By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 10 Comments
Paul Dewar calls on the Harper government to support a financial transaction tax at the G20.
“The FTT will be small change for banks, but a major boost to the fight against inequality, poverty and climate change” said Dewar. “It will also cut the excesses of speculative market which were central to the most recent financial crisis.”
The FTT is supported by many European leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Prominent international economists such as Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs back this change as do George Soros and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Dewar supports an FTT implemented with the widest possible international agreement through multilateral forums such as G20.
The EU proposal is supported by France and Germany. Two U.S. Democrats are proposing a similar measure. The Harper government opposes the current proposal and has opposed similar proposals in the past.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
The past activities of some members are casting shadows over the party’s move onto the national political stage
No one expected Germany’s Pirate Party to win representation in Berlin’s state parliament. Yet their campaign, which included a platform advocating a quixotic mix of data protection, a guaranteed minimum income and legalized marijuana, appealed to disillusioned voters who rewarded it with nine per cent of the vote.
Now, however, the past activities of some members are casting shadows over the Pirate Party’s move onto the national political stage. At least two members, including a regional chairman, have been ID’d as former members of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which has been labelled by German intelligence as a “racist, anti-Semitic” entity that wants to create a Fourth Reich. (One later resigned.)
In addition, women complain that the party, which claims to be “post-gender,” is overwhelmingly populated by men. So far, party officials have shrugged off all the criticisms. As leader Sebastian Nerz told Der Spiegel, “We grew out of the Internet scene, and that happens to be dominated by men.”
By Leah Mclaren - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 12 Comments
As they watch the debt crisis unfold, hardline Euroskeptics in Britain have never seemed so smug
In his speech to a joint session of Parliament in Ottawa last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron lavished praise on our economic system. After commending Canada for getting “every major decision right” in the past few years of global market turmoil, he lauded the strength of both the Canadian banking system and our economic leaders, who, he said, “got to grips with its deficit” and were “running surpluses and paying down debt before the recession, fixing the roof while the sun was shining.”
Cameron’s admiration for Canada’s relatively peachy fiscal position stands in stark contrast to his dim view of his eurozone neighbours.
The British PM used his northern stopover to trumpet the message both he and his finance minister, George Osborne, have taken up even more loudly than usual as of late: Europe, and the U.S., must get their fiscal houses in order, or face disastrous consequences. “This is not a traditional, cyclical recession, it’s a debt crisis,” Cameron said of the world’s faltering economies. “When the fundamental problem is the level of debt and the fear of those levels, then the usual economic prescriptions cannot be applied.” It’s a statement that begs the obvious question: what now?
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Angry voters at home are increasingly turning against her and her coalition government
Spare a sympathetic thought for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the most powerful country in the euro zone, and the one whose decisions will have a consequential effect not just on citizens of Germany, but the rest of the continent. “When Angela Merkel goes into a room at a summit meeting, it’s as if the headmistress has arrived,” says William Paterson, honorary professor of German and European politics at Aston University in Britain.
This is all well and good when the school—or a monetary union of 17 member states and 300 million people—is running well. But when half the students are wasting or hiding their lunch money, the teachers are overspending and asking the headmistress to cover for them, and—to stretch the metaphor—the headmistress’s own family doesn’t see why she should do so, it becomes a much more trying job.
This is roughly the position in which Merkel finds herself as the popularity of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party crumbles, and the governing coalition it leads shows signs of imploding. The eurozone is facing a financial crisis, driven by soaring sovereign debts of member states such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain. Greece’s situation is the most serious, with some observers predicting that a default on its debts is inevitable. Such an event would hurt all the economies in the union (not sparing those outside it) and dramatically weaken the euro. And so, multi-billion-dollar bailout packages have been pledged, with more on the way.
By Colby Cosh, Jaime J. Weinman, and Richard Warnica - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Miley gets political, the Pope gets stung and Julian Assange gets an autobiography he doesn’t want
No, they didn’t walk home
Two American hikers convicted of espionage in Iran were released after the sultan of Oman posted US$930,000 bail for them. Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, 29-year-old pro-Palestine activists and former Berkeley classmates, were seized along with a female friend while on holiday in 2009; Iran claims they illegally crossed their border on foot. The woman, Sarah Shourd, Bauer’s fiancée, was freed last fall on medical grounds. Bauer and Fattal’s release, with both in apparent good health, is seen as a political victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over hardline clerics in the Islamic republic.
