Displaying items by tag: Germany
The flood disaster in the Ahr valley was three months ago. Much has been achieved but reconstruction will take a long time. Many houses had to be demolished and over thirty may not be rebuilt. Houses that could remain standing have been completely cleared and left empty to dry out. Large parts of the natural gas network were destroyed, and many oil heating systems in the affected houses no longer work. The government is working flat out to find solutions to the problems and to be prepared for the upcoming winter - including providing mobile gas supply systems and oil tanks, the use of mini-power plants and the purchase of a Tiny House for residents who need accommodation for the winter due to a lack of heating. The electrical power supply has not yet been completely restored and there is a lack of craftsmen and building materials for the renovation and reconstruction work. See
UEFA are investigating Union Berlin after shocking acts of anti-Semitism took place during a match with Israel’s Maccabi Haifa football team in a Nazi-built stadium. Before the game Maccabi players laid a wreath at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial. During the game a Jewish group of fans were subjected to anti-Semitic abuse and assaulted in the mixed area of the stands where fans from both teams sit together. They were threatened, pelted with beer, insulted, and one fan tried to set fire to an Israeli flag. UEFA said that an ‘Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector’ has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding discriminatory incidents. Police are also investigating the antisemitic abuse, which included other incidents around the stadium. Club president Dirk Zingler said, ‘This latest display of anti-Semitism, in a place so iconic for the Nazis, shows there is still work to be done to stamp it out in German society.’
On 26 September voters elected the Bundestag's parliamentary seats. The dominant political parties - SPD, CDU and CSU - finished only ten seats apart. Angela Merkel’s departure has opened up a large void. Many older MPs have been replaced by people in their thirties or even twenties. This rejuvenation will bring many openings for renewal and innovation in the current technological and global transformation, but will also pose potential risks that need prayer. Will Germany manage to keep its leadership in Europe, or will France supplant it? What can the EU expect from the new Chancellor and coalition on climate change, trade, and technology? How do the elected candidates see Europe’s place in the world? What will the results mean for Germany’s relationships with France, the USA, Russia, or China?
Two people are dead, five are missing, 31 injured and five in intensive care after an explosion at a German chemical site. The blast in Leverkusen had been declared an ‘extreme threat’ after sending a large black cloud rising into the air. Emergency services took three hours to extinguish the fire at the Chempark site. Police asked nearby residents to remain in their homes and keep windows and doors shut. Playgrounds in nearby neighbourhoods were closed and residents told to rinse fruit and vegetables from their gardens before eating them. Chempark ‘s chief said, ‘Hopes of finding the missing alive are fading. Solvents were burned during the incident, and we do not know precisely what substances were released. We are examining this with authorities, taking samples.’ The explosion was at a rubbish incineration plant of the chemical park. The smoke cloud is moving toward the towns of Burscheid and Leichlingen.
The death toll from flooding in Western Europe keeps climbing as rescue workers dig deeper into debris left by receding waters. Germany’s finance minister has proposed a package of immediate aid, of more than 300 million euros. Pray for the government also to dig deeper into available funds so that suitable rebuilding programs can be set up speedily. From experience with previous flooding, costs will be in the billions of euros. Police fear the number of dead may still rise in many areas. Pope Francis offered a prayer for the flood victims and for the efforts of all to help those who suffered great damage: ‘I express my closeness to the populations of Germany, Belgium and Holland, hit by catastrophic flooding.’ German officials have asked people not to make any more donations, as their generosity has left storage facilities for clothes and food full.
Record rainfall in parts of western Europe has caused major rivers to burst their banks In Germany; at least 33 are dead and dozens missing after record rain left homes and cars washed away. The Rhineland-Palatinate state chief described the flooding as a ‘catastrophe’. At least six have died in Belgium. Liège city urged all residents to leave. The Netherlands is badly hit, with more deaths and many houses damaged in the southern province of Limburg. A number of care homes had to be evacuated. More rain is forecast for these areas.
German security officials have arrested over 750 people after infiltrating encrypted mobile phone chat data. The investigation focused on a communications service used particularly by criminals in the illegal drug trade. Authorities seized 3.2 tonnes of cannabis, 320 kilos of synthetic drugs, over 125,500 ecstasy pills, 400 kilos of cocaine, ten kilos of heroin, 310 weapons, more than 12,200 rounds of ammunition, and assets worth €168 million. Frankfurt prosecutor Julia Bussweiler said that the investigation was far from over; they are still sifting through and evaluating seized data. Many people are in pre-trial detention. The investigation was assisted by authorities from France and the Netherlands; a further 45 were arrested across Europe, and authorities also seized a ‘record haul’ of cocaine.
On 6 July Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it was enriching uranium to 20% at its research reactor. Uranium metal is used to make a nuclear warhead core. The development immediately prompted Berlin, London and Paris, which are all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal - along with the USA, Russia, and China - to issue a damning joint statement accusing Iran of a ‘grave breach’ of its obligations. ‘Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,’ the statement said. According to Iran’s foreign minister, this enrichment is needed for ‘peaceful, medicinal and humanitarian uses.’ The three countries urged Tehran to stop the violations and return to Vienna’s negotiating table where the original signatories to the deal have been working for months to mediate indirect talks between Iran and the USA.
Coronavirus restrictions are easing, and Germany’s economy is picking up as traders and service providers benefit, but industry suffers delivery problems. Global lockdowns have lowered production levels and interrupted supply chains. Essential raw materials, chemicals and component parts are in short supply and prices are skyrocketing. There are disruptions in container shipping, traffic congestion in ports and a shortage of containers, where three consortia control over 80% of the world market and dictate prices. For various reasons, the highest inflation since 2008 is on the horizon. In addition to the CO2 tax, world market prices for grain, which have risen 30%, are already raising the cost of living. Germany is an exporting country, dependent on international value-added trade-chains. There is now changed thinking concerning regional supply chains within the EU: now, instead of ‘just in time delivery’, storing becomes important.
The German defence minister told the armed forces that reported racist and sexual abuse in a German platoon based in Lithuania has put their entire reputation at risk. The most recent incidents were a sexual assault against another soldier, singing anti-Semitic songs, and in April singing songs to mark Hitler’s birthday. There is a pattern of far-right extremism in the army: a soldier allegedly racially abused a non-white fellow soldier, and four German soldiers made animal noises when a black French soldier walked past. Far-right incidents in the elite KSK commando unit triggered calls for it to be disbanded as it had become partly independent of the chain of command. Police seized explosives and weapons at the home of a KSK soldier. Military intelligence said there were almost 600 suspected far-right supporters in the army, the KSK being a particular problem. Twenty members are suspected of right-wing extremism.