Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Anniversaries: Berlin Wall fall – 25 years, Kristallnacht -76 years

November 9, 2014

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was something I watched unfold, live, on TV 25 years ago. And it is surely something to be remembered and celebrated.

But tonight is also the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938 when the Nazis went on their rampage against Jews throughout Germany and Austria and East Prussia. That needs no celebration but it does need to be remembered.

And without Kristallnacht there would have been no Cold War and no Berlin Wall.

Kristallnacht: Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The Times wrote at the time: “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.”

The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany’s broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust.

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Germany needs to dump the profligate Energiewende

October 22, 2014

The German economy is export driven.

As long as Greece and Spain and the weaker Euro zone countries were holding back the value of the Euro, German exports and its economy boomed. Unemployment reached extremely low levels. There was a shortage of qualified labour. But now the German economy is stagnating and the high cost for energy, resulting from the misguided, self-mutilating Energiewende, is one of the chief contributors. The total cost to German consumers and German industry is comparable to the bailouts of the weak Eurozone countries. For no benefit.

Der Spiegel (2013): German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. But because the government is failing to get the costs of its new energy policy under control, rising prices are already on the horizon. Electricity is becoming a luxury good in Germany, and one of the country’s most important future-oriented projects is acutely at risk. …..

….. For society as a whole, the costs have reached levels comparable only to the euro-zone bailouts. This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.

How the Energiewende has increased German electricity price graphic notrickszone

These are unsustainable costs. Industries dependent on high electricity consumption have found it increasingly difficult to compete against the lower electricity costs especially in the US. Investment and jobs have started shifting to areas with lower operating costs.

WSJ (sep 2014):

The project is the linchpin of Germany’s Energiewende, or energy revolution, a mammoth, trillion-euro plan to wean the country off nuclear and fossil fuels by midcentury and the top domestic priority of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But many companies, economists and even Germany’s neighbors worry that the enormous cost to replace a currently working system will undermine the country’s industrial base and weigh on the entire European economy. Germany’s second-quarter GDP decline of 0.6%, reported earlier this month, put a damper on overall euro-zone growth, leaving it flat for the quarter.

Average electricity prices for companies have jumped 60% over the past five years because of costs passed along as part of government subsidies of renewable energy producers. Prices are now more than double those in the U.S.

Now the business climate is sharply down, orders are falling and costs are still increasing.

Graphic: German Economy Weakens.

Der Spiegel (Oct 2014)The problem, though, is that Europe’s motor is losing steam, with a slew of bad news about the German economy in recent weeks. The latest business climate index published by the respected Munich economic think tank Ifo, which is considered to be a reliable early indicator, fell for the fifth straight month in September to its lowest level in almost a year and a half. Furthermore, German factory orders are down and exports are collapsing. And last week, the country’s leading economic research institutes issued downward revisions of their economic forecasts for this year and next.

Merkel’s new government have been on a give-away spree and that has not helped. Now finding funds to spur investment is becoming increasingly difficult. Meanwhile the ludicrous subsidies for renewable energy continue to drain the economy. The Energiewende is profligate, has no measurable benefits and has only led to more coal being burnt.

At the very beginning of its term, Merkel’s current government approved an expensive package of what amounted to pension gifts for women and older workers that is now consuming up to €9 billion a year in public finances. In their autumn economic forecast released last week, the country’s leading economic think tanks warned that the German government has “already given away a substantial amount of its room for maneuver.”

Compounding the problem is that measures taken by the government — a coalition of Merkel’s CDU and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) — are contributing to weak growth. The think tanks predict that projects undertaken by the coalition, including allowing people to retire at the age of 63 and the introduction of Germany’s first-ever national minimum wage, will cause around 300,000 jobs a year to disappear. The CDU and SPD haven’t done much to fuel investments to counter that trend either. Interest rates in Germany may be lower than they’ve ever been before, but few companies have plans to build new factories or buy additional heavy machinery, they warn. The report states that while the many international crises do play a role — from the Middle East to Ukraine — homegrown factors do as well, especially the hostile environment created by (the government’s) economic policies.”

In Poland a different kind of energy revolution is taking place. Two new nuclear plants are being planned. Shale gas development is inevitable but is being hampered by the environmentalists. So more coal is being burned as in Germany.

The world has more to gain from a Germany with a strong economy exporting its excellent products. The pointless and profligate Energiewende needs to be dumped. Germans and Germany and the world are paying the price of pointless political correctness.

