Tag Archives: Germany

It’s Business As Usual in Saudi Arabia… And Other News

Saudi Arabia King

The King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, has died at the age of 90, weeks after being admitted to hospital with a lung infection.

His half brother and heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Salman, is 79 years old and is also in very poor health – meaning Saudi Arabia will be back in the same spot in a few years. Within hours of acceding to the throne, the newly appointed King Salman, vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors. “We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech on state TV. So… intolerance of free speech, gender discrimination and multiple beheadings? The Guardian

Hitler MustacheFurther proof it’s never a good idea to don a Hitler mustache: the head of the German anti-Islamisation movement Pegida has stepped down after a picture of him posing as Adolf Hitler went viral. In addition to the Hitler pose, Lutz Bachmann made some disparaging anti-refugee comments on Facebook in which he reportedly described immigrants as “cattle”, “scumbags” and “trash”. Pegida spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel said the anti-refugee comments went too far but the “Hitler” photo was totally fine and that it was a “joke” and “satire, which is every citizen’s right”. Nevertheless, the German government was not pleased. Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said: “Anyone in politics who poses as Hitler is either a total idiot or a Nazi. Reasonable people do not follow idiots, and decent people don’t follow Nazis.” Fair enough. BBC News 

Annual March For Life Protests 1973 Roe v. Wade Ruling In WashingtonYesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in which the US Supreme Court ruled women had the freedom to terminate a pregnancy if they desired, ending once and for all America’s abortion debate – minus the four decades of passionate debate that followed. Yesterday was no exception to the ongoing abortion fight. Anti-abortion protesters marched in Washington as the US House passed a bill to tighten restrictions on abortion. Although an earlier bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks was scrapped, the Republicans did manage to pass a more limited measure to forbid the use of taxpayer money for abortions. The White House has said it will veto the legislation – arguing it “unnecessarily restricts women’s reproductive freedom and consumers’ private insurance options” – making the whole thing a fruitless endeavour. But since the US is still sharply divided on the issue of abortion, with polls suggesting Americans are about evenly split four decades after the Roe v Wade, politicians and citizens alike will continue to squabble over the issue or years to come.  New York Times

Climate Change Senate 1The US Senate passed an amendment on Wednesday saying climate change is real and not a hoax – because the only way to decide if something is a scientific fact is by having politicians vote on it. The measure, stating that “climate change is real and is not a hoax”, passed by a margin of 98-1. The lone dissenter was Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi. Sigh… Although to Mississippi’s credit, their other state Senator, Thad Cochran, voted yes – possibly because he’s old enough to have witnessed all the cyclical trends since the last ice age. The whole climate science squabble broke out during debate over amendments to the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats wanted Republicans to admit that climate change is real and that human activity plays a role. But while Republicans were willing to admit that climate change isn’t a hoax, many refused to admit that human activity is a factor. Two other amendments (which needed 60 votes to pass) failed: “human activity significantly contributes to climate change” failed 50-49 and “human activity contributes to climate change” failed 59-40. Still, progress…? The Hill

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American Exchange Student Gets Trapped in Giant Vagina Statue

Trapped in Giant Vagina Statue

More than 20 firefighters stepped in to rescue a U.S. student trapped inside giant vagina statue in Germany.

So many questions: How did he get in? Why is there a giant vagina statue on a University campus? Will he be charged with statutory rape?

On Friday afternoon, a young American exchange student in Tübingen, Germany climbed into a 32-ton vagina statue as part of a dare. Before he knew it, he found himself trapped in a giant stone vagina surrounded by 20 firefighters, five fire engines, a number of paramedics and a bunch of gawking of students holding camera phones.

The firefighters had to deliver the American student (head-first, of course) to safety after his feet became trapped in the large marble sculpture. Police confirmed the rescue was successfully undertaken “by hand and without the use of equipment”. Ahh, the old pull-out method.

The “born again” student was unharmed by the incident but will forever be known as that foreign kid who got stuck in a stone vulva thanks to some camera ready friends who snapped a few incriminating pictures.

“The fire department was not really amused, and he was really embarrassed,” one witness said after he uploaded some pictures of his red-faced pal on Reddit.

The Chacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”. But in the 13 years the statue has sat outside the university’s institute for microbiology and virology, never once has someone become trapped inside the giant vulva – until last Friday. And that was when the Tübingen Unversity began to reconsider its American exchange program

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German Police Hunt Flamingo Killer

James's Flamingo

German police are racing to catch a killer responsible for the death of 15 flamingos at the Frankfurt Zoo, where some of the creatures were beheaded as they slept.

The flamingo killer(s) struck twice over the course of two nights. Zoo workers found nine of the pink birds’ mutilated bodies on Friday and six more on Saturday – even after security was beefed up following the first attack. Some of the birds appeared to be stabbed to death while others had their heads cut or torn off. Unfortunately (for the birds), flamingos don’t normally cry out when they’re being assaulted, so the guards weren’t alerted to the attacks.