Only in France is having it and not flaunting it a crime. Last week, a court outside Paris fined two women for refusing to show their faces in public. Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali were the ﬁrst Frenchwomen charged under a law that bans full facial coverings outside the home. Passed last spring, the ban was aimed, rather transparently, at France’s substantial Muslim minority. It may also have been an attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy to shore up his vulnerable right flank. But if anything, the law has galvanized supporters of the niqab. Ahmas told reporters she intends to challenge her fine in the European Court of Human Rights—while Kenza Drider, who also wears the niqab, now says she intends to run against Sarkozy in the presidential election. “When a woman wants to maintain her freedom she must be bold,” Drider told the Associated Press.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 7:45 PM - 2 Comments
The Pirate party of Germany stunned the European political establishment last week by capturing 8.9 per cent of the vote in the Berlin state elections. Fifteen pro-hacker Pirates are now sitting in the local legislature.
Are we going to see more hooded sweatshirts and neon overalls in politics? Perhaps. As many as 18 European and North American countries (including Canada) have officially registered Pirate Parties, with Pirates holding office in five of them. While our own nascent Pirate party has yet to break through to the mainstream, it might be wise to keep an eye on it. In fact, Pirate politics across the globe deserve attention. Here’s why: Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM - 4 Comments
The quote employed by the Prime Minister today—”A handful of soldiers is better than a mouthful of arguments”—seems to originate from the musings of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, an 18th Century German physicist now known for his “waste books” of aphorisms. Litchenberg’s life story is fairly incredible—German scientist and hunchback befriends British royalty and becomes enduring and influential observer of the human condition—but let’s focus on this particular quote.
For the record, the original musing seems to read that a handful of soldiers is always better than a mouthful of arguments. Whether Mr. Harper believes the former is always better than the latter is likely relevant. Either way, when employed by the leader of a country in 2011, it’s probably fascinating (or at least passably interesting).
Is it cynical? Satirical? Humorous? Wry? Realistic? True?
Here is the quote in the full context of Mr. Harper’s remarks today. I haven’t been able to find any specific considerations of the quote in the context of Litchenberg’s writing, but here are a few reviews of Litchtenberg’s life and work. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM - 1 Comment
Lower-than-expected numbers worry frail markets
Germany, Europe’s top economy, experienced much slower-than-anticipated growth in the second quarter of this year. The disappointing numbers have raised questions over how much support the country can lend to the European Union bloc in the midst of its debt crisis. According to early figures from the statistics office, growth fell to 0.1 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms. Analysts blame a negative trade balance, dwindling consumption and less investment in construction projects.
By Cigdem Iltan - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 7 Comments
A German food fair says “nein” to the French delicacy
French foie gras makers say they feel like chopped liver after a German food fair decided to ban the French delicacy this year. Producers of the fatty duck and goose liver have accused the biennial Anuga fair of bowing to pressure from animal-rights activists. Its production is banned in several countries because of how it’s made: birds are force-fed grains in a process the French call gavage so that their livers swell to abnormal sizes. But the decision has resulted in a diplomatic spat between the two countries. Ministers have threatened to boycott the Cologne fair, while French Foreign Trade Minister Pierre Lellouche told the German ambassador the fair should drop the ban or else risk disrespecting European law on the free movement of goods.
The sale and production of foie gras is responsible for 35,000 French jobs, Lellouche says, and the ban could have “global repercussions.” But German officials say the issue is up to fair organizers. The controversy has ruffled feathers across France’s political spectrum: the leader of the rural values party, Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Tradition, blamed the dispute on “anti-gavage extremists,” while a Socialist senate member said “it’s like banning German sausages in France.”
