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Published:April 2nd, 2008 12:02 EST
World Chronicle: April 2

World Chronicle: April 2

By Krzys Wasilewski

It happened today in Bucharest…

Some NATO countries must send more forces to war-torn Afghanistan, U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday. The ongoing president addressed other leaders during the annual NATO meeting in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. Although Bush did not name any countries, it is generally assumed that his veiled critique was pointed at Germany, Italy, and Spain which have their troops in Afghanistan but refuse to participate in dangerous combat missions, much to the irritation of Washington. At the same conference, the American president is expected to urge his partners to open negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia – both former Soviet Republics. Germany and France oppose the move, citing Russia’s displeasure, but Washington can count on the vote of Central and Eastern European states. The decision should be made on Friday.

It happened today in Beijing…

The United States will cooperate with its Chinese partner to resolve current economic problems. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said during his visit to the Chinese capital that although he continued to “think there will be some more bumps in the road,” he believed both countries were “making progress.” The U.S. remains highly dependent on Chinese exports, with many American companies’ shares being owned by Chinese banks. As experts warn that recent falls on Wall Street may portend recession, fears that the instable Chinese economy will explode dominate global markets.

It happened three years ago in the Vatican…

It was on this day in 2005 that Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian head of the Catholic Church for over four centuries, died in his private room after battling a severe illness. The Polish pope was 85 and had long suffered from Parkinson’s disease as well as breathing difficulties, but his death caught many by surprise. Karol Wojtyla – as was his original name – had served for 27 years and many Catholics worldwide did not remember his predecessors. His ever-smiling face and soothing voice traveled to over 100 countries and spoke to millions of people during more or less official meetings. During his pontiff, Pope John Paul II met with dozens of world leaders: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro, and Augusto Pinochet, among others. According to many, including U.S. Presidents Carter and Reagan, he was a pivotal force in defeating Communism in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s. His funeral on April 8 gathered a record audience of around five million people and was conducted by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who in a week would be elected the next pope.

It happened 91 years ago in the U.S…

“The world must be safe for Democracy,” said U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, urging Congress to declare war to Germany and its allies. For the first time in history and contrary to its previous principles, the United States engaged in a European war. But in 1917 even such a distant country as America could not steer away from the tragedy that had been consuming the Old Continent for over three years, especially with more and more American citizens falling prey to the military combat. This and the disclosure of the Zimmermann Note – a message in which Germany offered Mexico alliance and promised to support it in reclaiming “the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona” – spurred Congress to declare war.

It happened 143 years ago in the U.S…

In 1865, the Confederate forces were in disarray and the fate of the four year-long Civil War was long decided. It happened that on one day, April 2, 1865, the South received two mortal blows from the Union: General Robert E. Lee with his devastated army were forced to flee the city of Petersburg while Confederate President Jefferson Davis left Richmond after the first soldiers of General Ulysses S. Grant made their way through the weak defense. The next day, the capital of the Confederate States of America was in the hands of the Union. When the war ended, General Lee retired to his mansion in Virginia only to assume the office of the president of Washington College. Less lucky was Jefferson Davies who, soon after leaving Richmond, was arrested and spent two years in prison for treason. While on bail, he traveled to Canada, Cuba, and Europe, redeeming himself as a world-class statesman. In 1875 he ran for the Senate but his return to national politics was blocked by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which barred former Confederate leaders from public offices.

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