Category : Europe

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilary of Poitiers

O Lord our God, who didst raise up thy servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having thee for our Father, and may abide in thy Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; thou who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Katharina Von Bora

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Katharina von Bora from a cloister to work for the reform of thy church, grant that all of us may go wherever thou dost call, and serve however thou dost will, for thy honor and glory and for the welfare of thy whole church. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(Telegraph) France slips down power rankings amid warnings country is sliding ‘backwards

In other notes, the state auditor took aim at France’s school system saying that despite a raft of reforms and spending above the OCDE average, results remained “mediocre” and “are tending to get worse”, particularly among pupils from underprivileged backgrounds.

It suggested providing school heads with more “managerial” powers to pick their teachers, merit-based bonuses, and evaluation of schools’ performance – highly sensitive issues in France.

Perhaps the most damning note of all was reserved for the French culture ministry.

Once the pride of the nation for fostering France’s sacrosanct “cultural exception” in the face of Anglo-Saxon hegemony, the auditor said the ministry had over the past 40 years effectively morphed into a glorified “ticket office” for state handouts from its €3bn annual budget to a plethora of cultural players all defending their “acquired rights”.

The ministry should “refocus on a limited number of missions and exercise these in a more strategic way,” it said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, France

(Telegraph) Is the world is at the most dangerous strategic juncture since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard thinks so

While Britain’s political class is distracted by a Downing Street party, the world is at the most dangerous strategic juncture since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

The West faces escalating threats of conflict on three fronts, each separate but linked by unknown levels of collusion: Russia’s mobilisation of a strike force on Ukraine’s border, China’s “dress rehearsal” for an attack on Taiwan, and Iran’s nuclear brinkmanship.

Each country is emboldening the other two to press their advantage, and together they risk a fundamental convulsion of the global order.

You have to go back yet further to find a moment when Western democracies were so vulnerable to a sudden change in fortunes. Today’s events have echoes of the interlude between the Chamberlain-Daladier capitulation at Munich in 1938 and consequences that followed in rapid crescendo, from Anschluss to the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Politics in General, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine

Bp David Hamid–Was Ecumenical history made in Palermo?

On 7 November, I believe that ecumenical history may have been made when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, preached the sermon at the installation of the new Chaplain of Holy Cross, the Revd Dr James Hadley. Certainly this is a first in this diocese and in the Church of England itself it may well be unprecedented for a Roman Catholic Archbishop to take such a significant role in the installation of an Anglican parish priest!

Many other local clergy were present for the mass, including the Orthodox Archimandrite for Southern Italy, representing Metropolitan Policarpo of Italy.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Italy, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–China and Russia form an entente to hobble America, with a little help from Iran.

Asia First does not mean Asia Alone. That is the hard lesson the world is busy teaching the Biden administration and the U.S. In Europe, American diplomats last week scrambled to respond to Belarus’s weaponization of migration on its border with Poland, warned that Russia is positioning itself to invade Ukraine, and worked to defuse a crisis in the western Balkans. In the Middle East, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure key allies about America’s continuing commitment to their security, U.S. naval forces participated with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the unprecedented joint Arab-Israeli military exercises in the Red Sea.

This shift from an Asia First policy to Global Engagement isn’t something the Biden administration is voluntarily choosing. It is a change forced on the U.S. by the actions of adversaries who believe that by keeping America off-balance and overcommitted, they can hasten the process of American decline.

President Biden’s original plan to focus on Asia made good political sense. Progressive Democrats are dead-set against the military spending and political engagement that a truly global American foreign policy would require. And it isn’t only progressive Democrats who are weary of endless wars, freeloading allies, and American diplomatic and sometimes military engagement in faraway hot spots like the western Balkans and Sudan. If we could get Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reach at least a temporary understanding with Russia on some issues, Team Biden hoped, reduced engagement in Europe and the Middle East would help make a tougher China policy easier to sell back home—and to pay for.

