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Published:April 16th, 2008 13:47 EST

World Chronicle: April 16

By Krzys Wasilewski

It happened today in Gaza City, the Gaza Strip…

Hamas will send two of its leaders to Egypt for a meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. According to the Associated Press, Mahmoud al-Zahar and Saeed Seyam-- both from Hamas’s inner circle-- are to leave for Cairo today despite protests from the Israeli government. Israel and the United States consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization and refuse to participate in any talks with its members. Last year both countries imposed economic sanctions on Palestine when Hamas formed a government. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter has insisted that keeping Hamas “completely excluded even from conversations or consultations, I think, is counterproductive.” Egypt remains the only place where Jimmy Carter and Hamas leaders can meet because the Israelis have refused the former American president's request to visit the Gaza Strip.



It happened today in Moscow, Russia…

With the end of his second and last presidential term, Vladimir Putin will become Russia’s prime minister and the leader of the country’s biggest party. With the new office, comes a new woman. Russian and European media inform Wednesday that Putin divorced his 50 year-old wife, Lyudmila Shrekbneva, in order to marry Alina Kabayeva, a beautiful, 25-year-old gymnast. The wedding ceremony is set up for June 15. Whether Putin, 55, envied his French counterpart, who recently tied the marital knot with a former super model, remains unknown but his new sweetheart may bring a breath of fresh air to Russian politics.



It happened one year ago in Blacksburg, Virginia…

The first victims at Virginia Tech were killed at 7:15 am on Monday, April 16, 2007. Two hours later the death toll rose to 33, including the assassin, a 23-year-old South Korean named Cho. Among the casualties were students and teachers; some of them lost their lives while attempting to save their colleagues. Jocelyne M. Couture-Novak, a French instructor, was shot while trying to barricade the classroom door.
The tragedy, dubbed by the media as the Virginia Tech massacre, was the deadliest school shooting in the entire history of the United States, leading to a heated debate on gun ownership and privacy laws. What was most shocking was the fact that the school authorities had been aware of Cho’s mental problems, yet decided not to act in order to protect his privacy.



It happened 81 years ago in Bavaria, Germany…

It’s the birthday of Joseph Ratzinger born on April 16, 1927-- Holy Saturday-- wider known as Pope Benedict XVI. According to family stories, Ratzinger decided on a career in the church at the age of five, when he was among the children welcoming the new cardinal of Bavaria. In 1941, he was forced to join the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary organization, but did not attend a single meeting. Shortly before the end of the Second World War, Ratzinger served in anti-aircraft corps; however, unable to fight, he soon deserted only to be caught by approaching American forces. With the military activities over, Ratzinger completed his seminary requirements and was ordained priest, together with his older brother, Georg, in 1951. Eight years later, he became a theology professor at University of Bonn, at that time the capital of West Germany. In 1981, Pope John Paul II named Cardinal Ratzinger as the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, a Vatican department responsible for Catholic teaching. On April 19, three days after his 78 birthday, Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 265th pope.



It happened 91 years ago in Saint Petersburg, Russia…

Very few expected that the 47-year-old bald man with a short goatee who arrived in the northern Russian city of Saint Petersburg on April 16, 1917 would change the future of his country and much of the world. This traveler was Vladimir Lenin who just came back from Finland to help his comrades at home set the fire of revolution to all of then aristocratic Russia. By November 1918, Lenin would have accumulated enough power to purge the Communist Party of his opponents. Many legends concerning Lenin’s comeback to Russia were created throughout the years, mixing facts with popular beliefs. If we are to trust historical sources, Lenin was paid by the German intelligence to return to Russia and, through his revolutionary activities, create chaos in the Empire, which engaged German armies on the eastern front. Although Lenin was more successful than anyone had hoped, the Germans lost the First World War and bequeathed Europe with a Communist giant.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions, please write to: krzys.wasilewski@yahoo.com