Looking back, the events of September 2015 seem strangely unreal. Hundreds of Germans gathered at Munich’s central station to applaud incoming refugees. A smiling Merkel posed for selfies with Syrians at asylum-seeker homes, and ordinary Germans opened their doors for “welcome dinners”. I remember feeling both excited and a little nervous. Something extraordinary was happening and we were there to witness it first-hand ... Germany is [now] bitterly divided on the refugee question. Neighbours and families are divided. The poisonous atmosphere has been fuelled by rightwing hatemongers. But the adherents of the Willkommenskultur, in my view, are also to blame. Where did it all go wrong?Konstantin Richter writes in the Guardian on the fate of Germany's Willkommenskultur towards Syrian refugees. [more inside]
Piratenpartei MEP Julia Reda’s draft report on copyright (pdf) has been heavily criticized by former Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter (previously).
Don't believe France's reputation as a country where sexual peccadillos are always overlooked. After a vote by the country's National Assembly on Wednesday, it has just joined a growing group of European nations where buying sex is now illegal. France is not alone in its fresh efforts to curb prostitution. The move follows similar bans in Sweden and Norway, while other European countries are also scaling back laissez-faire prostitution policies. Germany is poised to change its liberal sex trade laws, while Ireland is also debating a measure similar to France's. Is the end of legal prostitution in Europe in sight?
(Don't miss the deep and interesting links found within the article.)[more inside]
Immigrant boat headed to Italy, capsizes, more than 200 people in the water. A little more than a week after a boat sinking that killed over 300 people, the Italian navy has reported another boat is sinking. As refugees flow into the EU, looking for asylum, countries are torn between saving lives and stymieing the flow of people pouring into countries already under strain from austerity. [more inside]
Madiha Tahir, a journalist and PhD candidate, presents a transcript of her interaction with NSA staff who came to recruit at the summer language program where she is studying. "I had intended to go simply to hear how the NSA is recruiting at a moment when it’s facing severe challenges," says Tahir. Recruiters apparently discussed their "fun" after work, doing karaoke, having costume parties, and getting drunk. One of their slides asked the language students at the event "Are you good at manipulating people?" In the Q&A, Tahir and other students held their feet to the fire over surveillance of Germany and other EU countries.
"[Peer Steinbrück, the chancellor-candidate] is a good man, with quite a bold programme for ‘social justice’. Tax increases for the better-off, a proper minimum wage, dual citizenship for immigrants, less elbowing individualism and more solidarity in a society where das Wir entscheidet – ‘it’s the we that counts.’ The German public, surprisingly, mostly agree that increasing taxes is a sound idea. What they resent is that the idea comes from the SPD. In the same way, the Augsburg programme is widely thought to make sense, but the voters don’t fancy Peer Steinbrück. They are pissed off with Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but reluctant to let go of Mutti’s hand. In short, the public are in one of those sullen, unreasonable moods which make politicians despair." The LRB reports from Germany. [via]
The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
"For the Germans the euro isn’t just a currency. It’s a device for flushing the past—another Holocaust Memorial. " Vanity Fair's Michael Lewis checks in with Europe's savior.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt.
Deutschland, Deutschland Europa, Europa über alles, Über alles in der Welt!
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt.