Suriname: Truth Knowledge And History Of This South American Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Suriname

Introduction First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government – a four-party New Front coalition – returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since; the coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005.
History European exploration of the area began in the 16th century by Dutch, French, Spanish and English explorers. In the 17th century, plantation colonies were established by the Dutch and English along the many rivers in the fertile Guyana plains. The earliest documented colony in Guiana was by an Englishman named Marshall called Marshall’s Creek, along the Suriname River. At the Treaty of Breda, in 1667, the Dutch decided to keep the nascent plantation colony of Suriname conquered from the English, while leaving the small trading post of New Amsterdam in North America, now New York City, in the hands of the English.

The Dutch planters relied heavily on African slaves to cultivate the coffee, cocoa, sugar cane and cotton plantations along the rivers. Treatment of the slaves by their owners was notoriously bad, and many slaves escaped the plantations. With the help of the native South Americans living in the adjoining rain forests, these runaway slaves established a new and unique culture that was highly successful in its own right. Known collectively in English as the Maroons, and in Dutch as “Bosnegers,” (literally meaning “Bush negroes”), they actually established several independent tribes, among them the Saramaka, the Paramaka, the Ndyuka or Aukan, the Kwinti, the Aluku or Boni and the Matawai.

The Maroons would often raid the plantations to recruit new members, acquire women, weapons, food and supplies. These attacks were often deadly for the planters and their families, and after several unsuccessful campaigns against the Maroons, the European authorities signed several peace treaties with them in the 19th century, granting the Maroons sovereign status and trade rights.

Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Suriname in 1863, but the slaves in Suriname were not fully released until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture. As soon as they became truly free, the slaves largely abandoned the plantations where they had suffered for several generations, in favor of the city, Paramaribo. As a plantation colony, Suriname was still heavily dependent on manual labor, and to make up for the shortfall, the Dutch brought in contract laborers from the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) and India (through an arrangement with the British). In addition, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, small numbers of mostly men were brought in from China and the Middle East. Although Suriname’s population remains relatively small, because of this history it is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the world.

In 1954, the Dutch placed Suriname under a system of limited self-government, with the Netherlands retaining control of defense and foreign affairs. In 1973, the local government, led by the NPK (a largely Creole, meaning ethnically African or mixed African-European, party) started negotiations with the Dutch government leading towards full independence, which was granted on 25 November 1975. The severance package was very substantial, and a large part of Suriname’s economy for the first decade following independence was fueled by foreign aid provided by the Dutch government.

The first President of the country was Johan Ferrier, the former governor, with Henck Arron (leader of the Suriname National Party) as Prime Minister. Nearly one third of the population of Suriname at that time emigrated to the Netherlands in the years leading up to independence, as many people feared that the new country would fare worse under independence than it did as an overseas colony of the Netherlands. Suriname’s diaspora therefore includes more than a quarter of one million people of Suriname origin living in the Netherlands today, including several recent members of the Dutch national football (soccer) team.

On February 25, 1980, a military coup sidelined the democratic government, and with it began a period of economic and social hardship for the country. On 8 December 1982, the military, then under the leadership of Desi Bouterse, rounded up several prominent citizens who were accused of plotting against the government. They were allegedly tortured and certainly killed during the night, and the Netherlands quickly suspended all foreign aid to Suriname after this event. (As of August 2008, Desi Bouterse is currently standing trial in Suriname for his role in these killings.)

Elections were held in 1987 and a new constitution was adopted, which among other things allowed the dictator to remain in charge of the army. Dissatisfied with the government, Bouterse summarily dismissed them in 1990, by telephone. This event became popularly known as “the telephone coup”. Bouterse’s power began to wane after the 1991 elections however, and a brutal civil war between the Suriname army and the Maroons, loyal to the rebel leader Ronnie Brunswijk, further weakened his position during the 1990s.

Suriname’s democracy gained some strength after the turbulent 1990s, and its economy became more diversified and less dependent on Dutch financial assistance. Bauxite (Aluminum ore) mining continues to be a strong revenue source, but the discovery and exploitation of oil and gold has added substantially to Suriname’s economic independence. Agriculture, especially of rice and bananas, remains a strong component of the economy, and ecotourism is providing new economic opportunities. More than 80% of Suriname’s land-mass consists of unspoiled rain forest, and with the establishment of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve in 1998, Suriname signaled its commitment to conservation of this precious resource. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve became a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Geography Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 56 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 163,270 sq km
land: 161,470 sq km
water: 1,800 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
Land boundaries: total: 1,703 km
border countries: Brazil 593 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km
Coastline: 386 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds
Terrain: mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: unnamed location in the coastal plain -2 m
highest point: Juliana Top 1,230 m
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore
Land use: arable land: 0.36%
permanent crops: 0.06%
other: 99.58% (2005)
Irrigated land: 510 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 122 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.67 cu km/yr (4%/3%/93%)
per capita: 1,489 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: deforestation as timber is cut for export; pollution of inland waterways by small-scale mining activities
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: smallest independent country on South American continent; mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that, for the most part, is increasingly threatened by new development; relatively small population, mostly along the coast

Taiwan: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Taiwan

Introduction In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia’s economic “Tigers.” The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China – specifically the question of eventual unification – as well as domestic political and economic reform.
History Prehistory and early settlements

Evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dates back thirty thousand years, although the first inhabitants of Taiwan may have been genetically distinct from any groups currently on the island. About four thousand years ago, ancestors of current Taiwanese aborigines settled in Taiwan. These aborigines are genetically related to Malay and Polynesians, and linguists classify their languages as Austronesian. Polynesians are suspected to have ancestry traceable back to Taiwan.

Han Chinese began settling in Penghu in the 1200s, but Taiwan’s hostile tribes and its lack of the trade resources valued in that era rendered it unattractive to all but “occasional adventurers or fishermen engaging in barter” until the sixteenth century.

Records from ancient China indicate that Han Chinese might have known of the existence of the main island of Taiwan since the Three Kingdoms period (third century, 230 A.D.), having assigned offshore islands in the vicinity names like Greater Liuqiu and Lesser Liuqiu (etymologically, but perhaps not semantically, identical to Ryūkyū in Japanese), though none of these names has been definitively matched to the main island of Taiwan. It has been claimed but not verified that the Ming Dynasty admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) visited Taiwan between 1403 and 1424.

European settlement

In 1544, a Portuguese ship sighted the main island of Taiwan and dubbed it “Ilha Formosa”, which means “Beautiful Island.” The Portuguese made no attempt to colonize Taiwan.

In 1624, the Dutch established a commercial base on Taiwan and began to import workers from Fujian and Penghu as laborers, many of whom settled. The Dutch made Taiwan a colony with its colonial capital at Tayoan City (present day Anping, Tainan). Both Tayoan and the island name Taiwan derive from a word in Sirayan, one of the Formosan languages.

The Dutch military presence was concentrated at a stronghold called Castle Zeelandia. The Dutch colonists also started to hunt the native Formosan Sika deer (Cervus nippon taioanus) that inhabited Taiwan, contributing to the eventual extinction of the subspecies on the island.

Koxinga and Imperial Chinese rule

Naval and troop forces of Southern Fujian defeated the Dutch in 1662, subsequently expelling the Dutch government and military from the island. They were led by Koxinga. Following the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Koxinga retreated to Taiwan as a self-styled Ming loyalist and established the Kingdom of Tungning (1662–83). Koxinga established his capital at Tainan and he and his heirs, Zheng Jing, who ruled from 1662–82, and Zheng Keshuang, who served less than a year, continued to launch raids on the south-east coast of mainland China well into the Qing Dynasty, attempting to recover the mainland.

In 1683, following the defeat of Koxinga’s grandson by an armada led by Admiral Shi Lang of Southern Fujian, the Qing Dynasty formally annexed Taiwan, placing it under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. The Qing Dynasty government tried to reduce piracy and vagrancy in the area, issuing a series of edicts to manage immigration and respect aboriginal land rights. Immigrants mostly from Southern Fujian continued to enter Taiwan. The border between taxpaying lands and “savage” lands shifted eastward, with some aborigines ‘Sinicizing’ while others retreated into the mountains. During this time, there were a number of conflicts between Chinese from different regions of Southern Fujian, and between Southern Fujian Chinese and aborigines.

Northern Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were the scene of an important subsidiary campaign in the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885). The French occupied Keelung from 1 October 1884 to 22 June 1885 and the Penghu Islands from 31 March to 22 July 1885. A French attempt to capture Tamsui was defeated at the Battle of Tamsui (8 October 1884). Several battles were fought around Keelung between October 1884 and March 1885 between Liu Ming-ch’uan’s Army of Northern Taiwan and Colonel Jacques Duchesne’s Formosa Expeditionary Corps. The Keelung Campaign, despite some notable French tactical victories, ended in a stalemate. The Pescadores Campaign was a French victory, but had no long-term consequences. The French evacuated both Keelung and the Penghu archipelago at the end of the war.

In 1887, the Qing government upgraded Taiwan’s status from prefecture of Fujian to full province, the twentieth in the country, with its capital at Taipei. This was accompanied by a modernization drive that included building Taiwan’s first railroad and starting a postal service.

