Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
Der Spiegel reports that the question of whether to try to ban the far-right NPD party is one of the most controversial issues in German politics. Now the authorities have compiled a dossier of over 1,000 pages in an attempt to prove that the NPD is anti-democratic. The file, which SPIEGEL has seen, provides a shocking exposé of an anti-Semitic and racist party whose members glorify the Nazis.
The stack of paper is thicker than a brick and heavier than the Berlin phone book. It contains 3,051 exhibits and 1,147 pages of classified information.
These pages could soon form the basis for a decision to make a new attempt to ban Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). Only a little over a week ago, on Aug. 28, German President Joachim Gauck urged such bold action against neo-Nazis during his speech to mark the 20th anniversary of racist riots in the northeastern city of Rostock. Gauck spoke of a state that “is able to defend itself.”
Strache – photograph Wikimedia Commons, Sept 2008, Christian Jansky Author
Der Spiegel reports that Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party (Die Freiheit) has become a force to be reckoned with in Austrian politics. It is currently neck and neck with the country’s two largest mainstream parties in the polls. Strache (born in 1969) who by training is a dental technician, has been active in the politics of Vienna since 1991.
“As chancellor,” he promised in June, he plans “not to do everything differently” but to “improve many things.” [Perfect approach so as to not frighten people who may shy away from a candidate who appears to be too radical.]
Strache was tied to the neo-Nazi community in the past and was forced to admit that he took part in militia training. Today he paints himself as a statesman in waiting and only rarely sends out signals to like-minded individuals — such as when, during a visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in December, he wore a cap that identified him as a lifelong member of the right-wing student fraternity “Vandalia” instead of a Jewish skullcap.” READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT DER SPIEGEL.
Strache, like many Tea Party Candidates is an expert in Dog Whistle Politics. Strache wore a Biertönnchen—the red, blue, and black cap that identifies him as a lifelong member of Vandalia, a right-wing student fraternity long associated with Pan-German nationalism and anti-Semitism. But the “Freedom Party” (“Die Freiheit” ) of Germany takes Dog Whistle politics to a new height. Strache has stooges who interpret his actions for the base. Rene Stadtkewitz, the German Freedom Party founder who was part of that tour told reporters that it was a way for Strache to tell his followers “Hey look, this isn’t what it looks like.
Strache has been quoted as saying “If the Jews accept us then we won’t have a problem.” Essentially their message today is that they were wrong about the Jews and it’s the Muslims who are causing all the trouble. I hope the Germans and particularly the German-Jews are smart enough to remember that prejudice is prejudice. It is simply hatred against “the Other.” Down through history, “the other” been identified as Muslims, Jews, gays, dark-skin people, Catholics, Protestants, Irish, gypsies, Italians, Asians, etc.
Addendum on the Freedom Party of Germany
Rene Stadtkewitz, founder of the Freedom Party was former member of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The Freedom Party has formed a party to attract voters enthralled by Thilo Sarrazin and disappointed by Germany’s existing parties
A quote from its founder: “If we don’t get things right demographically, we’ll have Algeria in Berlin before long. Islam has always been a religion of conquest,” Stadtkewitz says in his throaty bass, the voice of a smoker who fills his lungs with cigarette smoke every two hours.
For more on Rene Stadtkewitz: ”New German anti-Muslim party calls Islam ‘totalitarian,’” by David Crossland in The National, February 7, 2011.
While Germany’s “Freedom Party” is basically a thinly disguised neo-nazi party, people of color in the USA formed a “Freedom Party”. The birth of a new political party in the United States is built on unity and struggle. The new Black and Latino led Freedom Party founded on June 27, 2010, held its first Convention on February 12-13, 2011 to lay out its program of action and the need for a united front. MORE ON THAT FREEDOM PARTY
All over the media we read headlines such as “Fears of Greek Default Ease” and when you read the details of these reports, what you find that they are based on is the fact that Angela Merkel after meeting with Sarkozy said that Germany would soften its position to private investors. Rather than force them to bear a substantial part of the burden of a rescue Germany agreed to ask investors to participate in the bailout on a voluntary basis. (And what exactly does this mean in plain English? that they can choose to not be part of a community when it does not serve their profitability and then be part of a community when it profits them? My Mom used to call that “fair weather friends.” ) Unless you give a-moral people a very strong incentive for ethical behavior, don’t expect it to be forthcoming on a volunteer basis. Look to the off shore accounts set up by these people to evade taxes for one example.
As far as I can tell, no one has asked the people on the streets of Greece what they think. If they did, and “the Markets” that the rich love to personify could actually read these reports, their fears of Greek default might not be easing. If anything, this news about going soft on the rich is more likely to inflame the Greeks.
WHAT IS KEY TO THE GREEK ECONOMIC PROBLEM IS AT THE HEART OF THE U.S. PROBLEM AS WELL: RICH FREELOADERS WHO EVADE TAXES.
Like many countries, the Greek government relies on borrowed money to balance its books. The recession has made this harder to achieve, because tax revenues are falling just as welfare payments start to rise. It doesn’t help that, in Greece, tax evasion is commonplace.
In the USA tax evasion added $3 trillion to the deficit over the past decade alone, an average of $300 billion a year, according to IRS data. This isn’t revenue lost from legal tax write-offs, like the mortgage interest deduction. It’s not even, as the IRS notes, “taxes that should have been paid on income from the illegal sector of the economy.” That $300 billion represents the amount of revenue lost from people deliberately cheating on their taxes every year. This includes underreporting income, hidden offshore bank accounts, sham trusts, and other ways to illegally stiff the IRS
Unemployment in Germany is lower now than it was before the downturn
Germany has done well because its labor-market institutions encourage employers to cut hours not workers. Instead of laying off 20 percent of workers, say, a firm can instead lower the average hours of its employees by 20 percent. Both accomplish the same goal, but from a social point of view, cutting hours is much better because it shares the pain more equally and keeps workers tied to their jobs.
But if we followed this fair, just and humane approach, the conservatives would be yelping that we shouldn’t follow a European model because it is “socialist.” LOL! Of course the wise among us realize that the real reason that American CEO’s don’t follow this sensible and humane approach is because many of the Wall Street CEO’s are card-carrying psychopaths who get their jollies from being rude and cruel to people. No, I’m not kidding one bit here.
Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist, who invented the psychopath checklist and said that “you’re four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor’s office.”
No finer example than “Chainsaw Al” — Al Dunlap CEO of appliance maker Sunbeam is notorious for firing people and shutting down factories. Dunlap believed that the primary goal of any business should be to make money for its shareholders [name me one Wall Street jerk that does not]. To that end, he believed in making widespread cuts, including massive layoffs, in order to streamline operations. By firing thousands of employees at once and closing plants and factories, he drastically altered the economic status of such corporations as Scott Paper and Crown Zellerbach. He sold Scott Paper to Kimberly-Clark in 1995 for $7.8 billion and walked away with a $100 million golden parachute.
The Wall Street Way
Firing massive amounts of employees and shutting down plants–even those making profits and providing jobs for local economies–is part and parcel of the Wall Street business model. Wall Street pimps and CEOs are criminals and those who represent them and profit from them such as congressmen are the enemy of the majority of Americans who live on Main Street. This should be made very clear to as many Americans as possible between now and 2012.
RUN FOR OFFICE IN 2012! START NOW!
As many Americans as possible, should start now to prepare to run for office. It’s not about money. It’s about message, credibility and volunteers who support you.
The European Voice reports that Greece is to sell off stakes in state owned companies.
George Papaconstantinou, Greece’s finance minister, has announced the sale of stakes in five state-owned Greek enterprises as part of efforts to reduce the country’s budget deficit.
Following weeks of pressure from its eurozone partners [ie. the rich of Europe] to move ahead with an agreed €50 billion privatisation programme, the Greek government announced yesterday that it would launch the sale of stakes in OTE, the Greek telecoms company, Postbank, the ports of Athens and Thessaloniki and the Thessaloniki water company.
Again, all this is brought to you by rich via IMF and World Bank.
The IMF is a predatory force, opening developing countries up to economic assaults from the wealthy North and powerful transnational corporations.
However, since the Seattle anti-corporate demonstrations of 1999, there has been a revolt against it, and those forces have won in Latin America, changing the framework of all economic debates to come and enriching our imaginations when it comes to economies and possibilities.
Today, the IMF is a mess, the World Trade Organization largely sidelined, NAFTA almost universally reviled, the Free Trade Area of the Americas cancelled (though bilateral free-trade agreements continue), and much of the world has learned a great deal from the decade’s crash course in economic policy. But the rich keep on trying.