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Germany’s Deutsche Bank has a new CEO
Deutsche Bank, that most treasured of German national institutions, has picked an Indian executive to be its new CEO. Last week, the bank revealed that Anshu Jain, currently working for Deutsche Bank in London, will be filling the shoes of outgoing chief executive Josef Ackermann, who is scheduled to step down in May. Jain currently heads the bank’s investment banking operations, which accounted for nearly 90 per cent of its pre-tax first-quarter profits this year. But the 48-year-old Indian native speaks little German and doesn’t know his way around the corridors of corporate and political power in Frankfurt and Berlin. That’s why the bank also appointed Jürgen Fitschen, a German who currently oversees Deutsche Bank’s national operation, as a co-CEO. In addition, the duo might get some tips from current CEO Ackermann, who is slated to head the bank’s supervisory board.
The complex succession scheme has received mixed reviews from investors, many of whom fear a triumvirate at the top will lead to leadership struggles and slow down decision-making. But, as others suggested, an Indian alone at the helm of Germany’s financial crown jewel might have been too much of a cultural shock for many Germans.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, July 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 4 Comments
COYNE: In the U.S. and Greece, fears of debt spirals compete with fears of default
On either side of the Atlantic, the scene is the same: dramatic closed-door negotiations; days and nights of brinksmanship and finger-pointing; fears of debt spirals competing with fears of default.
What is different is the reaction to each. The American economy is the largest in the world, its government the biggest spender and heaviest borrower in the world. The consequences if the United States were to default on its debts would be incalculably greater than if Greece were to, harming not only its own borrowing ability but the whole structure of international credit. If the “full faith and credit” of the United States of America is not a safe bet, after all, what is?
And yet, with a possible default just days away, investors seem unperturbed. The interest rate on American 10-year bonds remains among the lowest in the world, and has been falling for months. It is tiny, perennially penniless Greece that has the financial markets in an uproar. This week’s meeting of European leaders is being pitched as a last chance to avert disaster, with agreement on a bailout (a second, actually) far from assured.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM - 1 Comment
Neo-Nazis were paying homage to Hitler deputy’s grave
The German town of Wunsiedel has removed the remains of Adolph Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, from the town cemetery in order to deter Neo-Nazis from paying homage to his grave. His remains will be cremated and his headstone, which has the epitaph “I have dared” engraved upon it in German, was also destroyed. Hess’s descendants have reluctantly agreed to the decision, after his granddaughter and the church’s pastor struck up the agreement. Hess was captured in 1941, after parachuting into Scotland with the intent of negotiating a peace agreement with Nazi Germany. He was found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg, and spent the rest of his life in prison until committing suicide on August 17, 1987. Far-right groups in Germany consider him a “martyr to the Fatherland” and began rallying at the Wunsiedel cemetery the following year.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 9:47 AM - 3 Comments
Greek profligacy has unleashed a wave of anti-EU anger
Germans are angry. Some of them are outright enraged. And almost anyone with a basic awareness of current affairs feels deeply frustrated.
Back in 1999, when the euro was born, Germany’s number one concern was that it would somehow have to cover up for the excesses and crooked ways of southern European governments. Now it’s happening. The European Union is about to sign a second hefty cheque for Greece, something politicians obstinately call a loan, but many suspect is plainly a cash handout. That comes on top of $150 billion the EU and the International Monetary Fund already started injecting into the Greek economy in 2010. In both cases, Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, gets to do most of the financial heavy lifting. “The Greeks are going to bankrupt Germany,” the Bild, a German tabloid with a daily circulation of three million, wrote last year in anticipation of the first bailout. The paper even sent a reporter to Athens to hand out bundles of drachmas, the old Greek currency, a stunt meant to persuade the country to drop out of the euro. It was a rude joke many condemned as irresponsible populism, but one that captured the riotous mood of German public opinion.
Even highly respected and normally poised German newspapers, such as the venerable Frankfurter Allgemeine, have been lashing out at “the failure” of the Greek bailout. “I find it embarrassing that we are paying so much money for other countries who have not been able to deal correctly with their money,” says Joachim Jahn, an editor at the paper. Not everyone feels as chafed as Jahn, but many are starting to question whether Europe is really all that good for Germany. A recent poll showed that 63 per cent of Germans have low to no confidence in the EU.
