Category Archives: Germany

Welcome to Hell: Police Repression at G20 Decried as a Dystopian Nightmare

In the first interview, Amy Goodman speaks with Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat, co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25). In the second interview, Jaisal Noor speaks with South African activist Patrick Bond, while demonstrators from the G20 protests in Hamburg also provide their views. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)

Black Friday: Hamburg’s G-20 Security Failure

Jörg Diehl reports for SPIEGEL:

Hamburg riot policeIn light of Friday’s rioting, recent statements made by Hamburg officials ahead of the G-20 seem naive in the extreme. One came from the Hartmut Dudde, the head of operations for the Hamburg police, who said: “If we say here’s where things stop, then that’s where they stop. We will also take action. We’re not going to wait if crimes are being committed.”

Another statement came from his boss, Hamburg Police Chief Ralf Martin Meyer. “We are better prepared than we ever have been,” he boasted in the run-up to the G-20.

And then, of course, there’s the statement from Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, who promised the city’s residents: “Don’t worry, we can guarantee your safety.”

But on Friday, July 7, none of these sentences applied. Even that morning, a marauding gang was raging through the Hamburg neighborhoods of Ottensen and Altona, setting cars on fire by the dozens. Later in the day, a mob raged for hours in the alternative Schanzenviertel neighborhood, long a hotbed of leftist activity. They broke windows, lit barricades on fire, looted stores and threatened to kill police. Many would later say hyperbolically that it was like “a war zone.” Others described the scene as anarchy — as though the state had receded before the mob.

The question that must now be answered is clear: What went wrong?

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Germany Searches All Army Barracks For Nazi Material

BBC News reports:

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (C) walks with General Joerg Vollmer, General Inspector of the German Land Army (L), and General Volker Wieker, Inspector General of Germany' Armed Forces in Bundeswehr, during her visit to the 291st fighter squadron in Illkirch on 3 May, 2017.Inspections have been ordered at every German army barracks, after Nazi-era memorabilia was found at two of them.

The defence ministry said the command came from the inspector general of the Bundeswehr (Germany’s armed forces).

All barracks will be searched for material linked to the Wehrmacht, the army which served Adolf Hitler.

The move follows a growing scandal over far-right extremism within the army, with an officer accused of plotting an attack disguised as a Syrian refugee.

The army lieutenant, who had expressed far-right views, was arrested in late April.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said the 28-year-old suspect had a “xenophobic background”.

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A Deadly Day: Russian Ambassador Assassinated, Berlin Truck Crash and Zürich Mosque Attacked

Amy Goodman speaks to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of several books, about the three deadly events which took place on 19th December and the wider context surrounding them. (Democracy Now!)

TTIP: German Economy Minister Says EU-US Trade Talks Have Failed

Frank Jordans reports for AP:

Germany Europe US TradeFree trade talks between the European Union and the United States have failed, Germany’s economy minister said Sunday, citing a lack of progress on any of the major sections of the long-running negotiations.

Both Washington and Brussels have pushed for a deal by the end of the year, despite strong misgivings among some EU member states over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, compared the TTIP negotiations unfavorably with a free trade deal forged between the 28-nation EU and Canada, which he said was fairer for both sides.

“In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” Gabriel said during a question-and-answer session with citizens in Berlin.

He noted that in 14 rounds of talks, the two sides haven’t agreed on a single common item out of 27 chapters being discussed.

 

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Is Angela Merkel really on the ropes?

BBC Magazine writes:

Angela Merkel visits the 'Kuckucksnest' sports facility on 20 June 20, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, GermanyAt the end of July, Germany was hit by a series of violent attacks, three of which were carried out by asylum seekers. So are Germans turning against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy? Damien McGuinness in Berlin is not convinced.

“Merkel on the ropes!” screeched one headline, after the recent attacks in Germany, before going on to predict confidently that her “premiership is hanging by a thread”.

“Calls for Chancellor Angela Merkel to stand down grow,” wrote another paper.

But what’s interesting about these and similar articles is that they were written by English-speaking journalists reporting from outside Germany.

And in both these cases, the only evidence that Merkel’s government was apparently about to fall was a video filmed by Russian TV of right-wing extremists protesting in Berlin. No polling data. No evidence. Just that video.