The zoo director announced on Monday that autopsies were underway to figure out how the Chilean flamingos, which were each worth around $1500, were killed. The birds appeared to have animal bite marks on them, most likely from a fox – a very sly fox. But the bite marks could have been made post-mortem, so the zoo is not ruling out a human killer at this point – especially since it’s unlikely that a knife-wielding fox caused the stab wounds found on some of the birds.

In 2007, three flamingos at the same zoo died in a similar manner. The seven-year-old case, in which three of the birds’ heads had been torn from their bodies and a fourth bird was strangled, is still unresolved. So what we’re looking at here is a serial flamingo killer: The Flamingo Fumigator?

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Angela Merkel Breaks Her Pelvis Skiing

Angela Merkel Skiing

Two Germans down, more to go? A week after Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher slammed his head on a rock while skiing off-piste, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a pelvic fracture after falling during a cross-country ski trip.

While Schumacher’s injury sent the 45-year-old German into a medically induced coma while he fights for his life, Angela Merkel’s injury was a bit less severe. Merkel, 59, had been skiing “at low speeds” while on vacation in the Swiss Alps when she fell, cracking her pelvis.

Ski experts say cross-country skiing is much less dangerous than downhill – probably because the trails are flat and cross-country skiers go at the pace of snails…

“Without wanting to play down what happened to Mrs. Merkel, the chances of injury in cross-country skiing are slim compared to downhill,” said Michael Berner of Germany’s Foundation for Ski Safety. “Still, anyone who does cross-country skiing should learn to do it properly first and have a certain level of fitness.”

But apparently both types of skiing have the ability to knock out a German.

According to a chief government spokesman, the Chancellor will be out of commission for three weeks while her fractured pelvis heals. The doctor has ordered her to remain lying down as much as possible in the next three weeks and avoid any unnecessary trips.

Luckily, Merkel can just call up her personal masseuse, George W. Bush, and get another awkward rub down to aid her recovery.

Merkel Rub

Via: CBC News

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Turns Out Boob Jobs Aren’t The Best Christmas Gifts for 15-Year-Olds

Plastic Surgery Teenager 15-year-old

Germany’s new coalition government is working on a law banning cosmetic surgery for minors and warning people that breast enlargements aren’t appropriate Christmas gifts for 15-year-olds. Good to know. Now back to the drawng board!

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democrats are pushing for the law, which makes an exception for cosmetic procedures deemed “medically necessary,” in an attempt to protect the children from the media’s obsession with beauty as well as poorly qualified plastic surgeons. Basically, they’re trying to prevent youth from turning into little German Heidi Montags.

“Youth protection is also about protecting young people from the consequences of a wrong-headed beauty craze,” John Spahn, health spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union, said.

“Unnecessarily subjecting a young body, which is still growing, to such a significant procedure can have dire consequences, both physically and mentally.”

“I think it is completely unacceptable to give a 15-year-old a breast enlargement as a Christmas present.”

“Therefore plastic surgery that is not necessary on medical grounds should be banned.”

According to the Christian Democratic Union, around 10 percent of all plastic surgery operations in Germany are performed on people under 20. But the German Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons says it’s more like 1.16% – and most of them are just getting their ears pinned back.

Germany isn’t the first country to consider a ban on plastic surgery for minors. The Australian state of Queensland introduced a similar ban in 2008 and in 2009 Italy banned breast enhancements for patients under 18  – much to Silvio Berlusconi’s dismay. Over in the U.S, the FDA advises against breast implants for minors, but cosmetic surgery for children is legal with parental consent. Hence why Courtney Stodden had to stuff her bra with pillows until she turned 18…

Anyways, if you planned on getting the 15-year-old in your life a boob job for Christmas, you might want to reconsider it. Just pick her up a nice Walmart towel or something. I hear it’s the hottest toy this year…

Via: The Local

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Angela Merkel & Her Phone

Current Event Cat - Angela Merkel Phone Calls

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Obama on Wednesday to have an angry chat over allegations a German paper made about the U.S tapping her cell phone.

This is how the awkward conversation went (in my mind):

Angela Merkel: I am VERY upset with you President Obama!

Barack Obama: I know. You’ve been calling everyone and complaining about it for days. I mean… nevermind… no one was listening.

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, broke the story, which prompted German intelligence to investigate. They determined that there was enough plausible information that Merkel’s cell phone was targeted by the NSA to warrant a stern talking to. The German chancellor is said to be “livid” over the reports and we all know what happens when a German leader gets angry… they make an angry phone call.

Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement that Merkel told Obama that Germany “has received information that the chancellor’s cellphone may be monitored by American intelligence” and that such practices are “completely unacceptable.”

But the Obama administration is denying that the National Security Agency tapped Merkel’s phone and Obama assured the German chancellor over the phone that the U.S. is not monitoring her every text. Just every other text…

I don’t know… Given the recent reports about U.S spying activities in Brazil, France, and Mexico, it’s plausible that the U.S. has been tapping Angela Merkel’s phone. How else would George W. Bush have known that she wanted a back rub?