Japanese rule

Imperial Japan had sought to control Taiwan since 1592, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi began extending Japanese influence overseas. In 1609, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent Arima Harunobu on an exploratory mission. In 1616, Murayama Toan led an unsuccessful invasion of the island.

In 1871, an Okinawan vessel shipwrecked on the southern tip of Taiwan and the crew of fifty-four were beheaded by the Paiwan aborigines. When Japan sought compensation from Qing China, the court rejected the demand on the grounds that the “wild”/”unsubjugated” aboriginals (traditional Chinese: 台灣生番; simplified Chinese: 台湾生番; pinyin: Táiwān shēngfān) were outside its jurisdiction. This open renunciation of sovereignty led to a Japanese invasion of Taiwan. In 1874, an expeditionary force of three thousand troops was sent to the island. There were about thirty Taiwanese and 543 Japanese casualties (twelve in battle and 531 by endemic diseases).

Qing China was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), and ceded Taiwan and Penghu to Japan in perpetuity in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Inhabitants wishing to remain Chinese subjects were given a two-year grace period to sell their property and remove to mainland China. Very few Taiwanese saw this as feasible.

On May 25, 1895, a group of pro-Qing high officials proclaimed the Republic of Formosa to resist impending Japanese rule. Japanese forces entered the capital at Tainan and quelled this resistance on October 21, 1895.

The Japanese were instrumental in the industrialization of the island; they extended the railroads and other transportation networks, built an extensive sanitation system and revised the public school system. During this period, both rice and sugarcane production greatly increased. At one point, Taiwan was the seventh greatest sugar producer in the world[citation needed]. Still, the ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese aborigines were classified as second- and third-class citizens. Large-scale violence continued in the first decade of rule. Japan launched over 160 battles to destroy Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes during its 51-year rule of the island …’ Around 1935, the Japanese began an island-wide assimilation project to bind the island more firmly to the Japanese Empire. The plan worked very well, to the point that tens of thousands of Taiwanese joined the Japanese army ranks, and fought loyally for them. For example, former ROC President Lee Teng-hui’s elder brother served in the Japanese navy and died while on duty in February 1945 in the Philippines.

Taiwan played a significant part in the system of Japanese prisoner of war camps that extended across South-East Asia between 1942 and 1945.’ Allied POW’s, as well as ‘women and children as young as seven or eight years old,’ were brutally enslaved at various locations like at the copper mine northwest of Keelung, sadistically supervised by Taiwanese and Japanese. ‘… it was found that, while the Japanese were invariably proud to give their name and rank, Taiwanese soldiers and ‘hanchos’ invariably concealed their names … some Taiwanese citizens … were willing participants in war crimes of various degrees of infamy … young males were to an extent highly nipponized; in fact a proportion in the 1930s are reported to have been actively hoping for a Japanese victory in China … One of the most tragic events of the whole Pacific war took place in Kaohsiung. This was the bombing of the prison ship Enoura Maru in Kaohsiung harbour on January 9, 1945.’

The Imperial Japanese Navy operated heavily out of Taiwan. The “South Strike Group” was based out of the Taihoku Imperial University in Taiwan. Many of the Japanese forces participating in the Aerial Battle of Taiwan-Okinawa were based in Taiwan. Important Japanese military bases and industrial centers throughout Taiwan, like Kaohsiung, were targets of heavy American bombing.

By 1945, just before Japan lost World War II, desperate plans were put in place to incorporate popular representation of Taiwan into the Japanese Diet to make Taiwan an integral part of Japan proper.

Japan’s rule of Taiwan ended when it lost World War II and signed the Instrument of Surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945. But the Japanese occupation had long lasting effects on Taiwan and Taiwanese culture. Taiwanese tend to have a more positive view of Japan than other Asians[citation needed]. Significant parts of Taiwanese infrastructure were started under the Japanese rule. The current Presidential Building was also built during that time. In 1938 there were 309,000 Japanese settlers in Taiwan. After World War II, most of the Japanese repatriated to Japan.

Kuomintang martial law period

On October 25, 1945, ROC troops representing the Allied Command accepted the formal surrender of Japanese military forces in Taihoku. The ROC Government, led by Chiang Kai-shek, announced that date as “Taiwan Retrocession Day”. They were greeted as liberators by some Taiwanese, however, most other Taiwanese who fought against China and the allies for the Japanese war machine greeted them reluctantly, this new generation of Chinese arrivals. The ROC under Chen Yi was very unstable and corrupt; it seized the people’s property and set up government monopolies of many industries. Many problems like this, compounded with hyperinflation, unrest due to the Chinese Civil War, and distrust due to political, cultural and linguistic differences between the Taiwanese and the Mainland Chinese, quickly led to the loss of popular support for the new government. This culminated in a series of severe clashes between the ROC government and Taiwanese, in turn leading to the bloody 228 incident and the reign of White Terror.

In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated from Mainland China and moved the ROC government from Nanjing (then romanised as “Nanking”) to Taipei, Taiwan’s largest city, while continuing to claim sovereignty over all of China, which the ROC defines to include mainland China, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia as well as other areas. In mainland China, the victorious Communists established the PRC, claiming to be the sole representative of China including Taiwan and portraying the ROC government on Taiwan as an illegitimate entity.

Some 2 million refugees from Mainland China, consisting mainly of soldiers, KMT party members and most importantly the intellectual and business elites fled mainland China and arrived in Taiwan around that time. In addition, as part of its escape from Communists in mainland China, the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with many national treasures including gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. This was often used by the PRC government to explain its economic difficulties and Taiwan’s comparative prosperity. From this period through the 1980s, Taiwan was governed by a party-state dictatorship, with the KMT as the ruling party. Military rule continued and little to no distinction was made between the government and the party, with public property, government property, and party property being interchangeable. Government workers and party members were indistinguishable, with government workers, such as teachers, required to become KMT members, and party workers paid salaries and promised retirement benefits along the lines of government employees. In addition all other parties were outlawed, and political opponents were persecuted, incarcerated, and executed.

Taiwan remained under martial law and one-party rule, under the name of the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion”, from 1948 to 1987, when the ROC Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. With the advent of democratization, the issue of the political status of Taiwan has resurfaced as a controversial issue (previously, discussion of anything other than unification under the ROC was taboo).

As the Chinese Civil War continued without truce, the ROC built up military fortification works throughout Taiwan. Within this effort, former KMT soldiers built the now famous Central Cross-Island Highway through the Taroko Gorge in the 1950s. The two sides would remain in a heightened military state well into the 1960’s on the islands on the border with unknown number of night raids and clashes with details that are rarely made public. During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in September 1958, Taiwan’s landscape added Nike-Hercules missile batteries with the formation of the 1st Missile Battalion Chinese Army and would not be deactivated until 1997. Newer generations of missile batteries have since replaced the Nike Hercules systems throughout the island.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ROC began to develop into a prosperous, industrialized developed country with a strong and dynamic economy, becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers while maintaining the authoritarian, single-party government. Because of the Cold War, most Western nations and the United Nations regarded the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China (while being merely the de-facto government on Taiwan) until the 1970s, when most nations began switching recognition to the PRC.

Modern democratic era

Chiang Kai-shek’s eventual successor, his son Chiang Ching-kuo, began to liberalize Taiwan’s political system. In 1984, the younger Chiang selected Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwan-born technocrat, to be his vice president. In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed and inaugurated as the first opposition party in Taiwan to counter the KMT. A year later Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law.

After the 1988 death of Chiang Ching-Kuo, his successor as President Lee Teng-hui continued to hand more government authority over to the Taiwan-born and democratize the government. Under Lee, Taiwan underwent a process of localization in which local culture and history was promoted over a pan-China viewpoint. Lee’s reforms included printing banknotes from the Central Bank rather than the Provincial Bank of Taiwan, and disbanding the Taiwan Provincial Government. Under Lee, the original members of the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly, elected in 1947 to represent mainland Chinese constituencies and having taken the seats without re-election for more than four decades, were forced to resign in 1991. Restrictions on the use of Taiwanese in the broadcast media and in schools were lifted as well. During later years of Lee’s administration, he was involved in corruption controversies relating to government release of land and weapons purchase, although no legal proceedings were commenced, as the investigations were interrupted.

In the 1990s, the ROC continued its democratic reforms, as President Lee Teng-hui was elected by the first popular vote held in Taiwan during the 1996 Presidential election. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, was elected as the first non-KMT President and was re-elected to serve his second and last term since 2004. Polarized politics has emerged in Taiwan with the formation of the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties led by the KMT, favoring eventual Chinese reunification, and the Pan-Green Coalition of parties led by the DPP, favoring an eventual and official declaration of Taiwan independence.

On September 30, 2007, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a “normal country”. It also called for general use of “Taiwan” as the island’s name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China. The Chen administration also pushed for referendums on national defense and UN entry in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which failed due to voter turnout below the required legal threshold of 50% of all registered voters. The Chen administration was also dogged by public concern over reduced economic growth, legislative gridlock due to a pan-blue controlled Legislative Yuan, and alleged corruption controversies involving the First Family.

