This video says about itself:
Germanwings crash: Witnesses describe moment of impact
25 March 2015
France is reeling following the first plane crash on its soil in 15 years.
READ MORE here.
By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:
German Airbus crash in southern France kills 150
25 March 2015
The crash of an Airbus aircraft, en route from Spain to Germany, in southern France on Tuesday is the worst air disaster in recent German history.
All 150 onboard the plane, 144 passengers and six crew members, died when the plane suddenly lost altitude and plunged to the ground in an remote region of the French Alps midday Tuesday. Rescue helicopters have since landed at the site of the crash site. The helicopter crews confirmed that there were no survivors but were able to recover the black box of the aircraft.
According to Germanwings, the low cost airline run by Lufthansa, 67 Germans were among the victims, including 16 students and two teachers from the Westphalian city of Haltern. The 16 year olds and their teachers were on a return flight to Germany as part of a student exchange scheme with Spain. According to the government in Madrid, 45 Spanish passengers are also among the victims.
Flight 4U 9525 left Barcelona at 10:01 am local time on the way to Dusseldorf in Germany. At 10:45 am the aircraft reached its regular cruising altitude of 38,000 feet (11.5 kilometers). After a minute, it commenced a steep descent. According to Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann: “This descent lasted eight minutes. Contact between the aircraft and French radar and ground control stopped at 10:53 am, at an altitude of about 6,000 feet. The aircraft then crashed”. According to air traffic controllers the pilot of the Airbus had not notified ground control of the plane’s sudden descent.
According to the French Secretary of State for Transport Alain Vidalies, the pilot sent an emergency call at 10:47 am, declaring that the aircraft was in an “abnormal situation”. Minutes later the plane crashed. At 11:15 am a French police helicopter spotted a column of smoke in the region near Digne-les-Bains in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
The aircraft was a 24-year-old Airbus A320, delivered on February 6, 1991 to Lufthansa. It made its maiden flight on 29 November 1990 and was one of the oldest operating aircraft of this Airbus series. According to Lufthansa, the captain had 10 years of flying experience. Weather conditions were reportedly good and apparently played no role in the crash.
The Airbus A320 is one of the popular planes for world airlines and was the first plane to be installed with fly by wire (highly computerized) technology. A number of accidents involving the plane during past decades have been linked to problems related to the fly by wire technology.
A report in Spiegel Online indicated that technical problems may have played a role in the latest crash. According to the report, the Germanwings Airbus had spent several hours at Dusseldorf airport in the so-called AOG (“Aircraft on Ground”) mode due to technical problems. Lufthansa confirmed that there had been a problem with the plane’s nose landing door that opens and closes the fuselage when the nose wheel is down.
Some Germanwings aircrews at both Dusseldorf and Stuttgart airports refused to fly their planes Tuesday and a number of flights involving German Airbuses were canceled. Passengers waiting for their flights were informed by ground personnel that the crews had withdrawn to discuss the “flight readiness” of their planes. A Lufthansa spokesman confirmed that Germanwings crews had not taken up their positions “for personal reasons”.
The latest crash takes place against the background of a longstanding industrial dispute between Lufthansa pilots and company management. Just last week the German pilots union Cockpit undertook the twelfth in a series of selective strike actions since the dispute began.
A spokesman for Cockpit stated that, in light of Tuesday’s crash, the union would put aside any plans for further industrial action in the near future.
The pilots have been protesting against plans to reduce pensions and worsen working conditions as part of the company’s strategy to drastically cut costs. Lufthansa has announced its intention to expand its low cost subsidiaries Germanwings and Eurowings in a price war with other low-cost airlines, such as the Irish company Ryanair.
PILOT LOCKED OUT OF COCKPIT BEFORE FRENCH ALPS CRASH Voice recordings recovered from the Germanwings plane that crashed into the French Alps indicate that one pilot left the cockpit before the descent and was unable to reenter. According to the New York Times, “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer … You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” As a senior French official said, “We have to consider the possibility of deliberate human responsibility.” Here’s why eight minutes of radio silence is so alarming. Family members of the 150 victims are being flown, and bused for those that refuse to fly, to the crash site. And the grief is unfathomable for the German town that lost 16 students and two teachers on their return from an exchange program. [AP]
CO-PILOT BELIEVED TO HAVE DELIBERATELY CRASHED GERMANWINGS PLANE Prosecutors have yet to determine what caused 27-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to deliberately crash the Germanwings flight he was charged with guiding, killing all 150 people on board. A Washington Post graphic depicts the emerging timeline of events, including Lubitz locking the pilot out of the cockpit. Post-9/11 cockpits are designed to protect against external, not internal, threats. Details are emerging about the Lubitz’s personal life, along with the news that he had a medical condition noted on his pilot’s medical certificate. Police are said to have made a “significant discovery” at Lubitz’s home. France has released footage of the crash site. And airlines around the world are changing the rules to require two people present in the cockpit at all times. [Reuters]
This video from the USA says about itself:
15 May 2013
By Video Journalist Stephanie Stern
The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County hosts a Holocaust Remembrance Day and they tell the little known story of how almost 90% of Greek Jews perished in the Holocaust.
