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Germany is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Concerts and exhibitions are being staged in the city and Chancellor Angela Merkel will later attend a huge open-air party at the Brandenburg Gate.
White balloons marking a stretch of the Berlin Wall will be released to symbolize its disappearance.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop people fleeing from Communist East Germany to the West.
Its fall in 1989 became a powerful symbol of the end of the Cold War.
Angela Merkel will be joined for the festivities by former Polish trade union leader Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
White balloons marking a stretch of the Berlin Wall will be released to symbolize its disappearance
The wall stretched for 96 miles through Berlin but today only about 2 miles of it still stands.
Within a year of its collapse, Germany – divided after its defeat in World War Two – was reunited.
More than a million visitors have descended on Berlin for the weekend of festivities that will culminate at the Brandenburg Gate.
The monument itself was inaccessible during the partition of Germany and is seen as a symbol of the country’s reunification.
On November 8, people posed for photos in front of the few remaining graffiti-daubed slabs of the wall, or read information boards about life under Berlin’s 28-year division.
Others admired the art installation of almost 7,000 white balloons, pegged to the ground and winding along a 9 miles stretch of the wall’s route.
At the bustling Potsdamer Platz, which was once cut in two by the wall, a small crowd watched archive footage of East German demonstrators chanting: “We are the people.”
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Germany recorded calls of US Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton, German media reports say.
According to Der Spiegel magazine, the calls were collected accidentally and the recordings were destroyed immediately.
John Kerry has reportedly spoken to his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, about the claims.
Correspondents say the reports will embarrass Germany after a row about the US spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany recorded calls of Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton
Der Spiegel said the German intelligence agency had tapped a satellite phone call John Kerry made in 2013.
Reports in German daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters NDR and WDR said documents passed to the CIA show German spies had also eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton when she was US Secretary of State.
German government sources told the newspaper and two broadcasters, that they intercepted the call by chance, and she had not been deliberately targeted. They also said it happened just once.
However, media reports said it had not been an isolated case.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the reports.
If confirmed the revelations could prove difficult for Germany. Relations with the United States have deteriorated amid allegations of American spying on Germany.
The head of the CIA in Germany was expelled last month, after it emerged the agency had tapped Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone.
French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war on France on August 3, 1914.
Francois Hollande and Joachim Gauck will make a joint tribute in Alsace to soldiers killed during World War One.
They will also lay the first stone for a memorial at Vieil Armand cemetery.
French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war on France on August 3, 1914
On Monday events will be held in Belgium to mark Britain’s declaration of war on Germany.
Some 30,000 men were killed in the mountains around Vieil Armand, known in German as Hartmannswillerkopf.
The cemetery there contains the remains of 12,000 unidentified soldiers.
Francois Hollande and Joachim Gauck will pay tribute to the sacrifice those men made and celebrate the importance of the modern Franco-German relationship in Europe.
They will lay the foundation stone for a Great War memorial and exhibition centre on the site, which is due to open its doors to the public in 2017.
Francois Hollande and Joachim Gauck will meet again on Monday in the Belgian city of Liege, where heads of state from across Europe will mark the escalation of the war after Germany invaded Belgium.
Germany has issued a stamp celebrating its soccer team’s victory at the 2014 World Cup championship.
Five million were printed before the final match was even held.
The stamp was ordered by Germany’s finance ministry which holds a large stake in Deutsche Post.
Germany has issued a stamp celebrating its soccer team’s victory at the 2014 World Cup championship
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he had “dared to hope very early on” that the national team would win.
If Germany had lost to Argentina on Sunday the 0.60 euro stamps would have had to be pulped.
The stamp will go on sale on Thursday, July 17, after the first commemorative copies are presented to the coach, players and team staff.
Graphic designer Lutz Menze told German news agency DPA that the image does not show individual footballers in order to honor the whole team.
He said that producing a stamp usually takes six months but he had been contacted by the government after the tournament had already started.
It was Germany’s fourth World Cup title after 1954, 1974 and 1990.
Germany’s soccer team were crowned world champions for the fourth time as Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.
Substitute Mario Gotze controlled Andre Schurrle’s cross with his chest before volleying in with seven minutes left.
Both sides wasted chances in normal time, Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi both dragging wide.
Germany’s soccer team were crowned world champions for the fourth time at World Cup 2014 (photo AP)
Benedikt Howedes hit the Argentine post with a header late in the first half, but Mario Gotze sparked German celebrations.
Mario Gotze became the first substitute to score the winner in a World Cup final.
More than 250,000 German fans are estimated to have watched their country’s win at Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate.
More than 25,000 police, soldiers and firefighters ensured there was tight security around the Maracana stadium ahead of kick-off. Brazilian authorities said it was Rio de Janeiro’s largest ever security operation.
Thousands of supporters packed on to Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach to watch the match on big screens.
Shakira, who is the partner of Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique, performed some of her most recognizable hits at the World Cup 2014 closing ceremony ahead of final kick-off.
The World Cup 2014 final was also watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany has expelled a CIA official in Berlin in response to two cases of alleged spying by the US.
The official is said to have acted as a CIA contact at the US embassy, reports say, in a scandal that has infuriated German politicians.
A 31-year-old German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.
Reports on Wednesday said an inquiry had also begun into a German soldier.
“The representative of the US intelligence services at the embassy of the United States of America has been told to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
The chairman of the Bundestag (German parliament) committee overseeing the German secret service said the action was taken because of American spying on German politicians and its failure to co-operate and provide adequate responses.
Angela Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning the US spying, but also maintaining cordial relations
The US has not denied allegations that a German intelligence agency employee arrested last week was passing secret documents to the US National Security Agency (NSA).
However, the latest reports that a soldier within the defense ministry was also spying for the US were considered more serious. Although no arrest was made, searches were carried out on Wednesday at the ministry and elsewhere.
The US and Germany have been close allies for decades but relations were hit last year when it emerged that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored by the NSA.
On Thursday, Angela Merkel said spying on allies was a “waste of energy”.
“We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” she said at a news conference with visiting Moldovan PM Iurie Leanca.
Angela Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning the US actions but also maintaining cordial relations. However, each revelation has made that balance harder to achieve, he adds.
The scale of the US agency’s surveillance was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who fled the US and is now a fugitive in Russia.
The German intelligence official arrested last week was alleged to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee investigating the NSA spying scandal.
President Dilma Rousseff has urged Brazilians to bounce back after the national soccer team devastating 7-1 World Cup defeat against Germany.
“Like all Brazilians, I am very, very sad after the defeat. But we will not let ourselves be broken,” Dilma Rousseff tweeted.
The coach of the Brazilian team Luiz Felipe Scolari called the defeat “the worst day of his life”.
Brazilian media reflected the mood of shock on Wednesday, describing the result as a “historic humiliation”.
The result was Brazil’s biggest defeat in World Cup finals history.
“I feel bad for all of us – for fans and for our players,” Dilma Rousseff said, urging Brazilians to “get up, shake off the dust and come out on top”.
President Dilma Rousseff has urged Brazilians to bounce back after the national soccer team devastating 7-1 World Cup defeat against Germany
Some have speculated that the team’s poor showing may affect Dilma Rousseff’s chances in the presidential election in October.
“Brazil’s historic humiliation has set off a warning signal in Dilma Rousseff’s government, which fears that the bad mood stemming from the defeat may affect expectations for the economy – already not very favorable – as well as the campaign trail,” a column in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper said.
It added that fans in the stadium had chanted insults about Dilma Rousseff.
The German team established a 5-0 lead within just 29 minutes, adding two more goals in the second half.
By the end of the match many of the remaining Brazilian fans were cheering the German team.
The match was the first time a team had scored seven goals in a World Cup semi-final, and the first World Cup game with eight or more goals since Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002.
Germany is planning to tax the millions of foreign drivers who use its roads, including the famous autobahn highway, from 2016 onwards.
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the levy should raise 2.5 billion euros over four years.
Vehicles will be issued with badges, costing between 10 euros for 10 days and about 100 euros for a year-long permit.
Germany is planning to tax the millions of foreign drivers who use its roads from 2016 onwards (photo Wikipedia)
Critics of the planned toll say it violates EU anti-discrimination laws.
While vehicles registered in Germany will also have to pay the charge, their owners will be compensated by an equivalent reduction in a separate car tax.
Austria and the Netherlands have complained about the planned tax, the AFP news agency reports.
However, Alexander Dobrint has insisted that the law – due to be passed this year – does not violate EU rules against discrimination.
His Christian Social Union party campaigned for a toll in last year’s elections.
