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Posts Tagged ‘Germany

German cabinet agrees on $11.75/hr minimum wage

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Demonstration by Confederation of German Trade Unions for minimum wage

Germany’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.75) per hour – a flagship project for the Social Democrats who share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The minimum wage will take effect in Europe’s biggest economy from 2015 but will not cover minors, trainees and some interns. Some employers can continue to pay their workers less until the end of 2016 if they are covered by certain collective agreements…

The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to debate the law in June before passing it in July. The Bundesrat upper house is expected to wave it through after the summer break.

Employer lobbies say blah, blah, blah.

Of the 28 states in the European Union, 21 have minimum wages. EU states without minimum wages tend to have smaller low-wage sectors than Germany and a bigger proportion of their workers are covered by collective wage deals between unions and employers.

Then, we have the United States where our courageous Democrats are considered too radical for Republicans and the rest of the right-wing crowd for offering a proposal that wouldn’t match inflation since the last update years ago – by the time the change took place. Assuming it ever gets past the Party of No in Congress.

Just one more moment to look back over the half-century or so since the end of WW2 and consider our victory in the War in Europe and what the losers have achieved compared to the winners.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 2, 2014 at 8:00 am

Pic of the Day

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Click to enlargePhoto/Rumpenhorst

Mother and daughter, Opelzoo in Kronberg, Germany

Written by Ed Campbell

January 8, 2014 at 2:00 am

Uh, which way does your dog face when (s)he poops?

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Apparently true even for very, very big dogs

Dogs have been found to be sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field, and apparently align themselves along the magnetic north-south axis before they defecate.

Czech and German researchers studied 70 dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that when the Earth’s magnetic field was stable the dogs chose to align themselves with it. When it was unstable, such as during a solar flare, the dogs would become confused.

Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, show that the dogs were sensitive to the polarity of the field, though not as much to its intensity.

Dogs on leashes, however, do not consistently align themselves as such, mainly doing so when they are free to choose. Researchers are yet to figure out why dogs exhibit this preference.

Other animals have been found to exhibit similar behavior. Many of the scientists who worked on this study had previously researched similar behavior seen in common carps. They found that the common carp also used geomagnetic lines to align themselves in a north-south direction…

I was sufficiently bemused by this article to go and check on Sheila’s favorite pooping spots. Where she goes to poop when solo around Lot 4 – not when on an official walk with her people.

Sure enough, just about all of her poops are laid out along a north-south axis.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Cache of art looted by the Nazis discovered in Munich

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Reproduction of Picasso’s “Guernica” – homage to civilians killed in 1930′s deliberate air strikes

A collection of 1,500 artworks confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s has been found in the German city of Munich…

The trove is believed to include works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall…

Some of the works were declared as degenerate by the Nazis, while others were stolen from or forcibly sold for a pittance by Jewish art collectors.

If confirmed, it would be one of the largest recoveries of looted art…Investigators put the value of the works at about one billion euros, Focus magazine said.

The magazine said the artworks were found by chance in early 2011, when the tax authorities investigated Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of an art dealer in Munich.

He was suspected of tax evasion, and investigators obtained a search warrant for his home in Munich…There, they found the cache of some 1,500 artworks which had vanished from sight during the Nazi era.

The younger Mr Gurlitt had kept the works in darkened rooms and sold the occasional painting when he needed money, Focus reports…

There are international warrants out for at least 200 of the works, Focus reports. The collection is being held in a secure warehouse in Munich for the time being.

Nazis considered most modern art as degenerate, especially if the artist was Jewish or anti-fascist. Not that the habit of destroying artwork, books or music has disappeared from the repertoire of the hate-filled and ignorant.

This creep apparently considered the cache of stolen art to be his own private trust fund.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

US started bugging Angela Merkel’s phone in 2002

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The US has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone since 2002, according to a report in Der Spiegel magazine…The German publication claims to have seen secret documents from the National Security Agency which show Mrs Merkel’s number on a list dating from 2002 – before she became chancellor.

Her number was still on a surveillance list in 2013…

The nature of the monitoring of Mrs Merkel’s mobile phone is not clear from the files, Der Spiegel says.

For example, it is possible that the chancellor’s conversations were recorded, or that her contacts were simply assessed.

Germany is sending its top intelligence chiefs to Washington in the coming week to “push forward” an investigation into the spying allegations, which have caused outrage in Germany…

A close ally of Mrs Merkel told the BBC that she was personally very hurt by the idea of being spied on by American friends.

The chancellor is said to be shocked that Washington may have engaged in the sort of spying that she had to deal with while growing up in Communist East Germany…

A unit called Special Collection Services, based in the US embassy in Pariser Platz in Berlin, was responsible for monitoring communications in the German capital’s government quarter…

Similar units were based in around 80 locations worldwide, according to the documents seen by Der Spiegel, 19 of them in European cities.

With friends like this, Angela Merkel doesn’t really need enemies, now, does she?

Just for shits and giggles – think about the public relations types, the soothers, smoothers and spin doctors who front for the array of professional politicians infesting what could be a simple federal bureaucracy functioning on behalf of the people of this nation. They’re trying to come up with new excuses every week for the previous week’s lies – because all the crud Ed Snowden walked away with gets another release from one or another of the few newspapers with the courage to print the truth, every week.

Consider that if George W was bugging Merkel’s phone, he certainly agreed to do the same to Gerhard Schröder, then chancellor, and Joschka Fischer, leader of the Green Party. Although it’s always fun to note that American conservatives never seem to trust anyone to be conservative enough – especially them furriners.