The KMT increased its majority in the Legislative Yuan in the January 2008 legislative elections, while its nominee Ma Ying-jeou went on to win the presidency in March of the same year, campaigning on a platform of increased economic growth, and better ties with Mainland China under a policy of “mutual nondenial”. Ma took office on May 20, 2008.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Geographic coordinates: 23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 35,980 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,566.3 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Terrain: eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m
Natural resources: small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use: arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75% (2001)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 67 cu km (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes and typhoons
Environment – current issues: air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
Environment – international agreements: party to: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
Geography – note: strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
Politics The ROC is governed under the Constitution of the Republic of China which was drafted in 1947 before the fall of the Chinese mainland to communism and outlined a government for all of China. Significant amendments were made to the Constitution in 1991, and there have been a number of judicial interpretations made to take into account the fact that the Constitution covers a much smaller area than originally envisioned. Previously, the Kuomintang government in Taiwan governed as a one party state, and disallowed the formation of rival parties and many opponents.

Until 1991, the government in Taipei claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of China, which it defined as including Taiwan, mainland China, and outer Mongolia. In keeping with that claim, when the Kuomintang (KMT) fled to Taipei in 1949, they re-established the full array of central political bodies, which had existed in mainland China in the de jure capital of Nanking. While much of this structure remains in place, the President Lee Teng-hui in 1991 unofficially abandoned the government’s claim of sovereignty over mainland China, stating that they do not “dispute the fact that the Communists control mainland China.” However, the National Assembly has not officially changed the national borders, as doing so may be seen as a prelude to formal Taiwan independence (the People’s Republic of China has threatened to start a war if the government of Taiwan formalizes independence). It should be noted that neither the National Assembly nor the Supreme Court has actually defined what “existing national boundaries,” as stated in the constitution, actually is. The latter refused to do so claiming that it is a “major political issue”.

People Population: 22,920,946 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.3% (male 2,057,458/female 1,900,449)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 8,362,038/female 8,204,834)
65 years and over: 10.5% (male 1,167,476/female 1,228,691) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 36.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.238% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.65 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.76 years
male: 74.89 years
female: 80.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example – he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
Ethnic groups: Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Religions: mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Languages: Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.1%
male: NA
female: NA (2003)
Education expenditures: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T’ai-wan
former: Formosa
Government type: multiparty democracy
Capital: name: Taipei
geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China’s Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chuan-shih, singular and plural)
note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
counties: Changhua, Chiayi [county], Hsinchu, Hualien, Kaohsiung [county], Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei [county], Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Yunlin
municipalities: Chiayi [city], Hsinchu, Keelung, Taichung, Tainan
special municipalities: Kaohsiung [city], Taipei [city]
National holiday: Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Constitution: 25 December 1947; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
note: constitution adopted on 25 December 1946; went into effect on 25 December 1947
Legal system: based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President Vincent SIEW (since 20 May 2008)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) LIO Chao-shiuan (since 20 May 2008); Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) Paul CHIU (CHANG-hsiung) (since 20 May 2008)
cabinet: Executive Yuan – (ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
election results: MA Ying-jeou elected president on 22 March 2008; percent of vote – MA Ying-jeou 58.45%, Frank HSIEH 41.55%; MA Ying-jeou takes office on 20 May 2008
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats – 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
elections: Legislative Yuan – last held 12 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2012)
election results: Legislative Yuan – percent of vote by party – KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party – KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1
Judicial branch: Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [TSAI Ing-wen]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [WU Po-hsiung]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [CHANG Po-ya]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Organization for Taiwan Nation Building; World United Formosans for Independence
other: environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups
note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan’s legislature have opened public debate on the island’s national identity; a broad popular consensus has developed that the island currently enjoys sovereign independence and – whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence – that Taiwan’s people must have the deciding voice; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan’s status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, BCIE, ICC, IOC, ITUC, WCL, WFTU, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people of the US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), which has its headquarters in Taipei and in the US in Washington, DC; there are also branch offices called Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in 12 other US cities
Diplomatic representation from the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality – the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) – which has offices in the US and Taiwan; US office at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2162-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2162-2251; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 238-7744, FAX: [886] (7) 238-5237; and the American Trade Center, Room 3208 International Trade Building, Taipei World Trade Center, 333 Keelung Road Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan 10548, telephone: [886] (2) 2720-1550, FAX: [886] (2) 2757-7162
Flag description: red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
Culture The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of Confucianist Han Chinese cultures, Japanese, European, American, global, local and indigenous influences which are both interlocked and divided between perceptions of tradition and modernity (Harrell/Huang 1994:1-5).

After the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists promoted an official interpretation of traditional Chinese culture over the local Taiwanese cultures. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, folk art, and Chinese opera.

Since the Taiwan localization movement of the 1990s, Taiwan’s cultural identity has been allowed greater expression. Identity politics, along with the over one hundred years of political separation from mainland China has led to distinct traditions in many areas, including cuisine, opera, and music.

The status of Taiwanese culture is debated. It is disputed whether Taiwanese culture is part of Chinese culture or a distinct culture. Speaking Taiwanese as a symbol of the localization movement has become an emblem of Taiwanese identity.

One of Taiwan’s greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting and porcelain. The KMT moved this collection from the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1949 when it fled to Taiwan. The collection, estimated to be one-tenth of China’s cultural treasures, is so extensive that only 1% is on display at any time.

Popular sports in Taiwan include basketball and baseball. Cheerleading performances and billiards are quite fashionable. Badminton is also common.

Karaoke, drawn from contemporary Japanese culture, is extremely popular in Taiwan, where it is known as KTV.

Taiwan has a high density of 24-hour convenience stores, which in addition to the usual services, provide services on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies such as collection of parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments.

Taiwanese culture has also influenced other cultures. Bubble tea and milk tea are available in Australia, Europe and North America. Taiwanese films have won various international awards at film festivals around the world. Ang Lee, a native of Taiwan, has directed critically acclaimed films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, and Lust, Caution

Economy Economy – overview: Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by the authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world’s largest. Despite restrictions on cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan’s largest export market and its second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. Strong trade performance in 2007 pushed Taiwan’s GDP growth rate above 5%, and unemployment is below 4%.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $698.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $383.3 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.7% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $30,100 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 27.5%
services: 71.1% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 10.71 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 36.8%
services: 57.9% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.9% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 0.95% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $76.2 billion
expenditures: $75.65 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 27.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.8% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: NA
Stock of money: NA
Stock of quasi money: NA
Stock of domestic credit: NA
Agriculture – products: rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Industries: electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate: 9.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 216.6 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 208.7 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
nuclear: 22.6%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 10,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 950,500 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 289,200 bbl/day (2006)
Oil – imports: 1.208 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil – proved reserves: 2.38 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 400 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 11.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 10.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 6.229 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $32.88 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $246.5 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals, auto parts (2002)
Exports – partners: China 32.6%, US 12.9%, Hong Kong 8.6%, Japan 6.4%, Singapore 5% (2007)
Imports: $215.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, machinery, petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals (2002)
Imports – partners: Japan 22.7%, US 13.3%, China 11.2%, South Korea 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 4.8%, Singapore 4.6% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $275 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt – external: $97.85 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $92.83 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $108.9 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $654 billion (28 December 2007)
Currency (code): New Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code: TWD
Exchange rates: New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar – 32.84 (2007), 32.534 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004), 34.575 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 14.313 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 24.302 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code – 886; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations – 2
Radio broadcast stations: AM 140, FM 229, shortwave 49
Radios: 16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations: 76 (46 digital and 30 analog) (2007)
Televisions: 8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code: .tw
Internet hosts: 5.225 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 8 (2000)
Internet users: 14.76 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 41 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Heliports: 4 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 25 km; gas 661 km (2007)
Railways: total: 1,588 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,093 km 1.067-m gauge
note: 150 km .762-m gauge (belonging primarily to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and Taiwan Forestry Bureau; some to other entities) (2007)
Roadways: total: 40,262 km
paved: 38,171 km (includes 976 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,091 km (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 102
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 19, chemical tanker 1, container 24, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 14, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Canada 2, France 1)
registered in other countries: 536 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 11, Indonesia 2, Italy 13, Kiribati 5, Liberia 91, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 320, Philippines 1, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 72, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Taichung
Military Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military service age and obligation: 19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 14 months (reducing to 1 year in 2009) year; women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense has announced plans to implement an incremental voluntary enlistment system beginning 2010, with 10% fewer conscripts each year thereafter, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 3-4 months of military training (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 6,283,134
females age 16-49: 6,098,599 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,112,737
females age 16-49: 5,036,346 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 164,883
female: 152,085 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.2% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan’s claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan’s unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting
Illicit drugs: regional transit point for heroin, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs

Uruguay: Truth, Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Uruguay

Introduction Montevideo, founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military stronghold, soon took advantage of its natural harbor to become an important commercial center. Claimed by Argentina but annexed by Brazil in 1821, Uruguay declared its independence four years later and secured its freedom in 1828 after a three-year struggle. The administrations of President Jose BATLLE in the early 20th century established widespread political, social, and economic reforms that established a statist tradition. A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement named the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay’s president to cede control of the government to the military in 1973. By yearend, the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. In 2004, the left-of-center Frente Amplio Coalition won national elections that effectively ended 170 years of political control previously held by the Colorado and Blanco parties. Uruguay’s political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.
History The inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were various tribes of hunter gatherer native Americans, the best known being the Charrúa Indians, a small tribe driven south by the Guaraní of Paraguay. The population is estimated at no more than 5,000 to 10,000.