Merkel Bush Massage

Via: The Guardian

German Election: Four More Years of Merkel

Merkel

It’s good news and bad news for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The good news: The results of Sunday’s election are in and she won! The bad news: The results of Sunday’s election are in and she fell just short of a majority, which means… COALITION TALKS.

It was a big victory for Merkel, whose conservative bloc scored its best result in 23 years, winning 41.5 percent of the vote. But at the end of the day they were five seats short of a majority in the lower house. And since Merkel’s conservative government didn’t quite make the majority threshold, they will have to form a coalition government with her rivals. Her LEFTIST rivals!

Since Merkel’s partners of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats, won only 4.8 percent of the vote, effectively barring them from obtaining parliamentary seats, a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who won 25.7% of the vote, is seen as most likely – but it will take some hard bargaining. The Social Democrats are expected to play some good old fashioned hardball this time – demanding high profile cabinet posts and policy changes. Why? Their supporters are getting sick and tired of the party teaming up with Merkel -like they did in both 2005 and 2009. The SPD suffered a big drop in its electoral support in 2009 after their increasingly alienated base grew weary of always looking like the junior partner in Merkel’s coalition.

SPD leader Peer Steinbrueck clashed with Merkel during the lead up to the election, mainly over economic issues. The centre-left party argued for a national minimum wage and higher taxes on the wealthy and criticized Merkel’s economic austerity drive, saying Germany was too hard on its EU partners in southern Europe. Merkel disagrees, arguing that her election victory is proof that Germans are pro-austerity measures and anti-heavily indebted countries (Greece…).

At a news conference following her win Merkel said that “our European policy course will not change”.

So Merkel’s got her work cut out for her… but she’s got some time – several weeks of negotiations are expected before a new government is formed.

On the bright side, at least she’s still able to govern after winning 41.5% of the vote. I know a certain environmentalist who got the boot after winning the popular vote… damn electoral colleges.

Via: The National Post

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Nuclear Cutbacks

Current Event Cat - Nuclear Cuts

President Barrack Obama has called for major nuclear cutbacks for both the United States and Russia.

Remember back in the day, shortly after his inauguration in 2009, when Obama said he wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons? Well, four and a half years later, he’s remembered that promise. During his public speech in Berlin, Obama proposed reductions in the number of tactical warheads deployed in Europe.

Standing at the Brandenburg Gate, which once divided East and West Germany, 50 years after John F Kennedy’s celebrated “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, Obama told the crowd:

“Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity, that struggle goes on.”

“We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.”

Obama called on the Russian government in particular to join the U.S. in cutting the number of strategic nuclear warheads it deploys – by one third. Not sure if Putin will be ‘putin up’ with this, especially given their disagreements over Syria at the G8 summit. But Putin did sign Obama’s New Start treaty in 2010, which stipulated that each side is allowed a maximum of 1,550 warheads and no more than 700 deployed launchers – so you never know.

Other topics Obama wanted to talk about in his Berlin speech: the president gave the crowd the usual “I WILL close Guantanamo Bay spiel, threw in a shout out to climate change, and went on the defensive about the recent NSA scandal.

The Germans tend to love Obama, but they love privacy more so the NSA scandal was particularly troubling to them. So Obama took some time to try and quell their concerns about his administration’s intentions with the recently revealed NSA spying program.

“This is not a situation in which we are rifling through the ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anybody else,” Obama insisted. “This is not a situation where we simply go into the Internet and start searching any way we want. This is a circumscribed system directed at us being able to protect our people, and all of it is done under the oversight of the courts.”

And to boot: the surveillance programs in questions helped thwart 50 attacks since 2001. Take that Edward Snowden!

Via: Current Event Cats & BBC News

Germany Says Goodbye to Graffiti and Hello to Drones

Graffiti No More

Not to be outdone by America’s anti-terrorist (and sometimes anti-civilian) drones, Germany has introduced anti-graffiti drones.

If Germany’s biggest problem is graffiti, then I’d say they’re doing okay. But for Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, okay is not enough! The railway is not happy with the amount of graffiti being sprayed on its property. The solution (which is in no way an overreaction)? Drones!

The company plans to test small drones with infra-red cameras to collect evidence needed to prosecute graffiti artists who deface railway property in the darkest hours of the night. Apparently graffiti costs Deutsche Bahn almost 8 million euros a year. And the drones? Each one will cost around 60,000 euros.

But not so fast Deutsche Bahn! Germany has very strict anti-surveillance laws and privacy is a very sensitive issue among the German folk. If they objected to Google Street View, they probably won’t be too pleased with flying surveillance cameras.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman tried to reassure everyone that its drones would only be used in big depots where vandals enter at night and spray-paint carriages. So unless you are a night-time railway graffiti artist, the drones won’t really care about you. But if you are a night-time railway graffiti artist, the drones will identify you with their sophisticated infra-red sensors and you will go to jail.

Sounds like Germany will have to pull an Obama and weigh the pros and cons of drone use. Except, instead of increased terrorist attacks vs. civilian casualties, it will be annoying graffiti vs. angry privacy loving Germans.

Via: BBC News

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