camp in the U.S.

    Boglárka FALUSSY (American Corner director, IVLP alumna): My Journey Through America

    – socializing, board games, quizzes

    – Concert: OKLAHOMA COUNTRY BAND

    ADVANCED REGISTER FOR THE AMERICAN EVENING IN ADVANCE AT VESZPREM@AMERICANCORNER.HU OR IN THE AMERICAN CORNER!

May 3 program: http://veszprem.americancorner.hu/event/america-week-day-2

STUDENT PANEL

Date and time: May 4, 2016, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Venue: Kisfaludy Room, Eötvös Károly County Library (H-8200 Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.)

Eszter FARKAS: “Kód”-Switching on Facebook

Viktória KISS: Disney Princesses and Role Models for Femininity

Tímea KOVÁCS: Star Trek, the Edenic Tradition in the American Mind, and the Jeremiad

Alexandra GYIMESI, Vivien SZIBLER, Éva FORINTOS: Analysis of the Blue Paper from a Contact Linguistic Point of View

Zsófia SZALKAI, Éva FORINTOS: Visual and Linguistic Features of Bilingual Advertisements

Dalma RÁBAI, Dóra SKRINYÁR, Éva FORINTOS: The Contact Linguistic Study of the Newspaper titled: “The Messenger”

Csilla MOLNÁR: Marriage in 19th Century Women’s Fiction

FACULTY PANEL

Date and time: May 4, 2016, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Venue: Kisfaludy Room, Eötvös Károly County Library (H-8200 Veszprém, Komakút tér 3.)

Adriana TODEA (“Babes Bolyai” University, Faculty of Letters, Department of English Language and Literature, Cluj-Napoca, Romania): Language and Culture

 – Andrea SZABÓ (University of Pannonia, Faculty of Modern Philology and Social Sciences, English and American Studies Institute): The Western Reborn

 – Sándor CZEGLÉDI (University of Pannonia, Faculty of Modern Philology and Social Sciences, English and American Studies Institute): Language Policy and Party Politics in the United States: A retrospective look

 – Ildikó HORTOBÁGYI (University of Pannonia, Faculty of Modern Philology and Social Sciences, English and American Studies Institute): The Americas in the New Media

THEATER EVENING

Date and time: May 4, 2016, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Venue: Latinovits-Bujtor Studio Theater (H-8200 Veszprém, Iskola utca 2.)

At the 9th America Week in Veszprém, there was a theater evening to highlight American culture. The play “The War Room” was performed by Confuse-a-Cat Ltd. from Debrecen. The play is based on Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, adapted to stage by Gergely Falvassy, directed by Péter Szurdoki. Thank you to the troupe for a fantastic performance!

“THE WAR ROOM”, based on the motion picture screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George, adapted to stage by Gergely Falvassy and Confuse-a-Cat Ltd.

Performed by: Confuse-a-Cat Ltd., University of Debrecen

Admission is free, but please REGISTER IN ADVANCE FOR THE THEATER EVENING AT VESZPREM@AMERICANCORNER.HU OR IN THE AMERICAN CORNER!

May 4 program: http://veszprem.americancorner.hu/event/america-week-day-3

  • ENGLISH CONVERSATION CLUB

    Day 4 (Thursday) of America Week featured the American Corner’s regular English Conversation Club, this time with a twist: a short concert by Lovassy Chamber Orchestra in the Exhibition Hall in the Library (next to the American Corner). Join the program, develop your English skills and enjoy the music!

    Date and time: May 5, 2016, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

    Venue: American Corner Veszprém

    CONCERT by LOVASSY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

    Date and time: May 5, 2016, 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm

    Venue: Exhibition Hall, Eötvös Károly County Library

May 5 program: http://veszprem.americancorner.hu/event/america-week-day-4

  • USA Basics Study Circle

    Date and time: May 6, 2016, 10:55 am – 11:40 am

    Venue: Lovassy László High School

    The American Corner offered a special English class for a group of students in Lovassy László High School. The students will learn interesting and useful facts about the USA through an interactive quiz.

    America Week was closed with some of the greatest American musicians at the Music Club – Special Edition program in Eötvös Károly Megyei Könyvtár. Thank you, Krisztián Kindler, for putting together a great selection of songs and telling us interesting stories and fun facts about the musicians, from B. B. King’s guitar to Johnny Cash’s prison concerts!

    Zenei Klub a könyvtárban – amerikai különkiadás

    2016. május 6-án, pénteken 16.30 órától

    az Eötvös Károly Megyei Könyvtár

    Közösségi terében

    (Veszprém, Komakút tér 3., III. emelet)

    A Zenei Klub május elején különkiadással jelentkezik. Az Amerikai Kuckóval együtt hívunk minden érdeklődőt az ”Amerika Hétre”, ahol ezúttal a 20-21. századi amerikai könnyűzene számos kiemelkedő alakjának egy-egy dala is felhangzik a közel két órányi válogatásban: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Public Enemy, Lauryn Hill, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, B.B. King, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash – csak néhány név a változatos programból.

    Továbbá a Zenei Klubba érkezők kvízjátékban is részt vehetnek, ahol értékes nyeremények várnak a legügyesebbekre.

    Klubvezető: Kindler Krisztián

    Helyben történő regisztrációt követően a rendezvény látogatása ingyenes.

    A program során a könyvtár állományában megtalálható dokumentumokat mutatjuk be.

    Szeretettel várunk minden kedves érdeklődőt!