Team Biden is right about that. Unfortunately, China, Russia and Iran understand the situation as clearly as the White House does, and these powers want Mr. Biden and the nation he leads to fail.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clement of Rome

Almighty God, who didst choose thy servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that thy Church may be grounded and settled in thy truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and may evermore be kept blameless in thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Italy, Spirituality/Prayer

(Bloomberg) Austria Enters Full National Lockdown, Orders Mandatory Covid Vaccines

Austria will again enter a nationwide lockdown and Germany is no longer ruling out a similar move as Europe grapples with a brutal wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Austria will become the first western European country to impose widespread restrictions after curbs on unvaccinated people failed to stem a surge in new infections. It will also become the first European country to mandate Covid-19 shots as it seeks to exit the crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in Austria, Europe, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elizabeth of Hungary

Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Hungary, Spirituality/Prayer

(ABC Nightline) How an underwater solution in the Faroe Islands could combat climate change

‘ABC News’ Maggie Rulli travels to the Faroe Islands, where scientists believe that seaweed farming could be a solution to the climate crisis.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Norway, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(BBC) Europe in the Midst of a struggle with a Fourth Covid19 Wave

Germany is in the grip of a “dramatic” fourth Covid wave, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said on the eve of a crisis meeting with regional leaders.

Daily infections hit a new German record of 52,826 on Wednesday as European governments responded to a surge on much of the continent.

Belgium announced a series of measures in an attempt to avoid a lockdown.

“All the alarm signals are red,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as he told people to limit personal contact.

“Europe’s map is quickly going red, and we are the same.”

Children in Belgium will have to wear masks from the age of 10, rather than the current age of 12. Working from home will become compulsory from Saturday for four days a week. Passes known as Covid Safe Tickets will be required in theatres, cinemas and museums.

Posted in Belgium, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT front page) Europe Toughens Rules for Unvaccinated as Fourth Covid Wave Swells

As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections spike across Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrictions against the unvaccinated who are driving another wave of contagion and putting economic recoveries, public health and an eventual return to prepandemic freedoms at risk.

On Monday, Austria set a new bar for such measures in the West. Facing a 134 percent increase in cases in the last two weeks, the Austrian government cracked down on its unvaccinated population over the age of 12, restricting their movement to traveling for work, school, buying groceries and medical care.

“Our task as the federal government is to protect the people of Austria,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference on Sunday. “We are fulfilling this responsibility.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Austria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(FT) Ukraine warned of ‘high probability’ of Russian military escalation this winter

Western intelligence suggests a “high probability of destabilisation” of Ukraine by Russia as soon as this winter after Moscow massed more than 90,000 troops at its border, according to Kyiv’s deputy defence minister.

Hanna Maliar told the Financial Times at the weekend that while interpretations of western intelligence “need further discussion”, they underlined “the high probability of escalation of the situation”.

When asked if the risk of Russian military aggression was higher than during the past years, she said: “Information of our [military intelligence services] coincides with the information of partner countries about the high probability of destabilisation of the situation in Ukraine this winter.”

Maliar added that allies’ conclusions were “based not only on information about the number of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border”, suggesting Washington had additional intelligence about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s intentions.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Martin of Tours

Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Endemic Covid-19 Has Arrived in Portugal. This Is What It Looks Like

“Nobody will ever forget this past January, but now Covid is endemic and we need to learn to live with the virus,” said Dr. Mota. “Almost the whole population is vaccinated here and the virus still circulates, showing it won’t go away.”

As in other countries with a large proportion of the population vaccinated, a stubborn persistence of infections in Portugal hasn’t led to a significant increase in the rate of hospitalizations or deaths.

“Things are getting better, but it’s slow,” said Miguel Campos, who drives tourists around Lisbon in a tuk-tuk. “We are taking baby steps. We have a mix of optimism and hope that this return to normal will continue.”

Before the pandemic there were 800 rickshaw taxi drivers in Lisbon, but now only about 200 work during the week and 500 on weekends, said Valentim Gaspar, another rickshaw taxi driver. For now, the balance between drivers and tourists makes it possible to earn a decent living, he said.

