Category بلومبرگ

The German NGO behind Alexei Navalny’s rescue

Alexei Navalny’s evacuation from Siberia was organized by Berlin-based NGO the Cinema for Peace Foundation. Since 2002, it’s drawn support from major Hollywood stars.

Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny was flown from Omsk to Berlin for medical treatment on Saturday aboard a plane arranged by the Cinema for Peace Foundation.

The 44-year-old was in a coma after a suspected poisoning, although Russian doctors put his illness down to a possible blood sugar disorder. 

The founder of the NGO behind his evacuation, Jaka Bizilj, said private donations had paid for the flight — a Bombardier Challenger chartered by a Nuremberg-based firm — as well as for the medical staff on board.

Read more: Alexei Navalny: A Russian dissident battles Kremlin, Putin

‘Very expensive’ at short notice 

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German Catholic Church decides on new compensation model for abuse victims

The Conference of German Catholic bishops has announced plans to compensate abuse victims up to €50,000 each. Much more than the previous average payout, but much less than survivors had hoped for.

A statement by the Conference of German Catholic Bishops revealed new plans on Thursday to pay survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests compensation of up to €50,000 ($58,000).

Read more: Germany: Over 1,400 youths accuse Catholic religious orders of sexual abuse

The compensation consists of a one-off payment for each affected individual as determined by an independent decision-making body, the chair of the Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, announced in the central German city of Fulda.

Victims will also be able to request that costs for individual or couples therapy be pai...

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Dieselgate: Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn charged with market manipulation

A German court has ruled that Winterkorn must stand trial on a second set of “dieselgate” charges. Earlier this month the former VW CEO and four others were charged over their alleged roles in the emissions scandal.

A German court began proceedings against former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn on Thursday, to ascertain whether he is guilty of market manipulation as part of the carmaker’s emissions scandal.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Winterkorn would stand trial over the car giant’s “dieselgate” scandal, which involved using software known as “defeat devices” to ensure the vehicles performed better in emissions tests than they would in real-world running.

Now Winterkorn faces additional charges for failing “to inform the capital markets in good time&#...

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Berlin gentrification debate flares over Norwegian billionaire’s investment

Berlin residents are worried that billionaire property developer Ivar Tollefsen is buying up thousands of apartments. His company Heimstaden claims it will work with the community, but won’t sign a pledge saying so.

Berlin residents and anti-gentrification campaigners are banding together to counter the threat of a billionaire investor buying up vast tracts of real estate in the German capital.

Undaunted by the newly enforced rent cap in the city, Swedish company Heimstaden Bostad, owned by Norwegian billionaire Ivar Tollefsen, announced this week that it intends to buy 130 Berlin buildings containing 3,902 apartments, 208 commercial units and 321 parking spaces for around €830 million ($975 million).

The outrage was immediate in Berlin, a city that is in an ongoing battle with large-s...

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Homophobia in German politics: How things have changed

The fight for equality for homosexuals in Germany is long and arduous. Despite progress, an interview with a leading conservative politician of Angela Merkel’s party indicates that prejudice against gays still exists.

Whether he would have any reservations about a gay chancellor, that was the question put to Friedrich Merz, a prominent politician of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), in an interview with mass-circulation tabloid Bild last weekend.

“No,” Merz replied, before adding: “On the question of sexual orientation, that is none of the public’s business. As long as it is within the law and as long as it does not concern children — that’s when I feel the absolute limit has been reached.”

Why, critics ask, did the former parliamentary leader of the CDU immediately mention t...

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German court jails sect leader for murder of 4-year-old

The now 73-year-old woman has been found guilty of killing a young child 32 years ago. She claims the victim was the “reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.”

A court in the central German city of Hanau on Thursday sentenced a 73-year-old woman to life in prison for the torture and murder of a four-year-old child. The crime toook place 32 years ago.

The woman had been the leader of a sect, of which the boy’s family was a part, when she committed the crime.

“It is chilling to hear about the things that happened inside your community,” said presiding judge Peter Grassmück during sentencing. “We have never experienced anything like it before.”

The prosecution stated that her motivation for the murder had been to strengthen her position within the group...

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German court quashes ban on mosque’s call to prayer

The call to prayer had been banned after a Christian couple complained that it intruded on their religious freedoms. The court ruled that the call to prayer did not violate the rights of those who heard it.

A court in the western German city of Münster on Wednesday ruled that a local mosque is permitted to perform its Friday call to prayer. It follows an appeal by the town of Oer-Erkenschwick against the prior decision to revoke the mosque’s permission.

“Every society must accept that one will sometimes be aware that others exercise their faith,” said presiding judge Annette Kleinschnittger.

A previous court ruling had ordered the mosque to cease its weekly call to prayer in 2018 after a local Christian couple, who lived about a kilometer away from the mosque, made a complaint, invoking...

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Germany: Hacker goes on trial for spying on politicians

A hacker who tormented German politicians for over three years has had his first day in court, albeit behind closed doors. He faces charges of data theft, spying and blackmail.

A 22-year old man stood trial in the German state of Hesse on Wednesday, accused of having illegally obtained and shared the personal data of several politicians and prominent figures.

The case garnered national attention when the suspect was arrested in January 2019, triggering discussions about possible harsher sentencing.

The session took place behind closed doors due to the fact that the accused was not legally an adult when the crime occurred.

Read more: Top 10 mistakes that make life easy for cyber-criminals

A litany of data crimes

The man was charged with data spying, theft and falsification, as well as b...

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German Foreign Minister Maas in coronavirus quarantine as a precaution

Heiko Maas has gone into isolation after a member of his security team tested positive for COVID-19. The Foreign Ministry said that his first test on Wednesday came back negative.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry in Berlin said on Wednesday that Heiko Maas was self-isolating as a precaution after a security staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Maas’ first COVID-19 test since learning of this came back negative, the ministry said.

A spokeswoman at the ministry said that other affected individuals had also been contacted, and the ministry had sought advice on further steps it might take from health authorities. The ministry was also trying to ascertain if there were other potential contacts it needed to reach.

More to follow…

msh/wmr (AFP, dpa)

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Germany tells UK to ‘stop playing games’ on Brexit

Germany has told Britain that its threat to break international law when it leaves the Customs Union next year is unacceptable. Europe Minister Michael Roth said time was running out. 

German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said Britain’s plans to override, or at least give itself the scope to override part of the deal it made with the EU in December, jeopardized the chance of a post-Brexit trade deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing ahead with legislation to bypass the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. His government says it is necessary to prevent disruption to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, but admits that using the powers might breach international law in a “limited and specific way.”

“Dear friends in London: Stop the games...

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