September 16, 2018 – The Teflon Spy
Chances are high that you’ve not heard of Hans-Georg Maassen — unless maybe you are German. However, he got himself in a heap of trouble and caused a government crisis, Germany’s DW TV said on the 13th of September 2018.
Maassen is the country’s domestic spy chief; he heads up its domestic intelligence service, the BfV.
Maassen said a video of right-wing protesters chasing foreigners in Chemnitz, a city in Eastern Germany, was not authentic. Chancellor Merkel and others disagreed. Maassen’s boss, Interior Minister and Bavarian conservative, Horst Seehofer, came to his defense.
German politicians called for Maassen to be fired and some urged Seehofer to resign.
What’s the big deal? Why should non-Germans or even Germans, for that matter, care? Here’s the pertinent background.
Adolf Hitler, physical founder of the extreme right movement known as Nazism, would be 130 years old in 2019 if he were alive. It’s safe to say, he isn’t going to be staging a comeback.
Numerous books have been written about his Nazi regime. One book, however, stands out for a couple of reasons.
The book, The Nazis Go Underground, by Curt Riess was first published in 1944 and republished in 2013. Imprecise scans of the original book are readily available online as well.
Unlike other books about that period, the date shows this one was released shortly before World War2 ended. Also, it covers the detailed plan devised by the Nazis to survive defeat.
The Open Secret
That the plan was revealed didn’t really matter.
Recent events have shown that the Nazis successfully carried out a key part of the plan — infiltrating critical parts of the new post-war German government. Declassified American documents indicate their former enemies even helped.
The major German magazine, Der Spiegel, the daily Bild, and DW News have not shied away from stories exposing Nazis or Nazi sympathizers who have worked in strategical areas like the BfV and it’s counterpart, the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service.
According to Der Spiegel’s January 2011 article titled, Germany Knew Eichmann’s Hiding Place Years Before His Capture,
“The BND was riddled with former SS officers and Nazi officers. Many of the BND agents who were supposed to keep an eye on the Nazis abroad had been Nazis themselves.”
UK’s BBC News revealed more information in its January 2011 article, “Nazi revelations stir Germany’s post-war ghosts”.
The Spy Chief
A few days later, DW News pointed out that,
“In 2012, Maassen was tapped to lead Germany’s top spy agency. He promised to restore faith in the BfV, which was embroiled in controversy over its entanglement in the right-wing extremist scene and his predecessor’s decision to destroy files related to the neo-Nazi NSU murders.”
DW News also wrote,
“Before Maassen made headlines by questioning the veracity of videos of right-wing protesters chasing foreigners through the streets of Chemnitz, he was under fire for advising right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) on how to avoid scrutiny from his agency. Now he is accused of sharing confidential documents with the AfD before presenting them to the public.”
Breaking News 09-18-18
DW News just reported the following,
“The latest quarrel within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government … has ended with a somewhat surreal compromise. Hans-Georg Maassen, the under-fire head of the domestic intelligence agency … will be stripped of his current job but gain a theoretically better one as a deputy head of the interior ministry.”
A large number of Germans deplore extremism no matter the guise. Chancellor Angela Merkel dislikes extremism in any form; other top German politicians do as well.
And, some Germans also fully embrace the beliefs and practices of first century Christianity, the antithesis of misguided ideologies. Thankfully, a day is coming when no one will be deceived by concepts like Nazism.
Photo Credits: German Parliament Building courtesy of BadzioITV, License: CC Zero; Nazi book cover courtesy of Amazon Digital Services.
August 10 2018 – The Wake Up Call
“Wicked weather coast-to-coast” was the opening remark on Good Morning America on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. The same day, DW TV revealed it’s really like that from continent to continent.
New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state, and her neighbor to the north, Queensland, are desperate for rain.
In Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Rural article titled, The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’, stock (agricultural) agent Simon Bourke assessed the magnitude of the drought.
“We’re selling livestock we don’t want to sell … down the track there’s really not going to be too many cattle or sheep left.”
Summer, Hot and Hotter
On the other side of the world, Germany is struggling with severe to extreme drought. Farmers fear possibly the worst harvest on record.
In the places hit by weather temperatures over 38°C/100°F, food sources are not the only things affected. At Hannover’s airport a runway was damaged by the extreme heat. Train tracks buckled in Bavaria.
Across all of America, as large as it is, people sweltered in prolonged high heat.
Floods to Fires
In the eastern USA and in the province of Ontario Canada, summer was also punctuated by flash floods due to torrential rains.
In Western Canada as well as directly south of there, tinder dry forests and brush fueled numerous fires big and small.
As of August 9th, Northern California’s Mendocino twin fires had raced through an area four times the size of Sacramento, the state’s capital — breaking the record for California’s ‘Largest Fire Ever’ set the previous year.
Reporting on the newer Southern California Holy Fire, the Los Angeles Daily News posted,
“Fire officials were keeping an eye on the fire as it approached Santiago Peak, where communications towers for cell phones, two-way radios such as those used by law enforcement and airliner internet service are located.”
According to Ranker.com, Amalie Orme, a Cal State professor of geography and environmental studies, was astonished by the level of destruction. She stated,
“We have not seen this number and this size of fires at least within our memories.”
Many homes have been lost to the flames.
Greece, Portugal, Spain and Sweden battled their own significant fires this summer.
The list goes on and on.
UPDATE 8/22/18: DW TV told viewers that the world will produce less food this year than consumed, because of global drought, causing it to dip into food reserves.
Photo Credits: Grain photo by abendstimmung, Map, and Firefighter courtesy of Pixabay; Licenses: CCZero.
August 01, 2018 – EU-Japanese Trade Agreement
On July 17, 2018, leaders of the EU and Japan signed a sweeping deal doing away with almost all tariffs between them, according to Germany’s DW TV.
The same day, Japan’s Newsroom Tokyo aired its video clip of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signing.
EU Council President Donald Tusk agreed with an earlier comment made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Tusk reiterated,
“We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism.”
The business commentator for the Japanese TV news program was more specific,
”While US President Donald Trump is pursuing protectionism policies, Japan’s government hopes the EPA will demonstrate the importance of free-trade.”
If ratified by their respective parliaments, the free trade deal between the EU and Japan could go into effect as soon as 2019.
The two regions currently are responsible for almost one third of world’s GDP and nearly forty percent of global trade, according to Newsroom Tokyo.
Photo Credits: Deal Signing photo is courtesy of the EU; Handshake photo is courtesy of the Japanese Government
July 01, 2018 – Bitterly Divided EU
On Thursday June 28, 2018, the EU held a crucial summit on migration. According to DW TV comments, there was no way to overestimate the importance of this “mother of all summits”.
European media indicated the fate of Germany’s current administration heavily depended on the results the Chancellor brought back to the German people. Also, the ultimate existence of the European Union itself was at stake.
DW TV referred to a report from the European Council which allegedly stated, “the number of illegal entries … has fallen by 96%” and said, therefore, the issue was not about numbers. DW TV suggested the crisis was really rooted in something deeper — something it characterized as a power struggle between moderates and the rising right.
Several Eastern European countries for years have refused to take in more war refugees and asylum seekers. At June’s 2018 EU summit, the new governments of Italy and Austria sided with them.
Back in 2015, one of them, Hungary erected a barb wire fence and instituted its own border crossings to keep refugees out. That was a clear violation of the EU’s Dublin and Schengen agreements. A New York Times 2015 article, “Explaining the rules for borders and asylum”, covered both regulations and the situation.
For other details, read our December 18, 2017 article titled, “Austria and Her Neighbors” and our June 26, 2018 article, “Migration Mutiny”.
After the Summit
A summit agreement was reached on ways to handle new migrants and lessen the burden on gateway countries like Italy and Greece. However, the issue of non-legal migration won’t disappear overnight.
Not only does the agreement depend on more cooperation from yet unnamed nations, in and outside Europe, to work; but it won’t begin to satisfy everybody. Some are unhappy about the number of temporary refugees already in Europe for years with no repatriation day in sight. Significant cultural differences are often cited.
Asylum-seekers continue to risk the journey. Terrorism is still a fear. Trade war is threatening the economic recovery. Current conditions are tailor made for more inroads by the far right.
Photo credits: Flags courtesy of EU Banking Association, License: CC BY-ND 2.0; June EU Summit photo courtesy of the Italian government