Solidarity with Greece demonstrators interrupt Angela Merkel

This video says about itself:

Merkel OXI-ed: Greek solidarity protesters heckle chancellor’s speech

4 July 2015

Several activists interrupted the German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s speech, during the CDU open day marking the 70th anniversary of the party, in Berlin, Saturday.


‘OXI!’: Greek solidarity protesters interrupt Merkel’s speech (VIDEO)

July 04, 2015 20:35

A speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel was interrupted by a group anti-austerity protestors, who chanted ‘No’ in Greek in support of a negative vote in Greece’s Sunday’s referendum on whether to accept the harsh bailout demands of its creditors.

The incident occurred when Merkel was just about to begin her speech at an event in Berlin dedicated to her Christian Democratic Union Party’s 70th anniversary.

The demonstrators chanted “OXI,” which means “No” in Greek, and displayed small signs with the same message.

Security officers were quick to remove the protestors, who put up no resistance.

As they were being escorted out of the conference room, Merkel responded to the demonstrators, saying: “In order to balance things once again, we say “Nai,” which means “Yes” in Greek.” …

If the Greeks vote ‘Yes,’ Tsipras’s government is likely to resign, and Greece will have to accept more austerity measures including pension cuts and tax increases.

Pro-Greece rallies STORYMAP: How the world is expressing solidarity with anti-austerity campaign: here.

In this 30 June 2015 video from the Dutch parliament, Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals, criticizes the undemocratic European Union policies against Greece.

Caroline Lucas, Friday 3 July 2015, Greece crisis: The Troika’s inflexibility on austerity amounts to nothing short of an attempted coup: here.

By Jerome Roos on July 5, 2015:

As Greece prepares to vote in a historic referendum, a slightly surreal calm has descended over Athens. The optimistic attitude of many activists in the NO camp, especially, contrasts sharply with the ruthless propaganda war of the Greek and international media — not to mention the terror campaign waged by EU officials and the Greek opposition.

For a full week now, the big corporate TV stations here have been bombarding Greeks with images of pure panic and impending catastrophe: shuttered banks, lines in front of the ATMs, empty supermarket shelves, pharmacies running out of drugs, scuffles between protesters and police. On top of this, they have repeatedly shown inconclusive polls that show the vote to be on knife’s edge.

The international media have in many cases ended up uncritically reproducing this narrative of fear and uncertainty, often without double-checking basic facts or warning their viewers and readers about the political agenda of their sources.

Thursday, January 10, 2019. Athens in lockdown as Greek state bans protests for Merkel visit: here.

NSA spying on Merkel investigation

This video from the USA says about itself:

Peeping Webcam? With NSA Help, British Spy Agency Intercepted Millions of Yahoo Chat Images

28 February 2014

The latest top-secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Germany opens inquiry into claims NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone

Prosecutor announces inquiry but says he will not investigate claims of wider US surveillance against German citizens

Agence France-Presse in Berlin

Wednesday 4 June 2014 12.59 BST

Germany’s  federal prosecutor has opened an investigation over alleged snooping by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on Angela Merkel‘s mobile phone.

“I informed parliament’s legal affairs committee that I have started a preliminary investigation over tapping of a mobile phone of the chancellor,” Harald Range said.

The long-anticipated inquiry, which follows allegations last year that US spies had eavesdropped on the German chancellor’s mobile in the past, is against unnamed persons, Range said after addressing the committee.

However, he said he had decided against opening an investigation into claims of wider NSA surveillance against German citizens.

The move may again strain Berlin’s ties with Washington, which both countries’ leaders have been at pains to restore following the reports of sweeping NSA spying on internet and phone communications overseas, described by Merkel as “grave”.

Data-sensitive Germans reacted with outrage to the accusations by the fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden amid sensitivity over mass state spying on citizens by the Stasi secret police in the former communist East Germany.

A parliamentary panel has been established to assess the extent of spying by the NSA and its partners on German citizens and politicians, and whether German intelligence aided its activities.

Recent reports that Range did not plan to go ahead with the wider probe had prompted anger from some politicians.

The US president, Barack Obama, sought to quell the international furore over the reports, announcing in January that he had halted spy taps on friendly world leaders and curtailed the reach of mass NSA phone surveillance.

In an interview with a German TV channel a day later he assured Merkel that he would not let intrusive surveillance harm their relationship, but said intelligence gathering on foreign governments would continue.

Merkel doubts whether US will stop spying on Germany: here.