May 6 program: http://veszprem.americancorner.hu/event/america-week-day-5

Some of the programs required registration at veszprem@americancorner.hu or in American Corner Veszprém.

Admission was free to all of the programs.

 

 

Categories: Hungary | Leave a comment

Immigration As An Act Of War, Dawn Of The New World Order

In Defense of Christianity

Having ignored their inheritances, America and Europe wonder why their houses are falling apart.

The death of Europe and America (as we know it) are in sight. Still hazy and not yet inevitable, but nevertheless visible and drawing nearer—like a distant planet in the lens of an approaching satellite. Western Civilization is reaching its end not because of its sclerotic economy, or stagnant demography, or the dysfunctions of the superstate. Nor is the real cause the massive influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants. Hussein Obama, The Beneficent, and Angela Merkel, The Iron Butterfly, have orchestrated the peaceful invasion of their own countries by a Muslim Horde still fighting the Last Crusade. The ultimate absurdity is that all this has been done without firing a shot. This invasion of desperate displaced mostly young men of military age is just the latest stiff breeze against the timber of a desiccated (ie, dried up, morally empty or bankrupt, lacking passion) civilization.

Europe and America no longer believe in the Great Commandment to love yourself. Unless you can love yourself first, then you are incapable of loving your neighbor or anyone else. Christ never taught that self-love is wrong or evil. It is the Second Greatest Commandment in Christendom and Judaism; the First being that you should love God with all your heart, mind, and strength.

Europe is dried up and dying because it has become morally incompetent. It isn’t that Europe stands for nothing. It’s that it stands for shallow things, shallowly. Europeans believe in human rights, tolerance, openness, peace, progress, the environment, pleasure. These beliefs are all very nice, but they are also secondary.

Americans and Europeans no longer believe in the good things in their own history. All they see in their own history is the despicable and the destructive. Manifest Destiny was a license to kill, maim, maul and destroy. To bring culture, Christianity, and civilization to the New World was to rape, pillage and commit genocide.They no longer believe in absolutes; good or bad, right or wrong. The cavalry no longer rides in at the last minute and saves the day.  Saint George may not have had the absolute moral authority to slay that evil Dragon.

What Europeans no longer believe in are the things from which their beliefs spring: Judaism and Christianity; liberalism and the Enlightenment; martial pride and capability; capitalism and wealth. Still less do they believe in fighting or sacrificing or paying or even arguing for these things. Having ignored and undermined their own foundations, they wonder why their house is coming apart.

That’s what makes the diplomacy of Angela Merkel, undisputed regent of European foreign policy, so odd and disconcerting. The German chancellor leads a party called the Christian Democratic Union, one of the chief purposes of which is to rally the German right to a reasonable conservatism.

Yet there she was in Istanbul on Sunday, offering a deal in which Europe would agree to visa-free travel for Turks in Europe starting next year, along with quicker movement on Turkish membership in the European Union, if only Ankara will do more to resettle Syrian and other refugees in their own country. Europe would also foot the bill.

This is machtpolitik in reverse, in which the chancellor is begging small favors from weaker powers on temporary matters in exchange for broad concessions with far-reaching ramifications. There are 75 million Turks, whose per capita income doesn’t match that of Panamanians. The country is led by an elected Islamist with an autocratic streak, prone to anti-Semitic outbursts, who openly supports Hamas, denies the Armenian genocide, jails journalists in record numbers, and orchestrates Soviet-style show trials against his political opponents. Turkey also has borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. These would become Europe’s borders in the event of Turkish membership.

This is the country Ms. Merkel proposes to bring into the bosom of Europe. Her apologists will say she’s being disingenuous, but that only compounds the disgrace of her overture.

It also compounds the danger. Could Europe’s liberal political traditions, its religious and cultural heritage, long survive a massive influx of Muslim immigrants, in the order of tens of millions of people? No. Not given Europe’s frequently unhappy experience with much of its Muslim population. Not when you have immigrant groups that resist assimilation and host countries that make only tentative civic demands.

And not when a heedless immigration policy, conducted in fits of moral self-congratulation, leads to the inevitable reaction. In Switzerland on Sunday, a plurality of voters cast ballots for the Swiss People’s Party, known mainly for its anti-immigrant stance. Its sister parties throughout Europe are also the political beneficiaries of the migrant influx, trafficking on legitimate grievances against the postmodern state to peddle illiberal cures. Few things are as dangerous to democracy as a populist with half a case.

It says something about the politics of our day that this column will be condemned as beyond the moral pale. Such is the tenor of the times that it is no longer possible to assert without angry contradiction that Europe cannot be Europe if it is not true to its core inheritance. This is the marriage of reason and revelation that produced a civilization of technological mastery tempered by human decency.

“It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost the capacity for self-love,” a prominent German theologian noted about a decade ago. “All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.”

That’s Joseph Ratzinger, better known as Benedict XVI. He’s out of fashion, which makes him that much more worth hearing. (In part based on, WSJ, Stephens, Bret)

Categories: World History | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Very Beautiful, But How Bold?

New US Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bradley Bell arrived in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The United States’ highest-level diplomatic representation has resumed following an almost two-year period in of absence of an American Ambassador.

(Ambassador Bell being sworn-in in December 2014)

She was received on behalf of the government by Levente Magyar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations (KKM), at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

Mr. Magyar highlighted that the Hungarian government welcomes the ambassador with utmost openness and affection, saying that [the cabinet] “is looking forward to working together with marked optimism”.

