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Tag Archive: Berlin


Angela Merkel aide ‘attended Vladimir Putin party’

Angela Merkel “furious” after reports that her foreign policy expert attended Gerhard Schroeder’s birthday party with Vladimir Putin

Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, celebrated his 70th birthday with President Vladimir Putin at St Petersburg's Jussapov Palace on Monday night

Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, celebrated his 70th birthday with President Vladimir Putin at St Petersburg’s Jussapov Palace on Monday night Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to be furious following reports that her own party’s foreign policy expert attended a much criticised party in St Petersburg with Vladimir Putin.

German media reports said Philipp Missfelder, the chief foreign policy expert for Mrs Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party was also a guest at the controversial party held by a subsidiary of the Russian energy giant, Gazprom.

Mr Schroeder, who is on the board of Gazprom and a personal friend of Mr Putin was criticised in Germany on Tuesday for openly rubbing shoulders with the Russian president while German diplomatic observers were being held hostage by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Mrs Merkel was on Thursday reported to have asked Mr Putin for help in getting the hostages freed during a telephone conversation between the two leaders.

 

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Germany Trying Friendly Approach to Ending Ukraine Unrest

By | February 17, 2014

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, welcomes Ukraine opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, left, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, right, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 at the chancellery in Berlin to discuss the country’s crisis. The former Soviet nation has been in chaos since November when President Viktor Yanukovych ditched a planned EU trade and political pact in favor of closer ties with Moscow. (AP Photo/Jogannes Eisele, Pool)

 

BERLIN—Germany is seeking to play good cop to America’s bad cop in Western efforts to mediate between the government and protesters in Ukraine in an early test of the German government’s efforts at a more robust foreign policy role.

The Germans have refused to back Washington’s calls for sanctions against Ukraine’s government to pressure it into accepting opposition demands for reforms. At the same time, Germany has launched a flurry of diplomacy toward Kiev and Moscow — a key ally of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — while trying to promote selected Ukrainian opposition leaders as legitimate negotiating partners.

On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister held closed doors talks with top Ukrainian opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko, speaking with the two for about an hour.

Merkel assured Yatsenyuk and Klitschko that Germany and the EU would do everything possible to try and assure a “positive outcome” to the crisis in Ukraine — support for which the two praised the chancellor at a short news conference after the meeting.

“The chancellor is one of the most influential people in the world,” Klitschko said through an interpreter. “The backing of Germany and the EU plays a big role in Ukraine.”

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the release of jailed protesters in Ukraine and the handover of occupied buildings in Kiev on Sunday were signs that the government and opposition can find common ground, despite months of increasingly bloody confrontation.

Berlin’s diplomatic advance has put it at odds with some of its European Union partners, including Sweden and the Baltic nations, which have pressed for a harder line against the former Soviet republic, according to Stefan Meister, a senior research fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

But it fits in with the German government’s recent pledge for a more assertive role on the international stage.

For Germany, Ukraine is a good test case — a large European country, relatively close to German borders undergoing a more difficult transition than other former Soviet states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which joined the EU years ago.

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German minister resigns in blow to new Merkel government

BERLIN Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:52pm GMT

Germany's Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announces his resignation in Berlin February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

Germany’s Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announces his resignation in Berlin February 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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(Reuters) – A senior German minister resigned on Friday amid accusations he leaked confidential information about a fellow lawmaker suspected of possessing child pornography, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and her two-month old government.

The resignation of Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, the latest in a series of cabinet departures under Merkel, could aggravate tensions in Berlin’s new “grand coalition” at a time when it is trying to push through complex reforms of pensions and renewable energy.

“The pressure on me has grown so much in the last couple of hours that I no longer think I can do the job in the agriculture ministry with the required concentration, calm and political support,” Friedrich told a hastily-called news conference.

Merkel said she had accepted Friedrich’s resignation “with great respect and great regret”, adding that it was too early to discuss who would succeed him.

The resignation follows questions about whether Friedrich, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, inappropriately passed on confidential information about a looming investigation into a prominent Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker to the leader of the

SPD.