By Stephanie Findlay - Monday, May 16, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 14 Comments
A controversial magazine cover is causing a spat between Germany and Greece
An international spat between Greece and Germany was sparked when Venus de Milo, a Greek marble statue of Aphrodite—arguably the most famous armless goddess in the world—made a controversial appearance on the cover of the German magazine Focus. The problem? Her right arm was intact and she was flipping readers the bird. The magazine’s cover story—“Swindlers in the euro family”—explored German concerns regarding the bailing out of debt-stricken Greece, and outlined the nation’s supposed “2,000 years of decline,” including tax fraud and failed construction projects.
The cover was condemned by the Greek president shortly after it hit newsstands in February 2010. And now, more than a year later, six Greek citizens are taking legal action against Focus—alleging the cover was defamatory, libellous, and responsible for the denigration of Greek national symbols. Along with nine other employees of Focus, Helmut Markwort, the magazine’s founder, is due to appear in an Athens court on June 29. Despite facing two years in prison if found guilty, Markwort is unfazed: “I’m not on the run, and I’m also not afraid that I will have to go to prison.” He says he has a “clean conscience” and that he was simply doing his “journalistic duty.”
By Nancy Macdonald - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Donald Trump gets sued, Rita Chretien is found alive, and Don Cherry is angry about something again
Compassion for bin Laden
Angela Merkel’s remark that she was “glad” Osama bin Laden had been killed sparked a firestorm of controversy in Germany. Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann even filed a criminal complaint, alleging the German chancellor broke a law barring the “rewarding and approving of crimes”—in this case, bin Laden’s “homicide.” Politicians denounced her, and 64 per cent of Germans agreed: bin Laden’s death was “no reason to rejoice.” In L.A., however, even the Dalai Lama—compassion incarnate—said he had it coming. “If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Mother’s day miracle
After 49 days alone in a Chevy Astro van on a logging road in remote Nevada, Rita Chretien was found barely conscious, but clinging to life. The 56-year-old Penticton, B.C., native and her husband, Albert, were stranded en route to Las Vegas on March 19; Albert, who left two days later to ﬁnd help, hasn’t been seen since. Rita’s faith, and a bit of trail mix, was all that kept her going until finally she was spotted by hunters on ATVs. “We were praying for a miracle and, boy, did we get one,” her son Raymond told reporters Sunday.
By Brian Bethune - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Philip Kerr’s private eye Bernie Gunther walks the mean streets of Nazi Berlin
There’s an obvious chicken-and-egg question that arises in an interview with British author Philip Kerr. A thorough pro, Kerr has penned stand-alone novels in various genres, including science fiction, and a first-rate preteen fantasy series (Children of the Lamp). But he’s best known for seven thought-provoking novels featuring German private eye Bernie Gunther. A note-perfect Berliner, from his alcohol consumption to his instinctive antipathy to authority, Bernie is both an everyman striving to maintain his humanity (and his life) in the Nazi and postwar eras, and the Teutonic reincarnation of Raymond Chandler’s PI, Philip Marlowe.
So which came first, noir or Nazis, an interest in hard-boiled detective stories or in the Third Reich? “Germany—I went there long ago,” the 55-year-old replies, “to do a post-grad degree in philosophy of German law. Really, just an excuse to read German philosophy. You know how Bernie hates lawyers? That’s because I hate lawyers.” Immersed in German history, Kerr—like so many writers before him—fell under Berlin’s spell. “Its role in the world wars and the Cold War, its cultural influence in the 1920s—Berlin is the ur-city of the 20th century.”
And the city’s inhabitants won him over too, partly because Berliners had, in Kerr’s opinion, the right enemies—any group loathed by Bismarck and Hitler couldn’t be all bad—and partly because of their black humour, which “sounds cruel if you don’t understand it,” Bernie once remarked, “and even crueller if you do.” Rather like the detective’s comment during his harrowing if brief stay in the Dachau concentration camp, where he met an inmate who was not only Jewish but homosexual and a Communist: “That made three triangles. His luck hadn’t so much run out as jumped on a f–king motorcycle.”
By Josh Dehaas - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM - 3 Comments
The promise of free tuition has an increasing number of Canadian students heading to Germany
Five people were arrested in Quebec in early April for protesting a $325 increase to annual tuition fees. By 2016, tuition in the province will hit $3,800 a year. But that’s still a bargain compared to Ontario, where the average bill tops $6,500. So it’s no wonder an increasing number of Canadian students are studying in Germany, where tuition is free for citizens and foreigners alike. There are currently 534 Canadians enrolled at German universities—up 52 per cent since 2002.