The party’s base is in the southern region of Bavaria, where residents have long complained of having to pay to use roads in neighboring Austria and Switzerland, while motorists from those countries pay nothing to drive in Germany.
Germany has summoned the US ambassador in Berlin after a man was arrested on suspicion of spying for the NSA.
The US diplomat “was asked to help in the swift clarification” of the case, the foreign ministry said.
German officials confirmed the arrest but released no other details.
US-German ties were strained after allegations last year that the NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone as part of a huge surveillance program.
The NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone as part of a huge surveillance program
The scale of the agency’s global spy program was revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The revelations also raised feeling in Germany against American surveillance.
German media say the man arrested this week is a 31-year-old employee of the federal intelligence service, the BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst.
A spokesman for Angela Merkel said she had been informed of the arrest, as had the members of the nine-strong parliamentary committee investigating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.
Der Spiegel news magazine said the man was believed to have passed secret documents to a US contact in exchange for money.
However, one unnamed politician told Reuters news agency the suspect had offered his services to the US voluntarily.
“This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee… He was not a top agent,” the source said.
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Germany’s intelligence service has arrested one of its employees on suspicion of spying for the US, reports say.
The man is said to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee that is investigating claims of US espionage.
German authorities have asked the US ambassador for “swift clarification”.
The NSA was last year accused of bugging the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance program.
The NSA was last year accused of bugging the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance program
The scale of the NSA’s global spy program was revealed in documents leaked last year by Edward Snowden.
The revelations about the NSA put a strain on ties between Germany and the US and raised feeling in Germany against American surveillance.
According to the German media, the man arrested this week is a 31-year-old employee of the federal service, the BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst.
The German federal prosecutor’s office confirmed the man’s arrest, but gave no other details.
A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had been informed of the arrest, as had the members of the nine-strong parliamentary committee investigating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.
Der Spiegel news magazine said the man was believed to have passed secret documents to a US contact in exchange for money.
However, one unnamed politician told Reuters the suspect had offered his services to the US voluntarily.
“This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee… He was not a top agent,” the source said.
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Germany has approved its first minimum wage, in a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday.
The wage will be set at 8.50 euros ($11.50) per hour, which is higher than the equivalent in the US and UK.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats approved the new policy as part of a power-sharing deal with the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Germany has previously relied on trade unions and business groups to fix minimum pay instead.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats approved the national minimum wage as part of a power-sharing deal with the Social Democratic Party
At the moment, Germany is one of seven in the 28-nation EU without a minimum wage level.
The minimum wage has been the subject of much controversy in Germany, with business leaders warning that it would result in fewer jobs, or force companies to move production facilities to other countries, where labor is cheaper.
Lobbyists have also claimed that the policy would make Germany less competitive.
However, others have been angered by concessionary measures, including a two-year grace period for some employers to phase in the policy.
Additionally, the wage does not cover minors, interns, trainees or long-term unemployed people for their first six months at work.
For the rest of Germany’s employers, the regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2015. The wage will be reviewed annually from January 1, 2018.
Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s vote, the policy will still need to be passed by Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat.
Other European countries have been adjusting their minimum wage policies.
In May, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to introduce what would have been the highest minimum wage in the world, in a referendum.
Under the plan, employers would have had to pay workers a minimum 22 Swiss francs (about $25 or 18 euros) an hour.
German federal prosecutor Harald Range will investigate allegations by Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
Harald Range told the German parliament’s legal affairs committee that an investigation would be held against “unknown” persons.
Angela Merkel has publicly asked for an explanation for the alleged spying by the NSA.
The inquiry was announced as President Barack Obama visited Europe.
German federal prosecutor Harald Range will investigate allegations by Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone
“Sufficient factual evidence exists that unknown members of the US intelligence services spied on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Harald Range said on Wednesday.
At the same time, he said he had decided against opening an investigation into claims of wider NSA surveillance of German citizens, AFP news agency reports.
Pressure for a wide-ranging investigation had been growing, correspondents say.
Angela Merkel and Barack Obama are due to meet in Brussels at a G7 summit on Wednesday.
Barack Obama told Angela Merkel last month that he was “pained” that Edward Snowden’s disclosures had strained the US-German relationship.
He said he had directed US intelligence agencies to weigh the privacy interests of non-Americans as well as US citizens and residents, “in everything that they do”.
Angela Merkel has proposed establishing a European communications network to avoid emails and other data automatically passing through the US.
