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Germany is belatedly waking up to the threat of far-right terrorism

Čt, 02/27/2020 - 15:49

FIVE BULLET-HOLES still scar the window of Karamba Diaby’s office in Halle, a city in eastern Germany. No one knows who fired at the empty building, where Germany’s only black MP meets constituents and does routine political work. But Mr Diaby’s staff do not doubt that the attack, in mid-January, was racially motivated. A week after the incident Mr Diaby got an email warning him to expect the fate of Walter Lübcke, a pro-refugee politician murdered last June. The anonymous threat was signed off with a “Sieg Heil”.

Right-wing extremism in various guises has troubled parts of Germany for decades. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation, an outfit that monitors such activity, says it is responsible for 208 deaths since 1990. But a recent string of incidents has left nerves especially jangled. On Yom Kippur, three months before the attack on Mr Diaby’s office, Stephan Balliet, a young man armed with home-made 3D-printed weapons, tried to break into a synagogue in Halle to massacre worshippers; when that failed he killed two people at random instead. On February 19th in Hanau, near Frankfurt, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen killed nine immigrants and ethnic-minority Germans during a shooting rampage, before killing himself and his mother. A few days earlier 12 men were arrested for planning attacks on mosques in the hope of...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Scandal topples the reputation of the founder of L’Arche

Čt, 02/27/2020 - 15:49

SINCE SAINTS are so rare in the modern world, they are elaborately treasured. When Jean Vanier died in May 2019 he drew praise and admiration from all sides, including Pope Francis, prominent American clergy—and The Economist. He had founded a network of small house-based communities, known as L’Arche (The Ark), in which people with disabilities and those without ate, lived, worked and prayed together. There are now 154 such communities around the world. Their humane approach to care has been widely copied.

Yet as much as Vanier’s concept, his personality inspired people. Here was a Canadian academic, with no training, who built up L’Arche after 1964 from one derelict house at Trosly-Breuil, in northern France, because he felt Jesus asked it of him. In his habits of asceticism, joyfulness and prayer he seemed a model of holiness for lay men and women. He wrote of how the simple goodness of his charges inspired him, too, to be a better man. But all this hid another life, which has now been exposed in a report by L’Arche International itself.

It now appears that for more than 30 years, from 1970 to 2005, Vanier had sexual relationships with at least six women that were “manipulative”, “coercive” or “non-consensual”. Some, it is said, were workers at L’Arche; some were nuns. His hold over them was...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

The travails of “ex-Ilva”, Europe’s largest steel plant

Čt, 02/27/2020 - 15:49

DR GRAZIA PARISI has been working for four hours without a break at her paediatric surgery. “I’ve seen between 30 and 35 children—all with coughs,” she says. It is Monday. The previous week, from Wednesday to midday on Friday, Taranto, in Italy’s far south, had endured a succession of what the locals call “wind days”. That is when the wind blows from the north-west, through Europe’s biggest steelworks on the outskirts, and into the city.

“There is a mathematical correlation between wind days and the [number of] respiratory ailments I treat,” says Dr Parisi. The closer her patients live to the steelworks, the more acute their symptoms. Several of her patients had spent part of the weekend at the local hospital and some had even been admitted, such had been the seriousness of their ailments.

Things used to be even worse, before the factory’s new owners, ArcelorMittal, a multinational, covered its giant stockpiles of coal and iron. But, says Luciano Manna, an environmental campaigner, the wind still picks up plenty of mineral dust from the factory’s waste dumps. Commonly known, by reference to its earlier owners, as the “ex-ILVA”, the steelworks is the size of a small town or a large suburb. It covers 15 square kilometres (six square miles).

The Italian government has set February 28th as the deadline for an...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

An unexpected tech boom in Serbia

Čt, 02/27/2020 - 15:49

IT WAS MID-JANUARY and the Serbian capital was covered in toxic smog. Belgraders peered into their phones to check an app informing them about the air quality. It was “hazardous”, but if they were at a bus stop there was one thing to celebrate. Though they could barely see 200 yards, they could tell when their bus was arriving, as timings had just been added to Google Maps, years after most other European capitals. The digital revolution is at last arriving for Serbs. And as Europe goes green, more good news may be on the way. Serbia is sitting on one of the continent’s largest reserves of lithium, an essential ingredient for the batteries of electric cars.

Tech accounts for at least 6% of Serbia’s GDP. It employs some 45,000 people. Foreign firms have spent more than $500m on Serbian startups in the past six years, says Zoja Kukic of the Digital Serbia Initiative (DSI), which champions the sector’s interests. Last year’s exports are expected to have reached €1.4bn ($1.5bn), an increase of 55% on 2017. The real figure could be much higher, says Nebojsa Djurdjevic, head of the DSI. Foreign-exchange rules mean that payments are often sent to companies set up abroad, and no one can keep track of an estimated 10,000 freelancers who often operate alone.

Educated Serbs are leaving in droves—but not if they work in tech. It is...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

A Rothschild heir sues Vienna

Čt, 02/27/2020 - 15:49

AUSTRIA’S TRAGEDY is that only a tiny number of Vienna’s Jews returned after the second world war to the city, once the glittering home of Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler. Some 150,000 Jews lived in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century; today the city’s Jewish community is only around 7,000, many of them new immigrants from eastern Europe or Russia. The unofficial Jewish royal family, the Rothschilds, never returned to Vienna full-time.

One Rothschild descendant, Geoffrey Hoguet, travelled from his home in New York to Vienna this month on a family mission (Mr Hoguet is a distant cousin of the Rothschilds who own a stake in The Economist). He is taking the city of Vienna to court over the way the municipality has managed a charitable trust set up by his great-grandfather, Albert Freiherr von Rothschild, to honour the will of his childless brother Nathaniel. The first hearing took place on February 20th.

Mr Hoguet is dismayed by how the city of Vienna has dealt with the Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild’sche Stiftung für Nervenkranke, a foundation set up in 1907 to pay for hospitals for the treatment of the mentally ill, which was expropriated by the Nazis in 1938 and taken on by the newly independent second republic in 1956. The foundation was once fabulously...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

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