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Munich gunman fixated on mass killing, had no Islamist ties

Joern Poltz and Karin Strohecker report for Reuters:

A video purporting to show the shooter, dressed in black, firing 20 shots has been posted on TwitterA German-Iranian teenager who shot dead nine people in Munich was a deranged lone gunman obsessed with mass killings who drew no inspiration from Islamist militancy, police said on Saturday.

The 18-year-old, born and raised locally, opened fire near a busy shopping mall on Friday evening, triggering a lockdown in the Bavarian state capital.

Seven of his victims were themselves teenagers, who police said he may have lured to their deaths via a hacked Facebook account on what was the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

The Munich shooting, in which a further 27 people were wounded, some seriously, was the third act of violence against civilians in Western Europe – and the second in southern Germany – in eight days.

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Women Rule the World: Don’t Celebrate Yet, Feminists

Kathleen Geier writes for New Republic:

Theresa May hadn’t been sworn in as Great Britain’s prime minister yet, but already some feminists were uncorking the champagne. “Is Theresa May Britain’s most feminist Prime Minister ever?” asked The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani. May is “passionate about women’s rights,” gushed Catherine Meyer, a former treasurer of the Conservative Party. The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Renzetti even went so far as to urge feminists to “get over Theresa May’s politics” because feminism is “about the primacy of choice in people’s lives: In this case, Theresa May has chosen to dedicate her life to a set of conservative political beliefs.”

The celebratory mood—and the claims that May’s ascension represented a victory for women—echoed many feminists’ response to Hillary Clinton’s clinching of the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. “Pinch yourselves again, ladies,” Lowery wrote. “Come 2017, it won’t just be a woman running America. It could be women running America. And it will be women running the world.” Indeed, if Clinton wins, women will be leading the three largest economies in the West—the U.S., Germany, and the U.K.—and they will be running the Federal Reserve Board and the IMF.

We know what this means for the female leaders themselves: more power, influence, and wealth. What does it mean, though, for the women below them? Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias, both of Vox, argued that Clinton’s election as president would be, in Kliff’s words, a “huge deal” for women, resulting in more female candidates and more pro-women policies. This echoes the argument that Sheryl Sandberg popularized in her best-selling self-help book, Lean In. “More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women,” Sandberg wrote (emphasis hers). But the available evidence doesn’t support these bold assertions.

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Angela Merkel ‘to oust Jean-Claude Juncker’ as Europe splits deepen over Brexit response

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker,Angela Merkel could move to oust Europe’s federalist chief Jean-Claude Juncker ‘within the next year’, a Germany government minister has said, in a sign of deepening European divisions over how to respond to Britain’s Brexit vote.

The German chancellor’s frustration with the European Commission chief came as Europe split over whether to use the Brexit negotiations as a trigger to deepen European integration or take a more pragmatic approach to Britain as it heads for the exit door.

“The pressure on him [Juncker] to resign will only become greater and Chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year,” an unnamed German minister told The Sunday Times, adding that Berlin had been furious with Mr Juncker “gloating” over the UK referendum result.

Mr Juncker’s constant and unabashed calls for “more Europe”, has led to several of Europe other dissenting members – including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – to lay some of the blame for Brexit at his door.

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Brexit brings call for change: Has UK ignited battle for new EU?

Patrick Wintour writes for The Guardian:

The German government has been canvassing support for a senior political leader to gather views in European capitals on a new future for the continent in the wake of the Brexit vote, with the aim of completing the task before the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome next March.

EU heads of state, reeling from the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, want to be seen to be responding to the Eurosceptic mood, and some want a new “vision for Europe” document that distils the conflicting thinking.

EU heads of government are due to gather in Bratislava for an informal summit on 16 September to discuss the fallout from Brexit, but mainly focused on how the EU will operate in the future, including what more it can do to reduce youth unemployment, straighten out the eurozone and strengthen security. In practice, the meeting may also see a first EU response to the election of a new Tory party leader, and the pace at which Brexit talks will take place. Those talks are to be led by a Belgian diplomat, Didier Seeuws, a former staffer for the former European council president Herman van Rompuy.

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Brexit Sends Europe Into Political and Economic Crises: Interview with Heiner Flassbeck

Sharmini Peries speaks to economist Heiner Flassbeck who says the UK is in a leadership crisis without a ruling party leader to implement the will of the people, and the Eurozone is also in a crisis that Germany is largely responsible for causing. (The Real News)

Draft Paper: Germany to Boost Military Role on World Stage

DW reports:

Symbolbild - Panzerbataillon The government’s position paper on security policy, seen by media outlets on Friday, said Germany was increasingly seen as a “key player” in Europe, and had “a responsibility to actively help shape the global order.”