On Wednesday, Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said he would not “evaluate” or comment on the prosecutor’s decision.
“The government didn’t exert any influence on the prosecutor,” he said in quotes carried by AP news agency.
Meanwhile, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters he believed dialogue between the two allies would be more effective than an investigation.
“We believe we have an open line and good communication [with Germany],” he said.
Some German lawmakers have also called for Edward Snowden to be invited to Berlin to testify in parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance.
However, German government has opposed this, fearing it would damage bilateral ties.
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Cornelius Gurlitt, known as the “Nazi art hoarder”, has died aged 81, with no definitive answer on what will happen to his secret collection, which included many Nazi-looted pieces.
More than 1,400 works were found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich apartment, including pieces by Picasso and Matisse.
Many of the artworks were feared lost or destroyed before tax investigators uncovered his priceless collection in 2012.
More than 1,400 works were found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich apartment, including pieces by Picasso and Matisse
Cornelius Gurlitt was the son of Adolf Hitler’s art dealer, Hildebrand Gurlitt.
Hildebrand Gurlitt was ordered to deal in works that had been seized from Jews, or which the Nazis considered “degenerate” and had removed from German museums.
Cornelius Gurlitt, whose death followed ill-health after heart surgery, told Der Spiegel magazine last November that he would never willingly give up the paintings.
“I haven’t loved anything more than my pictures in my life,” he said.
But he changed his position, agreeing to co-operate with the German authorities on establishing the paintings’ provenance, and returning them if they were shown to be stolen.
German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters praised him for that, saying: “He will be rightly recognized and respected for taking this step.”
Cornelius Gurlitt died “in his apartment in Schwabing, in the presence of a doctor,” spokesman Stephan Holzinger said in a statement.
He did not live an extravagant life but would sell a painting only when he needed money.
Cornelius Gurlitt’s collection only came to light after a routine check found he was carrying wads of cash on a train from Switzerland, triggering a tax inquiry.
Investigators found more than 1,400 works in his flat in Munich in February 2012 – though they only revealed the discovery in late 2013 – and a further 60 in his house near Salzburg, Austria, earlier this year.
Among them were works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde and Max Liebermann.
The collection is estimated to be worth up to a billion euros ($1.35 billion).
Under German law, Cornelius Gurlitt was not compelled to return any paintings to their owners, as he was protected by a statute of limitations, which negates any claim for incidents that happened more than 30 years ago.
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German authorities are to release 1,280 works of art confiscated two years ago from the Munich apartment of collector Cornelius Gurlitt.
Cornelius Gurlitt’s father bought and sold art under the Nazis, including works looted from Jewish homes and works bought from Jewish owners under duress.
The collector’s lawyers accept a small portion of the works may be disputed.
But the great bulk of the trove, they say, is the collector’s for him to do with as he wishes.
Cornelius Gurlitt has been recovering from heart surgery and it is not known how he has reacted to the decision.
The immediate likelihood is that the paintings, some by Matisse, Picasso and other masters, will remain in a secure warehouse in Bavaria while legal disputes continue but the prosecutors’ decision implies he has a right to them.
A smaller number of works found at a property of Cornelius Gurlitt’s in Austria are not affected by the German decision.
German authorities are to release 1,280 works of art confiscated two years ago from the Munich apartment of collector Cornelius Gurlitt
Wednesday’s decision came shortly after the collector agreed to co-operate with the authorities to determine which of the paintings had been stolen by the Nazis and to enable their return.
Augsburg prosecutor Matthias Nickolai said in a statement that the works had been formally released after prosecutors re-evaluated the legal situation. Prosecutors, he said, had been “absolutely convinced” at the time of the seizure that it was legally correct.
Cornelius Gurlitt’s lawyer, Tido Park, said his “rehabilitation [would] be further strengthened” by Wednesday’s decision.
“So this is a good day for Cornelius Gurlitt,” he added.
The collector’s lawyers have agreed with the German authorities to return any works proven to be looted to their rightful owners but they believe that to be only 3% of the trove, and it will not be easy for claimants to get them back. There is a one-year deadline on proving ownership.
The lawyers say that just over 300 of the works are without doubt Cornelius Gurlitt’s because his father acquired them before the Nazis were in power.
Only six paintings are so far being claimed by other people. In the case of one of those paintings – a Matisse – the lawyers say there are now two competing claims.