Britain: Stephen Fry has denounced the government’s failure to act over the mass surveillance programme revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, labelling its behaviour as “squalid and rancid”. Opening a day of debate to galvanise action against spying by the British and US intelligence agencies, Fry said that exploiting the fear of terrorism is a “duplicitous and deeply wrong means of excusing something as base as spying on the citizens of your own country”: here.

Though the NSA says its mass surveillance of Americans targets only “terrorists,” the spying may turn up evidence of other illegal acts that can get passed on to law enforcement which hides the secret source through a ruse called “parallel construction,” writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern: here.

Angela Merkel denied access to NSA espionage file on her

This video is called The NSA files: how they affect you – video animation.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file

Frustration with US government rises over failure to clear up questions about surveillance of German chancellor’s phone

Paul Lewis in Washington and Philip Oltermann in Berlin

Thursday 10 April 2014 18.31 BST

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House’s refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden‘s first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel’s phone.

The Obama’s administration has also refused to enter into a mutual “no-spy” agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be required for such a deal.

Merkel is intensely aware of the importance of the surveillance controversy for her domestic audience, and is planning to voice Germany’s concerns privately with White House officials and leading senators. She will also be “forthright” in confronting the issue if she is asked by reporters during a press conference with Obama, according to a well-placed source with knowledge of the trip.

A senior US administration official denied the surveillance controversy would overshadow Merkel’s visit.

“Given that we already have a dialogue on these issues in intelligence and diplomatic channels, and given the other critical issues the two leaders will need to discuss, including T-TIP [trade negotiations] and Ukraine, I would not expect NSA issues to be a big part of the discussions between Chancellor Merkel and President Obama,” the official said.

Details of Merkel’s visit have not been publicly announced, but the Guardian understands she will arrive in Washington on 1 May, for a two-day trip, giving a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce and meeting with the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.

However, the main purpose of the trip will be Merkel’s meeting with Obama at the White House on 2 May, an encounter immediately followed by a joint press conference with the two world leaders.

The latest information about the US refusal to divulge surveillance information about Merkel was revealed by in response to a parliamentary query by Green MP Omid Nouripour, who asked if the German chancellor had requested the release of paperwork relating to US intelligence agents’ surveillance of her phone calls.

In its response, which is believed to have been released some weeks ago, but which only recently surfaced in public, a spokesperson for the German interior ministry confirmed that Merkel’s government had submitted an official request on 24 October, but that the US government “had not supplied information in this regard”.

Two weeks ago, the German magazine Der Spiegel said the NSA kept more than 300 reports on Merkel in a special databank concerning heads of state.

The report, published in partnership with The Intercept, a website set up by the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was based on documents provided by Snowden. Previously, Der Spiegel revealed the NSA had monitored Merkel’s mobile phone for as long as 10 years.

Nouripour, who is the Green party’s spokesperson on foreign affairs, said he intended to make further inquiries with the government and would seek to clarify if Merkel had asked for her NSA file to be destroyed.

Nouripour criticised both the German and the US governments for their response to the NSA revelations. “Last year, their failure to answer questions could have been due to genuine ignorance – now it looks like deliberate obfuscation. The Germans aren’t asking the tough questions so they can protect their notion of a transatlantic partnership, and the US is happy that the Germans aren’t asking tough questions so they can avoid further diplomatic scandals.”

The news comes amid growing German frustration with the US and UK governments’ failure to yield basic information about their surveillance activities. Earlier this week, interior minister Thomas de Maizière told Der Spiegel that the US response to the affair remained “inadequate”.

“If two-thirds of what Edward Snowden reports, or of what is reported with attribution to him, is correct, then I come to the conclusion: the USA is acting without any restraint,” said de Maizière, who emphasised that he was still a “transatlanticist by conviction”. “America should be interested in improving the current situation. And words alone won’t achieve that.”

The White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Merkel and Barack Obama “spoke on the phone in late October last year” about the NSA’s monitoring of her calls.

Hayden reiterated that Obama assured Merkel that the US was no longer listening to her calls and had committed not to do so in the future. She added: “I’m not going to get into the detail of those discussions and exchanges, which are ongoing.”

The US government’s refusal to allow Merkel access to her own file contrasts with the relative ease with which German citizens are able to access files relating to the surveillance activities of the East German secret service, the Stasi.

