30 December, 2016

2016 Who celebrated Erasmus's greatest achievement?

  1. Erasmus and how to win a Nobel Prize
Desiderius Eramus. That name should have reverberated throughout the year of 2016. Five hundred years ago, Erasmus published his most important book. It revolutionized the entirety of west European society.
That exploit has much to tell us. It can explain to us
  • how to counter the all-enveloping propaganda and see through the fog of Fake News.
  • It tells us how to get to the truth of the matter as the world’s disinformation machines, Islamic, Chinese, Russian, commercial and ideological, all aimed to deceive.
  • It puts a spring in our step and leads us to the way of true happiness.
  • It shows us the way and the means to outclass those of dull eyes and closed minds.
  • It may even lead many to a Nobel Prize and will certainly increase any student’s chances of getting one.
Today Erasmus is more known as a university exchange programme. More than three million young adults have benefited from Erasmus. His name figures as part of their curriculum vitae. They are students. Some, in their turn, became professors. They are beneficiaries of a university mobility programme where students are able to be taught, not just at one university, but to take up learning across participating colleges and centres of learning in many different countries.
This programme reminds us that universities should be about learning not about indoctrination from a single source. Nor should they be about absorbing the latest faddish theories that, with modern global communications, are pollinated worldwide as if from mushroom spores.
Erasmus was known in his time as a wandering scholar. He was born in Rotterdam, Holland. He worked as a private secretary in Bergen, Brussels and Malines. He studied at the university of Paris. In 1499 he came to Britain, a country he visited four times. He was professor at Cambridge. He obtained his doctorate of theology at Turin. At the time Pope Julius II was brandishing his sword and leading armies against the French, he sought refuge from war in Florence whilst Leonardo da Vinci was there. In Switzerland, fountain of publishing and intellectual freedom, he published many of his works, editions of classics and translations by the great printing house of Froben. In Venice one of the great free printing centres of Europe, Erasmus published some works with the house of Aldus Manutius
To many students today Erasmus represents the freedom to move to another university to learn. In reality Erasmus represents much more. He was one of the handful of men that opened up critical learning and research. That is the basis for Europe’s spectacular rise as a powerful civilization of thought and technology after the “Dark Ages”.
The mobility that students presently enjoy is only a minor part of his legacy. Immobility is a relatively recent phenomenon. British scientists, like Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, could visit France while the Napoleonic wars raged on the battlefields. The borders of countries were largely closed by two World Wars. Nothing is more isolationist than nationalistic wars where the civilian population is part of the target.
After WW2 the European Community brought in the idea of Erasmus scholarships. The Community had provided the means and the opportunity for a Single Market . The first single markets of 1952 were in coal, iron and steel. Workers could move freely. It was therefore logical that students should gain from this asset.
But what was the greatest achievement of the European Community? What made it all possible? Peace. The European Community brought an end to internal wars in western Europe. How did Robert Schuman come up with the intellectual conclusion about how to do it, integrate the right people and means to bring it about and, above all, have the political courage to devote his whole life to the project?
When around 1903 Robert Schuman had to choose where he would go to study, it was a perplexing choice. He was the son of a patriotic Frenchman who had fought in the siege of Thionville against the Prussian Germans. His mother was a Luxembourger. Robert was born in the Grand Duchy because his father refused to live in German-occupied Lorraine.
After having passed his High School exams with flying colours and determined his destiny, he was faced with the question: Where to go to study? He made an unusual choice. He decided to study at German universities. It required extensive extra studies to pass his entrance examination, the Abitur. The German-speaking states had only been unified by Bismarck in 1871 but the mobility of students to major university towns was still practiced. Schuman studied in Bonn, Munich, Berlin and finally Strasbourg where in 1910 he gained a doctorate cum magna Laude.
Before World War One broke out Schuman was an active agent among intellectuals and statesmen across Europe to prevent a catastrophic world war. He had but a few years for his activities in Germany, Belgium, France and in western Europe. In Berlin at the outbreak of WW1 four eminent scholars (among whom was Albert Einstein) published a “Wake-up Call to Europeans” calling for a supranational Community of scientists, philosophers, industrialists and workers to oppose war.
Schuman’s great achievement was not due to his ability to move from university to university. Nor was it due to the particular brilliance of any one of his teachers, although they were among the most brilliant of this golden age of intellectualism.
His main asset came from Erasmus. We live in an Age of Information. But it neglects Wisdom at its peril.
Peace in Europe owes a great debt still to Erasmus.
(to be continued)

15 December, 2016

Quick Brexit is becoming a fading reality

At the press briefing for the 15 December European Council here in Brussels, a “high European official” revealed how little the EU-27 have measured the widespread consequences of Brexit on their timetable.
Brexit Front Cover 8
The rush, rush attitude of Commission President Juncker, European Council President Tusk, EP president Schulz and as articulated also by Guy Verhofstadt is up for a surprise. The treaty of Lisbon calls for a 2 year negotiation. Guy Verhofstadt MEP and the Commission’s Brexit pointman Michel Barnier say this must realistically be reduced to 15 months to allow for preparation and ratification in all 28 States. All the lose ends have to be wrapped up well before the 2019 elections, they all say.
They don’t want UK to be electing MEPs while it is about to leave the EU under Article 50.
What they haven’t foreseen is clear from the briefing. That is regardless of what happens with the Lisbon E U negotiations, the UK will still be obliged to elect MEPs — not under the Lisbon Treaty but under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Euratom. (The EU is not the same as the European Community in law!)
The Founding Fathers of Europe were democratic and the Assembly was created by the founding Treaty in 1951. The first was the Coal and Steel Community with an Assembly which required elections by universal suffrage.
There were three Communities. Each treaty had full democracy based on one person one vote. But initially the parliamentarians were delegated by the national parliaments until the politicians provided the single statute for all Europe.

We are still waiting for them to do so.
The institutions of three Communities merged to have a single Parliament which is the present European Parliament. In the Merger Treaty of 1965 they have a single Council and the same Consultative Committees such as the Economic and Social Committee. When MEPs are elected they are elected to be parliamentarians for Euratom and for the EU.
Nuclear matters were responsible to this Assembly and other bodies such as the Consultative Committees which also should be elected. The public is still waiting for elections there too.
The European Union arose from modifying just one of these three Communities, the EEC “Common Market”. This was done by the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and the failed and rejected Constitutional Treaty whose articles were illegally incorporated as the Lisbon treaty.

Euratom remains a separate body and requires in its articles that States elect parliamentarians.
What does this mean for Britons living on the Continent? What does it mean for Britons in the UK? That has to be worked out.
Have the EU27 or the European Council considered the implications of this treaty? The answer is No. And officials said they won’t even be discussing it on Thursday, 14 December. They will leave it until after the negotiation date is set.
What will they find?
That (1) this Community treaty has a “perpetuity” clause like the EEC used to have before it was changed to the Article 50 of Lisbon.
(2) They will also find that, even if they come up with a legal device to overturn the perpetuity clause (which at the very least will require unanimity first, then treaty change and parliamentary ratification by 28 States) they will be faced with a world of highly complex additional negotiation to deal with. That is the common market of nuclear materials and safeguards that will prevent countries like Iran getting hold of it. It adds a new braking action for the fast Brexiteers.
The EU-27 States estimate that it will take a decade or more to negotiate merely the trade aspects. So says UK's Brussels diplomat, Sir Ivan Rogers. That assumes there will be no legal delays by angry citizens and consumers.
Conclusion: Fast Brexit is looking more like Mission Impossible.

04 December, 2016

EU Religious Leaders react to 'naive' West facing Jihadi threats

eu-religious-leaders-29-nov-2016A century ago, 15 percent of the Middle East were professing Christians. Today only 4 percent remain. Following bloody murder, violence and mass persecutions, millions have left the region. Most of the changes have taken place in recent years. The Jews went first. Nearly a million were expelled from Arab and Muslim counties after WW2.
Barnabas Fund for persecuted Christians says 80 percent of Christians in Iraq have fled the country. Why? It says:
“During the 1970s, western politicians tended to view Islam as a gentle, peaceful, primarily eastern religion, a naïve view that ignored the periodic massacres of Christians that had been happening in the Middle East over the previous 150 years. This view still informs the policies of the Obama administration who even now flatly deny that there is any link between Islamic ideology and violence against non-Muslims. Consequently when it talks about being committed to seeing a “whole, unified, pluralistic, nonsectarian Syria”, it unwittingly embraces jihadist groups who routinely target Christians.”
How did a relatively peaceful region become such a cauldron of violence? The Barnabas Fund report says:
“During the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, the US supplied vast amounts of arms to radical Islamist groups fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, notably the Taliban. It was the Pakistan Taliban who later carried out attacks on Christians such as the 2013 bombing of the All Saints Church in Peshawar that killed over 80 and injured more than a hundred others.
After the 9/11 attacks George W. Bush assumed that military intervention – initially in Afghanistan and then Iraq – would bring about western-style democracy that would in turn neutralise radical Islam.
In fact, almost the exact opposite was true.”