It looks like they are going to be able to turn Greece into a corporate owned company store.
MORE ON PRIVATIZATION: Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
BUT THE PROVERBIAL FAT LADY HAS NOT YET SUNG. Greece may default on its loans and essentially say to hell with the Euro.–Kinda like declaring bankruptcy and then saying–what are you going to do about it?
Eurocrats insist that Greece will not default on its sovereign debt obligations, but the markets think otherwise.
As politicians and policy makers haggle, analysts are trying to game-out what would happen in the event Greece defaulted. Moody’s Investors Service in a note this morning tried to put a little meat on the default scenario. You can read it in the WSJ if you like.
What do I think Greece should do?
I agree with Peter Morici (an economist and professor at the University of Maryland) I think Greece should restructure their debt and abandon the euro to reassert control over their finances.
Just one year after wealthier European Union governments and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) extended 110 billion euros (US$155 billion) in emergency financing, Greece is unable to meet the aid plan’s deficit reduction targets and grow fast enough to make its debt payments more manageable.
The European Central Bank and IMF insist that Athens can meet those targets but raising taxes or cutting spending further would only slow growth more and likely cast Greece into a deep recession from which it could not recover.
Bond investors are demanding yields 20 percentage points higher on Greek debt than on comparable German debt. Rolling over existing bonds, as those come due, will be prohibitively expensive, and the collapse of Athens’ finances seems inevitable. As the market value of those securities would be much lower than the face value of Greece’s current outstanding debt, such a restructuring would constitute a “soft default.
Unless Greece gets significant concessions and loans at preferential rates from the EU and IMF, it will be impelled to ask private creditors to accept bonds with longer maturities and paying lower interest rates than the bonds they currently hold.
If Greece still had its own currency, it would still would have needed to cut spending and increase taxes – but not by nearly as much as the EU aid pact requires – because Greece could also devalue its currency against those of richer EU economies to make exports more competitive, accelerate growth, and increase debt servicing capacity.
In a sense, you can compare Greece to being in the same position that many Americans are. They too are being taken advantage of by wealthy bankers who gave out loans with unfair terms, harsh rates and unrealistic payment schedules. Now they are putting on the squeeze like the repo man. This is just one of the many reasons why IMF should be dismantled. That’s how it works: The rich get the best loan rates while the poor who need a break most pay through the nose. If Germany or France had to pay off their loans at the rates they are demanding that the Greeks pay, we would hear them bellowing all the way across the Atlantic.
GO FOR IT GREECE. DEFAULT!
On March 15, 2011, less than a week after the Japanese disaster, Angela Merkel announced the temporary closure of seven of Germany’s nuclear power stations. The chancellor said that reactors built before 1980 would be taken offline while an urgent review of their safety was carried out. “Safety has the priority in all our deliberations,” Merkel declared after she met politicians from affected German states. We didn’t hear any decisive move from any other world leaders.
Then on March 27th Germany got even greener in stunning fashion. German angst over the nuclear disaster in Japan crested just as two south-western states held elections. In Rhineland-Palatinate the Green vote tripled, vaulting the party into government as junior partner of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had previously ruled alone. In Baden-Württemberg 58 years of government by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came to an end. The Greens will now take control of a state government for the first time.
NOW TODAY WE LEARN THAT GERMANY WILL BE PUSHING PRODUCTION OF ELECTRIC CARS.
Angela Merkel laid out a bold ambition on Monday: increasing the number of electric cars in Germany from just a handful to a million in less than a decade. Not only would such a feat give the country’s green credentials a major boost but it would also help Germany’s vital car industry grab a slice of the growing market.
The German government will double its funding to provide 2 billion euros by 2013 as part of plans to increase the number of electric cars on the streets from barely 20,000 today to a million by 2020–and maybe even six million by 2030. Merkel told a press conference that German must be a “market leader” in this new technology.
But she has rule out subsidising sales of electric cars, which still retail for a significantly higher price than conventional cars. ”A premium to buy isn’t the right answer,” the chancellor said.
However there will be other incentives to promote the use of electric cars. They will be exempt from the road tax for ten years. They will be granted access to bus lanes and some free parking. Taxes on company vehicles will be reformed to encourage using electric cars and the government itself plans to power 10 percent of its vehicles with electricity.
Deutsche Welle reports that German may rethink Libya Involvement.