Negotiations between Cornelius Gurlitt’s lawyers and claimants have been tough.
According to the Sud-Deutsche Zeitung, one claimant replied to an offer to sell back a looted painting in blunt, Anglo-Saxon words of one syllable.
There has been outrage among Jewish groups, who say that the authorities in Germany have made it very difficult for people to get their rightful property back.
The prosecutors were heavily criticized for not publicizing the fact that they had found the trove of pictures. It only emerged in the press a year later.
At the end of it all, it seems likely that Cornelius Gurlitt will keep all but a small part of the collection built up by his father.
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The Bundesbank has raised its forecasts for Germany’s economic growth from 0.3% to 0.5% for 2013 and from 1.5% to 1.7% for 2014.
“The German economy is in good shape: the unemployment rate is low, employment is rising, and wage growth is returning to normal,” said Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann.
Germany’s central bank makes forecasts twice a year – the last set was in June.
The Bundesbank has raised its forecasts for Germany’s economic growth
Jens Weidmann added that low interest rates had been encouraging house building and private consumption in Germany, although trade had been weakening.
The European Central Bank (ECB) cut its key interest rate from 0.5% to 0.25% a month ago, and kept it at that level at Thursday’s meeting.
ECB president Mario Draghi said the eurozone’s economy remained “subdued”.
The Bundesbank did not make a forecast for 2015 in June, but is now predicting growth of 2.0% for that year.
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Germany is keen to hear directly from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the US spy agency’s activities.
“If the message is that Mr. Snowden wants to give us information then we’ll gladly accept that,” said German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich.
Edward Snowden’s lawyer said a meeting could occur in Moscow, but not Germany.
Edward Snowden, 30, fled to Russia in June after leaking details of far-reaching US telephone espionage. He has temporary asylum, allowing him to live in Russia until next June.
In a surprise move, a German Green MP, Hans-Christian Stroebele, has met Edward Snowden in Moscow and revealed the former intelligence contractor’s readiness to brief the German government on NSA spying.
Edward Snowden set out his position in a letter, which Hans-Christian Stroebele showed to reporters at a news conference on Friday.
The scale of the alleged US espionage has provoked international concern and calls for tighter supervision.
Asian countries have protested at claims that Australia was involved in a US-led spy network.
China has demanded an explanation of the reports, while Indonesia has summoned the Australian ambassador to Jakarta.
German Green MP Hans-Christian Stroebele has met Edward Snowden in Moscow
Reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was bugged by US spies for years overshadowed last week’s EU summit and she remarked with irritation that spying on friends is “really not on”.
According to Hans-Christian Stroebele, Edward Snowden is not keen on German investigators going to see him in Moscow, but would be ready to go to Germany if it could be guaranteed that he would not be extradited to the United States.
It is not clear whether Edward Snowden would get legal protection in Germany. The US authorities want to get him extradited to stand trial for revealing official secrets.
But the German government says it would welcome a meeting with the whistleblower.
“We will find a way, if Mr. Snowden is willing to talk,” Hans-Peter Friedrich said.
“Any clarification, any information and facts that we can get, is good.”
Edward Snowden “will not go to Germany”, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.
“This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders.
“Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities.”
The Bundestag – the lower house of parliament – has the power to decree that someone addressing it has immunity.
Speaking to German ARD television, Hans-Christian Stroebele said that Edward Snowden “is fundamentally ready to help bring things to light”.
“The conditions for that have to be established. We had a long discussion about that.”
The MP said he had suggested that investigators could question Edward Snowden in Moscow about the NSA.
Edward Snowden “made it clear that he knows a very great deal,” he went on.
Hans-Christian Stroebele described the former intelligence contractor as “amazingly talkative – he has a mission, an urge to communicate, he wants things to be put back on a legal basis”.
Edward Snowden is starting work on Friday for a major private website in Russia, his lawyer has said.
Anatoly Kucherena would not disclose which site has employed Edward Snowden, citing security concerns.
John Emerson – the American ambassador in Berlin – has been summoned over claims that the US monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will meet John Emerson later in what is seen as an unusual step between close allies.
Angela Merkel has demanded a “complete explanation” of the claims, which are threatening to overshadow an EU summit.
Germany has summoned the US ambassador in Berlin over claims that the US monitored Angela Merkel’s mobile phone
The German Chancellor discussed the issue with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
Barack Obama told Angela Merkel the US was not monitoring her calls and would not in future, the White House said.