Abu Ghraib in Burbach

September 29, 2014

UPDATE at end of post.

It is not difficult to imagine that another Hitler could arise somewhere in the world. Demagoguery allied to unfulfilled aspirations of the majority and an identifiable minority to be blamed could well lead to history repeating itself. The barbarism that humans are still capable of – demonstrated so well in the Middle East – could easily be harnessed by some new prophetic demagogue. There are some in Europe (especially Eastern Europe) who still believe that the Roma are not to be considered human. There are still those who think that Africans or Muslims or tribal peoples are not human. One would expect though that if another Hitler could rise again it would only happen far away from Germany. There is still a sense of collective shame and regret – in my opinion from my time living there – that ordinary people turned a blind eye then to the vicious goings on that they may have suspected but did not want to see.

When Abu Ghraib and the animal-like behaviour of supposedly well-trained US troops came to light it was put down to a few rotten apples and the world moved on. It was after all a theatre of war we were told. But the idea that some humans could be classified by other humans as being non-human is still possible – even in Germany. The urge to abuse, hurt and humiliate the “others” seems to lie well within the behavioural envelope of modern humans. Even now and even with Hitler in their history, in the pretty little town of Burbach in the western part of Germany.

Gewalt auf Flüchtlinge

Germany’s Abu Ghraib in Burbach — Deutsche Welle

Deutsche Welle:

German authorities are investigating at least two male security staff for apparent abuse of asylum seekers in their care in a special housing facility in Burbach. The suspects filmed and photographed their own actions on their mobile phones, investigators released one such image to the press on Sunday.

“These are pictures that most of us would associate with Guantanamo Bay,” said the police chief in nearby Hagen, Frank Richter, referring to the US prison camp in Cuba. “Both security guards are grinning.”

In the photo, an asylum seeker is shown lying on the floor, the boot of one man pinning his neck down. Another colleague is knelt beside the victim, seemingly posing for the camera. Some drew parallels with the images of US soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners at the British Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004. …..

The senior public prosecutor in nearby Siegen, Johannes Daheim, described one of the videos as disturbing. “There, a man is sitting on a filthy mattress covered in vomit, and is forced to lie down,” Daheim said. “It’s disturbing, when one imagines that these people have come to us from other countries, having already suffered from violence. They are seeking protection here, and are then subjected to such a situation. This only serves to worsen their trauma.” …..

WDR reported that the suspects worked for a private security company called European Homecare, one of the main operators of asylum seeker facilities in Germany.

This behaviour is not unique to Germany.

It also seems that when detention and imprisonment and deportations and the like are outsourced to private companies – where the key performance indicator is the throughput of human bodies – there is a greater possibility of such behaviour surfacing. For example, private security companies in the UK also run prisons and detention facilities and have also been accused of mistreating and humiliating detainees. Private companies running elderly healthcare have also come in for criticism. European Homecare is a family run company operating in Germany, Austria and Ireland and is even in receipt of some EU funds. They make a great thing about their values (no doubt written by a PR person) which now ring a little hollow:

The focus of our services are people in difficult circumstances who rely on our social, management and intercultural competence. In close collaboration with public as well as private institutions (NGOs and support groups) European Homecare provides social and facility management services to facilitate the daily life of people in need.

UPDATE!

It would seems to a sub-contractor (SKI Security) to the contractor (European Homecare) which is implicated at Burbach and also in incidents at an asylum centre in Essen

The Local:

……. TV broadcaster Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR) reported on a further case of violence against another asylum seeker at a reception centre in Essen. Investigations have started there into three allegations of grevious bodily harm.

Journalists said that they had a copy of a medical report detailing the man’s injuries. That reception centre is run by the same security firm which was in charge of the Burbach facility, Nuremberg-based firm SKI Security.

The Burbach reception centre is managed by an Essen-based firm called European Homecare which says on its website it has 20 years experience in managing accommodation for asylum seekers. European Homecare subcontracted security to SKI and police are investigating SKI employees in both Burbach and Essen.

According to WDR, two of the four security guards being investigated for abuse at the Burbach site were known to police for past offences including bodily harm and drug offences. But SKI said in a statement on Monday that all of its employees were qualified and vetted in accordance with national guidelines.

“The reported incidents are vile. We are supporting the police and prosecutors who are investigating the identified suspects,” the company said. 

European Homecare CEO Sascha Korte said on Monday the company was “concerned and shocked” that such abuses could have happened. “I’m stunned and ashamed that such assaults have taken place,” he added.

