Big German demonstrations for peace and democracy


Part of pro-democracy and peace demonstration in Hannover, Germany

From the World Socialist Web Site in Germany:

Fifteen thousand protest throughout Germany against war, police repression and the fascist right

By our reporters

12 September 2018

Over the weekend more then 15,000 people protested in different German cities against the neo-Nazi right, police repression, war and social inequality.

The largest protest came Saturday, as 10,000 people demonstrated in Hanover against the Lower Saxony Police Law (NPOG). In addition to parties and civic organisations, the protest was supported by a number of football fan groups and smaller initiatives. Many of the demonstrators not only opposed the police law, but also the increasing lurch to the right in politics, militarism and growing social inequality.

The issue at the heart of the protest was the new police law. As in other German states, the powers of the security authorities are to be massively expanded and basic civil rights curtailed in Lower Saxony with the NPOG.

In the future, mere suspicion of an offence is sufficient to allow the police to resort to drastic measures. For example, in cases of “serious organised violence” or terrorist offences, police can force suspects to wear electronic ankle cuffs, thereby overriding the basic principle of innocent until proved guilty. Video surveillance in public spaces may be used under certain conditions even in cases of suspicion of “non-negligent misdemeanours”. The interception of telephone calls, emails and chat messages is also to be massively expanded and can be carried out at any time. For this purpose, so-called “State Trojans,” malware developed for the police, are to be used.

The Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) justified the new law as needed for the “deterrence of Islamic-motivated terrorism.” In fact, the new police laws in Lower Saxony, Bavaria and other states are not aimed against terrorism. These methods of police-state repression will be used against all opposition. As is the case at a federal level, a coalition of the CDU and SPD governs in Lower Saxony. At both levels, the coalition is advancing a right-wing program of militarism, social cuts and incitement directed against refugees.

The large demonstration in Hanover shows that these policies are rejected by the population. Many protesters are well aware of the connection between the despised policies of war and social cuts and the police law. “Combatting the shift to the right means rejecting the police law”, one large banner read. “It’s all about repressing even further those social layers who already have no access to education and wealth”, one participant declared. “The political class in this country is preparing for more unrest because of growing social problems, and it’s introducing the judicial measures to tackle it,” another said. “They are preparing for major social conflicts.”

Jens, 37 years old and currently unemployed, came to the Hanover demonstration from the city of Wolfsburg. He is outraged by increasing police surveillance. “The possibilities to monitor emails and telephone calls are limitless”, he explained. Everyone will be a suspect in future, regardless of whether he or she actually committed a crime.

Jens was particularly worried about the strengthening of police powers against the background of militarisation. “More and more money is being put into the German army”, he said, adding that he sees a clear lurch to the right in official politics. “The CDU, SPD and AfD all work together to pass such laws,” he said.

The return of German militarism, which is being pushed forward by all of the establishment parties, is provoking massive opposition. “The proposal by von der Leyen [German defence minister] to increase the military budget to 2 percent [of GDP], is unacceptable. It has not been agreed upon by the population”, said one young protester. “This is not democratic and we have to take to the streets.” Another demonstrator explained that the 2 percent was not necessary for defence and would be used instead for offensive measures, adding, “but that should not and cannot be the goal of Germany.”

Many posters recalled the era of Nazism. A young protester said she was scared. “Especially if you imagine that the AfD getting bigger, comes to power and then has these opportunities to work with the police”, she said. “That’s when I recall the rise of the Nazi regime.”

Adnan, who came to Germany from Turkey many years ago, drew attention to the close links between the police and the far right. “I am not afraid of the alleged terror, but rather of the police”, he said. Referring to the recent events in Chemnitz, he continued, “ A few Nazis can hunt down foreigners and the police does nothing.”

Asked about the fact that Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the Saxony Premier Kretschmer and secret service chief Maassen openly support the brown mob, Adnan said he placed no confidence in “these right-wing people.” He knew that the majority of ordinary people did not think that way.

Saskia, a student from Hanover, also had no illusions in the established parties. Asked about the role of the SPD, the Greens … she thought it was “brazen” that their youth organisations appeared on the demo as if they were opposed to these laws. “These parties are almost indistinguishable in their politics”, she said. …

In Munich, about 3,000 people demonstrated on Saturday at Marienplatz [square] against a rally of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The deputy AfD leader, Beatrix von Storch,

Lady Beatrix von Storch, née Duchess of Oldenburg, is the granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister and convicted war criminal Count Schwerin von Krosigk. She still has the same far-right ideas as her grandfather, awarded the golden swastika by Hitler.

tried to hold a rally as part of the party’s campaign for the impending state election in Bavaria, but the 120 AfD supporters faced at least 25 times as many counterdemonstrators.