The Government is convinced that in the near future, a dialogue will evolve between Hungary and the US which,  will navigate relations in a constructive direction. Economic and military cooperation between the two parties has never been as outstanding and strong as now.

The State Secretary added that with Colleen Bell’s arrival, the United States’ highest-level diplomatic representation has, at long last, resumed, following an almost two-year period in the absence of an US ambassador.

Colleen Bradley Bell (born January 30, 1967) is an American television producer, philanthropist and advocate for the environment, arts and social causes. Bell resided in Los Angeles with her husband, television writer/producer Bradley Bell, and their four children.

On November 6, 2013, Pres. Obama announced his intent to nominate Ms. Bell as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. The nomination was controversial and Senator John McCain called her “totally unqualfied”. On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Senate voted 50-36 to invoke cloture on Bell’s nomination, thus cutting off a Republican-led filibuster. On December 2, 2014, the Senate voted 52-42 to confirm Bell. Bell faced criticisms from Republicans, led by McCain, and commentators over her perceived lack of expertise on Hungary and its current geopolitical situation, as well as for the political nature of her appointment.

Bell was confirmed in December 2014 as the United States Ambassador to Hungary.

(April Foley was President George Bush’s Ambassador to Hungary until 2009)

President Obama’s pick for Ambassador to Hungary, Colleen Bell is a producer for “Bold and the Beautiful” and has raised millions for Obama’s campaign.

 Colleen Bradley Bell, is not only a soap opera producer, she is soap royalty.

Her husband Bradley Bell is scion of soap opera mogul William Bell. The late William Bell worked as a head writer at “Days of Our Lives” before striking gold with his own series “Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless” and the now-defunct “Another World.”

Bell has also served as a Kennedy Center trustee since 2012, alongside Caroline Kennedy, who is U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

She is somebody that the President has confidence will be able to maintain our relationship with the government and the people of Hungary … she was chosen because the President has complete confidence in her ability to represent the United States in Hungary.

When describing her qualifications for the job, the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Hungary cited a “product” she helped develop that is exported to “more than 100 countries, for daily consumption with more than 40 million viewers.”

The product Colleen Bradley Bell produced is the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful.

The big political donor who becomes an ambassador to a relatively small country is something of a Washington punch line and also a tradition. Presidents have done this for decades. But critics say the Obama administration has taken it too far.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bell and Mamet each raised at least $500,000 for President Obama’s campaign in 2012.

At Bell’s confirmation hearing, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked her about America’s strategic interest in Hungary. The answer that followed could best be described as a word soup.

“Well, we have a strategic interest,” she said. “In terms of what are our key priorities, in Hungary. I think our key priorities are to, um, improve upon as I mentioned the security relationship, and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, increase trade …”

McCain wasn’t impressed. He cleared his throat and asked the question again.

“It’s really disgraceful,” said McCain following the confirmation vote, which fell neatly along party lines.

Especially, he says, because Hungary is in a perilous state politically, teetering between the influence of Western democracies and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As for Bell’s qualifications, White House press secretary Josh Earnest grasped for words at yesterday’s press briefing.

“Well she certainly is somebody again, that, that is, has, has had her own distinguished private sector career,” said Earnest.

According to the American Foreign Service Association, in Obama’s second term a little more than 40 percent of ambassador nominees have been political rather than career diplomats. In recent past administrations the share has been less, 30 percent.

When author Kati Marton was 5 years old, growing up in Hungary, the first American she met was the U.S. ambassador. Her parents, journalists, were deemed enemies of the state and jailed, she says.

“Ambassador [Christian M.] Ravndal made a point of looking after my older sister and me who had been left as, well, political orphans,” said Marton, recalling a defining moment in her childhood.

She says he visited them, pulling up in a big Buick with an American flag on the front, a deeply symbolic move in Cold War Hungary.

The American ambassador in countries that are often forgotten by Washington can play an enormous role, a symbolic role, standing in for what America stands for,” said Marton.

Marton is the widow of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and says she knows rewarding donors is part of the way Washington works.

This year the American Foreign Service Association, which represents career diplomats, came out with four simple qualifications for an ambassador.

Relevant international experience,” explains Bob Silverman, the group’s president. “High-level government or other high-level policy articulation experience, good management skills. Good leadership skills.”

He opted not to say whether Bell, Mamet and the other recent donor ambassadors met that standard.

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Hungarian Parliamentarian, Jenő Lasztovicza, Dead At Age 53, Supported Steverson Book Collection

Jenő Lasztovicza  was a Hungarian horticultural engineer, politician and member of the National Assembly (MP) for the Tapolca (Veszprém County Constituency IV) from 1998 until his death in early 2015.

He joined Fidesz in November 1994 and was the Party President in his town from 1998 until his death. He secured a seat as an MP in the 1998 parliamentary elections representing Tapolca. He was the deputy chairman of the Tourism Committee in the 1998–2002 term and was also active on the Regional Development Committee. From 15 July 1999 until the change of government in 2002 he held the position of Chairman of the Board of Tourism, the advisory body on tourism of the Minister of Economy. In the 2002 general elections he was elected incumbent MP for Tapolca in the first round on 7 April. He chaired the Committee on Sport and Tourism from the inauguration of the Parliament on 15 May 2002 to 24 October 2006. He secured a seat as an MP in the 2006 elections representing Tapolca again. He was the Vice Chairman of the Committee on Sport and Tourism.

Lasztovicza died on 8 January 2015, aged 53.