 

Blitzkrieg on the football field – Superblitzingsmarticrushingvirtuosity

July 9, 2014

Brazil 1 – Germany 7

The match: Rout, embarrassment, master-class, depressing, exhilarating, staggering, bewildering, astonishing, awesome, disaster, historic, crazy, unbelievable, blitzed, farce …….

Germany: Rampant, masterful, ruthless, spectacular, skillful, superb, organised, brilliant, fast, memorable, unprecedented, clinical, triumphant, virtuoso, smart ……

Brazil: Crushed, humiliated, crumbled, swamped, shell-shocked, disgraced, heart-broken, dismantled, thrashed, shameful, farcical…..

There is a shortage of words and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious will not do.

Superblitzingsmarticrushingvirtuosity perhaps.

(super-blitzing-smarti-crushing-virtuosity)

Japanese right-wingers continue to try and rewrite history

February 4, 2014

Victors write history.

But almost 70 years after the end of the Second World War the militaristic faction of the Japanese right-wing are still in a state of denial about the result. Their attempts to rewrite history – especially the actions and behaviour of the Japanese military in China – have never ceased but have never before had much impact or much support even within Japan. The Nanjing massacre and the use of comfort women by the military in occupied territories are often downplayed or even denied by the revisionists. But now there is a rightist party in government which is in tacit agreement with many of these extreme views.The most potent symbol for the militaristic and nationalistic heritage in Japan is the Yasakuni shrine. As Mark Selden writes

Japan’s Yasukuni problem is inseparable from the fact that nationalism is the dominant ideology of our era. …… In the postwar, with Japan at peace and occupied by US forces, the shrine has played a role in structuring how the war is remembered and presented to the Japanese people. It did so within a framework crafted by the occupation authorities who exonerated the emperor of all responsibility for initiating or waging war. ….. Not only would the emperor not be deposed or tried as a war criminal, he would be shielded even from testifying at the Tokyo Trial. The verdict at Tokyo, sentencing Tojo and a small number of prominent military and government officials to death, as well as the convictions of thousands of soldiers and police officials tried in B and C class tribunals, in leaving untouched Japan’s supreme wartime leader, essentially absolved the Japanese people of the responsibility to examine their own behavior in the era of colonialism and war. For these reasons, the US as well as Japan ultimately shares responsibility for resolving issues of war responsibility that it helped to create, including those associated with the emperor and with Yasukuni Shrine. 

Emperor Hirohito at the Yasakuni shrine 1935

Emperor Hirohito at the Yasakuni shrine 1935

Just a month ago the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasakuni Shrine to honour the convicted war criminals enshrined there.

BBCWhatever Shinzo Abe says, any visit to the Yasakuni shrine by a Japanese prime minister is deeply political and sure to cause offence. In the 1960s and 70s, the spirits of scores of convicted Japanese war criminals were “enshrined” there. The most controversial were the 14 “Class A” war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, who were “enshrined” in the late 1970s. These men were the ones who ordered and oversaw Japan’s brutal war in China and South East Asia. …..

…… Close observers of the Japanese prime minister say he is at heart a nationalist and a historical revisionist. He believes the trials that convicted Japan’s wartime leaders were “victors’ justice”. His own grandfather Nobusuke Kishi served in the war cabinet and was arrested by the Americans on suspicion of being a Class A war criminal. He was later released without charge.

School text books are now beginning to downplay or remain silent about Japanese atrocities (not that they have ever been fully accepting of their occurrence or of Japanese responsibility). Now this revisionism is spreading to the national broadcaster NHK and again with some support from the government.

JapanDailyPressThe Japanese public broadcasting firm NHK is under fire again as another senior manager sparked controversy over his comments denying any massacre from happening in the Nanjing province of China in 1930s. Naoki Hyakuta, member of the 12-man management committee for programming policy and budget-setting, denied reports of rape and murder by Japanese troops in China during 1937-38, shrugging it off as “propaganda.” …… 

…. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga justified the right-wing novelist’s statements, saying that he is entitled to his opinions. Speaking to the press, he said that he is aware of the reports “but has learnt (expressing personal views) doesn’t violate the Broadcast Law.” Fears of the broadcasting firm molding into PM Abe’s nationalist policy are starting to circulate with Hyakuta’s comments following new chief Katsuto Momii’s statements last month about the use of “comfort women,” or sexual slaves, being a normal practice during wartime, with many other nations doing the same.