In January 1992, after pressure from human rights activists, the German government took the unprecedented step of opening up the Stasi archive to the public – the federal agency in charge of the Stasi archives still receives around 5,000 applications a month.

In 1992, 13,088 pages worth of files relating to the NSA’s surveillance of the West German government, sold to the Stasi by the US spy James W Hall, had been returned to the US, with permission of the German interior ministry.

Angela Merkel has defended the decision to keep access to the Stasi archive open to German citizens, and has reportedly used the opportunity to view her own Stasi file in person. “Many in former socialist countries envy us for this opportunity”, she said in 2009.

In Germany, the aftermath of the Snowden revelations continues to be debated with vigour. On Wednesday, the head of a parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance resigned over a disagreement as to whether Snowden should be invited as a witness. Green and left politicians insist that the whistleblower should be invited to give testimony in person, but panel chairman Clemens Binninger, of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, was more sceptical, arguing that most of the key information was already out in the public realm.

Academics at Rostock University, meanwhile, have voted to award Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate. Members of the philosophy faculty said they wanted to reward Snowden’s “civil courage” and his “substantial contribution to a new global discourse about freedom, democracy, cosmopolitanism and the rights of the individual”.

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NSA spying on Merkel update

This video says about itself:

24 Oct 2013

German SPD politician Thomas Oppermann spoke in Berlin Thursday, on the same day that the US Ambassador has been summoned to meet the foreign minister. Allegations that the US National Security Agency tapped the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel without permission pushed underlying issues over privacy to the surface between the two nations.

Oppermann emphasised that if the allegations of NSA spying are verified, it is a clear breach of German sovereign rights, and of the German people.

Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Merkel said that the Chancellor had spoken on Wednesday evening with President Barack Obama, via telephone. Seibert said that government communications should not be monitored ‘among close friends.’

By Agence France-Presse:

Obama personally informed of NSA spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2010: German media

Sunday, October 27, 2013 10:54 EDT

US President Barack Obama was personally informed of phone tapping against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which may have begun as early as 2002, German media reported Sunday as a damaging espionage scandal widened.

Bild am Sonntag newspaper quoted US intelligence sources as saying that National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander had briefed Obama on the operation against Merkel in 2010.

“Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue,” the newspaper quoted a high-ranking NSA official as saying.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported that leaked NSA documents showed that Merkel’s phone had appeared on a list of spying targets since 2002, and was still under surveillance weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

As a sense of betrayal spread in many world capitals allegedly targeted by the NSA, European leaders are calling for a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.

Germany will send its own spy chiefs to Washington soon to demand answers.

Meanwhile several thousand protesters gathered in Washington Saturday to push for new US legislation to curb the NSA’s activities.

Swiss president Ueli Maurer warned that the scandal risked “undermining confidence between states”.

“We don’t know if we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg or if other governments are acting in the same ruthless manner,” he told the Schweiz am Sonntag weekly.

Merkel confronted Obama with the snooping allegations in a phone call Wednesday saying that such spying would be a “breach of trust” between international partners.

The suspicion also prompted Berlin to summon the US ambassador — a highly unusual move between the close allies.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported without citing its sources that Obama had told Merkel during their call that he had been unaware of any spying against her.

Der Spiegel said he told her that if he had been informed of the operation he would have stopped it at once.

Other media reports said that Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice had also told German officials the president knew nothing of the spying.

Two phones monitored

Merkel’s office declined to comment on what he told her during their conversation.

The White House has said it is not monitoring Merkel’s phone calls and will not do so in future, but it has refused to say whether it did previously.

Two phones monitored

Bild am Sonntag said that Obama wanted to be informed in detail about Merkel, who has played a decisive role in the eurozone debt crisis and is widely seen as Europe’s most powerful leader.

As a result, the report said, the NSA stepped up its surveillance of her communications, targeting not only the mobile phone she uses to conduct business for her conservative Christian Democratic Union party but also her encrypted official device.

Merkel only acquired the latter handset over the summer.

Bild said US intelligence specialists were then able to monitor the content of her conversations as well as text messages, which Merkel sends by the dozen each day to key associates.

Only the specially secured land line in her office was out of the reach of the NSA, which sent the intelligence gathered straight to the White House bypassing the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, according to the report.

Bild and Spiegel described a hive of spy activity on the fourth floor of the US embassy in central Berlin, a stone’s throw from the government quarter, from which the United States kept tabs on Merkel and other German officials.