The native form of this personal name is Lasztovicza Jenő(21 December 1961 – 8 January 2015).

(The English equivalent of Jenő is EuGene, also written as Eugene.)

 The “Steverson Collection” of English books is now in the Hungarian public library database. It is the largest collection of English language books in Hungary and possibly even Europe, except for England.

The STEVERSON COLLECTION Book Club is for book lovers.

After the Opening Ceremony of the Steverson Book Collection on 23 April, 2009 the American Corner Veszprem was excited to announce the start of the Steverson Collection Book Club.

 The Club’s aim is to give the reading public a chance to get acquainted with the vast collection of books in the generous donation from Judge London Steverson and his family. This Book Club is run by book lovers, and is for book lovers. The members are at the heart of all the club does. (Find the Steverson Collection at www.ekmk.hu)

(Find the Steverson Collection at www.ekmk.hu)

Prominent Hungarian politicians who paid their respects to Jenő Lasztovicza, included President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Laszlo Kover, Speaker of the Parliament, as well as several cabinet members and political party representatives.

 

The long funeral was on January 8; He died from serious illness.  Representative Tibor Navracsics, EU commissioner spoke of Lasztovicza Eugene as a winner, who started a family and community in Tapolca, Hungary and USA,California,

Rich contribution to the great common treasury

 

QUOTE: (Literal translation into English)

Tibor Navracsics drew parallels between the life and the life of the content. Mentions “a former biological time, which will be given, and in the end there is the great encounter. Contents of life, however, depends on us, “He stressed though Lasztovicza Jeno short life is given. ‘Rich contribution was the great common treasury”, so it lives on in the memory of Tapolca and its surroundings.

The new cemetery tapolca arranged ceremony, Archbishop Peter Cook and tapolca vicar Veszprém Gyula Márfi celebrated prior to the funeral service was held at the funeral Tapolca Roman Catholic church.

Lasztovicza Eugene was born on December 21, 1961 Kiskoros. In 1994 he entered the Fidesz party was a Member of Parliament since 1998, as a member and as vice president of several parliamentary committees were active. Between 2006 and 2014, Veszprém County held the presidency of the General Assembly.

Due to the death of a politician-elections should be around Tapolca. The EP elections should be set for Sunday within 120 days of the vacant seats, according to this last Sunday of May 3, when a choice has to be maintained. This should be set to at least 70 but not more than 90 days from the date of the setting and the day of the vote.

UNQUOTE.

Read more at:

 http://veol.hu/tapolca/folytatnunk-kell-a-harcot-mindazert-a-joert-es-szepert-amiert-lasztovicza-jeno-elt-1673026

 

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Hungary. Trouble In Paradise

 

Rifts Emerge Within Hungary’s Ruling Party

December 30, 2014 | 00:38 GMT

Analysis

Prime Minister Viktor Orban may only have a few months left in office, according to a Dec. 28 report published by Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszava, citing sources close to the ruling Fidesz party. The report describes deep dissatisfaction within the party and a growing sentiment that Orban is an obstacle to success, factors the sources say could lead to a change in leadership following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s planned February visit to Budapest. The report is the latest indication of a growing rift within Fidesz. Although the party won re-election in April and controls two-thirds of the seats in Hungary’s parliament, tensions over Orban’s increasing isolation and disagreements over the country’s foreign policy orientation have increased over the past months. While Hungary’s government is unlikely to collapse anytime soon, the rift within Fidesz presents a challenge to Orban — the party’s popularity is falling and anti-government protests are on the rise.Fidesz, which stands for the Alliance of Young Democrats, originated in 1988 when a group of 37 young students and intellectuals in two university dorms founded the party as a liberal entity. Orban was one these founding members, and by 1994, he was steering the neophyte party toward the right wing of Hungary’s political spectrum. While he was unquestionably the leader of Fidesz throughout the 1990s and 2000s, a group of fellow Fidesz founders and early members played a major role in advising Orban and shaping the party’s policies.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

During his second term as prime minister from 2010-2014, however, Orban started to promote new, younger members of Fidesz to influential posts. Toward the end of the term he was relying on an increasingly small circle of advisors, many of whom were newly appointed officials who lacked significant political or administrative experience. In fact, many of these new appointees owe their positions and political careers to Orban himself. At the same time, many older members of Fidesz were sidelined or relegated to posts outside the country. A number of ministries also had their decision-making authorities removed, further concentrating power in the prime minister’s office and in the hands of Orban’s contracting inner circle. Dependence on this small group, which seldom challenges Orban’s views, has contributed to confusion and frequent changes in policies, alienating many of the party’s veterans and elements of the state apparatus. As Orban has centralized power, many of his political allies have been marginalized, and now they are becoming dissatisfied.

Orban’s suspicious feelings toward the United States have also contributed to rifts within Fidesz. Some party officials, such as founding member and current chairman of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Zsolt Nemeth, have long seen the West in a more positive light. While the United States and Hungary have an uneasy relationship because of concerns over the Fidesz government’s centralization of power, the relationship has only worsened recently. In October, the United States banned six Hungarian nationals, including the head of Hungary’s National Tax and Customs Administration, over corruption charges. Orban responded by publicly pushing department’s head to sue the U.S. charge d’affaires in Hungary. A case was filed in December, and Orban repeatedly made public accusations that the United States is acting against Hungary’s national interest. Moreover, Hungary has continually made attempts to build stronger ties with Russia, even after the outbreak of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine. These foreign policy moves have combined to further alienate Fidesz members who support a Hungarian alliance with Western partners and increased political backing for the government in Kiev.