Today Christians and Jews worldwide are faced with another pernicious attack — that of changing or destroying Jewish and Christian history. Muslim clerics are destroying archaeological facts by the truck load. Four hundred trucks of them! Tons of archaeological earth was removed from under what in the West is commonly called “The Temple Mount” in Jerusalem and thrown on the city’s dumps. After patient sifting of this rubbish, Israeli archeologists found bullae or seals, coins and arrowheads of the Roman Tenth Legion dating back to the Israelite kings and their Secretaries of State, mentioned in the Bible and the Roman siege of Israel’s capital.
Ancient churches on the “Temple Mount” built by the Byzantine Romans and later by the Crusaders were destroyed. Muslims re-used the Dome of the Rock or columns for their own purposes. The Dome of the Rock retains an onion-shaped dome typical of its earlier Byzantine architecture. It has the octagonal structure of Byzantine churches and contains features and texts some scholars take to be pre-Islamic.
It was reconstructed half a century into the Muslim era by Abd al-Malik on a Christian church site, the Church of the Holy Wisdom. Texts are mainly non-koranic and contain many propagandist references to Jesus on the inside. They encourage Christians (then by far the majority in Jerusalem) to turn to Islam and physically face south towards Mecca.
History cannot be buried with propaganda. Truth is unearthed, even in our times. On the mounts of Jerusalem a bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah was found. It dates the legality of Jewish occupiers to around 2700 years ago.
Jerusalem is the capital of Judeo-Christian and European civilization, its education, science and culture.
United Nations agencies now collude in the Muslim propaganda that undermines Western culture. Both the USA and Israel have refused to fund UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) any more. Why? Because It has thrown out objective rule books about education, science and culture. Faced with Muslim disinformation attacks, UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee have passed resolutions denying Hebrew or Christian names for sites in Jerusalem.
It reiterates that Israel is an occupier. That is true in the sense Israel is the legal occupier as I am of my own house. But the resolutions imply that there is something nasty, illegal or unjust about it. That is rubbish. Israel is recognized as a Jewish Homeland.
An Arab who claims that his house was given him by Saladin in the twelfth century has no rights. Saladin was a foreign military invader. This Kurdish leader was born in Tikrit, (in modern day Iraq, the home of Saddam Hussein). He founded the Ayyubid dynasty in the twelfth century and was proclaimed sultan of Egypt and Syria. He conquered Syria and fought the Crusaders.
Saladin, like the Romans before him, had no legal rights. Nor has the pope. Nor has anyone in Poland who says the land of a former synagogue is his because the Nazis gave it him! The highest courts of Europe re-affirm this principle of legitimate ownership.
It makes absolutely no sense to deny the fact that the Jewish and Israelite capital was at Jerusalem from the time of Israelite King David. He bought it. He paid for it in gold and silver. No one disputed in the coming centuries that David was the legal occupier and owner. It remained legally occupied by Jews until centuries after Jesus Christ walked and worked in the Temple.
After Jerusalem was conquered and burnt by pagan Rome, the Byzantine Roman Empire built churches and ruled the land. The Persians also tried to conquer it. Muslims have no patent to change the names and heritage of places.
If the names of the places in Jerusalem should be defined by military conquest, they should all be in English. British forces were the last major power to conquer the land in 1917 during the First World War. The global powers meeting at San Remo after WW1 decided by law what to do. They recognized that the land of Israel was the Jewish Homeland. It did not belong to Turks, Arabs, Muslims or the Roman Empire. That international decision has recognition by scientific, cultural authorities. It is a historical fact. It has the force of international law. Those who disagree with it must also disagree with the Iranian State, the State of Syria, the kingdoms of Iraq and Saudi Arabia which were founded by the same authorities at the same time.
Jerusalem and Israel were not made by the League of Nations. The League and later the United Nations recognized the legitimacy of Jewish ownership. The same principle of international law is used after any military conqueror has left a country. Departing armies have no rights on the property of the owners who lived there before the conquest. That is what happened in Nazi-occupied Poland. It is what European courts affirm today about property rights in Cyprus, where the Turkish army intervened and Greek-speaking owners abandoned their houses.
The UNESCO resolutions thus attack the foundation of European law. They attack the Educational principles of Western society that says “might is not right”. They attack the Scientific principles that say archaeology and historical documents give proof of ownership, not the fables about dreams of peacock-winged mules who supposedly flew to an area then without either mosque or Temple. buraq
The UNESCO resolutions attack the founding Culture of Western civilization.
Robert Schuman in creating the European Community helped define real democracy that has brought a diverse, warring Europe its longest peace. The European Commission holds a regular dialogue with high-level religious leaders. So I put these questions to them. Here are their answers.
Besides Vice-President Frans Timmermans, those attending included:
H. E. Archbishop Polycarpus Augin AYDIN, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in the Netherlands – Arie FOLGER, Chief Rabbi of Vienna – Bishop Heinrich BEDFORD-STROHM, Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) – Imam Yahya PALLAVICINI, Vice-President of the “Comunità religiosa Islamica” in Italy – Jan FIGEL, Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief outside the European Union – H. E. Albert GUIGUI, Chief Rabbi of Brussels and Permanent Representative to the EU Conference of European Rabbis – Antje JACKELEN, Archbishop of the Protestant Church in Sweden – Elder Patrick KEARON, First Counsellor in the Europe Area – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Imam Benjamin IDRIZ, Islamische Gemeinde Penzberg – Bishop Robert INNES, Anglican Bishop in Europe