Spiegel cited a classified 2010 document indicating that US intelligence had 80 high-tech surveillance offices worldwide in cities including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.

If the spying against Merkel began in 2002, it would mean the United States under then president George W. Bush targeted her while she was still the country’s chief opposition leader, three years before she became chancellor.

Bild said Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder was also in the NSA’s sights because of his vocal opposition to the US invasion of Iraq and close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As anger simmered in Berlin, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich sharpened his tone.

“Surveillance is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice,” he told Bild.

A poll for the newspaper found that 76 percent of Germans believe Obama should apologise for the alleged spying on Merkel, and 60 percent said the scandal had damaged German-US ties.

The scandal derived from documents acquired from US fugitive defence contractor Edward Snowden by Spiegel.

The Social Democrats’ chief whip Thomas Oppermann told Bild that German MPs would now like to question Snowden.

Snowden’s accounts seem credible while the US government apparently lied to us about this matter.”

The US government spies a lot on their own citizens. But these days, who doesn’t? Here’s just a partial list of the other governments around the world who have been caught wanting to know too much: here.

Far from giving up on its habit, the US National Security Agency is reportedly still wiretapping some 320 prominent German economists and politicians. Although President Barack Obama has allegedly delivered on his promise to leave German Chancellor Angela Merkel alone, America’s omnipresent spy agency is still keeping tabs on hundreds of her compatriots, the crème de la crème of the German political and economic world, including Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. This is according to the Bild am Sonntag: here.

German meat industry scandal

This video says about itself:

The JungleUpton Sinclair

Jan 22, 2010

Based on the novel by Upton Sinclair, this is a video of a possible movie trailer for the book. For those that don’t know, The Jungle talks about the life of a Lithuanian immigrant who comes to Chicago during the industrial revolution that occurred within the city. The focus of this book is on this immigrant’s life, and it exposes the harsh realities of the people who lived in poverty.

This German TV video is called Das System Wiesenhof – Wie ein Geflügelkonzern Menschen, Tiere und die Umwelt ausbeutet – ARD (about how Wiesenhof poultry corporation exploits its workers, animals and the environment).

By Clara Weiss and Philipp Frisch in Germany:

Exploitation and ruthless working conditions in the German meat industry

12 July 2013

In an interview with the WirtschaftsBlatt daily financial newspaper at the end of last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was unusually open in her comments about the policy objectives of Europe’s ruling elite. In order to secure “competitiveness”, she declared war on the European “welfare states” and clearly identified the economies to which Europe must orient itself. The new standards for wages and working conditions would be set by India and China. (See: “The German chancellor’s Christmas message”, 21 December 2012)

An ARD television documentary about exploitative working conditions in the meat industry recently revealed the extent to which the federal government has already gone to promote “Chinese conditions” in order to meet the insatiable demands of banks and large corporations. News of the conditions in the meat industry follow hard upon other scandals such as the exploitation and rigorous surveillance of foreign temporary workers at Amazon, and the demolishing of collective agreements at Mercedes via the proliferation of temporary work contracts.

The ARD’s revelations about the human trafficking and atrocious working conditions in the meat industry show that criminal conditions prevail in this sector of the economy. The researches of journalists Michael Nieberg and Marius Meier focused on Wiesenhof, Germany’s largest poultry processor. They reported on the accommodations, such as former army barracks behind barbed wire, campsites and converted stables, where workers are crammed together. Up to 18 people were housed in one semi-detached dwelling.

Eastern European workers—remaining anonymous in the documentary for fear of violent repercussions—testified that their hourly wages were from €4 to €5.50 gross. According to statements from trade unions, hourly wages of €1.90 and €3 for the exhausting physical work are also not uncommon.

A former Wiesenhof female employee, who in 2009 worked on a conveyor belt in Lohne, Lower Saxony, showed the journalists her pay slips. After deductions for the payment of rent and a fine for leaving a window open, her monthly wage amounted to less than €500. When she became ill, the company continued to harass her, until she was finally forced to resign.

Another female worker, who wanted to protest against the conditions, reported that she and her family had been threatened with death if they sought help or revealed their plight to the public.

Before they come to work in Germany, workers from Eastern Europe are promised the moon. They are either given no information, or else fed lies about the exact content of their contracts. During their time in Germany, many workers are unaware of what is actually in their contracts. Once they are there, they have no other choice than to accept the catastrophic living and working conditions, because they are subject to the pressure of both their financial impoverishment and rapacious employers.

