Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Merkel ally insult of Romanians, Chinese an internet scoop

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In the “old days” of journalism, before the rise of the internet, an alert journalist might pick up on a politician’s gaffe in the middle of an election speech or somewhere on the campaign trail and publish or broadcast a story with the potential to change the dynamic of a race.

 

Nowadays, it could be instead the political opponent or citizen journalists armed with cell phone cameras or small hand-held cameras who can upset the applecart with a YouTube videos, blog or website report documenting a serious verbal blunder.

 

It’s a lesson that Juergen Ruettgers, the conservative state premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has now painfully learned.

 

Ruettgers apologised late on Friday for insulting both Romanian workers and Chinese investors at a campaign rally in the depressed working class city of Duisburg late last month (story here) as the row over his remarks escalated. Ruettgers, who has a track record of statements criticised as xenophobic, suggested at the rally in Ruhr River industrial city that the Romanian work ethic was inferior to Germany’s and he also made derogatory remarks about Chinese investors.

“Give peace a chance….”

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What if they gave a concert for peace and nobody heard it?

That twist on the old peace slogan – “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” – came to mind after the World Orchestra for Peace -– an occasional ensemble of some of the world’s best classical musicians –- played a concert in Krakow on September 1 to mark the Nazi invasion of Poland 70 years ago that started World War Two.

With Russian conductor Valery Gergiev on the podium, the orchestra played a “Prelude for Peace” by composer and Krakow native Krzysztof Penderecki, and a rousing account of Gustav Mahler’s gargantuan Fifth Symphony – but for whom?

Does Sorb’s election win point to a more multicultural Germany?

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Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis tried to extinguish the culture and language of the Sorbs.

This week, a member of Germany’s indigenous Slavic minority won a state election for the first time. Stanislaw Tillich’s victory puts him firmly in control of Saxony, the most populous eastern state – and looks likely to catapult the 50-year-old to the front ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

German ‘cash for clunkers’ out of gas just before vote

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-   Germany‘s “cash-for-clunkers” scheme expired on Wednesday with a last-minute surge in demand a full three weeks before the Sept. 27 election and much faster than anyone thought possible.   The government’s 5-billion euro incentive programme has led to the purchase of 2 million new cars in the last eight months, according to the website of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control  that has been keeping a live update of how much money was still available. New car registrations are up about 30 percent this year — in the middle of the country’s worst post-war recession.   By any measure the “Abrwackpraemie” (car junking bonus), as the Germans informally referred to the government’s more official “Unweltpraemie” (environment bonus), that offered new car buyers 2,500 euros for scrapping their older vehicles has been a great success story — a textbook example of pump priming that would make have made Franklin D. Roosevelt proud.    

 

It was among the 81-billion euro basket of stimulus measures the government put together to soften the impact of the recession and was later copied in many other countries, including the United States.It started out as a 1.5-billion euro scheme but that had to be quickly topped up in the spring as a frenzy swept the country.

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