Featured Interviews: Steven Markowitz, Chairman, Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center; Arye Mekel, Israeli Ambassador to Greece; Jane Elias, Daughter of Holocaust Survivors; Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, Director, Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Greek Jews put WWII claims to Germany
Monday 23rd March 2015
“We will study the law and do our best to claim,” said Thessaloniki community president David Saltiel.
The bill for 58,585 Jews’ transport to Auschwitz and other camps exceeded 2 million Reichsmarks — more than €25 million (£18m) in today’s money.
But Berlin has dismissed such demands, saying that compensation issues were settled decades ago.
Comment from Madame Pickwick Art Blog on this ‘guns or butter’ picture, with as its caption title ‘Hurrah, the butter is gone!':
This work is Heartfield’s most famous, it is the climax of the artist’s mastery of the genre. A German family is depicted eating various parts of a bicycle, with Hitler’s portrait and swastika wallpaper in the background. The quote is from Hermann Göring, and it reads: “Iron has always made a nation strong, butter and lard have only made the people fat”. In his work, Heartfield parodied the style of Nazi propaganda posters to criticize the regime. Heartfield’s work was of course a type of propaganda in itself, but his work expressed the discontent of the opposition in Germany.
Apparently, the present British government, buying 600 new tanks, has not learned from Heartfield.
By Johannes Stern in Germany:
German government increases defence budget by €8 billion
20 March 2015
Germany will increase and massively upgrade defence spending through 2019 according to key points in the 2016 budget and fiscal plan adopted Tuesday by the German cabinet. The military will be allocated some €8 billion more than previously planned over the next four years.
At the beginning of the month, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble announced that the military budget would not be increased until 2017. Now, just days later, the budget is to increase by €1.2 billion as early as next year. The budget was originally expected to be reduced by approximately €500 million. The adopted increase means it will be €1.7 billion higher than previously planned. Defence spending is then expected to increase incrementally to more than €35 billion by 2019.
The rapid boost to military spending, amounting to an increase of more than 6.2 percent, heralds a new stage in the return of German militarism. After a months-long media campaign calling for the upgrade and further foreign deployment of the military, the government has seized the opportunity to act.
According to the key issues document leaked to the media, the additional expenditures provide for, among other things, “an increased NATO engagement.” Germany is playing a leading role in the buildup of NATO in eastern Europe directed against Russia. It will participate in the newly established Very High Readiness Joint Task Force with up to 2,700 soldiers who can be made operational within a 48-hour period.
Since the beginning of this year, leadership of the Rapid Response Force (NRF) has rested with the 1 German-Netherlands Corp in Münster. According to the official web site of the German military, 4,000 German soldiers committed to the NRF were certified last year as “combat ready.” At the core of the German troops of the NRF is Armored Infantry Battalion 371 from Marienberg, which has been prepared for “treaty-obligated deployment” since the end of 2013.
The NATO buildup in eastern Europe is not the only project to be financed with the new funds. The German elite are constructing an army with which they can defend their geostrategic and economic interests worldwide. Another point in the key issues document is euphemistically called “additional expenditures globally for investments in our future” and estimated to cost a further €300 million per year.
In its latest edition, the weekly German newspaper Die Zeit called the long-planned and now successful increase of the defence budget “a new era in fiscal policy.” That means: “The resources should above all flow into those departments relevant to ‘future tasks’. According to the finance ministry, these are education, transportation—and in light of geopolitical challenges, defence and development cooperation. On the other hand, when necessary, social spending should be spared.”
In other words: the working class must bear the cost of militarism in two respects. They are to be cannon fodder for the “future tasks” of war, and they must endure further cuts to social spending to finance the military buildup. At the same time, the apparatus of state repression will be built up in order to militarise society in face of the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the population.
In addition to the military, the intelligence and security agencies are also to be expanded. The police force, the Federal Criminal Office, and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (German intelligence agency) are together expected to gain 750 new posts and €328 million from 2016 to 2019. The allocation for the Department of the Interior will also climb by 6.7 percent to €6.6 billion next year. More than €200 million will flow directly into the facilities of the police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
There can be no doubt that the increases to the departments of interior and defence are only the beginning of a far more comprehensive buildup. The German elite are presently working on a new, aggressive foreign policy strategy under the auspices of the so-called White Paper 2016, in which interventions by the German military play a central role.
The first meeting of the task force “Perspectives of the Military” made clear the direction in which things are headed. The leader of the group, journalist Thomas Wiegold, said, in a video clip produced by the military, that they will make recommendations about “which long-term capabilities the military requires or…how this horsepower can be put to use on the road.” He said that he could not imagine, however, “that we already have boxes to check off today in which we say that we must have this many tanks, this many rockets and this many new capabilities.”
André Wüstner, the chair of the German Army Association (Bundeswehr Association) greeted the increase to the defence budget as “a very good day for Germany.” He had earlier demanded before the Munich Security Conference that German forces achieve “full operational readiness” and “be prepared for war.”