These reports of growing rifts within Fidesz come at a time when the party’s popularity is waning. Orban was forced to backpedal on a proposal for an internet tax after one hundred thousand Hungarians staged a protest against the plan in October, threatening to undermine the party’s support among its core middle-class constituency. Thousands also rallied against corruption, especially after the government refused to address U.S. concerns regarding corruption in Hungary’s National Tax and Customs Administration. While these protests failed to change Orban’s policies, in the month following the U.S. bans, one poll showed the Fidesz party’s popularity falling by an unprecedented 12 percentage points, demonstrating that strained relations with the United States and ongoing questions over corruption are impacting not only dynamics within Fidesz but also the party’s support among voters.

Despite the reported rifts in the ruling party, a faction capable of challenging Orban’s supremacy has yet to publicly emerge, though there are indications that some of the party’s members are distancing themselves from Orban and maneuvering in anticipation of such a scenario. Although there are doubts about Orban and his small circle of advisors, many Fidesz members have benefited greatly from his rule — both politically and financially. Because of this, they will hesitate to replace him without first building a coalition strong enough to challenge the prime minister. Any contenders will also want assurances that they will not lose their political positions and personal fortunes under a new Fidesz leadership. Orban’s rule may not be over, but the foundation of his power — the Fidesz party machine — has come under threat.

For Hungary, 2015 will see the government strive to avoid international isolation while also facing a host of domestic economic challenges. As a country in the Eurasian borderlands, Hungary has attempted to balance its ties to the West with its relationship with Russia. On one hand, Hungary is a member of both the European Union and NATO, depending heavily on investment and funding from the European Union and its central bank. On the other hand, the Fidesz government has sought to attract investment from Russia in the form of projects that include upgrading its Paks nuclear power plant and supporting the South Stream pipeline project. However, Russia cancelled South Stream and is facing economic troubles of its own, meaning Hungary has less of an opportunity to benefit from its relations with the Kremlin. Orban miscalculated, and now he finds himself struggling to rebalance the country’s foreign alliances.

In a conciliatory gesture to the West on Jan. 1, Hungary will resume reverse natural gas flows to Ukraine after halting them in late September. Nevertheless, with tensions between Hungary and its Western partners still rife, Hungary faces the challenge of avoiding international isolation in 2015.

Politics
nemethzsolt

US-Hungary Relations Are A Marriage In Deep Crisis, Fidesz’s Zsolt Németh Says

Hungary’s international reputation has worsened dramatically during the past half year and in terms of rhetoric, the conflict between the United States and Hungary is becoming dangerously reminiscent of that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Fidesz politician Zsolt Németh, chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, has said in an interview given to the news website Index.

Mr. Németh pointed out that it gives cause for special concern that the situation has also worsened in regions that distinctly stood by Hungary in the previous four years, citing the country’s Central European allies as an example. Concerning the case of Ildikó Vida, the chairman of the National Tax and Customs Administration who is at the centre of the US visa ban affair, he said that it is unfortunately to associate someone with allegations of corruption without providing the possibility to defend oneself, adding that among allies, it can be expected from parties to do everything possible to root out unfounded accusations becoming public.

Commenting on US-Hungarian relations, he drew a comparison with a marriage experiencing a deep crisis. “This is the deepest crisis since the marriage took place, a situation in which the two sides occasionally completely loose their sobriety and thir self-control, such as the case involving Senator McCain. However, I do not believe that all responsibility can be laid on the Americans. It takes two to tango”, Mr. Németh said.

In Mr. Németh’s opinion, the aggravation of disputes between the governments of the United States and Hungary can be attributed fundamentally to questions of security policy, such as NATO, Russia and the South Stream, adding that this is no excuse for the country’s allies to disregard unwritten rules. The situation could be resolved if the West would present Russia with a reasonable political offer, the chairman of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee concluded.

via index.hu
photo: index.hu/Orsi Ajpek

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Dragon Wags Its Tail; China Flexes The Soft Power Of $4 Trillion

21 countries agree to form Asian bank to rival World Bank, and IMF.

The backers of the bank include China and India.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was officially launched Oct. 24 in Beijing. The bank is China’s brainchild and will be headquartered in Beijing with at least $50 billion in capital to start (much of it coming from China).

Twenty other countries signed a memorandum Oct. 24, including India, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Notable absences from the bank include Australia, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

“We have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the AIIB proposal as it currently stands, that we have also expressed publicly.” Jen Psaki, U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman

The U.S. has questioned whether the AIIB will meet international transparency standards. The fund is seen as asoft power” move by China, meant to rival Western-backed funds including the World Bank, IMF and the Asian Development Bank, which operates out of the Philippines.

Oct 24, 2014 (Reuters) – Australia, Indonesia and South Korea skipped the launch of a China-backed Asian infrastructure bank on October 24th as the United States said it had concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders.

China’s $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, both of which count Washington and its allies as their biggest financial backers.

China, which is keen to extend its influence and soft power in the region, has limited voting rights in these existing banks despite being the world’s second-largest economy.

The AIIB, launched in Beijing at a ceremony attended by Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei and delegates from 21 countries including India, Thailand and Malaysia, aims to give project loans to developing nations. China is set to be its largest shareholder with a stake of up to 50 percent.

Indonesia was not present and neither were South Korea and Australia, according to a pool report.

Japan, China’s main rival in Asia and which dominates the $175 billion Asian Development Bank along with the United States, was also not present, but it was not expected to be.