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UPDATE 4-German minister resigns in blow to new Merkel government

Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:46pm EST

* Merkel cabinet minister gave SPD advance warning of probe

* SPD lawmaker Edathy has denied child porn allegations

* Departure could aggravate tensions in coalition (Adds comments from Gabriel)

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, Feb 14 (Reuters) – A senior German minister resigned on Friday amid accusations he leaked confidential information about a fellow lawmaker suspected of possessing child pornography, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and her two-month old government.

The resignation of Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, the latest in a series of cabinet departures under Merkel, could aggravate tensions in Berlin’s new “grand coalition” at a time when it is trying to push through complex reforms of pensions and renewable energy.

“The pressure on me has grown so much in the last couple of hours that I no longer think I can do the job in the agriculture ministry with the required concentration, calm and political support,” Friedrich told a hastily-called news conference.

Merkel said she had accepted Friedrich’s resignation “with great respect and great regret”, adding that it was too early to discuss who would succeed him.

The resignation follows questions about whether Friedrich, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, inappropriately passed on confidential information about a looming investigation into a prominent Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker to the leader of the SPD.

Friedrich was interior minister in the previous centre-right government at the time.

It emerged this week that the SPD lawmaker, Sebastian Edathy, is being investigated by prosecutors, who suspect him of possessing child pornography, an accusation Edathy has vigorously denied.

The 44-year-old Edathy, well known in Germany for leading a 2012-13 inquiry into neo-Nazi killings, resigned from parliament last week, citing health reasons, and has threatened to sue the newspaper that first reported about the child porn suspicions earlier this week.

WHO TIPPED OFF EDATHY?

What started as a small domestic affair erupted into a major political scandal on Thursday when it emerged that Friedrich had informed SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel in October that Edathy could become the target of an investigation.

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Child-porn scandal unleashes tensions in Merkel coalition

Child-porn scandal unleashes tensions in Merkel coalition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing mounting tensions in her two-month-old coalition, with members of the government trading accusations Sunday over their role in a scandal sparked by child-porn allegations involving a parliamentarian.

Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich resigned Friday following revelations that as interior minister in Merkel’s last government, he leaked confidential police information about a child-porn probe concerning a Social Democratic (SPD) member of parliament.

Friedrich’s party, the conservative Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU), stepped up pressure on the SPD Sunday, claiming the SPD’s public revelation of Friedrich’s actions represented a breach of the trust needed between coalition partners.

The CSU is the associate party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Friedrich confidentially told SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel about the child-porn inquiry last October, just as Merkel was negotiating to form a coalition with the SPD.

The SPD leadership is now under pressure to prove in public that it maintained secrecy around the tip-off that the lawmaker, Sebastian Edathy, was under suspicion of purchasing child pornography.

In a newspaper interview, SPD parliamentary faction leader Thomas Oppermann defended his decision to contact the head of Germany’s BKA federal police to check out the information provided by Friedrich.

Oppermann told the weekly Bild am Sonntag that it was part of his job to look after a parliamentarian facing “difficulties.” He said his purpose in phoning BKA chief Joerg Ziercke at the time was to assess the significance of the claims against Edathy.

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Citizens in Berlin are fighting to democratize and decentralize the city’s energy system, and they’ve found an unlikely model—in Sacramento, Calif.

Dec 12, 2013

"Pull the plug on Vatenfall."Activists from Energietisch, the organization leading the push to get Berlin to bid for the city’s grid, protest in front of Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate. The large yellow sign reads, “Referendum. New Energy for Berlin. Democratic, Ecological, Social.” The small black sign reads, “Pull the Plug on Vatenfall.” Credit: UweHiksch, flickr

BERLIN, Germany—A decision 90 years ago by the people of Sacramento, Calif. to oust a private electric company and start a government-owned utility has been the unlikely inspiration for Berliners trying to wrest control of Germany’s largest grid from a coal-fired utility.

While little known in America, the creation of Sacramento’s Municipal Utility District was the model for a November referendum to give Berlin a municipal utility that would pump more clean energy into the grid. The 1923 vote in Sacramento helped the California city build a rare, green record—constructing the nation’s first big solar plant, voting to shut down a nuclear reactor and approving a goal of slashing climate-changing emissions by 90 percent by 2050.

“Sacramento stopped nuclear with direct elections,” said Stefan Taschner, spokesperson for Energietisch, the group behind the push to take over Berlin’s grid. It provides the “best example of democratic control.”