However, it left open the question of whether calls had been listened to in the past.
French President Francois Hollande had already called for the issue to be put on the agenda of the summit – where EU leaders are due to discuss Europe’s digital economy, economic recovery and immigration – following reports that millions of French calls had been monitored.
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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of Germany acting as a mediator to try to end his country’s 30-month-long civil war.
Speaking to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, Bashar al-Assad said he “would be delighted if envoys came from Germany”.
But he stressed that Damascus would not negotiate with rebels unless they laid down their weapons.
Bashar al-Assad again denied claims that his troops had used chemical weapons, blaming the rebels instead.
In the interview to be published on Monday, Bashar al-Assad said that President Barack Obama had “not even a whisper of proof” that Damascus had used chemical weapons.
“He has nothing to offer other than lies.”
Bashar al-Assad contrasted Washington’s stance with that of Moscow, describing the Russians as “true friends”.
Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of Germany acting as a mediator to try to end Syria’s 30-month-long civil war
The interview comes just days after a team given the job of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons said it had made “encouraging initial progress” after talks with government officials.
UN-backed experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Syrian documents handed over last Wednesday “looked promising”.
The team said analysis of technical diagrams would be necessary and “more questions remain to be answered”.
Onsite inspections and arms disabling are scheduled to start next week.
Concerted international action to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons was agreed by the UN Security Council last month.
Its resolution was based on an earlier deal reached by the United States and Russia in Geneva.
The US had threatened military action to punish the Syrian government over a nerve agent attack in Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21.
The Americans said more than 1,400 people were killed. Russia and Syria believe rebel groups were responsible for the attack.
Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is believed to include more than 1,000 tonnes of the nerve gas sarin, the blister agent sulphur mustard and other banned chemicals stored at dozens of sites.
The German language has lost its longest word following a change in the law to conform with EU regulations.
Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz – meaning “law delegating beef label monitoring” – was introduced in 1999 in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The word was repealed following changes to EU regulations on the testing of cattle.
German is famous for making compound words, often to describe something legal or scientific.
The German language has lost its longest word following a change in the law to conform with EU regulations
They are known in Germany as “tapeworm” words.
The 63-letter word came into being as a result of efforts to combat BSE, or “mad cow disease” and was given the abbreviation RkReUAUG – itself something of a tongue-twister.
But with the EU calling a halt to the testing of healthy cattle at abattoirs, the need for the word vanished.
The search is now on for the language’s new longest word, German media reported.
Among the contenders is said to be Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenswitwe, meaning the “widow of a Danube steamboat company captain”.
However, experts say such long words are so rarely used they are unlikely to make it into the standard German-language dictionary.
The longest word to be found in the dictionary is Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung, meaning “automobile liability insurance”.
Hundreds of homes have been evacuated across southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland as rivers reach dangerously high levels.
The Czech capital Prague is on high alert as a swell of floodwater moves in from the south.
Both Germany and Austria are deploying their armies to help emergency services.
A man was killed by a landslide near Salzburg in Austria and two people have died in the Czech Republic.
The Czech government has declared a nationwide state of emergency.
The Czech deaths came after floodwaters destroyed flimsy country cottages. Two more people are missing in the country after their raft overturned on a swollen river.
Firemen in Czech Republic capital have been putting up metal flood barriers and volunteers filling sandbags as the River Vltava is due to reach peak levels in Prague some time on Monday morning.
Czech PM Petr Necas has called a special cabinet session to co-ordinate the emergency response.
Hundreds of homes have been evacuated across southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland as rivers reach dangerously high levels
Authorities believe the river in Prague will not reach the levels it did in 2002, when parts of the city were devastated, but will still be high enough to cause severe damage.
Bavaria’s flood alert service warns that the forecast of continuing heavy rain is likely to worsen the flooding affecting the Danube and the Inn, among other rivers in the area.
The German cities of Passau and Rosenheim have declared a state of emergency.
Authorities in Passau, which lies at the confluence of three rivers in Bavaria, say they expect the Danube to reach 10.5m by Sunday evening and have requested help from the German army.
Bavaria is not the only German state to be affected; towns and cities in Saxony, Thuringia and Baden-Wuerttemberg are also inundated.