The situation described in the documentary is reminiscent of the exploitation of workers in the US meatpacking industry at the beginning of the twentieth century, exposed by Upton Sinclair in his novel, The Jungle.

This brutal exploitation of workers is buttressed by covert criminal structures. Work contracts are brokered via a network of Eastern European subcontracting firms, usually consisting of little more than mailboxes. The workers are nominally employed by the Eastern European firms and earn the usual pittance in their home countries. There is no entitlement to any social security, employment protection or holiday pay. They are then illicitly employed in Germany by Wiesenhof or smaller meat companies, or work for subcontractors.

In late June, the Düsseldorf public prosecutor conducted a raid on 22 likely indictable businesses in a total of 90 locations. Among these were the companies involved in the ARD team’s researches. Investigations by customs and tax officials and the police uncovered an illegal network of businesses, extending over the whole of the European Union (EU) and consisting of more than two dozen companies and sub-contracting firms, as well as twelve slaughterhouses.

Crime in the industry is systemic. In late 2010, a Düsseldorf regional court judge had to admit: “The scale and blatancy of the illegal activities are frightening. The industry seems to be permeated by these criminal enterprises.”

In recent years, illegal corporate networks in the meat industry and the systematic employment of temporary and illegal workers from Eastern Europe have been uncovered again and again. According to trade unions, these developments have led to the destruction of a fifth of all the industry’s jobs that are subject to social insurance contributions. A total of approximately 30,000 people work in the meat industry.

These conditions reveal once more the essentially anti-worker character of the EU’s eastward expansion.

The reintroduction of capitalist exploitation following the collapse of the Soviet Union was accompanied by the destruction of the social infrastructure, massive wage cuts and deteriorating working conditions in Eastern Europe. In 2004 and 2007, EU eastern expansion further aggravated the social crisis in the new member states.

The EU’s austerity mandates have made Bulgaria and Romania the poorhouses of Europe. In December 2011, Romania’s average net wage was just over €350. In Bulgaria, the poorest country in Europe, a fifth of the population lives under the poverty line on an income of €110 a month. Every third person has to exist on less than €260 a month.

Western European companies take advantage of these starvation wages, on the one hand, to increase exploitation of the workers in Eastern Europe, and on the other, to slash wages and launch anti-social attacks on workers in Western Europe.

The German economy in particular has benefited from the social devastation and conditions of intense exploitation in Eastern Europe. The meat industry is just one particularly stark example. By utilising virtual slave labour, German meat companies can offer products at prices against which businesses in other EU countries are scarcely able to compete.

USA: At one poultry slaughterhouse, more than 40% of workers have carpal tunnel. Then there’s those noxious chemical odors: here.

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German minister’s plagiarism again

This video is about Annette Schavan of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany, the CDU; about the plagiarism scandal of Minister Schavan.

From the New York Times in the USA:

University Revokes German Official’s Doctorate


Published: February 5, 2013

BERLIN — A German university has moved to strip the country’s education minister of her academic title after ruling that she plagiarized parts of her doctoral dissertation some 30 years ago.

A body of scholars at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf voted late Tuesday to revoke the doctorate of Education Minister Annette Schavan, a leading member of the governing Christian Democrats and a close confidante of Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a statement made available on the university’s Web site.

The case against Ms. Schavan represented the second time a member of Ms. Merkel’s cabinet had had such problems with long-ago academic work. In 2011 Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a leading member of the Bavarian-based Christian Social Union, the sister party of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, left politics after it was revealed that he plagiarized parts of his dissertation.

Ms. Schavan was an outspoken critic of Mr. Guttenberg’s academic failings at the time.

Bruno Bleckmann, a dean at the university, said Ms. Schavan’s failure to attribute certain information properly had “resulted in the general conviction of the faculty council that the former doctoral student systematically and deliberately faked a mental performance throughout the entire dissertation that was in reality not her own.”

Ms. Schavan has long denied she copied other scholars’ work in her thesis, and a statement released by her lawyer shortly after the university announced its decision said she would appeal the ruling. Since accusations of plagiarism were first raised against Ms. Schavan by an anonymous blogger last year, the minister has enjoyed the wide support of her fellow Christian Democrats, including Ms. Merkel. …

Nevertheless, the episode stands as an embarrassing political setback for Ms. Merkel before federal elections in September. “It’s not just about my Ph.D., but my integrity,” Ms. Schavan, who assumed office in 2005, told Germany’s Südwest Presse last month.