Wüstner said he was “very happy that the government recognised the signs of the times and will now make considerable adjustments. The defence policy framework of our time, the crisis in Ukraine, Northern Iraq and in Syria, require urgent investment. That goes for the necessary reorganisation of infrastructure as well as for the sorely needed purchasing of equipment.”
The focus should not only be on “the great defence projects,” Wüstner added. Just as important are the “little procurement measures that are only for training, exercise and the basic requirements that are important for achieving operational readiness,” according to a Bundeswehr Association press release.
The increase in the defence budget does not go far enough for them. The expansion of the army is also necessary. According to Wüstner, at least 5,000 new positions would have to be added to the present complement of temporary and enlisted soldiers.
This video from Germany is about the Blockupy movement against the European Central Bank.
By Ben Chacko:
GERMANY: Protesters give ECB office fiery welcome
Thursday 19th March 2015
Activists of the “Blockupy” movement staged the huge demonstrations against the bank because of its role in imposing devastating austerity policies on EU member states.
Police said most of the “thousands” demonstrating, who included large trade union delegations and members of Germany’s Left Party, were peaceful but a “violent minority” lobbed “stones and unidentified liquids” at officers, almost 90 of whom were injured.
Surrounded by barricades, police had to use water cannon to clear a path to the entrance.
Black smoke from heaps of burning tyres and rubbish bins billowed out over the city as ECB president Mario Draghi gave a speech saying that the new HQ was “a symbol of what Europe can achieve.”
Green Party economy minister for Hesse state Tarek al-Wazir admitted that the demonstrators were asking “some of the right questions” and that “austerity can be self-defeating” — but claimed the ECB was the wrong target as it wasn’t responsible for government cuts.
But Mr Draghi’s speech gave the lie to Mr Wazir’s words as he insisted that “the fact that some had to go through a difficult period of adjustment was not a choice that was imposed on them. It was a consequence of their past decisions.”
The ECB, along with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, ordered countries including Greece, Portugal and Ireland to slash public spending, jobs, wages and pensions and sell off state assets to the private sector in return for “bailouts” to repay bank loans.
“There are some who believe today, as do the demonstrators outside, that Europe is doing too little,” he said.
Left Party member Andrej Hunko told reporters that Hesse authorities were keen to focus on acts of violence by a few “to delegitimise the protest.”
“We want a different policy and we are many.”
The German media and politicians have responded to the Blockupy protests against the ECB on Wednesday by denouncing the protesters and demanding restrictions on the freedom of assembly. They seized on clashes prior to the demonstration, involving a few small autonomous and anarchist groups, as a pretext. The protest organisers explicitly distanced themselves from these fringe elements: here.
From Reuters news agency today:
Germany should look at paying Greece war reparations, say some Berlin lawmakers
Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have for the first time said Germany should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during World War Two, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel‘s government which has ruled this out.
The Left Party in Germany had already said the German government should pay World War II occupation reparations.
BERLIN: Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have for the first time said Germany should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during World War Two, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel’s government which has ruled this out.
Relations between Germany and Greece are deteriorating by the day as Athens tries to renegotiate its bailout terms and Berlin fears it will ditch previously agreed financial promises.
Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, due to meet Merkel in Berlin on Monday, has accused Germany of using tricks to avoid reparations. One of his ministers raised the prospect of seizing German property to compensate victims of a Nazi massacre.
While Berlin says it has honoured its obligations, including a 115-million-deutschemark payment to Greece in 1960, some mainstream politicians have contradicted the government and say it is impossible to draw a line under the highly-charged issue.
In 1960, famous Dutch comedian Wim Kan spoke about the small amount of German reparations also paid then to other Hitler-occupied countries like the Netherlands. Mr Kan himself during World War II was imprisoned in camps of Hitler’s then Japanese allies. Wim Kan spoke: ‘The German government said: “The suffering [of the nazi occupation] cannot be expressed in money”. So, they have not done so’.
“We should make a financial approach to victims and their families,” said Gesine Schwan, a respected member of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Merkel’s conservatives.
“It would be good for us Germans to sweep up after ourselves in terms of our history,” she told Spiegel Online. “Victims and descendants have longer memories than perpetrators and descendents,” said Schwan, twice nominated as a candidate for German president.
Germany, keen to avoid setting a precedent by reopening the issue, argues that the 1990 “Two Plus Four Treaty” signed by then-East Germany and West Germany and the four World War Two allies before German reunification drew a line under future claims.
Resentment runs deep. Nazi forces destroyed scores of Greek villages and killed more than 20,000 civilians between 1941 and 1944. In a chat show on ARD television on Sunday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said it was about morals, not money.
“Personally I would be happy if one euro is paid. As long as there was a recognition that this moral debt has been settled,” he said, adding that he was speaking as an individual.
A further question hangs over an “occupation loan” forced on the Bank of Greece which some experts put at 11 billion euros.
Schwan said the occupation loan must “of course be repaid”.
“But independently, we must have a discussion about reparations,” Ralf Stegner told Spiegel Online. “After decades, there are still international legal questions to be resolved.”
Greens co-leader Anton Hofreiter said the issue could not be brushed off as it was “neither morally nor legally closed”.
(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
See also here.