The Munich-based newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that the German army is to be deployed in Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia to support the flood-affected areas.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has discussed the floods in phone calls with the premiers of Bavaria and Saxony, the paper says.
Near the Austrian city of Salzburg a man was found dead after being swept away as he worked to clear a landslip.
Two further people are missing in the Salzburg area, according to Austrian media. A third is missing in Vorarlberg.
The Austrian army was called in to help civil authorities in the settlement of Taxenbach, south of Salzburg. Their main task was to clear landslides and make roads passable.
Parts of the Pinzgau region, which includes Taxenbach, have been declared a disaster zone.
The Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick, Germany, is the world’s largest indoor beach with 400 sunloungers – and not a cloud in sight.
Yet with up to 6,000 visitors allowed in at a time, there are bound to be towel-fights over them – especially as this “indoors paradise” is in Germany.
The Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick, south of Berlin, also boasts the largest indoor pool, 50,000-plant forest – and enough space to fly a hot air balloon inside.
The former aircraft hangar has been transformed into a paradise offering tourists a tropical escape, if you can ignore the fact that you are miles from any ocean – or the tropics, for that matter.
The gigantic hangar was built to produce transport zeppelins but after the company went bankrupt in 1992 the hangar fell into disuse.
A Malaysian company saw the potential in the hangar, which is the world’s largest freestanding building, and Tropical Islands Resort opened in 2004.
The Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick, Germany, is the world’s largest indoor beach with 400 sunloungers
Despite the impressive interior of the hot hangar, visitors reviewing the indoor tropical resort on Reddit complained about high prices on everything from beverages to accommodation and additional fees to use the popular water slides.
Some users went as far as to vent their disappointment in the type of crowd attracted by the tropical escape.
User Antares42 wrote: “A good proportion of the audience is folks who’d love to fly to the beach but can’t afford it… and it shows,” complaining about “Mallorca youths – loud, obnoxious, inebriated, strutting about as if they owned the place.”
“It’s nice for families with small kids, but we weren’t overwhelmed (3 people in our late 20s)” another Reddit user said.
“There simply wasn’t much fun stuff to do all day, just the pools, even the mediocre slides cost extra.”
The Tropical Islands Resort, located on an old World War II runway, keeps a pleasant temperature of 26C, thanks to the modified 70,000 square metre dome allowing sunlight to shine through massive windows.
And naturally, if it rains or pours, a quick common can be sent to close the roof – and everyone can remain dry and happy in their tropical paradise.
Tropical Islands Resort Facts
- The dome can hold 6,000 swimmers
- 32C in the Bali Lagoon pool
- 50,000 plants in the tropical forest
- 66,000 square metre area
- 360m length
- 210m width
- 107m height
- 400 sunloungers
A tiger has mauled to death a female keeper at a zoo in the western German city of Cologne.
Police say the animal wandered through a gate that had apparently not been shut properly. It reached an adjacent storage building, where it attacked and killed the 43-year-old woman.
The tiger was then shot dead by the director of the zoo through a skylight, before it could get to public areas.
A tiger has mauled to death a female keeper at a zoo in the western German city of Cologne
Members of the public were ushered to safety, and the zoo was briefly closed.
It is not the first time this year animals have escaped from their enclosures in a German Zoo.
Last month five chimpanzees broke out of their pen in Hanover. In that case, however, they were recaptured before anyone was hurt.
A German dignitary at the Olympic Opening Ceremony appeared to greet his country’s athletes with a Nazi salute.
The elderly man was caught on video repeatedly extending his right arm back and forth prompting a few awkward stares from members of the crowd.
Bizarrely he was sitting in front of Boris Johnson and Camilla Parker-Bowles who looked bemused at first before bursting into laughter.
Meanwhile a Conservative MP, who was demoted after attending a reportedly Nazi-themed stag party, appeared to describe the Olympic Opening Ceremony as “leftie multi-cultural crap”.
The comments, claiming the ceremony was more left wing than that which opened the 2008 Beijing Games in Communist China, appeared in a Twitter account purporting to be that of Aidan Burley, Tory MP for Cannock Chase.
The opening section showcased British history, including the creation of the NHS and the Jarrow march, a 1936 protest against unemployment in the North East.
A German dignitary at the Olympic Opening Ceremony appeared to greet his country's athletes with a Nazi salute
Two tweets were posted from @AidanBurleyMP, saying: “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”
A second tweet read: “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!”