The second time, after Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, for a member of Ms. Merkel’s cabinet.

Meanwhile, a prominent member of Merkel’s government’s FDP coalition partner party resigned in a plagriarism scandal as well.

Murdered Sinti and Roma monument, as discrimination continues

This video is called Roma in the Holocaust.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

Monument for Sinti and Roma victims of Nazis highlights German government hypocrisy

29 October 2012

On October 24, a central memorial for the 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered by the Nazis was unveiled in Berlin. The monument is sited immediately next to the Bundestag (parliament) building. It is also close to the Holocaust memorial for the Jews murdered during Nazi rule.

The ceremony to unveil the monument was attended by representatives of the Sinti and Roma communities, a representative of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and the vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee. Top representatives of the German political establishment were present, including Federal President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Culture Minister Bernd Neumann and Bundestag President Norbert Lammert.

Also in attendance were various party representatives such as Gregor Gysi and Petra Pau (Left Party), Renate Künast (Greens), Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit (Social Democratic Party), and former federal president Richard von Weizsäcker. The ceremony was transmitted live on television.

This video is called Germany unveils Roma Holocaust memorial.

Israeli artist Dani Karavan created the monument in accordance with guidelines provided by the Sinti and Roma communities designed to point to their common history of persecution. The monument consists of a circular black basin filled with water, twelve metres in diameter, with a triangle-shaped column at its centre representing the piece of fabric that Sinti and Roma were forced to wear in the concentration camps.

Every evening, the column will retract, appearing again the following day bearing a fresh flower. This stands for recurring sorrow, recurring life and a constant reminder to keep alive the memory of the crimes committed against the Sinti and Roma.

The poem “Auschwitz” by the Italian Roma musician and poet Santino Spinelli is worked into the edge of the basin. A glass wall near the basin provides information about the history of the Nazi persecution of the Sinti and Roma in Europe.

The chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, and the Dutch Sinto Zoni Weisz delivered moving speeches. Last year, Weisz was the first Sinto to address the German Bundestag, where he called upon deputies to make public the “forgotten Holocaust”. As a child he escaped deportation to the camps but lost his entire family.

Romani Rose, who lost 13 family members in the camps, has long been active in the Sinti and Roma civil rights movement in Germany. He held a hunger strike at the Dachau concentration camp in 1980 to draw attention to the genocide against the Sinti and Roma.

Both speakers visibly struggled with their emotions. Many of the Sinti and Roma present cried when Weisz recounted the history of his family. Practically every family has lost members. The memory of the nightmare of the Third Reich and the fear of its repetition remain tangible today.

In the background but very present at the ceremony was a sense of the hypocrisy of unveiling a memorial over half a century after the crimes were committed, compounded by the escalating persecution of Sinti and Roma today in Germany and throughout Europe.

Following the speech by Chancellor Merkel, one angry audience member demanded to know what was happening to the Sinti currently being deported from Germany to Eastern Europe. A speaker on the platform simply talked over the objection, declaring, “That is not the issue here today.”

This arrogant response underscores the fact that the German government has no interest in documenting and exposing the crimes of the Nazis against the Sinti and Roma, providing restitution for these crimes, or looking honestly and objectively at Germany’s postwar history.

Following the Second World War, old Nazis were able to continue their careers. Practically the entire judicial and civil service apparatus of the Third Reich was taken over by the “democratic” Federal Republic of Germany.

The size of the pensions received after the war by such officials and judges included their service under the Nazis, while their victims were often treated as outcasts. The documentary film Django’s Song by Tom Franke and Kuno Richter depicts a Sinto from Oldenburg, who describes how Sinti visiting the doctor’s surgery after the war were often confronted with the very medics who had sent them to the concentration camp.

In 1956, just seven years after the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Supreme Court rejected a compensation case benefiting Sinti and Roma, declaring that they had not been persecuted in the Third Reich on racist grounds, but because they displayed criminal tendencies. “They often lack the moral instinct to respect the property of others, and like primitives are driven by an unbridled cupidity”, the verdict read.

The Sinti and Roma fought up to the 1980s without success for moral and financial compensation for the crimes committed against them by the Nazis.

There are many hair-raising stories. The above-mentioned hunger strike in 1980 was directed against the Bavarian state Interior Ministry, which refused to allow Sinti to view the files of the “Landfahrerzentrale” (Central Agency for Vagrants), the immediate successor to the fascist “Reichszentrale zur Bekämpfung des Zigeunerunwesens” (Reich Headquarters to Combat the Gypsy Pest). The Landfahrerzentrale had relied on files created by the Nazis. Some of those working in the agency had been so-called “Gypsy specialists” in the Third Reich.