Europeans arrived in the territory of present-day Uruguay in 1536, but the absence of gold and silver limited settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Uruguay became a zone of contention between the Spanish and the Portuguese empires. In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. The first permanent settlement was founded by the Spanish in 1624 at Villa Soriano on the southwestern coast of the Río Negro. In 1680 the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal’s expansion of Brazil’s frontiers.

Another segment of colonial Uruguay’s population consisted of people of African descent. Colonial Uruguay’s African community grew in number as its members escaped harsh treatment in Buenos Aires. Many relocated to Montevideo, which had a larger black community, seemed less hostile politically than Buenos Aires, and had a more favorable climate with lower humidity. Afro-Uruguayan is the term most often used to refer to Uruguayans of African ancestry.

As a province of the Viceroyalty of La Plata, colonial Uruguay was known as the Banda Oriental, or “Eastern Strip”, referring to its location east of the Rio Uruguay. The inhabitants called themselves Orientales (“Easterners”), a term they still commonly use.

Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold; its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial center competing with Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay’s early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing conflicts between the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and colonial forces for dominance in the Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay region. In 1806 and 1807, the British army attempted to seize Buenos Aires as part of their war with Spain. As a result, at the beginning of 1807, Montevideo was occupied by a 10,000-strong British force who held it until the middle of the year when they left to attack Buenos Aires.

The Uruguayans’ road to independence was much longer than those of other countries in the Americas. Early efforts at attaining independence focused on the overthrow of Spanish rule, a process begun by Jose Gervasio Artigas in 1811 when he led his forces to victory against the Spanish in the Battle of Las Piedras on May 18, 1811. In 1816, Portuguese troops invaded present-day Uruguay, which led to its eventual annexation by Brazil in 1821 under the provincial name Provincia Cisplatina. On April 19, 1825, thirty-three Uruguayan exiles led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja returned from Buenos Aires to lead an insurrection in Uruguay. They were known as the Treinta y Tres Orientales. Their actions inspired representatives from Uruguay to meet in Florida, a town in the recently liberated area, where they declared independence from Brazil on August 25, 1825. Uruguayan independence was not recognized by its neighbors until 1828, after the Argentina-Brazil War, when Britain, in search of new commercial markets, brokered peace between Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. On August 27, 1828, Uruguay was formally proclaimed independent at the preliminary peace talks between Brazil and Argentina.

Geography Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 S, 56 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 176,220 sq km
land: 173,620 sq km
water: 2,600 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than the state of Washington
Land boundaries: total: 1,648 km
border countries: Argentina 580 km, Brazil 1,068 km
Coastline: 660 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
Climate: warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
Terrain: mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m
Natural resources: arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fisheries
Land use: arable land: 7.77%
permanent crops: 0.24%
other: 91.99% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,100 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 139 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 3.15 cu km/yr (2%/1%/96%)
per capita: 910 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts
Environment – current issues: water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising
Politics Uruguay’s politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Uruguay is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive branch is exercised by the government. Legislative branch is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the General Assembly of Uruguay. The Judiciary branch is independent of the executive and the legislature.

For most of Uruguay’s history, the Partido Colorado has been the government. The other “traditional” party of Uruguay, Partido Blanco has ruled only twice. The Partido Blanco has its roots in the countryside and the original settlers of Spanish origin and the cattle ranchers. The Partido Colorado has its roots in the port city of Montevideo, the new immigrants of Italian origin and the backing of foreign interests. The Partido Colorado built a welfare state financed by taxing the cattle revenue and giving state pickles and free services to the new urban immigrants which became dependent on the state. The elections of 2004, however, brought the Frente Amplio, a coalition of socialists, communists, former Tupamaros, former communists and social democrats among others to govern with majorities in both houses of parliament and the election of President Tabaré Vázquez by an absolute majority.

The Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index has ranked Uruguay as 43rd of 173 reported countries in 2008. According to Freedom House, an American organization that tracks global trends in political freedom, Uruguay ranked twenty-seventh in its “Freedom in the World” index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Uruguay scores a 8.08 on the Democracy Index, located in the 23rd position among the 30 countries considered to be Full Democracies in the world. The report looks at 60 indicators across five categories: Free elections, civil liberties, functioning government, political participation and political culture.

Uruguay ranks 28th in the World Corruption Perceptions Index composed by Transparency International.

The Uruguayan Constitution allows citizens to repeal laws or to change the constitution by referendum. During the last 15 years the method has been used several times; to confirm a law renouncing prosecution of members of the military who violated human rights during the military regime (1973-1985), to stop privatization of public utilities companies, to defend pensioners’ incomes, and to protect water resources.

People Population: 3,477,778 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.7% (male 401,209/female 388,315)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,105,891/female 1,120,858)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 185,704/female 275,801) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 33.2 years
male: 31.8 years
female: 34.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.486% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.17 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 11.66 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.14 years
male: 72.89 years
female: 79.51 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.94 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 6,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Uruguayan(s)
adjective: Uruguayan
Ethnic groups: white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)
Religions: Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1% (2006)
Languages: Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 97.6%
female: 98.4% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 16 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 2.9% of GDP (2006)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
conventional short form: Uruguay
local long form: Republica Oriental del Uruguay
local short form: Uruguay
former: Banda Oriental, Cisplatine Province
Government type: constitutional republic
Capital: name: Montevideo
geographic coordinates: 34 53 S, 56 11 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in October; ends second Sunday in March
Administrative divisions: 19 departments (departamentos, singular – departamento); Artigas, Canelones, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandu, Rio Negro, Rivera, Rocha, Salto, San Jose, Soriano, Tacuarembo, Treinta y Tres
Independence: 25 August 1825 (from Brazil)
National holiday: Independence Day, 25 August (1825)
Constitution: 27 November 1966, effective 15 February 1967; suspended 27 June 1973, new constitution rejected by referendum 30 November 1980; two constitutional reforms approved by plebiscite 26 November 1989 and 7 January 1997
Legal system: based on Spanish civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Tabare VAZQUEZ Rosas (since 1 March 2005); Vice President Rodolfo NIN NOVOA (since 1 March 2005); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Tabare VAZQUEZ Rosas (since 1 March 2005); Vice President Rodolfo NIN NOVOA (since 1 March 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president with parliamentary approval
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 31 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009)
election results: Tabare VAZQUEZ elected president; percent of vote – Tabare VAZQUEZ 50.5%, Jorge LARRANAGA 35.1%, Guillermo STIRLING 10.3%; other 4.1%
Legislative branch: bicameral General Assembly or Asamblea General consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (30 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; vice president has one vote in the Senate) and Chamber of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (99 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators – last held 31 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009); Chamber of Representatives – last held 31 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009)
election results: Chamber of Senators – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – EP-FA 16, Blanco 11, Colorado Party 3; Chamber of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – EP-FA 52, Blanco 36, Colorado Party 10, Independent Party 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and elected for 10-year terms by the General Assembly)
Political parties and leaders: Broad Front (Frente Amplio) – formerly known as the Progressive Encounter/Broad Front Coalition or EP-FA [Jorge BROVETTO] (a broad governing coalition that includes Movement of the Popular Participation or MPP [Jose MUJICA], New Space Party (Nuevo Espacio) [Rafael MICHELINI], Progressive Alliance (Alianza Progresista) [Rodolfo NIN NOVOA], Socialist Party [Eduardo FERNANDEZ], the Communist Party [Marina ARISMENDI], Uruguayan Assembly (Asamblea Uruguay) [Danilo ASTORI], and Vertiente Artiguista [Mariano ARANA]); Colorado Party (Foro Batllista) [Julio Maria SANGUINETTI]; National Party or Blanco [Luis Alberto LACALLE and Jorge LARRANAGA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Architect’s Society of Uruguay (professional organization); Chamber of Uruguayan Industries (manufacturer’s association); Chemist and Pharmaceutical Association (professional organization); PIT/CNT (powerful federation of Uruguayan Unions – umbrella labor organization); Rural Association of Uruguay (rancher’s association); Uruguayan Construction League; Uruguayan Network of Political Women
other: Catholic Church; students
International organization participation: CAN (associate), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMIS, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos Alberto GIANELLI Derois
chancery: 1913 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 331-1313 through 1316
FAX: [1] (202) 331-8142
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, DC
consulate(s): San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Frank E. BAXTER
embassy: Lauro Muller 1776, Montevideo 11200
mailing address: APO AA 34035
telephone: [598] (2) 418-7777
FAX: [598] (2) 418-8611
Flag description: nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May with 16 rays that alternate between triangular and wavy
Culture Uruguay has an impressive legacy of artistic and literary traditions, especially for its small size. The contribution of its alternating conquerors and diverse immigrants has resulted in native traditions that integrate this diversity. Uruguay has centuries old remains, fortresses of the colonial era. Its cities have a rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is the form of dance that originated in the neighborhoods of Montevideo, Uruguay towards the end of the 19th century. Tango, candombe, and murga are the three main styles of music.
Economy Economy – overview: Uruguay’s economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-98, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. For instance, in 2001-02 Argentine citizens made massive withdrawals of dollars deposited in Uruguayan banks after bank deposits in Argentina were frozen, which led to a plunge in the Uruguayan peso, a banking crisis, and a sharp economic contraction. Real GDP fell in four years by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year. The unemployment rate rose, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Financial assistance from the IMF helped stem the damage. Uruguay restructured its external debt in 2003 without asking creditors to accept a reduction on the principal. The construction of a pulp mill in Fray Bentos – at $1.2 billion the largest foreign direct investment in Uruguay’s history – came online in November 2007, boosting GDP and exports. Other large projects in the pulp and paper industries also are planned. Economic growth for Uruguay averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $42.72 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $28.35 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 8.5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $12,300 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 9.8%
industry: 32.8%
services: 57.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 1.641 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 9%
industry: 15%
services: 76% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.8% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 27.4% of households (2006)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 34% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 45.2 (2006)
Investment (gross fixed): 15.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $8.204 billion
expenditures: $8.526 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 62.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.5% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 10% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 8.94% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $2.145 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $7.919 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $6.396 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $159 million (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: rice, wheat, soybeans, barley; livestock, beef; fish; forestry
Industries: food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages
Electricity – production: 9.2 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – consumption: 7.03 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – exports: 995.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 788.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 0.7%
hydro: 99.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.3% (2001)
Oil – production: 935.7 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 33,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 4,410 bbl/day (2007)
Oil – imports: 43,670 bbl/day (2007)
Oil – proved reserves: NA
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 102.8 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 116.9 million cu m (2007)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$1 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $7.596 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: meat, rice, leather products, wool, fish, dairy products
Exports – partners: Brazil 15.5%, US 9.4%, Argentina 8.4%, Mexico 6.6%, China 6.1%, Germany 4.8% (2007)
Imports: $8.548 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: crude petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, chemicals, road vehicles, paper, plastics
Imports – partners: Brazil 19.1%, Argentina 17.9%, US 9.5%, China 9.1%, Paraguay 7.7%, Nigeria 4.7% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $14.62 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $6.157 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $11.48 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $4.19 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $156 million (2007)
Currency (code): Uruguayan peso (UYU)
Currency code: UYU
Exchange rates: Uruguayan pesos (UYU) per US dollar – 20.438 (2008 est.), 23.947 (2007), 24.048 (2006), 24.479 (2005), 28.704 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 965,200 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 3.004 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully digitalized
domestic: most modern facilities concentrated in Montevideo; new nationwide microwave radio relay network; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is 115 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code – 598; the UNISOR submarine cable system provides direct connectivity to Brazil and Argentina; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2002)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 93, FM 191, shortwave 7 (2005)
Radios: 1.97 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 62 (2005)
Televisions: 782,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .uy
Internet hosts: 480,593 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 14 (2001)
Internet users: 968,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 60 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 29 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 257 km; oil 160 km (2007)
Railways: total: 2,073 km
standard gauge: 2,073 km 1.435-m gauge
note: 461 km have been taken out of service and 460 km are in partial use (2006)
Roadways: total: 77,732 km
paved: 7,743 km
unpaved: 69,989 km (2004)
Waterways: 1,600 km (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 17
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 10 (Argentina 3, Greece 1, Spain 6)
registered in other countries: 3 (Liberia 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Montevideo
Military Military branches: Uruguayan Armed Forces: Army (Ejercito), Navy (Armada Nacional; includes naval air arm, Marines, Maritime Prefecture in wartime), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya, FAU) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service; enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 837,252
females age 16-49: 824,096 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 703,955
females age 16-49: 690,296 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 27,082
female: 26,075 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.6% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: in Jan 2007, ICJ provisionally ruled Uruguay may begin construction of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina, while the court examines further whether Argentina has the legal right to stop such construction with potential environmental implications to both countries; uncontested dispute with Brazil over certain islands in the Quarai/Cuareim and Invernada streams and the resulting tripoint with Argentina
Illicit drugs: small-scale transit country for drugs mainly bound for Europe, often through sea-borne containers; law enforcement corruption; money laundering because of strict banking secrecy laws; weak border control along Brazilian frontier; increasing consumption of cocaine base and synthetic drugs

