Tag Archives | Germany

Pictures From The Secret STASI Archives

stasiGerman artist Simon Menner has a bundle of photos taken by East Germany’s secret police during Cold War. Offering a glimpse into the small absurdities of life as a Communist spy, included are snap shots of suspicious household objects, agents modeling their “normal civilian” disguises, and West German spies who knew they were themselves being spied on, et cetera:

East Germany, until it ceased to exist in 1989/90, had one of the most advanced surveillance system ever in operation, the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Department of State Security) or STASI. In terms of number of agents per capita it even outranked the Russian KGB by far.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was decided that most of its archive should be made accessible to the public and for historic research. Even though the access is restricted, this was very much in contrast to what most of the other nations of the former Eastern Block did.

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The Neo-Nazis of Jamel, Germany

Jamel, GermanyVia the Huffington Post:

JAMEL, Germany — This is a town taken over by neo-Nazis.

Wooden signposts by the main road point to Vienna, Paris, and Braunau am Inn – the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. A far-right leader runs his demolition company from home, its logo featuring a man smashing a Star of David with a sledgehammer.

Every few months, townsfolk host outdoor parties where guests sing “Hitler is my Fuehrer” to chants of “Heil” around a massive bonfire.

Jamel is the most extreme manifestation of a chilling phenomenon in the former communist East Germany: a creeping encroachment of neo-Nazism that makes Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania one of only two states where Germany’s biggest far-right party, the National Democratic Party, or NPD, sits in parliament.

The extreme-right is believed to be behind some 40 attacks in the state over the past year, including stones thrown through windows of political parties and fireworks blown up in a prosecutor’s mailbox.

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China Vows To Help European Debt Crisis

2010 had Greece and Ireland receiving financial help from the Internatioanl Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations. 2011 has Spain, Germany and Britain finding help from Chinese investors as Vice Premier Li Keqiang began his European tour. Via The Jakarta Globe:

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang backed Europe in its sovereign debt battle on Wednesday, starting a three-nation tour by promising to buy more Spanish government bonds.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, delivered a significant vote of confidence given China’s world record foreign reserves of 2.648 trillion dollars (2.0 trillion euros), much of it in euros.

On his visit to Spain, Germany and Britain he is supporting Europe’s recovery efforts and seeking to soothe global market fears of a debt quagmire spreading from Greece and Ireland to Portugal and even Spain.

[Continues at The Jakarta Globe]

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WikiLeaks Revelation: The U.S. Tortured an Innocent Man and Threatened Germany to Not Prosecute the Torturers

While the U.S. media simultaneously wrings its hands over whether Julian Assange should get life imprisonment or the death penalty and claims WikiLeaks revealed nothing important except about Iran's WMD ambitions, Scott Horton reports at Harper's:
Over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday in 2003, Khaled El-Masri traveled by bus to Skopje, Macedonia. There he was apprehended by border guards who noted the similarity of his name to that of Khalid al-Masri, an Al Qaeda agent linked to the Hamburg cell where the 9/11 attacks were plotted. Despite El-Masri’s protests that he was not al-Masri, he was beaten, stripped naked, shot full of drugs, given an enema and a diaper, and flown first to Baghdad and then to the notorious “salt pit,” the CIA’s secret interrogation facility in Afghanistan. At the salt pit, he was repeatedly beaten, drugged, and subjected to a strange food regime that he supposed was part of an experiment that his captors were performing on him. Throughout this time, El-Masri insisted that he had been falsely imprisoned, and the CIA slowly established that he was who he claimed to be. Over many further weeks of bickering over what to do, a number of CIA figures apparently argued that, though innocent, the best course was to continue to hold him incommunicado because he “knew too much.”...
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Massive Sinkhole Swallows Car (Photo)

What causes sinkholes like this to open up so rapidly? Anyone? This latest example is reported by The Local:
A large sinkhole opened up overnight in the middle of residential area in Thuringia [Germany], sucking a nearby car and part of a garage into its depths and forcing authorities to evacuate residents, police said on Monday. sinkhole The crater, measuring some 40 by 15 metres, appeared in the town of Schmalkalden around 3 am, a police spokesperson said. A nearby resident heard the noise and called police...
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Is Solar Power Too Powerful For Germany?