Peter Gilfoy, a 23-year-old from Halifax, couldn’t believe his luck when he stumbled upon free tuition during his year-long exchange at the University of Frankfurt. He had already paid his fees for that semester to Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, where he’s now finishing his commerce degree. But free tuition allowed him to stay an extra year in Frankfurt and take university courses simply to improve his German.
He was even more surprised when students marched in the streets to protest a new fee: $280 to cover their train pass. “I was in awe considering they know full well how much Canadians and Americans pay,” he says. Gilfoy also found bargains on rent, beer—only $1.50 per half-litre—and cafeteria food, which is government-subsidized.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Having a pony is one of those little girl dreams that are usually dashed by a resounding parental “nay”
Having a pony is one of those little girl dreams that are usually dashed by a resounding parental “nay.” Most kids simply scale back their request to a puppu or another similarly manageble pet, but not Regina Mayer. Instead, she taught a cow to be her horse.
The 15-year-old in Laufen, Germany, is making headlines for jumping over logs and makeshift obstacles on the back of Luna, one of the cows on her family’s farm. Getting the bovine to wear a saddle, and perform horse-lie acrobatics, took a lot of treats and cajoling, but Luna now responds to commands such as “go,” “stand,” and “gallop.” Mayer also used some tips from a cow-training school in Switzerland that teaches the animals such tricks as rolling out carpets with their nose. Still, Luna can be stubborn. “When she wants to do something she does it; when she doesn’t, she doesn’t,” says Mayer. But, she added, her cow is so fond of her new identity, she has come to shun the company of her own species. Instead, say Mayer, Luna is “constantly following the horses around.”
By Kate Lunau - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
Facing a likely merger with German market operator Deutsche Börse, a pressing question has emerged: what will the new stock exchange be named?
A long-standing symbol of American capitalism, the venerable New York Stock Exchange traces its history back almost 220 years. Now, facing a likely merger with German market operator Deutsche Börse, a pressing question has emerged: what will the new stock exchange be named?
As the deal was announced in February, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer insisted that “New York” should come first in the new name. “NYSE is one of the most pre-eminent brands in the financial industry,” he said, “and there is no reason it shouldn’t come first.” But German politicians have patriotic concerns as well: although NYSE chief executive Duncan Niederauer is set to take the same title at the new company, Deutsche Börse will own 60 per cent. (The company will be headquartered in both Frankfurt and New York.)
An early front-runner for the new name, “DB NYSE Group,” is apparently out of contention. According to the Wall Street Journal, employees of both companies have submitted more than 1,000 suggestions, which will be looked at over the next few weeks by a committee of experts. Set to become the largest stock exchange in the world, it seems likely that—whatever the new company’s called—its name will eventually become an icon of sorts, too.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:29 AM - 2 Comments
What started as demonstration of where meat comes from ended with outraged parents and upset kids
In the town of Ratekau, what started as a fifth-grade demonstration of where meat comes from—and how it was prepared in the days before refrigeration—ended with outraged parents, upset kids, and a denouncement from state officials. As part of a curriculum unit on how people lived in the Stone Age, one parent (a farmer) volunteered to slaughter a rabbit for the class. Teachers voted in favour, but apparently didn’t inform parents or the principal. Some fifth-graders launched a petition to save the rabbit, but teachers seem to have ignored them. “One can’t collect signatures against a math test either,” one told the newspaper Lübecker Nachrichten.
In the end, 50 students voluntarily gathered in the school courtyard. They said goodbye to the rabbit; the farmer then hit it with a hammer, slit its throat, gutted and skinned it, and hung it to drain. It was later grilled and consumed. Parents complained, leading the state’s Education Ministry to denounce the slaughter as “educationally problematic.” “My point wasn’t to show children death,” the farmer told Der Spiegel. “We wanted to demonstrate that killing animals involves taking on responsibility.”