Berlin’s referendum failed by a tiny margin—but it’s not the end of the story. The contract to operate the grid expires at the end of next year, and the near-approval sent a strong message to the mayor and other officials that the city should buy the contract. The referendum needed 25 percent of Berlin’s 2.5 million registered voters to pass; it missed that mark by less than 1 percent.

It seems unlikely that Berliners would look to Sacramento, or anywhere but their own country, for a model on how to build a greener grid—given that Germany is driving the world’s most aggressive clean energy transformation. But Berlin has been largely left out of the shift, and activists here have been scrambling for tactics to limit influence of corporate fossil fuel interests. Less than 2 percent of the electricity produced in Berlin comes from renewables, compared to 25 percent in Germany overall.

The vast majority of Berlin’s electricity is coal-fired and generated by energy giant Vattenfall, whose parent company won a contract in 1994 to operate the grid for 20 years.

Ending the privatization of energy is a major part of the Energiewende, Germany’s plan to transition to renewables from fossil fuels and nuclear. A 2000 law gave citizens incentives to produce their own clean power and compete with utilities. As a result, 51 percent of the country’s renewable power capacity is now owned by individuals who have built solar on rooftops and wind turbines on farms. That has left Germany’s “Big Four” utilities, including Vattenfall, with just a sliver—6.5 percent—of this burgeoning sector.

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Andre Heath

Published on Jun 10, 2013

The CELESTIAL Convergence | http://thecelestialconvergence.blogsp…

June 10, 2013 – GERMANY – Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes as the River Elbe burst through a dam and flooded parts of eastern Germany.

Today the Elbe breached another levee on its relentless march towards the North Sea, forcing Germany to evacuate ten villages and close one of the country’s main railway routes.

Upstream there was some relief as the river slipped back from record levels in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt state.

At least 21 flood-related deaths have been in reported in central Europe following a week of heavy rain, leading to rivers swelling and extensive damage.

The latest confirmed death was an 80-year-old man in Austria who died of a heart attack yesterday during the clean-up operation in the wake of floods.

Magdeburg had water levels more than 16ft above normal over the weekend, although the Elbe has now retreated by about a foot.

More than 23,000 people had to leave their homes in the city when the electricity was cut off and streets flooded.

But further downstream, a levee at Fischbeck, west of Berlin, was breached overnight, prompting officials to evacuate ten villages in the area.

Germany’s national railway had to close a bridge near Fischbeck on the line from Berlin to Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Residents in the Rothensee neighbourhood of Magdeburg were evacuated with tanks, trucks and buses.

‘Rothensee is filling up like a bathtub,’ army spokesman Andre Sabzog told news agency dpa.

Around 700 soldiers were trying to build a dam of sandbags around a power substation to protect it from the Elbe.

If the substation floods, thousands of households would be left without water and it would lead to a breakdown of the neighborhood’s dewatering pumps.

The CELESTIAL Convergence | http://thecelestialconvergence.blogsp…

  • Merkel and Tusk held a brief debate on Europe after her biography was launched (Photo: Polish Prime Minister’s office/Maciej Śmiarowski)

No German ‘hegemony’ in Europe, Merkel says

22.04.13 @ 17:34

  1. By Valentina Pop

Berlin – Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there is no German hegemony in Europe, but insisted that euro countries cede more sovereignty to overcome the crisis.

“To me this hegemonial [concept] is completely foreign,” she said on Monday (22 April) during a debate with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk hosted by the Deutsche Bank in Berlin.

Merkel admitted that Germany has “sometimes a complicated role” in the EU and said that as a large, “but not the richest country,” it seeks to involve other states – like Poland – in the decision making process.

Having witnessed the collapse of East Germany under the Soviet Union, which ran the country’s economy into the ground, Merkel said she did not want the EU to fall apart too.

But the she rejected criticism voiced particularly in southern countries which suffer most from what is perceived to be a German-led austerity drive.

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Earth Watch Report  – Snow Storm

Ducks fly over the frozen Titisee Lake in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany, on February 27. Ducks fly over the frozen Titisee Lake in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany, on February 27.

12.03.2013 Snow Storm Germany Multiple Areas, [Southern regions] Damage level
Details

Snow Storm in Germany on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 12:48 (12:48 PM) UTC.