In the 1920s, the crisis-ridden Weimar Republic, with its many unemployed and homeless, had already set up “Zigeunerzentralen” (Police Gypsy Bureaus), which gathered intelligence on Sinti, Roma and “other Gypsy-like itinerant persons”. Bavaria was the pioneer with its 1926 law to “combat Gypsies, vagrants and the work-shy”. In Hesse, following the Bavarian model, the Social Democratic state interior minister and trade union leader Wilhelm Leuschner introduced the “law to combat the Gypsy menace”, which was passed in 1929.

It was only in 1982, more than thirty years after the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, that Sinti and Roma were recognised to have been persecuted by the Nazi regime on racist grounds, and their mass elimination recognized as genocide. But this was not made public.

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) also condescended merely to erect an unobtrusive monument at the Marzahn Cemetery on the outskirts of East Berlin. Sinti and Roma were never recognised as national minorities in either of the postwar German states.

It took another ten years, at the behest of the Sinti and Roma communities, before the Bundestag relented and agreed to erect a central memorial. It then took a further twenty years before it was actually unveiled. During this entire time, Sinti and Roma have been confronted with the claim that their persecution could not be compared to the Holocaust of the Jews. In the meantime, many victims have died.

Despite their expressions of gratitude to Chancellor Merkel, the bitter tone of the two Sinti speakers could not be missed. The oft-used word “hope” could only partially hide their disappointment.

In his speech, Rose warned of the growth of racism in Europe and Germany, which was not restricted to far-right groups, but was increasingly found in the midst of society. According to Rose, the political and judicial response to the right-wing ideology of violence is a touchstone as to whether lessons are drawn from the war and the Holocaust.

Rose mentioned the victims of the neo-Nazi terrorist group from Zwickau, which for all those present brought to mind recent press reports on the involvement of the secret service in the far-right scene. He greeted from the podium the representatives of Berlin’s Muslim community, who are also increasingly confronted with racist attacks.

In her long-winded speech, Chancellor Merkel did not have much to say other than to repeat a few platitudes about human dignity and civil courage. She spoke of the “incomprehensible” that had knocked Germany off its course and from which one had to learn. How one can learn from something that is incomprehensible, she did not say. Merkel then promised that Germany would continue to pursue the rights of the Sinti and Roma in the European Union.

The opposite is the case. Immediately following the unveiling, Merkel’s interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich (Christian Social Union—CSU), gave out with a tirade in the media against refugees from Serbia and Macedonia, whence come the majority of Roma, who are fleeing from unbearable living conditions and racist persecution. One day following the unveiling, he proposed that benefits paid to these refugees be cut. The human rights organisation Pro Asyl accused him of launching a “populist campaign against Roma from the Balkan states.”

Sinti and Roma are also systematically persecuted in Italy and France. The French government has dispersed them from their camps and deported them en masse to Romania and Bulgaria.

In Eastern Europe, the terror faced by Roma and Sinti recalls the Nazi era. In the Czech Republic and Hungary, uniformed fascist gangs organise regular marches in Roma neighbourhoods, encouraged and tolerated by the authorities. Attending school and getting access to medical care have become increasingly difficult.

The Merkel government, which is mercilessly driving forward austerity measures throughout Europe, bears the main responsibility. German calls for financially drained governments to protect the “human rights” of the Roma are hypocritical to the core.

Friedrich’s predecessor as interior minister had also proceeded against Sinti and Roma. In 2002, Otto Schily (Social Democratic Party—SPD) negotiated a so-called readmission treaty with Albania and Yugoslavia, which included “combating illegal migration from the Balkan region.”

Many of those affected had fled to Germany in the 1990s as a result of the civil war in Yugoslavia. In April 2010, Thomas de Maiziere (Christian Democratic Union—CDU) signed an agreement that obliged Kosovo to take back 14,000 refugees. Some 10,000 were Roma who had fled the terror being carried out by the German-supported Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Recently, if one listened carefully, the long plaintiff sounds of a violin could be heard coming from a small park near the Brandenburg Gate. Refugees had set up a camp and begun a hunger strike protesting their persecution and demanding the right to stay and work in Germany. On the eve of the unveiling of the monument, police forcibly dismantled and closed down the camp.