Some of the demonstrators at the Marienplatz

Storch’s speech at the AfD rally was drowned out by a sea of cat-calls and booing. Demonstrators shouted “Nazis out”. “Nobody needs the AfD” and “There is no right to spread Nazi propaganda.” The AfD was forced to end its meeting an hour earlier than planned.

The protest once again demonstrated the massive opposition to right-wing extremism and fascism among workers and youth. Last Monday, around 70,000 people gathered in Chemnitz for a “Rock against the right-wing” concert under the motto “We are more.” Tens of thousands of people also took to the streets of Hamburg, Berlin and other cities over the past two weeks to express their anger and horror at the events in Chemnitz and the provocative activities of the mob of would-be brownshirts.

In Munich, protesters included workers, youth and many families with children. Tourists visiting the Bavarian capital also stopped and declared their support when they realised a protest was being held against the far right.

Self-made signs proclaimed, “Munich is colourful” and “No room for agitators”. Parallels were repeatedly drawn to the Nazi reign of terror. “To vote for the AfD invokes 1933” or “Never again” could be read on many placards. “We should not fight the refugees, but rather that which forces them to flee”, one young participant said. “Asylum seekers should not be played off against those receiving Hartz IV social payments. In a fairer society, there would be enough for both”, another explained.

When Storch arrived in Dachau on Sunday for a meeting, she was met by 2,500 demonstrators. The city with 40,000 inhabitants is notorious around the world as the location of a concentration camp from 1933 to 1945.

One of the speakers at the counterdemonstration was Ernst Grube, who was incarcerated in a concentration camp by the Nazis for being a “half Jew” and son of a Communist Party member. He is still being spied upon by the German secret service today. Grube warned: “AfD supporters are more and more unabashedly propagandising their contempt for human beings.” He blamed this on the representatives of all of the established parties: “The politicians intensify this hostile climate and in this rotting atmosphere the mob become increasingly aggressive.”

Members and supporters of the SGP (Sozialistischer Gleichheitspartei, Socialist Equality Party) distributed leaflets headlined “The fight against right-wing terror requires a socialist perspective” at the demonstration in Munich. The leaflet of the SGP explains the political connection between the aggressive activities of the right-wing extremists, the return of German militarism and the establishment of a police state. It was read by many with great interest. “The only social force that can counter this development and stop the right is the international working class,” the leaflet said.

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Barnacle geese and Caspian terns


Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, 7 September 2018

7 September 2018. On our way to Lauwersmeer national park in the Netherlands. This photo shows part of it, with barnacle geese flying.

Before we arrived in the Lauwersmeer, we saw grey herons in North Holland province. Along the Afsluitdijk causeway, great cormorants sitting on poles. Black-headed gulls. Herring gulls. Two great crested grebes swimming near the monument for the dike construction.

Flocks of scores of starlings.

Near Dokkum, in Friesland province, a buzzard on a meadow. A kestrel hovering. Lapwings.

We arrive at the Sylkajut hide, on the edge of the Lauwersmeer. Usually, one can see birds swimming there close to the hide. However, the dry hot 2018 summer means the water level is much lower than usual. So, water birds are rather far away. On the now dry land close to the hide, quite some white wagtails and meadow pipits.

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese, on 7 September 2018

We see many barnacle geese there. Sometimes standing in the water …

Lauwersmeer, barnacle geese flying, on 7 September 2018

… sometimes flying. Also some grey lag geese.

At the water’s edge, Caspian terns on autumn migration. Visible with a telescope, too far for binoculars. Mute swans.

Lauwersmeer, 7 September 2018

We continued north, along the western border of the Lauwersmeer, to the Ezumakeeg-Noord – Kijkheuvel. It is a hill with a good view on birds in the wetlands around it.

Red-necked phalarope and shoveler, 7 September 2018

We saw, eg, this red-necked phalarope. With a northern shoveler duck feeding behind it.

Also gadwall ducks. And a little stint.

Many barn swallows flying. And some house martins.

Snipes.

White wagtail, 7 September 2018

And we saw this white wagtail.

