Category Archives: Europe

Netanyahu’s zealotry is derailing German alliance


Guilt for the horrors of the Holocaust have made Germany Israel’s most reliable supporter in Europe, the source of massive financial support and reliable political backing.

But the fanaticism of Israeli Prime Minister and his cynical exploitation of guilt are now threatening an already frayed alliance.

From Der Spiegel:

By now, Angela Merkel is used to it. Whenever she meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the confidential content of their discussion appears in an Israeli newspaper a few days later. But the story that appeared in Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu newspaper on Feb. 16 surprised even the German chancellor. “Merkel: This Isn’t the Time for Two States,” was the headline. That was the chancellor’s message to Netanyahu, the paper claimed, during the German-Israeli government consultations that had just taken place in Berlin.Merkel’s advisors were furious. The Israeli premier had apparently twisted her words to such a degree that it seemed as though she were supporting his policies. In fact, though, Merkel had repeatedly made it clear to Netanyahu that she believes the effects of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories are disastrous. The settlement policy, she believes, makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution. Any other approach, Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are convinced, would ultimately transform Israel into an apartheid regime. Netanyahu, however, has not shown himself to be the least bit impressed by such arguments.

The Israeli prime minister has always been able to depend on Berlin ultimately standing together with Israel and not joining the country’s most vocal critics. But many, particularly in the Berlin Foreign Ministry, have begun wondering if Germany sent the wrong signals in the past. An example that is frequently mentioned is Chancellor Merkel’s speech in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in 2008 when she said that Israeli security is part of Germany’s “raison d’état.”

“The perception has been growing in the German government that Netanyahu is instrumentalizing our friendship,” says Rolf Mützenich, deputy floor leader for the Social Democrats (SPD) in parliament. The SPD is Merkel’s junior coalition partner and Foreign Minister Steinmeier is a leading member of the party. Mützenich says it would be a welcome change if the Foreign Ministry and the Chancellery were to rethink the relationship with Israel.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the zealous Netanyahu turned out to be Palestine greatest, albeit unintentional, ally?

Chart of the day: Economic divisions in Europe


From the New York Times:

BLOG Euro

Blood on the Greek newsroom floor. . .


Declining newspaper circulations aren’t a problem unique to the U.S., as evidenced in this graphic from a new report [PDF] from the Hellenic Statistical Authority [Elstat]:

BLOG Greek

From Elstat:

On the basis of the available data of the 2015 survey and the corresponding data of the 2013 and 2014 surveys, ELSTAT announces the following results:
In 2015, an overall decrease of 10.67% is recorded in the total sales of newspapers in comparison with 2014. The only increase observed is recorded in the  sales of the category “Other type of newspapers”, which increased by 14.12% in comparison with 2014

A similar trend is observed for the sales of newspapers in 2014, which dropped by 8.91% in comparison with 2013. An increase is recorded only in the sales of daily morning political newspapers, by 3.55%, and in the sales of religious newspapers, by 25.53%.

Map of the day II: European joblessness in 2015


Sorry for the poor resolution, but Eurostat’s maps have become increasingly problematic in recent months, as you can see in the original [PDF]:

BLOG Eurojobless

Headline of the day II: Words to help you sleep


Or not.

Probably the latter.

From the London Daily Mail:

Security alert at German nuclear power plant after computer systems are found to be infected with viruses

  • Technicians found two computer viruses at the Gundremmigen facility 
  • Officials claimed none of the infected systems were connected to the web
  • The computer systems were infected by a USB drive hiding the software 
  • The nuclear power plant is approximately 75 miles north west of Munich

And now for something completely different. . .


Would you believe Germans vs The Donald.

The principal German in Question is Jan Böhmermann, a political satirist with a regular late night TV show [Neo Magazin Royale] who is currently facing charges of lèse-majesté [really] for allegedly besmirching the alleged honor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a truly beautiful sendup since pulled offline by his German network.

Böhmermann’s sin was to respond to a complaint from the Terrible Turk that a gently satirical song was defamatory with a poem that truly was defamatory [referring to penis size, sexual practices, and much more] as proof that his original vocal offering wasn’t defamatory.

The criminal charges sought by Ankara couldn’t be pressed without the permission of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who promptly knuckled under to Erdogan, all the while decrying the statute in question and promising to see it overturned. . .afterwards.

Ignacio Chapela, a friend and UC Berkeley prof the university once tried famously to oust because of research he conducted that Monsanto didn’t like, forwarded this link from Switzerland, where he’s currently conducting research.

From Neo Magazin Royale [and it’s in English]:

BE DEUTSCH! [Achtung! Germans on the rise!]

Program notes:

The world is going completely nuts! Europe feels threatened by 0.3% refugees, the USA are about to elect a man, of who no one really knows who is pulling the strings under the toupee and just as if that was not bad enough, Germany of all nations has to disabuse the world of how to behave morally right. I mean GERMANY! They did not even win one single world war in history!

France getting cold feet over that trade accord


You know, the TTIP [previously], the latest of the Obama-pushed, ocean-spanning international trade agreements designed to further ensrine corporate power over national sovereignty.

From Radio France Internationale:

The French government appeared to toughen its stance on the TTIP transatlantic trade partnership on Tuesday with Prime Minister Manuel Valls warning that the proposed deal being discussed by the European Union and the US will not go through if health and environment standards are not maintained and negotiator Matthias Feki saying it might not be signed at all.

“I want to be clear: it will not succeed if it does not guarantee that the standards we have in France for our citizens’ health and environment will be maintained,” Valls said at a government-organised environmental conference in Paris on Tuesday. “And today we are too far from that to envisage an agreement.”

US President Barack Obama this week visited Europe, in part to push the free-trade deal, which has been opposed by civil society groups who claim that negotiations have been hidden from public view and that it could harm agriculture and the environment.

Earlier on Tuesday French Foreign Trade Minister Matthias Fekl, who leads negotiations for France, predicted that the deal would not be signed before the end of Obama’s mandate at the end of the year and raised the possibility that agreement may never be reached.