Media reports said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put pressure on Australia to stay out of the AIIB.

However, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Secretary Kerry has made clear directly to the Chinese as well as to other partners that we welcome the idea of an infrastructure bank for Asia but we strongly urge that it meet international standards of governance and transparency.

We have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the AIIB proposal as it currently stands, that we have also expressed publicly.

In a speech to delegates after the inauguration, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the new bank would use the best practices of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

“For the AIIB, its operation needs to follow multilateral rules and procedures,” Xi said. “We have also to learn from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and other existing multilateral development institutions in their good practices and useful experiences.”

PERSONAL LOBBYING

The Australian Financial Review said Kerry had personally asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep Australia out of the AIIB.

Australia has been under pressure from the U.S. for some time to not become a founding member of the bank and it is understood Mr Kerry put the case directly to the prime minister when the pair met in Jakarta on Monday following the inauguration of Indonesian President Joko Widodo,” the paper said.

South Korea, one of Washington’s strongest diplomatic allies in Asia, has yet to say it will formally participate in the bank. Its finance ministry said last week it has been speaking with China to request more consideration over details such as the AIIB’s governance and operational principles.

“We have continued to demand rationality in areas such as governance and safeguard issues, and there’s no reason (for Korea) not to join it,” South Korean Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said in Beijing on Thursday after attending a separate regional meeting.

The Seoul-based JoongAng Daily quoted a South Korean diplomatic source as saying: “While Korea has been dropped from the list of founding members of the AIIB this time around, it is still in a deep dilemma on what sort of strategic choices it has to make as China challenges the U.S.-led international order.”

The AIIB is expected to begin operations in 2015 with senior Chinese banker Jin Liqun, ex-chairman of investment bank China International Capital Corp, expected to take a leading role.

The memorandum of understanding signed on Friday said authorised capital of the bank would be $100 billion and that the AIIB would be formally established by the end of 2015 with its headquarters in Beijing, state news agency Xinhua said.

Takehiko Nakao, the president of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), said the AIIB should function in line with international governance, labour and environmental standards.

“I hope the new bank will adhere to these standards,” Nakao told Reuters in a phone interview.

He acknowledged there was an overlap of the AIIB’s role with that of the ADB.

“But again, because of very big financing needs of the region it is understandable to have a new idea of establishing a bank,” Nakao said, adding: “We will consider the appropriate collaboration after it is really established.”

The ADB, created in 1966, offers grants and below-market interest rates on loans to lower to middle-income countries. At the end of 2013, its lending amounted to $21.02 billion, including co-financing with other development partners.

China has a 6.5 percent stake in the ADB, while the United States and Japan have about 15.6 percent each. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Sonali Paul, Jake Spring, Choonsik Yoo and Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

China pushed ahead with the creation of its proposed $50 billion Asia regional bank by signing a memorandum today with 21 countries, which didn’t include South Korea (005930), Australia and Indonesia.

The proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), first put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October last year, is a key component of China’s efforts to expand its regional influence. The bank, a potential rival to institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, has been opposed by the U.S., which has asked its allies not to participate, the New York Times reported earlier this month.

The 21 “prospective founding member countries” at the signing ceremony included India, Vietnam, Singapore, Qatar, Thailand, Mongolia and Myanmar, according to a pool report of the event. Xi told delegates from the countries that all Asian nations “understand the importance of seeking strength through unity” and the AIIB will welcome participation by all countries either from within or outside of Asia.

“With or without support from the U.S. and its allies, China will continue to push ahead with new institutions, including the AIIB,” said Jin Canrong, a professor at the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. “It would be better to get Australia and South Korea on board, but it won’t hurt too much without them — and the door is still open to them.”

World Bank, IMF

China, with $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, is adopting a “two-leg approach” to grow its own multilateral bodies, including the AIIB, the BRICS Bank and a bank for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, while seeking to strengthen its voice at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, said Jin at Renmin University.

South Korea and Australia attended preparatory talks for the regional bank last month, according to a photo of a meeting on the Chinese Ministry of Finance’s website. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry requested at a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Jakarta this week that Australia not join the bank, the Australian Financial Review reported.

China has held at least five rounds of discussions with interested countries on setting up the lender, according to the China’s finance ministry’s website. At a press conference closing an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation finance ministers’ meeting in Beijing this week, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the AIIB’s focus on infrastructure development in the region will supplement existing agencies, including the ADB and the World Bank, which lean toward poverty reduction.

ADB Collaboration

ADB President Takehiko Nakao said establishing the AIIB was “understandable” given Asia’s huge infrastructure funding needs, and that the ADB would be ready to consider collaboration. Japan has held the presidency of the ADB since the institution was founded in 1966.

“It is vitally important that AIIB adopt international best practices in procurement and environmental and social safeguard standards on its projects and programs,” Nakao said in a statement on the ADB’s website.

At the ADB, Japan and the U.S. are the two largest shareholders, with 15.7 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively. Those two countries have combined voting power of almost 26 percent, compared with China’s 5.47 percent, according to the bank’s website.

Xi said at today’s ceremony that the AIIB will “learn from” good practices at the World Bank and the ADB to become “an inclusive, highly-effective and well-connected economic cooperation platform.”

