Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from MacroScope:

You say ’30s, we say ’20s

Neil Dwane, fund firm RCM's chief investment officer in Europe, has an interesting take on the current spat between Germany and the United States over printing money to get out of trouble. You can see Juergen Stark for the latest volley.

Dwane reckons it is all a matter of history. The American psyche, he says, is scarred by the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is up there with the Civil War. Think John Steinbeck or John Boy Walton.

For Germans, however, the 1930s mean something else. It was the era that the Nazis took over, leading to the country's great nightmare. But that, the German psyche has it, was bred in the 1920s when incompetent government led to hyperinflation and worthless money. Think one trillion marks to the dollar. Think wheelbarrows.

from MacroScope:

Stealing Steinbrueck’s show?

Peer Steinbrueck, the front man in Germany's fight against the financial crisis, has a new challenge on his hands: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. The young economy minister, in the job for only a month, is already proving to be a thorn in Finance Minister Steinbrueck's side. The telegenic 37-year-old is coming up with policy initiatives that challenge Steinbrueck's plans, and draw media attention away from him.

This is new territory for Steinbrueck. Until last month, he was able to capitalise on the low profile of former economy minister Michael Glos to make himself Germany's primary spokesman on matters financial and economic -- and the man Chancellor Angela Merkel turned to for leadership on these issues. Glos's shock resignation last month opened the way for Guttenberg to make the step up from Bavarian politics to the national stage, and he hasn't looked back.

from FaithWorld:

Germans fall out of love with their pope

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the head of the Roman Catholicism in 2005, the best-selling daily Bild caught the national mood with a frontpage headline crowing Wir sind Papst! (We're Pope!). Now, Germans are falling out of love with their pope for readmitting to the Church an excommunicated bishop who denies the Holocaust. For the vast majority of Germans, denying the Holocaust is beyond the pale. Shunning anyone who does deny the Holocaust is considered a civic virtue. So seeing the world's most prominent German rehabilitate a Holocaust denier is quite distressing for a upstanding, post-war German democrat. How could he do it? (Photo: Pope Benedict at the Vatican, 2 Feb 2009/Alessandro Bianchi)

The Vatican and Catholic bishops around the world have been defending the pope, saying the lifting of the excommunications for the controversial Bishop Richard Williamson and three other bishops was an internal Church issue unrelated to his political views. They say repeatedly that this is not a rehabilitation, but simply a readmission to allow discussions on rehabilitation to start. After botching the initial announcement, the Vatican has had a tough time trying to convince public opinion in other countries. In Germany, where many understandably think Holocaust deniers deserve no sympathy whatsoever, this task is proving to be doubly difficult.

German rivals trade smiles, not barbs

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German Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice  Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier will battle each other in September’s federal election. But on Tuesday, it was hard to imagine the German odd couple campaigning against each other just a few months from now. The leaders of the two rival parties, locked in their loveless grand coalition since 2005, sat next to each other for 90 minutes, smiling politely as they jointly defended a new economic stimulus package their two ruling parties welded together.

“The campaign will start early enough,” said Steinmeier, who also is Germany’s foreign minister. “What we have presented here shows that the parties in this coalition act responsibly.” Merkel, nodding approvingly in response to several of  Steinmeier’s “we’re-on-the-same-team” type of answers at the nationally televisioned news conference, added: “This is a good package. Everybody has made their contribution.” 

Neo-Nazi stabbing shows western German ills

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It is not just eastern Germany that has a problem fighting far-right militants.

The stabbing of a German police chief on his doorstep in southern Germany, which prosecutors suspect is a revenge attack by neo-Nazis angry about a crackdown on their activities, has exposed the uncomfortable reality that western Germany has troubles of its own.

The attack has shocked Germany and rekindled a fierce debate about how to tackle neo-Nazis and whether to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

“Frauenpower” at Siemens: another crack in the glass ceiling?

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Siemens’ announcement this week that it has appointed a woman to its management board has generated a loud hullabaloo in the media, with newspapers trumpeting “the womanless age at Siemens is over” and “Barbara Kux, the strong woman at Siemens.”

But how was the news of a woman’s appointment to a senior executive position deserving of a celebratory press release and the ensuing excitement? Surely in an era of equal opportunities in developed countries, such news should be commonplace.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Al Qaeda – From bin Laden’s cave command to regionalised “franchise company”?

Osama bin Laden is no longer involved in the day-to-day planning of attacks, Germany's spy chief says, arguing that al Qaeda has turned from a centralised force into a regionalised "franchise company" with power centres in Pakistan, North Africa and the Arab peninsula. Does this weaken or strengthen the Islamist militant group? And how does it influence its operations, planning of attacks and its efforts to recruit new followers?

Ernst Uhrlau, who heads the BND foreign intelligence agency, Germany's equivalent of the CIA, says al Qaeda's "concept" has changed significantly over the past few years. "After the centralisation phase and the break-up of its bases in Afghanistan, when it had the backing of the Taliban government, we have seen a regionalisation over the past four years -- something like a franchise company."    "Today, there is al Qadea in the Maghreb, al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula, in Iraq, in Yemen," Uhrlau told Reuters in an interview this week.

Steinmeier sheds dull image with rousing speech

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Steinmeier address SPD conventionAs Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier has delivered many speeches,  but none that anyone can particularly remember. Germany’s top diplomat has impeccable credentials yet has rarely come close to stirring anyone with his balanced, cautious, usually dry and sometimes rather dull addresses. No one would ever think of ticking the box “rousing speaker” next to his name.

That all changed on Saturday — when Steinmeier gave the speech of his life to a congress of his centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). The 500 delegates interrupted the white-haired lawyer’s riveting 88-minute address with applause 114 times. They then elected Steinmeier, who had never won election for any public office, as their candidate for the 2009 election with 95 percent of the vote.

Where would we be without Europe?

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ECB headquarters in Frankfurt/Alex GrimmIf the financial crisis looks bad, I for one am thinking it might have been even worse — in the euro zone at least — had European countries not decided to pool their economies together by launching the single European currency.

I covered Europe in the 1980s from Belgium and Luxembourg when the idea of a single currency was still the pipe dream of a few old men who back in the 1950s had been inspired by the idea of a united Europe emerging from the rubble of World War Two.

The Party’s Over For Merkel

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Suddenly, the outlook has darkened for Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanks to Bavaria’s conservatives who suffered their worst result in half a century in a state vote on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela MerkelMerkel is used to riding high in polls and had looked to be cruising to re-election in a year’s time.

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