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Revolutionary zeal

"Revolutionary zeal" Continued...

Issue: "Tour d'America road rage," Feb. 11, 2012

Dormant volcano

After Europe's financial eruptions in 2011, 2012 has seemed quiet by comparison. But financial analysts say we shouldn't be fooled. Europe is quiet in the way a volcano is quiet. That is, nothing has blown up so far, but steam is still rising from the vents.

The euro, for example, continues to sink against the dollar-to a 16-month low. Major structural problems still exist. In fact, something unusual happened in Europe in mid-January. Eurozone banks held a record amount of cash overnight on Jan. 9 at the European Central Bank. That's significant because it's a sign of stress in the European financial system. The central bank said overnight deposits hit $613.4 billion. The high deposits at the ECB mean banks are afraid to loan money to other commercial banks that might pay higher rates but which they fear might go out of business literally overnight.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi called Europe's situation "very grave," but he added that eurozone governments are making progress to permanently resolve their problems, and that the ECB would cooperate to the limit of the treaty that created it.

A family sacrifices

Dr. Jean and Mary Wise of Hope, Ark., parents of four, have now lost two sons in Afghanistan. Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise, 34, died Jan. 15 after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds in combat with insurgents in Balkh province. He leaves a wife and three children. His older brother, former Navy SEAL Jeremy Wise, 35, died in December 2009 when a suicide bomber attacked a CIA outpost, killing seven.

'The ends of the earth'

Chinese officials broke a 20-month silence about the fate of prominent dissident and Christian attorney Gao Zhisheng: Authorities said the human-rights activist was alive and imprisoned in a remote area of western China.

It was bittersweet news. Gao's family feared he was dead, but now they face a new heartbreak: Authorities say the activist will spend another three years in jail for violating his probation. Police first arrested Gao in 2006 for "subversion of state power" after the attorney publicly exposed abuses of Christians and other religious minorities. He remained under house arrest until 2009, when police detained him without explanation. Gao resurfaced in March 2010 but disappeared a month later. His family hadn't heard from him since.

A December letter to Gao's brother, Gao Zhiyi, confirmed the activist's location and new prison sentence. Gao Zhiyi made an arduous three-day journey to visit his brother in January, only to have authorities refuse his plea to visit. Gao's wife, Geng He, wrote an open letter to her husband earlier that month: "Even if you go to the ends of the earth, we will remain connected to you."

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