Football, Greece-Germany, with Angela Merkel


]

This video is called EURO 2012 Greece-Russia: Greek and Russian football fans in Warsaw.

The Euro 2012 European football championship in Poland and Ukraine has reached the quarter-final stage.

From now on, it is the “knock out system”: if a team loses one match, it is out. The winners proceed to the next round.

Tomorrow, Friday evening east European time, in Gdansk in Poland, Germany will play Greece.

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, will be there.

Earlier, there had been news that Ms Merkel’s government would boycott the football championship. As a protest against violations of the rights of Ukrainian ex-prime minister Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko; now in jail for corruption.

Not that human rights were any better when Ms Tymoshenko and her “orange” coalition still ruled the Ukraine. Ms Merkel cares about Tymoshenko, not because she cares about human rights in general. But because Tymoshenko, a pro-NATO and pro-austerity politician, is, in the Merkel administration‘s view, on the “our guys” side.

Most Ukrainians do not like the idea of joining NATO; then, rising military spending because of NATO membership would wreck the already weak Ukrainian economy. So, Tymoshenko lost the 2010 elections.

If Ms Merkel would really care about universal human rights, then she would not make plans to destroy workers’ rights all over Europe. She would not damage Greek children’s health and condemn Greek pensioners to eating from garbage cans by her vicious austerity policies. She would not limit the Greek people’s right to vote to the right to vote for pro-austerity parties (Merkel’s contempt of democracy helped her Greek sister party get a Pyrrhic victory in the recent elections, with a minority of votes for all pro-Merkel bailout parties together, but a small majority of seats because of a dubious 50 seats extra rule benefiting the biggest individual political party).

Ms Merkel despises democracy in Greece, cartoon by Gui Castro Felga

Now, the German soccer team has proceeded to the championship quarter finals. Suddenly, the Merkel government forgets, not only about the human rights of Greeks and of workers all over Europe, but about the human rights of Ms Tymoshenko as well. No more boycott. Ms Merkel will be on one of the most expensive seats in the stadium (don’t worry Angela, German taxpayers will pay). I don’t know whether Ms Merkel really likes football. I just know that many politicians know that football is more popular than they are. So they go to matches which are on TV, hoping that some of the sport’s popularity will rub off on them.

Germany-Greece: a very symbolic match, tomorrow evening. Most soccer pundits expect Germany to win. Those pundits, in an earlier stage of the championship, expected Russia to win against Greece as well. However, Greece won, and the Russian team, one of the favourites, were out.

Angela Merkel’s sweatshop Europe plan


Christine Lagarde and austerity, cartoon

This cartoon by Steve Bell is about Christine Lagarde, boss of the International Monetary Fund. While imposing austerity on Greece, Swaziland and others, jointly with other establishment politicians, Ms Lagarde herself gets a far from austere income, paid by taxpayers.

IMF boss who pays no tax lectures Greek people: here.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

Germany’s six-point plan for sweatshop Europe

30 May 2012

It is now common practice to smash up wages and workers’ rights by initiating bankruptcy proceedings. The best known case is the American auto giant General Motors, which laid off 30,000 workers, slashed wages in half for new-hires, and cut retiree benefits. If the German government gets its way, this procedure will be applied to entire countries.

According to a report in the news magazine Der Spiegel, the chancellery in Berlin has drawn up a six-point plan for far-reaching “structural reforms” in Greece and other highly indebted European Union countries. The plan includes the sale of state enterprises, the gutting of employment protection rights, the promotion of a low-wage labor sector, the removal of constraints on businesses, and the establishment of special economic zones and privatization agencies modeled on the German Treuhand.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert has not confirmed the plan, but neither has he denied it. According to Der Spiegel, it will form the basis for negotiations at the European Union’s so-called “growth summit” in late June. Der Spiegel writes that Chancellor Angela Merkel will seize on the call for a growth policy by newly elected French President Francois Hollande, “applying the principle of judo fighters: employing the momentum of the opponent to mount one’s own attack.”

If Merkel gets her way, “growth” will be achieved entirely through the intensified exploitation of workers and not through any plan for economic revival or increased social expenditures.

THE European Union (EU) would resemble a “sweatshop” if the Tories succeed in using “reform” to remove workers’ rights, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady will say today: here.

German voters defeat Angela Merkel


Beheaded France's Sarkozy sends a warning message to Germany's Merkel on Austerity politics, cartoon by Zapiro

Today there were elections in the most populous state in Germany, North Rhineland-Westphalia.

As expected, it was a defeat for the Rightist national government coalition of Ms Angela Merkel.

The two parties of Merkel’s coalition, her own CDU party and the FDP party, got only a third of the vote.

The state president of the CDU, Norbert Röttgen (who had been parachuted especially for the election to North Rhine-Westphalia by Ms Merkel herself), resigned after hearing about the election disaster.

The winners were the local Social Democrats, whom Ms Merkel had attacked for not being sufficiently pro-austerity.

Voters in North Rhine-Westphalia inflicted a heavy blow on Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday and strengthened the Social Democrat-Green regional government: here. And here.

Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a massive defeat in the election in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on Sunday. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost 8.3 percent and recorded its worst-ever result, 26.3 percent, in Germany’s most populous state: here.

New German president Gauck, saint or sinner?


This video, recorded in Germany, is called ‘Shoe’ protesters urge German president [Wulff] to quit.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

All-party coalition supports Gauck as new German president

22 February 2012

The 72-year-old Joachim Gauck will be the next German president. Two days after the resignation of Christian Wulff, five of the six parties represented in parliament have spoken out in favour of Gauck as their candidate for the post.

The chairs of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union, the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Greens announced their decision Sunday evening at a joint press conference with Gauck. This means that his election by the Federal Assembly on March 18 is guaranteed. The five parties have a large majority in the election committee, which consists of all members of parliament and an equal number of state representatives. Only the Left Party is not included in the deal and was not asked its opinion on the matter.

By agreeing on a common candidate, the establishment parties are closing ranks. Only on one other occasion—in 1989 for the re-election of Richard von Weizsäcker—did they support a joint candidate.

This takes place amid growing social tensions and deep divisions in society. As a result of the policies introduced by the governments led by the SPD’s Gerhard Schröder and by the CDU’s Angela Merkel, the gap between rich and poor has grown explosively and the number of poor and those in precarious low wage jobs has increased significantly. Support for the governing parties has declined accordingly.

Under these circumstances it was stressed over and over again that the future president must stand above the parties and restore confidence in the state. With Gauck, a candidate has been selected who, while not being a member of any political party, stands firmly behind the continuation of austerity policies and defends right-wing positions on all social and political issues.

In this respect the support of the government and opposition parties for Gauck reminds of the situation in Greece and Italy, where a grand coalition of almost all parties backs the technocrats Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti. There, as in Germany, a supposedly non-partisan figure is being used to justify the cooperation of all the bourgeois parties—from the right to the bourgeois “left”—against the interests of the people. As was the case in the selection of Papademos and Monti, the choice of Gauck as new German president represents a political swing to the right and a turn away from democracy.

Gauck was born in 1940 in Rostock, the son of a captain of the German Navy, who spent several years in a Siberian prison camp after the war, accused of espionage.

I do not claim to be an expert on the biography of Joachim Gauck, or of his father.

However, I should say something on the Kriegsmarine, Adolf Hitler’s World War II navy, in which Gauck’s father was a high ranking officer. The navy was the part of the armed forces which Hitler trusted most. By the last year of the war, some officers of the army, like Colonel von Stauffenberg who made an attempt on Hitler’s life, had become opponents of the regime. Hitler also did not trust the boss of the nazi air force Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, any more. When Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, he named navy commander Karl Dönitz as his successor.

This was the foundation of the negative attitude he adopted towards the regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Gauck went on to study theology in the GDR and served as a pastor until the GDR collapsed in the autumn of 1989.

Shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gauck joined the New Forum—one of the allegedly “democratic” forces that negotiated the transition to capitalism with the GDR regime. After the reunification of Germany, Gauck headed the office in charge of the files of the Stasi, the GDR secret police. This made him a well-known national figure.

The media and the political establishment have gone to great lengths to portray Gauck as a steadfast, incorruptible democrat. His conception of democracy, however, is marked by anti-communism and has an extremely right-wing bias, both on political and social issues.

In October 2010 he gave an extensive interview to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which reads like a propaganda speech to justify the current austerity measures and social decline. Under the heading “People have to get up from their cosy beds”, Gauck combines an appeal to patriotism with attacks on every form of public welfare.

At the outset of the interview, he expresses the hope that youth will seek to make something better come out of “negative nationalism, i.e. not identifying as a German at any price”, and that youth will say Yes to the “region and the place where they live”.

“People need to get out of their cosy bed of expectations of happiness based on pleasure and prosperity. They should not expect others to do it for them”, he continued. “The hope that we can only be happy through consumption and neglect our civic duties is deceptive.”

He expressed his enthusiasm for “times of crisis or dictatorship”, in which life has to be tackled on a day-to-day basis. In affluent societies, however, “the challenge of having to define oneself is not so great. Life takes place. It is pleasant, often easy-going, entertaining. One notices only at certain turning points that something is lacking. There is hunger for a purpose.”

He praises statesmen who have the courage to follow a policy that “does not reflect the will of the majority of the people.” He endorses the labour market reforms introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and the decision to allow NATO to rearm on German territory made by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) in the early 1980s, in the face of massive popular opposition. Both men lost their posts as a result.

He prefers politicians “who were prepared to take the risk of not being re-elected”, Gauck explains.

In the interview, Gauck also expresses his support for the right-wing SPD politicians Heinz Buschkowsky and Thilo Sarrazin. Both made a name for themselves with vicious campaigns against Muslim immigrants. Gauck distances himself from Sarrazin’s “biological” arguments that Muslims lack intelligence, but praises Sarrazin’s courage.

While Gauck praises the courage of racist agitator Thilo Sarrazin, he is scathing in his criticism of those who protest against the power of financial markets. In October 2011 he described the Occupy-movement as “unspeakably stupid”. The idea of a world where one can free oneself from the grip of the bond markets is a romantic notion, he said. He was equally disparaging about the Stuttgart-21 protests, which he described as an expression of the “heinous” German inclination to hysteria and fear.

Gauck has explicitly campaigned for international military operations by the German armed forces. In a speech at the Deutsches Theater in the summer of 2010, he declared that he hoped to see more public support for the Afghanistan war, which in his view is “correct and necessary”.

Despite his right-wing positions, Gauck is supported primarily by the SPD and the Greens. They already nominated him as their candidate for the presidential office two years ago. In the event, he was defeated in a third round of voting by the CDU’s Christian Wulff.

Now, representatives of the Greens and the SPD are singing the praises of Gauck. Green Party chairperson Claudia Roth declared him to be a man who could reunite society, lend new splendour to democracy, and modernise it. SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel called Gauck’s candidacy a good and important signal to the people.

The FDP also signalled its support. FDP General Secretary Patrick Döring declared that the party had backed Gauck “out of inner conviction”. And Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) said Gauck would “add to the international reputation of our country based on his career and his lifelong commitment to freedom and responsibility.”

Resistance against Gauck came mainly from inside the conservative Union camp. Chancellor Angela Merkel had considerable difficulty in advocating a Protestant from the former GDR (like herself), in the face of opposition from forces rooted in the Catholic milieu of southern Germany. It was only when the FDP decided unilaterally in favour of Gauck on Sunday afternoon—risking a breakup of the governing coalition—that Merkel finally relented and gave Gauck her support.

The fact that five parties have now put their support behind this right-wing candidate should be taken as a warning. The enthusiastic support for Gauck from the ranks of the SPD and the Greens once again demonstrates that there is nothing to distinguish these parties from the traditional right-wing bourgeois parties.

See also here.

President Gauck’s recent speech to the federal armed forces lays bare the ideological foundations of the drive for the militarization of Germany’s foreign policy: here.

Angela Merkel’s worthless Medal of Freedom


This video says about itself:

Merkel under fire as media suggest state intelligence aided NSA spying

7 May 2015

The German Chancellor has come under fire over claims the country’s intelligence service helped America’s NSA spy on European companies for years.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

An elegant state dinner for Merkel, devoid of any drama

By Roxanne Roberts and Dan Zak, Wednesday, June 8, 5:27 AM

Elegant and uber-low-key, the state dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel was remarkably unremarkable, without a hint of intrigue or jubilant abandon, devoid of any Hollywood names. No David Hasselhoff, no Heidi Klum, no one who might steal the spotlight from the head table.

There, in the Rose Garden in front of the Oval Office, President Obama and Merkel professed their mutual admiration before 208 guests seated at tables draped in white-sequined cloth. Prior to his toast, Obama awarded the German leader the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

So, Merkel gets the Medal of Freedom without having done anything for freedom.

The German voters hate her Rightist pro-capitalist policies. There is even criticism of Ms Merkel within her own party. If there would be elections now, she and her government coalition would lose.

There is just one thing Ms Merkel might conceivably get a medal for. For her plans for a long-term phase out of nuclear energy, making her differ favourably from other governments like in the USA or the Netherlands (where another nuclear reactor is planned) … Hey, wait a moment, until very recently, Merkel’s government wanted to continue with nuclear reactors, before they made an opportunistic electoralist U-turn which did not convince the electorate. So, the “medal” here should go to the Fukushima disaster and the German grassroots movement against nukes; not to Merkel.

Maybe Merkel, sort of, deserves a medal for Germany not participating in bombing Libya … well, err … that is due to the strong peace movement in Germany, and to divergences between US, French, British and German capitalist interests, rather than to Merkel. Meanwhile, Merkel’s Bundeswehr continues to participate in the bloody occupation of Afghanistan.

An attack on high-ranking German and Afghan military personnel has further revealed deep-seated popular hatred of the occupying NATO troops: here.

Obama certainly is not the first US president to award the Medal of Freedom to undeserving people. In 2009, George W. Bush awarded it to war criminal and liar Tony Blair, to his Australian Iraq war accomplice John Howard, and to Alvaro Uribe, ex-President of Colombia and world record holder in murdering trade unionists.

Obama may have thought that he might award the medal to Merkel undeservedly, as he himself got an award undeservedly. When he got the Nobel peace prize, it might still be defended, sorts of, as a slap in the face for his predecessor George W Bush, and because of his promises to close down Guantanamo, end torture, and end the Iraq war.

However, Obama’s post-Nobel record of not closing Guantanamo, not ending torture, not ending the Iraq war, escalating the Afghanistan war and starting the Libya war prove he should give back that prize so that it can be awarded to a genuine anti-war person.

Canada’s Conservative government has announced that the Canadian Armed Forces will play a leading role in the imperialist assault on Libya for weeks, possibly months, to come: here.

War Games: Bundeswehr Under Fire for Giving Kids Access to Guns: here.

Swiss MPs approved a Green Party motion today calling for phasing out nuclear power by 2034 and agreed that no new power stations would be built: here.

2012 Medals of Freedom: here.