It added that Germany could do more at a time when the global community was grappling with threats including terrorism waged by “Islamic State,” cybercrime and a more aggressive Russia. At the same time, however, the paper pointed out that there would be clear limits to Berlin’s contribution.

“Our larger role in international security policy will not lead to automatic reactions or to pressure for action that conflicts with our values and interests or that overstretches our capabilities,” it said.

The document also stressed that Germany would avoid unilateral action, and would instead rely on engagement with the European Union, NATO and a close partnership with the United States.

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Spirit of ‘Forty-Eighters’: Germany Eyes Special Relationship with US if Britain Leaves EU

Philip Oltermann reports for The Guardian:

German revolutionary Carl Schurz was an all-American hero. A teacher who climbed the barricades during the failed uprising against an autocratic Prussian state in 1848, he exported his democratic fervour to America four years later: Schutz fought for the unionist cause in the civil war, served as US secretary of the interior and introduced to his adopted homeland the concept of the kindergarten.

Yet most Americans, and even more Germans, would struggle to put a face to the name of the man whose memorial in Wisconsin identifies him as America’s “greatest German American”. The UK and the US may quarrel over of the precise location of Winston Churchill’s bust inside the White House, but at least they know who they are talking about.

If the German foreign policy circles are to be believed, all that could change if the UK leaves the European Union. Since Barack Obama’s visit to Europe last weekend, Germany’s media has been alive with speculation that the country could take over the UK’s role in a “special relationship” with the US after Brexit.

After the US president on Saturday warned Eurosceptics in the UK that Britain could find itself at the “back of the queue” if they had their way, he heaped praise on Angela Merkel on Sunday, describing their tie as “as important a relationship as I’ve had during the course of my presidency”.

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Why police don’t pull guns in many countries

Sara Miller Llana reports for Christian Science Monitor:

The officer, alert but cautious, pounds on the suspect’s door. “Polizei!” he says forcefully, in his native German. A man thrusts open the door and walks out. His hands are at his side, but the policeman notices a gun tucked into the man’s belt. He pulls out his own firearm in response. He then moves briskly backward, coaxing the man to place his weapon on the ground.

The cop is commended for his actions.

The next officer up bangs on the same door. “Polizei!,” he says. This time the person walks out carrying a baton, not a gun. So the cop doesn’t pull out his pistol. He brandishes instead a can of pepper spray – a reflex response that also garners praise afterward.

The scene here in what looks like an outdoor movie set seems as if it would be basic enough training at almost any police academy in the world. But today’s course for the new recruits in the Ruhr Valley in western Germany represents just one small part of an educational process that will last for three years, during which the officers will be drilled in alternatives to pulling a trigger. Today’s shooting training is subtitled, tellingly, “Don’t shoot.” And it’s far from the only lesson they’ll receive in restraint. Each recruit earns a bachelor’s degree as part of basic police training – a requisite before getting a badge and a beat.

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Fears that refugees will face backlash after Paris attacks

Documents Published by WikiLeaks Reveal the NSA’s Corporate Priorities

Bill Blunden reports for Truthout:

Cyber espionage“We are under pressure from the Treasury to justify our budget, and commercial espionage is one way of making a direct contribution to the nation’s balance of payments.” – Sir Colin McColl, MI6 Chief

For years public figures have condemned cyber espionage committed against the United States by intruders launching their attacks out of China. These same officials then turn around and justify the United States’ far-reaching surveillance apparatus in terms of preventing terrorist attacks. Yet classified documents published by WikiLeaks reveal just how empty these talking points are. Specifically, top-secret intercepts prove that economic spying by the United States is pervasive, that not even allies are safe and that it’s wielded to benefit powerful corporate interests.

At a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton accused China of “trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.” Clinton’s hyperbole is redolent of similar claims from the US deep state. For example, who could forget the statement made by former NSA director Keith Alexander that Chinese cyber espionage represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history? Alexander has obviously never heard of quantitative easing (QE) or the self-perpetuating “global war on terror,” which has likewise eaten through trillions of dollars. Losses due to cyber espionage are a rounding error compared to the tidal wave of money channeled through QE and the war on terror.’

