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Tag Archive: Social Democratic Party of Germany


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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German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles as she leaves successful exploratory coalition-builidng talks on Thursday afternoon. Zoom

AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles as she leaves successful exploratory coalition-builidng talks on Thursday afternoon.

Coalition talks can now officially begin as soon as next Wednesday after Chancellor Merkel’s conservatives and their rival Social Democrats agreed on Thursday to move forward on building a governing coalition together.

Coalition talks can now officially begin as soon as next Wednesday now that Chancellor Merkel’s conservatives and their rival Social Democrats have agreed to move forward on building a governing coalition together.

 

ANZEIGE

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have agreed to recommend taking up official talks to form a coalition government, party leaders said on Thursday afternoon.

“Beginning coalition negotiations makes sense,” SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel told the press after the two parties concluded their third round of exploratory discussions. “We believe that we can find a common basis with the CDU.”

Though no concrete compromises on the parties’ differences have yet been made, the SPD delegation decided unanimously to move forward with coalition talks, he added.

The next meeting could be as soon as next Wednesday if both party committees agree on taking the next step in creating a so-called grand coalition.

Horst Seehofer, head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), said he was also quite happy with the result of Thursday’s meeting.

 

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Linda Thomas
mynorthwest.com
Tue, 05 Feb 2013 12:48 CST

The Draganflyer X6 is an electric powered Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) which most people refer to as a drone. Seattle Police have two of them. The drones must follow FAA guidelines which include not flying over crowds. They must be monitored by at least one operator and one observer

Put words like “surveillance” and “unmanned aerial systems” together, and people begin to worry about Big Brother watching their every move.
At the direction of Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle Police Department has been working on rules governing the use of drones. A city council committee will discuss, and likely vote, on the proposed policy Wednesday afternoon.

The SPD has two drones, so far, that were obtained with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. While the technology will become more advanced, the drones Seattle has burn through batteries in about 10 minutes.

The city says the systems “are intended to help us protect public safety by gathering visual information in specific situations where sending in an officer would not be safe, or to take crime scene photography that a human being could not easily capture.

The use of aerial surveillance cameras will be “tightly controlled, regulated and will not be used to conduct random surveillance,” they say.

Here’s how the Seattle Police Department proposes using the new technology:

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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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