So In Germany There Is No Freedom Of Speech: Can’t Call A Pedophile A Pedophile?

So In Germany There Is No Freedom Of Speech: Can’t Call A Pedophile A Pedophile?

This post is mostly a copy paste of an article in “The Muslim Issue”. The German Chancellor says you can’t say bad things about a country’s leader even if what you are saying is the truth. So, you can lie and that is okay? The German leader does not seem to have any problem with the rampant pedophilia that she is responsible for bringing into Germany. She may be a smart person when it comes to economics but when it comes to the actual safety of the German people in their own homes, streets, or shopping centers she turns a blind eye. Please read this reblog from the Muslim Issue below to see what you think of these issues.

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON APRIL 15TH OF 2016)

MUSLIMS WORLDWIDE

Germany: Merkel grants Turkish request to prosecute comic over Erdogan insult

4 Votes

Merkel screwed by Erdogan

Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2016-04-15

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany had accepted a request from Turkey to seek prosecution of a German comedian who read out a crude poem about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on German television.

Erdogan had demanded that Germany press charges against comedian Jan Boehmermann after he mocked the Turkish leader in a show on German public broadcaster ZDF on March 31, suggesting that he hits girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

It is illegal under German criminal code to insult a foreign leader, but the law leaves it to the government to decide whether to authorise prosecutors to pursue such cases.

This has put Merkel an awkward position. The driving force behind a controversial European Union-Turkey migrant deal, she has already come under fire for ignoring human rights and press freedom violations in Turkey in an effort to secure its cooperation.

“There were different opinions between the coalition partners – the conservatives and the SPD [Social Democrats],” Merkel told reporters at the Chancellery in Berlin.

”The outcome is that the German government will give the authorisation in the current case,” she added, stressing that this was not a decision about the merits of the prosecution’s case against Boehmermann.

Merkel’s announcement sparked sharp criticism from the SPD, her centre-left coalition partner, which was opposed to Turkey’s request.

“This was the wrong decision in my view,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the SPD in parliament. “Prosecution of satire due to ‘lèse-majesté’ does not fit with modern democracy.”

Anton Hofreiter, parliamentary leader of the opposition Greens, said Merkel must now “live with the accusation that the deal with Turkey is more important to her than defending freedom of the press”.

Sahra Wagenknecht of the far-left Linke accused Merkel of kowtowing to the “Turkish despot” Erdogan.

‘Merkel is walking quite a difficult diplomatic tightrope’

‘Wrong signal’

Boehmermann, an impish-looking 35-year-old, is known for pushing the boundaries of satire. Last year he claimed to have manipulated a video of Greece’s then-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in which he is shown giving the middle finger – known as the “Stinkefinger” in German – to Berlin for its tough stance in the debt crisis. The video infuriated German politicians.

The cult comedian made clear before reciting the poem about Erdogan that he was intentionally going beyond what German law allowed.

ZDF has since removed a video of the poem from its website. But Boehmermann has received backing from prominent German artists and a poll for Focus magazine showed 82 percent viewed the poem as defensible.

He is reportedly under police protection and cancelled his last show on ZDF.

In giving her statement, Merkel pressed Turkey – a candidate country for European Union membership – to uphold the values of freedom of expression, the press and art.

She justified the decision to accept the Turkish request by pointing to the close and friendly relationship Berlin shares with Ankara, referring to the three million people with Turkish roots who live in Germany, the strong economic ties between the countries and their cooperation as NATO allies.

But the Association of German Journalists (DJV) said Merkel had sent the “wrong signal” to the Turkish government and added that her references to violations of the right to freedom of press and opinion in Turkey had not made up for that.

A Turkish group called the Union of European Turkish Democrats, which has posted videos online supporting Erdogan, filed a complaint with Austria’s media watchdog on Friday over Austrian newspaper Oesterreich reprinting parts of Boehmermann’s poem under the headline, ‘Is this confused poem art or a scandal?’

Merkel said the German government planned to remove the section of the criminal code that requires it to grant permission for prosecution in such cases.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Is There Ever A ‘Right Time’ To Assassinate A Head Of State?

Is There Ever A ‘Right Time’ To Assassinate A Head Of State?

Those of you who know me know that I am a person who wishes only peace and kindness in a world of absolutely no violence at all, for any reason. Now is the problem, in that violence is a very excepted form of our reality today. That first sentence was more like ‘fantasy land’ I know, I know that as long as there are humans in our current form, there will be hate and violence. Today I am asking you to consider the assassination of a Head of State (hopefully not your own), if you think there is ever such a thing as a case where you would give the order or even pull the trigger yourself? The on purpose taking of any life, even the life of a rabbit a cat or a dog should never be done carelessly, or thoughtlessly.  The taking of a human life is sometimes a necessity, at least in my mind. Have you heard the question (I didn’t create this question, nor do I know who did), “if you could go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler while he was still a baby, would you do it, could you yourself do it”?