Jan 31, 2014:The already embattled new chief of NHK is set to face a Diet committee today on claims that his comments about the “comfort women” system of World War II can be considered “political interferance.”  ……. Katsuto Momii will be grilled by the Parliament over his statement during his first press conference as the new chairman. He said that the use of sexual slaves, or comfort women, during times of war was also being practiced by other countries like France, Germany, and the United States, among others. While he has already apologized for his comments, saying they were his personal beliefs and not that of NHK, the international furor over it has not abated. ….

Certainly there is a growing concern about growing Chinese might in South East Asia and this concern is partially shared in the US. So the US, while disapproving of the revisionist trends in Japanese government circles, has been fairly mild in its criticism as long as the Japanese target is China. In the territorial disputes between Japan and China for example the US generally supports the Japanese positions.

I perceive a risk that as the Japanese commercial predominance weakens there could be an upsurge in the militaristic ambitions of the nationalistic right. It is only my perception of course but having lived in Japan and in Germany, I sense a greater risk of sudden chaos with the Japanese militaristic nationalists than with the German neo-Nazis. The manner is which the rest of Europe acts as a check and balance against extremism is something missing in Japan.

Heavyweights in Europe backing away from “green” follies

January 27, 2014

The beginning of the end of “green” profligacy? Perhaps – but the EU is still dominated by earnest, self-righteous, politically correct, fanatical, “green” fantasists.

Nevertheless it is a change of political climate in the right direction – from angry, hot alarmism  to a healthy, cold scepticism.

Lobby groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are not pleased. And that itself is a good sign. After all – as the great sage John Gummer has pointed out – such groups have been infiltrated and taken over by the Trotskyites.

The inanity of those who would connect weather with global warming is stupefying. I don’t call it “climate change” since if change could include “global cooling” all the warmists would be left without any faith and be out of a job. 

  1. ‘We must not demonise coal’ – German environment minister
  2. UK: Climate scepticism blamed as Owen Paterson slashes spending on global warming
  3. UK: David Cameron pledges to rip up green regulations

Germany:

Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, says coal-fired power is important to the country’s economic security and should not be subject to extreme negativity.

In a separate development, Ms Hendricks told Power Engineering International that a court decision, which found the forced shutdown of the Biblis nuclear power plant to be illegal, would not have any impact on Germany’s plans to wind down its nuclear power industry. Speaking to Frankfurter Rundschau, Ms Hendricks said that while the energy transition’s dependence on coal power was ‘undesirable’, it was necessary for the country’s stability, particularly as “we can no longer expect gas to flexibly complement eco-energy.”

“Gas is unprofitable while coal is booming. We must not demonize coal. We still need to transition to a guarantee security of supply.”

She added that ‘rectivating’ the energiewende meant tacking the undesirable development of coal’s eminence. However this, she said, is to be a long term goal governed by market mechanisms/ETS. ETS, which would have to be reactivated. 

In her view backloading of 900 million ETS-certificates is to be a first step even if it is not enough. “The two billion CO2 allowances, which are too much on the European market, must be permanently removed. The 900 million ETS certificates, for which the EU has recently decided on an interim basis, are not enough. We will aggressively fight in the EU for a functioning CO2 trading system.”

UK:

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will spend just £17.2m on domestic “climate change initiatives” this financial year, a 41 per cent decline on the previous 12 months, according to its response to a freedom of information request. …. 

The dramatic cut in domestic climate change spending comes in Mr Paterson’s first full-year as Environment Secretary – he took up the post in September 2012 . The spending now represents just 0.7 per cent of the department’s total budget for the year, down from 1.2 per cent last year.

Defra is in charge of preparing, or adapting, Britain for global warming, while the Department for Energy and Climate Change is responsible for mitigating the risks. ….  One source who worked with the Environment Secretary said: “Adapting to climate change in itself is not a priority for Owen Paterson. He doesn’t believe that floods have anything to do with climate change, so he calls the biggest aspect of adaptation ‘flood management’. When you talk to him, you don’t use words like ‘adaptation’ – instead you talk about the economic impacts and opportunities and present it as a market solution.”

UK:

David Cameron will on Monday boast of tearing up 80,000 pages of environmental protections and building guidelines as part of a new push to build more houses and cut costs for businesses.

In a speech to small firms, the prime minister will claim that he is leading the first government in decades to have slashed more needless regulation than it introduced.

Germany returns to coal – and in a big way

December 29, 2013

Reality strikes.