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D-day, The Deep Sob. A Poetic Tribute by Lorine Parks

 

By Lorine Parks

D day the deep sob

 

ici Londres London calling

invasion forces are massed but where will they land

rumors the German High Command

is told by a double agent embedded in London

expect near St.-Lo

but the Wehrmacht’s bet is Dunkerque the logical place

Rommel goes home for his wife’s birthday

von Runstedt turns his back on Falaise and looks north

 

St.-Lo after four years of Nazi oppression France is hot

in cellars and small backyard sheds

pitchforks are stored and scythes honed

sledge hammers stand handle up on dirt floors which faintly suggest

cider and summer moths and burlap and twine

tonight bicyclettes upside down pedals spinning

generate just enough power to receive if it comes

the signal

ici Londres London calling

 

the weather turns sour bombardments of rain

armada moon lost in salvos of rain

 

waiting grizzled old men the rest have been shot

or conscripted or shipped to German prison camps

farm girls and grand’meres work the fields

and care for the brindled dairy cows

bossies with upthrust horns like crescent crowns

languorous beasts whose sweet and primrose-hued milk

chalky and thin in the pail dilute in the churn

 

on the granite cross in the small village place

see the family names chiseled in gold

husbands and sons morts pour la Patrie

Yves dead first a cadet at Saumur

Jean-Luc with the Free French in Afrique

Mich’ escaped for a while to the underground maquis

the second line of a poem when it comes is the signal

the line will follow the first one

given days ago the deep sobs les sanglots longs des violons sobbing violins

every school child for seventy years has been made to learn this poem

the second line when it comes blessent mon coeur

refer to a wound heart not a blessèd state of grace

the broken couplet made whole

in the vast night hear the deep sob grow

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The Moral Titan Of The Western World Resigns

The prince of this world has claimed another victim. The moral titan of the Western World throws in the towel. Homosexual “marriage,” contraception, sexual promiscuity, euthanasia, pornography, abortion and moral relativism proved too daunting a challenge for the aging pontiff.

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has sent shock waves throughout the USA and Catholic world. He has fought a ceaseless war against sin and moral relativism. He has kept the faith, but he did not finish the course. There is much work to be done. The Holy Father’s eight-year reign was very successful. With his announcement that he will be stepping down at the end of February, the church must find a suitable successor. It will be difficult.

PopeMobile Passes White House

Pope Benedict’s greatest accomplishment is that he put in place an impregnable defense of the culture of life — continuing the mission of his charismatic predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict is more than a gifted manager. He is a brilliant scholar and theologian. He has bravely spoken out against abortion, homosexual “marriage,” contraception, sexual promiscuity, euthanasia, pornography and moral relativism. His worldview can be distilled to one seminal idea: Secular liberalism is a false god and pseudo-religion; the only source of transcendental meaning is the church and Jesus Christ.

Obama Meets Benedict XVI

Many people and politicians see the role of the pope as simply a spiritual father who puts out documents now and then, and can be counted on for a blessing and a photo op with the occasional baby.

Hence, liberals despise him. They are now dancing on his papal grave. Since he ascended to the papacy, the anti-Catholic left has accused him of numerous crimes — being a Nazi sympathizer, fostering the hatred of women and perpetuating “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.” The now-deceased Christopher Hitchens referred to Pope Benedict’s career as having “the stench of evil.” (This from a man who, for years, rationalized communist tyrannies responsible for the slaughter of millions.)

Pope With NASA Astronauts Altman and Massimono

In the eyes of the secular left, the Holy Father’s real crime is he is a genuine Catholic. The pope’s teachings simply reinforced traditional orthodoxy, expressing the tenets of natural law. His views went against trendy progressive opinion. They amounted to restating basic, historic Catholic doctrine, such as homosexual behavior — sodomy — is immoral and unnatural; the family is the central unit of society; marriage consists of one man and one woman; contraception violates the fundamental purpose of sex, which is procreation; human life is sacrosanct from conception until natural death; and that male and female natures are distinct and different. He has consistently excoriated totalitarianism — both communism and fascism. In short, he opposes the culture of death in all of its malignant forms. No wonder liberals hate him.

Pope At WTC Ground Zero New York

Early in his papacy, he criticized radical Islam. Pope Benedict cited a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, pointing out that since its inception, Islam has had periods of violent expansion. For this, enraged protesters took to the streets in cities across the Muslim world, many of them calling for the pope to be killed. The Holy See has repeatedly championed the rights of Christians, especially in Muslim lands. Throughout the Middle East and Asia, Christians are the victims of persecution and pogroms. Yet, as Western leaders remain largely silent about this mass religious expulsion, the pope continues to raise his voice.

Pope AT UN

The topic he returns to repeatedly is the long-term threat posed by moral relativism to the West. It is fostering moral paralysis, hedonism and cultural decline. Ethical standards have been smashed. The doctrine of personal liberation is rampant. In America, the results have been disastrous: the breakdown of the family, skyrocketing divorce rates, a huge rise in illegitimate births, drugs, pornography, the mass murder of nearly 50 million unborn children and an AIDS epidemic that has led to millions of deaths. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating there are 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year. The most common diseases are gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B and HIV. The CDC says the United States faces an “epidemic” of sexually transmitted diseases. We have become Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pope IN Israel

Like John Paul II, Pope Benedict continued to reach out to the Jewish community. Moreover, he began to finally confront and crack down on the sex-abuse scandal that has plagued the church. He apologized to the victims. He stripped pedophile priests of their positions, and started the long, difficult process of healing.