Marsh harrier, 7 September 2018

A male marsh harrier flying.

Ringed plover. Common sandpiper.

A wood sandpiper close to a little ringed plover.

Konik horses, 7 September 2018

There were konik horses.

Cows, 7 September 2018

And cows, in the Lauwersmeer to prevent overgrowing of plants, making the area unattractive for some animals.

Lauwersmeer, on 7 September 2018

Six curlews on a meadow.

Finally, we arrived as far as north as possible: on the shore of the Wadden Sea.

Mudflats, 7 September 2018

Mudflats there.

Six eider ducks flying over the water.

Black-headed gull, 7 September 2018

And this black-headed gull flying.

Stay tuned, as there will be more photographs and stories from that area on this blog!

Conflicts in Saudi royal family


This 24 August 2018 video says about itself:

War in Yemen: Dozens of civilians killed in Saudi-UAE bombing

Houthi rebels say at least 30 people were killed in an air raid near Hodeidah, at least 20 of them children.

The latest civilian casualties come two weeks after an aerial bombardment that destroyed a school bus, killing 40 children.

Saudi Arabia declared the earlier attack an appropriate military strike …

The charity Save the Children has estimated that an average of 140 children have been killed every day since Saudi Arabia and the UAE began their bombing campaign … in Yemen.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports from neighbouring Djibouti.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Saudi Arabia‘s royal feud grows with king set to remove son as crown prince

TENSIONS within the Saudi royal family continued to escalate yesterday amid reports that King Salman is seeking to remove his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince of the despotic Gulf state. …

King Salman has blocked the sale of 5 per cent of the Saudi state oil company Aramco, a deal which was central to Prince Mohammed’s plans for the kingdom to diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil revenue.

The king’s cancellation of the “Vision 2030” project has exposed deep divisions in the Saudi ruling class over the country’s future.

Prince Mohammed is seen as a central figure in the Saudi-led coalition’s three-year bombing campaign in Yemen, which has claimed at least 10,000 lives.

Global condemnation followed a recent attack on a school bus that killed at least 40 children. The United Nations launched a war crimes investigation and there were calls for the international community to stop providing arms to Saudi Arabia.

Other reports suggest that King Salman’s brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz is considering going into self-imposed exile after criticising the war on Yemen earlier this week.

Speaking outside his London home, the prince told protesters not to blame the entire Saudi royal family for the devastation in the Middle East’s poorest country.

“There are certain individuals who are responsible. Don’t blame anyone else”, he said.

When pressed on who was to blame, he pointed the finger at “the king and the crown prince and others in the state”, adding: “In Yemen and elsewhere, our hope is that the war ends today before tomorrow.”

Trump administration aggressive Latin America policy


This video says about itself:

A New Cold War in Latin America

Snapshot | Since the Trump administration, the U.S. has not made it a secret to interfere directly within its neighboring countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Bolivian President Evo Morales blasts Trump’s calls for regime change in Latin America: here.

Big clerical sexual abuse scandal in Germany


This May 2019 video says about itself:

The continuing discussion about cases of sexual abuse and allegations concerning Bishop Walter Mixa have led to widespread mistrust of the Catholic Church in Germany. Catholics are leaving the church in growing numbers, and congregations fear collapse. Here is DW’s report from a Bavarian Catholic community.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Report: widespread sexual abuse within Catholic church in Germany

After the United States, Chile and Australia, the Catholic Church in Germany is also the subject of a major abuse scandal. Sexual abuse has been widespread for decades, according to a report that is in the hands of Der Spiegel.

It concerns 3677 documented cases of sexual abuse from the Second World War until 2014. In one of six cases rape occurred and at least 1670 clergy were involved in the abuse. More than half of the victims were 13 years or younger. In most cases it was about boys.

The numbers are probably a conservative representation of reality, because many cases are probably not registered.

More than 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses have been investigated. The research was carried out by three universities on behalf of the German bishops’ conference. They have not yet responded to the news.

The Catholic Church is struggling worldwide with abuse scandals. Last month it was announced that in the US state of Pennsylvania 300 priests have abused more than a thousand children. Big abuse cases also came to light in countries such as Chile and Australia.

The pope has called on the heads of all the bishops’ conferences in the world to come to Rome in February for a summit on the prevention of
sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

A report from Germany’s Catholic church admits to 3,766 cases of child sex abuse by the clergy from 1946 to 2014, according to a leaked copy.