The Portuguese almost universally attribute their vaccination success to Henrique Gouveia e Melo, an ex-submarine commander brought on to run the inoculation drive after a shaky start. He projected confidence and tapped into the population’s generally favorable attitudes to vaccinations, according to public-health experts. The vaccine rollout began in January just as the worst of the pandemic peaked in Portugal, providing a clear incentive for anybody who might have been unsure about getting vaccinated.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Portugal

(Bloomberg) Winter Crisis Raises Prospect of Energy Blockades in Europe

Europe’s heading into winter facing an unprecedented energy squeeze, and politicians are trying to figure out how to stop their citizens freezing.

If the shortages worsen, European governments could resort to curbing sales of natural gas and power to other regions. An even more extreme scenario could see them halt flows to one another, triggering a political and economic crisis.

“If it gets very cold, even within Europe you will see countries say: ‘I have the gas inside my borders and I am going to pass an urgent safety measure that no one can export for the next two weeks’,” said Marco Alvera, chief executive officer of Italian energy-infrastructure company Snam SpA. “I have been threatened in several countries over the last 20 years. Political priority is to keep your constituency.”

The European Union’s gas tanks are around 77% full. That is way below what’s normal for this time of year and leaves members especially vulnerable if the winter is severe.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(Washington Post) Spanish prime minister vows to abolish prostitution, saying it ‘enslaves’ women

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has promised to abolish prostitution in the country, saying it “enslaves” women.

Speaking at a three-day congress of his ruling Socialist Workers’ Party on Sunday, Sánchez vowed to move ahead with a pledge to outlaw prostitution that was part of his leftist party’s election manifesto in 2019. The manifesto called prostitution “one of the cruelest aspects of the feminization of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women.”

Prostitution has boomed in Spain since the practice was decriminalized in 1995; a 2011 U.N. report cited Spain as the third-biggest capital of prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico, and it has made a name for itself as the brothel of Europe. Recent estimates put revenue from Spain’s domestic sex trade at $26.5 billion a year, with as many as 300,000 people working in the industry.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Sexuality, Spain, Women

([London] Times) Nord Stream 2: Vladimir Putin accused of ‘choking’ gas supply to push up price

Britain has accused President Putin of “choking off” the supply of gas to Europe to increase energy prices and win approval for a new gas pipeline.

Ministers believe that Russia is deliberately restricting gas exports as part of a strategy to force European Union nations into approving Nord Stream 2, a pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

The shortage of gas in Europe has pushed up international prices, leading to a significant rise in household energy bills in the UK and pushing a string of suppliers into administration.

The average dual fuel bill could rise by as much as 30 per cent next year to £1,660 if gas and electricity prices continue to soar and more suppliers go bust, according to Cornwall Insight, an energy advisory group.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(WSJ) Havana Syndrome Attacks Widen With CIA Officer’s Evacuation From Serbia

The incident in the Balkans, which hasn’t been previously reported, is the latest in what the officials describe as a steady expansion of attacks on American spies and diplomats posted overseas by unknown assailants using what government officials and scientists suspect is some sort of directed-energy source.

Still more suspected attacks have occurred overseas and in the U.S., the current and former officials said, along with recently reported ones in India and Vietnam.

“In the past 60 to 90 days, there have been a number of other reported cases” on U.S. soil and globally, said Dr. James Giordano, a Georgetown University professor of neurology who is advising the U.S. government on the issue. “They are seen as valid reports with verified health indicators.”

The continuing attacks, which may cause dizziness, memory loss and other health issues, have sparked frustration within the U.S. government and sapped morale at the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency, the current and former officials said. Some professional diplomats and spies have become reluctant to take overseas postings for themselves and their families, the officials said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Cuba, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Serbia, Theology

Elizabeth Seitz RIP

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, France, Marriage & Family

(Guardian) German election on knife edge as months of coalition wrangling loom

Germany is braced to enter a new “Dutch-style” political era after federal elections on Sunday, as a knife-edge vote points to months of complicated coalition wrangling.

Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel joined the campaign trail at a rally in the western city of Aachen on Friday night in an attempt to help her designated successor from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet, close the gap on the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD).

“We need a stable government,” Laschet told the crowd at the event in his home city. “If you want stability for Germany, the CDU-CSU [Christian Social Union] have to be in first place tomorrow.”

“We will turn this game around,” vowed the conservative Bavarian state premier, Markus Söder, at the event in the southern German state capital. Germany, he warned, must not become an “experimental site for leftwing tomfoolery”.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(FT) Germany’s election: a new era of uncertain coalition politics

With just three days till polling day, Germany’s election is wide open. Rarely has such a crucial democratic exercise been tinged by so much uncertainty. Never before have Germans faced such a broad spectrum of possible electoral outcomes.

Angela Merkel is quitting the political battlefield and the army of voters the chancellor once commanded is now up for grabs. Her departure, after 16 years in power, has disrupted a system that once seemed the model of stability.

“For so many people the primary loyalty was to Merkel — and now she’s going,” says Andrea Römmele, professor of communication in politics at the Hertie School in Berlin. As a result, “we have an extremely high volatility among voters — more than 50 per cent of them are open in all directions.”

Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, is floundering, unsure about what to do and where to go next. Its rivals, the Social Democrats, are on a roll, with a commanding lead in the polls. But the SPD, like the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, faces an uncertain future. Germany’s old model of two dominant big-tent parties is being replaced by something much more fragmented.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Germany, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT) Why Australia Bet the House on Lasting American Power in Asia

When Scott Morrison became Australia’s prime minister three years ago, he insisted that the country could maintain close ties with China, its largest trading partner, while working with the United States, its main security ally.

“Australia doesn’t have to choose,” he said in one of his first foreign policy speeches.

On Thursday, Australia effectively chose. Following years of sharply deteriorating relations with Beijing, Australia announced a new defense agreement in which the United States and Britain would help it deploy nuclear-powered submarines, a major advance in Australian military strength.

With its move to acquire heavy weaponry and top-secret technology, Australia has thrown in its lot with the United States for generations to come — a “forever partnership,” in Mr. Morrison’s words. The agreement will open the way to deeper military ties and higher expectations that Australia would join any military conflict with Beijing.

It’s a big strategic bet that America will prevail in its great-power competition with China and continue to be a dominant and stabilizing force in the Pacific even as the costs increase.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Politics in General, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the (provisional) Feast Day of Catherine of Genoa

Gracious God, reveal to thy church the depths of thy love; that, like thy servant Catherine of Genoa, we might give ourselves in loving service, knowing that we have been perfectly loved by thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Italy, Spirituality/Prayer

Congratulation to Daniel Medvedev, 2021 US Open Men’s Tennis Champion

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Russia, Sports

(New Scientist) World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam

The first ever 3D-printed steel bridge has opened in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was created by robotic arms using welding torches to deposit the structure of the bridge layer by layer, and is made of 4500 kilograms of stainless steel.

The 12-metre-long MX3D Bridge was built by four commercially available industrial robots and took six months to print. The structure was transported to its location over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in central Amsterdam last week and is now open to pedestrians and cyclists.

More than a dozen sensors attached to the bridge after the printing was completed will monitor strain, movement, vibration and temperature across the structure as people pass over it and the weather changes. This data will be fed into a digital model of the bridge.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Science & Technology, The Netherlands, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Argula von Grumbach

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Argula von Grumbach a spirit of wisdom and power to love thy Word and to boldly draw others unto its truth: Pour out that same spirit upon us, so that we, knowing and loving thy Holy Word, may be unashamed of Christ and may not sin against the Holy Spirit that is within us, Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nathan Söderblom

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the life and work of Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala, who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians. Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of thy Church in life and worship, for the glory of thy Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Spirituality/Prayer, Sweden