Pope In Africa

For decades, moral relativism — the belief there are no moral absolutes, no enduring principles of right and wrong — has been used as a battering ram to destroy the West’s Christian foundations. In particular, it forms the essence of our postmodern society’s fashionable bigotry: Christophobia. The hatred of Christianity lies at the core of the socialist project. In Europe, Christianity is dying. It is widely viewed as a superstitious institution that existed prior to the Enlightenment. Yet, the extinction of a religion inevitably leads to the destruction of the culture and the civilization it spawned.

The most recent popes have been preparing the Church for leadership in a world the likes of which has not existed in human history. John Paul II was young and had the energy to visit more than 100 countries, taking the leadership of the Church outside the Vatican walls to the world. He was known to almost everyone.

Benedict was 78 when he was elected pope, at a time when he was planning to retire and live quietly in Bavaria with his brother. He made clear from the beginning that he would not keep the same schedule that had helped define his predecessor.

The world has changed significantly, and the Church needs leaders who are more agile, supported by the natural endowments of relative youth. In the past, it might have made sense to nominate an older person who had a wealth of experience. Now, we need leaders who have experience and the ability to engage in a world that changes minute by minute.

Pope Benedict understood this. This is why he has been the West’s spiritual titan. His resignation opens up a moral vacuum. God willing, his successor will be able to fill his giant shoes.

(Selected Excerpts by Jeffrey Kuhner)

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The King Is Dead. Long Live The King.

The King of Africa is dead. Muammar Gaddafi was the de facto King of Africa.

In the aftermath of his death, some are wondering whether the late Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi will be remembered as a martyr instead of a tyrant. Some have pointed to the free health care and subsidized housing in Libya as evidence of Gadhafi’s compassion, as well as his financial support of other African nations. “Mr. Gaddafi was a dictator, but he was a benevolent dictator, whether you like or dislike him,” said French journalist and blogger Moe Seager. “And he gave millions to black African health, educational and agricultural projects.”

Gaddafi Is Now A Martyr. Gaddafi died at the hands of an angry mob aided by a French air strike on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte . It was a shameful spectacle. There is no law and no order in Libya. Shame on the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC). It was a lynch mob. Gaddafi was captured alive. He deserved a trial. Such barbarism is ample evidence of how far man has progressed in his attempt to civilize himself. God help us.

Gaddafi was trying to flee the city in a convoy of cars when they came under attack from NATO jets. The French claimed responsibility for the airstrike. Charred remains of 15 pickup trucks lay burned out on a roadside where Gaddafi’s convoy had attempted to punch through NTC lines. Inside the ruined vehicles sat the charred skeletons.

Unlike Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who was hanged, Gaddafi died on his feet, standing up and fighting back.

“While he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him,” a senior source in the NTC told Reuters news agency. “He might have been resisting.”

Officials said Gaddafi’s son Mo’tassim, also seen bleeding but alive, had also died. Another son, heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as conflicting accounts of the day’s events crackled around networks of NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, spearheaded the Franco-British move in NATO to back the revolt against Gaddafi.

Shortly before dawn prayers on Thursday, Gaddafi, surrounded by a few dozen loyal bodyguards and accompanied by the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr, broke out of the two-month siege of Sirte and made a break for the west.

But they did not get far.

NATO said its warplanes fired on a convoy near Sirte about 8:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), striking two military vehicles in the group, but could not confirm that Gaddafi had been a passenger. France later said its jets had halted the convoy, which was comprised of some 80 vehicles.

By averting a possible dispute in Libya and internationally about where to try him, and denying him a final platform for his trademark lengthy speeches, the summary killing on a desert road is very troubling and unworthy of great powers.

“Gaddafi is now a martyr and thus can become the rallying point for irredentist or tribal violence — perhaps not in the immediate future but in the medium-to-long term,” said George Joffe, a north Africa expert at Cambridge University.

“The fact that NATO can be blamed for his death is worrying, in terms of regional support, and may undermine the legitimacy of the National Transitional Council.”

At the end his so-called friends and allies of convenience deserted him, like Jesus’ disciples and friends before his crucifixion.

The death of Gaddafi is a setback to campaigners seeking the full truth about the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland of Pan Am flight 103 which claimed 270 lives, mainly Americans, and for which one of Gaddafi’s agents was convicted.

Gaddafi loved his green stick.

In the end all of his friends deserted him. US President Barack Obama (R) and Libyan Leader Moamer Kadhafi shake hands during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in L’Aquila, central Italy, on July 9, 2009.

Group of Eight leaders grappled at a summit in Italy with reining in unprecedented government support for their economies as divergences emerged over whether their economies were ready.

Gaddafi at the G8-SUMMIT was with them but not of them. (AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images) AFP/Getty Images)

It’s easy for most of us to take for granted that Gadhafi was an international criminal whose multitude of vicious sins had finally caught up to him. But it’s interesting to note that not all Americans subscribe to that view.

And so, the question lingers: Was Gadhafi a misunderstood revolutionary or a cruel tyrant? Many will say the latter, but your answer most likely depends on your personal view of the media, international relations, and America’s role in the world.

Numerous organizations including the United Nations, the U.S. and UK governments have called for an investigation of the exact circumstances of Gaddafi’s death, amid concerns that it may have been an extrajudicial killing and a war crime.

The UN Human Rights Office spokesperson said that he expects the UN commission already investigating potential human rights abuse in Libya would look into the case. Waheed Burshan, a member of  the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC), said that an investigation should happen.

On 24 October 2011, the NTC announced that it had ordered an investigation in response to the international calls and that it would prosecute the killers if the investigation showed he died after his capture.

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