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Between Berlin and a Hard Place: Greece and the German Strategy to Dominate Europe

Andrew Gavin Marshall writes:

[…] The German bet was that the EU could outrun financial markets, using the crisis as an opportunity to advance fiscal and political integration and impose their demands upon the rest of Europe, while simultaneously preventing markets from creating a crisis so severe that it threatened the euro or the economies of the more powerful nations. Without the pressure of financial markets, the EU could not force its member nations to restructure their economies and societies. Chancellor Merkel would frequently describe the European debt crisis to her colleagues as a “poker game” between financial markets and politicians. The first to flinch would lose.

In 2011, Bloomberg noted that Merkel was “turning Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis into an opportunity to reshape the euro region in Germany’s image,” concluding that she had “pulled ahead for now in her battle to restore policy makers’ mastery over the market.” A biographer of Merkel explained, “It’s policy by trial and error.”

Merkel’s powerful Finance Minister, Mr. Schauble, was one of the chief architects of the German strategy for Europe’s crisis. In March of 2010, he wrote in the Financial Times that, “from Germany’s perspective, European integration, monetary union and the euro are the only choice.” But aid comes with strings attached and harsh penalties for violations. “It must, on principle, still be possible for a state to go bankrupt,” wrote Mr. Schauble. “Facing an unpleasant reality could be the better option in certain conditions.”

The German minister believed “the financial crisis in the eurozone is not just a threat, but an opportunity,” as markets would “force the most debt-laden members of the 17-nation currency union to curb their budget deficits and increase their competitiveness.” This would pressure governments to accept further integration into a “fiscal union” defined and shaped by Germany. “We need to take big steps to get that done,” Mr. Schauble said in 2011. “That is why crises are also opportunities. We can get things done that we could not do without the crisis.”

Financial markets were happy to oblige the German-EU strategy, as the crisis would force the reforms long demanded by banks as a solution to the irresponsible spending of governments: austerity and structural reform. From 2002 to 2012, Josef Ackermann led Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank. In 2011, the New York Timesdescribed Ackermann as “the most powerful banker in Europe” and “possibly the most dangerous one, too,” standing “at the center of more concentric circles of power than any other banker on the Continent.”’

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#ThisIsACoup: Dimitri Lascaris and Michalis Spourdalakis on the Humiliating Eurozone Offer to Greece

Wikileaks Revelations Expose US Tentacles: Interview with Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In this interview he breaks down the latest Wikileaks revelations. (The Real News)

Greek Crisis Marks End of Debt Era

Atul Singh writes for Fair Observer:

[…] The Greek debt crisis is about to go global. First, other European countries are bound to be affected. Even France, la grande nation, will eventually come under pressure. Second, even states and cities will face pressure. Already, Puerto Rico’s government has declared that it cannot pay its $73 billion debt. In fact, all government-backed debt from sovereign to municipal bonds will come under pressure. Third, the US and China will eventually face a debt crisis too. The crisis is global and about to amplify.

The ballooning of debt is the biggest challenge facing the world economy. To stave off economic collapse, governments bailed out American and European banks. Central banks then released a torrent of money into the system by lowering interest rates and using quantitative easing, emulating the Bank of Japan. Those who own assets became richer, exacerbating already terrible inequality. Governments support creditors to boost economic confidence, while home owners in the US and ordinary citizens are fed to the dogs.

There is certainly a glut of savings in some parts of the world. China and Germany are awash with capital and are looking to park their money in assets that give them higher return. Yet there are limits to returns in a world awash with capital. The Chinese bubble in real estate and stocks has burst. Yet China is putting more money into its economy. It has made a fourth cut in interest rates since November and has reduced reserve requirements for banks, so they can continue lending. China has also lowered transaction fees and relaxed collateral rules on borrowing to fund share purchases. This is debt-fueled madness.

Like all parties, the Chinese one is coming to an end and stocks have lost nearly 25% of their value since the middle of June. Hence, Chinese money is flocking to the US in search of a safe harbor. Chinese buyers are now purchasing houses in California without even looking at them. China continues to fund US debt and shudders in horror as quantitative easing dilutes the value of its reserves. Unlike smaller countries like Greece, the US will never face default. It has the unique luxury of diluting its debt by simply printing more dollars. As the superpower in-charge of the world’s reserve currency, it can live off debt a little longer. It offers the greatest security to investors in an uncertain world. Yet the music will one day stop playing even for the US.’

