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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘germany

[LINK] “Alarm Bell Rings in Tokyo at Rapid Rise in German Exports to China”

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Bloomberg’s Yoshiaki Nohara reports on Germany’s advantage over Japan in China.

As if Japan didn’t have enough economic problems to overcome, officials in Tokyo have identified another worrying trend: lagging export growth to China.

Rapid gains in German shipments to China have caught their attention, with exports from the European powerhouse doubling in value since 2008 and reaching 74.5 billion euros ($82.5 billion) last year.

Japanese sales to China, the nation’s biggest trading partner, crept up by just 3.3 percent over the same period. Japan still holds a solid lead though, with to 13.4 trillion yen ($109 billion) worth of shipments to China in 2014.

To be sure, part of the weakness in these Japanese export figures is because companies from Toyota Motor Corp to air-conditioner maker Daikin Industries Ltd. have been building factories in growing markets like China. While the profits from these plants are brought home, it means less industrial production in Japan.

[. . . T]otal exports account for about 15 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, compared with around 40 percent for Germany, according to a report by the statistics bureau in Tokyo.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO suggests that the Pan Am Games are not turning out to be a disaster.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at innovative designs for fast small space probes.
  • City of Brass celebrates the end of Ramadan.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of Jupiter analogue HIP 11915, and links to a paper arguing that hot Jupiters could evolve into hot Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that there are no more large impact craters expected to be found on Earth.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes the latest on surveillance in Germany.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the gay hints in late 1970s Wonder Woman.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the Yemeni capital of Sanaa is running out of water, looks at the hard time of immigrants on the Canadian job market, and notes Singapore’s public campaigns for manners.
  • Russell Darnely of Maximos62 makes the case for a return of the Elgin Marbles to the Parthenon.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell notes a new book on the historical Adam.
  • Torontoist reviews the Stratford Festival.
  • Towleroad notes how Scott Walker tried, pathetically, to backtrack from his anti-gay comments on Scouts.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Dagestani discontent with pollution allegedly produced by the Russian navy in the Caspian, looks at the awkward approach of the Russian Orthodox Church to Orthodox churches in South Ossetia, and argues Kazakhstan is a role model for Russia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the political economy of the BBC.

[LINK] “Putin is a Mussolini Not a Hitler, Inozemtsev Says”

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Window on Eurasia summarizes the arguments of another Russian analyst, one Vladislav Inozemtsev, who makes what I think is the correct argument that the contemporary Russian regime bears quite a few similarities to that of 1930s fascist Italy.

The Kremlin regime has met “in practice all” of the characteristics of fascism: a leader cult, a desire for revenge for supposed defeats in the past and attacks now, and an ideological portrayal of these events as the work of others rather than the Russians themselves.

The Kremlin routinely touts Russia as something pure standing against rotting Europe, “masculinity has become a cult, which to a large extent comes from the president himself.” In addition, “a corporate state has been completely constructed: the oligarchs are subordinate to the will of the state, the bureaucracy controls a large part of economic activity, and ‘the corruption vertical’ is more effective than ‘the vertical of power.’”

But what Putin wants makes him look more like Mussolini than the more grandiose Hitler. “In Moscow they want as a maximum the rebirth of the Soviet Union; as a minimum, certain territorial corrections” that would satisfy “the crowd that routinely votes” for the state and its leaders.”

“Crimea,” Inozemtsev suggests, “is Abyssina of 1935, not Austria or the Sudetenland of 1938.” When Mussolini seized Abysinnia, he declared “Italy has an empire.” He wasn’t interested in going further. And Putin isn’t either: he will never invade the Baltic countries or attack NATO, and for the same reason Mussolini didn’t – a fear of attacking major powers.

What Putin has succeeded in doing is creating “a populist fascist regime, one that is “moderately aggressive [like that of] Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 16, 2015 at 9:43 pm

[LINK] “Germany set to recognize genocide in colonial Namibia”

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Al Jazeera reports on the noteworthy impending recognition by Germany of the campaign waged againdt the Herero of then-German Southwest Africa as genocide.

German authorities are set to officially recognize as “genocide” the colonial-era crackdown in Namibia by German troops more than a century ago in which over 65,000 ethnic Hereros were killed.

Talks with Namibia on a joint declaration about the events of the early 20th century are ongoing, and it isn’t clear when they will be concluded, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday.

The basis for the German government’s approach is a parliamentary motion signed three years ago by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, stating that “the war of destruction in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 was a war crime and genocide,” Schaefer said. Steinmeier was an opposition leader at the time, and the motion didn’t pass.

German Gen. Lothar von Trotha — who was sent to what was then South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros against their German rulers in 1904 — instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe in what is widely seen as the 20th century’s first genocide, historians say.

On Oct. 2, 1904, Trotha issued a proclamation: “Within the German boundaries, every Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle will be shot. I shall not accept more women and children. … I shall order shots to be fired at them.”

