Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

What the shouting is all about

Posted by Charles II on September 20, 2014

This is just another story of what is forming a pattern. Deutsche Welle did a program on The Aryans, which describes the re-emergence of Nazism in Germany. There are towns where Jews and non-whites cannot go out after dark, and where local people are afraid to talk about the extremists. We know about the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. And now this, from Libby Brooks of The Guardian:

Six people were arrested amid angry scenes in Glasgow on Friday night as a group of young pro-union supporters clashed with pro-independence supporters who had been gathering in George Square throughout the day.

Police acted to separate a small group of pro-independence supporters from a group of skinheads believed to have marched from the loyalist pub the Louden Tavern in nearby Duke Street.

Individuals argued over the referendum result and a chorus of Rule Britannia was countered by Flower of Scotland.

As the evening wore on, and the yes supporters dispersed, more loyalists converged on the square, many of them draped in union flags.

A number were teenagers, and clearly drunk. At one point a section of the crowd broke through police lines and marched up the central shopping area of Buchanan Street, chanting the words to Rule Britannia. Some shouted loyalist slogans and racist abuse, and appeared to make Nazi salutes.

I do not think these are isolated events. I think there is an aggressive, international neo-Nazi movement, fueled by unemployment and culture change, and to some degree abetted by reactionary elements in business and government. The rest of the world should react accordingly.

Max Blumenthal on neo-Nazi elements in the Ukraine government.

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Espionage Envy: Germany, Other Nations Covet US’ Spying Powers

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 3, 2013

One of the saddest things about the whole Snowden affair is that we in the US lost the chance to have a discussion about the Surveillance State once the US’s surveillance of other countries was mentioned. Especially since the very countries complaining the most have been doing lots of spying themselves:

The truth is that the Germans would love to be able to engage in more online espionage. Until now, the only thing missing has been the means to do so. Consequently, an outraged reaction from Berlin would have seemed fairly hypocritical.

Roughly half a dozen countries maintain intelligence agencies like the NSA that operate on a global scale. In addition to the Americans, this includes the Russians, Chinese, British, French and — to a lesser extent — Israelis and Germans. They have all placed the Internet at the heart of their surveillance operations. The vision of a wildly proliferating, grassroots, democratic Internet with totally secluded niches has long since become a thing of the past. Tomorrow’s world is a digital habitat where even the most far-flung corners are exposed to outside eyes, and where everything can be stored for posterity — and actually is stored, as with Prism.

What is surprising about the NSA’s program is its size and professionalism. The objective here is also shared by agencies in other countries, above all the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, which is currently significantly extending its capabilities. Last year, BND head Gerhard Schindler told the Confidential Committee of the German parliament, the Bundestag, about a secret program that, in his opinion, would make his agency a major international player. Schindler said the BND wanted to invest €100 million ($133 million) over the coming five years. The money is to finance up to 100 new jobs in the technical surveillance department, along with enhanced computing capacities. This may sound like a pauper’s version of the Prism program, but it represents one of the most ambitious modernization projects in the BND’s history, and has been given the ambitious German name Technikaufwuchsprogramm (literally “Technological Coming-of-Age Program”).

Espionage envy, in other words. Which is why making the overseas spying revelations actually hurt Snowden’s cause where it mattered most: In America, with Americans.

As I said in the comments of Charles’ NSA piece yesterday, Snowden may have talked all the time about how he didn’t fear his impending martyrdom, but that’s because he really didn’t expect to be a martyr. His entire strategy was based on Ecuador’s giving him asylum after he got to Russia. That’s why he said and did things that would doom him in any US court of law — things like boasting that he took the Booz contract job with the intent to collect data and then leak it. (See also: ) He never expected to face a US court of law.

Except, with Ecuador saying “no” to his asylum request, suddenly his plan fell apart, and with the conditions Putin has set for him, it looks very much like Snowden will be stuck in the airport no-man’s-land until either he or Putin tire of the situation and arrange for the US to come fetch him. My guess is that he will be handed over to the US Embassy in Moscow before the end of July, at which point he will be flown back to the US to await trial.

And the great national conversation about domestic snooping, a conversation which two weeks ago it looks like he could have started, won’t happen after all.

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US Media Talks Much About German Demands For Austerity, Not As Much About German Wages As Compared To US Ones

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 26, 2011

Betcha you won’t see this on your evening TV newscasts — or hear about it on your drive-time radio news programmes:

In 2010, over 5.5 million cars were produced in Germany, twice the 2.7 million built in the United States. Average compensation (a figure including wages and employer-paid benefits) for autoworkers in Germany was 48.97 Euros per hour ($67.14 US), while compensation for auto work in the United States averaged $33.77 per hour, or about half as much as in Germany, all according to 2007 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For Germany-based auto producers, the U.S. is a low-wage country.

Despite German companies’ relatively high labor costs in their home markets, these firms are quite profitable. An examination of the latest publically available financial statements of BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz cars), and Volkswagen reveals strong sales and profits even in the midst of the currently weak consumer markets in Europe and the U.S. In 2010, for example, BMW, produced 1.48 million cars (63 percent of them in Germany), and earned a before-tax profit from its automotive division of 3.88 billion Euros. The Mercedes-Benz car division of Daimler, likewise produced 1.35 million cars (72.4 percent in Germany) in 2010, and earned a before-tax profit of 4.65 billion Euros.

America’s one-percenters — and the media companies they influence and/or control — are too busy pretending that the 99-percenters, the poor and middle-class people, are a burden that needs to be punished and stripped of whatever pennies they have so the one-percent crowd can get even richer. Anything that contradicts that pretense is generally suppressed by US establishment media, especially the media that most Americans encounter regularly.

That’s why, while you’ll hear and see lots of stories in the US media about Stern Germany Punishing Debt Sinner Countries, you won’t hear about German autoworkers getting paid twice as much as US ones. Or about Greek workers working more hours and retiring later than German workers.

That’s why you won’t hear that, far from dying, Japan is actually doing quite well, thank you very much: because Japan a) has a well-functioning social safety net and b) has reined in its rich people quite effectively.

It’s also why you won’t hear much about how Argentina, which told the IMF and World Bank “Enough!” rather than further hurt its own people at the banks’ request, is now the economic powerhouse of Latin America.

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Why Are “Deficit Hawks” Such Morons?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 26, 2011

That’s the question posed, unwittingly, by deficit hawk knob-polisher and austerity joneser Matt Miller (courtesy of Dean Baker):

Miller apparently doesn’t know that China pegs its currency against the dollar. In order to keep the yuan from rising against the dollar, it has purchased over $1 trillion of U.S. assets over the last decade. The United States is in fact not “relying” on China to finance its current consumption. In fact, the official policy of both the Bush and Obama administrations was that we wanted China’s government to stop buying up dollars and thereby depressing the value of the yuan. [While this is the public policy, this may not be the actual policy, since many powerful interests like Wall Street banks and major retailers benefit from the over-valued dollar.]

This would allow the dollar to fall. That would make Chinese imports more expensive to U.S. consumers and U.S. exports cheaper for people in China. That would cause the U.S. trade deficit with China to fall, and possibly turn to a surplus, which is the textbook relationship between rich countries and poor countries.

In the case of Europe, the problem is that the German government and the European Central Bank (ECB) are trying to impose austerity across Europe. The ECB has all the euros it could possibly need to bail out Greece, Italy and anyone else in sight. However, rather than use its ability to print euros to save Europe’s economy, the ECB is trying to force cutbacks in social spending and protections for workers across Europe. The trip to China to seek support for a bailout was a silly diversion from the real issue.

And, just like the German austerity jonesers who don’t seem to mind that “punishing” the “sinner” nations is killing Germany’s economy as well, Miller — who like almost every other US economic writer allowed access to the pages of a major establishment newspaper, utterly failed to see, much less warn anyone about, the housing bubble of the 1990s and 2000s as it was bubbling (Krugman, as always, being the chief if not sole exception) — doesn’t see, or doesn’t care, that austerity will kill the American economy as well.

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German Insistence On ‘Punishing’ Europe Is Slowly Killing German Economy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 25, 2011

Angela Merkel wants to punish the rest of Europe for not treating its people like dirt:

Angela Merkel was unmoved by another roller-coaster day that saw Portuguese debt being downgraded to junk status, Italian bond yields pushed into the bail-out zone, and doubts cast over France’s AAA rating: the German Chancellor refused to allow the ECB to become Europe’s lender of last resort.

Ms Merkel instead used a three-way summit with France and Italy in Strasbourg to insist that new treaty powers to intervene and punish sinner states remained the key focus of Europe’s rescue efforts. She said: “The countries who don’t keep to the stability pact have to be punished – those who contravene it need to be penalised. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

That’s right, Angela! Punish those Frenchies and Italians and Greeks! Payback for being made a pariah state after World War II! Hoo-rah!

Except, of course, that it’s slowly strangling the German economy (h/t David Dayen): “Germany’s central bank on Monday cut its forecast for German economic growth in 2012, projecting gross domestic product to expand by 0.5% to 1% versus an earlier prediction of 1.8%, Dow Jones Newswires reported.”

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Surprise! “Lazy Greeks Lolling In Luxury” Is A Lie

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 15, 2011

If this surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention:

Athens’ international lenders have pushed for cuts to the 750 euro minimum monthly wage to boost competitiveness, a welcome call for Germans, French and other voters in the currency area who have bridled at having to bail out Greece.

But for people like 33-year-old magazine editor George Theonas, that wage floor is a myth, as his and other companies use the crisis to skirt legal pay rules by tearing up collective wage deals and forcing employees into contract work.

“I can’t pay my bills and I can no longer live without my parents’ support,” said Theonas, 33, whose employer moved him from permanent to temporary status, making 700 euros a month working 12 hours a day, seven days a week instead of the four days on his contract.

“I’m not looking for a new job. There is nowhere to go. This is Greece,” he said.

Theonas is one of the lucky ones. Others at his company earn as little as 300 euros a month under trainee schemes that are extended for years, even though they do the work once bestowed only on full-time employees.

With Greek unemployment now at a euro-era record high of 18.4 percent, workers are forced to stay put, as their employers say thousands more people are standing in line for their jobs.

“Most of my friends are unemployed. I only hear of people losing their jobs. What choice do I have,” said Theonas.

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They Approve Of Wikileaks In Germany

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 10, 2010

From what I can judge in Der Spiegel. Here’s a recent sidebar on Der Spiegel’s English-language site:

A ‘Dumb War’: Taking Stock of the Iraq Invasion

  • The WikiLeaks Iraq Logs: A Protocol of Barbarity
  • Hellfire from the Sky: Iraq War Logs Reveal Details of Dubious Apache Attacks
  • Iraq, Nov. 23, 2006: A Day in Hell
  • Outrage, Applause, Indifference: US Reacts to WikiLeaks Iraq Documents
  • The Atlas of Horror: An Iraq War Logs Interactive Graphic
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