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The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame

Ana Swanson reports for The Washington Post:

[…] In the mid-1990s, even before it came into existence, markets made a huge bet that the euro would be a reality. Specifically, investors, many in northern Europe, bet that interest rates in northern and southern Europe would converge. At the time, interest rates in southern Europe were much higher than in northern Europe, simply because people thought investing in countries like Greece was much riskier than investing in countries like Germany.

In anticipation of the euro zone, investors put lots of money in the cheap, high-yielding bonds of southern Europe. That helped to drive down yields and fueled borrowing and an economic boom in southern countries.

Ultimately, investors were right – Greek interest rates on 10-year bonds fell from around 20 percent in the early 1990s to only 3 percent in 2002. “They made a lot of money in the north betting against higher interest rates there. That fueled the boom, before the euro came, that overheated these economies.”

As economies overheated, it’s not a surprise that their competitiveness suffered, says Matthijs [co-editor of The Future of the Euro].

In short, many in the north pushed for a financial regime that didn’t fit the Greek economy, because they personally stood to benefit. Many rightly blame the Greeks for its current crisis, but some of the blame belongs farther north as well, he argues.’

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Western collusion with Egypt’s reign of terror

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

[…] So far, Egypt has signed a grant total of $158 billion worth of agreements and memoranda of understanding with international companies, many of which have focused on energy.

Apart from Germany, Britain and Israel, as of March 2015, Egypt has also signed a $1.8 billion deal with China to develop Egypt’s electricity transmission grid; a $2.4 billion deal with companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to develop solar and wind power stations; a $7 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to develop a coal power station; a $5 billion deal with Italian oil major Eni to develop Egypt’s oil resources over four years.

Meanwhile, Sisi has appropriated the “war on terror” rhetoric of his Western benefactors to legitimise his brutal crackdown on political dissent and civil society activism.

Presenting himself as a bulwark of regional stability in the face of rising Islamist extremism, the West has rushed to shore up his tyranny primarily with energy contracts, but also, it seems, through direct collusion in Sisi’s domestic human rights abuses to crush political opposition.

The West has learned no lessons from the fall of Mubarak – except to keep doing more of the same.’

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Greece is a sideshow. The eurozone has failed, and Germans are its victims too.

Aditya Chakrabortty writes for The Guardian:

Matt Kenyon illustrationNearly every discussion of the Greek fiasco is based on a morality play. Call it Naughty Greece versus Noble Europe. Those troublesome Greeks never belonged in the euro, runs this story. Once inside, they got themselves into a big fat mess – and now it’s up to Europe to sort it all out.

Those are the basics all Wise Folk agree on. Then those on the right go on to say feckless Greece must either accept Europe’s deal or get out of the single currency. Or if more liberal, they hem and haw, cough and splutter, before calling for Europe to show a little more charity to its southern basketcase. Whatever their solution, the Wise Folk agree on the problem: it’s not Brussels that’s at fault, it’s Athens. Oh, those turbulent Greeks! That’s the attitude you smell when the IMF’s Christine Lagarde decries the Syriza government for not being “adult” enough. That’s what licenses the German press to portray Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, as needing “psychiatric help”.

There’s just one problem with this story: like most morality tales, it shatters upon contact with hard reality. Athens is merely the worst outbreak of a much bigger disease within the euro project. Because the single currency isn’t working for ordinary Europeans, from the Ruhr valley to Rome.’

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Selling Out: Germany Sends Wrong Message By Welcoming Egypt’s Sisi

Raniah Salloum wrote recently for Der Spiegel:

On Wednesday [June 3rd], the German government is welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Berlin for an official state visit, despite the fact that he imprisons and tortures critics and even has them killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) previously stated she would only invite the Egyptian leader after parliamentary elections, which probably would be neither free nor fair. But now he has been invited to Berlin, even without any date in sight for elections. What caused this change of heart?

In March, Egypt’s Constitutional Court annulled the country’s election law. Sisi invited international investors to Sharm el-Sheikh. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) then traveled to the country with a delegation of business leaders. At the time, German engineering multinational Siemens signed memorandums of understanding worth up to €10 billion ($11.14 billion) with the Egyptian government. Gabriel then personally delivered to Sisi the chancellor’s coveted invitation to visit Berlin.

The German government is forfeiting one of its most powerful diplomatic instruments in exchange for a lucrative business deal. By welcoming Sisi in Berlin, the government is now providing him with the international recognition he needs. It is legitimizing a leader who is ruling Egypt more brutally than Hosni Mubarak did.’

