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German report German report
by Euro Reporter
2013-02-09 07:26:42
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'New Wars' Demand New Mindsets

Germany's government recently announced plans to do a 180-degree policy shift by deploying armed drones in combat. It argues that remote-controlled killing machines are no different than any other weapons, but experts say the "new wars" have completely different - and revolutionary - rules. by different -- and revolutionary -- rules. Germans should finally give it a rest and stop all the worried talk about how their military plans to use armed drones in combat. After all, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière has spoken, and it's apparently no big deal. "In ethical terms," he says, "a weapon should always be viewed neutrally."

But this comment alone is reason enough to further scrutinize the issue. Franz Josef Strauss, de Maizière's evilest predecessor at the Defence Ministry, said weapons aren't evil, just their use -- and even then only sometimes. That was in the 1950s, when Strauss was trying to equip the new Bundeswehr, Germany's post-war military, with nuclear weapons. The Basic Law, as Germany's constitution is called, allows Germans to cite reasons of conscious in refusing to take up arms for the country, thereby respecting their opposition to weapons on ethical grounds. In fact, the very first section of the constitution's very first article says respecting "human dignity" is "inviolable" and elevates it to the status of the supreme "duty of all state authority."

The question is: Can a country with a constitution like Germany's justify the acquisition of remote-controlled killing machines? The quick shooters among experts in the international laws on warfare aren't at all troubled by the issue. Of course, they argue, one could employ armed drones in situations that are problematic in terms of international law. But that doesn't mean one has to. For example, using these weapons against terrorists would violate international law if the targets weren't directly involved in an act of war -- just as it's the case when it comes to using any other weapon. So, the dominant mindset in the Defence Ministry asks, why should people find drones so particularly objectionable? However, pacifists aren't the only ones warning about the killer machines. It's also critical observers of modern, so-called "asymmetric warfare." These days wars are hardly ever fought between sovereign states, they argue. Instead they are waged at an almost subcutaneous level -- through assaults and other acts of terror carried out by individuals acting either of their own accord or with government control. Indeed, this change has altered the very meaning of the term "weapon."

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Germany's national election set for Sept. 22, when Merkel will seek 3rd term

Germany's president has confirmed Sept. 22 as the date for the country's parliamentary election, in which conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a third term. President Joachim Gauck's office said he approved on Friday the government's proposal for voting on that date. Merkel has led Germany, which has Europe's biggest economy, since 2005.

She governed for the first four years in "grand coalition" of Germany's biggest parties, her conservative Christian Democrats and the centre-left Social Democrats. In 2009, she won a majority for her preferred centre-right alliance with the pro-market Free Democrats. Merkel remains popular with voters and is favoured to win another four-year term, but recent polls show a majority neither for her current coalition nor for a rival centre-left alliance of the Social Democrats and Greens.

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Fears in Germany as Golden Dawn moves in

German and Greek rightwing extremists have been forging close contacts in Germany in an attempt to strengthen their power base in Europe, according to German officials. Members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn are believed to have set up a cell in the southern German city of Nuremberg with the aim of recruiting young Greeks who have flocked to the country in search of work. Greek community leaders in Germany have condemned the arrival of the party, also known as Chrysi Avgi, and called on authorities to clamp down on a group that they said had shown its readiness to use violence in Greece and could attempt to do the same in Germany. Golden Dawn, which has close to 20 seats in the Greek parliament, has described the move on its website as the "answer of expat Greeks to the dirty hippies and the regime of democratic dictatorship in our homeland". In a statement, the Bavarian office for the protection of the constitution said: "We are keeping an eye on developments."

It said Golden Dawn had "an international network of contacts, including contacts with neo-Nazis in Bavaria. These contacts are cultivated via mutual visits as well as at meetings at rightwing extremist events in Europe." It confirmed that members of Golden Dawn and far-right German groups had organised reciprocal visits to each other's countries as well as meeting at rightwing extremist meetings outside Germany and Greece. In Greece, Golden Dawn denied it had established links with neo-Nazi groups in Germany. "All this [talk] about neo –Nazis is nonsense," said Golden Dawn's spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris. But Kasidiaris, who shot to notoriety last year when he assaulted two leftwing MPS during a live TV debate, confirmed that the far rightists had set up a "local organisation" in Germany. "Simply there is a big community, a big colony of [ethnic] Greeks in Germany and for that reason the People's Association - Golden Dawn - decided to [set up] a local organisation in Germany too." Expat Greeks, he insisted, were showing "mass support for the efforts of Golden Dawn, not just in Germany but wherever there are diaspora Greeks". In an open letter, the Greek community of Nuremberg said it "condemned unanimously and categorically" the establishment of the Golden Dawn cell.