 

For purpose of argument I want to take us back to pre-Iraq invasion in March of 2003. The people of Iraq hated their leader “Saddam” yet they themselves never struck him down, why? Were Saddam’s security forces that good? There is no doubt that Saddam was a very bad person and that his own people were scared of him, for good reasons. My question with this example is if the American Government (George W. Bush) wanted to bring Saddam to justice (end of a rope) why not have spread out a few of our well-trained snipers and find an opportunity to give Saddam a little gray pill between his ears? Wouldn’t one well placed bullet have been better than an open-ended war where hundreds of thousands have died?

 

Now let us go to the modern-day situation’s we find ourselves in. Today I am only going to concentrate (for an example) on the ‘living god’ President of North Korea. If you have paid any attention to the world going on around your/our little space, the very evil and obviously insane President of North Korea has been threatening to attack other nations (U.S., Japan, South Korea) with nukes. A Head of State who makes such statements is equivalent to declaring war on you! So, when, if ever, is it okay to give the ‘god king’ a splitting headache?

 

At what point will the government of China get tired of backing this man and get rid of him themselves? Is there such a point? If China’s President, Xi Jinping were to summon Kim Jung Un to China and once there give Kim personal guarantees of China keeping him in power in North Korea as long as Kim ‘plays ball’ with the U.S. and doesn’t start a war on the Korean Peninsula. There could easily have been offered the two edge sword, Xi could promise Kim that if Kim did not ‘play ball’ that either China would totally shut down all commerce in and out of North Korea and that China would back North Korean assassins to put in a Regime change.

 

For a moment let us consider Terrorist groups like Hamas who control the Gaza Strip in Israel, should their very top leaders be considered as untouchable Heads of State, or mass murdering wild dogs? Do you doubt that some of/all of, these terrorist groups would kill your country’s leader if they could get the chance to? How about ‘The Supreme Ruler’ in Iran, does he count as a Head of State? The taking of another life should never be done lightly, but my question is whom decides who the order is given to pull the trigger on someone by? Your President, CIA Director, NSA Director, a General at the Pentagon? How about the E-1 Army private who has one of these evil people in their cross-hairs? I did not say that I was giving any answers on this subject matter today, like always, I am just trying to get people to think for themselves. Folks, life is a conversation piece, live it.

With BBQs And F-35’s, Israelis Delight In 70 Years Of Independence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

With BBQs and F-35’s, Israelis delight in 70 years of independence

Some 200,000 people flock to national parks around the country, with many more taking to beaches to watch flyover of fighter jets

  • A woman smiles during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    A woman smiles during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • People watch as an Israeli acrobatic team fly over during Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    People watch as an Israeli acrobatic team fly over during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli and tourists watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Israeli and tourists watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony awarding outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem. April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony awarding outstanding soldiers as part of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • An Israeli man celebrates Independence Day marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    An Israeli man celebrates Independence Day marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • US-made Israeli air force T-6 Texan II planes fly over while performing during an air show as part of the 70th Independence Day celebrations on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.
Israel marks 70 years since the founding of the country according to the Hebrew calendar (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    US-made Israeli air force T-6 Texan II planes fly over while performing during an air show as part of the 70th Independence Day celebrations on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. Israel marks 70 years since the founding of the country according to the Hebrew calendar (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
    Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
  • Israelis watch as the Israeli air force aerobatic team fly during a military training for the upcoming Israel's 70th Independence day in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )
    Israelis watch as the Israeli air force aerobatic team fly during a military training for the upcoming Israel’s 70th Independence day in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )
  • People dance during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    People dance during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israelis play with foam spray during Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis play with foam spray during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • People celebrate Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks, lighting grills, waving flags and craning their necks for a glimpse of Israel’s fighter jets to mark the country’s 70th Independence Day on Thursday.

After a night of fireworks, concerts, parties and an emotional crossover from Memorial Day to Independence Day, most Israelis were spending the day, a national holiday, celebrating the country’s birthday.

Some 200,000 Israelis were at the country’s national parks, with 48,000 visiting the Banias Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights and 18,000 camped around the Sea of the Galilee, according to the parks authority.

A highlight of the day was the cross-country flyover of military jets and helicopters, which for the second year included Israel’s fleet of F-35 jets, considered the most advanced plane in the world.

Celebrations in Jerusalem kicked off Thursday morning at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, where President Reuven Rivlin was hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot and others for a musical ceremony honoring over 100 soldiers receiving commendations for excellence.

People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“It is no secret that during these celebratory moments IDF soldiers and security forces are on high alert,” said Rivlin at the ceremony, addressing Iran tensions on the northern border. “It is no secret that we are facing Iranian attempts to directly harm the State of Israel. Dear soldiers, we see the burden of responsibility placed on your young shoulders. Thank you.”

Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)

The annual international Bible Quiz competition finals took place after the ceremony. The winner of the contest was named as Azriel Shilat, from Hatzor Haglilit.

The IDF also opened its bases to the public, displaying jeeps, tanks and other equipment throughout the country.

More than 20,000 Israelis attended an open house day at a national training facility for police officers, hosted by the Public Security Ministry. Police said around 3 p.m. that all parking spots allocated to visitors filled up and asked the public not to near the area.

On Wednesday night, the mournful and somber speeches of Memorial Day gave way to joyful celebrations, with flags promptly raised back from half-staff.

The juxtaposition of the two days is a key element of Israelis’ experience of national independence, ensuring that no commemoration completely excludes the achievement wrought by the sacrifice of the fallen and their families, and that the elation of independence is never far removed from an awareness of its cost.

People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the transition was marked with an extravagant state ceremony featuring the lighting of torches by 12 people who are seen to have made an outstanding contribution to society — as well as one by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and another by Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein — and much singing and dancing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the annual Bible Quiz held at the Jerusalem Theater on Israel’s Independence Day, on April 19, 2018. (Shlomi Cohen/FLASH90)

The ceremony featured an elaborate musical flashback of Jewish history, with actors singing and dancing through events dating back to the biblical era.

Israelis play with snow during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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COMMENTS

The 11 most eye-opening lines in James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ ranked

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The 11 most eye-opening lines in James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ ranked

(CNN)Days before its official release, excerpts of James Comey’s memoir about his time as FBI Director under President Donald Trump have leaked. Actually, flooded.

There’s a lot of pieces of the Comey book — “A Higher Loyalty” — kicking around the media world at the moment. Some are salacious, others are stunning and some are just plain surreal.
I scanned through all of the available excerpts and plucked out the lines that are most devastating for Trump. Then I ranked them by level of damage they are likely to cause. Here they are, ranked from least to most problematic for the President of the United States.

11. “His face appeared slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his…..As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”

This is, in a word, dumb. Or, in another word, petty. If Comey wanted to build the narrative with this book that he is truly committed to the good of the country rather than in selling books or scoring partisan points, he’d have been better served to leave this stuff out. Noting the size of Trump’s hands or the fact that he tans feels beneath the broader stated mission of the book: To reveal why Trump is simply not fit for the office he currently holds. Comey also mentions that Trump was shorter than he looked on TV. First off, everyone is short to the 6’8″ Comey. Second, who cares?

10. “I stared at the soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes. I remember thinking in that moment that the president doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life.”

Again, the fact that Trump has “soft white pouches” under his “expressionless blue eyes” feels more like an unnecessary jab than an essential insight. BUT, Comey’s next sentence is important — because he’s right. Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he simply doesn’t understand — or doesn’t care about — the unique role the Justice Department plays within the federal government. Yes, they work under him. But they don’t exactly work for him. He’s never seemed to get that.

9. “I had often wondered why, when given numerous opportunities to condemn the Russian government’s invasions of its neighbors and repression — even murder — of its own citizens, Trump refused to just state the plain facts…Maybe it was a contrarian streak or maybe it was something more complicated that explained his constant equivocation and apologies for Vladimir Putin.”

There’s no question that prior to the last week or so, Trump has been largely unwilling to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country as a whole. (The Syrian chemical attack and Russia’s continued support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to have changed how Trump thinks about Putin.)
But, we already knew that. And everything else in this excerpt is pure speculation. “Maybe it was something more complicated” isn’t exactly hard and fast evidence.

8. “Another reason you know this isn’t true: I’m a germaphobe. There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me, no way.”

This one is more salacious than anything else. But, that Trump feels the need to convince Comey that he never watched two prostitutes pee on one another is, um, something else.

7. “He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ . . . adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a 1 percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true….In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?”

Don’t be too quick to dismiss this as simply salacious. Yes, there is that. But it is absolutely telling about the state of Trump’s marriage that he was asking the FBI director to prove the falsehood of the “pee tape” to his wife — almost certainly because she wouldn’t believe him.
Then there’s the fact that Trump seems to believe that proving the tape doesn’t exist to Melania Trump is a worthy use of the FBI’s time. Which is, um, something.

6. “It is also wrong to stand idly by, or worse, to stay silent when you know better, while a president brazenly seeks to undermine public confidence in law enforcement institutions that were established to keep our leaders in check.”

Comey here is echoing people like Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake who have castigated their fellow Republicans for refusing to condemn Trump when he attacks the Justice Department or the Intelligence Community. The argument is that silence is essentially assent. Only by saying, “No, what Trump is doing is wrong and should stop immediately” can Republicans hope to have a party in the post-Trump era.
Amid Trump’s ramped-up rhetoric on deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller, it will be interesting to see what Republican reaction will be if the president decides to fire either (or both) of those men. Will Republicans speak out?