Description
Heavy snow in several parts of Germany caused travel disruption, with 161 flights cancelled at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest. Public transport in Berlin was affected with several regional trains cancelled or severely delayed. There were also a spate of crashes on icy German roads with several people seriously hurt and one death, according to police.

12.03.2013 Snow Storm France Multiple Areas, [Northern regions] Damage level
Details

Snow Storm in France on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 12:50 (12:50 PM) UTC.

Description
Nearly a third of France’s regions were on alert and the government activated a ministerial crisis group to deal with mounting disruptions. Weather service Meteo France described the snowfall — coming only eight days before the official start of spring — as “remarkable for the season” and warned that alerts would probably remain in place until at least Wednesday. More than 2,000 people were stranded in their cars overnight as heavy snow paralysed roads in Normandy and Brittany, with many spending the night in emergency shelters. “There are cars in front, there are cars behind. We’re in a film, it’s like the end of the world,” trapped driver Michel told France Bleu radio from the Manche region. At least 66,000 homes in Normandy and Brittany were without power, following snowfalls of 20 to 60 centimetres (eight to 24 inches). The snow caused major transport disruptions as it moved into Paris, with authorities urging the seven million commuters who use public transport every day to stay home. The city’s two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, said they had cancelled up to a quarter of flights. A traffic accident near Lille injured 14 people and a 58-year-old homeless man was found dead, presumably from the cold, outside a building in the Breton town of Saint-Brieuc. Hundreds were also stuck in their cars overnight in Britain and Eurostar train services to the continent were disrupted.

12.03.2013 Snow Storm United Kingdom Multiple Areas, [South-eastern regions] Damage level
Details

Snow Storm in United Kingdom on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 12:59 (12:59 PM) UTC.

Description
In Britain, drivers including former Eurovision song contest winner Cheryl Baker were trapped for more than 10 hours as ice, snow and freezing winds descended on southeastern England on Monday and Tuesday. Police, rescue services, snow ploughs and gritting lorries battled to help the stricken motorists in temperatures as low as -3C. The counties of Sussex and Kent bordering London were worst affected with roads including stretches of the M23 motorway near Gatwick Airport under 10 centimetres of snow. Singer Cheryl Baker, formerly of the band Bucks Fizz, was among those caught up in the chaos as she tried to reach Brighton to pick up her children. “We took 10 hours to do a one-hour journey,” she told ITV. Eurostar said services of the train that runs under the English channel were suspended “due to extreme weather conditions”.

12.03.2013 Snow Storm Belgium [Statewide] Damage level
Details

Snow Storm in Belgium on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 12:49 (12:49 PM) UTC.

Description
In Belgium, the snowstorms caused massive traffic disruptions, with vehicles backed up on 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) of freeways due to snowdrifts and ice. Buses and trains were cancelled or delayed in Brussels and other towns and the high-speed Thalys service linking Paris and Brussels was suspended. Long traffic jams because of snow and ice also snaked along motorways in the southern Netherlands, hampering travel to and from Belgium after an unseasonal fall of more than 10 centimetres (four inches) of snow overnight. Forecasters predicted that cold weather records were set to be broken again after Monday, the coldest March 11 in the southern Netherlands since 1928, Dutch media reported.

Snow Storm in Belgium on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 12:49 (12:49 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 13:00 UTC
Description
An overnight snowstorm in northwestern Europe caused record traffic jams in Belgium, stalled high-speed international trains and left British and French drivers sleeping in their cars. The Belgian breakdown assistance association Touring said the total length of jams on highways and major roads at their rush-hour peak hit 1,670 km (1,038 miles), beating by far the previous record of 1,285 km set on February 3 last year. “There was too much snow at the wrong moment. If it snows a lot at night, the salt doesn’t work as there aren’t enough cars to spread it around,” said Touring spokesman Danny Smagghe. On a normal Tuesday, total morning rush-hour traffic jams average 250-270 km. Brussels’ two main railway stations were closed. The high-speed Eurostar service connecting London with the French and Belgian capitals and the Thalys line linking Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Cologne in Germany were both suspended.