"Racist slogans, messages of intolerance as well as the stoking of anti-foreigner sentiment, divisions and fears, have no place in the Greek community," the group wrote. It added that it believed Golden Dawn had chosen the southern German city because of its historical links with Adolf Hitler's Nazi party. Hitler chose to stage Nazi party rallies in the city due to its connections to the Holy Roman Empire and the Nuremberg laws, which stripped Jews of their German citizenship, were passed here. "The attempt of this party to bind itself to the history of this city is blasphemous and condemned to failure," it said. The leader of the Federation of Greek Communities in Germany, Sigrid Skarpelis-Sperk, told the Guardian: "The German authorities should be alarmed at this development and should be very thorough in monitoring them, to keep them in check.""A party that has shown itself willing and able in Greece to carry out aggressive attacks on people with dark skin and foreigners, to deliver blows to politicians in public, is capable of behaving the same way in Germany," she said.

An estimated 380,000 Greeks live in Germany, mainly in the industrial Ruhr valley, though the actual figure, as – many do not register with the authorities – is believed to be nearer 900,000. Roughly-speaking in modern times they have come in three waves – after the second world war and then during the Greek dictatorship, when many Greek communists were given refuge, particularly in East Germany. The third wave is occurring now as many, particularly young Greeks, come to Germany looking for work and to escape unemployment at home. German neo-Nazi groups, such as the Bavarian-based Freies Netz Süd, have been following the political successes of Chrysi Avgi for some time, making open reference to the Greek party on their websites. The anti-Nazi organisation Nuremberg Union Nazi Stop said it would be monitoring Golden Dawn's activities in Germany. Over the past months Golden Dawn, which is widely considered to be racist and anti-Semitic, has been held responsible for numerous attacks on foreigners in Greece. The party, whose symbol resembles the swastika, won 18 parliamentary seats in last year's election. Its popularity currently stands at around 12%.

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Germany adopts bank separation law

The German Government has recently adopted a bank separation bill (Trennbankengesetz) designed to protect against the risks associated with speculative trading, and providing for recovery and resolution planning by credit institutions and financial groups. The law encompasses three regulatory areas. Firstly, the law creates regulations governing recovery and resolution planning to ensure that early and preventative measures are taken for ailing, systemically important banks. They require institutions to draw up and submit their own recovery plans. According to the German finance ministry, this measure is an additional element with which to effectively counter the so-called "too-big-to-fail" or "too-interconnected-to-fail" problem, whereby large and complex financial institutions are unable to exit the market without negative consequences because of their strong interconnection to other parts of the financial system.

Germany now has a range of instruments to ensure that in future taxpayers are not left with the costs of a collapsing bank. These include the country’s restructuring law, which established instruments for the orderly liquidation of banks, the bank levy, the restructuring fund, and the bank separation law. Together with France, Germany is one of the first European Union (EU) member states to adopt a legislative regulation for such planning, referred to as a "bank testament," which was agreed internationally by the Financial Stability Board back in October 2011. Despite adopting a pioneering role with this new law, the German Government will nevertheless continue to constructively support ongoing discussions pertaining to an EU resolution and recovery directive. The second focus of the law is aimed at improving protection against the risks of speculative trading, to benefit banking clients and ultimately taxpayers.

The bill is based on the findings and recommendations of the Liikanen report and implements an agreement with France to press forward with plans for a two-tier banking system in Europe with national regulations. Retail banks and groups will be required to separate risky proprietary trading activities from retail banking when trading activities exceed 20% of the total balance (relative threshold) or EUR100bn (USD134bn) (absolute threshold). Finally, the bill addresses the issue of individual responsibility, bestowing on bank and insurance managers specific risk management requirements. Violation of these key risk management obligations may result in imprisonment for up to five years, if a credit institution is put at risk.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble highlighted the fact that the Government has pursued, since the beginning of the legislative period, one clear goal: that no financial market, financial actor or financial product may remain unregulated. The Government has therefore progressively created a new regulatory framework for the financial markets, Schäuble stressed, pointing out that the Government has addressed the issue of a lack of crisis resilience in the financial system and the problem of a lack of responsibility and accountability among the banks and bankers. The regulations adopted by the German cabinet are due to enter into force in January 2014, following entry into force



         
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Emanuel Paparella2013-02-09 11:32:09
Golden Dawn in Germany in collusion with neo-Nazis! All of this happening in the most economically prosperous democratic country of the EU. Are the chickens coming home to roost? One wonders. History is always ignored at one’s own expense. Indeed, as Jefferson observed, those who place the economy above freedom deserve to lose both.


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