Reblogged from http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/

By Paul Homewood

image

 

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2013/11/germany-initiates-new-generation-of-coal-fired-new-builds.html

The new coal fired power plant, which began operations last month in Walsum, along with the one launched in Lunen earlier this month, represent the start of Germany’s new generation of hard coal power stations.

Altogether, ten new hard-coal power stations, of 7,985MW capacity, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years. This is in addition to the two lignite, or brown coal, power stations, with capacity of 2875MW, which came on stream last year.

From PEI:

 A new generation of hard coal-fired power plants has been initiated in Germany with the activation of the 725 MW Walsum facility in Dortmund. 

Steag GmbH started Germanys first new power plant fuelled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.

While electricity output commenced this week, the plant will begin commercial operations later in the year following “optimization works and testing,” according to an email statement.
It marks the start of Germany’s biggest new-build program for hard coal stations since its liberalization in 1998. Ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 MW, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years, according to information from German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur and operators.
Coal prices have fallen to their lowest price in four years, making this type of facility extremely attractive from a profitability standpoint.
Generating electricity by burning coal currently makes a profit of 9.16 euros a MW-hour, compared with a loss of 19.31 euros a MW-hour from 
gas-fired power, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on next-year German power prices.

The 10 new units will boost German hard coal generation capacity by 33 per cent to 32,432 MW from 24,447 MW as of Oct. 16, regulator data show.

 The Bundesnetzagentur website also lists coal plants due for decommissioning by 2018, and the capacity of these total 1458MW, a much smaller number, so it seems clear that most of the new capacity is intended to replace nuclear.

The combined capacity of the new plants, including the two lignite ones, based on 80% utilisation, will supply 13% of Germany’s total electricity generation.

It is worth comparing this new coal capacity with the UK’s offshore wind capacity, either existing or coming on stream in the next four years. As I pointed out last week, this amounts to 8.2GW, a similar scale given the UK’s lower overall demand. However, rather than supplying regular, reliable power all year round, it will supply, at best, only 40% of this capacity. For this, we will be paying some £3bn a year in subsidies.

In contrast, the new German coal plants are expected to produce a profit of 9 euros/MWh.

It is also worth noting that Germany have a batch of new gas power stations coming on stream, adding capacity of 2.6GW. As neither these, nor the coal plants, will have Carbon Capture fitted, it is difficult to see how Germany will reduce CO2 emissions in the next few years.

German football team builds its own resort in Brazil for the World Cup

December 16, 2013

The construction program for the 2014 Brazilian World Cup venues is well behind schedule. A number of deaths have occurred at the various construction sites. Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed onto the roof of the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo in November. Another was killed at the Palmeiras arena in Sao Paulo which is/was to be a training ground for some of the teams. The latest accidents were at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas. The Arena is scheduled to host four group stage matches during the competition. Two deaths on Saturday bring the death toll at this Arena to three. A 23 year old construction worker was found dead and is said to have suffered a heart attack. (At 23!) Another worker fell 35 meters after a cable snapped. Work is so far behind at most sites that accelerated, 3-shift programs are being conducted to catch up. Inevitably safety procedures are being given less priority. Some have refused to work and a general strike over safety standards has been called for and further threatens the schedule.

soccer.si.com: Less than a month away from the Dec. 31 FIFA-imposed deadline for Brazil to deliver all 12 of its tournament venues, half are still unfinished, with three of those having no realistic shot of wrapping up before February.

Hotels and transport arrangements are also behind schedule.

TelegraphThere have been disputes and delays to the new light rail vehicle system in another host city, Cuiaba, while in the north-eastern settlement of Natal, mobility projects had to be abandoned and redesigned because of a shortage of time.

Accommodation is also a concern with a shortage of hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Recife, according to the Brazilian Association of Hotel Industries (ABIH). This week, workers at Rio’s Gloria Hotel, which is due to open before the World Cup, told Jornal do Brasil that the renovations were falling well behind.

But the German Football Association is not taking any chances. Winning the Cup is a serious business and they do not place much confidence in the assurances that facilities will be ready. They could not find the hotels to pass muster. So they are taking matters into their own hands and are building their own resort for their players. Der Spiegel writes: Unable to find a suitable location to set up shop in Brazil during the upcoming 2014 World Cup, the German football team has decided to simply build its own. The remote beachside camp will “help minimize strain” on players, the team manager says”.

A digital rendering of the luxurious beachside retreat provided by the German Football Association.