Heavy snow snarls travel in northern Europe

By Laura Smith-Spark, Stephanie Halasz and Alexander Felton, CNN
updated 5:02 PM EDT, Tue March 12, 2013
A couple walk on a snowy sidewalk on Place de la Concorde in Paris, on March 12, during a heavy snow storm. Twenty-six regions in northwest and northern France were put on orange alert because of heavy snowfall.
A couple walk on a snowy sidewalk on Place de la Concorde in Paris, on March 12, during a heavy snow storm. Twenty-six regions in northwest and northern France were put on orange alert because of heavy snowfall.

A cyclist makes his way along a snowy track near Ladmanlow, United Kingdom, on March 10 as a return of freezing temperatures and snow delay springtime weather for Great Britain. A cyclist makes his way along a snowy track near Ladmanlow, United Kingdom, on March 10 as a return of freezing temperatures and snow delay springtime weather for Great Britain.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Germany’s Frankfurt airport, a major European hub, cancels 700 flights
  • Eurostar suspends its high-speed train services Tuesday because of bad weather
  • Bus and train services to airports in Paris start to recover after snow disruption
  • Motorists are stranded in southeast England as snow and ice paralyze roads

London (CNN) — Swaths of northern Europe were in the grip of snow, ice and high winds Tuesday, causing serious disruption to road, rail and air travelers.

High-speed train operator Eurostar, which runs services linking Paris, Brussels and London, among other destinations, has canceled the rest of its services Tuesday and told passengers to stay at home.

“Severe weather conditions overnight in Northern France and Belgium have led to the closure of the high speed line,” a notice on the company’s website said.

“Passengers will not be able to travel on Eurostar services today and should not come to our stations.

About 10,000 passengers are likely to be affected as a result of the cancellation of around 24 out of 27 scheduled trains Tuesday, Eurostar spokeswoman Lucy Drake said.

The bad weather may also affect services Wednesday, she said, with further cancellations or extended journey times possible

Passengers affected by the disruption will be offered exchanges or refunds, Drake said, and are urged to consider traveling next week if possible.

 

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By | Financially Fit – Thu, Feb 21, 2013 2:04 PM EST

Fellmer with Alma Lucia, left, and Nieves Palmer. Photo courtesy of Raphael Fellmer.A Berlin family of three has been living on practically nothing but love and the goodwill of others for more than two years and counting—not as a victims of the rough economy, but as activists who are on a money strike to protest what they call our “excess-consumption society.”

More on Shine: German Grandmother Lives Money-Free and Has Never Been Happier

“As consumers, we support the system, and we are all responsible for making a wasteful society,” Raphael Fellmer, 29, told Yahoo! Shine. “This strike is to inspire other people to reflect about our other possibilities.”

Fellmer, who said he’d held jobs since he was 12 years old, began his protest after years of working in hotels, bars, restaurants and various offices. In 2010, after graduating from college in the Hague as a European Studies major, he and two friends embarked upon a 15-month “journey of humanity” to raise awareness of environmental destruction and of society’s many wastes, including estimates that about one-third of all food produced worldwide (valued at about $1 trillion a year) gets wasted.

More on Yahoo!: German Bin Divers Get Connected to Wage War on Food Waste

That trip involved hitchhiking from Europe to Mexico without cash, simply depending on the goodwill and excess resources of others. It carried them over more than 19,000 miles on more than 500 vehicles—including a sailboat that took the trio from the Canary Islands to Brazil in exchange for crew duties—and soon led Fellmer to meet his wife, Nieves Palmer, who became pregnant along the way.

Now the couple, along with their 18-month-old daughter Alma Lucia, are continuing to live nearly money-free in Berlin, where they do odd jobs and organizing work in exchange for living space, with roommates, in the Peace House Martin Niemöller, which contains various non-profits. (Though Fellmer uses no money, he said Palmer does use a little, mainly in the form of child support she receives from the government, which is granted to all children.)

 

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By Konstantin von Hammerstein, Horand Knaup, Gordon Repinski, Michael Sauga and Merlind Theile

Photo Gallery: SPD Candidate Gets a Muzzle in Campaign

Photos
DPA

Peer Steinbrück, the SPD candidate running against Chancellor Angela Merkel in a September general election, is still seen as a risk to the party’s prospects despite a recent boost from Lower Saxony. Damaged by a string of gaffes, he will be kept on a tighter rein and only have a limited say in campaign strategy.

