Posts tagged ‘Berlin’

November 19, 2010

Berlin’s terror alert: What goes around comes around

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS issued a terror warning for the country and especially for Berlin, where a major terrorist attack is expected “before the end of the month.” Security fences have gone up around the Reichstag building, machine-gun toting policeman with sixteen kilo bullet-proof vests are patrolling public spaces, security has been doubled outside the city’s Jewish institutions, the BVG public transit authority has proclaimed its second highest security level, and Berlin’s senator for interior affairs (i.e. for police and public safety), Ehrhart Körting, has asked all citizens to report “strange-looking” people and activities to the authorities. According to American security officials, up to four al-Qaeda operatives are already in or near Berlin, where they can rely on over 400 Islamist allies in the capital itself and 3,000 nationwide, many of them fresh from terrorist…

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November 10, 2010

“Degenerate art” on display again in Berlin after 69 years

WE TYPICALLY ASSOCIATE BURIED treasure with desert islands and remote monasteries, but sometimes it’s lying right beneath your nose. That’s what Berlin workers discovered earlier this year when they came across a lost trove of so-called degenerate art that had been eliminated from the city’s collections during the Third Reich. “Degenerate art,” of course, was the Nazi term for any kind of modern non-representational or else all-too realistic painting or sculpture that did not fit into the regime’s conception of a heroic Aryan…

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October 13, 2010

New report finds Germany swinging towards the right

FOR MONTHS IN THIS SPACE I have been writing about the resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment and “respectable” far-right parties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. While such feelings and parties come and go and have rarely amounted to much since 1945, a new report being presented in Berlin today shows that right wing ideas are becoming increasingly acceptable in Germany and have, in fact, moved into “the center of society.” The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s new 180-page report The Center in Crisis: Far Right Attitudes in Germany in 2010 finds that “in 2010 there was a significant increase in anti-democratic and racist…

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October 4, 2010

The Berlin Wall returns – as a “serious” computer game

JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY WHO’S tried them derives pleasure from computer games or simulations of one kind or another, and of course we all need to brush up on our recent history, so why not combine the two? That’s what a computer design student in the German town of Karlsruhe thought. But the product of his labours, 1378 km, which was to be unveiled on Sunday to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of German reunification, has elicited nothing but horror and disgust from one end of the country to the other. Why? The game simulates the former inner-German border, and allows players to slip into the role of border guards and blow prospective “republic escapees,” as the communist regime used to call its refugees, to kingdom come…

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September 29, 2010

New terror threats encourage Europe’s new New Right

JUST AFTER NORWEGIAN POLICE uncovered a further plot to blow up the headquarters of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, new reports have come out revealing a broad-based conspiracy to stage massive urban terror attacks across Europe. Britain’s Sky News told viewers yesterday that a group linked to a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda network is planning to stage armed assaults in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on London as well as on cities in France and Germany. All three countries have sizeable ISAF forces operating in Afghanistan. The current surge in American drone attacks on targets in Pakistan is apparently aimed at disrupting the plot, which is at an “advanced but not immanent stage.” Ironically, the acts appear to be motivated by revenge against the drone attacks, which regularly violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and have killed…

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September 14, 2010

“Freedom”! Germany’s rush to the right

RENEGADE ECONOMIST THILO SARRAZIN might not know much about genetics, but he sure knows his way around money. Last week the controversial economist, whose anti-immigrant book Germany is Abolishing Itself is topping all the bestseller lists, finally agreed to leave his no longer defensible position on the Board of Directors of the Bundesbank in Frankfurt after direct intervention by Germany’s president, Christian Wulff. In the end, Sarrazin did not take the Bundesbank to court, but he did take it to the cleaners: Sarrazin finagled an extra one thousand euros in monthly pension payments, the amount he would have gotten if he had stuck it out until his term ended in 2014. As it is, Germany’s best-known Muslim-hater and “Jewish gene” proponent, who has not exactly had to go begging so far and whose book has already sold over 400,000 copies in two weeks at 22,99 euros a pop, will be receiving a monthly pension check of 10,000…

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September 8, 2010

Inspired timing: Berlin politician launches anti-Islam party

THAT’S WHAT I CALL inspired timing. Just when (some) Americans are already gathering to burn Qurans in Florida, a German city councilman in Berlin today announced the founding of a new anti-Muslim party that will run candidates in next year’s municipal election. The conservative Christian Democratic Union kicked René Stadtkewitz (45), who represents the city’s Pankow district in the capital’s local House of Representatives, out of the CDU group yesterday for inviting the xenophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders to deliver a lecture here on October 2 to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Germany’s reunification. This was too much for the CDU, and Stadtkewitz…

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September 3, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin’s night of long knives

THE WOLVES ARE CIRCLING Thilo Sarrazin. The knives are out. Yesterday, in an unprecedented step, the august board of directors of Deutsche Bank dismissed the renegade economist and Islam critic from its ranks. Was he caught with his hand in the till? No, he wasn’t even caught sneaking cookies. Instead, Sarrazin has written a book that Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling “nonsense” and that the Turkish and most of the German press is calling “racist” and “incendiary.” Sarrazin has been relieved of all his functions effective immediately for violating Deutsche Bank’s internal code of ethics. On Monday, German president Christian Wulff is expected to formalize…

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August 30, 2010

Are Muslim immigrants making Europe “poorer and stupider”?

BACK IN THE RESTLESS 1990s, when the German far right was undergoing yet another short-lived rebirth into the political mainstream, the racist Republican Party under the leadership of ex-Nazi and SS man Franz Schönhuber used to put up what I still regard as the most remarkable political poster ever. Printed in the nationalist colors black, white, and red, it simply displayed the words: “We say what you think.” Today, another German politician has been making headlines in recent weeks for also saying aloud what millions of Europeans fervently believe but rarely dare to put into words. His explosive new book Germany is Abolishing Itself appeared on store shelves this morning, and the future of European politics may depend on how…

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August 25, 2010

“Doing enough”: The challenge of long-distance caregiving

AS OUR SOCIETY BECOMES increasingly mobile and “global,” more and more of us are confronting the challenge of trying to take care of – or even keep track of – elderly and disabled family members living on the other side of the continent, or even on a different continent. As a matter of fact, I find myself in this situation myself, as my own mother back in the Midwest falls deeper and deeper under the shadow of Alzheimer’s. I suspect many readers here at OS will know from personal experience what I’m up against and are wondering how to proceed themselves. That is why I am presenting the following interview – which comes out of my day job as a professional writer – in the hope that…

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