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What really goes on at G7? Interview with Nick Dearden

‘Nick Dearden, Director of NGO Global Justice Now, talks about what is really going on at the summit in the Bavarian town of Schloss Elmau. As the leaders of the richest countries on the globe meet to discuss improving the world, are they really just planning policies to benefit elites in Western countries? Plus what is The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and how is it making it easier for big corporations to buy up land in developing countries.’ (Going Underground)

The G7 media centre – a German sausage factory of news

Charlie Skelton writes for The Guardian:

The media centre at the Elmau G7 summit in Germany.[…] Now I know the buffet is amazing, but the truth is there’s not a single good reason why any of us are here. It would be far quicker, and involve fewer taxpayer-funded cocktail bars, simply to email all the clips, photos and information to whoever wanted them.

That’s what I find so surreal about this amazing press centre. It doesn’t need to be here. No one needs to be here. I don’t need to be here.

In fact, I’m leaving now to head 26km south to the Bilderberg policy summit, where the head of Nato, the prime ministers of Holland, Finland and Belgium, the president of Austria, and the chancellor of the exchequer will be meeting for three days with the heads of HSBC, Shell, BP and Deutsche Bank.

It’s every bit as important as the G7. Some would say more so. But because it’s a little bit tricky to report on, with nothing except a skeletal agenda handed out, no footage or photos given to the press, the number of mainstream journalists reporting from the event will drop from 3,000 to about 11.

Go figure.’

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The Rape of Berlin

Lucy Ash writes for BBC News:

Treptower Park's Soviet Memorial, in Berlin‘Dusk is falling in Treptower Park on the outskirts of Berlin and I am looking up at a statue dramatically outlined against a lilac sky. Twelve metres (40ft) high, it depicts a Soviet soldier grasping a sword in one hand and a small German girl in the other, and stamping on a broken swastika.

This is the final resting place for 5,000 of the 80,000 Soviet troops who fell in the Battle of Berlin between 16 April and 2 May 1945.

The colossal proportions of the monument reflect the scale of the sacrifice. At the top of a long flight of steps, you can peer into the base of the statue, which is lit up like a religious shrine. An inscription saying that the Soviet people saved European civilisation from fascism catches my eye.

But some call this memorial the Tomb of the Unknown Rapist.

Stalin’s troops assaulted an uncounted number of women as they fought their way to the German capital, though this was rarely mentioned after the war in Germany – West or East – and is a taboo subject in Russia even today.

The Russian media regularly dismiss talk of the rapes as a Western myth, though one of many sources that tells the story of what happened is a diary kept by a young Soviet officer.’

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US used German spooks to snoop on EU defence industry

John Leyden reports for The Register:

The NSA UnchainedGermany’s BND spy agency spied on European politicians and enterprises at the behest of the NSA for over a decade.

Der Spiegel reports (in German) that for years the NSA sent its counterparts at the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service) thousands of so-called selectors – IP addresses, emails, and mobile phone numbers – it wanted targeted for online surveillance.

German cyberspies fed this data into their own surveillance systems. The reports generated were evaluated at BND headquarters before intelligence was passed back to the NSA.

In practical terms, it seems that the BND have been tapping the Internet Exchange Point DE-CIX in Frankfurt, since at least 2009.

Results from the bulk tap of this Internet exchange were then passed over, in part at least, to the Americans as part of a collaborative agreement involving intel agencies.

The selectors included referred to European politicians and European aerospace and defence firms, including the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and Eurocopter.’

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Pope Francis was wrong, Namibia was the 20th century’s first genocide

David Olusoga writes for The Guardian:

[…] The pope’s description of the Armenian massacre as “the first genocide of the 20th century” was simply incorrect. That grim distinction belongs to the genocide that imperial Germany unleashed a decade earlier against the Herero and Nama, two ethnic groups who lived in the former colony of South West Africa, modern Namibia.

The Namibian genocide, 1904-1909, was not only the first of the 20th century; in so many ways, it also seemed to prefigure the later horrors of that troubled century. The systematic extermination of around 80% of the Herero people and 50% of the Nama was the work both of German soldiers and colonial administrators; banal, desk-bound killers. The most reliable figures estimate 90,000 people were killed.’

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Game of Drones: Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War

Jeremy Scahill reports for The Intercept:

Transatlantic cables connect U.S. drone pilots half a world away. (Illustration: Josh Begley)A top-secret U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.

Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein, drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source said.’

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