Cou­ples from 50 coun­tries give vows

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

An es­ti­mated 2,500 cou­ples from more than 50 coun­tries ex­changed or reaf­firmed wed­ding vows Satur­day in a Uni­fi­ca­tion Church cer­e­mony held be­fore more than 15,000 spec­ta­tors in a sta­dium in Gapeyeong, South Korea.

The church’s founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, presided over the event, bless­ing the cou­ples in the sta­dium, about 50 miles north­east of Seoul. Thou­sands more par­tic­i­pated over the In­ter­net and in cer­e­monies around the world, in­clud­ing 40 cou­ples in Washington, a church spokesman said.

In the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church tra­di­tion, known as the “Mar­riage Bless­ing,” or sim­ply the “Bless­ing,” many mar­ried cou­ples reded­i­cate their vows along­side the newly mar­ried.

Uni­fi­ca­tion Church min­is­ters es­ti­mated that 165 peo­ple from the United States whose par­ents had been matched and mar­ried by Rev. Moon took part in Satur­day’s event.

“This whole ex­pe­ri­ence has been ab­so­lutely amaz­ing. I mean re­ally, re­ally happy,” Chouchane Saemie of Bri­tain told the Reuters news agency.

“The mass wed­ding leads all mankind to be one, re­mov­ing the boundaries of eth­nic­i­ties, re­li­gious and na­tion­al­i­ties,” se­nior South Korean church of­fi­cial Seuk Joon-ho told the news ser­vice. “Our goal is mak­ing the world peace­ful with form­ing new fam­i­lies.”

Rev. Moon, 92, founded the church, of­fi­cially called the Fam­ily Fed­er­a­tion for World Peace and Uni­fi­ca­tion, in 1954.

He also started The Washington Times. The news­pa­per to­day is owned and op­er­ated by a five­mem­ber board af­fil­i­ated with the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.

The Washington cou­ples joined in the cer­e­monies with a ban­quet at the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church of Washington, hosted by the Rev. Zagery Oliver, the church’s pas­tor, and his wife, Fumi.

Other cou­ples par­tic­i­pat­ing in the event were from New York and from San Le­an­dro and Pasadena, Calif. or the other sweeps the ta­ble in Novem­ber, I think se­ques­tra­tion will hap­pen.”

Se­ques­tra­tion is the for­mal name for the au­to­matic spend­ing cuts.

Mr. Goure has watched Repub­li­cans and Democrats dig in.

“There is in­tran­si­gence of both par­ties to the el­e­ments of any deal,” he said. “It’s all bud­get re­duc­tions on one side and mostly tax in­creases on the other.

“But also, it turns out trag­i­cally the United States Congress doesn’t care as much for na­tional de­fense as was thought when the [ bud­get act] was struck. The as­sump­tion was nei­ther side would dare risk na­tional se­cu­rity. Turns out they would.”

Lame-duck hopes

Said a House Re­pub­li­can staffer in­volved in de­fense is­sues: “The pres­i­dent is the big ob­sta­cle. The pres­i­dent said a deal is a deal. Sen. Harry Reid [Ne­vada Demo­crat and ma­jor­ity leader] said a deal is a deal. We have to be hon­est with our­selves and re­al­is­tic. It is near im­pos­si­ble to head off se­ques­tra­tion be­fore the end of the year.”

The staffer said the first sign of pro­longed dead­lock was the su­per­com­mit­tee, the bi­par­ti­san group of sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives that failed to reach a bud­get deal and was dis­banded in Novem­ber.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee, pre­sented a 2013 bud­get last week that would, he said, head off au­to­matic cuts.

But Se­nate Democrats dis­missed the plan be­cause it would cut do­mes­tic spend­ing be­low fig­ures man­dated by the Bud­get Con­trol Act.

A lin­ger­ing hope has been that, af­ter Novem­ber’s elec­tions, a lame-duck Congress would have the po­lit­i­cal free­dom to reach a com­pro­mise.

An­a­lysts say don’t count on

it.

“It is lit­tle more than a dream to sug­gest that Washington can re­claim bi­par­ti­san­ship and a spirit of com­pro­mise in that brief pe­riod of time,” writes Macken­zie Ea­glen, a for­mer Pen­tagon of­fi­cial who an­a­lyzes de­fense is­sues at the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute.

Winslow Wheeler, a for­mer Se­nate staffer who ad­vo­cates bud­get re­form for the Cen­ter for De­fense In­for­ma­tion, said he sees “the lame-duck as a false hope for solv­ing all the bud­get is­sues.”

“If the new Congress can be ma­neu­vered into be­hav­ing it­self in Jan­uary, it will have many tasks, in­clud­ing do­ing what­ever to the Pen­tagon part of the se­quester that the econ­omy and bud­get de­mand at that time,” he said.

“How­ever, there is only one di­rec­tion for the Pen­tagon bud­get in fore­see­able eco­nomic and bud­getary cir­cum­stances: It will go lower than the cur­rent and 2013 pro­jected lev­els.

“I would say se­ques­tra­tion is highly likely, given the dys­func­tion in Congress that will con­tinue af­ter the elec­tions,” Mr. Wheeler said.

A de­fense in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive who main­tains con­tact with con­gres­sional of­fi­cials flatly pre­dicted that “it’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

‘Not easy to pre­vent’

“Whether you have Obama or Mitt Rom­ney as pres­i­dent, I think both of them are go­ing to find it con­ve­nient to let se­ques­tra­tion hap­pen,” the ex­ec­u­tive said. “And I don’t think Congress be­tween now and an elec­tion year is go­ing to re­verse it. Then you’re go­ing to have a lame-duck pres­i­dent or lame­duck Se­nate or both. It will be too po­lar­ized to act. So se­ques­tra­tion is go­ing to hap­pen.”

Michael O’han­lon, a de­fense bud­get an­a­lyst at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, said, “There is too much op­ti­mism that it will some­how be averted, per­haps in a lame-duck ses­sion, be­cause the re­al­ity of it is too ugly to con­tem­plate.”

He added: “I rate the prospects right at 50-50 and think that the fear of se­ques­tra­tion may have to get worse and more pal­pa­ble be­fore any­body will try to do any­thing. And even once they try, it’s not easy to pre­vent.”

A spokesman for Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can and a House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee mem­ber who voted against the Bud­get Con­trol Act be­cause of its de­fense cuts, called avert­ing the au­to­matic spend­ing re­duc­tions “a tall or­der.”

“We still need to make the best case pos­si­ble and make ev­ery ef­fort to in­su­late the de­fense bud­get from ad­di­tional cuts that are sure to dam­age the mil­i­tary,” said spokesman Joe Kasper.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta in Fe­bru­ary pre­sented his first round of bud­get cuts de­manded by the Bud­get Con­trol Act. He achieved spend­ing tar­gets largely by elim­i­nat­ing 92,000 Army and Ma­rine Corps troops, re­tir­ing ships and air­craft, and de­lay­ing ex­pen­sive new weapons sys­tems such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

His 2013 base bud­get, mi­nus war-fight­ing costs of $525 bil­lion, is $5 bil­lion less than 2012 spend­ing and $45 bil­lion less than what the Pen­tagon had planned to spend next year.

Be­cause the bud­get act al­lows the pres­i­dent to ex­empt per­son­nel, an­a­lysts be­lieve a round of se­ques­tra­tion-dic­tated bud­get slash­ing would hit fu­ture weapons sys­tems, not troops — who would be needed to ful­fill op­er­a­tional con­tin­gen­cies in the Per­sian Gulf and the South Pa­cific.

Mr. Panetta has be­moaned the au­to­matic de­fense spend­ing cuts, say­ing they would pro­duce a “hol­lowed out” mil­i­tary.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Egyp­tians demon­strate early Sun­day in Port Said about their soc­cer team. Egyp­tian sol­diers fought with thou­sands of soc­cer fans in the Mediter­ranean coastal city over the sus­pen­sion of their club af­ter a deadly riot last month. A med­i­cal of­fi­cial said a teenager was killed and sev­eral peo­ple were in­jured over the week­end.

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