By Anne Kingston - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM - 10 Comments
Campaigns to raise women’s representation on boards and in politics to 30 per cent are picking up steam globally
In February, Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann created a firestorm with his remark that more women on corporate boards would make life “more colourful and prettier.” Certainly it would at Ackermann’s bank, Germany’s biggest, whose 12-member executive committee is entirely male. Editorialists and bloggers around the globe slammed the banker for his sexist barb. Less discussed was the serious debate that inspired it: proposed quotas in the German Bundestag that would require the country’s largest publicly traded companies to fill at least 40 per cent of their management and supervisory boards with women, up from a current 8.6 per cent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has filled one-third of her ministerial positions with women, quashed the proposal. Instead, she offered companies “one last chance” to redress the issue before she imposed legislation. Ackermann’s comment, at least according to his PR people, was intended to support that idea; he was trying to highlight the bank’s achievement of filling 16.5 per cent of management positions with women.
By Jane Switzer - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 9:23 AM - 3 Comments
Overrun with stray cats, the German city of Bremen wants to take drastic action
Overrun with stray cats and finally fed up, the German city of Bremen is proposing a law that would take drastic action against wayward felines. Anyone with an outdoor cat would be forced to pay to have it neutered. Bremen has good reason to worry: the city’s cat shelter used to look after around 120 cats at any one time, but now has 378 on its books and fears that number will soon reach 500. In addition, an estimated 1,000 cats roam the streets, threatening the local songbird population.
Bremen would be the latest in a number of small German towns which already advocate the compulsory neutering of stray felines, including Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia, which was home to 40,000 stray cats before it introduced forced castration three years ago. If the law is passed in Bremen, it could lead to nationwide legislation. Wolfgang Apel, chairman of the Bremen Animal Protection Society, said the government should take responsibility for the growing problem: “There are so many [cats] that the situation has got out of control,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “They are becoming a burden to the public.”
By Jen Cutts - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM - 0 Comments
Germany’s foreign intelligence service is looking into its past—and turning up Nazis
Germany’s foreign intelligence service is looking into its past—and turning up Nazis. After admitting last year that “about 200 former Nazi criminals” were in its employ after the Second World War, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) is in final talks with a team of historians who will be given access to the spy service’s files to create a public record.
The BND’s president, Ernst Uhrlau, campaigned for years for greater transparency, facing opposition both from inside the organization and from Germany’s government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff had blocked Uhrlau’s efforts, but relented after the finance and foreign ministries opened up about their own shadowy pasts. Exploring the intelligence files could be embarrassing for Merkel’s CDU, potentially confirming suspicions that Konrad Adenauer, the party’s founder and West Germany’s leader from 1949 to 1963, was aware of employees’ Nazi pasts.
Former chief inspector Georg Wilimzig’s squad murdered thousands during the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Former SS captain Johannes Clemens was involved in the execution of 335 civilians in Rome in 1944. Both were hired by the intelligence agency after 1945.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:17 AM - 0 Comments
Germany has carved out a niche for itself as the global capital of the luxury yacht-building industry
It wasn’t so long ago that owning a luxury yacht with just one helipad was status symbol enough. These days, the truly decadent insist on having two. Over the past 20 years or so, Germany has carved out a niche for itself as the global capital of the luxury yacht-building industry, according to a report in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. And even after the recent economic downturn, the luxury yacht-building business is cruising along.
Shipbuilders Lürssen and Blohm & Voss have made a name for themselves by catering to their clients’ every demand, from on-board recording studios to showers that spray both water and champagne. In December, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s 536-foot yacht, Eclipse, set sail from Hamburg, where Blohm & Voss is based. Its building costs were pegged at $1.2 billion. The Eclipse is the world’s largest private yacht, but not for long: Lürssen is now working on a 590-foot yacht. “The desire to own the largest yacht will always be a competition among the super-rich,” says designer Joachim Kinder.
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM - 12 Comments
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg renounces his doctorate
Following accusations of plagiarism, German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has temporarily renounced his doctorate. German media and political opponents allege that the minister lifted several passages of his 2006 thesis from other people’s work. He has strongly denied the claims, but said that he will “temporarily” give up his doctoral title, while helping his former university investigate the claims. The charismatic 39-year-old minister is seen as a possible successor to Angela Merkel.