Archive for March, 2010

March 16, 2010

Israel gambles away its European allies

YOU REALLY HAVE TO wonder if Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thought everything through. Now that his decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, which his government actually announced during a peace mission by Vice President Joe Biden, has led to a serious rift with the U.S. government, Israel’s other so-called allies are also feeling emboldened to tell Jerusalem what they really feel about the Jewish state.

A case in point: On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received Lebanese minister president Saad Rafik Hariri in Berlin. At a press conference after the meeting, Merkel spoke of a “serious setback” for the Middle East peace process. “I hope that in the future the signals from Israel will be constructive and no longer so negative, that they prevent the realization of such discussions,” she said. “We believe that there is a time window that is not endlessly large.”…

Continued…

Advertisements
March 16, 2010

Germany’s Catholic sex scandal reaches Pope Benedict

A CATHOLIC MASS ISN’T normally a debating society, but sometimes enough is simply enough. At Sunday mass at the parish church in the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz, a pastor’s unspeakable past finally caught up with him. It was revealed last week that Pastor Peter H., who had been providing pastoral care at the church for the past two years, had been tried and convicted of sexual abuse in 1986. Not only had this conviction been kept secret, but the priest’s superior at one time – Joseph Ratzinger, the former Archbishop of Munich who is today better known as Pope Benedict XVI – had knowingly moved this known pedophile from parish to parish. He was finally sent to Bad Tölz in 2008 under the condition that he engage in no “children’s, youth, or altar boy work.” However, he did end up conducting two children’s services at the church and also took part in youth retreats.

As far as anyone knows, Peter H. did “nothing, absolutely nothing” wrong during his previous twenty-one year tenure in the town of Garching, nor is anything known about any inappropriate activities in Bad Tölz…

Continued…

March 12, 2010

My three questions for Karl Rove

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE me, you are frequently frustrated by interviews with important public figures that fail to ask the right questions. I found myself feeling this way yet again while watching an interview that BBC correspondent Kirsty Wark conducted with former Bush adviser Karl Rove on her “Newsnight” program yesterday. (You can watch the interview HERE.) Rove came on the show to tout his new memoir, Courage and Consequence.

When the discussion got around to the use of waterboarding against terror suspects…

Continued…

March 11, 2010

Berlin’s Keystone kasino krooks

Security guard Roman H. giving one of the casino raiders a half nelson

COMEDIAN JAY LENO ONCE delighted millions of “Tonight Show” viewers with his “stupid criminals” routine, where he would highlight the week’s most pitiful heists and holdups for his audience’s amusement. But if he had just looked beyond America’s shores he could have created an entire show around the subject.

For example: On the night of February 24, 2004, Germany’s most woebegone gang raided the city’s second-largest casino, located at the Park Hotel on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz…

Continued…

March 11, 2010

EU: Air passengers to pay for nude scanning “privileges”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! NOT ONLY is the European Union introducing so-called nude scanners at most or all of its international airports, it also intends to make passengers pay for the privilege of doing a virtual striptease before uniformed strangers. (I have already written about the nude scanners here and here.) That is the upshot of a meeting of EU transportation ministers held in Brussels today. The “backscatter full-body scanners” cost up to €100,000 ($136,000) each, which makes them far too expensive for airports to finance by themselves and also too expensive for strapped national budgets. Germany’s transportation minister Peter Ramsauer told reporters that “it is a rather odd philosophy to saddle the governments with everything. … The ordinary taxpayer can’t assume all these costs [because] it contradicts cost-transparency and cost-reflectiveness. And I’m saying that as a trained businessman.” The ministers have not yet decided how much each scan should cost, but they have agreed the price should be made equal across Europe.

Brussels has yet to decide whether the scanners should be required at all European airports…

Continued…

March 9, 2010

Is International Women’s Day obsolete? A German feminist thinks so

German feminist Alice Schwarzer

EVEN AS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S Day, which turned ninety-nine yesterday, is being honored in more and more countries around the world (including the United States of all places), a veteran German feminist is now arguing that it should be tossed onto the dungheap of history along with such obsolete holidays as the Kaiser’s birthday and East Germany’s “Day of the National People’s Army.” None less than Alice Schwarzer, editor of the feminist magazine EMMA, wrote on her website yesterday that the holiday “has nothing to do with emancipation.” …

Continued…

March 8, 2010

Berlin meets the Mob

IT’S THE KIND OF story you would sooner expect to find in the pages of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale than in the local section of Berlin’s daily newspapers. Last Saturday afternoon, between four and seven masked men armed with revolvers and at least one machete stormed Berlin’s Grand Hyatt Hotel on Potsdamer Platz during a high-stakes poker game. They went straight for the cashier and filled their sacks with up to € 250,000 in cash. A brief panic ensued and several guests were slightly injured. “I was sitting at the table when suddenly the crowd jumped to their feet,” one young player told journalists. “Everybody started running, but nobody knew what was going on.”…

Continued…