Rounded up in prison camps, captured Hereros and as well as members of the Nama tribe died from malnutrition and severe weather. Dozens were beheaded after their deaths and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for “scientific” experiments.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2015 at 6:57 pm

[ISL] Bloomberg on the archipelago of Heligoland, Germany

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In “The Tiny Islands at the Heart of Germany’s Offshore Wind Boom”, Nicholas Brautlecht and Tino Andresen suggest that wind power has given Germany’s Heligoland, located in the North Sea, a second chance after the decline of tourism.

An industrial revolution is sweeping over Heligoland, a tiny German North Sea archipelago once annexed by the British, and a haven for bird watchers until the wind farmers moved in two years ago.

Units of Blackstone Group LP, EON SE and RWE AG have opened offices and warehouses at the main island’s southern port, taking 25-year leases as they start feeding electricity from three new farms into Germany’s growing reservoir of renewable energy.

“Offshore is a blessing for our island,” said Peter Singer, the 51-year-old head of Heligoland’s port project company. “Commercial tax revenue has risen by 50 percent in the last two years.”

Singer, whose roots on the island go back to the 19th century, led a team that spent a year clearing the harbor of 1,300 bombs, grenades and bullets, remnants of two world wars. That has helped transform Heligoland, dependent on daytrippers seeking tax-free liquor and tobacco, into an offshore service hub for the wind turbines that now pepper the horizon.

About 100 wind farmers have joined the 1,400 population, recognizable in their bright red overalls. Managers in business attire, once as rare as the black-browed albatross that sporadically visits its distinctive red cliffs, have also become a regular feature.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 10, 2015 at 9:56 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Berlin Banking Billions Spent on Arts Yield Tourist Riches”

Bloomberg’s Dalia Fahmy looks at how Berlin is coming to specaliaze in tourism, for the sake of the city’s economy.

Berlin is spending billions of euros to renovate old museums, build new ones and snatch celebrity talent in a bid to upgrade the city’s cultural lineup and satisfy visitors flooding the German capital.

“Berlin lives from tourism, and tourists come here largely for culture,” said Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which manages most of the city’s museums. “Today, London is more dynamic but Berlin has more potential.”

Projects under way include a complete renovation of one of the city’s three opera houses and a new museum of modern art. The former royal palace is being rebuilt and will house exhibits run by Neil MacGregor, the current British Museum director and media host lured away by the city this year.

There’s a lot at stake because in the absence of major industries — Berlin lost Deutsche Bank AG and Siemens AG after World War II — tourism is one of the city’s biggest businesses. The German capital attracted 12 million visitors in 2014 who spent 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion), contributing a full 8 percent of economic activity, according to Berlin government data. The city says those coming for the museums, performances of the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle and other cultural activities spend more than any group.

“Cultural tourism is an important economic factor for our city,” said Tim Renner, Berlin’s cultural affairs secretary. “That’s why we’re exerting a big effort to make the cultural offerings even more attractive for international visitors.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 22, 2015 at 7:01 pm

[LINK] “Germany’s Bad Idea to Legalize Pot”

To the extent that Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky thinks that the specific proposal in Germany to legalize marijuana is a bad idea, I may agree with him. I don’t necessarily agree with him in his implication that keeping the drug’s de facto legal status is sufficient, inasmuch as this vagueness can be a problem.

Save for Dutch cities and the Christiania commune in Copenhagen, Berlin is one of the easiest European metropolis for buying marijuana. In Kreuzberg, the nightlife district, dealers approach people outside subway stations. Goerlitzer Park, also in Kreuzberg, is a major marijuana market despite a “zero tolerance policy” in effect since March 31. Locals responded to the announcement with a mass “smoke-in” attended by about 3,000 people, and to anyone visiting the park, it will seem the protest didn’t end.

This defiance is a curious turn of events for Germany, where an overwhelming majority of people will wait for a traffic light to change to cross an empty street: Marijuana is illegal, except for medical use (fewer than 300 people qualify, most of them cancer patients), but it’s widespread practice to flout the ban. Last year, Green Party leader Cem Oezdemir took the Ice Bucket Challenge next to a cannabis plant. He was stripped of his parliamentary immunity afterward, but has suffered no further consequences.

[. . .]

When laws are so broadly ignored, liberalization is akin to accepting reality. This, however, is Germany, and the only detailed legislative proposal — from the Greens — could make things worse. At 70 pages, it contains exotic proposals such as training marijuana sellers in “responsible sales” so they are only able to operate shops if they have a government certificate. The law would raise the amount for personal use to 30 grams, but it would so tightly regulate growing and sales — and probably raise prices so steeply — that the goal of liquidating the black market wouldn’t be achieved. Medical cannabis costs about twice the black market price.

Though it’s inevitable for prices to go up after legalization because of taxes, the government needs to compete effectively with the black market dealers to replace them. Germany’s current policy is already so liberal that further liberalization only makes sense as a cost-saving measure and perhaps as a way to get some extra revenue. Trying to impose stricter controls on marijuana sales just won’t work because Germans have already pretty much made their own laws.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

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