And another lie is revealed. And another.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

Pic of the Day

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Click to enlargeFerdinand Ostrop/AP

A flock of cranes flies past the rising moon in Nauen near Berlin, Germany. The cranes rest in the wetlands west of Berlin on their way from breeding places in the north to their wintering grounds in the south.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 27, 2013 at 2:00 am

Pic of the Day

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Click to enlargeMatthias Nein /AFP/Getty Images

Geese at the Landi GmbH poultry farm are driven to their barn in Veckenstedt, Germany. Roast goose is a traditional Christmas dinner in Germany.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 25, 2013 at 2:00 am

Ancient DNA unravels Europe’s genetic diversity

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Ancient DNA recovered from a time series of skeletons in Germany spanning 4,000 years of prehistory has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern-day Europeans.

The study…reveals dramatic population changes with waves of prehistoric migration, not only from the accepted path via the Near East, but also from Western and Eastern Europe.

The research was a collaboration between the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA…researchers from the University of Mainz, the State Heritage Museum in Halle, Germany, and National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project. The teams used mitochondrial DNA extracted from bone and teeth samples from 364 prehistoric human skeletons ‒ ten times more than previous ancient DNA studies.

“This is the largest and most detailed genetic time series of Europe yet created, allowing us to establish a complete genetic chronology,” says joint-lead author Dr Wolfgang Haak of ACAD. “Focussing on this small but highly important geographic region meant we could generate a gapless record, and directly observe genetic changes in ‘real-time’ from 7,500 to 3,500 years ago, from the earliest farmers to the early Bronze Age.”

“Our study shows that a simple mix of indigenous hunter-gatherers and the incoming Near Eastern farmers cannot explain the modern-day diversity alone,” says joint-lead author Guido Brandt, PhD candidate at the University of Mainz. “The genetic results are much more complex than that. Instead, we found that two particular cultures at the brink of the Bronze Age 4,200 years ago had a marked role in the formation of Central Europe’s genetic makeup.”

Professor Kurt Alt (University of Mainz) says: “What is intriguing is that the genetic signals can be directly compared with the changes in material culture seen in the archaeological record. It is fascinating to see genetic changes when certain cultures expanded vastly, clearly revealing interactions across very large distances.” These included migrations from both Western and Eastern Europe towards the end of the Stone Age…

Dr Haak says: “None of the dynamic changes we observed could have been inferred from modern-day genetic data alone, highlighting the potential power of combining ancient DNA studies with archaeology to reconstruct human evolutionary history.”

Fascinating stuff. Work which wouldn’t have been at all practical a decade or so back in time.

My personal pleasure was taking part in an early National Geographic DNA track of my patriarchal DNA from Africa through the steppes of Central Asia to Scotland – perfectly in line with the research of Gerhard Herm and his anthropological history of “The Celts”.

Capabilities are advanced enough that I may try an updated go-round with NatGeo.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 11, 2013 at 2:00 am

Millions of Reichsmarks found in time capsule hidden in organ

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More than half a billion German Reichsmarks were discovered in a time capsule from 1930 hidden inside an organ in Norway.

According to a note found in the time capsule, it was placed in the organ by August Sieber, an organ builder from Bavaria, on January 8, 1930, The Local.no reported Friday.

It was then recently found in the organ at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, while the organ was being restored.

“The letter and the money weren’t even discovered in 1962, when people from Steinmeyer were in Trondheim to move the organ from the north transept to the west transept, Per Fridtjov Bonsaksen, who is overseeing the restoration, told Adressavisen.

Twelve banknotes were included in the capsule, including one for five hundred million Reichsmarks.

The note was “a bitter and emotional greeting,” Bonsaksen said, warning future generations of hyperinflation.

The report did not say what the money would be worth today.

Nice illustration of the differing cultural/historic reasons for diametrically opposed approaches to working a nation out of the bowels of recession. After World War 1 the Weimar Republic in Germany experienced inflation so severe it wasn’t uncommon for someone to need a wheelbarrow to carry sufficient money to go grocery shopping.

Now, the factors are sufficiently different from anything experienced then, context as well as causes, to give many of us in the New World pause and consider Angela Markel and her peers a little nutso. Still, this find certainly shows what her grandparents, perhaps her parents went through. And never forgot.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

Merkel wins 3rd term – her rightwing allies crash

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Official results confirm that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have won Germany’s election, but indicate that they have finished short of an absolute majority.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party together won 41.5 percent of the vote, while its junior coalition allies the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) for the first time in over half a century missed out on any seats in parliament, garnering only 4.8 percent.

Challenger Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats won 25.7 percent, their Green allies 8.4 percent and the hard-line Left Party 8.6 percent.

Election officials didn’t immediately provide a seat tally, but Merkel’s conservatives are 1.2 percentage points behind the other parties combined.

“I see the next four years in front of me and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world,” Merkel said during a television appearance with other party leaders.

Despite the scale of her win, governing isn’t likely to get easier for Merkel over the next four years.

Her partners of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats, fell short of the 5 percent needed to win seats in parliament for the first time in Germany’s post-World War II history…

Although anecdotal evidence suggested strong voter participation – officials at two polling stations said turnout was higher than in 2009 – Sunday’s election seemed to be a low-energy affair. Aside from the ubiquitous election posters, few visual cues suggested that this was a special day.

I wonder how independent and young voters went. Germany appears to be following the American model of TweedleDeeDum political parties. A couple of wings of the same boring, timid corporate flunkies.

It’s useful to see the dregs of Germany’s post-War right wing floundering; but, again, I look forward to detailed analysis of campaigns waged – and how successfully – by the minor parties with a commitment to workingclass voters.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

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