456px-Electricity_Grid_Schematic_EnglishUPI reports:

The German electricity grid faces instability because of too much solar power, an expert said.

Thanks to a generous feed-in tariff, the installation of rooftop solar panels and large-scale photovoltaic plants has exploded in Germany.

Stephan Kohler, chairman of the DENA agency, an energy adviser to the government, has warned that the green boom could turn into a disaster for Germany’s aging power grid.

“The network is facing a congestion due to solar power,” Kohler told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “That’s why the expansion of solar power has to be cut back quickly and drastically.”

Experts have long called for an overhaul of the European power grid to integrate the fluctuating renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Experts forecast between 8 gigawatts and 10 GW of solar power capacity to be installed this year — the equivalent of roughly 10 large coal-fired power plants. In 2009, only 4 GW were installed.

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Radioactive Wild Boars in German Forests

Radioactive BoarThis is creepy news from Cyriaque Lamar on io9.com on a Der Spiegel report:

It’s been 25 years since Chernobyl fallout contaminated flora and fauna in Europe, but German hunting officials are still dealing with rising numbers of radioactive wild boars. But why?

This burgeoning boar population munches on radiation-absorbing truffles and mushrooms, and because of an overall increase in wild boars, the number of radioactive boars has gone up as well. The German Atomic Energy Law requires Berlin to reimburse hunters who bag radioactive boars. In 2009, the government paid out approximately €425,000 — or $555,000 — for polluted piggies. According to Der Spiegel, the contaminated boar population has been the most problematic in southern Germany:

Many of the boar that are killed land on the plates of diners across Germany, but it is forbidden to sell meat containing high levels of radioactive caesium-137 — any animals showing contamination levels higher than 600 becquerel per kilogram must be disposed of.

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Catholics Outraged Over German Cartoon

Scott Roxborough writes in the Hollywood Reporter:
Blowing Jesus

COLOGNE, Germany — A German cartoon mocking the Catholic Church has sparked holy outrage among believers here who say it incites hatred against the Pope and the Catholic faith.

The caricature, published in the Good Friday edition of satire magazine Titanic, shows a priest apparently having oral sex with a crucifix of Jesus on the cross.

The crucifix cartoon is a barbed commentary on recent revelations that 250 people in Germany were sexual abused at Church-run schools in the past decades. The scandal has shaken the German Church. A recent poll said Germans’ trust in the Catholic Church had fallen to 17% from 29% in late January and approval ratings for Pope Benedict have dropped from 38% to 24%.

The German Press Council reported that some 100 formal complaints have been filed since the magazine came out, a level of protest not seen since 2006, when German newspaper Die Welt reprinted the infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons.

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Pope Benedict Under Fire for Transfer of Suspected Pedophile Priest in Germany

This latest scandal involves not just the pope’s inner circle, but the head honcho himself. NICOLE WINFIELD writes on the AP via Yahoo News:

Pope BenedictVATICAN CITY — Germany’s sex abuse scandal has now reached Pope Benedict XVI: His former archdiocese acknowledged it transferred a suspected pedophile priest while Benedict was in charge and criticism is mounting over a 2001 Vatican directive he penned instructing bishops to keep abuse cases secret.

The revelations have put the spotlight on Benedict’s handling of abuse claims both when he was archbishop of Munich from 1977–1982 and then the prefect of the Vatican office that deals with such crimes — a position he held until his 2005 election as pope.

Benedict got a firsthand readout of the scope of the scandal Friday in his native land from the head of the German Bishop’s Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who reported that the pontiff had expressed “great dismay and deep shock” over the scandal, but encouraged bishops to continue searching for the truth.

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