A digital rendering of the luxurious beachside retreat to be provided by the German Football Association.

The team’s beachside “resort” will be located in the sleepy village of Santo André in the state of Bahia, population just around 1,000, the paper wrote. It’s the first time in history that the German team has built its own World Cup facility from scratch, it added.

Coach Joachim “Jogi” Löw, his players and the team’s staff will spend the tournament living in 13 houses, with a soccer playing field and press center about a kilometer away. An airfield just 15 kilometers off will facilitate travel to the match sites.

Bild reports that the construction site entrance already bears the colors of the German flag — black, red and gold.

The location of “Camp Bahia” is “very remote,” Bild added. Some 30 kilometers away from the Porto Seguro resort area, most travelers get there via an old ferry across the Joao de Tiba River.

He-she-it (der-die-das) now legal for babies in Germany

November 4, 2013

The German language has long had 3 genders. The rules are deceptively simple but I did not find it easy when learning the language.

German, besides capitalizing all nouns, goes them one better and adds a third gender: neuter. The masculine definite article (“the”) is der, feminine is die, and neuter is das.

It gets confusing when a girl can be masculine as in das Madchen or a boy can be feminine (die Junge) or when the sea can be all three genders – der Ozean, das Meer, die See. The sun is feminine (die Sonne) while the moon is masculine (der Mond).

If you’re going to guess, guess der. The highest percentage of German nouns are masculine. … All German nouns, regardless of gender, become die in the nominative and accusative plural. So a noun such as das Jahr (year) becomes die Jahre (years) in the plural. Sometimes the only way to recognize the plural form of a German noun is by the article: das Fenster (window) – die Fenster (windows). 

Rivers can be masculine (der Rhein) or feminine (die Donau) but never neuter. But rivers outside Europe are always masculine! Most chemical elements are neuter but some are particularly virile and masculine (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous). Names of cars are masculine (der Mercedes, der VW, der BMW) but names of motorcycles, ships and aircraft are feminine (die BMW, die Titanic, die Boeing 787).

One in about 2,000 births is a transgender birth to some extent. Germany is now the first European country to acknowledge this legally. The view is growing that the gender paradigm is not the simple dimorphic view but represents a bimodal continuum.

Gender continuum blackless et al

Gender continuum blackless et al

BBC:  Germany has become Europe’s first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of “indeterminate sex”.

The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns.

As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes.

Greens fail in Berlin referendum

November 4, 2013

In Germany the greens believe that it is worthwhile to pay exorbitant prices for electricity if it is from renewable sources. That “feel-good” view does not quite pass muster in not so good times. It is beginning to sink in through the German electorate that the shift away from nuclear and coal is not only very expensive, it also achieves nothing.  A referendum called in Berlin to satisfy the Greens’ needs to reduce coal utilisation has failed to garner enough votes to go forward.

BBCA bid to renationalise the electricity grid in the German capital Berlin has narrowly failed in a referendum. 

The measure was backed by 24% of those eligible to vote, but a quorum of 25% was needed for it to pass. It had been supported by green groups, who believe the current provider relies too much on coal. Opponents said it would burden Berlin with debt.

The wording had called for Berlin to set up a public enterprise to trade in electricity from green sources and sell it to residents. Voters were also asked to decide whether the city government should open the way for the grid to be taken back into public ownership.

There has been disappointment in Germany that privatisation of the energy grid has not always led to the hoped-for falls in prices and improvements in quality. The switch from nuclear to solar and wind power has also led to a steep rise in electricity costs.

But the authorities in Berlin – which is already 60bn euros (£50bn; $80bn) in debt – said the city could not afford to renationalise the grid.

Berlin has the dubious pleasure of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe (which may ensure a place for some residents in their imagined green heaven but may lead them to bankruptcy in this life). Berlin residents pay more than twice the price that Helsinki residents pay.

Forbes: 

Residential-Energy-Prices-by-City-EU-2013

The good people of Berlin pay more for electricity than residents of any other major city in the European Union, according to the Household Energy Price Index for Europe.

VaasaETT, an energy think tank based in Helsinki, Finland, tracks monthly prices of electricity and natural gas for utility customers in the capital cities of 23 European countries.

The price customers pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity varies by as much as 127% across these 23 countries.

After adjusting for purchasing power, Berlin becomes the place with the most expensive electricity in Europe followed by Prague and Lisbon.

Meanwhile, Helsinki has the cheapest electricity followed by Stockholm. …

 


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