German troops would protect aid workers and help refugees
After taking a hard stance in abstaining from a UN Security Council vote on a no-fly zone over Libya, Germany looks set to agree to send troops to the war-torn country in a humanitarian role should the UN request it.
While joining Russia and China in abstaining, Berlin stood alone among Europe’s biggest powers in the vote last month, angering traditional allies France, Britain and the US by stating that it did not want German soldiers to participate in military intervention in Libya.
The UK Guardian reports that Angela Merkel made a U-turn on nuclear energy became even more gear-crunching on Tuesday when she announced the temporary closure of seven of Germany’s nuclear power stations.
The chancellor said that reactors built before 1980 would be taken offline while an urgent review of their safety was carried out.
“Safety has the priority in all our deliberations,” Merkel declared after she met politicians from affected German states.
This latest announcement came just a day after Germany’s coalition government announced a three-month delay in its decision to extend the lifespan of Germany’s 17 elderly nuclear power stations.
ADDENDUM FROM THE QUEEN–HERE IS WHY I TRUST ANGELA MERKEL’S JUDGMENT IN MAKING THIS DECISION
Merkel is likely coming from a place beyond politics in her decisions. Merkel was educated in Templin and at the University of Leipzig, where she studied physics bfrom 1973 to 1978. Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof from 1978 to 1990. She learned to speak Russian fluently, and earned a statewide prize for her proficiency. After being awarded a doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) for her thesis on quantum chemistry she worked as a researcher.
Perhaps the conservatives should look to Germany and shut their pie holes regarding their right-wing ideology
UNLIKE THE USA, THE GERMAN ECONOMY IS RECOVERING.
High taxes, heavy regulation, powerful unions and a big welfare state are turnoffs for pretty much any true blue (and especially red) American, but they are also the four cornerstones that have led Germany to its strongest quarter in 20 years.
Today, the world’s fourth largest economy in the world confirmed a 2.2 percent GDP growth in the second quarter, a tremendous feat for a developed nation during a global downturn. To compare, America grew 0.6 percent during the same quarter (and similarly, France grew 0.6 percent and Spain by 0.2 percent).
German unemployment has decreased to the near pre-recession level of 7.6 percent, from 9.1 percent in January.
Of course, unlike the USA, led by the rich and Wall Street, Germany did not outsource millions of jobs of its manufacturing base.
The German government has prioritized keeping German workers. Unlike America, for example, Germany still manufactures most of its own goods, so that any export revenue is driven back to the country.
THANKS A LOT US CONGRESS AND WALL STREET AND YOUR RIP-OFF GLOBALIZATION SCHEMES.
In case you missed it, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, used the taxpayers money to pay back the taxpayer’s money and called it “successful business”. I guess it was for Mr. Blankfein. You see, AIG owed Goldman Sachs $12.9 billion. When the American people bailed out AIG, they used the American taxpayers money to repay their loans to banks like Goldman Sachs. And remember, this transpired in November of 2008–on George Bush’s watch. He and his buddies did all they could to drain the US treasury before they left town.
In November 2008, AIG would probably have been able to strike settlements that, at least at the time, could have saved the giant troubled insurer, and taxpayers, billions of dollars. Instead, after a few days of harried discussions, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which was orchestrating the government’s bailout of AIG — instructed the insurer to pay its counterparties, which included Goldman Sachs and a number of European banks, in full. The BlackRock report is one of many documents recently unearthed by a congressional investigation into the controversial bailout of AIG, which could still cost taxpayers as much as $180 billion.
from the Financial Times:
Merkel hits out at banks over Greek deals
By Gerrit Wiesmann in Berlin and Kerin Hope in Athens
“The German chancellor has sharply criticised global investment banks that may have helped a number of Greek governments to disguise mounting budgetary problems over the years.
“It would be a disgrace if it turned out to be true that banks that already pushed us to the edge of the abyss were also party to falsifying Greek statistics,” Angela Merkel said during a speech in north-eastern Germany.
. . .The European Commission has told Greece to provide details by the end of this month about derivative transactions it carried out with Goldman Sachs and other banks – so that Brussels can consider whether Athens broke any European Union budget rules.
Mr Papandreou’s decision – and the government’s resistance to adopting fresh fiscal measures immediately, as urged by the Commission – has shattered a fragile political consensus with the conservative New Democracy party, raising the prospect of broad social unrest. . .” MORE