5. “Asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

Two things are at work here — one not terribly problematic for Trump, the other potential more so. The first is that he demonstrates he has a massive ego and believes that he is so appealing to women that any story about him frequenting prostitutes simply can’t be believed.
The second is that he is intimately familiar with the details of the bevy of accusations made against him by a number of women during the 2016 campaign. That level of interest/obsession belies the public face of dismissal and unconcern Trump and his people have presented when confronted with the allegations.

4. “Now it was pretty clear to me what was happening. The setup of the dinner, both the physical layout of a private meal and Trump’s pretense that he had not already asked me to stay on multiple occasions, convinced me this was an effort to establish a patronage relationship.”

This is very important. What Comey is alleging here is that Trump, from the start, saw his relationship with Comey as entirely transactional. I’ll let you stay in your job as FBI director but I want something for it. That something, as we now now, was a loyalty pledge that Comey refused to give.
Trump’s approach to every encounter appears to be similar to what Comey describes here. Let’s make a deal where you get something but, far more importantly, I get something.

3. “[Kelly] said he was sick about my firing and that he intended to quit in protest. He said he didn’t want to work for dishonorable people who would treat someone like me in such a manner. I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

This anecdote is going to make chief of staff John Kelly’s life even harder than it already is. Rumors of him clashing with Trump and/or being on the way out are everywhere. Now, he’ll have to face a barrage of questions over whether Comey’s recounting of the moments right after Trump fired him are accurate. And if Kelly says they are, how can he stay in his job? If he says Comey got it wrong, will Trump even believe him?

2. “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

In this excerpt, Comey is comparing Trump to a mob boss. Which is a tough comparison to make when you are dealing with the President of the United States. But, Comey is right in the main when it comes to how Trump sees himself and how he leads his team. Trump must always be the strongest and toughest one in any room. He expects total loyalty from those who work for him — and works to rid his inner circle of those he believes have shown even a speck of disloyalty to him. He doesn’t tell the truth about things that are easily and provably false — largest inauguration crowd ever, millions of illegal votes cast — and then dares those around him to question him.
I don’t know any mob bosses personally but there’s not question that Comey nails Trump here.

1. “This President is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

These two sentences are the most damaging thing to Trump so far in the Comey excerpts because they speak to a number of demonstrated truths. We know that Trump said more than 2,000 things in his first year in office that were either partially or entirely untrue. We know he looks at every situation as a chance to extract something for himself. That he is immensely self focused to the point of a blindness as to how his actions might be perceived by people who aren’t him. We know that he either misunderstands or chooses to ignore traditional norms for how a president acts, what he says and how he treats those who work for him.

‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(Is The ‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?)

Right Turn

Trump melts down after Cohen raid — and only hurts himself

  
 April 10 at 9:00 AM 
 2:01
Trump fumes ‘attorney-client privilege is dead’ after FBI raid

President Trump tweeted his outrage at an FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, calling it a “witch hunt.”

In an extraordinary series of events, the FBI executed a no-knock raid on President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel. The president, seated alongside his top military and civilian national security advisers to discuss a response to the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons, launched into a rant in which he did not rule out firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accused law enforcement of bias, whined that Hillary Clinton was not being prosecuted, suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had behaved improperly in signing off on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, railed again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself (and thereby allowing the investigation proceed) and deemed execution of a warrant signed off on by a federal judge and approved by a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, both of whom he appointed, to be an “attack” on the country.
Let’s start with the raid. The Post reports:

Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”

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What we don’t know is whether the suspected wrongdoing extends to Trump or is solely attributable to Cohen. (By referring the matter to the New York prosecutor, Mueller may have signaled this is not germane to the Russia investigation; however, any possible crimes concerning Stormy Daniels, for example, may or may not implicate Trump.) Whatever the FBI sweeps up may very well further enmesh Trump in an investigation in which what seemed like a series of separate topics — Trump’s personal finances, potential obstruction of justice, possible Russian collusion and hush money paid to a porn star — have begun to bleed into one another. Trump is as vulnerable as he has always been, in part because he plainly does not know what federal prosecutors now have in their possession and because intense pressure may be brought to bear on Cohen to “flip” on Trump.
Trump cannot take much comfort in the attorney-client privilege. For one thing, it applies to legal communications; if Cohen is acting as a businessman/”fixer,” no privilege may attach. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege cannot apply to communications that are part of a crime (e.g., a conspiracy to obstruct justice). Trump once said investigating his finances were a “red line” for Mueller; the latest move in raiding Cohen transgresses any limitation Trump could possibly have dreamed up. His reaction reflects his fury in not being able to fend off Mueller.
Trump’s response was disturbing on multiple levels.
First, Trump in essence declared war on the rule of law. “It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” said the president, who now equates the operation of the criminal-justice system under the rule of law to be an attack on the country. He is the country in his eyes. Those who challenge him are enemies of the country. There is no better formulation of his authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset than this.

 3:03
Opinion | Trump can fire Mueller, but that won’t get rid of the Russia investigation

Opinion | If President Trump fires the bane of his legal troubles, he could spark a legal and constitutional crisis.

Second, his tirade against Sessions should rekindle concerns that he is contemplating firing him and putting in a flunky to protect himself. “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself,” Trump said. “Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.” That, too, is a picture-perfect distillation of his warped view of the presidency. He hands Mueller another admission that he thinks the DOJ should protect him from, instead of conducting investigations into criminal and counterintelligence matters.
Third, Trump’s attempts to discredit Mueller’s team and the FBI should highlight the necessity of Congress protecting the special counsel. (“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”) When he says the investigation is a “witch hunt,” he may be plowing the way to fire Mueller and/or Rosenstein or refuse to cooperate with an interview. In either event, we would face a constitutional crisis.
Fourth, Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been exonerated from “collusion” (“So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’”) is baseless. More than 70 different contacts between Trump team and Russian-related figures have been found. Multiple indictments and plea deals have been struck. The investigation continues. His false certainty that there is no evidence of collusion can now be seen as the motive for his attempts to discredit and derail the investigation, to obstruct justice, in other words.
Finally, Trump’s rambling, unhinged reaction — after his attorneys no doubt counseled him to keep quiet — should shake his supporters. The pressure of the investigation and vulnerability to prosecution and/or impeachment are not going to vanish. His family and his fix-it lawyer won’t stop Mueller. His TV friends cannot keep the FBI at bay. He lashes out like a cornered animal. The angrier and more panicked Trump becomes, the greater chance he will behave in extreme and destructive ways.
“The president cannot help himself,” former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told me. “Instead of doing his job as our chief federal law enforcement official and allowing the rule of law to operate unimpeded, he lashes out when he feels personally threatened.” He adds, “The president’s words were more befitting a mob don when the feds are closing in. Given Michael Cohen’s role in Trump’s past, perhaps they are. The American people will not stand for any Trump attempt to match his hostile words with aggressive action against Mueller, Sessions, Rosenstein or other DOJ officials. If he does, it will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.”
Now would be a good time for Republicans to find their spines, remember their oaths and act to insulate Mueller and Rosenstein from Trump. A simple declaration that firing either would be an impeachable offense would, frankly, be a help to Trump. He could use some outside restraint.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is widely expected to win Sunday’s election

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is widely expected to win Sunday’s election. Why is he so popular?

 3:10
Is Hungary’s election the country’s last chance to avoid autocracy?

Hungary is in the midst of a divisive election that will decide if the country’s anti-immigrant prime minister gets a third straight term in office. 

 April 7 at 3:30 PM 
The rally was a curious blend of kitsch and gravitas: plastic flags, unwieldy crucifixes and pop lyrics extolling the virtues of blood and soil. But this is Europe in 2018.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, mounted the podium to the sound of screams and raucous applause. In the same city where Hungary once crowned some of its kings, he delivered his final pitch to voters before Sunday’s election: a familiar litany against migrants, the European Union and George Soros, his favorite billionaire punching bag.

For months now, so much of Orban’s rhetoric has focused on how faraway bureaucrats and boogeymen have subverted Hungary’s national interests to line the coffers of what he couches as an international financial conspiracy, a rhetorical line some see as little more than a modern remake of an anti-Semitic trope. Yet it would be a mistake to cast his victory on Sunday — almost a foregone conclusion — merely as an internal assault on the European consensus, even if that is the result.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech in Szekesfehervar, on Friday, his last before Sunday’s election. (Ferenc Isza/AFP/Getty Images)

In the minds of many of Orban’s supporters, Sunday’s election is less a rally against the E.U. as it is a battle of European visions. And to them, the best way to ensure the future of Europe is to support the man who has transformed their country into the single E.U. member state that perhaps least resembles a 21st-century Western democracy.

Despite Orban’s bluster, Hungary is not a particularly Euroskeptic nation. In advance of the Brexit vote in June 2016, polls showed that Hungarian voters, second only to Poles, were the most supportive of Brussels in the entire 28-state bloc. More recent analyses suggest that that support has waned, but they also show that Hungary’s trust in the E.U. as an institution is average, and more than half of the population favors introducing the euro.

“Yes, Hungary is part of Europe,” said Nandor Holl, a 20-year-old business school student who said he hopes to enter politics some day. He was at Friday’s rally here with his friends, proudly sporting a banner for Fidesz, Orban’s right-wing party.

“My country is very important to me, and I choose it first, but I feel it’s important to keep Europe as an entity,” he said. “Honestly, I think the Hungarian government wants the same — but just to save it from migrants.”

Orban’s opponents — including former members of the party he now leads — see his tenure as a troubling turn toward an “Eastern-style” autocracy incompatible with contemporary European values of transparency, tolerance and democracy.

To them, Orban — who in the last eight years in power has overhauled the constitution and cracked down on Hungarian media, among other things — is more in line with Russia’s Vladimir Putin than he is with the continental cohorts of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. And Sunday’s election represents an existential choice.

“The question is which direction we will go in the next four years,” said Peter Akos Bod, who served as trade minister in Hungary’s transition government in 1990 after the fall of communism, and later as the president of Hungary’s central bank.

“The election will determine whether Hungary consolidates itself as a democracy or whether it aligns with Putin and the ascendant authoritarians of the 21st century,” said Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Budapest’s Central European University, an institution backed by George Soros that Orban has repeatedly threatened.

But Europe means something different to Orban’s supporters. To them, he incarnates a nostalgic vision of a Hungary, and a Europe, that is culturally homogenous.

“It’s difficult to say, as I cannot speak for everyone,” said Gabor Bodi, 49, a physical therapist who was at the rally, when pressed to define the appeal of Orban’s vision. He was holding a crucifix several meters tall that towered above the crowd. “But as you can see, I am carrying a cross.”

Nostalgia is an Orban specialty, and appeals to a vanished white, Christian past have long been a mainstay of his rhetoric, including at the rally:

“We freed ourselves from bonded slavery.”

“We stopped the first big wave of migration.”

“We proved that the Christian culture and way of life is not part of the past. On the contrary, we can bring it and we must bring it with us into the future.”

But sociologists say the emphasis is deeper than that.

Orban’s line plays on a collective memory of foreign invasion by Turks, Austrians and Russians, said Imre Kovach, an expert on domestic social dynamics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

Much the same is true in Poland, another E.U. member state run by right-wing populists that has sought, through the passage of a widely condemned “Holocaust law,” to end what leaders see as the deliberate attempt to shame the nation on the part of western critics.

“Hungarian identity is a very European identity, but I do think that it’s really different from, say, a French or German,” Kovach said. “They just don’t have the same image of what ‘Europe’ means.”

The difference, he said, is the experience of postwar history. Hungary, like Poland, experienced nearly 50 years of communist rule after the end of the World War II. For many, the end of communism was seen as a moment when the country would be granted a long-denied sense of autonomy — an autonomy that’s not always recognized in the European Union.

“From a historical point of view, when Hungarians had to make a decision about siding with the West or the East, they always chose the West,” Kovach said. “But the 20th century’s events were not for the Hungarians — we lost so much, so many territories, so many people’s lives.”

Orban rarely shies away from this history. When he does wade into it, the subtext is often the sacrifice Hungary made in defending a continent that has never properly expressed its gratitude.

“We also know our own history,” he said in an October speech, at a Danube regional strategy summit. “Those who wanted to gain a foothold in Europe always came across this route. And Hungary was the last defensive line, if you like, a gate to and for the West.”

Many of his supporters say they have received the message loud and clear.

Rudniczai Janosne, 60, is a retired office worker who braved the crowds to come to the Szekesfehervar rally. She struggled to find the words when asked why she found Orban’s message so captivating.

“When I hear his voice, when I see the Hungarian flag, or when I hear the anthem,” she said, “the top of my head gets faint. Tears come to my eyes.”

Gergo Saling contributed to this report.

5 Things Written by Martin Luther King Jr. That Everyone Should Read

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Dr. Martin Luther King addresses some 2,000 people on the eve of his death—April 3, 1968—giving the speech "I've been to the mountaintop."
Dr. Martin Luther King addresses some 2,000 people on the eve of his death—April 3, 1968—giving the speech “I’ve been to the mountaintop.”
Bettmann/Getty Images
By LILY ROTHMAN

6:30 PM EDT

The words written about Martin Luther King Jr. during his too-short life and in the half-century since his assassination — 50 years ago Wednesday, on April 4, 1968 — would be impossible to count. King himself left a deep archive of writings, speeches and sermons, too. His spoken orations in particular are a powerful reminder of why he was destined to become part of the pantheon of American icons.

“One has to remember that King above all was a preacher,” says Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, chair of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the Indiana University Bloomington and an editor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Sermonic Power of Public Discourse.

While she notes that he was so prolific that it’s near impossible to choose, Calloway-Thomas spoke to TIME about the pieces of King’s work that everyone should know about. They are:

“The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” (May 17, 1956)

“The death of the Egyptians upon the seashore is a glaring symbol of the ultimate doom of evil in its struggle with good.”

This sermon was delivered to a massive crowd at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling against school segregation, at an early moment in this phase of the civil rights movement, with the Montgomery bus boycott still ongoing. To Calloway-Thomas, the sermon is noteworthy for the optimistic vision it presented at such a moment. “He had to help African-American people imagine themselves,” she says. “I think the Death of Evil upon the Seashore is that speech.”

It wasn’t the first time King preached on these ideas, and in fact the link he draws between the Biblical exodus and the story of African-American progress toward freedom and equality was an old one, but those present noted that his delivery that day was particularly moving. “He taps into that reservoir, that myth of the Hebrew children in bondage,” Calloway-Thomas says, “and he elevates it and makes it more publicly known.”

Read the full speech here

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Yes, this is a letter, not a speech or sermon — but Calloway-Thomas says it’s worth including on such a list anyway. After all, the circumstances that created this letter are inherently linked to the fact that he couldn’t deliver a speech in person. At the time, King found himself jailed in Alabama after ignoring an injunction against protests in Birmingham. During that time, a group of clergymen wrote an open letter urging him away from protests. He wanted to respond but, from the jail, his only option if he wanted to answer quickly was to write it down. “Ideas have moments and if those moments aren’t used, you lose that rhetorical moment and it no longer has the force it had,” Calloway-Thomas says.

So, in a format she likens to a spoken call and response, he answers the questions that were posed to him about his methods. While also explaining that he’s on strong biblical footing, he provides the public with a way to understand the work he’s doing. His rhetorical skills are also on display as he uses a story about his 6-year-old daughter’s early perceptions of racism and segregation to underline that the matter is not theoretical. In the years since, this letter has become one of 20th century American history’s most famous documents.

Read the full letter here

“I Have a Dream…” (Aug. 28, 1963)

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The speech that remains Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous oration — one of the most famous orations in American history, if not world history — is that well-known for a good reason, Calloway-Thomas says. This was the moment when the world as a whole really saw King, and the moment was carefully orchestrated, framed by the Lincoln Memorial. “Think about how dazzling that was!” she says. “Think about the robust visuals and the lovely words echoing from Dr. King. It was an elixir that was made to circulate.”

But, she says, the power of his voice and the impact of the image can sometimes overwhelm the full message of the speech. “Dr. King had some pretty radical statements in that speech,” Calloway-Thomas adds. “Most people gloss over the part in that speech where King says that if we overlook the urgency of now there’ll be a rude awakening. I’ve never seen a student go to that section of the speech; people go right to ‘I have a dream’ and they don’t notice the threat.”

Read the full speech here

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“A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967)

“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.”

In this speech, King publicly answers his conscience, as Calloway-Thomas puts it, on the matter of the Vietnam War. With an undercurrent of “anguish” about the fact that he feels he must speak, and must criticize the choices of Lyndon Johnson, who had often been an ally, he entered the arena of opposition to the war.

“This is an unsettling moment. People paid attention, but that meant there was backlash,” she says. President Johnson and many others felt that he ought to stay focused on domestic civil-rights issues and leave the foreign policy to them, but in this speech he makes clear why those two topics cannot truly be separated. That idea, Calloway-Thomas says, parallels the experience of earlier fighters for justice, such as Frederick Douglass, who got to the world stage with one kind of story — their personal freedom narratives, in that case — and shocked some of their allies when they showed that their thinking was far more expansive.

Read the full speech here

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” (April 3, 1968)

“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Start with the date on this one: that’s April 3, 1968, the night before King was assassinated. In this speech, which summons King’s primary background as a preacher, he returns to the story of Moses. Rather than speaking on the joy of the Exodus, though, he turns to the end of Moses’ life, and his death just outside the Promised Land to which he had delivered his people. King casts himself as another leader who may not be there for the end of the journey. “He used Christian values and Democratic traditions to bring people together, so it’s not surprising that he goes to this idea,” Calloway-Thomas says. “What’s significant here is when it occurred. It was almost apocalyptic. Because it occurred at that time it has lingering significance and carries with it an abundance of pathos.”

Of course, as Calloway-Thomas says, we can imagine a scenario in which King gave this speech and then lived. The emotional resonance of his words might be lessened without the seemingly prescient layer of fate, but the story would be there all the same. “Here’s a man talking about longevity, here’s a man talking about god’s Will, here’s a man talking about going up to the mountaintop and looking skyward toward heaven and looking over into the Promised Land,” she says. “It’s a gorgeous story.”

Read the full speech here

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