Quarrel in Greek pro-austerity party

This video is called Protests greet Merkel in Greece.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

MP sacked for anti cuts vote threat

Monday 22 October 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ party admitted today that it had expelled one of its MPs for threatening to vote against crippling austerity measures.

Greece is finalising a package of spending cuts worth €11.5 billion (£9.4bn) for 2013 and 2014 which creditors insist must be ratified by parliament before the EU and IMF will hand over [the] next bailout.

Nikos Stavrogiannis was dismissed from the New Democracy parliamentary group after saying that he would vote against the measures, which include a new wave of cuts to wages and pensions, because they were “unfair, harsh and ineffective.”

He said in an interview published on Saturday: “My conscience does not allow me to vote for measures that devastate the weakest members of society.”

The expulsion of Mr Stavrogiannis, who will remain in parliament as an independent, underscores the hard line being taken by conservative leader Mr Samaras to push through the cuts at the behest of lenders even at the cost of extending a huge domestic crisis.

His dismissal reduces the three-party coalition’s backing to 177 seats in the 300-member parliament, still above the simple majority needed for the measures to pass.

Many more MPs are said to be considering their position but it is thought unlikely that there will be enough principled MPs to overturn the ruling coalition.

Today’s report on eurozone government debt also brought bad news for Greece.

The country’s 2011 deficit was estimated at 9.4 per cent, up from 9.1 per cent. Its debt was calculated at €365bn (£298bn) or 170.6 per cent of GDP, up from 165.3 per cent.

The cuts, which will be spread over two years, have to be voted through parliament by November 12 when eurozone finance ministers meet to decide whether Greece has behaved itself – only four days before the country runs out of cash.

Greece: Conflicts, arrests and injuries was the scenery of the protest in Skouries yesterday, where hundreds residents and supporters gathered to protest against gold mining activity: here.

One in six EU residents are threatened by poverty, Austrian experts said on Monday: here.

Europe’s leaders received dramatic confirmation today of the damage spending cuts are doing to the continent’s economy – but showed no sign of changing course: here.

Free speech in Greece, only for Merkel?

Merkel and Grrece, cartoon

From Keep Talking Greece blog today:

Merkel in Athens: Police Bans Protest Rallies in City’s Centre! Are We in State of Emergency?

The elderly recalled the days during the junta (1967-1974), when puppet government and the colonels were imposing bans on ‘meetings and gathering with participation of more than three people’. The decision of Greek police issued on Monday noon to ban protest rallies in downtown Athens during the visit of Merkel must have indeed caused a creepy thrill on the spines of millions of Greeks.

Despite the draconian security measures, with 7,000 riot policemen, snipers, helicopters and iron fences and barricades, Greek police decided to ban the mass protest rallies in downtown Athens from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012. Apparently out of fear for the outbreak of riots in the broader area of Syntagma Square and the German embassy near the War Museum.

Greek police issued a statement that any public gatherings and marches would be banned between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Tuesday in a large area around the city centre. It said the decision was being taken in the interests of public safety and the city’s “socioeconomic life.”

The police decision triggered strong reactions also among the coalition government parties PASOK and Democratic Left that issued statements saying that they do not agree with the ban as it forbids the expression of polyphony and different opinion.

In a joint statement, public and private sector unions ADEDY and GSEE announced that they will not bow to [the] police order and that they will hold their protest rallies as scheduled. Trade unions have scheduled to hold their protest at 1 p.m. at Omonia and Syntagma Square, while the party of Independent Greeks has planned to stage a protest outside the German embassy at 6 p.m.

Greeks step up fight against austerity: here.

As the Greek government prepares a new package of cuts, Julie Sherry reports on the growing strike wave that has put them under pressure: here.

Greek anti-fascist protesters ‘tortured by police’ after Golden Dawn clash. Fifteen people arrested in Athens says they were subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation: here.

Merkel’s Hitler moustache on Dutch TV

Angela Merkel with moustache on Dutch TV

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

NOS stage design gives Merkel a mustache

Sunday, July 8, 2012, 19:37

In the NOS news show of 18.00 [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘accidentally’ because of the stage design had a small mustache.

An “unfortunate coincidence”, says editor Marcel Gelauff about Merkel’s mustache, strongly reminiscent of Hitler‘s one. In a tweet Gelauff apologized.

“One of the parts of the stage accidentally ended up in front of Merkel’s face. That was all.”