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German report
by Euro Reporter
2013-07-31 09:59:26
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Germany’s Retail Sales Unexpectedly Declined in June

German retail sales (GRFRIAMM) unexpectedly declined in June, suggesting that doubts about Europe’s economic recovery weighed on consumer spending. Sales adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings dropped 1.5 percent from May, when they rose 0.7 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists predicted an increase of 0.2 percent, according to the median of 25 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Sales fell 2.8 percent from a year earlier.

Factory orders, industrial production and exports all declined in May. At the same time, the Ifo index of German business confidence rose for a third month in July and GfK SE (GFK) said consumer confidence will climb to the highest level in almost six years in August. The Bundesbank said last week that economic growth will slow this quarter after a strong expansion in the three months through June. “The second quarter is dominated by catch-up effects after a weak start into the year,” said Christian Lips, an economist at NordLB in Hanover. “Growth will slow down a bit for the rest of the year but the economy will definitely expand and Germany will remain the growth engine for Europe.”

Gross domestic product increased 0.1 percent in the first quarter after a 0.7 percent contraction in the final three months of last year. The Federal Statistics Office will publish its initial estimate for the second quarter on Aug. 14. The Frankfurt-based Bundesbank last month cut its 2013 growth forecast for Germany to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent and its outlook for next year to 1.5 percent from 1.9 percent. The European Central Bank estimates that the 17-nation euro-area economy will contract 0.6 percent this year and expand 1.1 percent in 2014.


German hackers' drink of choice

It's the beverage of choice for Germany's hacker community thanks to its caffeine buzz that assists with prolonged subversive work online, and now the drink is helping bring together hacktivists around the globe. Club Mate - a fixture among German hackers whose natural caffeine provides a quick energy boost - is catching on across the Atlantic. Germany's status as the homeland of European hacking has been oiled by Club Mate, which has gained cult status among hacker groups since the 1990s.

Hacktivists in the United States now see the drink as a way of emulating the success of Germany's influential hacker association - the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) - which brings together members across the country. Where the CCC shows up, so too does Club Mate. “The CCC in Germany has established its position on data security and is also taken seriously by politicians," said Jens Ohlig, a former CCC board member and co-author of a book on hackers. US-based hackers have had difficulty establishing a similarly strong hacker association, but some there are now studying the link between the beverage and hacker solidarity. A tour of Germany confirmed the key role Club Mate has played in bringing hacktivists together here.

“They thought maybe one issue was having these hacker spaces - physical spaces where people could meet, not just on the internet," Ohlig said of the beverage's potential influence on US-based hackers.  Germany is a stronghold of hacker culture that regularly hosts conferences, summer camps and workshops on information privacy where public consciousness of data security and freedom is high. The high profile status obtained by international hackers was recently confirmed when WikiLeaks stepped in to help US whistleblower Edward Snowden and provide him with legal advice. Snowden's revelations about Washington's PRISM programme, for example, caused dismay in the country and prominent German politicians criticised the surveillance of internet users outside the US.


Germany's Pirates missing the boat on Prism

Germany's Pirate Party has campaigned for Internet privacy since its foundation, but has benefited little from the recent outrage over international surveillance programs. The party itself is partly to blame.

The video shows a group of stick figures waving black signs to the beat of music. The group is demonstrating against the Prism and Tempora surveillance programs, in which US and UK intelligence services are monitoring the voice and data communications of citizens on a large scale - allegedly in Germany as well. The message of the Internet video is clear and ominous: “Take action against Prism and Tempora while you still can.”

The movie “Surveillance State for Dummies,” which walks viewers through the Prism and Tempora surveillance programs, was uploaded to the Internet by the Pirates in mid-June, about two weeks after US whistleblower Edward Snowden blew the lid on the extent of governments' international surveillance activities.


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