The highlight of the tour is a 1.5-ton bull called Hoeness. Peer Steinbrück, doing the rounds at the International Green Week farming trade fair in Berlin last Friday, stood at the gate and admired the Bavarian beast, renowned for his prodigious breeding capabilities.

 

ANZEIGE

Hoeness’ most remarkable feature is his lack of horns, said a farm worker, adding that his offspring even inherited that. “Ah, I’ve only just noticed that,” said Steinbrück. Then he quipped, “you couldn’t do that with me!”

Steinbrück, picked by the opposition center-left Social Democrats to challenge Chancela Angela Merkel in the general election in September, strolled from stand to stand and constantly had to sample foods such as venison salami, marinated herring, strawberry ice cream and meat in aspic, in between shaking hands and posing for photos with prospective voters.

This was an exercise in getting close to the public — something Steinbrück doesn’t always get right. After an hour, his entourage passed a group of schoolchildren, who laughed and waved. It would have been a nice picture, the candidate and the children, but instead of walking over to the group of youngsters, he hesitated.

“You don’t even know who we are,” the candidate growled. He gave a thin smile, passed up the photo op and walked on. Later, when Steinbrück went on stage to make a statement in the exhibition hall of the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the crowd booed.

It was his first public appearance since the state election in Lower Saxony on Feb. 20.

The election went well for the SPD — together with the Greens, it won enough votes to oust Merkel’s conservatives from the state government, giving the center-left a much-needed boost ahead of the general election. But Steinbrück, supposedly the face of the party in this election year, was kept in the background all last week while the party’s other leaders took center stage to wax lyrical about the outcome.

A series of verbal gaffes in recent months — saying German chancellors were underpaid, for example — has undermined his position. Usually, the candidate for chancellor is a party’s most important figure in an election year, embodying the hopes and expectations of its members. Ideally this individual should stand for what distinguishes the party from its rivals.

No other representative in the political system is so closely scrutinized by the electorate. Do voters really want to entrust this man or woman with their country’s future — and their children’s future?

Steinbrück would like to assume this role — but he can’t, at least not now. In this important week for the SPD, he got to inspect Hoeness the bull and grin at the cameras. That’s not much for a chancellor candidate and it shows how precarious his political position remains. Indeed, the SPD’s narrow state election victory has only brought one certainty: Speculation that Steinbrück might throw in the towel has been disproved.

No one feared such a scenario more than SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel. Until recently, he was unsure whether Steinbrück would keep his nerve in the face of fierce criticism over his botched start as candidate. Aides say that Gabriel was bordering on panic in the days running up to the election in Lower Saxony.

Steinbrück Seen as Risk Factor

Now, he has one less thing to worry about, but there still remain a host of other concerns surrounding this candidate. On election night, Steinbrück apologized for the lack of “tailwind” from Berlin during the election, and said that he was also aware that he was “partly responsible for that.” It was the euphemism of the month.

The sad reality, though, is that it wasn’t thanks to, but rather despite Steinbrück that the SPD won in Lower Saxony. This man is currently not an asset to his party. That, at least, is the message that leading members of the SPD are conveying. “He hasn’t caused as much damage as we feared,” says an influential party functionary.

 

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By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:45 EST

The Raw Story

Eighty years after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, a novel that imagines his return to modern-day Berlin has become a bestseller in Germany, though a comedy about the Fuehrer is not to everyone’s taste.

Instead of committing suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945, in “He’s Back” (Er Ist Wieder Da), Hitler wakes up in 2011 without the slightest idea what has happened in the intervening 66 years.

He stumbles through Berlin, dazed by the fact that Germany is now ruled by a woman and is home to millions of Turks.

In one scene, the Nazi leader asks a group of boys for directions, addressing them as “Ronaldo Hitler youth”. He has mistaken their football shirts bearing the name of the soccer star as some kind of military uniform.

“Who’s the old guy?” the boys ask each other.

Such is the tone in the nearly 400-page novel by Timur Vermes, a 45-year-old journalist.

In a celebrity obsessed society where success is often gauged by follower numbers on social networks or YouTube views, Hitler soon becomes the star of an entertainment show with a Turkish host.