Displaying items by tag: Germany
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.
It is estimated there are over 18,000 Grey Wolves in Germany, five times more than the number of members of Germany’s neo-Nazi party. The Grey Wolves movement is a Turkish version of Aryanism opposed to anyone who is not Turkish or Sunni Islamic. It is anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-American, anti-Armenian, anti-Kurdish and anti-Greek. Its objective is to establish a new world order based on Islam and led by Turkey. Members are opposed to the assimilation or integration of Turkish immigrants into Western society, and its supporters are responsible for a large number of murdered political opponents and members of minorities in Turkey and abroad. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union is working with this group, although it preaches that right-wing extremism is the greatest danger in Germany. Associations linked to Grey Wolves strive for a moderate appearance in their external presentation and tend to cultivate their right-wing extremist ideology internally.
The Cologne police force has set up a special team to combat a growing black market in forged vaccine certificates. Fraudsters are communicating via an encrypted messenger service which makes investigations difficult, and the police are still trying to determine the scale of the problem nationally. Some people are duped into paying about £86 then get nothing. Covid ‘passports’ to ease travel are being rolled out now across the EU. 44% of Germans have had at least one jab and over 18% of the population are fully vaccinated against Covid. The fraud takes place on the Telegram messenger service and involves both real traffic in fake certificates and fake offers which lure people into paying but provide nothing. Often cryptocurrency is used, like in the online black markets in drugs and weapons. Telegram has become a hub for anti-vaxxers, suspicious of vaccines and denying official data about the pandemic. Proving that you are Covid-free allows access to restaurants, leisure facilities, foreign travel, and more.
The governments of the UK, Germany and France have expressed ‘grave concern’ over Iran’s move to boost uranium enrichment to 60% in response to what Tehran says was an attack by Israel against its key nuclear facility at Natanz. The three European countries say the announcement is ‘particularly regrettable’ at a time when talks in Vienna have resumed, including the United States, to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. They also said this was showing Iran to be on the path to a nuclear weapon, adding, ‘Iran has no credible civilian need for enrichment at this level’.