Western European News Digest
Spain's Zapatero Targetted by Military Coup?
Twice this month Spanish Army officers challenged the legitimacy of the government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and spoke about "marching their troops into the capital to overturn decisions of Parliament." The Prime Minister dismissed and arrested one of the senior Army generals, but a Jan. 24 New York Times editorial, titled, "Army Troglodytes in Spain," pointed out that the Popular Party of former Prime Minister José Maria Aznar "seems more interested in making excuses for the officers." The Popular Party "has had a hard time getting over its electoral defeat nearly two years ago.... It has never really accepted the democratic legitimacy of that vote."
What the Times does not report is that the Popular Party of Aznar (and of IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato) is the party of Spain's former fascist dictator Francisco Franco.
Mayor Voices Fear of Fascism in Wake of French Riots
Mayor Jean Pierre Balduyck of Tourcoing in the north of France stated Jan. 19, "I'm worried, because I feel in the population of this city, that the November events [riotsed] were catastrophic for the Republic's cohesion.... This is not a just a passing depression, it is a profound conviction. I read and hear in France what one heard in 1936-37 in Germany. The Republic is not well, we must redefine the ideals." He continued, "One should not think that the end of those events means the end of their effects in the minds of the public," and cited his meetings with the public and the content of letters which were addressed to him as a reference. The mayor fears a resurgence of the phenomenon of popular support for right-wing anti-immigrant rabble-rouser Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Journalist Exposed as Front for Extreme Right
Jennifer Joan Lee, a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and the neo-con mouthpiece the Washington Times, has recently been promoting French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy in articles such as one entitled "A French Leader with an American Dream." Lee is among those foreign correspondents who contributed to creating the false impression that all France was burning during the November 2005 riots and that the army, helicopters, and police were deployed all over the place, hunting the "Muslim" extremists.
In several of her articles, Lee extensively quoted the secretary general and the president of a police union called Action Police, which is part of a national union, CFTC, whom she had interviewed. Le Monde of Nov. 17 reported that Action Policewhich, just as the riots broke out, was pressuring for the Army to deploy against actions which they claimed were provoked by radical Islamists and criminals in contact with al-Qaedais actually controlled by extreme right-wingers. Its president, Jean Christophe Carme, is the former head of the Independent Professional Federation of Police (FPIP), a union similarly composed.
Charge U.S. Pressuring Reporters To Keep Torture Secret
In releasing his report to the Council of Europe Jan. 24 on whether there are secret detention/torture centers in Europe, Dick Marty, who headed the Council's inquiry, stated that he is sure the American presswhich exposed the CIA torture centers in Eastern Europe in Novemberis withholding information because they have been pressured by the Bush-Cheney Administration government to keep quiet. By the same token, Romania and Poland have denied these torture camps exist, but, Marty states, he is wary of their denials. This, because both countries are part of the Iraq war "coalition of the willing," and "escaped long dictatorships thanks largely to the American intelligence services." Marty plans to continue his probe.
Pope Benedict's First Encyclical in Part Inspired by Dante
All European press and media are prominently reporting on the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, qualified as an important "ecumenical document" and a counterpole to those today who preach the dogma of the "right of the stronger." The encyclical was published Jan. 25 under the title Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"). As the Pope emphasized during a Congress held by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" on Jan. 23-24, it was Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" which inspired him to choose the title. Of special interest for him was the last Canto in Dante's "Paradiso," in which the great early-Renaissance poet uses the notion of light and love to express the Godhead, and comes to the conclusion, that love is the essence of creativity which moves the universe.
The encyclical starts with a reference to the Gospel of John (4:16), "God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him." While pointing out that the term "love" is the most abused these days, the Pope explains the evolution of the three notions of lovein Greek, eros, philia, and agapēand stresses that the word agapē is the most advanced and most adequate notion, which was chosen by the Greek translators of the Old Testament's Hebrew ahaba.
The encyclical attacks Friedrich Nietzsche, who hated Christianity, complaining that under Christianity the notion of eros was poisoned. Instead, says Benedict, man's love for his wife, his family, his friends, his work and nation, originates from the love of God the Creator, in Whose image man is made. Rather than being "selfish" and "egoistic," true love seeks the "good of the beloved." The encyclical reaffirms the importance of the social teachings, and states that the "Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being." It stresses that while it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life, the Church wishes to stimulate greater insight into "building a just social and civil order, in which each person receives what is his or her due."
Official Says Germany Needs Its Own Nukes
Rupert Scholz, German Minister of Defense 1988-1989, has provoked broad outrage in Germany, with remarks in an interview with Bildzeitung Jan. 26 on the option of Germany having nuclear weapons of its own.
Scholz said he was aware that he broke a taboo, adding that "we need to ask ourselves how we could react in an appropriate manner to a nuclear threat from a terror state, and if need be, even by using our own nuclear weapons."
"Without the appropriate guarantees of protection by our partners, the question of our own nuclear deterrent needs to be discussed openly," Scholz said. His remarks (which came not long after French President Jacques Chirac asserted that France could use its nuclear force de frappe if attacked by terrorists, or if its economic lifeline were cut) provoked protests from among all the established political parties in Germany, including Scholz's own Christian Democrats.