Downing Street distanced itself from the comments, with a senior source saying: “We do not agree with him.”
The tweets, widely repeated, caused an avalanche of criticism on the social networking site including from a fellow Conservative, Croydon MP Gavin Barwell.
“@AidanBurleyMP with respect, us Londoners are rather proud of the diversity of our city £nothingleftwingaboutit,” he tweeted in reply.
Aidan Burley lost his job as a parliamentary private secretary after media reports of the party on December 3 last year in a restaurant in the French Alpine resort of Val Thorens, at which one guest is alleged to have dressed in an SS uniform and others are said to have chanted Nazi slogans.
The Cannock Chase MP has repeatedly apologized for being present at the event, but said in December: “I do not believe I have broken any French law and have distanced myself from the behavior of other people on the stag.”
A later tweet from the account said the previous comments had been ”misunderstood”.
“Seems my tweet has been misunderstood. I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself,” it said.
The event, in which the Queen had a starring role, featured a diverse cast including James Bond star Daniel Craig and JK Rowling, merging music, dance and special effects into a spectacular opening.
The world-wide audience was treated to a greatest hits medley of British pop over the decades with bursts of the Beatles, the Jam, Sex Pistols and Dizzee Rascal.
There were also excerpts from the Kinks, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Mud’s Tiger Feet before Emeli Sande sang the cup final classic Abide With Me.
The 2012 International German Beard and Moustache Championships have been held in Bad Schussenried.
Beards from around the world have travelled to Bad Schussenried and took part in 18 categories, including Imperial Moustaches, Dali Moustaches and Chin Beard Freestyle.
A total of 163 of the world’s most interestingly decorated faces paraded through the town before the competition got under way.
Beards from around the world have travelled to Bad Schussenried and took part in 18 categories, including Imperial Moustaches, Dali Moustaches and Chin Beard Freestyle
A panel of seven judges marked each individual competitor and decided who would be crowned king in each category.
German-born Arner Bielefeldt proved to be a cut above the rest in the Full Beard Freestyle category.
Arner Bielefeldt said it was his reward for four months of “training” in his adopted home in California, USA.
The Full Beard category was the keenest contested, with 23 competitors keeping their chins up.
Although it was a close shave Herbert Dobner of Isny, Germany eventually won by a hairs breadth.
The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma (Gypsies) has gone to court to get Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche banned in the country after it used an image of a Roma boy pointing a gun on its cover.
Headlined The Roma are coming, Die Weltwoche’s publication amounts to racial incitement, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma says.
There is no relationship between the Romanian people (The name of Romania, România, comes from român (previously rumân), “Romanian”, which in turn is a derivative of the Latin romanus, meaning “citizen of Rome”.) and Roma people (Gypsies – an ethnic group living mostly in Europe, who trace their origins to the Indian Subcontinent) .
Laif, the agency that supplied the picture, says its meaning was distorted.
Die Weltwoche deputy editor Philipp Gut said the article was justified.
Phillip Gut accepted that it had sparked outrage but said it highlighted growing “crime tourism” in Switzerland.
Headlined "The Roma are coming", Die Weltwoche's publication amounts to racial incitement, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma says
The article was headlined They come, they steal and they go and suggested: “Roma families from Eastern Europe are responsible for a large part of the increasing crime tourism”.
It examined issues such as prostitution and the use of children for begging and theft, adding caveats that not all Roma are involved.
But it nonetheless provoked outrage, particularly in Germany where half a million Gypsies – as Sinti and Roma were then more usually called – were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
The Central Council said it had gone to court in Heidelberg to try to get the magazine blocked from the country and to file a complaint for racial incitement and libel.
Its head said the article was similar to Nazi propaganda in that it gave the impression that criminality was caused by ethnic origin.
Similar court action was also under way in Austria and Switzerland, the AP news agency reported.
The picture agency Laif said in a statement on its website that photographer Livio Mancini’s image had been taken for a feature about the inhumane life of Roma children on a waste disposal site in Kosovo.
“[Weltwoche’s] use is distorting, altered the truth and reversed the meaning of the photograph,” it said.
However, in a video message on the weekly magazine’s website, Phillip Gut – one of the article’s co-authors – said crime perpetrated by Roma gangs was a reality.
Phillip Gut told reporters that the real scandal was that Roma gangs misused their children for criminal purposes and that the image was intended to demonstrate this.
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